Complete Poetry and Prose / Edition 1

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Overview

Thanks to her acclaimed volume of poetry and prose published in France in 1555, Louise Labé (1522-66) remains one of the most important and influential women writers of the Continental Renaissance. Best known for her exquisite collection of love sonnets, Labé played off the Petrarchan male tradition with wit and irony, and her elegies respond with lyric skill to predecessors such as Sappho and Ovid. The first complete bilingual edition of this singular and broad-ranging female author, Complete Poetry and Prose also features the only translations of Labé's sonnets to follow the exacting rhyme patterns of the originals and the first rhymed translation of Labé's elegies in their entirety.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226467153
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2006
  • Series: The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe
  • Edition description: Bilingual Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Lesko Baker is associate professor and chair of French at Georgetown University. Annie Finch is the director of the Stonecoast Low-Residency Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern Maine.

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Read an Excerpt

COMPLETE POETRY AND PROSE

A Bilingual Edition


By Louise Labi THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS

Copyright © 2006 The University of Chicago
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-226-46714-6



Chapter One

DEBAT DE FOLIE ET D'AMOUR

ARGUMENT

Jupiter faisoit un grand festin, oy estoit commandi ' tous les Dieus se trouver. Amour et Folie arrivent en mesme instant sur la porte du Palais: laquelle estant j' fermie, et n'ayant que le guichet ouvert, Folie voyant Amour j' prest ' mettre un pied dedens, s'avance et passe la premiere. Amour se voyant poussi, entre en colere: Folie soutient lui apartenir de passer devant. Ils entrent en dispute sur leurs puissances, dinitez et priseances. Amour ne la pouvant veincre de paroles, met la main ' son arc, et lui lasche une flesche, mais en vain: pource que Folie soudein se rend invisible: et se voulant venger, ste les yeus ' Amour. Et pour couvrir le lieu oy ils estoient, lui mit un bandeau, fait de tel artifice, qu'impossible est lui oter. Venus se pleint de Folie, Jupiter veut entendre leur diferent. Apolon et Mercure debatent le droit de l'une et l'autre partie. Jupiter les ayant longuement ouiz, en demande l'opinion aus Dieus: puis prononce sa sentence.

FOLIE, AMOUR, Les personnes: VENUS, JUPITER, APOLON, MERCURE.

DISCOURS 1

FOLIE: A ce que je voy, je seray la derniere au festin de Jupiter, ou je croy que lon m'atent. Mais je voy, ce me semble, le fils de Venus, qui y va aussi tart que moy. Il faut que je le passe: ' fin que lon ne m'apelle tardive et paresseuse.

AMOUR: Qui est cette fole qui me pousse si rudement? quelle grande hate la presse? si je t'usse apergue, je t'usse bien gardi de passer.

FOLIE: Tu ne m'usses py empescher, estant si jeune et foible. Mais ' Dieu te command', je vois devant dire que tu viens tout ' loisir.

AMOUR: Il n'en ira pas ainsi: car avant que tu m'eschapes, je te donneray ' connoitre que tu ne te dois atacher ' moy.

FOLIE: Laisse moy aller, ne m'arreste point: car ce te sera honte de quereler avec une femme. Et si tu m'eschaufes une fois, tu n'auras du meilleur.

AMOUR: Quelles menasses sont ce cy? je n'ay trouvi encore personne qui m'ait menassi que cette fole.

FOLIE: Tu montres bien ton indiscrecion, de prendre en mal ce que je t'ay fait par jeu: et te mesconnois bien toymesme, trouvant mauvais que je pense avoir du meilleur si tu t'adresses ' moy. Ne vois tu pas que tu n'es qu'un jeune garsonneau? de si foible taille que quand j'aurois un bras lii, si ne te creindrois je gueres.

AMOUR: Me connois tu bien? FOLIE: Tu es Amour, fils de Venus. AMOUR: Comment donques fais tu tant la brave aupres de moy, qui, quelque petit que tu me voyes, suis le plus creint et redouti entre les Dieus et les hommes? et toy femme inconnue, oses tu te faire plus grande que moy? ta jeunesse, ton sexe, ta fagon de faire te dementent assez; mais plus ton ignorance, qui ne te permet connoitre le grand degri que je tiens.

