Reality according to La Fontaine (and Aesop)

If I had children today, I would make them memorize this
 fable as I had to memorize the French version when I was
 seven or eight. Scared the hell out of me, fortunately!

The Grasshopper and the Ant

  The Grasshopper having sung
All the summer long,
Found herself lacking food
When the North Wind began its song.
Not a single little piece
Of fly or grub did she have to eat.

  She went complaining of hunger
To the Ant's home, her neighbour,
Begging there for a loan
Of some grain to keep herself alive
Til the next season did arrive,
"I shall pay you," she said
"Before next August, on my word as an animal.
I'll pay both interest and pricipal."

  The Ant was not so inclined:
this not being one of her faults.
"What did you do all summer?
Said she to the grasshopper.

  "Night and day I sang,
I hope that does not displease you."

  "You sang? I will not look askance.
But now my neighbour it's time to dance." 

==========================================

	La Cigale et la Fourmi

  La Cigale, ayant chanté
Tout l'été,
Se trouva fort dépourvue
Quand la bise fut venue :
Pas un seul petit morceau
De mouche ou de vermisseau.
Elle alla crier famine
Chez la Fourmi sa voisine,
La priant de lui prêter
Quelque grain pour subsister
Jusqu'à la saison nouvelle.
"Je vous paierai, lui dit-elle,
Avant l'Oût, foi d'animal,
Intérêt et principal. "
La Fourmi n'est pas prêteuse :
C'est là son moindre défaut.
Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud ?
Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.
- Nuit et jour à tout venant
Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.
- Vous chantiez ? j'en suis fort aise.
Eh bien! dansez maintenant.

The French version is the original. The English translation is
 by Michael Star. It's good except that "cigale" means
 "cicada," not "grasshopper." Translator seems to
 have reverted to the original Aesop on this word
 rather than follow La Fontaine's version.

About jacquesdelacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
This entry was posted in Stories and poems in French, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Reality according to La Fontaine (and Aesop)

  1. Michael Morrison says:

    ‘Way back in the previous century, I think every child learned that fable, in one form or another.
    But in the 1960s one of the “hippy” songs was “We sang in the sunshine …” and our world turned upside down. (Also that decade, Young Americans for Freedom came along, and tens of thousands of young people became conservative and/or libertarian activists, but they never got the media attention, and are barely remembered today in the groves of academe or the halls of the “news” media.)
    You are, as usual, correct, Jacques, and it is a very good lesson to pass on to our own offspring or, if we don’t have our own, to every other child.
    Thank you for sharing the French version, too.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Michael: I have written a series of essays on this blog with the name “Ron Paul” in the title. They are all short and they address all the questions you raise.

      Ron Paul does not merely “tumble.” He volunteers information that is false because he speaks from a narrative in his mind that touches reality only occasionally. One example: Is it the case that in Iraq recently and in Afghanistan still, minorities in the military suffer disproportionately? I take it to mean “die or are wounded.” I will take your reasonable bet. Proceeds to your favorite charity, whosoever wins.

      Ans for a glance at the kind of company he attracts and why I don’t trust him see the comment by Crackpot. He tells me quite clearly that he and his cohorts will vote for Obama rather than for Gingrich if the case arises. That’s completely unacceptable from an ethical viewpoint, of course.

  2. Thomas H. says:

    I love this post. There’s also one about the “Wolf and The Crow,” and the “Ant and The Stork,” in French, that illustrate common sense and common wisdom. Some of the of “La fourmi at la cigale” does not really ring true for me sometimes as modern day grasshoppers are sometimes made just to sing, and to be carnivorous given the occasion, and not to ask the permission of ants for anything. Good day.

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