38 – Hobbit, Human, and Goblin Songs in The Hobbit

This is the last of a three part series on the songs in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, covering the Hobbit, Human, and Goblin songs in the book. Tolkien wrote many wonderful lyrics in his books, but left behind no official melodies. However, it’s possible to examine the text to get an idea of the instrumentation, rhythm, performance style, and setting for a song.

By following clues in the text, I have come up with tunes for the two songs Bilbo sings when trying to distract giant spiders away from his dwarf friends. I have also written a fuller piece as a musical experiment to reproduce the sounds described in Chapter 10, where the people of Lake-town sing “The King Beneath the Mountains” to celebrate the return of the dwarves to the Lonely Mountain. I gave myself the following rules to follow:

      • The song is sung by a large group of people, with more joining in as the song goes on
      • The only instruments used are fiddles and harps
      • The song is spontaneous and sung with great excitement in a group that is spread out in a large space, so the rhythm will not always be exact and the harmonies will not always lock perfectly
      • There is shouting during the song
      • People of all ages sing the song
      • The mood should be joyful and excited
      • The meter is 4/4 as the lyrics are written with iambic feet.

Here are the results in an audio track. I have also put the song on YouTube to make it easy for parents, teachers, and readers of The Hobbit to find it.

This is just one possible interpretation of the music. Parents, teachers, and young readers can all have fun writing melodies for Tolkien’s lyrics in The Hobbit, and I would love to hear what you come up with!

Mentioned in the episode is the music of From Wilderland to Western Shore, which is a very well done album of Tolkien’s songs performed in a modern bluegrass style. Check them out!

Here is free sheet music for this arrangement. You can find more songs from The Hobbit and other books on my music page.

Sheet music arranged for solo voice and guitar or ukulele

Sheet music arranged for SATB choir

Activity: Write Goblin “Music”

Tolkien’s lyrics in The Hobbit usually have smooth rhythm and excellent use of alliteration and rhyme. But Goblin lyrics change patterns frequently and are intentionally harsh sounding.

Have students examine one of the three Goblin songs in The Hobbit, and as a group come up with a performance of the lyrics. Find unusual percussion items that make sharp, clashing noises to use. Try growling, shouting, croaking, or using other sounds that usually aren’t used in music. Share the results of your musical experiment with an audience if you can!

37 – Dwarven Songs in The Hobbit

Dwarven songs in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien feature 4/4 time signatures, rich instrumentation, and deep male voices singing in harmony. Although Tolkien never wrote any music for his song lyrics, it’s possible to imagine possible melodies based on his descriptions of the music.

Unlike the happy, lilting jigs and waltzes of the Elves, Dwarven songs are richly ornamented, develop slowly, and describe real world events in intricate detail. Their songs can be silly, hopeful, or sad, revealing that Dwarves feel deeply and are more sensitive than one might at first think. The songs sung by the Dwarves tell of their love of lavishly beautiful things, their long memories, and their quest to reclaim the homeland and treasure that was stolen from them.

I have written some music to go with the lyrics of “Under the Mountain Dark and Tall,” trying to create something that matched what Tolkien described. These were the musical requirements based on what I read in Chapter 15 of The Hobbit:

      • Maximum of 12 musicians
      • 4/4 time signature as this matches the rhythm of Tolkien’s chosen poetic meter
      • I can only be sure that the musicians know how to play fiddles, harps, drums, clarinets, flutes, and viols and so should choose from among these instruments
      • The song is “warlike”
      • All singers are male with deep voices
      • Tolkien says the song is much like “Far Over the Misty Mountains” in Chapter 1, which is slow in pace, adds instruments and voices gradually, and evokes the imagination
      • The music should take advantage of the acoustics of a large, cavernous space

I was limited to using mainly software-generated instruments and my soprano voice, so the result isn’t ideal but I think it at least gives listeners one possible interpretation of Tolkien’s words. If any male singers wished to perform this song I would be happy to hear that as it would make for a better musical experiment.