FOLIE: Tu trionfes de dire. Ce n'est ' moy ' qui tu dois vendre tes coquilles. Mais di moy, quel est ce grand pouvoir dont tu te vantes?

AMOUR: Le ciel et la terre en rendent timoignage. Il n'y ha lieu ou n'aye laissi quelque trofee. Regarde au ciel tous les sieges des Dieus, et t'interrogue si quelcun d'entre eus s'est py eschaper de mes mains. Commence au vieil Saturne, Jupiter, Mars, Apolon, et finiz aus Demidieus, Satires, Faunes et Silvains. Et n'auront honte les Deesses d'en confesser quelque chose. Et ne m'a Pallas espouventi de son bouclier: mais ne l'ay voulu interrompre de ses sutils ouvrages, ou jour et nuit elle s'employe. Baisse toy en terre, et di si tu trouveras gens de marque, qui ne soient ou ayent esti des miens. Voy en la furieuse mer, Neptune et ses Tritons, me prestans obeossance. Penses tu que les infernaus s'en exemptent? ne les ay je fait sortir de leurs abimes, et venir espouventer les humains, et ravir les filles ' leurs meres, quelques juges qu'ils soient de telz forfaits et transgressions faites contre les loix? Et ' fin que tu ne doutes avec quelles armes je fay tant de prouesses, voila mon Arc seul et mes flesches, qui m'ont fait toutes ces conquestes. Je n'ay besoin de Vulcan qui me forge de foudres, armet, escu, et glaive. Je ne suis acompagni de Furies, Harpies et tourmenteurs de monde, pour me faire creindre avant le combat. Je n'ay que faire de chariots, soudars, hommes darmes et grandes troupes de gens: sans lesquelles les hommes ne trionferoient la bas, estant d'eus si peu de chose, qu'un seul (quelque fort qu'il soit et puissant) est bien empeschi alencontre de deus. Mais je n'ay autres armes, conseil, municion, ayde, que moymesme. Quand je voy les ennemis en campagne, je me presente avec mon Arc: et laschant une flesche les mets incontinent en route: et est aussi tot la victoire gaignee, que la bataille donnee.

FOLIE: J'excuse un peu ta jeunesse, autrement je te pourrois ' bon droit nommer le plus presomptueus fol du monde. Il sembleroit ' t'ouir que chacun tienne sa vie de ta merci: et que tu sois le vray Signeur et seul souverein tant en ciel qu'en terre. Tu t'es mal adressi pour me faire croire le contraire de ce que je say.

AMOUR: C'est une estrange fagon de me nier tout ce que chacun confesse.

FOLIE: Je n'ay afaire du jugement des autres: mais quant ' moy, je ne suis si aisee ' tromper. Me penses tu de si peu d'entendement, que je ne connoisse ' ton port, et ' tes contenances, quel sens tu peus avoir? Et me feras tu passer devant les yeus, qu'un esprit leger comme le tien, et ton corps jeune et flouet, soit dine de telle signeurie, puissance et autoriti, que tu t'atribues? Et si quelques aventures estranges, qui te sont avenues, te degoivent, n'estime pas que je tombe en semblable erreur, sachant tresbien que ce n'est par ta force et vertu, que tant de miracles soient avenuz au monde: mais par mon industrie, par mon moyen et diligence: combien que tu ne me connoisses. Mais si tu veus un peu tenir moyen en ton courrous, je te feray connoitre en peu d'heure ton arc, et tes flesches, ou tant tu te glorifies, estre plus molz que paste, si je n'ay bandi l'arc, et trempi le fer de tes flesches.

AMOUR: Je croy que tu veus me faire perdre pacience. Je ne sache jamais que personne ait manii mon arc, que moy: et tu me veus faire ' croire, que sans toy je n'en pourrois faire aucun effort. Mais puis qu'ainsi est que tu l'estimes si peu, tu en feras tout ' cette heure la preuve.

Folie se fait invisible, tellement, qu'Amour ne la peut assener.

