A bilingual edition of one of the finest sonnet sequences of the Renaissance
As a member of the mid-sixteenth-century literary group La Pléiade, Joachim du Bellay sought to elevate his native French to the level of the classical languages-a goal pursued with great spirit, elegance, irony, and wit in the poems that comprise The Regrets. Widely viewed as one of the finest sonnet sequences in all of French literature, this Renaissance masterpiece wryly echoes the homesickness and longing of Ovid's poetry written in exile--because du Bellay finds himself lost in Rome, the very home Ovid longed for. In this translation by David R. Slavitt, these brilliant performances retain their original formal playfulness as well as their gracefully rendered but nonetheless moving melancholy. In decadent Rome, among hypocrites, thieves, and snobs, du Bellay uses his poetry as an opportunity for social satire and caustic self-criticism-it becomes a salvation of sorts, an approach peculiarly modern in its blending of the classical, the social, and the personal.
About the Author
Joachim du Bellay (1525-1560) was born in Liré, a small town in Anjou, orphaned at the age of seven, and raised by an older brother. After studying law at the University of Blois, then attending the College of Coqueret in Paris, du Bellay accompanied Cardinal Jean du Bellay, his father's cousin, to Rome, where he composed the poems that make up The Regrets.
Read an Excerpt
I do not write of love: I am no lover.
I do not write of beauty: I have no woman.
I do not write of gentleness but the human rudeness I see. And my pleasures are all over,
so I do not try to write of pleasure, but only misery. Favors? No, I am on my own.
I do not write of riches: I have none.
Or of life at court, when I'm far from it and lonely.
I do not write of health, for I'm often ill.
I cannot write of France from a Roman hill.
Or honor? I see so little of that about.
I cannot write of friendship but only pretence.
I will not write of virtue, here in its absence.
Or knowledge or faith, in ignorance and doubt.