Odes 4, 20 – to Remy Belleau

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Du grand Turc je n’ay souci,
Ny du grand soldan aussi;
L’or ne maistrise ma vie,
Aux roys je ne porte envie;
 
J’ay souci tant seulement
De parfumer cointement
Ma barbe, et qu’une couronne
De fleurs le chef m’environne.
Le soin de ce jour me point,
Du demain je n’en ai point.
Qui, bons Dieux! sçauroit cognoistre
Si un lendemain doit estre.
 
Vulcan, en faveur de moy,
Je te pri’, despeche-toy
De me tourner une tasse,
Qui de profondeur surpasse
Celle du vieillard Nestor;
Je ne veux qu’elle soit d’or,
Sans plus fay-la-moi de chesne,
Ou de lierre, ou de fresne.
 
Et ne m’engrave dedans
Ces grands panaches pendans,
Plastrons, morions, ny armes:
Qu’ai-je soucy des allarmes,
Des assauts ni des combas?
Aussi ne m’y grave pas
Ny le soleil ny la Lune,
Ny le jour ny la nuict brune,
Ny les astres radieux :
Eh ! quel soin ai-je des cieux,
De leurs Ours, de leur Charrette,
D’Orion ou de Boète?
 
Mais pein-moi, je te suppli,
D’une treille le repli
Non encore vendangée ;
Peins une vigne chargée
De grapes et de raisins,
Peins-y des fouleurs de vins.
[Peins-y Vénus et Cassandre,
Laisse de Bacchus espandre
Le lierre tout autour ;
Peins-y la Grâce et l’Amour,]
Le nez et la rouge trongne
D’un Silene et d’un yvrongne.
 
 
 
                                                                                                I don’t care about the Grand Turk
                                                                                                Nor the Great Sudan
                                                                                                Gold is not master in my life
                                                                                                I have no envy of kings.
 
                                                                                                In fact my only care is
                                                                                                To calmly perfume 
                                                                                                My beard, and put a crown
                                                                                                Of flowers around my head.
                                                                                                Today’s care is enough for today
                                                                                                For tomorrow I don’t care at all.
                                                                                                Who, by the gods, could even be sure
                                                                                                That tomorrow will really come?
 
                                                                                                Vulcan, while you favour me
                                                                                                I beg you hurry
                                                                                                To make me a cup
                                                                                                Which in its volume surpasses
                                                                                                That of old Nestor.
                                                                                                I want only that it be of gold
                                                                                                Without any fiddly fittings of oak
                                                                                                Or ivy or ash
 
                                                                                                Don’t engrave me within it any of
                                                                                                Those great swinging plumes,
                                                                                                Breastplates, helmets or weapons:
                                                                                                What do I care about battle’s alarms
                                                                                                Or assaults or fighting?
                                                                                                Also don’t engrave on it for me
                                                                                                Sun or Moon
                                                                                                Day or dark night
                                                                                                Nor radiant stars:
                                                                                                What do I care for the heavens
                                                                                                The Great Bear, Auriga,
                                                                                                Orion or Boötes?
 
                                                                                                Instead, paint me I beg
                                                                                                The meanders of a climbing vine
                                                                                                Not yet harvested;
                                                                                                Paint a vine heavy
                                                                                                With bunches of grapes,
                                                                                                Paint there the treading of the grapes.
                                                                                                [Paint there Venus and Cassandra,
                                                                                                Let Bacchus’s ivy spread
                                                                                                All around;
                                                                                                Paint there Grace and Love,
                                                                                                The nose and the red face
                                                                                                Of a Silenus and a drunkard.
 
 
Ronsard plays with the Homeric set-piece of describing some great object made for a hero by a god; in Homer it’s Achilles’ shield – here, it’s a large wine-cup…  Nestor’s proverbially huge cup is described in the Iliad:
 
     When that cup was full,
     another man could hardly lift it from the table
 
(translation by Ian Johnston, mala.bc.ca).    Ronsard’s poem is the immediate source of the poem ‘Upon his drinking cup’ by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (though his last line unsurprisingly goes for the crude shock word; very unlike Ronsard!).
 
                       Vulcan contrive me such a Cup,
                      As Nestor us’d of old;
                      Shew all thy skill to trim it up,
                      Damask it round with Gold.
 
                      Make it so large, that fill’d with
                      Sack, Up to the swelling brim,
                      Vast Toasts, on the delicious Lake,
                      Like Ships at Sea may swim.
 
                      Engrave no Battail on his Cheek,
                      With War, I’ve nought to do;
                      I’m none of those that took Mastrich,
                      Nor Yarmouth Leager knew.
 
                      Let it no name of Planets tell,
                      Fixt Stars, or Constellations;
                      For I am no Sir Sydrophell,
                      Nor none of his Relations.
 
