This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Saturday Rave: Thomas Corneille.

Yes, you're right, Corneille was called Pierre. Thomas was his very little brother, born when Pierre was nineteen years old.

portrait by Jacob van Loo

Thomas Corneille wrote poetry, and more plays than Shakespeare. Some of them were rather good - his brother admitted to having wished he'd written Camma himself. Thomas translated Ovid, and also wrote a couple of dictionaries (one three-volume work, astonishingly, after he'd gone blind).

As if this wasn't enough for someone of whom no one was ever going to have heard, he wrote libretti. The one for the opera Médée was set to music by Chapentier. Here are Médée's opening words:

Pour flatter mes ennuis, que ne puis-je te croire!
Tout le voudroit, mon repos & ma gloire;
Mais en vain á douter je trouve des appas,
Jason est un ingrat. Jason est un parjure;
L'amour que j'ai pour lui, me le dit, m'en assure,
Et l'amour ne se trompe pas.

To ease my troubles, if only I could believe you!
Everyone would wish me peace and glory -
But that's in vain, for there are charms in doubting.
Jason is ungrateful. Jason is a liar:
The love that I have for him, that has been told to me, reassures me:
And love is not wrong.

It shows, I think, an admirable appetite for getting on with stuff and not messing about chattering about the weather.

Word To Use Today: ennui. It means listlessness and general dissatisfaction in English, but in French it used to mean annoyance, and in fact is basically the same word.

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