Celebrating National Poetry Day – A Poem from the Loire

joachim-du-bellay National Poetry Day Les Regrets

To celebrate National Poetry Day here in the UK, we’ve dug out a 16th Century poem from Anjou born, Joachim du Bellay (1522 – 1560), which was part of his most well known pieces. He sort, along with a number of other poets, to create new French poetry as great as verse from the celebrated Greek and Latin scholars.

This set of verse is from Les Regrets, a collection of sonnets based on his trip to the papal court in Rome. They cover his feeling of disappointment at Roman life, the stiffling atmosphere of the papal court and his desire to return home to Anjou (in a similar vein to Odysseus’ drive to get back to his homeland).

Being based in the Maine-et-Loire we thought it only appropriate.

Here are both the French and English translation:

Les Regrets – Heureux qui comme Ulysse
Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage
Ou comme celui-là qui conquit la Toison,
Et puis est retourné plein d’usage et raison,
Vivre entre ses parents le reste de son âge!
Quand reverrai-je, hélas, de mon petit village
Fumer la cheminée, et en quelle saison
Reverrai-je le clos de ma pauvre maison,
Qui m’est une province et beaucoup davantage?
Plus me plaît le séjour qu’ont bâti mes aïeux,
Que des palais romains le front audacieux,
Plus que le marbre dur me plaît 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.

English Translation

He Who is Happy Like Ulysses
Happy he who, like Ulysses, has returned successful from his travels,
Or like he who sought the Golden Fleece,
then returned, wise to the world,
to live amongst his family to the end of his age!
When shall I see again, alas, of my dear village
     its chimney smoke and in which season ?
Will I see again that little, modest, plot of earth
    that is a province to me, and far more than I draw here?
I’m drawn far more to my forefathers home,
   than to a Roman palace fine and proud,
More than hard marble I prefer fine slate,
   my gaul Loir I prefer to latin Tiber,
   my little Liré I prefer to Palatine,
and to sea air, the soft climate Angevine.

To learn more – here’s a link to the French wikipedia page: