summer

You [the sun] whose course the Eternal Spirit has marked out,
you who give growth and feeling to matter,
who measure out time and mete out the day,
king of the wandering worlds who compose your court,
bright and noble image of the God who guides you:
the seasons, their gifts, our riches, are your work.

You prepared the earth to be fertile
when you clothed it with grace and beauty;
soon you mounted to the height
of the heavenly vault and hotter beams,
shed about your path, penetrated the atmosphere,
the depths of the earth and of the seas
from the equator to the pole.

They give birth to innumerable beings,
everything stirs, organizes itself, and is conscious of existence.
Are the sand and the mud filled with life?
In the woods, in the waters, on the burning mountains,
the germs of birds, fish, reptiles,
burst out all at once from their fragile prisons.
Here, the nimble fawn plays with the lamb;
there, the young steed bounds near the kid;
on the opposite edges of those light leaves,
tribes dwell which are foreign to one another;
the calyxes of the flowers, the fruits, are inhabited;
in humble clods of turf, cities spring up;
and an inanimate drop of rain-water
contains an atomy people, an invisible multitude.

As a wave disappears beneath the following wave,
a being is replaced by the being it produces.
They are born, O mighty God, when your life-giving voice
calls them in their turn on to the stage of the world.
Devoured by each other, or destroyed by time,
they have served your purpose for a few moments.

Jean François de Saint-Lambert

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I wanted to travel, in the end travel

I wanted to travel, in the end travel
caused me to retire dissatisfied to my house.
I wanted to remain alone in my study,
in the end solitude worked my harm.

I wanted to sail the seas, in the end seafaring
made me despair between life and death.
I wanted to till the earth for pleasure,
in the end I despised the tiller’s state.

I wanted to practice learning and the arts,
in the end I learnt nothing; I ran the gauntlet
of murderous battles, now war disgusts me.

O imbecility of the inquisitive mind,
which, dissatisfied with everything, is desirous of everything,
and which, doubting, has perfect knowledge of nothing.

Jean-Baptiste Chassignet

life is a pleasant anticipation of the future

Life is a pleasant anticipation of the future
and a regret for the past, an uncontrollable desire
to taste and touch what has not been tasted,
an incurable distaste for what has been tasted;

a vain recalling of the desirable state of past ages,
an uncertain hope of a wished-for future,
frivolously built up on the vain
foundation of shifting expectations;

a horror of oneself, a desire for death,
a contempt of life, a pit of remorse,
a storehouse of tears, a storm-tossed sea:

in which the nearer we come to the distant shore,
the more we regret and vainly lament
that the wind has ended our journey so soon.

Jean-Baptiste Chassignet

sit down on the bank of a rippling river

Sit down on the bank of a rippling river:
you will see it flowing in a perpetual current,
and, rolling wave after wave in a thousand twists
and turns, outpouring its watery course through die meadows.

But you will see nothing of that first wave
which once flowed by. The water changes every day,
every day it passes and we still call it the same river,
and the same water, in the same way.

So does man vary, and tomorrow the strength
of the poor human body which time shortens
and consumes will not be the same as today:

The name follows us until death without changing and,
although today I am not the same man who was living yesterday,
yet am I still called the same.

Jean-Baptiste Chassignet

prayer

Your hands have made me and modelled me from flesh,
like a potter who with delicate skill
turns a lump of clay into a vessel:
then suddenly You make me stumble.

Remember before You damn me
that You formed me from mire
and slimy mud, and that after my death
You will make me return to dusty earth.

You poured me like new milk,
which thickens and curdles in rennet.
You put together my body from nerves and bones,
then, clothed with flesh and skin,

You gave me life and years,
leading me in the way of your grace,
and by the light  of your divine face
have guided my steps, my spirit, and my senses.

Remy Belleau

sonnet for sinope

If I were Jupiter, mistress, you would be my spouse Juno;
if I were king of the waves, you would be my Tethys,
queen of the deep waters, and for your palace
you would have the world.

If the world were mine, you would hold sway with me
over the earth with its fertile breasts, and in a splendid coach,
with your long fair tresses, you would ride
among the people honored as a goddess.

But I am not a god, and I cannot be one;
heaven gave me life only to serve you.
My hazardous fate depends on you alone.

You are my whole pleasure, my pain, and my fortune.
If it pleases you to love me, I shall become Neptune, wholly Jupiter,
wholly king, wholly rich, and wholly happy.

Pierre de Ronsard