Antoine Girard de Saint-Amant, a minor nobleman and adventurer in seventeenth century France, wrote a number of styles of poetry, but his comic and satirical verse was the most successful. It is light verse, meant to amuse and entertain, and I think he succeeds admirably. Here is a poem about that great under-appreciated virtue of laziness – ” Le Paresseux” or The Lazy Fellow.
Accablé de paresse et de mélancolie,
Je resve dans un lict où je suis fagoté,
Comme un lièvre sans os qui dort dans un pasté,
Ou comme un Dom Quichot en sa morne folie.
Là, sans me soucier des guerres d’Italie,
Du comte Palatin, ny de sa royauté,
Je consacre un bel hymne à cette oisiveté
Où mon ame en langueur est comme ensevelie.
Je trouve ce plaisir si doux et si charmant,
Que je croy que les biens me viendront en dormant,
Puisque je voy des-jà s’en enfler ma bedaine,
Et hay tant le travail, que, les yeux entr’ouverts,
Une main hors des draps, cher Baudoin, à peine
Ay-je pu me résoudre à t’escrire ces vers.
Here we see the lazy fellow, perhaps the poet Saint-Amant himself, lying in bed like a spineless hare or like Don Quijote; he has no thought of the great events of the world, like the Italian wars or the deeds of the royal family, all he wants to do is lie back and wallow in apathy and inactivity.
In the third stanza of this sonnet, he realizes he is enjoying the pleasure of doing nothing so much that wealth and income will come by itself.
The final stanza has the poet describing how he hates work so much that he must tell his friend, Baudoin, that he has hardly been able to summon up the energy to write these verses. Well, the effort was worth it and I hope Saint-Amant lay back and had a good snooze afterwards. Sometimes it is very nice to just do nothing…
The Poetry Dude