Marguerite de Navarre
1492 – 1549


O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.
True love is life’s true end,
My heart can comprehend,
And therefore I intend
My love unceasingly to give.
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Love lends me confidence,
Grants conscience calmer sense,
Builds patient competence,
Forms faith and hope restorative;
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Love is my victory,
Honor, gleaming glory;
Fashions me his story
Of pleasure’s daily narrative.
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Love has such lovely grace
That when I see his face
I find a tranquil place
For fervent years contemplative.
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Love offers deep content:
With his care provident
And arm omnipotent,
I need no aid alternative.
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Love draws me lovingly,
Attracts with gloom, then glee,
Charms me with misery.
Alas! His changes I misgive.
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Love spreads his wings to fly,
Calls me to gratify
Him by pursuit; I sigh,
And hurry toward the fugitive.
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Love, to secure my heart,
Falls in my arms by art,
And then away will dart
In dalliance provocative.
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

My joy without a peer
Inspires such songful cheer,
I cry to every ear,
“Love love, or lapse insensitive!”
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Shepherdesses gracious,
For Love be amorous,
Thereby more rapturous
Than queens of high prerogative.
O shepherdess, my friend,
On love alone I live.

Translation by Margaret Coats

Diamond Speaks

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 480th birthday.

Mary, Queen of Scots
1542 – 1587


‘Tis not because my strength outranks both flame and brand,
Nor because my facets display a cunning hand,
Nor because, set in fine-wrought gold, I shine so bright,
Nor even that I’m pure, whiter than Phoebus’ light,
But rather because my form is a heart, like unto
My Mistress’ heart (but for hardness), that I’m sent to you.
For all things must yield to unfettered purity
And she is my true equal in each quality.
For who would fail to grant that once I had been sent,
My Mistress should thus, in turn, find favour and content?
May it please, from these omens I shall gather strength
And thus from Queen to equal Queen I’ll pass at length.
O would I could join them with an iron band alone
(Though all prefer gold) and unite their hearts as one
That neither envy, greed nor gossip’s evil play,
Nor mistrust, nor ravaging time could wear away.
Then they’d say among treasures I was most renowned,
For I’d have two great jewels in one setting bound.
Then with my glitt’ring rays I should confound the sight
Of all who saw me, dazzling enemies with my light.
Then, by my worth and by her art, I should be known
As the diamond, the greatest jewel, the mighty stone.

Sweet and Dear Kisses

We present this work in honor of the 410th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Giovanni Battista Guarini
1538 – 1612


Sweet and dear kisses,
sustenance of my life,
which now steal away, now give back my heart
for your sake I must learn
how a stolen heart
feels no pain of dying and yet dies.
All that is sweet in love,
whenever I kiss you,
oh sweetest roses,
resides in you.
And if I could, with your sweet kisses,
end my life—
oh what a sweet death!

Sonnet CXI

We present this work in honor of the 480th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Juan Boscan Almogaver
1490 – 1542


I am like one who in a desert bides
Forgotten by the world and its concerns,
By chance encounter suddenly who learns
A dear friend lives, whom he supposed had died.

He fears at first this doubtful apparition,
But finding it then reliable and assured,
Commences to recall his past condition
By newly awakened sentiments allured

But when it’s time for friend and friend to part
Since to be parted soon he must consent
He finds old solitude stamped with new indent.

To mountain grass he must then reconcile,
And barren wastes which lack a trace of art,
Trembling each time he enters his cave the while.

Translation by Dia Tsung

Farewell to Folly

We present this work in honor of the 430th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Robert Greene
1558 – 1592


Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content;
The quiet mind is richer than a crown;
Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent;
The poor estate scorns fortune’s angry frown:
Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss,
Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.

The homely house that harbours quiet rest;
The cottage that affords no pride nor care;
The mean that ‘grees with country music best;
The sweet consort of mirth and music’s fare;
Obscured life sets down a type of bliss:
A mind content both crown and kingdom is.

