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Didn’t your Mom always tell you “watch where you walk”?This charming and well known fable is the perfect example of why you should.

1- Poem

Perrette sur sa tête ayant un Pot au lait
Bien posé sur un coussinet,
Prétendait arriver sans encombre à la ville.
Légère et court vêtue elle allait à grands pas ;
Ayant mis ce jour-là, pour être plus agile,
Cotillon simple, et souliers plats.
Notre laitière ainsi troussée
Comptait déjà dans sa pensée
Tout le prix de son lait, en employait l’argent,
Achetait un cent d’oeufs, faisait triple couvée ;
La chose allait à bien par son soin diligent.
« Il m’est, disait-elle, facile,
D’élever des poulets autour de ma maison :
Le Renard sera bien habile,
S’il ne m’en laisse assez pour avoir un cochon.
Le porc à s’engraisser coûtera peu de son ;
Il était quand je l’eus de grosseur raisonnable :
J’aurai le revendant de l’argent bel et bon.
Et qui m’empêchera de mettre en notre étable,
Vu le prix dont il est, une vache et son veau,
Que je verrai sauter au milieu du troupeau ? »

laitiere_1

Perrette là-dessus saute aussi, transportée.
Le lait tombe ; adieu veau, vache, cochon, couvée ;
La dame de ces biens, quittant d’un oeil marri
Sa fortune ainsi répandue,
Va s’excuser à son mari
En grand danger d’être battue.

Le récit en farce en fut fait ;
On l’appela le Pot au lait.

laitiere_2

2 – Translation

The Milkmaid and the Pot of Milk, By Jean de La Fontaine

Perrette, on her head having a pot of milk
Well-placed on a little cushion,
Was intending to get without problem to the town.

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Dressed lightly and short, she went with long strides,
Having put on that day, so she’d be more agile,
Simple garments and flat shoes.
Our milkmaid so attired
Counted already in her thought
The income from her milk; was using the money;
Bought a hundred eggs; had a triple brood of chickens.
Everything was going well thanks to her diligent care.
“It is, she said, easy for me
To raise chickens about my house.
The fox will be very skilful
If he doesn’t leave me enough to have a pig.
The porker to become fat won’t take much bran;
He was, when I got him, of reasonable weight:
I will have, when I sell him, fine and good money.
And who can stop me from putting in our stable,
Considering the money I will have, a cow and her calf,
Whom I will see leap about among the herd?
Perrette on this thoughts, leaps also, carried away:
The milk falls; goodbye calf, cow, pig, chickens.
The lady of all these goods, leaving with sorry eye
Her fortune hence spread out,
Goes to ask forgiveness to her husband,
With a good chance of getting slapped.
The story was made into a farce:
It was called the Pot of Milk.