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Aesop's "The Hare and the Tortoise"
From Oliver Herford’s The Herford Aesop: Fifty Fables in Verse
Analysis Key

     I’ve included this in the First Grade book for students to read and discuss (as a poem) in relation to the other versions of “The Hare and the Tortoise” that they will be reading. The analysis key is FYI.

A HARE one day [NuA] a Tortoise (DO) chaffed

{On her slow gait}. | The Tortoise laughed. |

’Tis true (PA) [ [#1] Im slowest (PA) {of the slow} [#2] ]

And [ [#1] youre the fastest thing (PN) [Adj. to “thing” I know]]; |

Yet {notwithstanding your swift pace} [#3],”

[ [#4] Said she,]Ill beat you (DO) {in a race}.” |

The Hare consented, half [NuA] {in jest},

To put the matter [#5] {to the test}, |

And off they started. | {Like a flash},

Half [NuA] {round the course} {in one swift dash},

Bounded the Hare; [#6] then, feeling sure [#7]

[DO That victory was now secure (PA) ],

Sat down to rest [#8]and fell asleep. |

Meanwhile his Rival, creep [NuA], creep [NuA], creep [NuA],

Came slowly on, caught up, and passed. |

Creep-creep [NuA], creep-creep [NuA], [ [#9] until {at last}

The Hare awaking [#10], rubbed his eyes (DO)

And saw, {to his intense surprise},

[DO (of “saw”) The Tortoise, faithful [#11] {to her boast},

Was waiting {at the winning-post}]]. |

1. These two clauses function as Delayed Subjects to the “It” in “’Tis.” See KISS Level 5.6 - Delayed Subjects and Sentences.
2. As these notes will suggest, the syntax of poetry raises many questions. In this case, I’ve marked “slowest” as a predicate adjective (which makes “of the slow” an adverb). Given the metrical constraints of poetry, however, we could assume an ellipsed “the.” A “the” before an adjective often makes the adjective a noun. From that perspective, “of the slow” would function as an adjective.
3. I’ve never seen “notwithstanding” on a list of prepositions, but my guess is that by the time they get to analyzing this poem, most students will clearly see that it functions as a preposition.
4. KISS explains this clause as an interjection. See KISS Level 3.2.3 - Interjection? Or Direct Object?
5. “Matter” is the direct object of the infinitive “to put.” The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of “consented.” (I can see somewhat saying that “what” is not a question we put after “consent”—we consent “to” something. In that case, they can see “to” as a preposition here, and the infinitive “put” as the object of that preposition.
6. The semicolon holds together in one sentence the description of what the Hare did. It is not a clause break because there is no stated subject in the part after it.
7. “Sure” is a predicate adjective after the gerundive “feeling.” (It’s a “state-of-being verb.) It chunks to “Hare.”
8. “To rest” is an infinitive that functions as an adverb of purpose.
9. If we count “Creep-creep, creep-creep” as an highly ellipsed main clause, then this “until” clause is adverbial to it. Otherwise, this sentence is fragment.
10. “Awaking” is a gerundive to “Hare.”
11. “Faithful” is a Post-Positioned Adjective to “Tortoise.”