Tag Archives: idealism



(Translated from the French of Louise Labé)

As soon as I begin to drift anew
In my bed’s feathery soft cave,
Toward the restfulness I crave,
Sadness wanders off, dissolves in you.

Then I realize the good that I pursue
And sigh so loudly for, I hold engraved
In my own heart, and I am laved
With such fierce sobbing I could break in two.

O happy night all mine! O gentle drowse,
Sweet rest so filled with peace—
Carry on my dream as nights go by.

And if my loving soul is not supposed
Ever to have good things in truth, at least
Then, let me have them in a lie.

…………………………………….© Cynthia Jobin, 2014
SONNET IX (English)

Tout aussi tôt que je commence à prendre
Dens le mol lit le repos désiré,
Mon triste esprit hors de moy retiré
S’en va vers toy incontinent se rendre.

Lors m’est avis que dedens mon sein tendre
Je tiens le bien, où j’ay tant aspiré,
Et pour lequel j’ay si haut souspiré,
Que de sanglots ay souvent cuidé fendre.

O dous sommeil, o nuit à moy heureuse!
Plaisant repos, plein de tranquilité,
Continuez toutes les nuiz mon songe:

Et si jamais ma povre âme amoureuse
Ne doit avoir de bien en vérité,
Faites au moins qu’elle en ait en mensonge.

SONNET IX (French)

As noted before (see SONNET II and SONNET VIII in archives) many translations of Louise Labé’s poetry already exist–some almost transliterations, others keeping close to lexical meaning but with little attention to the petrarchan poetic form she employed. Because French poetry is primarily syllabic and English poetry more accentual, I have observed the sonnet rhyme scheme and meter, but not the syllabic counts. What I have attempted is to make a poem from a poem.
Source: 1556 text in Renaissance French, from François Rigolot’s
Louise Labé: Oeuvres Complètes.



Once upon a time
in a house on dry land…

after the fierce flood
folded into the lips of mud,
the door flung open to
the sunburned yard
where a woman of salt
crouched over her lost arm

long after sand
shifted the weight of time,
drifting over the litter
of the sandman’s bones
and a bird flew in
with a get-well card

when the overtures
were over
and the happy harm of
war, and two-by-two
were not enough to rhyme
with an immaculate
conception’s dovely tones,
branch bringing only
echoes of
the olive’s flesh singing

after all this and
the nerve-wracking babble
of lesser birds messing
the eaves of the unfinished
tower, the monument
standing broken-fingered
halfway to its heaven
when the hammer left
the hand, and below,
the dumb, nose-thumbing

even after
the black widow’s power
was washed from each
room where it lingered,
dead rainbows
clung to the windows and

….there lived a whale
in the belly of a man.