Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Waddington, ed. > The Sonnets of Europe
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Samuel Waddington, comp.  The Sonnets of Europe.  1888.
 
It Was the Time, When Rest
By Joachim du Bellay (1552–1560)
 
Translated by Edmund Spenser

IT 1 was the time, when rest, soft sliding down
  From Heaven’s height into men’s heavy eyes,
  In the forgetfulness of sleep doth drown
  The careful thoughts of mortal miseries:
Then did a ghost before mine eyes appear        5
  On that great river’s bank that runs by Rome,
  Which, calling me by name, bade me to rear
  My looks to Heaven, whence all good gifts do come;—
And crying loud, Lo! now behold, quoth he,
  What under this great temple placèd is;        10
  Lo, all is naught but flying vanity!
So I, that know this world’s inconstancies,
  Since only God surmounts all time’s decay,
  In God alone my confidence do stay.
 
Note 1. Joachim du Bellay—who was called by his contemporaries the French Ovid—was a kinsman of the Cardinal Du Bellay, and was born about the year 1525. Mr. Lang writes—“There is something in Du Bellay’s life, in the artistic nature checked by occupation in affairs—he was the secretary of Cardinal Du Bellay—in the regret and affection with which Rome depressed and allured him, which reminds the English reader of the thwarted career of Clough.” In his sonnet on “Venice” there is, indeed, a strange resemblance to the manner and method, the keen sparkling satire and graphic representation, which characterise so much of Clough’s poetry. His sonnet, “To Courtiers,” might also be mentioned as an example of his light yet caustic humour. His poetry was very highly esteemed by Edmund Spenser, who not only translated a number of his sonnets, but also annexed thereto some highly laudatory lines:—
  “Bellay! first garland of free poesy
That France brought forth, though fruitful of brave wits,
Well worthy thou of immortality.”
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