La vache la première au pré, lèche toute la rosée.

La vache la première au pré, lèche toute la rosée.

lah vahsh lah pruh-meeYAY roh pray, lesh toot lah roh-ZAY. Click below to hear this and the second proverb. 

The early bird gets the worm.

This post is for my brother, who barely avoided an interesting encounter with a herd of cows recently. That’s right, cows. As you can see, today’s phrase has nothing to do with birds–early or late–or worms.

It’s about cows. The proverb goes like this: The first cow in the pasture licks up all the dew. Not being a grass-eater myself, I can’t tell you the advantages of licking all the dew, except that maybe it makes the grass juicier. But if you’re a cow, I suppose you do get the tenderest morsels if you can beat the rest of the herd to it.

French has a more classic way to express the same thought: L’avenir appartient à ceux qui se lèvent tôt, which means The future belongs to those who rise early. (Pronounce it this way: /laav-nee raa-paar-tee-aa ah suh kee slev toe/.) As painful as that thought is to me–I have never been a morning person–it’s a widely-accepted precept. It’s a form of Carpe diem, Seize the day. It puts a moral spin on our bedtime habits. If you’re a morning slug, you’re a bad person.

Then there’s Benjamin Franklin, who is quoted as having said “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” A classic statement of moral judgment on those who sleep late or stay up late!

Of course, there is the tongue-in-cheek saying in English: The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. All is not dark and gloomy in the world of the latecomer.

Alternate audio file link: la-vache-la-premiere-au-pre


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