Translation by Maryann Corbett

Ballade XI from One Hundred Ballades

Christine de Pizan

Alone is what I am, and wish to be.
Alone, because my dearest friend is gone.
Alone, robbed of his counsel, his company.
Alone and racked with anger as I mourn.
Alone with listlessness and deep unease.
Alone, my straight road lost among the trees.
Alone, without my love, yet I live on.

Alone, framed in a window or a door,
Alone, hunched in a corner no one sees.
Alone, my tears the bitter drink I pour.
Alone whether I weep or seem at peace.
Alone, locked in a solitude I want.
Alone, shut in my study on my knees.
Alone, without my love, yet I live on.

Alone in every place, every condition.
Alone whether I rise or I lie down.
Alone more than all beings in creation.
Alone, from every other soul forlorn.
Alone, brought low, pulled under by this stone.
Alone. My face is streaked with tears. I groan.
Alone, without my love, yet I live on.

Prince, here they begin: my miseries.
I am alone, by every sorrow torn.
Alone, my life is black as widows’ weeds.
Alone, without my love, yet I live on.

Ballade 53 from One Hundred Ballades

Christine de Pizan

She’s wise, I think, the lady who knows how
to guard against false lovers—men who try
sweet, plaintive words on women, meant for show
and for deceit. They coo so piteously,
these doves cooped up in love’s captivity,
pleading as though their fevers left them wan.
But here’s a thing I know with certainty:
The loudest moans don’t make the sickest man.

So when you hear one swear and see him go
around, obedient as a servant boy,
back-and-forthing, look-and-thinking so,
recutting the design of what he’ll say,
it’s all a ruse—though wrought so charmingly
everyone’s fooled. Such ardor! Such élan!
But judge them by their faces and you’ll see
the loudest moans don’t make the sickest man.

May God correct such lovers! Sadly, though,
there are so many of them. Soon they’ll be
everywhere, begging ladies to bestow
grace, or sending love notes for merci,
for their own selfish ends. And this is why
my song is sung, to help you understand:
In such a case, no matter his degree,
the loudest moans don’t make the sickest man.

This entry was posted in Journal, Translations. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.