by Pierre de Ronsard (1524 - 1585)
Translation © by David Wyatt

Quand j'estois libre, ains que l'amour...
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Quand j'estois libre, ains que l'amour cruelle
[Ne]1 fust esprise encor' en ma mouelle,
   Je vivois bienheureux,
De toutes parts cent mille jeunes filles
Se travailloyent, par leurs flammes gentilles,
   A me rendre amoureux.

Mais tout ainsi qu'un beau poulain farouche
Qui n'a [senti]2 le frein dedans la bouche
   Va seulet écarté,
N'ayant soucy sinon d'un pied superbe
A mille bonds fouler les fleurs et l'herbe,
   Vivant en liberté ;

Ores il court le long d'un beau rivage
Ores il erre au fond d'un bois sauvage
   Ou sur quelque mont haut ;
De toutes pars les poutres hannissantes
Luy font l'amour, pour néant blandissantes,
   A luy qui ne s'en chaut.

Ainsi j'allois desdaignant les pucelles
Qu'on estimoit en beauté les plus belles,
   Sans répondre à leur vueil ;
Lors je vivois amoureux de moy mesme,
Content et gay, sans porter couleur blesme
   Ny les larmes à l'œil.

J'avois escrit au plus haut de la face
Avec l'honneur une agreable audace
   Plaine d'un franc desir ;
Avec le pied marchoit ma fantasie
Deça, dela, sans peur ne jalousie
   Vivant de mon plaisir.

Mais aussi tost que par mauvais desastre
Je vey ton sein blanchissant comme albastre,
   Et tes yeux, deux soleils,
Tes beaux cheveux espanchez par ondées,
Et les beaux lis de tes levres bordées
   De cent œillets vermeils,

[Incontinent j'apprehenday service,
Car]3 liberté, de ma vie nourrice,
   S'eschappa loing de moy :
Dedans tes rets ma premiere franchise,
Pour obeir à ton bel œil fut prise
   Esclave dessous toy.

Et lors tu mis mes deux mains à la chaine
Mon col au cep et mon cœur à la gesne,
   N'ayant de moy pitié,
Non plus helas qu'un outrageux corsaire,
O fier destin, a pitié d'un forsaire/forcère
   A la chaine lié.

Tu mis apres en signe de conqueste,
Comme vainqueur, tes deux pieds sur ma teste,
   Et du front m'a osté
L'honneur, la honte, et l'audace première,
Accouhardant mon ame prisonniere,
   Serve à ta volonté.

Vengeant d'un coup mille faultes commises
Et les beautez qu'à grand tort j'avois mises
   Par-avant à mespris :
Qui me prioient, en lieu que je te prie.
Mais d'autant plus que mercy je te crie,
   Tu es sourde à mes cris,

Et ne responds non plus que la fontaine
Qui de Narcis mira la [face]4 vaine,
   Vengeant dessus le bord
Mille beautez des Nymphes amoureuses,
Que cest enfant, par mynes desdaigneuses,
   Avoit mises à mort.

J. Chardavoine sets stanzas 1-4, 6-11

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 la Grotte: "Me"
2 la Grotte : "maché"
3 la Grotte : "Incontinent j'apris que c'est service,/ La"
4 la Grotte : "forme"

Authorship

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (David Wyatt) , copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , David Wyatt

Text added to the website: 2016-03-06 00:00:00
Last modified: 2017-06-10 15:23:01
Line count: 66
Word count: 399

When I was free, and cruel love
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
When I was free, and cruel love
Had [not yet]1 taken hold in my marrow,
 I lived happily;
On every side thousands of young girls  
Would work hard with their gentle flames
   To make me fall in love.

But just as a handsome wild colt
Which has not [felt]2 the curb in his mouth
   Wanders far and wide by himself,
Having no care except with his proud foot
To trample with a thousand leaps the flowers and grass,
   Living in liberty;

Sometimes he runs along a fair riverbank,
Sometimes he wanders deep in a wild wood
   Or on some high mountain;
And on every side whinnying fillies
Make love to him, flattering him for nothing,
   He who cares nothing for it.

Just so I used to disdain the maids
That everyone thought fairest of the fair,
   Without responding to their wishes;
Then, I was in love with myself,
Happy and joyful, not wearing that pale colour
   Nor with tears in my eyes.

I had, written high on my brow
Together with honour, an agreeable daring
   Full of candid desire;
My imagination marched with my feet
Here, there, without fear or jealousy
   Living on my pleasure.

But as soon as through terrible misfortune
I saw your breast white as alabaster
   And your eyes, twin suns,
Your fine hair pouring down in waves,
And the fair lilies of your lips bordered
   With a hundred pink carnations,

[Straightway I learned to be in service,
For]3 liberty, the nurse of my life,
   Fled far from me;
Within your nets my earlier freedom
Was caught, so that it obeyed your fair eyes,
   A slave beneath you.

And then you put my two hands to the chain,
My neck to the vine and my heart to shame,
   Having no pity on me,
No more alas than a hostile corsair
Has pity – o proud fate! – on a convict
   Bound with a chain.

As a sign of your conquest you then placed 
Your two feet on my head, as conqueror,
   And took from my brow
Honour, shame, and my earlier boldness
Rendering my imprisoned soul a coward,
   Servant to your desires.

Avenging with one blow a thousand faults I’d committed
And the beauties whom, greatly in the wrong, I had held
   Before this in scorn
Who had begged me, instead now I beg you.
But as often as I beg for mercy from you,
   You are deaf to my cries

And respond no more than the fountain
Which showed Narcissus the image of his [face]4
   Taking revenge on its bank
For the thousand beauteous nymphs in love
Which that boy, with his scornful manner,
   Had put to death.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 la Grotte: "already"
2 la Grotte: "chewed"
3 la Grotte: "Straightway I learned what it is to be in service,/ And"
4 la Grotte: "shape"

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2017 by David Wyatt, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.
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Text added to the website: 2017-06-10 00:00:00
Last modified: 2017-06-10 15:26:43
Line count: 66
Word count: 442