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The Ant and the Cricket is a fable written in the form of a poem by Greek writer Aesop. A fable is a short story in which animals behave like humans and convey a message.
The poem The Ant and the Cricket is a story of two insects – a cricket (a grasshopper-like insect) and an ant. The cricket is silly that does not care about the future and keeps enjoying the summer season rather than collecting food or making a shelter for itself.
On the other hand, the ant is wise. Instead of wasting time it gathers food for itself and makes shelter.
I have divided the poem into three parts for making it easy to understand.
A silly young cricket......
"Oh! what will become," says the cricket, "of me?".
The poet says that there was a silly (who lacks sense or wisdom) young cricket (a grasshopper-like insect) who was accustomed to sing (i.e. he used to enjoy) during the spring and summer seasons.
Gay means happy and enjoyable. The poet calls spring and summer seasons gay because they are full of life. There is greenery everywhere. Food and water are in abundance (in large numbers).
However soon, those months of rejoicing and joy passed away and winter came. Now the cricket was in trouble. He began to complain when he found that his cupboard was empty at his home. There was not even a crumb (a small fragment of bread) i.e. there was nothing to eat.
There was snow on the ground and he could not see even one flower or a leaf on the tree. Seeing this he becomes sad and exclaims, “Oh! what will become of me?”.
At last by starvation and famine made bold......
.........If not, he must die of starvation and sorrow
The cricket had not eaten anything and was starving with hunger. It mustered its courage and set off to seek the help of a miserly (tiny) ant (to provide it a mouthful of grain i.e. food and shelter from the rain). There was famine (unavailability of food), chilling cold and perhaps raining which made the cricket wet and shiver a lot while traveling.
It wished (requested) the ant to lend it some food and shelter and promised to repay by the next day or else it will die because of chilling cold, hunger and sorrow of not doing anything.
Says the ant to the cricket......
.........For all nature looked gay."
Hearing to the cricket, the ant answers that it considers itself to be his (cricket’s) servant as well as a friend. However, the ants never borrow anything from others nor lend anything.
Saying this the ant asks the cricket why did it (the cricket) not gather anything when the weather was warm; during spring and summer (i.e. when it was the appropriate time).
Hearing to the ant, the cricket replies that its heart was so light i.e. it was quite happy and did not care about the future. The cricket further says that it kept singing day and night i.e. all the time as all nature looked gay i.e. everything looked happy and joyful.
He thought that the beauty of spring and summer, as well as abundance of food and shelter, will always remain there. He never cared about the future.
"You sang, Sir?, you say?......
.........some crickets have four legs, and some have two.
Listening to the cricket, the ant tells him that he was singing and enjoying during the spring and summer, now he should do the same and the winter will go away.
Saying this, the ant hastily lifted the wicket i.e. quickly ended the conversation and pushed the poor cricket out of the door.
In the last two lines, the poet says that folks i.e. people call the story of ant and cricket a fable (i.e. an untrue story).
However, he thinks that the story is quite true because there are many crickets with four legs as well as with two i.e. there are insects like cricket who do not care about future and also humans (crickets with two legs here refer to humans) who do not care about their future and repent when the time is gone.