Week 339: Quand vous serez bien vieille, by Keith Bosley

Keith Bosley, who died last year at the age of 81, was a prolific poet and translator, and onetime broadcaster for the BBC World Service. I like his wryly colloquial reworking of the famous Ronsard sonnet (see week 233 for the original).

Quand vous serez bien vieille

When you are old and lost in memory
you might, seized by a sentimental fit
take down this book and blow the dust off it
recalling: ‘Bosley was quite keen on me.’
Your husband, nodding opposite, would start:
‘Eh, what was that?’ You would repeat the name.
‘That poet.’ ‘No, I don’t remember him.
But you were always stealing someone’s heart.’
I shall be dust by then and out of print
who pestered you and could not take a hint
that you preferred another man, ma chère
who would not sell his birthright for a yes
from you, and was not driven by distress
to seek in you what simply was not there.

Keith Bosley

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