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

L'alouette
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
[Hé]1 Dieu, que je porte d’envie
Aux felicitez de ta vie,
Alouette, qui de l’amour
Caquettes dés le poinct du jour,
Secouant la douce rosée
En l’air, dont tu es arrosée.

  Davant que Phebus soit levé
Tu enleves ton corps lavé
Pour l’essuyer pres de la nue,
Tremoussant d’une aile menue :
Et te sourdant à petits bons,
Tu dis en l’air de si doux sons
Composez de ta tirelire,
Qu’il n’est amant qui ne desire
Comme toy devenir oyseau,
Pour desgoiser un chant si beau :
Puis quand tu es bien eslevée,
Tu tombes comme une fusée
Qu’une jeune pucelle au soir
De sa quenouille laisse choir,
Quand au fouyer elle sommeille,
Frappant son sein de son oreille :	
Ou bien quand en filant le jour
Voit celui qui luy fait l’amour
Venir pres d’elle à l’impourveue,
De honte elle abaisse la veue,
Et son tors fuseau delié
Loin de sa main roule à son pié.
Ainsi tu roules, Alouette,
Ma doucelette mignonnette,
Qui plus qu’un rossignol me plais
Chantant par un taillis espais.

  Tu vis sans offenser personne,
Ton bec innocent ne moissonne
Le froment, comme ces oyseaux
Qui font aux hommes mille maux,
Soit que le bled rongent en herbe,
Ou soit qu’ils l’egrenent en gerbe :
Mais tu vis par les sillons verds,
De petits fourmis et de vers :
Ou d’une mouche, ou d’une achée
Tu portes aux tiens la bechée,
Ou d’une chenille qui sort
Des fueilles, quand l’Hyver est mort.

  A tort les mensongers Poëtes
Vous accusent vous alouettes
D’avoir vostre pere haï
Jadis jusqu’aà l’avoir trahi,
Coupant de sa teste Royale
La blonde perruque fatale,
Dans laquelle un crin d’or portoit
En qui toute sa force estoit.
Mais quoy! vous n’estes pas seulettes
A qui les mensongers Poëtes
Ont fait grand tort: dedans le bois
Le Rossignol à haute vois
Caché dessous quelque verdure
Se plaint d’eux, et leur dit injure.
Si fait bien l’Arondelle aussi
Quand elle chante son cossi.
Ne laissez pas pourtant de dire
Mieux que devant la tirelire,
Et faites crever par despit
Ces menteurs de ce qu’ils ont dit.

  Ne laissez pour cela de vivre
Joyeusement, et de poursuivre
A chaque retour du Printemps
Vos accoustumez passetemps
Ainsi jamais la main pillarde
D’une pastourelle mignarde
Parmi les sillons espiant
Vostre nouveau nid pepiant,
Quand vous chantez ne le desrobe
Ou dans son sein ou dans sa robe.
Vivez oiseaux et vous haussez
Tousjours en l’air, et annoncez
De vostre chant et de vostre aile
Que le Printemps se renouvelle.

I. Delâge-Prat sets lines 1-4, 17-18, 29-36, 39-40, 11-15

View original text (without footnotes)
Confirmed with Lucas, St. John, comp. The Oxford Book of French Verse, XIIIth century–XIXth century. Oxford: Clarendon, 1920; Bartleby.com, 2001. www.bartleby.com/244/71.html.

1 omitted by Delâge-Prat; further changes may exist not shown above.


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) , title 1: "The lark", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2014-09-14
Line count: 78
Word count: 422

The lark
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Goodness, how I envy
The happiness of your life,
O lark, who chatter
Of love from break of day,
Shaking into the air
The soft dew which sprinkles you.

Before Phoebus is awake
You raise your washed body
To dry it near the clouds,
Jiggling on slender wings;
And raising yourself in little leaps
You sing in the sky with such sweet sounds
Pit together from your stock
That no lover does not wish
To become a bird like you
And chatter so lovely a song;
Then, when you’ve climbed high up
You fall like a bobbin
Which some young maid lets fall
One evening from her spindle
When she drifts asleep by the hearth
Tapping her ear on her breast;
Or yet when spinning in the daytime
She sees a certain someone who is making love to her
Coming up to her unexpectedly
And blushing she drops her gaze, 
And her twisted bobbin, coming undone,
Rolls at her feet, far from her hand.
So you wheel, my Lark,
My sweet little darling,
Who please me more than the nightingale
Singing in a dense thicket.

You live without offending anyone,
Your innocent beak does not harvest
The wheat, like those birds
Which do so much damage to men,
Whether they gnaw the corn on the stalk
Or gather it from the store;
But you, in the green furrows, live on
The ants and worms,
Or take a beakful of flies
Or crawling things to your babes,
Or larvae which come out
On the leaves, when Winter is past.

Wrongly do lying poets
Accuse you larks 
Of having hated your father
To the point of betraying him,
Cutting from his royal head
The fatal blond coiffure
In which he wore a golden lock
In which was all his strength.1
But then, you aren’t the only ones
To whom lying poets
Have done great wrong; within the woods
The nightingale loudly
Complains of them, and the harm they’ve done him, 
As he hides under some greenery.
The swallow does the same too
When she sings her similar song.
However, don’t stop singing
Better than before your stock of song,
And make those liars die of spite
For what they’ve said.

Don’t stop, because of that, from living
Joyously, and pursuing
At each return of spring
Your usual pastime;
May the thieving hand
Of a charming shepherdess,
Spying your new nest
Among the furrows,
Never, as you sing, steal from it
[Hiding the eggs] in her breast or her dress.
Live on, birds, and rise up
Always in the air, and announce
With your song and your flight
That spring has come again.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 translator's note: cf. the story of Scylla, who cut a magic (but usually purple!) lock from the head of her father Nisus, thus rendering him no longer invincible. She was changed into a bird (usually a sea-bird, not a lark?), he into a sea-eagle which continually chased her. Retold by Ovid in the Metamorphoses.

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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This text was added to the website: 2017-06-10
Line count: 78
Word count: 440