Doulce mémoire

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General information

An epigram (verse 1), together with a riposte (verse 2) sometimes attributed to Clément Marot, though it is more likely to have been penned by François I, King of France, during or after his imprisonment in Italy following the battle of Pavia in 1525. Epigram and riposte first appeared in print on the same page, but subsequently had entirely independent existence. The epigram is most famous in Sandrin's setting, the tune of which has also been attributed (without substantial evidence) to Marot. It provided the model for a number of parody masses, viz. Thomas Crequillon, Orlando di Lasso and Cipriano de Rore (incomplete ms survival).
(Further ongoing research indicates that the text was originally attributed to Le Roy, viz. Francois I and not to the printer of chansons with that surname. The attribution of the text to Marot appears to be a spurious nineteenth century accretion, the attribution of the tune even more so).

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Text and translations

French.png French text

1 (Epigram)
Douce mémoire, en plaisir consommée;
O siècle heureux que cause tel savoir:
La fermetée de nous deux tant aimée,
Qui à nos maux a su si bien pourvoir,
Or maintenant a perdu son pouvoir,
Rompant le but de ma seule espérance,
Servant d’exemple à tous piteux à voir.
Fini le bien, le mal soudain commence.

2  (Riposte)
Fini le bien, le mal soudain commence.
Témoins en sont nos malheurs qu'on peut voir;
Car tout le bien trouvé par l'espérance
Le mal nous l'a remis en son pouvoir.
O tant d'ennui qui as voulu pourvoir
De varier la fermeté aimée.
Il aurait bien qui savait son savoir.
Douce mémoire, en plaisir consommée.

English.png English translation

1  (Epigram)
O sweet remembrance, subsumed in pleasure;
O happy times which spur such appreciation.
The cherished constancy of us two,
Which had been well able to smoothe our woes,
Is now atrophied, alas,
Being an object of desire to me alone;
And serving as an object lesson to all fellow-sufferers.
Good fortune is finished, and misfortunes begin in a rush.

2  (Riposte)
Good fortune is finished, and misfortunes begin in a rush.
Your shortcomings are troubles that all can see;
For misfortune has reclaimed dominion
Of all that good fortune rooted in hope.
You wished to dispel such a deep boredom
By revising that cherished constancy.
He that heeds his own common sense will flourish.
O sweet remembrance, subsumed in pleasure.

(trans. Timmi O'Danaos & Donna Ferrentes)

English.png English translation

1  (Epigram)
Sweet memory in pleasure so fulfilled,
O happy age that brings such joy to light,
The loving closeness that we two did build,
Which ever let us set our troubles right
The tie which now, alas, hath lost its might,
That tears me from the aim of my desire,
And casts me down, to all a piteous sight
Farewell to joy, ‘tis swept away by ire.

Translation by Thomas Daughton

English.png English translation

Sweet memory of pleasure – pleasure past:
Oh happy age in which such joys were known!
The steadfastness to which we both were wed
¬ a very boon in mastering our trials –
where is it now? Forgotten quite and gone.
My hopes are dashed, sad pattern to behold.
Against ill fortune who can hope to win?
The good times gone, the bad at once begin.

The good times gone, the bad at once begin.
Our pain bears witness, plain for all to see.
The good things we had hoped for, never doubting,
Have slipped and tumbled from our feeble grasp.
The steadfastness that we so dearly treasured
Could not withstand our troubles over time.
Know when you are happy: it cannot last.
Sweet memory of pleasure – pleasure past!

Translation by Mick Swithinbank

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