My Hero - Billy Collins Ruminates on The Hare and the Tortoise (Aesop's tale)

The awesome thing about Billy Collins' poetry is that I can enjoy the lesson of gratefulness with my 9 year old. Here is a poem where the tortoise loses the race to the hare. Or does he? He becomes the hero for taking the time to nibble some sweet grass or smell a wildflower. 

My Hero

Just as the hare is zipping across the finish line
the tortoise has stopped once again
by the roadside,
this time to stick out his neck
and nibble a bit of sweet grass,
unlike the previous time
when he was distracted
by a bee humming in the heart of a wildflower. 

This poem obviously refers to the Aesop's tale, The Hare and the Tortoise: 

The Hare & the Tortoise

A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.

"Do you ever get anywhere?" he asked with a mocking laugh.

"Yes," replied the Tortoise, "and I get there sooner than you think. I'll run you a race and prove it."

The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.

The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.

The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time.

The race is not always to the swift.


  1. Thank you. So long a poem. So many sweet pages to express thoughts. Nice to read.