I Live, I Die, I Burn, I Drown

Louise Labé
c. 1524 – 1566


I live, I die, I burn, I drown
I endure at once chill and cold
Life is at once too soft and too hard
I have sore troubles mingled with joys

Suddenly I laugh and at the same time cry
And in pleasure many a grief endure
My happiness wanes and yet it lasts unchanged
All at once I dry up and grow green

Thus I suffer love’s inconstancies
And when I think the pain is most intense
Without thinking, it is gone again.

Then when I feel my joys certain
And my hour of greatest delight arrived
I find my pain beginning all over once again.


Translation by Delmira Agustini

Gather Violets O Narcissus

We present this work in honor of Muharram.

Habba Khatoon
1554 – 1609


Rain has come, and fields and fruit trees sing,
Spring has come, and Love, the Lord of Spring,
Dandelions have lifted up their faces,
Cold has gone and every wintry thing!
Forget-me-not the forest graces,
Iris and the lily spring will bring.
Gather violets, O Narcissus,
Winter’s ashes from our door I fling!
The water bird the lake embraces,
How can frost upon your petals cling?

Translation by Nilla Cram Cook

Royal song of the most beautiful that ever was in the world

07-05 d'Amboise
Catherine d’Amboise
1475 – 1550

Angels, Thrones and Dominations,
Principalities, Archangels, Cherubim,
Bow to the lower regions
With Virtues, Potestés, Seraphim,
Fly through high crystalline skies
To decorate the triumphant entrance
And the most worthy adored birth,
The holy concept by mysteres tres haults
Of that Virgin, where all grace abounds,
Decree by dits imperiaulx
The most beautiful that ever was in the world.

Give sermons and sermons,
Devout Carmelites, Cordeliers, Augustins;
From the holy concept wear relationships,
Caldeyens, Hebrieux and Latins;
Romanians, sing on the Palatine Hills
That Jouachim Saincte Anne met,
And that by eulx is administered to us
Ceste Virgo without love conjugaulx
That God created of fruitful pleasure,
Without feeling any original defects,
The most beautiful that ever was in the world.

His honest beautiful receptions
Of soul and body in the beautiful places of the intestines
Have transcended all conceptions
Personal, by divine mysteries.
Because to feed Jesus with his painful breasts
God always has him without a maculle monster,
Declaring it by right and ultree law:
All beautiful for the all beautiful of the beautiful,
All clergy, nect, modest and world,
All pure above all bladders,
The most beautiful that ever was in the world.

Muses, come in jubilations
And transmigrate your crystal-clear streams,
Come, Aurora, by lucidations,
Precursing the beautiful morning days;
Come, Orpheus, sound harp and clarins,
Come, Amphion, from the beautiful country,
Come, Music, pleasantly acoustrée,
Come on, Royne Hester, adorned with joyaulx,
Come, Judith, Rachel and Florimonde,
Accompanied by special honors
The most beautiful that ever was in the world.

Tres doulx zephirs, by sibilations
Sow roses and roumarins everywhere,
Nimphes, stop your floods,
Marine stigieulx and carybd places;
Ring horns, viols, stools;
May my mistress, the honored Virgin
Either from everyone in all places decorated
Come, Apolo, play the blowpipes,
Ring, Panna, so hault that everything redundant,
Collapse all in generaulx terms
The most beautiful that ever was in the world.

Devoted spirits, faithful and loyal,
In paradise, beautiful mansions and chasteins,
To the pleasure God, the Virgin for us founds
Or see her in her Royaulx palaces,
The most beautiful that ever was in the world.

Sonnet IV

z 05-24-22
Isabella Andreini
1562 – 1604

How often do we see a little stream
That trickles from Alpine springs so meagerly
Its scanty drops can scarcely slake at all
A weary pilgrim’s parched and burning thirst,

Enriched with rain, grow suddenly so proud
That nothing can restrain it in its course,
For, grown imperious, it carries all
In ample tribute to the mighty sea;

Likewise, at first, this tyrant love had but
A weak ability to do me harm
And begged in vain for victory o’er my thoughts.

But now, he overmasters so my heart
That speedily his furor drives to death
My Feelings, and my Reason, and my Soul.