Recently I was telling some new friends just exactly what it is I do for a living. Since October 27th, 2002, I have maintained an online personal journal in disguise as a French Word-A-Day. That is to say, in order to get people to read my essays, I've dangled a carrot outside of my writing window. That carrot is the "word of the day." And here you are, Dear Reader--receiving more than you bargained for!
It hasn't all been wine and roses. (Well, there has been plenty of wine, none of which I drank after February 2003...) But you already know that. The question is: do you know too much? I hope not. For I have done my journaling best to "Keep it light. Keep it educational. Keep it inspiring." And for those tricky times when only the truth of a situation would enable this narrative to continue, without too much confusion, I tread carefully, sharing enough information to get us all to the next chapter of this French life.
If all this sounds like adieu--far from that! Loin de là! For as long as I have carrots in my garden...I will be dangling them out of my virtual French window.
* * *
Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés
: to live happily, live hidden
: great honors are great burdens
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
by Kristi Espinasse
The French have a popular saying: Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés. (To live happily, live hidden). But what do these words really mean? And where does the famous saying come from? Discover, today, the wise fable by Florian (Jean Pierre Claris de Florian), in French and in English. You'll also be able to hear the poem, read aloud by Jean-Marc.
Un pauvre petit grillon
Caché dans l’herbe fleurie
Regardoit un papillon
Voltigeant dans la prairie
L’insecte ailé brilloit des plus vives couleurs
L’azur, le pourpre & l’or éclatoient sur ses ailes.
Jeune, beau, petit-maître, il court de fleur en fleur,
Prenant & quittant les plus belles.
Ah ! disoit le grillon, que son sort & le mien
Sont différents ! dame Nature
Pour lui fit tout, & pour moi rien.
Je n’ai point de talent, encor moins de figure ;
Nul ne prend garde à moi, l’on m’ignore ici bas !
Autant voudroit n’exister pas.
Comme il parloit, dans la prairie
Arrive une troupe d’enfants.
Aussitôt les voilà courans
Après le papillon dont ils ont tous envie :
Chapeau, mouchoirs bonnets, servent à l’attraper.
L’insecte cherche vainement à leur échapper,
Il devient bientôt leur conquête.
L’un le saisit par l’aile, un autre par le corps ;
Un troisième survient, & le prend par la tête :
Il ne falloit pas tant d’efforts
Pour déchirer la pauvre bête.
Oh ! oh ! dit le grillon, je ne suis pas fâché ;
Il en coûte trop cher pour briller dans le monde.
Combien je vais aimer ma retraite profonde !
Pour vivre heureux, vivons cachés.
(AKA "TRUE HAPPINESS")
A poor young cricket, small and shy,
Passing retir'd his summer hours,
Beheld one day a butterfly,
Flitting among the flowers.
Of ev'ry color, ev'ry hue,
The gaudy insect well might boast.
From flower to flower it gaily flew,
Alighting where it pleas'd him most.
"Alas!" the pining cricket sigh'd,
"What diff'rences us two divide!
While Nature does so much for him,
For me she nothing does at all.
I'm void of sense and coarse of limb,
With figure despicably small;
I'm heeded not, am lone and lorn,
And might as well have not been born."
But while the cricket thus complain'd,
A sudden uproar round him reign'd;
A troop of children rushing by,
Came hunting for the butterfly.
With nets, and hats, and kerchiefs too,
The gaudy insect they pursue.
He struggles hard to get away,
But falls at last a helpless prey.
One seizes on his wings of gold;
Another at his body aims;
A third upon his head lays hold;
In short, each one the insect claims,
But leaves him mangled, dead, and cold.
"Ah, ha!" the cricket said, "I see
What 'tis a brilliant thing to be.
If such the cost to those who shine,
I ought no longer to repine;
But to live happy I must be
Contented with obscurity."
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi