Cicada and Ant | Jean de la Fontaine, 1668


Having sung the summer through,
Cicada found herself quite destitute.
And when the North Wind blew,
Provisions being less than scant,
She crawled on down to neighbor ant
With cries of famine,
Hoping to borrow just a bit of seed
To tide her over till the coming Spring.
“I’ll pay of course,” she tried to plead,
“Before the month of August,
Both interest and principal.
Come, trust a fellow animal!”
The ant however is no lender;
Lending is the least of all her flaws.
“Could you tell me what you did
On all those hot dry days?”
She asked the borrower.
“Night and day, my pardon to you ants,
I sang, for one and all.”
“You sang? I am enthralled!
Now all you have to do is dance.”

Jean de La Fontaine, Les Fables, 1668 

tr. Christopher Carste

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