“What I cannot recover ...”
transl. Samantha Pious

What I cannot recover, World
—of order so unequal—
means that neither do I wish you
well nor do I wish you evil.

I find more pleasure living thus
in the Limbo of ambition
than if your melancholic love
had given me a life in prison.
It weighs on me that, once, your evil
was not evil in my eyes;
I’m pleased that I can now believe
that you are wholly—otherwise.

Samantha Pious’s translations from the modern French of Renée Vivien are available as A Crown of Violets (Headmistress Press, 2017); her translations from the medieval French of Christine de Pizan are forthcoming. Individual translations have appeared in Ancient Exchanges, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Doublespeak, Lunch Ticket, and other journals.


‘O que rrecobrar nõ posso...’
Filipa de Almada

O que rrecobrar nõ posso
mundo doordem desygoal
faz que nem desejo vosso
bem nem quero vosso mal.

Mays me praz que assy viua
no limbo destes fauores,
que vossos tristes amores
me darem vida catyua.
pesame que o mal vosso
ja cuydey de nam ser mal,
prazme que por que sey, & posso
crer aguora de vos al.

Reproduced from the Cancioneiro geral de Garcia de Resende, edited by António José Gonçálvez Guimarãis (Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade, 1915) 4:63.

Filipa de Almada (d. 1497?) was a lady in waiting of Princess Leonor, sister to Alfonso V of Portugal. Escritoras, an online catalogue of Portuguese-language women writers prior to the twentieth century, lists her place of birth as Coimbra and her parents as João Vaz de Almada, Lord of Pereira, and Violante de Castro. On February 25, 1451, Filipa de Almada married Ruy Moniz, treasurer of the royal mint, with whom she had four children.

Read Samantha Pious on translating the poem.


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