Sonnets of Love and Death introduces the difficult yet dazzling world of a neglected poet who has earned renewed recognition during the twentieth century. Jean de Sponde has finally taken his proper place in the pantheon of French poets and is now considered one of the most important short form poets who wrote between the Renaissance and Classicism. Poised between two eras, de Sponde's writing reflects all the tensions he felt at that time. In a collection of sonnets loaded with multiple metaphors, paradoxes, antitheses, and hyperbole, he carries out a restless exploration of the body and the spirit, passion and anguish, and the concrete and the abstract. David Slavitt's finely crafted translation respects the challenging nature of de Sponde's four-hundred-year-old diction and themes. While remaining faithful to the original content and sonnet form, he deftly employs contemporary English phrases and postics that appeal to the modern eye and ear.
Jean de Sponde born in 1557, was a French poet, translator, humanist, jurist, and Hellenist. His translations of Homer, Homeri Poemarum Versio Latina, were used by Chapman and he also published a scholarly edition of La Logique d'Aristotle. De Sponde became a Catholic late in life after leading quite a reckless life at the court of Henry IV. He died destitute in Bordeaux, France in 1595.