Jean de La Fontaine

From Quotes
There is only one happiness in life—to love and to be loved.
George Sand
Jump to: navigation, search
I of animals make choice that men may get instruction from their voice.

Jean de La Fontaine (1621-07-081695-04-13) is the most famous French fabulist and probably the most widely read French poet of the 17th century.

Sourced

Fables (1668–1679)

  • L'histoire, encore que mensongère,
    Contient des vérités qui servent de leçons.
    Tout parle en mon ouvrage, et même les poissons.
    Ce qu'ils disent s'adresse à tout tant que nous sommes;
    Je me sers d'animaux pour instruire les hommes.
    • History some truths contains, which well may serve
      For lessons.
      In my work you will observe
      Ev'ry thing speaks — yea e'en the very fish —
      And what they say, to ev'ry man a dish
      Serves up; and I of animals make choice
      That men may get instruction from their voice.
    • Book I (1688), Dedication "To Monseigneur the Dauphin"


  • Je vais t'entretenir de moindres aventures,
    Te tracer en ces vers de légères peintures;
    Et si de t'agréer je n'emporte le prix,
    J'aurai du moins d'honneur de l'avoir entrepris.
    • For thee I'll trace in verses which I write
      Some sketches, paintings which indeed are light,
      And if the prize of pleasing thee I do not bear away,
      At least, the honour I shall have of having tried I say.
    • Book I (1688), Dedication "To Monseigneur the Dauphin"


Learn now that every flatterer lives at the cost of those who give him credit.
  • Apprenez que tout flatteur
    Vit aux dépens de celui qui l'écoute.
    • Be advised that all flatterers live at the expense of those who listen to them.
    • Book I (1668), Fable 2. Variant translations: Learn now that every flatterer lives at the cost of those who give him credit.
      In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future — Do not trust flatterers.
      Every flatterer lives at the expense of him who listens to him.


  • Nous n'écoutons d'instincts que ceux qui sont les nôtres,
    Et ne croyons le mal que quand il est venu.
    • 'Tis thus we heed no instincts but our own;
      Believe no evil till the evil's done.
    • Book I (1668), fable 8


  • La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure.
    • The opinion of the strongest is always the best.
    • Book I (1668), fable 10


  • Plutôt souffrir que mourir,
    C'est la devise des hommes.
    • Better to suffer than to die: that is mankind's motto.
    • Book I (1668), fable 16


By the work one knows the workman.
  • A l'oeuvre on connaît l'artisan.
    • By the work one knows the workman.
    • Book I (1668), fable 21 (The Hornets And The Bees)
    • Variant: The artist by his work is known.


  • Je plie, et ne romps pas.
    • I bend but do not break.
    • Book I (1668), fable 22


  • C'est double plaisir de tromper le trompeur.
    • It is a double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.
    • Book II (1668), fable 15
    • Variant: It is twice the pleasure to deceive the deceiver.


  • [On] est bien fou de cerveau
    Qui prétend contenter tout le monde et son père.
    • It is impossible to please all the world and one's father.
    • Book III (1668), fable 1


  • En toute chose il faut considérer la fin.
    • In everything one must consider the end.
    • Book III (1668), fable 5


Beware, as long as you live, of judging people by appearances.
  • Garde-toi, tant que tu vivras,
    De juger les gens sur la mine.
    • Beware, as long as you live, of judging people by appearances.
    • Book VI (1668), fable 5


  • Sur les ailes du Temps la tristesse s'envole.
    • On the wings of Time grief flies away.
    • Book VI (1668), fable 21


  • L’enseigne fait la chalandise.
    • The sign brings customers.
    • Book VII (1678–1679), fable 16


  • On rencontre sa destinée
    Souvent par des chemins qu’on prend pour l’éviter.
    • Our destiny is frequently met in the very paths we take to avoid it.
    • Book VIII (1678–1679), fable 16 (The Horoscope)
    • Variant: A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.


  • Les gens sans bruit sont dangereux.
    • People who make no noise are dangerous.
    • Book VII (1678–1679), fable 23


  • Il connaît l’univers, et ne se connaît pas.
    • He knows the universe, and himself he does not know.
    • Book VIII (1678–1679), fable 26


  • Ventre affamé n'a point d'oreilles.
    • A hungry stomach cannot hear.
    • Book IX (1678–1679), fable 18

Unsourced

Dressed in the lion's skin, the ass spread terror far and wide.
  • A pessimist and an optimist, so much the worse; so much the better.
  • Anyone entrusted with power will abuse it if not also animated with the love of truth and virtue, no matter whether he be a prince, or one of the people.
  • Better a living beggar than a buried emperor.
  • Death never takes the wise man by surprise, he is always ready to go.
  • Dressed in the lion's skin, the ass spread terror far and wide.
  • Every journalist owes tribute to the evil one.
    • Variant: Every journalist owes tribute to the devil.
Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.
  • Everyone believes very easily whatever they fear or desire.
    • Variant: Everyone believes very easily whatever he fears or desires.
  • Everyone calls himself a friend, but only a fool relies on it; nothing is commoner than the name, nothing rarer than the thing.
  • Everyone has his faults which he continually repeats; neither fear nor shame can cure them.
Kindness effects more than severity.
  • Friendship is the shadow of the evening, which increases with the setting sun of life.
  • Help thyself and Heaven will help thee.
  • Kindness effects more than severity.
  • Let ignorance talk as it will, learning has its value.
  • Let us not be so difficult; the most accommodating are the cleverest.
  • Luck's always to blame.
Patience and time do more than strength or passion
  • Man is so made that when anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish.
  • Neither wealth or greatness render us happy.
  • Never sell the bear's skin before one has killed the beast.
  • Nothing is as dangerous as an ignorant friend; a wise enemy is to be preferred.
    • Variant: Nothing is more dangerous than a friend without discretion; even a prudent enemy is preferable.
  • Nothing weighs on us so heavily as a secret.
  • One returns to the place one came from.
  • One should oblige everyone to the extent of one's ability. One often needs someone smaller than oneself.
    • Variant: One often has need of one, inferior to himself.
  • Patience and time do more than strength or passion.
  • People must help one another; it is nature's law.
  • Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer.
  • Rather suffer than die is man's motto.
  • Rely only on yourself; it is a common proverb.
  • Sadness flies away on the wings of time.
  • The ant is no lender; that is the least of her faults.
  • The argument of the strongest is always the best.
  • The fastidious are unfortunate; nothing satisfies them.
  • The shortest works are always the best.
  • There is no road of flowers leading to glory.
  • There is nothing useless to men of sense.
  • Thus oft a struggle to escape—But lands us in a still worse scrape.
  • To live lightheartedly but not recklessly; to be gay without being boisterous; to be courageous without being bold; to show trust and cheerful resignation without fatalism— this is the art of living.
  • To win a race, the swiftness of a dart availeth not without a timely start.
  • We like to see others, but don't like others to see through us.
  • We must laugh before we are happy, for fear we die before we laugh at all.
  • We read on the foreheads of those who are surrounded by a foolish luxury, that fortune sells what she is thought to give.

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original works written by or about: