by Philippe Desportes (1545 - 1606)
Translation © by Peter Low

La vie est une fleur espineuse et...
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
  La vie est une fleur espineuse et poignante,
Belle au lever du jour, seiche en son occident ;
C'est moins que de la neige en l'esté plus ardent,
C'est une nef rompue au fort de la tourmente.
  L'heur du monde n'est rien qu'une roue inconstante,
D'un labeur eternel montant et descendant ;
Honneur, plaisir, profict, les esprits desbordant,
Tout est vent, songe et nue et folie evidente.
  Las ! c'est dont je me plains, moy qui voy commencer
Ma teste à se mesler, et mes jours se passer,
Dont j'ay mis les plus beaux en ces vaines fumées;
  Et le fruict que je cueille, et que je voy sortir
Des heures de ma vie, helas! si mal semées,
C'est honte, ennuy, regret, dommage et repentir.

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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 (Peter Low) , "Life is a flower with thorns", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
Life is a flower with thorns
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
       Life is a flower with thorns and prickles,
beautiful at dawn, withered towards nightfall;
it is less than snow in the hottest summer;
it is a ship broken at the height of the storm.
       The world's fortune is nothing but an inconstant wheel
which rises and falls in eternal exertion;
honour, pleasure and profit may overflow our spirits,
but that is all wind and dream and cloud and obvious folly.
       Alas, that's what I lament, now as I see the beginnings
of confusion in my head, and the dwindling of my days,
the best of which I devoted to all that futile smoke.
       And the fruit that I gather - which I realise has grown
from the tree of my life (alas) and its ill-sown hours -
is shame, anguish, regret, misfortune and repentance.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2010 by Peter Low, (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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