                      But carve thereon a spreading Vine,
                      Then add Two lovely Boys;
                      Their Limbs in Amorous folds intwine,
                      The Type of future joys.
 
                      Cupid, and Bacchus, my Saints are,
                      May drink, and Love, still reign,
                      With Wine, I wash away my cares,
                      And then to C*** again.                                                           (text sourced from recmusic.org/lieder)
 
 
Both Ronsard and Rochester go back ultimately to Greek originals by Anacreon: Odes 17 & 18 in older editions, more recently relegated to the ‘Anacreonta’ (nos. 4-5) i.e. pseudonymous works in the style of Anacreon. Ode 17 is a far better work than ode 18; though the latter contributes a few ideas, the bulk of Ronsard & Wilmot’s ideas can be traced to ode 17.
 
 
ΕΙΣ  ΠΟΤΗΡΙΟΝ  ΑΡΓΥΡΟΥΝ
 
Τὁν ἄργυρον τορεὐσας,
Ἥφαιστέ, μοι ποιήσον,
Πανοπλίαν μὲν οὐχί ·
Τί γὰρ μάχαισι κᾀμοί ;
Ποτήριον δὲ κοίλον,
Ὅσον δύνῃ,  βάϑυνον.
Ποίει δέ μοι, κατ΄ αὐτὸ,
Μήτ̕ ἄστρα, μήϑʹ ἁμάξας͵
Μὴ στυγνὸν Ὠρίωνα·
Τί Πλειάδεσσι κᾀμοί ;
Τί δ΄ ἄστρασιν Βοὠτεω ;
Ποίησον ἀμπέλους μοι,
Καὶ  βότρυας κατ΄ αὐτὸ,
Καὶ χρυσέους πατοῦντας,
Ὁμοῦ καλῷ Λυαίῳ,
Ἔρωτα καὶ Βάϑυλλον.
 
 
                                                                                               ON A SILVER CUP
 
                                                                                              After carving the silver,
                                                                                               O Hephaestus [Vulcan], make for me
                                                                                               No suit of armour;
                                                                                               For what have I to do with battles?
                                                                                               But rather [make] a hollow bowl
                                                                                               As deep as you can.
                                                                                               And make for me , on it,
                                                                                               Not stars, not the Wagon [=Plough],
                                                                                               Not hateful Orion;
                                                                                               For what have I to do with the Pleaides?
                                                                                               Or with the stars of Boötes?
                                                                                               Make for me vines
                                                                                               And clusters of grapes on it,
                                                                                               And, treading the grapes, golden
                                                                                               Love and Bathyllus [a beautiful boy],
                                                                                               Together with fair Lyaeus [Bacchus].
 
 
Here is Ode 18, which has the same title.
 
Καλλίτεχνά, μοι τόρευσον
Ἔαρος κύπελλον ἡδύ.
Τὰ πρῶτα, τερπνὸν ἡμῖν,
Ῥόδον φέρουςαν ὥρην.
Τὸν ἄργυρον δ΄ ἁπλώσας,
Πότον ποίει μοι τερπνόν.
Τῶν τελετῶν, παραινῶ,
Μή μοι ξένον τορεύσῃς,
Μὴ φευκτὸν ἱστὀρημα.
Μᾶλλον ποίει Διὸς γόνον,
Βάκχον Εὔϊον ἡμῖν,
Μύστην νάματος· ἢ Κύπριν
Ὑμεναίοις κρατοῦσαν.
Χάρασσ’ Ἔρωτ’ ἄνοπλον,
Καὶ χαρίτας γελώσας
Ὑπ’ ἄμπελον εὐπέταλον,
Εὐβότρυον, κομῶσαν,
Σύναπτε κούρους εὐπρεπεῖς,
Ἂν μὴ Φοῖβος ἀϑύρῃ.
 
 
                                                                                               O gifted craftsman, carve for me
                                                                                               The sweet cup of Spring.
                                                                                               First, the season which brings
                                                                                               The rose, delightful to us.
                                                                                               Shaping the silver,
                                                                                               Make me a delightful drinking-cup.
                                                                                               Do not carve for me a strange
                                                                                               And shocking tale
                                                                                               Of sacrifices, please.
                                                                                               Rather, make for us the son of Zeus,
                                                                                               Bacchus Euios,
                                                                                               The priest of running wine; or Venus
                                                                                               Who has charge of weddings.
                                                                                               Engrave Cupid unarmed,
                                                                                               And the laughing Graces
                                                                                               Under a leafy vine,
                                                                                               Heavy with fine grapes;
                                                                                               And add some handsome boys,
                                                                                               If Phoebus [Apollo] is not playing there.
 
 
 
 
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One response »

  1. Pingback: Odes 5, 15 « Oeuvres de Ronsard

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