Tag Archives: women poets



(A translation from the French of Louise Labé, 16th century. Original given below)


Lute, dear companion of my discontent,
Innocent witness to my sighs,
Fair steward of my sad outcries,
How often you have joined in my lament.

So bothered by my mood’s descent
That having once begun to improvise
A happy tune you suddenly revise it,
Mimicking my plaintive instrument.

And should I bid you play a major key
You hold back, in the minor, silence me–
Seeing how I sigh so tenderly again

You give expression to my tale of woe
And I am held back from self-pity in the hope
Your sadness brings my sadness to an end.

____________________________________________© Cynthia Jobin 2015



Lut, compagnon de ma calamité,
De mes soupires témoin irreprochablle,
De mes ennuis controlleur veritable,
Tu as souvent avec moy lamenté:

Et tant le pleur piteus t’a molesté,
Que commençant quelque son delectable,
Tu le rendois tout soudein lamentable,
Feignant le ton que plein avait chanté.

Et si te veus efforcer au contraire,
Tu te destens et si me contreins taire:
Mais me voyant tendrement soupirer,

Donnant faveur à ma tant triste pleinte:
En mes ennuis me plaire suis contreinte,
Et d’un dous mal douce fin esperer.

______________________________________Louise Labé:Oeuvres Complètes,par François Rigolot


Some of my other translations of the Labé sonnets: search TRANSLATIONS above for category archives.



(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.



(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.