La formigueta (English translation)

English translation

The Little Ant

[Once there was a little ant that was going to Jerusalem
She1 crossed over the ice, and the ice broke her little leg.
“Ice, how wicked you are!
You broke my little leg,”
says the little ant that was going to Jerusalem.]
A little ant,
A day in the month of March,
Broke her little leg
Sliding on the ice.
And she cried out, irritated:
“Ice how wicked you are!
You broke my leg!
You’re nothing but an old killjoy!”
And the ice responded:
“You’ll find one even meaner!
The sun makes me melt;
I’m soon knocked out.
This hanging lamp that lights up
Across the sky,
Against him what can I do?
I’m just a bit of ice.”
The celestial body becomes flustered:
“There nothing that I can do
When the weather becomes cloudy.
I can’t do anything about
This bunch of cotton!
When it passes in the sky,
It’s not because of me that everything hides.
It makes me close my eyes!”
The clouds told him:
“Who knows our path?
It’s the wind that turns us.
We can’t get away from him!
This blowing of a giant
Does us great harm,
Huffing and puffing with the strength of its lungs,
It makes us lose north!”
But the wind retorted:
“What stories are you telling me
When walls and mountains
Cut off my path?”
The mountains mumbled:
“What about the rats
That always gnaw at us?
They pierce through our gables!”
The rat made this reply:
“It’s only to hide ourselves
That we act like miners
To protect ourselves from the cat!
There are tomcats that wait for us,
That lick their lips.
They are always waging war against us.
Life is a gambler’s den!”
But the cats become cross:
“It’s always raining buckets
When the mutt snatches me up!
No mercy for me,
Those horrible beasts
That bark non-stop,
When they make a sport of us
They don’t stay fasting2!
And the dog becomes annoyed:
“What are you telling me here?
When the stick beats me
I don’t do anything wrong.”
And the cane grumbles:
“This is my sad fate;
The fire, when it eats away at me,
Is easily the strongest.”
The fire says: “Liar,
Quit being half a fool!
There’s the spring water
That puts me out when it wants.”
And the water cried:
“There’s one much stronger than I!
One strike and I lose my life
When the cow drinks me.”
And the cow mumbles:
“My fate is unfortunate.
Man murders me!
He’s the strongest!”
And the man curls up into a ball
He says so sadly:
“It is death that kills me,
There is no eternity!”
  • 1. ”Ant” is feminine grammatical gender in Occitan.
  • 2. e.g. "abstaining from food"
Submitted by tdwarms on Sun, 31/12/2017 - 01:46
Author's comments:

This song is based off the Catalan version of a children's tale entitled "La formigueta que va a Jerusalem," which to my knowledge first appeared in print in Catalan in 1925. It can be read here. I have seen it in English and French in a children's language primer dated to 1880, which can be accessed here. If anyone has any more information, feel free to leave a comment below!


There is also a charming children's school play of this tale in Catalan, which can be viewed here.


La formigueta

Idioms from "La formigueta"
See also