L'on verra s'arrêter le mobile du monde
Attr. to Madeleine de l'Aubespine, 1546-1596; written by Héliette de Vivonne, 1560-1625


L'on verra s'arrêter le mobile du monde,
Les étoiles marcher parmi le firmament,
Saturne infortuné luire bénignement,
Jupiter commander dedans le creux de l'onde:

L'on verra Mars paisible et la clarté féconde
Du Soleil s'obscurcir sans force et mouvement,
Vénus sans amitié, Stilbon sans changement,
Et la Lune en carré changer sa forme ronde:

Le feu sera pesant et légère la terre,
L'eau sera chaude et sèche, et dans l'air qui l'enserre,
On verra les poissons voler et se nourrir,

Plutôt que mon amour, à vous seul destinée,
Se tourne en autre part, car pour vous je fus née,
Je ne vis que pour vous, pour vous je veux mourir.

Literal translation:
One might see the heavenly spheres stop,
The stars to walk about the sky,
Unlucky Saturn to shine benignly,
Jupiter to rule in the trough of the wave:

One might see Mars peaceful, and the fecund light
Of the sun hide itself without force or movement,
Venus without love, Mercury without mutability,
And the Moon to change its roundness to a square.

Fire might be heavy and earth light,
Water hot and dry and in the air surrounding it,
One might see fish flying after their dinner,

Sooner than my love, destined only for you,
Would turn to another, since for you was I born,
I live for nothing but you, and for you I want to die.

Literal translation by J. Friedman

Poetic translation:
You'd sooner see the spheres of heaven stay,
The stars to glide ungoverned in the sky,
Unlucky Saturn smiling from on high,
Or Jupiter his throne cast far away.

Sooner would the Sun abandon day,
And dance with peaceful Mars in darkened June,
Or loveless Venus, Mercury delay,
A cube of rock replace our rotund Moon.

The fire go dull, the earth grow light,
The water dry, and in free flight
You might see little fish float past

Before my faithful spirit might
For other heart than yours ignite,
My destiny, my unsurpassed.

Poetic translation by J. Friedman

Héliette de Vivonne was born around 1560, the eldest daughter of Baron Charles II de Vivonne. She became a member of the French court and a lady-in-waiting to princesses and queens. Her lover, Desportes, published her poems, including 94 sonnets, in several editions after her marriage to the Baron de Fontaines in 1580.

I made a decision to interpret the final six lines as having eight syllables, because it was difficult to tell what was intended, and because it wasn't unusual to have metrical variations in sonnets.


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Last modified: 11/4/04