by Joachim du Bellay (1525 - c1560)
Translation © by David Jonathan Justman

O foible esprit
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
O foible esprit, chargé de tant de peines
Que ne veux-tu soubz la terre descendre?
O coeur ardent, que n'es-tu mis en cendres?
O tristes yeux, que n'estes vous fonteines?
O bien douteux ô peines trop certaines,
O doux sçavoir trop amer à comprendre,
O Dieu qui fays que j'ose entreprendre
Pourquoy rends tu mes entreprises vaines?
O jeune archer, archer qui n'as point d'ieux,
Pourquoy si droit as-tu pris ta visée?
O vif flambeau qui embrases les Dieux
Pourquoy as-tu ma froideur attisée?
O face d'ange, O coeur de pierre dure
Regarde au moins le tourment que j'endure.


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, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (David Jonathan Justman) , title 1: "O weak spirit", copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: John Versmoren

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 14
Word count: 99

O weak spirit
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Oh weak spirit, weighed down by so many troubles
Don't you want to descend below the Earth?
Oh ardent heart, haven't you become cinders?
Oh sad eyes, aren't you fountains?
Oh doubtful good, Oh too certain pains,
Oh sweet knowledge too bitter to comprehend.
Oh God who makes me dare to attempt,
Why do you make my attempts vain?
Oh young archer, archer who has no eyes,
Why did you aim so well?
Oh live torch which enflames the Gods,
Why did you fire up my coldness?
Oh face of an angel, Oh heart of hard stone
At least look at the torment which I'm enduring.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © by David Jonathan Justman, (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.

Based on


This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 14
Word count: 106