Wind and Sun

fables of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 298
in which the wind and the sun
dispute about which of them
is more powerful
plus a related African-American tale
selected and edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 1998-2010


  1. The Wind and the Sun (Aesop).

  2. Phœbus and Boreas (Jean de La Fontaine).

  3. The Wind and the Sun (India).

  4. The North Wind and the Sun (Ambrose Bierce).

  5. Brer Rabbit Treats the Creatures to a Race (Joel Chandler Harris).

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The Wind and the Sun


The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said, "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin."

So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair.

Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.

Kindness effects more than severity.

Phœbus and Boreas

Jean de La Fontaine

Old Boreas and the sun, one day
Espied a traveller on his way,
Whose dress did happily provide
Against whatever might betide.
The time was autumn, when, indeed,
All prudent travellers take heed.
The rains that then the sunshine dash,
And Iris with her splendid sash,
Warn one who does not like to soak
To wear abroad a good thick cloak.
Our man was therefore well bedight
With double mantle, strong and tight.

"This fellow," said the wind, "has meant
To guard from every ill event;
But little does he wot that I
Can blow him such a blast
That, not a button fast,
His cloak shall cleave the sky.
Come, here's a pleasant game, Sir Sun!
Wilt play?"

Said Phœbus, "Done!
We'll bet between us here
Which first will take the gear
From off this cavalier.
Begin, and shut away
The brightness of my ray."

"Enough." Our blower, on the bet,
Swell'd out his pursy form
With all the stuff for storm --
The thunder, hail, and drenching wet,
And all the fury he could muster;
Then, with a very demon's bluster,
He whistled, whirl'd, and splash'd,
And down the torrents dash'd,
Full many a roof uptearing
He never did before,
Full many a vessel bearing
To wreck upon the shore, --
And all to doff a single cloak.
But vain the furious stroke;
The traveller was stout,
And kept the tempest out,
Defied the hurricane,
Defied the pelting rain ;
And as the fiercer roar'd the blast,
His cloak the tighter held he fast.

The sun broke out, to win the bet;
He caused the clouds to disappear,
Befresh'd and warm'd the cavalier,
And through his mantle made him sweat,
Till off it came, of course,
In less than half an hour;
And yet the sun saved half his power. --
So much doth mildness more than force.

The Wind and the Sun


Once the Wind and the Sun disputed as to which was the more powerful. And while they were quarreling, a man came by wrapped in a shawl and wearing a big pagri [head cloth or turban]. And they said, "It is no good quarreling. Let us put our power to the test and see who can deprive this man of the shawl he has wrapped round him."

Then the Wind asked to be allowed to try first and said, "You will see that I will blow away the blanket in no time," and the Sun said, "All right, you go first."

So the Wind began to blow hard, but the man only wrapped his shawl more tightly round him to prevent its being blown away and fastened it round himself with his pagri; and though the Wind blew fit to blow the man away, it could not snatch the shawl from him. So it gave up, and the Sun had a try. He rose in the sky and blazed with full force, and soon the man began to drip with sweat, and he took off his shawl and hung it on the stick he carried over his shoulder, and the Wind had to admit defeat.

The North Wind and the Sun

Ambrose Bierce

The Sun and the North Wind disputed which was the more powerful, and agreed that he should be declared victor who could the sooner strip a traveller of his clothes. So they waited until a traveller came by. But the traveller had been indiscreet enough to stay over night at a summer hotel, and had no clothes.

Brer Rabbit Treats the Creatures to a Race

Joel Chandler Harris

One sultry summer day, while the little boy was playing not far from Uncle Remus's cabin, a heavy black cloud made its appearance in the west, and quickly obscured the sky. It sent a brisk gale before it, as if to clear the path of leaves and dust. Presently there was a blinding flash of lightning, a snap and a crash, and, with that, the child took to his heels, and ran to Uncle Remus, who was standing in his door.

"There now!" he exclaimed, before the echoes of the thunder had rolled away.

That dust and wind and rain puts me in mind of the time when old Brer Rabbit went away off in the woods until he came to the Rainmaker's house. He knocked and went in, and he asked the Rainmaker if he couldn't fix it up so they could have a race between Brer Dust and Cousin Rain, to see which could run the fastest. The Rainmaker growled and grumbled, but by and by he agreed, but he said that if it was anybody but Brer Rabbit, he wouldn't give it but one thought.

Well, they fixed the day, they did, and then Brer Rabbit put out to where the creatures were staying and told them the news. They didn't know how Brer Rabbit knew, but they all wanted to see the race.

Now, he and the Rainmaker had fixed it up so that the race would be right down the middle of the big road, and when the day came, that's where he made the creatures stand -- Brer Bear at the bend of the road, Brer Wolf a little further off, and Brer Fox at a point where the crossroads were. Brer Coon and Brer Possum and the others he scattered about up and down the road.

To them who have to wait, it seems like the sun stops, and all the clocks with him. Brer Bear did some growling, Brer Wolf some howling, and Brer Possum some laughing, but after a while a cloud came up from somewhere. It wasn't such a big cloud, but Brer Rabbit knew that Cousin Rain was in there along with Uncle Wind. The cloud crept up, it did, until it got right over the big road, and then it kind of dropped down a little closer to the ground. It looked like it kind of stopped, like a buggy, for Cousin Rain to get out, so there would be a fair start. Well he got out, because the creatures could see him, and then Uncle Wind, he got out.

And then, gentlemen, the race began to commence. Uncle Wind helped them both. He had his bellows with him, and he blew them! Brer Dust got up from where he was lying and came down the road just a-whirling. He struck old Brer Bear first, then Brer Wolf, and then Brer Fox, and after that all the other creatures, and it came mighty near suffocating them! Never in all your born days have you ever heard such coughing and sneezing, such snorting and wheezing! And they all looked like they were painted red. Brer Bear sneezed so hard that he had to lie down in the road, and Brer Dust came mighty near burying him. And it was the same with the other creatures. They got their ears, their noses, and their eyes full.

And then Cousin Rain came along pursuing Brer Dust, and he came mighty near drowning them. He left them covered with mud, and they were worse off than before. It was the longest time before they could get the mud out of their eyes and ears. When they got so they could see a little bit, they took notice that Brer Rabbit, instead of being full of mud, was as dry as a chip, if not dryer.

It made them so mad that they all put out after him and tried their level best to catch him, but if there was anything in the round world that Brer Rabbit's got, it's supple feet, and it wasn't no time before the other creatures couldn't see hide nor hair of him! All the same, Brer Rabbit hadn't bargained to have two races the same day.

"But, Uncle Remus," said the little boy, "which beat, Brother Dust or Cousin Rain?"

The old man stirred uneasily in his chair, and rubbed his chin with his hand. "They tell me," he responded cautiously, "that when Cousin Rain couldn't see anything of Brother Dust, he thought he was beaten, but he hollered out, 'Brer Dust, whereabouts are you?' and Brer Dust he hollered back, 'You'll have to excuse me. I fell down in the mud and can't run any more!'"

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Revised March 22, 2010.