French Language Blog

Les Fables de La Fontaine: La Cigale et la Fourmi Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

Jean de La Fontaine is undoubtedly one of the most famous fabulists (one who writes fables) who ever lived. Born in 1621, he was a contemporary of King Louis XIV and was celebrated for his fables involving talking animals and insects. His works have never waned in popularity and have been translated into dozens of languages.

The following fable is entitled La Cigale et la Fourmi, loosely translated The Grasshopper and the Ant (Cigale is actually a Cicada, a large insect found in warmer climates, typically in the south of France).


La Cigale, ayant chanté

The Grasshopper, having sung


Tout l’été,

All summer long,


Se trouva fort dépourvue

Found herself lacking food


Quand la bise fut venue.

When the North Wind began its song.


Pas un seul petit morceau

Not a single little piece


De mouche ou de vermisseau.

Of fly or grub.


Elle alla crier famine

She went complaining of hunger


Chez la Fourmi sa voisine,

To the Ant her neighbor,


La priant de lui prêter

Begging her for a loan


Quelque grain pour subsister

Of some grain to survive


Jusqu’à la saison nouvelle.

Until the new season.


“Je vous paierai,” lui dit-elle,

“I will pay you,” she said,


“Avant l’août,” foi d’animal,

“Before August,” on an animal’s faith.


“Intérêt et principal.”

“Interest and principal.”


La Fourmi n’est pas prêteuse;

The Ant was not so inclined.


C’est là son moindre défaut.

That is one of her lesser faults.


“Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud?”

“What were you doing all summer?”


Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.

Said she to the borrower.


“Nuit et jour à tout venant”

“Night and day to each one who came”


“Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.”

“I sang, if you please.”


“Vous chantiez? J’en suis fort aise.”

“You were singing? I’m at ease.”


Et bien! Dansez maintenant.

“Well then! Now you must dance.”


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