Here is the audio for “Under the Mountain Dark and Tall” as well as a link to a video on YouTube:

Sheet Music for “Under the Mountain Dark and Tall”
words by J.R.R. Tolkien and music by T.Q. Townsend

Arranged for a small mens’ choir

Arranged for solo singer with chords for guitar or ukulele

Activity: Write Music for a Dwarven Song

Choose one of the four dwarven songs written out in The Hobbit. The traits of each song as described in the book are written below. Songwriters may choose to follow these traits closely or follow their inspiration in a different direction. This activity would work well as a songwriting exercise in a music class but should only be offered for extra credit in a literature class. New songwriters may find it useful to recite the lyrics out loud with the desired rhythm, then begin singing out notes that seem to fit.

Chapter 1: “Chip the glasses and crack the plates”
Group singing: Thorin Oakenshield, Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur
Poetic meter: trochaic tetrameter
Musical time signature: 4/4
Instrumentation: Medium sized male choir, possibly dishes or hand and foot movements used as percussion

Chapter 1: “Far Over the Misty Mountains Old”
Group singing: Thorin Oakenshield, Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur
Poetic meter: iambic tetrameter
Musical time signature: 4/4
Instrumentation: Small male choir with fiddles, flutes, drum, clarinets, viols, and harp

Chapter 1: “Far Over the Misty Mountains Old” (Reprise)
Group singing: Thorin Oakenshield
Poetic meter: iambic tetrameter
Musical time signature: 4/4
Instrumentation: Male solo a capella

Chapter 7: “The Wind Was on the Withered Heath”
Group singing: Thorin Oakenshield, Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur
Poetic meter: iambic tetrameter
Musical time signature: 4/4
Instrumentation: Small male choir singing a capella

Chapter 15: “Under the Mountain Dark and Tall”
Group singing: Dwalin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur
Poetic meter: iambic tetrameter
Musical time signature: 4/4
Instrumentation: Small male choir with harps and other instruments

36 – Elven Songs in The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien has the lyrics for many songs, but no official melodies. What might these songs sound like if we follow clues in the text? In the first of three episodes about the music in The Hobbit, we explore the rhythmic structure, instrumentation, and performance style of the book’s five elven songs. The elves of Rivendell sing lilting jigs and waltzes, and dockworkers from Mirkwood sing sturdier songs with a 4/4 beat. Most songs are performed a capella, and the only instrument mentioned is the harp.

Tolkien once wrote a letter to a composer saying that he was “honoured” when a musician was inspired by his writing, as he was very fond of music although did not know how to create it himself. Readers of all musical abilities can have fun writing their own melodies to sing to go along with the elven lyrics in The Hobbit.

Because music is so professionalized these days, amateur artists can often feel that they shouldn’t even try writing a song. But this shouldn’t be the case! Anyone can sing, and anyone can come up with a simple melody. To prove it, I submit my own little composition. I gave myself just one evening to write and record the melody, although I did come back later to arrange the sheet music. I’d be honored if you gave my version a try, and I would love to hear what you come up with! These arrangements may be freely used for non-profit enjoyment.

Here is the audio of my arrangement of “Sing All Ye Joyful” lifted out from the episode, as well as a link to the song on YouTube.

Sheet Music for “Sing All Ye Joyful”
words by J.R.R. Tolkien and music by T.Q. Townsend

Arranged for SATB choirArranged for solo singer with chords for guitar or ukulele

Activity: Write a Melody for an Elven Song

Choose one of the five elven songs written out in The Hobbit. The traits of each song as described in the book are written below. Songwriters may choose to follow these traits closely or follow their inspiration in a different direction. This activity would work well as a songwriting exercise in a music class but should only be offered for extra credit in a literature class. New songwriters may find it useful to recite the lyrics out loud with the desired rhythm, then begin singing out notes that seem to fit.

