In the 16th-century, French differed from current French, but 16th-century French can be read with little effort. For instance, one may use the Latin or other root of a word and a word’s connotations.
I used “classes” as in classification. Classe would correspond to the word type. That last verse was difficult to translate. Bellum means war. So, I turned “champ [field] bellique” into lice, arena, or battlefield. Singulier has many connotations, but it can mean singulier as opposed to pluriel, plural.
Le lion jeune le vieux surmontera/ The young lion the old will overcome
En champ bellique par singulier duelle,/ In an arena (lice) in a one on one duel.
Dans cage d’or les yeux lui [to him or her] crèvera,/ The eyes of his golden cage (head) he will pierce,
Deux classes une [one] puis [then] mourir mort cruelle./ Two types (of wounds), one leading to a cruel death.
The translation above is mostly literal, which is a choice teachers often make. It may not be a perfectly accurate quotation, but Nostradamus predicted that Henri II would have his eye(s) pierced and would then die a painful death.
The events of La Princesse de Clèves are not so foreign. Princess Diana was an ill-wedded wife. She was married to Prince Charles to produce an heir but married him expecting to be loved. Prince Charles was fond of his wife, but he loved another woman. Matters are changing. It is no longer unusual for Royals to marry for love or to find an excellent companion in their spouse, but tragedies may occur. They are human beings and, therefore, not altogether perfect. We make mistakes.
La Princesse de Clèves has been given a page. It is not finished, but will soon be.
Love to everyone 💕
© Micheline Walker
26 January 2021