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Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Fables of Florian

The despairing grasshopper.

I'm still blah and not in much of a talking mood - but here's a few thoughts for today.

While reading this news story about the late reclusive heiress Huguette Clark and an impending battle over her princely estate - which is fascinating reading in itself - I was struck by the quotation from an author I'd never heard of, one Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755-1794):

It was a fable in verse called “Le Petit Grillon” — “The Little Cricket” — by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian, a French writer of the 1700s.

The fable tells the story of a cricket hidden in the grass who admires a beautiful butterfly. The showy butterfly draws the attention of children. They chase it, catch it and, in their eagerness, tear the butterfly apart.

Oh! says the little cricket
I no longer regret
My obscure condition
It costs too much to shine
in this world.

The doctor realized that the copper heiress — who had once been a reluctant butterfly of society herself — was summing up her life.

How I will love
My sweet and peaceful retreat
True happiness
Is found more easily
In modest circumstances.

Or, as the moral of the fable has been summed up in other translations:

To live happy, live hidden.

So I went looking for the full poem and found it, under the title of "True Happiness," in this 1888 translation, which contains many other witty, incisive fables - and how true they all are, very true. Here is an excerpt from one entitled "The Grasshopper," who is very discontented with the world but is reproved by a friend:

     Let the world go,
     And all its woe.
What is't to you, I'd like to know?
'Tis bad and always will be so.
You cannot shape it to your view
By all that you may say and do.
Besides, my friend, where can you find
A world more suited to your mind?

Good advice for a blogger like me, I think, who remembers too much and feels too much. I recommend all of these fables for your consideration - make of them what you will.

For readers perspicacious
They may prove efficacious.

1 comment:

Tim said...

To stay in the mood...Jiminy Cricket....you are still alive!

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