Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Jean de La Fontaine - 1668

Translated into English
  by Frederick Colin Tilney - 1913

Original title (French):
La ForĂȘt et le BĂ»cheron

Country of origin: France


English - aligned

Add a translation

The Forest and the Woodcutter

Jean de La Fontaine / Frederick Colin Tilney

A woodcutter had broken or lost the handle of his hatchet and
found it not easy to get it repaired at once. During the time,
therefore, that it was out of use, the woods enjoyed a respite from
further damage. At last the man came humbly and begged of the forest to
allow him gently to take just one branch wherewith to make him a new
haft, and promised that then he would go elsewhere to ply his trade and
get his living. That would leave unthreatened many an oak and many a fir
that now won universal respect on account of its age and beauty.

The innocent forest acquiesced and furnished him with a new handle. This
he fixed to his blade and, as soon as it was finished, fell at once upon
the trees, despoiling his benefactress, the forest, of her most
cherished ornaments. There was no end to her bewailings: her own gift
had caused her grief.

Here you see the way of the world and of those who follow it. They use
the benefit against the benefactors. I weary of talking about it. Yet
who would not complain that sweet and shady spots should suffer such
outrage. Alas! it is useless to cry out and be thought a nuisance:
ingratitude and abuses will remain the fashion none the less.