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Uber Famous French Poem “La Cigale et la Fourmi” by Jean de La Fontaine

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on Dec 11, 2009

French transcript of French Poem “La Cigale et la Fourmi” de Jean de La Fontaine and my English translation of the poem. Learn French with classic French poetry.

Like most of La Fontaine’s fables, “La Cigale et la Fourmi” is not a story that he invented.

Drawing inspiration from oral traditions and the fables of Aesop and other poets of Greek and Roman antiquity La Fontaine changes the classic fable by omitting the moral.

Why? Listen to the poem’s analysis to find out!

This very famous French poem is read twice (enunciated and natural recordings) + detailed explanation of the vocabulary in easy French + analysis of the poem + author’s life + transcript with the English translation in my audiobook “Easy French Poetry”.

1 – Famous French Poem “La Cigale et la Fourmi” by Jean de La Fontaine

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. »

2 – Translation of the French Poem “La Cigale et la Fourmi” by Jean de La Fontaine

Here is my own translation of the French poem. I went for a literal translation so you could understand the vocabulary.

The cicada (cricket) having sung
All summer long,
Found herself most destitute
When the north wind blew :
Not even one little morsel
Of fly or worm.
She went to plea her famish
To her neighbor the ant,
Begging her to lend her
A little grain so she’d survive
Until the new season.
“I shall pay you, she told her,
Before the harvest*, animal’s oath,
Interest and principal.”
The ant is not a lender :
This is the least of her faults.
“What were you doing during the warm season ?
She asked this borrower.
— Night and day, to anyone
I sang, please you if it may.
— You sang ? I’m delighted :
Well, dance now.”

* a listener kindly told me that the translation of Août here is not August but the harvest. Thank you Didier!

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