Chapter 3: “O! What Are You Doing?”
Group singing: Elves of Rivendell
Poetic meter: dactylic dimeter
Musical time signature: 6/8 Jig
Instrumentation: Many male and female voices singing a capella

Chapter 9: “Roll, Roll!”
Group singing: Worker elves of Mirkwood
Poetic meter: spondaic dimeter
Musical time signature: 4/4 March
Instrumentation: Small male choir singing a capella

Chapter 9: “Down the Swift Dark Stream You Go”
Group singing: Worker elves of Mirkwood
Poetic meter: trochaic dimeter
Musical time signature: 4/4 March
Instrumentation: Small male choir singing a capella

Chapter 19: “The Dragon is Withered”
Group singing: Elves of Rivendell
Poetic meter: dactylic dimeter
Musical time signature: 6/8 Jig
Instrumentation: Many male and female voices singing a capella

Chapter 19: “Sing All Ye Joyful”
Group singing: Elves of Rivendell
Poetic meter: dactylic tetrameter
Musical time signature: 3/4 Waltz
Instrumentation: Many male and female voices singing a capella

35 – The Monster at the End of the Best Book Ever

The Monster at the End of this Book starring your furry old pal Grover is the best illustrated children’s book. Ever.

This book doesn’t just break the fourth wall — it completely ignores it. Readers become part of the show by having total control over not just the book itself, but also Grover’s fate.

Activity: Could Grover Have Stopped You?

Ask students what Grover could have possibly done to stop them from turning the pages of The Monster at the End of this Book. Students may complete this activity with a discussion, a written response, or a drawing.

 

 

34 – Ethics and Physics in “The Crow and the Pitcher”

“The Crow and the Pitcher” by Aesop doesn’t just have a wholesome moral that teaches children to solve problems with resilence and creative thinking. This fable also teaches about the concept of displacement in physics!

There’s also a fun video I’ve made to go with this episode at my YouTube channel, starring myself, my daughter, and a very cute puppet.

Activity: Volume Displacement as taught in “The Crow and The Pitcher”

Materials needed
– Black construction paper
– Safety scissors
– White crayons
– A clear plastic pitcher
– A large measuring cup with graduated measurement lines
– pebbles
– electrical tape in any color
– water

Have students use construction paper, crayons, and scissors to draw and cut out images of crows. A white crayon will stand out on the black paper to draw feathers, eyes, and beak details. If this project is being done for a Science Fair, you could buy a puppet instead as that makes for better storytelling.

Partly fill the pitcher with water. Use a strip of electrical tape to mark the water level on the side of the jug. Tell the story of The Crow and The Pitcher. Students can bring their crows to the pitcher as the bird attempts to drink. Have students add pebbles at the right moment in the story. Observe how the water rises as the pebbles displace volume. Have students bring their crows back to the pitcher when the water level is high enough that the bird can “drink.”

Pour off water into the measuring cup until the water level has gone back to the original position. Note the amount of water. This amount tells you the volume of the pebbles added to the pitcher. For younger students, keep the explanation simple: “that’s how much space the pebbles would take up if you could smoosh them all together.” Older students can learn that 1 milliliter equals 1 centimeter cubed, so the solid volume of the rocks in cm3 is the same number as the milliliters of displaced water.

Students may also be interested in researching how scientists have proven that crows are able to understand volume displacement, meaning that it’s possible for this fable to be based on real life observation and not just the author’s imagination.

Music in this episode

Seikilos Epitaph

33 – Is the Yorkshire Speech in The Secret Garden Accurate?

In this episode Rodney Dimbleby, Chair of the Yorkshire Dialect Society, helps to examine three passages from The Secret Garden, which show how Martha, Ben Weatherstaff, and Dickon all use the Yorkshire Dialect. Mr. Dimbleby identified areas where the text could benefit from clarifications to help readers produce a more authentic sound when reading aloud. There’s also an interesting comment from listener Kate (@nurseryrhymeville), who wondered what Mary and Colin’s accents must have been like, given their odd upbringings.

