the mysterious disappearing valentine's day post, including the translation, plus comment from the Old Bat who still hasn't left for Florida

I still haven't figured out how this post disappeared, but here it is again. 

And thank you for asking.

This poem, by Pierre Ronsard, is reputed to have been helping ugly French guys get laid since 1587. And as for what it does for the good-looking ones - well.

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,
Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,
Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant 
Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle.

Lors, vous n’aurez servante oyant telle nouvelle,
Déjà sous le labeur à demi sommeillant,
Qui au bruit de mon nom ne s’aille réveillant,
Bénissant votre nom de louange immortelle. 

Je serai sous la terre et fantôme sans os :
Par les ombres myrteux je prendrai mon repos :
Vous serez au foyer une vieille accroupie, 

Regrettant mon amour et votre fier dédain.
Vivez, si m’en croyez, n’attendez à demain :
Cueillez dès aujourd’hui les roses de la vie. 
— Pierre Ronsard, Sonnets pour Hélène, 1587

Quand Vous Serez Bien Vieille (English)
When you are very old, at evening, by the fire,
spinning wool by candlelight and winding it in skeins,
you will say in wonderment as you recite my lines:
“Ronsard admired me in the days when I was fair.”
Then not one of your servants dozing gently there
hearing my name’s cadence break through your low repines
but will start into wakefulness out of her dreams
and bless your name — immortalised by my desire.
I’ll be underneath the ground, and a boneless shade
taking my long rest in the scented myrtle-glade,
and you’ll be an old woman, nodding towards life’s close,
regretting my love, and regretting your disdain.
Heed me, and live for now: this time won’t come again.
Come, pluck now — today — life’s so quickly-fading rose.
(originally published in Tide and Undertow by Anthony Weir, Belfast 1975)

And now the Old Bat discusses the imagery, rhyme scheme, and essential meaning of the poem.
Oh, pleeeeze. Yes, I had my share of starving but overly romantic poets in my salad days, and no regrets, but in these times of vanishing benefits, shrinking Medicare and dwindling social security, which would you rather remember? That some h***y guy hit you up with a poem that he claimed was inspired by you but which you knew he'd laid on at least 3 other girls that week? Or that tucked in the secret drawer of your nightstand is a rock that you can sell for enough cash to get you through the rest of the year in comfort (or to Paris for a week)?
If I were to open a consignment shop in Paris, I'd call it "ce n'ėtait pas Ronsard" (it wasn't Ronsard),and every woman of a certain age who brought in a fur or a bracelet would get the reference and smile. Or sigh.


  1. Well, I still love this post. Maybe Old Bat ate it..

  2. Thanks for the poem and the, ahem, adept exegesis!

    1. Hi, Lane, just had a grumpy phone call from the Old Bat, she wants a more appealing blog sobriquet, but rejected The Once and Future Party Girl.

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

    2. Seriously?? I would def take the Once and Future PG, totally would.


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