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Louise Labé

From the moment

From the moment I welcome to my bed
long pursued, long desired sleep,
my creature thought starts its creep,
crawls, no, runs, flies to you instead.

Then I'm gripped, or pinned, or fed
by everything I've hoped for, hold deep.
Agonised sighs seem trite, pat, cheap.
I soon forget what idle anguish said.

Sweet sleep. A night, perhaps, of happiness.
Sultry slumber, the tease of tranquility -
lavish, please, all my nights with slow slow dreams.

And if it's No to love, to tenderness,
No to the sweetest in all humanity
let me at least enjoy the feast - of all that seems.

This is based on "Sonnet 9", and is taken from Louise Labé, Lute Variations, with improvisations by Richard Price, limited edition (Rack Press, 2006). It is collected, with two other Labé improvisations, in Rays (Carcanet, 2009). For more information about Louise Labé see, for example: Yvonne Finnegan's "Louise Labé: Poet of Merit...", the host of Labé material at Other Women's Voices: Louise Labé and Carla Zecher's excellent article on the lute poetry of this period, "The Gendering of the Lute in Sixteenth-Century French Love Poetry," in Renaissance Quarterly (2000)

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