Burnett was too skilled a writer to have made mistakes in writing out the dialect. After this close reading, it’s possible to see plot and character based reasons Burnett may have held back at times from writing in full dialect, as well as practicality concerns around writing a story meant for children.

Most sincere thanks go to Mr. Dimbleby for his help in preparing this episode. Learn more about The Yorkshire Dialect Society at yorkshiredialectsociety.org.uk. Visit Rodney Dimbleby’s website and purchase books he’s written at roddimbleby.co.uk.

Featured Passages from The Secret Garden in this episode

Below is the text of the passages from The Secret Garden as analyzed by Rodney Dimbleby. He has edited each selection into full dialect, allowing an exploration of what such text might look like. It’s easy to see that, while text written in dialect does result in more accurate pronunciation, it’s also harder for readers, especially younger ones, to understand.

Passage from Chapter Four: Original Text

She walked back into the first kitchen-garden she had entered and found the old man digging there. She went and stood beside him and watched him a few moments in her cold little way. He took no notice of her and so at last she spoke to him.

“I have been into the other gardens,” she said.

“There was nothin’ to prevent thee,” he answered crustily.

“I went into the orchard.”

“There was no dog at th’ door to bite thee,” he answered.

“There was no door there into the other garden,” said Mary.

“What garden?” he said in a rough voice, stopping his digging for a moment.

Passage from Chapter Four: Yorkshire dialect

She walked back into the first kitchen-garden she had entered and found the old man digging there. She went and stood beside him and watched him a few moments in her cold little way. He took no notice of her and so at last she spoke to him.

“I have been into the other gardens,” she said.

“Ther wor nowt ter prevent thi,” he answered crustily.

“I went into the orchard.”

“Ther wor no dog at t’ dooar ter bite thi,” he answered.

“There was no door there into the other garden,” said Mary.

“What garden?” he said in a rough voice, stopping his digging for a moment.

Passage from Chapter Seven: Original Text

“I thought perhaps it always rained or looked dark in England,” Mary said.

“Eh! no!” said Martha, sitting up on her heels among her black lead brushes. “Nowt o’ th’ soart!”

“What does that mean?” asked Mary seriously. In India the natives spoke different dialects which only a few people understood, so she was not surprised when Martha used words she did not know.

Martha laughed as she had done the first morning.

“There now,” she said. “I’ve talked broad Yorkshire again like Mrs. Medlock said I mustn’t. ‘Nowt o’ th’ soart’ means ‘nothin’-of-the-sort,’” slowly and carefully, “but it takes so long to say it. Yorkshire’s th’ sunniest place on earth when it is sunny. I told thee tha’d like th’ moor after a bit. Just you wait till you see th’ gold-colored gorse blossoms an’ th’ blossoms o’ th’ broom, an’ th’ heather flowerin’, all purple bells, an’ hundreds o’ butterflies flutterin’ an’ bees hummin’ an’ skylarks soarin’ up an’ singin’. You’ll want to get out on it at sunrise an’ live out on it all day like Dickon does.”

Passage from Chapter Seven: Yorkshire Dialect

“I thought perhaps it always rained or looked dark in England,” Mary said.

“Ee! no!” said Martha, sitting up on her heels among her black lead brushes. “Nowt o’ th’ soart!”

“What does that mean?” asked Mary seriously. In India the natives spoke different dialects which only a few people understood, so she was not surprised when Martha used words she did not know.

Martha laughed as she had done the first morning.

“There now,” she said. “I’ve talked broad Yorkshire again like Mrs. Medlock said I mustn’t.

