Jean de la Fontainetrans. Gordon Pirie
Dans un chemin montant, sablonneux, malaisé,
Et de tous les côtés au soleil exposé,
Six forts chevaux tiraient un coche.
Femmes, moine, vieillards, tout était descendu.
L'attelage suait, soufflait, était rendu.
Une mouche survient, et des chevaux s'approche,
Prétend les animer par son bourdonnement,
Pique l'un, pique l'autre, et pense à tout moment
Qu'elle fait aller la machine,
S'assied sur le timon, sur le nez du cocher;
Aussitôt que le char chemine,
Et qu'elle voit les gens marcher,
Elle s'en attribue uniquement la gloire,
Va, vient, fait l'empressée; il semble que ce soit
Un sergent de bataille allant en chaque endroit
Faire avancer ses gens, et hâter la victoire.

La mouche en ce commun besoin
Se plaint qu'elle agit seule, et qu'elle a tout le soin.
Qu'aucun n'aide aux chevaux à se tirer d'affaire.
Le moine disait son bréviaire:
Il prenait bien son temps! Un femme chantait
C'était bien de chansons qu'alors il s'agissait!
Dame mouche s'en va chanter à leurs oreilles,
Et fait cent sottises pareilles.
Après bien du travail le coche arrive au haut.
"Respirons maintenant," dit la mouche aussitôt:
"J'ai tant fait que nos gens sont enfin dans la plaine.
Çà, Messieurs les chevaux, payez-moi de ma peine."

Ainsi certaines gens faisant les empressés,
S'introduisent dans les affaires.
Ils font partout les nécessaires,
Et partout importuns devraient être chassés.
The sun was hot, the hill was steep,
And there was not a handkerchief of shade.
Six sturdy horses, pulling with a will,
Had brought a big coach halfway up the hill.
The coachman had already made
The passengers get out and walk, but still
The wheels turned slowly, sinking deep
Into the dust; and so he judged it best
To give his puffing, sweating team a rest
Before they struggled on towards the top.
The team was glad enough to stop,
And stood there quietly - until a fly
Came buzzing by,
And thought she’d try
To urge the team along. So down she came,
And buzzed about the nose and eyes
Of one of them, then did the same
To all the other five. Well used to flies,
They barely heeded her molesting,
Just flicked their tails and stood there resting.
She tried some other likely places:
She settled on the shaft, the traces,
She even got astride the coachman’s nose;
And when, at last, he woke up from his doze,
And set his team in motion up the hill,
The fly, of course, ascribed it to her skill.
Now she was really on her mettle:
Now, like a captain in a battle,
Bustling up and down the line
To keep his soldiers’ courage spurred
With many a cheering look and word,
She whizzed all round the team with high-pitched whine.
Then, looking round, she changed her tone
And started to complain that she alone
Was trying to help the team along.
That monk there, with his nose
Stuck in his breviary, did he suppose
That he was helping? And that woman’s song -
All very fine, but this was not the time
For music, with a hill to climb!
At last, the coach and horses reached the top.
"There now! " exclaimed the fly, "let’s stop
And get our breath back - that was quite a strain!
It’s thanks to me we’re on the flat again.
I trust I’ll be rewarded for my pain!"

Some busybodies love to poke
A finger into every pie.
They interfere with other folk,
And help as little as this fly.
In fact, they hinder more than they assist,
So drive them away - they’ll not be missed!

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Estate of Gordon Pirie 2002

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