SONNETS POUR HELENE BOOK II: XLIII WHEN YOU ARE TRULY OLD ...
Pierre de Ronsardtr. A.S.Kline
Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, a la chandelle,
Assise aupres du feu, dévidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant:
"Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j'étais belle!"

Lors, vous n'aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
Déja sous le labeur a demi sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de Ronsard ne s'aille réveillant,
Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle.

Je serai sous la terre, et, fantome sans os,
Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos:
Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie,

Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.
Vivez, si m'en croyez, n'attendez a demain:
Cueillez des aujourd'hui les roses de la vie.
When you are truly old, beside the evening candle,
Sitting by the fire, winding wool and spinning,
Murmuring my verses, you'll marvel then, in saying,
'Long ago, Ronsard sang me, when I was beautiful.'

There'll be no serving-girl of yours, who hears it all,
Even if, tired from toil, she's already drowsing,
Fails to rouse at the sound of my name's echoing,
And blesses your name, then, with praise immortal.

I'll be under the earth, a boneless phantom,
At rest in the myrtle groves of the dark kingdom:
You'll be an old woman hunched over the fire,

Regretting my love for you, your fierce disdain,
So live, believe me: don't wait for another day,
Gather them now the roses of life, and desire.
Note: W. B. Yeats' free adaptation is the well-known poem 'When you are old and grey and full of sleep' (In 'The Rose').
The myrtle groves are those of the Underworld in Classical mythology.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © A.S.Kline 2004


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