‘Nowt o’ t’ soart’ means ‘nothin’-of-the-sort,’” slowly and carefully, “but it teks (or taks) so long ter say it. Yorksher’s t’ sunniest place on earth when it is sunny. Ah telled thi tha’d like t’mooar after a bit. Just thee wait till tha sees t’ gold-coloured gorse blossems an’ t’ blossems o’t’ broom, an’ t’ heather flowerin’, all purple bells, an hundreds o’ butterflies an’ bees hummin’ an’ skylarks soarin’ up an’ singin’. Tha’ll want ter get aght on it at sunrise an’ live aght on it all day like Dickon does.”

Passage from Chapter Ten: Original Text

“Where’s that robin as is callin’ us?” he said.

The chirp came from a thick holly bush, bright with scarlet berries, and Mary thought she knew whose it was.

“Is it really calling us?” she asked.

“Aye,” said Dickon, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, “he’s callin’ someone he’s friends with. That’s same as sayin’ ‘Here I am. Look at me. I wants a bit of a chat.’ There he is in the bush. Whose is he?”

“He’s Ben Weatherstaff’s, but I think he knows me a little,” answered Mary.

“Aye, he knows thee,” said Dickon in his low voice again. “An’ he likes thee. He’s took thee on. He’ll tell me all about thee in a minute.”

Passage from Chapter Ten: Yorkshire Dialect

“Wheer’s that robin at’s callin’ us?” he said.

The chirp came from a thick holly bush, bright with scarlet berries, and Mary thought she knew whose it was.

“Is it really calling us?” she asked.

“Aye,” said Dickon, as if it wor t’ most natural thing in t’ world, “he’s callin’ sumbdy he’s friends wi. That’s same as sayin’ ‘Here Ah am. Look at me. Ah want a bit of a chat.’ There he is in t’ bush. Whose is he?”

“He’s Ben Weatherstaff’s, but I think he knows me a little,” answered Mary.

“Aye, he knaws thee,” said Dickon in his low voice ageean. “An’ he likes thee. He’s took thee on. He’ll tell mi all abaht thee in a minute.”

32 – Audiobook: Rune Dances

As a summer holiday treat, here is an audio-only version of my story Rune Dances, which is about having the confidence to try new things, even if that means making mistakes sometimes. I thought an audio track might come in handy for bedtime, short car rides, or other times when staring at a screen wasn’t a good idea. The illustrated version is still up on on YouTube, and I’m working on a Spanish version of Rune Dances that will be out soon. My YouTube channel will feature original stories and also occasional podcast episodes that might especially benefit from images.

Regular episodes will resume next week when I’m back from vacation.

 

You can find my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbS2bL6bZhjsgsFryd4KUrw. Subscribe to see what’s coming!

31 – Much Ado About Teen Drama

The characters in Shakespeare’s comedy Much Ado About Nothing — and the social drama they create — will be very familiar to high schoolers.  The young people in this story bicker, gossip, rush to judgment, send friends to handle tricky conversations for them, and fail to consider the reliability of information before repeating it.

The characters in the play mostly come in pairs. The most interesting character contrast happens between Benedick, who is patient, thoughtful, mature, and his good friend Claudio, who is hot-headed, impulsive, and easily manipulated. Teenagers studying this play can look at Benedick and Claudio for excellent examples of who is boyfriend material and who is not, considering how their actions would affect real life relationships.

Activity: Claudio’s Apology

Claudio never apologizes to anyone for his mistakes and bad behavior in Much Ado About Nothing. He feels sorrow, but he never actually says he is sorry. Have students write a letter from Claudio to Hero apologizing for what he did to her. In the letter, he should not make excuses for why he acted as he did or try to shift blame elsewhere. He should take responsibility for his actions and accept the consequences, explain what he should have done, and offer to make what amends he can.

After writing letters, students can share what they have written with one another.

Activity: Should Hero Take Claudio Back?

In Much Ado About Nothing the happy ending is very satisfying. The wicked plot to break up Claudio and Hero is exposed, the good guys are laughing and dancing, and the bad guys have been hauled off to jail. However, if the story happened to young people in real life, everyone may have reacted quite differently.

