by Jean de La Fontaine (1621 - 1695)
Translation © by David Jonathan Justman

Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché, 
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l'odeur alléché, 
Lui tint à peu près ce langage:
Hé!  Bonjour, Monsieur du Corbeau.
Que vous êtes joli! Que vous me semblez beau!
Sans mentir, si votre ramage
Se rapporte à votre plumage,
Vous êtes le phénix des hôtes de ces bois.
A ces mots le corbeau ne se sent pas de joie;
Et, pour montrer sa belle voix, 
Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tombe sa proie.
Le renard s'en saisit, et dit: Mon bon monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l'écoute:
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute.
Le corbeau, honteux et confus,
Jura, mais un peu tard, qu'on ne l'y prendrait plus.

About the headline (FAQ)

See also Le renard et le corbeau.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (David Jonathan Justman) , "The Raven and the Fox", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Geoffrey Wieting

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 18
Word count: 126

The Raven and the Fox
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Mister Raven, perched on a tree,
Held a cheese in his beak.
Mister Fox, enticed by the smell,
Addressed him in language like this:
Oh!  Good morning, Mr. Raven.
How pretty you are!  How beautiful you seem to me!
In truth, if your song 
is like your plumage,
You are the phoenix of the hosts of this wood.
At these words the raven becomes overjoyed;
And, to show off his beautiful voice,
He opens his beak wide and lets his prey fall.
The fox grabs it and says: My dear man,
Learn that every flatterer
Lives at the expense of the one who listens to him.
No doubt, that lesson is easily worth a cheese.
The raven, ashamed and confused,
Swore, though somewhat belatedly, that he would never be taken again.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © by David Jonathan Justman, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on:


This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 18
Word count: 131