"Slow And Steady Wins The Race"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this poem based on an ancient, familiar fable, Robert Lloyd asserts that genius alone is not enough for success; it must be joined to hard and continuous work. Lloyd himself had neither genius nor perseverance, but he says that application may prevail, even in the absence of genius. He then goes on to his fable, which deals with a hare that is extremely boastful about his speed in running: he could, in fact, outrun dog and horse, and even his own brethren. A tortoise nearby, becoming angered at the hare's boasting, challenges him to a footrace. The hare eagerly accepts the challenge, bets are laid, judges secured, the distance agreed upon, and off go the contestants. The hare covers almost the whole course before the lumbering tortoise is well started. The hare then scornfully announces that he will take a nap; after he wakes up he will easily win the race. While he sleeps, the tortoise plods along and finally crosses the finish line. The tortoise then reads the defeated hare a lesson to the effect that not fits and starts, but perseverance, is what wins contests. The poem concludes thus:

The tortoise heard his taunting jeer,
But still resolved to persevere,
Still drawed along, as who should say,
"I'll win, like Fabius, by delay";
On to the goal securely crept,
While Puss unknowing soundly slept.
The bets were won, the hare awake,
When thus the victor tortoise spake:
"Puss, though I own thy quicker parts,
Things are not always done by starts,
You may deride my awkward pace,
But slow and steady wins the race."