I do not write of love: I am no lover. I do not write of beauty: I have no woman. I do not write of gentleness but the human rudeness I see. And my pleasures are all over, so I do not try to write of pleasure, but only misery. Favors? No, I am on my own. I do not write of riches: I have none. Or of life at court, when I’m far from it and lonely. I do not write of health, for I’m often ill. I cannot write of France from a Roman hill. Or honor? I see so little of that about. I cannot write of friendship but only pretence. I will not write of virtue, here in its absence. Or knowledge or faith, in ignorance and doubt.
From The Regrets by Joachim du Bellay. English translation copyright © 2003 by Northwestern University Press. Reprinted by permission of Northwestern University Press. All rights reserved.