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La Cigale et la Fourmi (1919)


Part of a series or song cycle:

Trois Fables de Jean de la Fontaine


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 summer long,
Found herself most destitute,
When the North Wind came.
Not a morsel to her name
Of either fly or worm.
She blurted out her tale of want
To her neighbour Mistress Ant,
And begged her for a loan
Of grain to last her
Till the coming spring.
‘I shall pay you’, were her words,
‘On insect oath, before the fall,
Interest and principal.’
Mistress Ant is not a lender—
That’s the last thing to reproach her with!
‘Tell me how you spent the summer?’
Was what she asked this borrower.
‘Night and day, to every comer,
I sang, so please you ma’am.’
‘You sang? I’m overjoyed.
Now off you go and dance!’

The Cicada and the Ant

The Cicada, having sung all summer long,
Found herself most destitute,
When the North Wind came.
Not a morsel to her name
Of either fly or worm.
She blurted out her tale of want
To her neighbour Mistress Ant,
And begged her for a loan
Of grain to last her
Till the coming spring.
‘I shall pay you’, were her words,
‘On insect oath, before the fall,
Interest and principal.’
Mistress Ant is not a lender—
That’s the last thing to reproach her with!
‘Tell me how you spent the summer?’
Was what she asked the borrower.
‘Night and day, to every comer,
I sang, so please you ma’am.’
‘You sang? I’m delighted.
Now off you go and dance!’
Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

If you would like to use our texts and translations, please click here for more information.

Composer

André Caplet  was a French composer and conductor now known primarily through his orchestrations of works by Claude Debussy.

Read more here.


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Poet

Jean de La Fontaine (8 September 1621 – 13 April 1695) was a French fabulist and one of the most widely read French poets of the 17th century. He is known above all for his Fables, which provided a model for subsequent fabulists across Europe and numerous alternative versions in France, and in French regional languages.

After a long period of royal suspicion, he was admitted to the French Academy and his reputation in France has never faded since. Evidence of this is found in the many pictures and statues of the writer, as well as later depictions on medals, coins and postage stamps.

Taken from Wikipedia. You can read the full article here.

You can read or download Fontaine's Fables for free here on Gutenberg Press.


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(As part of a song cycle/series:)

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