Tag Archives: antitheses



(translated from the French of Louise Labé.  The original below)


I live, I die.  I burn, I drown.
Enduring cold, I am most hot.
Life is too hard, and it’s too soft.
Joy insinuates when I am down.

I can weep suddenly, or be a clown;
Know torment and take pleasure in the lot.
It flees, yet it endures, what wealth I’ve got.
I am a desert, yet in green abound.

So love takes me to and fro
That in my deepest misery
The pain is gone before I know.

And when I’m confident the glow of
Happiness will last forever at its apogee–
I am reduced again to my first woe.

____________________________copyright Cynthia Jobin, 2014


Je vis, je meurs:  je me brule et  me noye.
J’ay chaut estreme en endurant froidure:
La vie m’est et trop molle et drop dure.
J’ay grans ennuis entremeslez de joye:

Tout à un coup je ris et je larmoye,
Et en plaisir maint grief tourment j’endure:
Mon bien s’en va, et à jamais il dure:
Tout en un coup je seiche et je verdoye.

Ainsi Amour inconstamment me meine:
Et quand je pense avoir plus de douleur,
Sans y penser je me treuve hors de peine.

Puis quand je croy ma joye estre certeine,
Et estre au haut de mon désiré heur,
Il me remet en mon premier malheur.



This sonnet is in the typical petrarchist manner of a “sonnet of antitheses”.
As noted before, (see SONNET II, archives, Feb. 5, 2014), many translations of Louise Labé’s poetry already exist—some almost transliterations, others keeping close to lexical meaning but with little or no attention to the petrarchan poetic form she employed.  What I have attempted is to make a poem from a poem.
Source:  1556 text in Renaissance French, from Franc̡ois Rigolot’s  Louise Labé:  Oeuvres Complètes.