Sunday, August 12, 2018

Selected Fables of La Fontaine

Selected Fables of La Fontaine by Jean De La Fontaine
NY:  Oxford University Press, 1995
ISBN 0-19-282440-6

The Frog and the Rat
(84)   The ruse best ordered
can turn against its inventor
and often treachery
returns to its author. 

La ruse la mieux ourdie
Peut nuire á sone inventeur;
Et souvent la perfidie
Retourne sur son auteur.

This was the last fable told by Aesop.  He was condemned to death by the Delphians, whom he had insulted in a fable.  They planted a sacred vase on him, accusing him of theft and sacrilege.  He told them this fable in the hopes of saving his life by persuading them that by destroying him they would incur the anger of a powerful foe.  The Delphians, unimpressed, put Aesop to death by throwing him off a cliff.

The Ass Who Carried Sacred Relics
(112)  To an ignorant Magistrate
it is the Robe that one salutes. 

D’un Magistrat ignorant
C’est La Robe qu’on salue.

The Ass and His Masters
(129)  Never happy with our plight, 
our worst day is today.
We tire Heaven with our petitions.
When Jupiter does grant our requests,
we batter Him again about the head.

Notre condition jamais ne nour contente:
La pire est toujours la présente.
Nour fatigons le Ciel á force de placets.
Qu’á chucum Jupiter accorde sa requête,
Nous lui romprons encor la tête.

The Cobbler and the Businessman
(183)  The care of Providence had not done well
by failing to sell Sleep at the market, 
just like eating and drinking.

Que les soins de la Providence
N’eussent pas au marché fait vendre le dormir,
Comme le manger et le boire.

The Two Friends
(199)  Monomotapa - African empire acquired by Portugal in 16th century

(200)  A true friend is a sweet thing.
He seeks your needs at the bottom of your heart;
and saves you your modesty
to discover them yourself.

Qu’un ami véritable est une douce chose.
Il cherche vos besoins au fond de votre coeur;
Il vous épargne la pudeur
De les lui découvrir vous-même.

The Husband, the Wife, and the Burglar
(234)  I infer from this tale
that the strongest passion
is fear

J’infére de ce conte
Que la plus forte passion
C’est la peur

The Man and the Snake
Reason offends them;  they put in their heads
That all is born for them, quadrupeds, and people,
and serpents.
If someone loosens their teeth,
He's a fool. - I agree with that. But what must we do?
- Speak from afar, or be silent. 

La raison les offense;  ils se mettent en tête
Que tout est né pour eux, quadrupèdes, et gens,
Et serpents.
Si quelqu’un desserre les dents,
C’est un sot.  - J’en conviens.  Mais que faut-il donc faire?
- Parler de loin, ou bien se taire. 

The Fishes and the Cormorant
(260)  It taught them to their cost
that one must not have confidence
in those who eat people. 

Il leur apprit á leurs dépens
Que l’on ne doit avoir de confiance
En ceux qui sont mangeurs de gens.

The Old Cat and the Young Mouse
(306)  Youth flatters itself, and believes all can be obtained;
Old age is pitiless.

La jeunesse se flatte, et croit tout obtenir;
La viellesse est impitoyable.

Love and Folly
(314)  The result in the end by the supreme court
was to condemn Folly
to serve as the guide of Love. 

Le résultat enfin de la suprême Cour
Fut condamner la Folie
A servir de guide á l'Amour

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