Ask students to consider the following questions about actions that characters take in this play. Students may use the questions as prompts for discussion or answer one or more of them in writing.

    • How do you think you would react if you were treated the way Hero was when Claudio accused her of cheating on him on their wedding day in front of all of their friends and family?
    • At first, Leonato believes the accusations against his daughter. He shouts at Hero about how disappointed he is and even says he wishes she would die. How would it feel to be treated this way by a parent? How should Leonato have acted instead?
    • Do you think Hero should have resumed her relationship with Claudio  after he had caused her so much harm? Why or why not?
    • What punishment would be appropriate for Don John?
    • Is it ethical for friends to scheme to get couples together, even if the intentions and outcome are good?

Activity: Modern-day Beatrice and Benedick

Choose a scene from Much Ado About Nothing in which Beatrice and Benedick have a “merry war” of words between one another. Rewrite the scene, using the same style of insults and teasing but with modern-day English. The scene could be written as a theatrical script or in prose.

Music In This Episode

“I Care Not For These Ladies” by Thomas Campian from Philip Rosseter’s A Booke of Ayres (1601)

“Breake Now My Heart and Dye” by Thomas Campian from The Third Booke of Ayres (1617)

30 – A Cinderella Story from Ancient China

“Ye Xian” is a story first published over 1,000 years ago, but it follows the familiar pattern of Cinderella stories from all over the world. People often mistakenly think that Cinderella stories are just about pretty dresses, going to parties, and depending on a man instead of taking care of yourself. But what these stories are really about is social and economic power, featuring wise young women who make the best choices available to them to escape from a bad life into a better one.

This story contains many classic elements of a Cinderella tale — an orphaned young woman mistreated by abusive relatives, magical assistance to help her enter the world of the wealthy and powerful, and finally an escape from her desperate existence due to her own good virtues. There’s even a missing shoe!

The story can be understood easily by modern readers, but learning a little about traditional Chinese beliefs and the symbolism of certain colors and animals can help readers have a deeper appreciation for this charming story from long ago.

If your kids want to hear the story of “Ye Xian” on its own, it can be found on the Folk Tales page with other stories from around the world.

Activity: What Can Modern Builders Learn from a Yaodong?

As land grows more expensive, houses become more difficult and costly to build, and building materials have to be shipped ever longer distances,  home ownership becomes unrealistic for more and more people. We ought to consider ways that houses can be made less expensive, create less pollution, and cause less long-term damage to our world. Sometimes it helps to look back in order to know the best path forward.

The setting for “Ye Xian” is in an area where people lived in a type of home called a yaodong. The word directly means “house cave,” but these are not natural caves. They are comfortable homes cut from rock using very old and very effective engineering techniques. Students can investigate the ways a traditional Chinese yaodong might help builders create modern homes that are beautiful, comfortable, affordable, and don’t damage the environment.

Have students search for images of traditional and modern yaodongs. There are two styles, both usually cut from a kind of terrain called loess. The most common style is cut directly into a natural hillside. Another style involves excavating a square pit, shaping it into a courtyard, and then cutting caves into the walls. Students can research the engineering of both styles of yaodong, comparing the traits and advantages of each style. Students can learn about the following concepts in building:

Insulation – Cave homes keep a steady temperature because rock does not heat up or cool down quickly.
Energy efficiency – Cave homes use less fuel to keep people warm or cool because of the cave’s good insulation. This saves money and reduces pollution.
Soundproofing – Cave homes are quiet because sound waves don’t travel very well through rock.
Weatherproofing – Cave homes, when built correctly, do not let water or wind into the home.
Sustainable – Because cave homes are carved directly out of rock, very few building materials need to be brought in from other places. The excavated stone can be crushed into gravel for roads or used as building blocks for other structures. This saves money and means less pollution is created by making building materials and transporting them to construction sites. Fewer trees need to be cut down to build a yaodong, since wood might only be used for doors, window frames, or furniture.

