Thursday, April 07, 2016


A Man Born to Die

Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585), Odes 4.39, tr. Norman R. Shapiro:
Mortal am I, man born to die;
Certain am I, in time, death must
Prevail, just as, most surely, I,
Do what I may, will turn to dust.

I know the years that I have had:        5
But those that I have yet to spend,
I know not, whether good or bad,
Nor when my age will reach its end.

Wherefore I tell you, wrack and woe,
Who gnaw my heart: "Be off! Adieu!        10
Be off, as far as you can go,
For naught have I to do with you."

At least, before I die, I pray
One day, whatever may betide,
That I may laugh, and dance, and play,        15
With Love and Bacchus by my side.
The same, tr. Charles Graves:
I'm a man that's born to die,
And sure I am I do not know
How to cheat death and fail to lie
As dust within the grave below.

I know well the years I've had        5
But those to come I do not know.
I know them not, the good or bad,
Nor know the time that I must go.

Therefore, trouble, fly away,
That gnaws my heart so frequently;        10
Fly far from me, fly far, I pray,
I have no business with thee.

Ah! may I at my ease one day
At least, before I come to die,
Leap and laugh and dance and play        15
With Bacchus and with Love, say I.
The French:
Je suis homme nay pour mourir,
Je suis bien seur que du trespas
Je ne me sçaurois secourir
Que poudre je n'aille là bas.

Je cognois bien les ans que j'ay:        5
Mais ceux qui me doivent venir
Bons ou mauvais, je ne les sçay,
Ny quand mon âge doit finir.

Pour-ce fuyez-vous-en esmoy,
Qui rongez mon cœur à tous coups,        10
Fuyez-vous-en bien loin de moy,
Je n'ay que faire avecque vous.

Aumoins avant que trespasser,
Que je puisse à mon aise un jour
Jouer, sauter, rire et danser        15
Avecque Bacchus et Amour.
From his Oeuvres (Paris: Gabriel Buon, 1584), p. 367:

The ode is an imitation of Anacreontea 40.

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