The Fox and The Grapes

A fox tries to get grapes to eat but cannot. The fox goes away in disgust saying he didn’t want them anyhow.

It is easy to despise what you cannot get.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Fox and Grapes

Milo Winter (1919)

A Fox one day spied a beautiful bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine trained along the branches of a tree. The grapes seemed ready to burst with juice, and the Fox’s mouth watered as he gazed longingly at them.

The bunch hung from a high branch, and the Fox had to jump for it. The first time he jumped he missed it by a long way. So he walked off a short distance and took a running leap at it, only to fall short once more. Again and again he tried, but in vain.

Now he sat down and looked at the grapes in disgust.

“What a fool I am,” he said. “Here I am wearing myself out to get a bunch of sour grapes that are not worth gaping for.”

And off he walked very, very scornfully.


There are many who pretend to despise and belittle that which is beyond their reach.

Taylor RhymesJefferys Taylor (The Grapes Are Sour)

[This version of the fable substitutes a monkey for the fox.]

Taylor - Monkey and Grapes 0045A MONKEY some charming ripe grapes once espied,
Which how to obtain, was the query;
For up to a trellis so high they were tied,
That he jump’d till he made himself weary.

So finding, at last, they were out of his power,
Said he, “Let them have them who will:
I see that they’re green, and don’t doubt that they’re sour,
And fruit that’s unripe makes me ill.”

Those will ne’er be believed by the world, it is plain.,
Who pretend to despise what they cannot obtain.

Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

One hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the thing to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Fox and the GrapesA Fox, very hungry, chanced to come into a vineyard, where there hung branches of charming ripe Grapes: but nailed up to a trellis so high, that he leaped till he quite tired himself, without being able to reach one of them. At last, Let who will take them! says he; they are but green and sour; so I’ll even let them alone.


Whittingham - Fox and Grapes

C. Whittingham (1814)

This fable is a good reprimand to a parcel of vain coxcombs in the world, who, because they would never be thought to be disappointed in any of their pursuits pretend a dislike to every thing which they cannot obtain. There is a strange propensity in mankind to this temper, and there are numbers of grumbling malcontents in every different faculty and sect in life. The discarded statesman, considering the corruption of the times, would not have any hand in the administration of affairs for all the world. The country squire damns a court life, and would not go cringing and creeping to a drawing-room for the best place the king has in his disposal. A young fellow being asked how he liked a celebrated beauty, by whom all the world knew he was despised, answered, She had a stinking breath. How insufferable is the pride of this poor creature, man! who would stoop to the basest, vilest actions, rather than be thought not able to do any thing. For what is more base and vile than lying? And when do we lie more notoriously, than when we disparage and find fault with a thing for no other reason but because it is out of our power?

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Fox and Grapes

Ernest Griset (1874)

A hungry Fox one day saw some tempting Grapes hanging at a good height from the ground. He made many attempts to reach them, but all in vain. Tired out by his failures, he walked off grumbling to himself, “Nasty sour things, I know you are, and not at all fit for a gentleman’s eating.”

JonesV.S. Vernon Jones Version

A hungry Fox saw some fine bunches of Grapes hanging from a vine that was trained along a high trellis, and did his best to reach them by jumping as high as he could into the air. But it was all in vain, for they were just out of reach: so he gave up trying, and walked away with an air of dignity and unconcern, remarking, “I thought those Grapes were ripe, but I see now they are quite sour.”

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A famished fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, hiding her disappointment and saying: “The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought.”

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

There was a time, when a fox would have ventur’d as far for a bunch of grapes as for a shoulder of mutton, and it was a fox of those days, and of that palate, that stood gaping under a vine, and licking his lips at a most delicious cluster of grapes that he had spy’d out there; he fetched a hundred and a hundred leaps at it, ’till at last, when he was as weary as a dog, and found that there was no good to be done; Hang ’em (says he) they are as sowr as crabs; and so away he went, turning off the disappointment with a jest.


‘Tis matter of skill and address, when a man cannot honestly compass what he would be at, to appear easy and indifferent upon all repulses and disappointments.

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual



This Fox has a longing for grapes,
He jumps, but the bunch still escapes.
So he goes away sour;
And, ’tis said, to this hour
Declares that he’s no taste for grapes.

The grapes of disappointment are always sour.

1001Vulpes et Uva

Vulpes, extrema fame coacta, uvam appetebat, ex alta vite dependentem. Quam cum summis viribus saliens attingere non posset, tandem discedens, “Nondum matura est,” inquit; “nolo acerbam sumere.”

Perry #015