The Oak and The Woodcutters

An Oak tree was cut down and split using wedges made from its own wood. The Oak lamented the fact that its own material was used against it.

Misfortunes springing from ourselves are the hardest to bear.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

The woodcutter cut down a Mountain Oak and split it in pieces, making wedges of its own branches for dividing the trunk. The Oak said with a sigh, “I do not care about the blows of the axe aimed at my roots, but I do grieve at being torn in pieces by these wedges made from my own branches.”


Misfortunes springing from ourselves are the hardest to bear.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version (A Tree and A Wedge)

A workman was cutting down a tree to make wedges of it. Well! says the tree, I cannot but be extremely troubled at the thought of what I’m now a doing; and I do not so much complain neither, of the axe that does the execution, as of the man that guides it; but it is my misery that I am to be destroy’d by the fruit of my own body.


Nothing goes nearer a man in his misfortunes, then to find himself undone by his own folly, or but any way accessory to his own ruine.

1001Salix et Cunei

Securis cedebat salicem et ex truncis sectis cuneos faciebat, quo facilius salicem scinderet. Intellegens salix et videns in quem usum ac finem sic in minuta caederetur, eiulans dicebat, “Heu me infortunatam! Non satis est me scindi, nisi etiam de corpore meo cunei fierent in meam ruinam?”

Perry #303