Bewildering Stories receives a letter about...
A Poem for the Ages
from Deborah Palmer
A delightful letter of appreciation from a reader in Sydney, Australia occasions our Classic Reissue of Pierre de Ronsard’s famous sonnet for Hélène, Quand vous serez bien vieille. The poem and three translations appeared twelve years ago, in issue 177.
Ronsard reminds us to heed the ancient adage carpe diem and, in your own way, Deborah, you’ve done just that. Thank you!
I’m writing to tell you how much enjoyed your presentation of Ronsard’s poem with the three translations to compare and contrast.
I knew the one by Yeats quite well but had never read the other two. I liked them both: the hillbilly one was hilarious. I wonder what Ronsard would’ve made of it!
A long time ago, in 1964, when I was 17, I drove through France in midwinter with my brother who was then 21. We stopped at Pierre Ronsard’s house in the country. No one was there.
My brother recited Ronsard’s poem to me in French, much of which I could understand. Les neiges d’antan or, should I say, d’aujourd’hui were on the ground. It was freezing cold. I imagine it had once been a grand house but, at the time we were there, it was rather worn-down but with a solemn and poetic beauty.
Thanks again for providing the translations and notes.