AMOUR: Mais qu'es tu devenue? comment m'es tu eschapee? Ou je n'ay sy t'ofenser, pour ne te voir, ou contre toy seule ha rebouchi ma flesche: qui est bien le plus estrange cas qui jamais m'avint. Je pensoy estre seul d'entre les Dieus, qui me rendisse invisible ' eus mesmes quand bon me sembloit: Et maintenant ay trouvi qui m'a esbloui les yeus. Aumoins di moy, quinconque sois, si ' l'aventure ma flesche t'a frapee, et si elle t'a blessee.

FOLIE: Ne t'avoy je bien dit, que ton arc et tes flesches n'ont effort, que quand je suis de la partie. Et pourautant qu'il ne m'a plu d'estre navree, ton coup ha esti sans effort. Et ne t'esbahis si tu m'as perdue de vuk, car quand bon me semble, il n'y ha œil d'Aigle ou de serpent Ipidaurien, qui me sache apercevoir. Et ne plus ne moins que le Cameleon, je pren quelquefois la semblance de ceus aupres desquelz je suis.

AMOUR: A ce que je voy, tu dois estre quelque sorciere ou enchanteresse. Es tu point quelque Circe, ou Medee, ou quelque Fie?

THE DEBATE OF FOLLY AND LOVE

ARGUMENT

Jupiter was hosting a grand banquet that all the gods were required to attend. Love and Folly arrive at the very same moment at the gates of the palace, where the main door is already closed, leaving open only a small side entrance. Observing Love about to step inside, Folly moves past him and goes in first. Seeing himself pushed aside, Love gets angry: yet Folly continues to insist on her right to enter first. The two of them start arguing about their respective powers, rank, and authority. Unable to make her back down with words, Love takes up his bow and shoots an arrow at her, but to no avail, for Folly suddenly makes herself invisible and, seeking revenge, puts out Love's eyes. And further, to cover up the place where his eyes were, she applies a bandage devised so ingeniously that it is impossible for him to remove it. Venus brings a complaint against Folly; Jupiter agrees to give their dispute a hearing. Apollo and Mercury debate the respective cases of the two sides. After listening to them both at length, Jupiter asks the opinion of the other gods and then pronounces his judgment.

FOLLY, LOVE, The characters: VENUS, JUPITER, APOLLO, MERCURY

DISCOURSE 1

FOLLY: From what I can see, I'll be the last to arrive at Jupiter's banquet, where I believe everyone's expecting me. But I see, too, so it seems, Venus's son, who is just as late as I am. I must get past him, so that no one accuses me of being late and lazy.

LOVE: Who is this madwoman pushing past me so rudely? What's her big hurry? If I'd seen you, I would have stopped you from getting ahead of me.

FOLLY: You wouldn't have been able to stop me, young and weak as you are. So goodbye now, I'm going in to say that you're arriving at your own leisure.

LOVE: Oh no you won't, because before you get away from me, I'll show you that you mustn't meddle with me.

FOLLY: Let me go, and don't try to stop me, for it would be shameful of you to pick a fight with a woman. And if you wind up making me mad, you'll regret it.

LOVE: What kind of threats are these? I've never met anyone who has threatened me except this madwoman.

FOLLY: You're really showing how misguided you are to take so badly what I did to you in fun. You simply don't know yourself for who you are if you can't accept that I will have the upper hand if you get in my way. Don't you see that you're just a little boy - so puny in size that I would hardly be afraid of you even if I had one arm tied behind my back?

LOVE: Do you know who I am?

FOLLY: You are Love, the son of Venus.

LOVE: So how is it that you act so boldly in front of me, when - however small I may seem to you - I am the most feared and dreaded among gods and men? And you, a woman I don't even know, dare to consider yourself greater than me? Your youth, your sex, and the way you act already prove you wrong, but even more than that your ignorance, which keeps you from recognizing the high rank I hold.

FOLLY: You talk a good game. Don't try and strut your stuff with me. But tell me then, what is this great power you're bragging about?

