A Renaissance Poem in Translation

The backlog continues … here is a translation from the French of Clément Marot (1497-1544), who composed this occasional poem to Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549; yes, the Marguerite, princess of France, Queen of Navarre, Duchess of Alençon and Berry, and author of the Heptaméron!) in the happy, halcyon days before FICO credit scores.

Reply to the Queen of Navarre

My creditors, whom dozens could not move,
Have read your letter, wherewith I averred:
“Sir Michael and Sir Bonaventure, you’ve
The sister of the King for her good word.”
Then they, of my great credit well-assured,
Called me my lord in clamor, and behold!
Your guarantee was worth as much as gold,
For they have sworn, not only to attend,
But, on their merchants’ faith, to lend tenfold,
And I have sworn, on Clement’s faith, to spend.

— Translated by Samantha Pious

Réplique à la reine de Navarre

Mes créanciers, qui de dizains n’ont cure,
Ont lu le vôtre, et sur ce, leur ai dit:
“Sire Michel, sire Bonaventure,
La soeur du roi a fait pour moi ce dit.”
Lors eux, cuidant que fusse en grand crédit,
M’ont appelé monsieur à cri et cor,
Et m’a valu votre écrit autant qu’or,
Car promis ont, non seulement d’attendre,
Mais d’en prêter, foi de marchand, encor,
Et j’ai promis, foi de Clément, d’en prendre.

— Clément Marot

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