Corneille, perché sur les Racines de La Bruyère, Boileau de La Fontaine Molière.

A memnonic phrase attributed to Victor Hugo as a device to remind himself of his favorite authors, some of the most important figures in seventeenth century French literature. Loosely translated, it reads,

The crow (Corneille), perched on the roots (Racine) of the heather (La Bruyère), drinks the water (Boileau) of the Molière fountain (La Fontaine).

In translation, it looses much of the rhyme, rhythm, pun, and meaning. Say it in French, out loud. It's fun.

I came across this phrase while reading a rather obscure (in America, that is) book called L'Etrange Desti de Wangrin, by Francophone Sudanese author Amadou Hampate Ba.

I've searched for this phrase repeatedly on the internet, but have failed to find any mentions whatsoever. It's really a shame, as I'd hate to see such an interesting and witty turn of phrase disappear.

A distillation of history and associations of literature in one damn cool sentence.