LE CORBEAU ET LE RENARD / LA CIGALE ET LA FOURMI

Jean de La Fontaine


I used to study and learn by heart at school those type of fables. I found the translation on a website and hopefully it is helpful.
From Jean de la Fontaine 1621-1695 born at Château Thierry, Picardie, his father was Charles de La Fontaine, “maître des eaux et forêts”, a kind of deputy-ranger. His mother was Françoise Pidoux. Jean studied law, and he has been admitted as avocat (lawyer). He was the most famous French fabulist of the 17th century. He wrote many fables in his life and La Fontaine’s animal characters illustrate the human types. He wrote fables to hint that human nature and animal nature have much in common.
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Le Corbeau et le Renard

Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l’odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage :
“Hé ! Bonjour, Monsieur du Corbeau.
Que vous êtes joli ! que vous me semblez beau !
Sans mentir, si votre ramage
Se rapporte à votre plumage,
Vous êtes le Phénix des hôtes de ces bois.”
A ces mots le Corbeau ne se sent pas de joie ;
Et pour montrer sa belle voix,
Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tomber sa proie.
Le Renard s’en saisit, et dit : “Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l’écoute :
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute. “
Le Corbeau, honteux et confus,
Jura, mais un peu tard, qu’on ne l’y prendrait plus.

The Crow and the Fox

Master Crow perched on a tree,
Was holding a cheese in his beak.
Master Fox attracted by the smell
Said something like this:
“Well, Hello Mister Crow!
How beautiful you are! how nice you seem to me!
Really, if your voice
Is like your plumage,
You are the phoenix of all the inhabitants of these woods.”
At these words, the Crow is overjoyed.
And in order to show off his beautiful voice,
He opens his beak wide, lets his prey fall
The Fox grabs it, and says: “My good man,
Learn that every flatterer
Lives at the expense of the one who listens to him.
This lesson, without doubt, is well worth a cheese.”
The Crow, ashamed and embarrassed,
Swore, but a little late, that he would not be taken again.

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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’août, 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 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 principal.”
The Ant was not so inclined:
this not being one of her faults.
“What did you do all summer?
She Said 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.”

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Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_de_La_Fontaine   Juin 2013
http://www.aesopfables.com/cgi/aesop1.cgi?jdlf&i1ms&i2l.jpg  Juin 2013