love in shades of grey
an unusual love story by Glynne MacLean


Louise Labé's Sonnet VIII inspired Claire to write and compose the opera The Last Sonnet. It also provides the lyrics for the opera's finale as the heroine Lilea sings the title aria The Last Sonnet.


by Louise Labé - (1525 - 1566)



Ie vis, ie meurs: ie me brule et me noye.
I'ay chaut estreme en endurant froidure:
La vie m'est et trop molle et trop dure.
I'ay grans ennuis entremeslez de ioye:

Tout à un coup ie ris et ie larmoye,
Et en plaisir maint grief tourment i'endure:
Mon bien s'en va, et à iamais il dure:
Tout en un coup ie seiche et ie verdoye.

Ainsi Amour inconstamment me meine:
Et quand ie pense auoir plus de douleur,
Sans y penser ie me treuue hors de peine.

Puis quand ie croy ma ioye estre certeine,
Et estre au haut de mon desire heur,
Il me remet en mon premier malheur.



I live, I die, I burn, but drown,
I feel great heat, and yet enduring cold
My life is both too easy and too hard
Pain in my heart is mixed all in with joy;

At the same time I laugh and cry,
And in pleasure I suffer many grievous torments,
My treasure is expended, but lasts for ever,
I am parched and dry, yet verdant green.

Thus inconstant Eros leads me on:
Just when I think I am most wretched
My sorrow passes, with me all unaware

And when I believe my joy secure,
Believing I have attained my desired goal,
He casts me back into my first despair.


English translation by John Jamieson, NZTC International.



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