Thursday, 10 November 2016

I’ll never lend a book again no matter what - Eustache Deschamps

My books are now lent out in many a place
to people I was sure would have the grace
to give them back, but they’re long overdue.
I won’t consent to one more loan; I’m through
with lending chronicles, or songs, or lays
recording deeds of love, or honour’s praise;
I was needlessly deceived, I see,
and all my pain and labour gone from me.
And my unhappiness, God knows, has this upshot:
I’ll never lend a book again no matter what.

To stick to this idea I must be tough,
but I’ve put myself to trouble and toil enough
and if, in my modest way, what I produce
includes some things that prove to be of use,
I’m happy to give them all away for free
provided people are ready to come to me
and copy; I proclaim to all that they can not
assume henceforth that they, by demand or design,
can get a paper or any book of mine:
I’ll never lend a book again no matter what.

I’ve lost a lot, and this distresses me,
through borrowing, and so I must forbid
any and all to take from me as once they did,
which no one should protest as far as I can see.
No one will be excluded from this oath.
If someone wants my stuff I am not loath.
In fact, I’m happy to give access if he
does not take it outside; let him come to me,
unless he is a powerful lord, and see what I’ve got:
I’ll never lend a book again no matter what.

Envoy
Prince! Eustache, whose head is his tender spot,
begs everyone remember from now on to not
keep any books of mine they may have got:
I’ll never lend a book again no matter what.

Eustache Deschamps (1338 - 1406) France
Translated by David Curzon and Jeffrey Fiskin
Source: Eustache Deschamps Selected Poems, Edited by Ian S.Laurie and Deborah M.Sinnreich-Levi, Routledge, 2003

1 comment:

Please keep your comments relevant and free from abusive language. Thank you.