LOVE: Heaven and earth are my witnesses. There's not a single place where I haven't left my mark. Look at all the seats of the gods in heaven, and ask yourself if any one of them has been able to escape my grasp. Begin with old Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Apollo and move right on down to the demigods, the satyrs, the fauns, and the sylvans. The goddesses, too, won't be ashamed to admit it. Even Pallas didn't terrify me with her shield, but I decided not to interrupt the careful weaving to which she devotes herself day and night. Go on down to earth, and tell me if you find any people of distinction who are not or have not been under my sway. Observe in the raging seas how Neptune and his Tritons obey me. Do you think the gods of the underworld are any exception? Haven't I made them rise up from the depths to come terrify human beings, and snatch daughters away from their mothers, despite the fact that they themselves are the judges for such crimes and offenses committed against the law?

And just so there's no doubt in your mind about the weapons I use to carry out such deeds, here are my bow and my arrows, all I ever needed to accomplish all these feats. I don't need Vulcan to forge me thunderbolts, breastplates, shields, and swords. I don't surround myself with Furies, Harpies, or avengers to make myself feared even before battle. I have no use for chariots, soldiers, men at arms, and impressive battle troops - without which mere men could never triumph, since each man alone (no matter how strong and powerful he might be) is unlikely to succeed when going up against two of his counterparts. But I have no weapons, council, ammunition, or support other than myself. When I see the enemy take the field, I come on with my bow, and by shooting just one arrow I set them all to flight, so my victory's won as soon as the battle begins.

FOLLY: I'm bearing with you because of your youth; otherwise I'd have every right to call you the most arrogant fool in the world. To hear you talk, it would appear that everyone's life is at your mercy, and that you are the true Lord and supreme ruler of heaven and earth. You're badly mistaken if you think you can make me believe the opposite of what I know is true.

LOVE: How strange to deny me what everyone else accepts.

FOLLY: I have nothing to do with the opinion of others, but, as for me, I'm not so easy to fool. Do you think I'm not smart enough to know from your appearance and attitude what kind of person you are? And that you could convince me, with a mind as silly as yours and with such a young, frail body, that you deserve all the control, power, and authority you take credit for? And if some bizarre adventures you've had delude you, don't imagine that I'll fall into the same trap. For I know full well it's not by your strength and power that so many miracles have happened in the world, but rather by my own ingenuity, skill, and diligence - despite the fact that you don't know me. But if you'd like to keep testing me with your anger, I'll soon prove to you that the bow and arrows you show off to brag about yourself so much are softer than wet noodles, if I myself haven't tightened the bow and tempered the tips of your arrows.

LOVE: I think you want me to lose my patience. I've never known anyone else to handle my bow but me, yet you want to make me believe that without you I couldn't do anything with it at all. And since you show so little respect for its power, I'll prove it to you right now.

Folly makes herself invisible, so that Love can't strike her.

LOVE: But where in the world have you disappeared to? How did you escape from me? Either I couldn't strike you because I couldn't see you, or else you're the only one ever to have blocked my arrow, which is the most incredible thing that's ever happened to me. I thought that I alone among the gods could make myself invisible to them at will, and now I've come across someone who's shocked my very eyes. Tell me, at least, whoever you are, if by any chance my arrow hit you, and if it wounded you.

FOLLY: Didn't I already tell you that your bow and arrows can't do anything unless I intervene? And since I didn't wish to be wounded, your attack had no effect at all. Don't be surprised you lost sight of me, for whenever I think it's an advantage to be invisible, neither the eye of an eagle nor the serpent of Epidaurus can catch a glimpse of me. And just like the chameleon, at times I can assume the appearance of those around me.

LOVE: From what I can tell, you must be some type of witch or enchantress. Are you perhaps someone like Circe or Medea, or some kind of fairy?

(Continues...)



Excerpted from COMPLETE POETRY AND PROSE by Louise Labi Copyright © 2006 by The University of Chicago. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................ix
Series Editors' Introduction....................xi
Volume Editor's Introduction....................1
Volume Editor's Bibliography....................11
I Prose Introduction....................19
Prose Translator's Note....................39
Epistre Dedicatoire/Dedicatory Letter....................42
Debat de Folie et d'Amour/Debate of Folly and Love....................46
II Poetry Introduction....................133
Poetry Translator's Note....................150
Eligies/Elegies....................152
Sonnets/Sonnets....................000
Notes....................221
Series Editors' Bibliography....................245
Index of First Lines and Titles....................000
General Index....................000

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