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Ronsard: “Quand Vous Serez Bien Vieille, Au Soir, a La Chandelle...” a translation By Jack Foley




When you are old, at evening, candle-lit,

And seated near the fire, spool and spin,

You’ll sing this song and, wondering at it,

Say: “Ronsard praised my beauty, radiant then.”


Then not a servant listening to your voice

But wakes a little, hearing of your fame,

And starts again, as ever, to rejoice

And call down myriad blessings on your name.


I’ll be beneath the earth, a boneless ghost,

At ease below the whispering myrtle’s shade:

You an old woman cowering at the hearth,


Regretting all that scorn, that love that’s lost.

Live NOW before we sink into the earth.

Gather the sweet sweet roses for which your life was made.