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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Ronsard to his Mistress

By Pierre de Ronsard (1524–1585)

Paraphrased by William Makepeace Thackeray

SOME winter night, shut snugly in

Beside the fagot in the hall,

I think I see you sit and spin,

Surrounded by your maidens all.

Old tales are told, old songs are sung,

Old days come back to memory:

You say, “When I was fair and young,

A poet sang of me!”

There’s not a maiden in your hall,

Though tired and sleepy ever so,

But wakes as you my name recall,

And longs the history to know.

And as the piteous tale is said

Of lady cold and lover true,

Each, musing, carries it to bed,

And sighs and envies you!

“Our lady’s old and feeble now,”

They’ll say; “she once was fresh and fair,

And yet she spurned her lover’s vow,

And heartless left him to despair:

The lover lies in silent earth,

No kindly mate the lady cheers;

She sits beside a lonely hearth,

With threescore and ten years!”

Ah! dreary thoughts and dreams are those,—

But wherefore yield me to despair,

While yet the poet’s bosom glows,

While yet the dame is peerless fair!

Sweet lady mine! while yet ’tis time,

Requite my passion and my truth;

And gather in their blushing prime

The roses of your youth!