The Ants and the Grasshopper

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The Ants and the Grasshopper
by Aesop

Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the Ant and of the sygale

It is good to purueye hym self in the somer season of suche thynges / wherof he shalle myster and haue nede in wynter season / As thow mayst see by this present fable / Of the sygalle / whiche in the wynter tyme went and demaunded of the ant somme of her Corne for to ete / And thenne the Ant sayd to the sygall / what hast thow done al the somer last passed / And the sygalle ansuerd / I haue songe / And after sayd the ante to her / Of my corne shalt not thou none haue / And yf thow hast songe alle the somer / daunse now in wynter /

And therfore there is one tyme for to doo some labour and werk / And one tyme for to haue rest / For he that werketh not ne doth no good / shal haue ofte at his teeth grete cold and lacke at his nede

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Ants and the Grasshopper

The Ants were spending a fine winter's day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, "Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?" He replied, "I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing." They then said in derision: "If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance supperless to bed in the winter."

Jacob's translation (1894)[edit]

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.