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French Poem “Heureux Qui Comme Ulysse” de Joachim du Bellay

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis - updated on Jun 17, 2020
Ulysses and the Sirens, 1909 (oil on canvas) by Draper, Herbert James (1864-1920)

Created in the 16th century, this classic French poem is written in Middle French; it is not modern, but easily understandable. Once the construction and vocabulary has been explained, it is an easy poem, even for a French beginner.

1 – French Poem “Heureux Qui Comme Ulysse” de Joachim du Bellay – French

Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage,
Ou comme cestuy-là qui conquit la toison,
Et puis est retourné, plein d’usage et raison,
Vivre entre ses parents le reste de son âge !

Quand reverrai-je, hélas, de mon petit village
Fumer la cheminée, et en quelle saison
Reverrai-je le clos de ma pauvre maison,
Qui m’est une province, et beaucoup davantage ?

Plus me plaît le séjour qu’ont bâti mes aïeux,
Que des palais Romains le front audacieux,
Plus que le marbre dur me plaît l’ardoise fine :

Plus mon Loir gaulois, que le Tibre latin,
Plus mon petit Liré, que le mont Palatin,
Et plus que l’air marin la doulceur angevine.

Joachim du Bellay, Les Regrets, sonnet XXXI, 1558.

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2 – French Poem “Heureux Qui Comme Ulysse” de Joachim du Bellay – English Translation

Happy he who like Ulysses has returned ?successful from his travels,
Or like he ?who sought the Golden Fleece,
Then returned, ?wise to the world
Live amongst his family to the end of his age!

When shall I see again, alas, of my dear village,
Its chimney smoke, and in which season, ?
Will I see again that little, modest, plot of earth
That is a province to me, and far more than I draw here?

I’m drawn far more to my forefathers home,
Than to a Roman palace fine and proud,
More than hard marble I prefer fine slate:

My gaul Loir I prefer to latin Tiber,
My little Liré I prefer to Palatine,
And to sea air, soft climate Angevine.?

Joachim du Bellay, Les Regrets, sonnet XXXI, 1558.

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