Ô BEAUS YEUS BRUNS, Ô REGARS DESTOURNEZ ... O YOU BIG BROWN EYES ...
Louise Labé tr. James Kirkup (tanka)
Ô beaus yeus bruns, ô regars destournez,
Ô chaus soupirs, ô larmes espandues,
Ô noires nuits vainement atendues,
Ô jours luisans vainement retournez:


Ô tristes pleins, ô desirs obstinez,
Ô tems perdu, ô peines despendues,
Ô mile morts en mile rets tendues,
Ô pire maus contre moy destinez.


Ô ris, ô front, cheveus, bras, mains et doits:
Ô lut pleintif, viole, archet et vois:
Tant de flambeaux pour ardre une femmelle!


De toy me plein, que tant de feus portant,
En tant d'endrois d'iceus mon coeur tatant,
N'en est sur toy volť quelque estincelle.
O you big brown eyes
O hot sighings, streaming tears,
O the long dark nights
uselessly yearning, O dawns
so uselessly returning!

O sore pains, desires
deep-rooted, O wastes of time,
O pointless plottings
O deaths by the dozen in
thousands of dragnet despairs.

O devilish schemes
mounted against me - O smiles -
O brow, hair, arms, hands,
fingers - O plaintive lute strains,
your bow, on my violís strings -

Voices, torches, all
to inflame a female! - You!
itís you who provoke
these complaints, you who plague me
to bitter lamentations!

While my breaking heart
keeps feeling you all over
in every part
in vain - in vain, with never
one spark to light my tinder!

Click here 3 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © James Kirkup 2001


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