Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Quand vous serez bien vieille - Pierre de Ronsard

When you are old, in evening's candle-light
and skeining wool before the fireside blaze,
you'll read my verses, marvel, speak of days
‘when I was beautiful in Ronsard's sight.’

No servant working, half asleep at night,
but starts at mention of my name, and stays
to hear the homage of my well-wrought praise
retrieve your loveliness from time's despite.

But I in earth, a disembodied guest,
shall in the shade of myrtles have my rest,
while huddled up in hearth, a crone you'll stay
regretting love and those past vows you scorned.
Believe me, live. By afterwards be warned
to gather in life's roses of today.

Pierre de Ronsard (1524 – 1585) France
Sonnet 43 from Le Second Livre des Sonnets pour Héléne (1578)
Translated by Colin John Holcombe

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