Busnois Je ne puis vivre ainsi

Busnois Je ne puis vivre ainsi

Native to the Netherlands, Antoine Busnoys (ca. 1430-1492) was a significant Renaissance composer and poet, classified as a branch of the early Renaissance Burgundian School. Though Busnoys composed several motets and other sacred works, he was most prolific and successful in the French genre of chansons. Over the course of his lifetime, Busnoys composed approximately 12 masses, 17 motets and magnificats, and over 60 secular chansons. 

Je ne puis vivre Edit

Busnoys's chanson, Je ne puis vivre,  was written in 1460 and can be characterized as a virelai form, one of the three "fixed forms" of the French Renaissance, along with rondeau and ballade. Je ne puis vivre is written within a single stanza in AbbaA form. The chanson is split into 3 voices (cantus, tenor, and countertenor) which cycle through alternation and imitation throughout the entire work. Between the A and B sections there is a stark contrast in character, due to the abrupt meter change from triple to duple. Following the French themes of love and longing, Busnoys composed je ne puis vivre after Jacqueline de Hacqueville, the pressumed mistress of King Charles VII. In fact, in dedication to de Hacqueville, Busnoys wrote out each line of the poem corresponding to each letter of her name. 


The lyrics of je ne puis vivre translated are: 

I cannot live this way forever

unless I have, in my pain, 

some comfort,

a single hour, or less, or more;

and every day

loyally I will serve Love

until death. 

Lady, noble in name and in arms, 

for you I have written this song, 

while from my eyes I am crying hot tears

so that you will have mercy on me. 

As for me, I am dying in good course, 

awake every night, pacing around a hundred times, 

crying loudly:

"Vengeance!" to God, for most unjustly

I am drowning in tears;

when I need it, I get no help-

and Pity sleeps. 

I cannot live this way forever...