A SONNET IN FRENCH ABOUT
THE DESERT DE RETZ

The Racine de Monville Home Page is the world's first web site devoted to the Désert de Retz, an extraordinary 18th century garden near Paris, created by François Racine de Monville in the late 18th century.

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The sonnet on this page was written by Jean-François Bayard (1796-1853), a prolific French dramatist--the author or co-author of 225 plays for the Paris stage--who was the nephew of Eugène Scribe (1791-1861) and purchased the Désert de Retz from Alexandre-Marie Denis (1789-1870), a notary in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in 1839. Bayard remained the owner of the Désert de Retz until his death, when it was inherited by his widow, Victorine Eugénie Puche-Bayard (1811-1853). Frédéric Passy acquired the Désert in 1856.


PREFACE EN FORME DE SONNET

Désert de Retz, Juillet 1842

On m'a dit qu'autrefois un modeste village
Elevait son clocher dans un riant vallon,
Où Marly de ses bois verse à grands flots l'ombrage
Terrestre Paradis dont Retz était le nom.

Plus tard sur les débris de ce frais paysage,
Un riche financier planta son pavillon,
Dessina de son parc le pompeux étalage,
Et fit de ce Désert un autre Trianon.

Le léger Vaudeville en a fait les conquetes.
C'est à lui que je dois cette douce retraite.
Où j'ai porté aux Dieux ma muse et mes chansons.

Amis, que près de nous votre coeur vous ramène!
Chacun a mis du sien dans notre beau domaine;
Nous, c'est par l'amitié que nous l'embellisons.



"Adieux au Désert" was written by Bayard as he prepared to leave the Désert de Retz and return to Paris. Both the sonnet and this poem were published in the Epilogue to Volume 12 of Théâtre de J. F. Bayard, edited by Eugène Scribe and published in 1858. According to Scribe, "It was most of all at the Désert de Retz where Bayard found his poetic inspiration....He had the right to be proud of his domain since it was the reward for his many successes, the fruit of his indefatigable labors. The happiest years of his life were spent at the Désert de Retz. He was at the top of his form and his talent, crowned with fame, esteemed and respected. Surrounded by his young and charming family he received visits by friends and relatives and knew how to enjoy the comfortable environment he had created..." Scribe continues, "Madame Bayard had kept a curious album in which her husband and his intimate friends would write verse and leave sketches." That album is the source of these poems.

ADIEUX AU DESERT

Novembre 1849
Beau désert ou je me sens vivre
Où, consolé de l'avenir,
Avec délices je m'enivre
Et de calme et de souvenir !

Arbres géants, riche fontaine,
Qui me versiez votre fraicheur,
Sol fertile, riant domaine,
Mon bien, ma gloire et mon Bonheur !

Sentier discret et solitaire,
Bois silencieux, ou je voi[s],
Où j'entends l'ombre de ma mère
Marcher cote à cote avec moi !

Adieu !...la ville me rappelle
Avec sa voix aux mille bruits :
Je vais porter mon cou fidèle
Au lourd collier de ses ennuis !

Là, j'ai ma place à la charrue
Qui partout creuse son sillon ;
Mais les tempêtes de la rue
Font souvent manquer la moisson !

Là, plus de douces rêveries !
Les chagrins croissant sous nos toits
Comme l'herbe dans mes prairies,
Comme la ronce dans mes bois !

Les plaisirs couvent des orages ;
La gloire, en ses bonds inconstants,
Est comme ces oiseaux volages
Qui changent de nid tous les ans !

Et c'est pour ces biens que l'on quitte
Vos loisirs si purs et si doux !
Et nos jours qui coulent si vite,
C'est là qu'on les perd loin de vous !

Adieu !...mais vous verrai-je encore,
Beaux lieux qui j'ai su conquérir,
Verrai-je mes roses éclore
Et mes beaux pêchers refleurir ?

Printemps, hâte-toi de renaitre !
De mon exil marque la fin!...
C'est bientôt... C'est demain peut-être...
Mais, hélas ! verrai-je demain !


TEXT TO SPEECH

Use the Acapela Text-to-Speech Demo to listen to these poems in French. Copy and paste a text in the window, choose your variety of French (France, Belgium, Canada) and one of fifteen voices (my favorite are Antoine and Manon), then click and--écoutez!


TRANSLATION

Use Google Translate to convert these poems into your native language.

SONNETS

Enjoy sonnets? Write sonnets? Michael R. Burch has collected the Best Sonnets of All Time--in English, of course!

SESTINAS

Enjoy sonnets? You'll love the sestina. Invented by troubadour Arnaud Daniel in the 12th century, they have been written by Dante, Sir Philip Sidney, Swinburne, Kipling, Ezra Pound, Auden and many others. Michael R. Burch not only offers us the Best Sestinas of All Time--also in English--but also an excellent short history of these wonderful poems.

Find information and sestinas by living poets on the Sestina Page. This page was closed in 2006, but has been archived by WebRing.

Michel Miaille has published fifty of his sestinas in French in a collection entitled Sextines de Tous Temps.

Three sestinas by Ronald W. Kenyon. excerpted from Divagations: Collected Poetry 1959-1996.

The Speaking Crosses of Chan

Summer with You and a Phoebe

Sextine d'Automne French flag

Use Josh Mandel's Sestin-a-matic to create your own sestina and submit it to the archive.


FRANCOPHONIE French flag

Trois poèmes en regard du Désert de Retz par Andrée Chedid, Guillevic et Jean Grosjean, poètes contemporains.

Vous aimez la poésie? Trouvez votre bonheur sur les sites de la poésie en français. Poésie française, plus de 6000 poèmes français, de la Renaissance au début du XXème siècle.

ClickNet, à la Swarthmore University, vous offre Poésie contemporaine, Poésie moderne, ou Poésie du domaine public.


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This page revised November 2, 2016.