Two French lyrics of Clement Marot translated

D'Anne qui me jecta de la neige
by Clément Marot (1496-1544)

Anne par jeu me jecta de la neige
Que je cuidoys froide certainement:
Mais c'estoit feu, l'expérience en ay-je
Car embrasé je fuz soubdainement
Puisque le feu loge secretement
Dedans la neige, où trouveray-je place
Pour n'ardre point? Anne, ta seule grâce
Estaindre peut le feu que je sens bien
Non point par eau, par neige, ne par glace,
Mais par sentir ung feu pareil au mien.

Anne, as a game, threw me in the snow,
Which should have made me feel very cold.
Instead it made the fire inside me grow,
Because in my arms I did sweet Anne hold.
Since fire in drifts of snow burns flaming gold,
Where can a faithful lover ever find
A place where he is safe from flames? Be kind,
Anne, drown the dancing fire which burns me so,
Not with the snow or ice or water, mind,
But with your loving flame, strong as my own.


Languir me fais
by Clément Marot

Languir me fais sans t'avoir offensée:
Plus ne m'escriptz, plus de moy ne t'enquiers;
Mais non obstant, aultre Dame ne quiers:
Plus tost mourir que changer ma pensée.

Je ne dy pas t'amour estre effacée,
Mais je me plains de l'ennuy que j'acquiers,
Et loing de toy humblement te requiers
Que loing de moy, de moy ne sois faschée.

You make me languish, though I've hurt you not:
You do not write, you do not ask for me;
In spite of all, the others I'll not see:
I'd sooner die than change my loving thought.

To see your love erased does make me sigh,
And daily I complain of sadness now
That far from you, I think of you, and how
You may be longing, lonesome, as am I.

translations ©12/13/2000 J. Friedman

Much as I enjoyed being a French major in college, I have to admit that not a lot has stuck with me. I don't speak it anymore (not that I was ever very fluent; I knew what everything meant but it never rolled off my tongue unless I was reading it), I'm too lazy to read much in French, and even bits of my accent are disappearing (my uvula just won't do that R anymore!). Translation isn't something I've ever made a concerted effort at; I placed out of the class at LU that discussed translation by going to France for part of my sophomore year. But I find I enjoy it and seem to do pretty well at it.

I found these lyrics in a database of art song texts ( and liked them as period poetry, although the second is one that I know in musical form from one of my favorite early music compilations. My translations are poetic versions.

A poetic translation is, of course, different from singable translations or literal translations. Someone familiar with the song "Languir me fais" would burst into giggles on trying to sing my translation, as the song pauses for emphasis after the first four syllables; it makes no sense to sing, "You make me lang" (though admittedly I seem to have echoed the problem by coincidence in the last line, "You may be long"!).

Another interesting problem: I seem to have mistranslated the idea in "D'Anne". Anne has not thrown the author in the snow ("me jecta dans la neige"), but has thrown snow at him ("me jecta de la neige"). Well! Silly me. Come to think of it, I thought Anne was a little strong (either that or there was ice under that there snow!). I have no immediate idea how to fix this, so I'm going to leave it for the time being.

Back to Jennifer's Page

Back to Eliane's Bardic Book

Last modified: 8/1/01