This page contains a text in Old French with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old French Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old French language and its speakers' culture.
Sire Tiercelin, le Corbiau,
Qui cuide estre avenant et biau,
Tenoit en son bech un fromage.
Renart, qui a fait maint dommaige,
Par mi le bois chassant couroit
Com cil qui de grant fain mouroit.
Le fromaige li vit tenir;
Bien scet qu'il n'i puet avenir
Se n'est par art et par engin.
"Ha," dit Renart, "biau Tiercelin,
Qui estes enparentés,
Dommaiges iert que ne chantés
Aussi bien com fist vostre pere.
Se aussi chantissiez, par saint Pere,
Je cuit qu'en tout le bois n'eüst
Oisel qui tant a tous pleüst."
Le Corbiau, qui pas n'aperçoit
Que Renart l'engingne et deçoit,
Et qui par son chant plaire cuide,
En chanter met si grant estude
Que son fromage li cheï.
Renart ne fu pas esbaï,
Qui son chant mout petit prisa;
Le fromaige tantost pris a,
Si le menja trestout Renart;
Oncques Tiercelin n'i ot part.
Mout en fu dolent le Corbiau,
Et de honte li croist son diau.
La moralité :
Qui vaine gloire quiert et chace,
Sa perte et sa honte pourchace.
Fausse honneur, ce poués entendre,
Maint grand anuy souvent engendre.
Les fols qui quierent vainne gloire
Sieulent assés de honte boire;
Gloire les met hors de leur sen.
Plus saige tien dame Hersen
Qui viut sa coloingne filer;
Pour ce ne la doi aviler.
Qui veut estre trop apparent,
De faintise n'avra garent.
Sir Tiercelin, the Raven,
Who thinks he is attractive and handsome,
Had a cheese in his beak
Renart, who has done much harm,
Ran through the forest hunting
Like someone who would die of great hunger.
He saw him hold the cheese;
He knows well that he cannot get to it
Unless by craft and cheating.
"Ha," says Renart, "dear Tiercelin,
You who are of noble lineage,
It is a pity that you do not sing
As well as did your father.
If you sang as well, by St Peter,
I think that there would be no bird
In the entire forest who would please all that much."
The Raven, who does not notice
That Renart deceives and misleads him,
And who thinks that he will please with his singing,
Puts such great zeal in his singing
That his cheese fell.
Renart was not surprised,
Who appreciated his singing very little;
Renart has taken the cheese immediately,
And ate it completely
Tiercelin never had a portion of it.
The Raven was very sorry about it,
And his grief increases because of shame.
Whoever looks and hunts for vain glory,
Pursues his fall and his disgrace.
False honor, this you can understand,
Often causes very great pain.
The crazy people who pursue vain glory
Are used to drinking much disgrace;
Glory puts them out of their senses.
I consider lady Hersen wiser
Who wants to draw threat from her distaff;
And for that reason I do not have to disgrace her.
Whoever wants to be too visible,
Will have no protection from deceit.