La Besace - Jean de la Fontaine  

La Besace  
 Jupiter dit un jour : "Que tout ce qui respire   
 S'en vienne comparaître aux pieds de ma grandeur :    
 Si dans son composé quelqu'un trouve à redire,   
 Il peut le déclarer sans peur ;    
 Je mettrai remède à la chose.   
 Venez, Singe ; parlez le premier, et pour cause.   
 Voyez ces animaux, faites comparaison   
 De leurs beautés avec les vôtres.    
 Etes-vous satisfait? - Moi ? dit-il, pourquoi non ?   
 N'ai-je pas quatre pieds aussi bien que les autres ?   
 Mon portrait jusqu'ici ne m'a rien reproché ;    
 Mais pour mon frère l'Ours, on ne l'a qu'ébauché  :   
 Jamais, s'il me veut croire, il ne se fera peindre. "   
 L'Ours venant là-dessus, on crut qu'il s'allait plaindre.    
 Tant s'en faut : de sa forme il se loua très fort    
 Glosa sur l'Eléphant, dit qu'on pourrait encor    
 Ajouter à sa queue, ôter à ses oreilles ;   
 Que c'était une masse informe et sans beauté.    
 L'Eléphant étant écouté,    
 Tout sage qu'il était, dit des choses pareilles.   
 Il jugea qu'à son appétit    
 Dame Baleine était trop grosse.   
 Dame Fourmi trouva le Ciron trop petit,   
 Se croyant, pour elle, un colosse.   
 Jupin les renvoya s'étant censurés tous,    
 Du reste, contents d'eux ; mais parmi les plus fous   
 Notre espèce excella ; car tout ce que nous sommes,    
 Lynx envers nos pareils, et Taupes envers nous,   
 Nous nous pardonnons tout, et rien aux autres hommes :   
 On se voit d'un autre oeil qu'on ne voit son prochain.   
 Le Fabricateur souverain   
 Nous créa Besaciers tous de même manière,    
 Tant ceux du temps passé que du temps d'aujourd'hui :    
 Il fit pour nos défauts la poche de derrière,    
 Et celle de devant pour les défauts d'autrui.    

Translation by Michael Star

                        La Besace*-- The Alms Bag

  One day mighty Jupiter said "Let all living things come 
before me to compare themselves, one with the other.
Let no one be afraid to speak honestly even if they find 
fault.  I shall ensure that no harm comes of it.  Come 
Monkey, you are the one that should begin.  Let all the 
others compare themselves to your beauty.  Tell me, are 
you satisfied with yourelf?"

  "Me?"  He said.  "Why Not!  Is my body not as good as 
any of the others?  And as for my face, there's nothing 
to reproach myself for on that score.  But as for my 
brother the bear, I have to say that I find his features 
rather coarse.  And no artist would ever pick him as a
subject for a painting"

  Everyone expected the bear to reply angrily, but he 
didn't.  Instead he praised his own physique quite loudly.
Then he went on to speak of the Elephant.  He pointed out 
that Elephant could use a longer tail and smaller ears.
In short he declared that the Elephant was quite
misshapen and ugly.

  The Elephant (wise beast that he was) did not retaliate.
Instead, he opined as to how Madame Whale was really too 
fat.  Madame Ant then said that she found the Mite a bit 
too small.  It made her feel that she was a giant.

  At this point Jupiter, hearing all these criticisms, 
angrily told them to stop.  This didn't scare the other
animals who were still self-satisfied.  And among the 
most self satisfied were the humans because that is how
we are: fierce animals when it comes to criticizing others,
and meek when it comes to speaking of our own faults.  We
forgive ourselves everything, and forgive others nothing.

  The Creator made us like alms bags all in the same way:
Those born long ago and those born today. Our own faults 
are buried in the rear pouch. The front pouch is reserved
for the faults of others.

* Besace - A Beggars Bag.  A cylindrical bag with an opening
in centre, forming two pouches.  It was usually carried over
a shoulder.

Computer Translation
The Besace - Jean of the Fountain  
The Besace  
 Jupiter says one day: That everything that breathes   
 Himself as comes to appear to feet of my size:    
 If in his/her/its compound someone finds to retell,   
 He/it can declare it fearless;    
 I will put remedy to the thing.   
 Come, Monkey; speak the first, and for reason.   
 See these animals, make comparison,   
 Of their beauties with yours.    
 Are you satisfied? - Me? does he/it say, why no?   
 Don't I have four feet as well as others?   
 My portrait hitherto doesn't have me nothing reproached;    
 But for my brother the bear, one only outlined him:   
 Ever, if he/it wants me to believe, he/it won't have 
	himself/itself painted.    
 The bear coming on that, one believed that he/it left to pity.    
 So much himself as is necessary: of his/her/its shape he/it 
	rented himself/itself very strong    
 Rambles on on the elephant, says that one would be able to encor    
 To add to his/her/its tail, to take off to his/her/its ears,;   
 That it was a formless mass and without beauty.    
 The elephant being listened,    
 All wise man that he/it was, says some similar things.   
 He/it judged that to his/her/its appetite    
 Lady Whale was too thick.   
 Lady Ant found the too small Ciron,   
 Himself believer, for her, a giant.   
 Jupin sent back them being censored itself/themselves all,    
 Of the remainder, happy of them; but among maddest   
 Our species excelled; because everything that we add,    
 Lynx towards our equal, and Moles towards us,   
 We forgive ourselves all, and nothing to the other men:   
 One sees himself of another eye that one doesn't see 
	his/her/its neighbor.   
 The sovereign Fabricateur   
 Created us in the same way Besaciers all manner,    
 So much those of the time passed that in the days of today:    
 He/it made for our shortcomings poaches it rear,    
 And the one front for shortcomings of others.