Poetry Tuesday: Le Temps A Laissie

By Charles D’Orleans (1349-1465), which you have to admit is a pretty French-sounding name.

The weather’s cast away its cloak
Of wind and rain and chilling haze;
It clads itself in broideries
Of crystal sunlit rays.

There’s not a beast or bird but sings
Or cries out in its own sweet strain:
The weather’s cast away its cloak
Of wind and cold and rain.

The whole wide earth is dressed anew:
River, fountain, and brook now wear
Drops of silver, jewels of gold—
The weather’s cast away its cloak
Of wind and rain and cold.


Poetry Tuesday: Villon’s Quatrain

By Francois Villon, 1431-1463.

(Not sure how accurate this translation from the French is, considering it rhymes in English.)

France’s I am; my lookout’s glum.
From Paris (near Pontoise) I come,
And soon my neck, depending from
A rope, will learn the weight of my bum.


Poetry Tuesday: Rome

By Frenchman Joachim du Bellay, written around 1558. The first verse might have been an inspiration for Ozymondius.

You, who behold in wonder Rome and all
Her former passion, menacing the gods,
These ancient palaces and baths, the sods
Of seven hills, and temple, arch, and wall,
Consider in the ruins of her fall,
That which destroying Time has gnawed away–
What workmen built with labor day by day
Only a few worn fragments now recall.

Then look again and see where, endlessly
Treading upon her own antiquity,
Rome has rebuilt herself with works as just:
There you may see the demon of the land
Forcing himself again with fatal hand
To raise the city from this ruined dust.


Poetry Tuesday: Li Sons D’un Cornet

Anonymous French from almost 1000 years ago. Can’t help but wonder if Lewis Carroll ever saw this. . .

The note of a trumpet was eating the heart of a thunderbolt with vinegar
When a dead hobnail caught the course of a star in a bird-trap.
In the air there was a grain of rye, when the barking of a roasting spit
And the stump of a piece of cloth found a worn-out fart and cut off its ear.


Poetry Tuesday: A Memory

Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, 1786-1859

When he grew pale, and his voice trembled,
And suddenly he could no longer speak;
When his eyes, burning beneath the lid,
Gave me a wound I thought he felt alike;
When all his charms, lighted by a fire
That has never faded,
Were printed in the depth of my desire,
He did not love. I did.


Poetry Tuesday: Long-Felt Desires

Louise Labe (French, 1525-1566)

Long-felt desires, hopes as long as vain–
sad sighs–slow tears accustomed to run sad
into as many rivers as two eyes could add,
pouring like fountains, endless as the rain–
cruelty beyond humanity, a pain
so hard it makes compassionate stars go mad
with pity: these are the first passions I’ve had.
Do you think love could root in my soul again?
If it arched the great bow back again at me,
licked me again with fire, and stabbed me deep
with the violent worst, as awful as before,
the wounds that cut me everwhere would keep
me shielded, so there would be no place free
for love. It covers me. It can pierce no more.


Poetry Tuesday: The Young Fools

Paul Verlaine, 19th century France

High-heels were struggling with a full-length dress
So that, between the wind and the terrain,
At times a shining stocking would be seen,
And gone too soon. We liked that foolishness.

Also, at times a jealous insect’s dart
Bothered our beauties. Suddenly a white
Nape flashed beneath the branches, and this sight
Was a delicate feast for a young fool’s heart.

Evening fell, equivocal, dissembling,
The women who hung dreaming on our arms
Spoke in low voices, words that had such charms
That ever since our stunned soul has been trembling.


Poetry Tuesday: Every Long and Wide Expanse of Sea

By Maurice Sceve, French, 1510-1562

Every long and wide expanse of sea,
Every whirling verge of solid land,
Every mountain ridge both low & high,
Every distant site of day & night,
Every space between, O you who unsettle me,
Will be filled by your inexorability.
Thus traversing the spans of time,
You will surmount the height of stars,
Your sacred name, under my lazy spell,
Setting full sail, beyond all heaven & all hell.