In a storm the Willow bent and survived but the Oak could not and was felled. Despite this, the Oak thought he won with an honorable death.
Meet death in an honorable way.
A conceited Willow had once the vanity to challenge his mighty neighbour, the Oak, to a trial of strength. It was to be determined by the next storm, and Aeolus was addressed by both parties to exert his most powerful efforts. This was no sooner asked than granted, and a violent hurricane arose; when the pliant Willow, bending from the blast, or shrinking under it, evaded all its force; while the generous Oak, disdaining to give way, opposed its fury, and was torn up by the roots . Immediately the Willow began to exult, and to claim the victory; when thus the fallen Oak interrupted his exultation: “Callest thou this a trial of strength? Poor wretch! Not to thy strength, but weakness; not to thy boldly facing danger, but meanly skulking from it, thou owest thy present safety. I am an oak, though fallen; thou still a Willow, though unhurt. But who except so mean a wretch as thyself would prefer an ignominious life, preserved by craft or cowardice, to the glory of meeting death in an honourable cause?”
[Note: This fable’s story is similar to The Tree and The Reed though the ending meaning is quite different.]