Version 9 April 2013
by Eric M. Palmer
with appreciation to the unknown originator of this fable.
In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to his heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn she was taking to the nest. “Why not come and sing with us,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you do the same.”
“Your message offends me, sister ant, and I do not like being made to be afraid.” said the stately Grasshopper. “Besides; why bother about winter now, when the weather is so fine? We have got plenty of food at present, and plenty of time. In fact, we’ve never had it so good. God loves us and will take care of us. The field is vast, and it is unthinkable that all this abundance should vanish.”
“You think God is involved in this question?” asked the ant.
“I do.” said the grasshopper, looking down his long green nose.
“Then consider Proverbs 6:6-8. ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer and gathereth her food in the harvest.’
“A mere splinter in all the scriptures” said the grasshopper. “Not representative at all of the messages of peace and comfort.” But the Ant, seeking peace and comfort in diligence and obedience rather than denial, went on her way and continued her toil without further warnings to the grasshopper.
By and by the first frost halted the surfeit of summer, and the shorter days seemed sufficient only to gather the meals thereof. Came the snows, and the stores of summer were no more; and the Grasshopper found himself shaken in his faith, deserted by his fair weather friends, and terribly hungry; while he imagined the ants distributing corn and grain every day from the reserves they had collected during summer. I say ‘imagined’ because the ants were nowhere to be found. Some had gone into the trees, some were deep underground, but all were safe and happy, in places grasshoppers cannot go.
Then the Grasshopper knew: summer has an end; Truth is never too harsh; diligent preparation can make the difference between life and death; and one ought not to dance or sing or play — until the work is done. But, alas, this wisdom came too late, and all the grasshoppers died that winter.
(The Grasshopper And The Ant – By Jean de La Fontaine 17th Century -)
The Grasshopper had spent his entire summer singing, dancing and playing. He had even went so far in his merriment to taunt and tease his friend the Ant, who had spent her days and nights gathering food. “Ho there, Ant!” the Grasshopper laughed, “What a fine day it is to dance! And yet you waste your time doing chores! “Do you not know how to enjoy life?” The Ant, tired from her work, nonetheless shook her head and continued. “I’m working,” she said as she continued her tasks “There will be plenty of time to sing and dance when the chores are finished.” To this statement the Grasshopper merely laugh and danced some more. “You collect more food than you can possibly eat in a day!” The world is plentiful, dear Ant! Do not be so greedy!” he cried as he spun himself in circles. The Ant continued her work The Ant continued her work diligently as summer turned to fall and then to winter. As the snow fell and the blizzards rages, the Ant found comfort in her home stocked well with food and supplies. One day a knock came on her door, and she was surprised to find the Grasshopper outside, half-starved and freezing. “Please, dear Ant,” he begged “Please give me some food and shelter!” The Ant looked upon him and said “Grasshopper, I worked very hard all summer long and gathered enough supplies to feed and shelter myself for the winter, but not for you as well… what did you do all summer long?” To this the once merry Grasshopper replied “I sang and danced and played, all through the days and into the nights! It was a wonderful time!” The Ant shook her head and said “If it was so enjoyable a thing to be doing, perhaps you should continue to do so now.” The Grasshopper, shivering and weak, cried “I cannot! I am too cold and hungry! Have mercy, dear Ant! I will repay you in kind tenfold this summer!” The Ant, seeing that the Grasshopper had learned his lesson, invited him in for soup. She had worked harder than she had admitted, just in case an emergency such as this might occur, and had ample supplies for the two of them. The following summer the Grasshopper helped the Ant with the chores each day, which left each evening for the both of them to enjoy singing and dancing, and never again did the Grasshopper find himself in the cold during the winter.