Most French children learn (and can recite) this classic, French fable (written in 1668) around the tender age of 6-8 years old. The author, Jean da la Fontaine, applied human-like qualities to the animals/principale characters in his poems; the morale of this one is to not trust fake flattery, meant only to deceive. His work was recognized and appreciated by Louis XIV and his court.
LE CORBEAU ET LE RENARD (English version below)
Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l’odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce language:
“Hé ! Bonour, 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 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 tomber 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.
The Crow and the Fox
At the top of a tree perched Master Crow;
In his beak he was holding a cheese.
Drawn by the smell, Master Fox spoke, below.
The words, more or less, were these:
“Hey, now, Sir Crow! Good day, good day!
How very handsome you do look, how grandly distingué!
No lie, if those songs you sing
Match the plumage of your wing,
You’re the phoenix of these woods, our choice.”
Hearing this, the Crow was all rapture and wonder.
To show off his handsome voice,
He opened beak wide and let go of his plunder.
The Fox snapped it up and then said, “My Good Sir,
Learn that each flatterer
Lives at the cost of those who heed.
This lesson is well worth the cheese, indeed.”
The Crow, ashamed and sick,
Swore, a bit late, not to fall again for that trick.
(Translation Source: http://lafontaine.mmlc.northwestern.edu/fables/corbeau_renard_en.html)