After Joachim du Bellay’s “Les Regrets LXVIII”

I hate the Florentines’ foul avarice,
I hate lewd Sienese profanity,
I hate Geneva’s glib duplicity,
I hate malign Venetian artifice,
I hate whate’er Ferrara does amiss,
I hate the Lombards’ infidelity
And Neapolitan diversity,
And lazy Rome’s loquacious cowardice.
I hate how the English smirk, and Scotsmen cheat,
How Burgundy betrays France indiscreet,
How Spaniards strut, and drunken Germans balk,
And I who hate some vice in every nation
Renounce political equivocation,
For most of all I hate how pundits talk.


Margaret Coats lives in California.  Long ago, she earned a PhD in English and American literature and language, but left the academic field for a better position schooling her own children. She has continued to help other homeschooling families with courses in literature and Latin, and she sings in choirs for the Traditional Latin Mass.

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4 Responses

  1. Sally Cook

    Marvelously understated wit and wording! Your children must be getting a very good education!

    You may get two of this, as I was unable to send it before, but that’s ok; you deserve at least two.

    Sally Cook

  2. Blaise Éducwer

    It’s hard to know why any particular writer inspires another, or why any particular topic draws one in; but I truly enjoyed your rendering of Du Bellay. Your language is so elegant and delicate, it is breathtaking, and I am actually amazed at how refined your language is. I am reminded of the English of Mr. Whidden and Ms. Foreman, with an additional clarity that reminds me of Siglo de Oro sonneteers. We are truly blessed @ SCP.

    On a Translation of Margaret Coates

    I like Ms. Coates’ recast of Du Bellay.
    I like how she retains the rhyming scheme.
    I like her latinate linguistic stream.
    I like the way she takes the words away
    and brings them back with something fresh to weigh.
    I like the power of her laser beam.
    I like her octave; I have great esteem;
    her dreamy metre keeps the fun in play.
    I like the sestet, after Italy;
    and Western Europe handled wittily,
    as fine as any Spenser rendering,
    or Portia dreading random wedding band.
    O, I, who like some virtue in each land,
    enjoy Ms. Coates’ crisp, modern handling.

  3. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    In fact, there is a marvelously jocund aspect to this fine poem which betrays the poet’s well-studied understanding of Les Regrets. I would not hesitate to place this piece within the Ars Poetica Nova.

    Remember, also, that Du Bellay had given to the French sonnet its human dimensions while preserving the universality of lyric verse at the same time. In the 191sonnets of Les Regrets, Du Bellay conceives poetry as the “secretaire du coeur,” and he stands out within the Pleiade for this reason. Rather than making constant reference to some “exemplaire grec,” Du Bellay preferred, instead, to put into his verses “tout ce que la passion fait dire.”

    So the choice of Du Bellay is perfectly relevant. Under the tyranny of political correctness and its concomitant reduction of poetry to mere leftist propaganda, poetry like Du Bellay’s—indeed poetry itself—becomes impossible.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dear Ms. Coates —

    I agree with Mr. MacKenzie’s analysis, and I also am impressed by the manner in which you have used Du Bellay as a template for a pertinent modern sonnet.

    Might I have permission to accept this poem for inclusion in the next issue of my journal TRINACRIA?


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