Riche d'espoir et povre d'autre bien (Rondel VII)
by Alain Chartier, 1385-1433


Riche d'espoir et povre d'autre bien,
ComblÚ de dueil et vuide de l´esse,
Je vous supply, ma loyalle maţtresse,
Ne me tollez ce que je tiens pour mien.

Se je le pers, je n'auray jamais bien:
C'est l'espargne de toute ma richesse,
Riche d'espoir et povre d'autre bien,
ComblÚ de dueil et vuide de l´esse.

Souffrir pour vous? Helas, je le vueil bien!
Je n'ay riens mieulx que le mal qui me blesse;
J'ayme trop mieulx l'endurer qu'il me lesse,
Mais que PitiÚ me retieigne pour sien.
Riche d'espoir et povre d'autre bien.
ComblÚ de dueil et vuide de l´esse,
Je vous supply, ma loyalle maţtresse,
Ne me tollez ce que je tiens pour mien.

Literal translation:
Rich in hope and poor in all other goods,
Heaped with grief and emptied of comfort,
I beg of you, my loyal mistress,
Do not take away that which I keep as mine.

If I lost it, I would never be well:
It is the reservoir of all my riches,
Rich in hope and poor in all other goods,
Heaped with grief and emptied of comfort.

To suffer for you, alas, that is what I want,
I have nothing better than the injury that afflicts me;
I would too much rather endure it that it leave me,
But may Pity keep me for herself,
Rich in hope and poor in all other goods.
Heaped with grief and emptied of comfort,
I beg of you, my loyal mistress,
Do not take away that which I keep as mine.

Literal translation by J. Friedman

Poetic translation:
Rich in hope and poor in earthly gold,
Heaped with grief and void of easefulness,
I pray you from the depths of my distress:
Leave me my hope; without it, I am cold.

Without it, I would suffer pains untold.
It is the only wealth that I possess,
Rich in hope and poor in earthly gold,
Heaped with grief and void of easefulness.

Alas, that I want more than what I hold:
To suffer for your love, your rare caress,
To always hope in sadness, and to bless
Your pity when it comes, and be consoled.
Rich in hope and poor in earthly gold,
Heaped with grief and void of easefulness,
I pray you from the depths of my distress:
Leave me my hope; without it, I am cold.

Poetic translation by J. Friedman

Alain Chartier was from Bayeux. He studied philosophy and law at the University of Paris, then became a member of the household of Yolande d'Anjou, Queen of Jerusalem and Sicily. After the future Charles VII of France left Yolande's household, Alain went with him as a royal notary and secretary. He travelled around Burgundy and elsewhere with the Court, and served as a royal ambassador several times towards the end of his life.

My poetic advisor and I disagreed on the interpretation of the latter part of this poem. He saw the narrator as "not truly pathetic, but posing; not pining, but scheming". I didn't; I see him as genuinely depressed to the point where he holds onto a shred of hope, but doesn't truly believe he can influence his lady love in his favor. I think he might believe that it is better to hope against hope, than to give up and look elsewhere. I definitely didn't sense any scheming or posing in this poem. But he made a good argument for it, and a poem that shades the lover's complaint in this fashion would be a valid variation on the original.


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Last modified: 11/4/04