Friday, June 7, 2019

Poem For A Thursday: du Bellay/Wilbur

Hubert contemplating a great journey
Happy the Man

Happy the man who, journeying far and wide
As Jason or Ulysses did, can then
Turn homeward, seasoned in the ways of men,
And claim his own, and there in peace abide! 
When shall I see the chimney-smoke divide
The sky above my little town: ah, when
Stroll the small gardens of that house again
Which is my realm and crown, and more beside? 
Better I love the plain, secluded home
My fathers built, than bold façades of Rome;
Slate pleases me as marble cannot do; 
Better than Tiber's flood my quiet Loire,
Those little hills than these, and dearer far
Than great sea winds the zephyrs of Anjou.

-Joachim du Bellay (tr. Richard Wilbur)

Joachim du Bellay was a French poet of the 1500s, one of the so-called Pleiades, seven French poets of that era. He was in Rome when this poem was written, serving as a secretary to his cousin, the cardinal Jean du Bellay.

Richard Wilbur was a wonderful American poet who passed away in 2017.

Here's the French text for those for whom it's useful... 😉

Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage

Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage
Ou comme cestuy-lĂ  qui conquit la toison
Et puis est retourné, plein de usage et raison,
Vivre entre ses parents le reste de son Ăąge!
Quand reverrai-je, hélas, de mon petit village
Fumer le cheminée, et en quelle saison
Reverrai-je le clos de mon pauvre maison
Qui m'est une provence, et beaucoup davantage? 
Plus me plùit le séjour qu'ont bùti mes aïeux,
Que des palais romains le front audacieux
Plus que le marbre dur me plĂąit l'ardoise fine:
Plus mon Loire gaulois, que le Tibre latin,
Plus mon petit Liré, que le mont Palatin,
Et plus que l'air marin la douceur angevine.
-Joachim du Bellay

Jennifer at Holds Upon Happiness has a wonderful poem by Elinor Wylie this week. 

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