LA CIGALE ET LA FOURMI - I.1 THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER
Jean de la Fontaine trans. Gordon Pirie
La cigale, ayant chanté
Tout l'été,
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."
A grasshopper, all summer long,
Had sung without a care;
But when the autumn winds blew strong,
She found her shelves were bare:

No fly or grub - never a scrap
Of victuals stored away,
To fill the dreadful hungry gap
From Michaelmas to May.

So off she went to see the ant,
Her busy farming neighbour,
Who'd guarded against future want
By unremitting labour.

"Please let me have a grain or two
To see me through till spring.
I'll pay you back, with interest too,
When next year's harvest's in."

The emmet listened with a frown -
At best he's not a lender -
And looked his neighbour up and down,
Unwilling to befriend her.

"Tell me, what were you playing at,
While summer days were long?"
"Why, in the grasses tall I sat,
And sang my busy song."

"You sang, you say? How very charming!
Well, summer days are fled,
And since your talents aren't for farming,
You'd better dance instead!"

Click here 5 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright Estate of Gordon Pirie 2002


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