Jean de la Fontaine is he most famous fabulist in Europe after Aesop, from whom he borrowed extensively. He collected fables from all over the world, and re-wrote them in his own style. He was born in 1621. Although he is principally known for his fables, he was also a poet, playwright and novelist.

The fable of sour grapes is perhaps his best-known. Interestingly the usage of the term “sour grapes” has somewhat changed over the years.

Here is the English translation I made, followed by the original.

A fox from Gascony_ but might have been Normandy

Almost starving had espied on an espalier

Some ripe grapes destined for brandy

Covered in a ruby layer

The codger, now relieved thought finally lunch

But when he found he could not reach the bunch

He sneered, they’re still green, only good for weeds.

Wasn’t that better than to sulk and weep?

Fox under grapevine

Certain Renard Gascon, d’autres disent Normand,

Mourant presque de faim, vit au haut d’une treille

Des Raisins mûrs apparemment,

Et couverts d’une peau vermeille.

Le galand en eût fait volontiers un repas ;

Mais comme il n’y pouvait atteindre :

“Ils sont trop verts, dit-il, et bons pour des goujats. “

Fit-il pas mieux que de se plaindre ?

Prizewinning playwright. Mathematician. Teacher. Professional Siesta addict.

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