Free French Poem Recording “Le Chêne et le Roseau” de Jean de la Fontaine & Audio Pronunciation

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Listen to my free recording of the very famous French fable Le Chêne et le Roseau by Jean de la Fontaine. French transcript + English translation + Audio

This very famous French fable tells a great story about an all-mighty oak (representing the French king Louis XIV) and a reed (which represent the people of France).

The oak thinks he’s indestructible, and pities the reed which he thinks unfair nature made very weak and unfortunate. He wishes to help him and offers his protection.

The reed however, says he might not be as strong as the oak, but he’s been through a lot, and he’s tough and long-lasting. And that’s the true strength.

To prove him right, a huge storm arrives and takes the oak down.

This was very courageous of La Fontaine to present this fable to the king, since the message is that the king is not as powerful as he thinks he is…

To listen to my audio recording of the poem, please press play on the audio player below.

1 – Transcript of the French Poem

Le Chêne un jour dit au Roseau :
“Vous avez bien sujet d’accuser la Nature ;
Un Roitelet pour vous est un pesant fardeau.
[poetry-adblock]Le moindre vent, qui d’aventure
Fait rider la face de l’eau,
Vous oblige à baisser la tête :
Cependant que mon front, au Caucase pareil,
Non content d’arrêter les rayons du soleil,
Brave l’effort de la tempête.
Tout vous est Aquilon, tout me semble Zéphyr.
Encor si vous naissiez à l’abri du feuillage
Dont je couvre le voisinage,
Vous n’auriez pas tant à souffrir :
Je vous défendrais de l’orage ;
Mais vous naissez le plus souvent
Sur les humides bords des Royaumes du vent.
La nature envers vous me semble bien injuste.

– Votre compassion, lui répondit l’Arbuste,
Part d’un bon naturel ; mais quittez ce souci.
Les vents me sont moins qu’à vous redoutables.
Je plie, et ne romps pas. Vous avez jusqu’ici
Contre leurs coups épouvantables
Résisté sans courber le dos ;
Mais attendons la fin. “Comme il disait ces mots,
Du bout de l’horizon accourt avec furie
Le plus terrible des enfants
Que le Nord eût portés jusque-là dans ses flancs.
L’Arbre tient bon ; le Roseau plie.
Le vent redouble ses efforts,
Et fait si bien qu’il déracine
Celui de qui la tête au Ciel était voisine
Et dont les pieds touchaient à l’Empire des Morts.

Learn French with the most famous French poems, such as “Demain, dès l’aube”, “La Cigale et la Fourmi”, “Parfum Exotique” with my Classic French Poetry audiobooks.

  1. French poem read twice,
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  3. life of the author’s life (Hugo, La Fontaine, Baudelaire…)

in simple French with English translation.

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2 – Le Chêne et le Roseau – English Translation

The Oak and the Reed

The Oak spoke one day to the Reed
“You have good reason to accuse Nature;
A Wren for you is a real load;
The smallest wind which by chance
Ripples the water surface
Forces you to bend your head.
While my forehead, similar to the Causasus mountains
Not content to block the sun’s rays
Braves the efforts of the tempest.
What for you is a North Wind is for me but a zephyr.
If at least you grew within my shade
Which covers the whole neighbourhood
You wouldn’t have to suffer as much
For I would protect you from the storm.
Instead you usually grow
On the humid banks of the realms of the wind.
Nature to thee has been unkind.”

“Your compassion”, replied the Reed
“Shows a noble character indeed;
But do not worry: the winds for me
Are much less dangerous than for thee;
I bend, but do not break. You have until now
Against their terrible strikes
Resisted without bowing your head.
But let’s just wait till the end. As he said these words,
From far in the horizons, came running
The worst child the North ever gave birth to.
The tree held strong; the reed bent.
The wind redoubled his efforts
So that finally it uprooted
The oak whose head was reaching heavens
And roots were touching the realms of the deads.

You’ll find many more classical French poems with French transcript, English translation and slower and faster audio recording in my free French poetry section.

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Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 25+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Come to Paimpol and enjoy an exclusive French immersion homestay with me in Brittany.

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