From Publishers Weekly
A true Renaissance man, Basque-born Jean de Sponde (1557-1595) was a jurist, alchemist and poet, among other vocations and avocations. Prolific poet, translator and Bennington College faculty member David R. Slavitt has taken Sponde's old French Sonnets of Love & Death and put them in modern English, while attempting to preserve Ssponde's rhyme scheme and immediacy. The results are mixed, but this bilingual edition allows easy comparisons.
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From the Back Cover
Sonnets of Love and Death introduces the difficult yet dazzling world of a neglected poet who has earned renewed recognition during the twentieth century. Jean de Sponde has finally taken his proper place in the pantheon of French poets and is now considered one of the most important short form poets who wrote between the Renaissance and Classicism. Poised between two eras, de Sponde's writing reflects all the tensions he felt at that time. In a collection of sonnets loaded with multiple metaphors, paradoxes, antitheses, and hyperbole, he carries out a restless exploration of the body and the spirit, passion and anguish, and the concrete and the abstract. David Slavitt's finely crafted translation respects the challenging nature of de Sponde's four-hundred-year-old diction and themes. While remaining faithful to the original content and sonnet form, he deftly employs contemporary English phrases and poetics that appeal to the modern eye and ear.