Qui d'un poëte entend suivre la trace
En traduisant, et proprement rimer,
Ainsi qu'il faut la diction limer,
Et du François garder la bonne grace.
Par un moyen luy conviendra qu'il face
Mais par sus tout met son honneur en gage,
Que pleust aux Dieux et Muses consentir
[He] Who intends to follow a poet's path
In translation, and rhyming properly,
As well one must trim the diction,
And of the French/King to keep the good grace.
By one means, it will suit him to try to
But additionally, all put their honor in hock
Which cry to the gods and the muses to consent
Literal translation by J. Friedman
He who intends to hear the poet's call,
And translate cleanly, with the proper rhyme,
Must trim his diction, count the rightful time,
And keep the grace of God, of King, and all.
How arduous the task to him doth fall:
Humility his sense of pride will quench;
Though he may cry to God and Muse and King,
Poetic translation by J. Friedman
Jacques Pelletier du Mans was born in Le Mans, 1517, to a bourgeois family, making him the only poet in my project who was not connected with nobility. He lived during the time of François I, and studied law in Paris, then became secretary to Bishop Rene du Bellay in Le Mans. He translated poems of Horace from Latin to French early in his career. In 1547 he published his Oevres Poetiques. He was a friend of the prominent poet Ronsard and knew many other poets and writers of his time.
What luck: in my aimless ramblings through the library, researching a project about translating poetry, I stumbled on this poem about translating poetry. The author knew whereof he spoke; this sonnet introduced a series of 12 sonnets of Petrarch that Pelletier du Mans translated into French. I had trouble interpreting the meaning of this poem, and am still fuzzy on the last few lines. So I invented a sentiment that goes with the feeling of the rest of the poem.
Notice the possible pun in line 4: "Et du François garder la bonne grace". "François" was capitalized in the facsimile version that I found, but lowercase in a 20th century edition. He could have been referring to King François, or to the French language, commonly spelled "françois" rather than "français" in that time period. But it makes sense that as a poet, he would like his work to be in the good graces of both his King and his mother tongue!
This is also the only poem on which I had to fudge the rhyme scheme; I introduced a new rhyme in the middle of the second verse, which should have been the same rhyme as the middle of the first verse, but ironically, I ran out of words that rhymed with "rhyme".