The results of research can be shared in a written report, class presentation, video, or art project.

29 – A French Lesson with The Fables of La Fontaine

Generations of French children have grown up reading and memorizing the Fables of Jean de La Fontaine, and these stories have had a huge impact on the French language.

You can’t really be fluent in any language unless you know certain stories, songs, and figures of speech, most of which are learned in childhood. Native speakers of French are almost automatically familiar with the Fables of Jean de La Fontaine, who collected and retold 239 fables in twelve books. Each story contains pithy phrases and morals that show up repeatedly in common speech, news articles, political cartoons, and even scientific papers.

This episode takes a look at one of La Fontaine’s Fables — Les Animaux Malades de la Peste, or Animals Sick with the Plague. Originally written by Aesop, this is a deeply political tale that is sadly still relevant today with its moral warning that it is easy for the powerful to escape justice, instead heaping blame upon a weaker — and innocent — scapegoat.

Activity: The Moral of the Story . . .

Have students read one of the Fables of La Fontaine. If you or your kids are able to read French, the original versions can be found here:

www.la-fontaine-ch-thierry.net/fables.htm

A selection of the Fables translated into English can be found here:

en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Original_Fables_of_La_Fontaine

After reading a fable, have students fill out this printable worksheet, which has spaces for the following:

      • Name of the fable
      • Origin of the fable (Aesop? Horace? A French folktale?)
      • Most interesting sentence in the fable
      • What is the moral of this story?
      • How can you use this moral to improve your life?

Students can then share their findings with one another.

Activity: Translating Important French Phrases from the Fables

This activity is appropriate for kids who are learning the French language and have enough ability to engage in short translations. Below is a list of some commonly quoted phrases from the Fables de La Fontaine. Alone, in pairs, or in small groups as appropriate, have students translate one or more of the phrases into their native language. Then, ask the students to try to figure out what the moral means. It may be necessary to read the fable from which the quote is derived in order to get good context. Students should then share their findings with one another.

Title of Fable – Book, Number Quotation
La Cigale et la Fourmi – I, 1 Eh bien ! Dansez maintenant.
Le Corbeau et le Renard – I, 2 Apprenez que tout flatteur, vit aux dépens de celui qui l’écoute.
Le Loup et l’Agneau – I, 10 La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure
Les Frelons et les Mouches à miel – I, 21 À l’œuvre on connaît l’artisan.
Le Lion et le Rat – II, 11 On a souvent besoin d’un plus petit que soi.
Le Renard et le Bouc – III, 5 En toute chose il faut considérer la fin.
Le Petit Poisson et le Pêcheur – V, 3 Petit poisson deviendra grand, pourvu que Dieu lui prête vie.
Le Petit Poisson et le Pêcheur – V, 3 Un Tiens vaut, ce dit-on, mieux que deux Tu l’auras.
Le Lièvre et la Tortue – VI, 10 Rien ne sert de courir; il faut partir à point.
Le Chartier embourbé – VI, 18 Aide-toi, le Ciel t’aidera.
Le Lion amoureux – IV, 1 Amour, Amour, quand tu nous tiens, on peut bien dire: Adieu prudence.
L’Ours et les Deux Compagnons – V, 20 Il m’a dit qu’il ne faut jamais, vendre la peau de l’ours qu’on ne l’ait mis par terre.
Les Animaux Malades de la Peste – VII, 1 Ils ne mouraient pas tous, mais tous étaient frappés.
Les Animaux Malades de la Peste – VII, 1 Crier Haro sur le baudet.
Les Animaux Malades de la Peste – VII, 1 Selon que vous serez puissant ou misérable, les jugements de cour vous rendront blanc ou noir.
Les Lapins – X, 15 Mais les ouvrages les plus courts sont toujours les meilleurs.
Le Milan et le Rossignol – IX, 18 Ventre affamé n’a point d’oreilles.