Odes 2, 17

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Pour boire dessus l’herbe tendre
Je veux sous un laurier m’estendre,
Et veux qu’Amour, d’un petit brin
Ou de lin ou de chenevière
Trousse au flanc sa robe legere,
Et my-nud me verse du vin.
 
L’incertaine vie de l’homme
De jour en jour se roule comme
Aux rives se roulent les flots,
Et, après nostre heure derniere
Rien de nous ne reste en la biere
Que je ne sçay quels petits os.
 
Je ne veux, selon la coustume,
Que d’encens ma tombe on parfume,
Ny qu’on y verse des odeurs ;
Mais, tandis que je suis en vie,
J’ay de me parfumer envie,
Et de me couronner de fleurs,
 
Corydon, va quérir ma mie.
Avant que la Parque blesmie
M’envoye aux éternelles nuits
Je veux, avec la tasse pleine
Et avec elle, oster la peine
De mes misérables ennuis.
 
 
 
                                                                                               To drink upon the tender grass
                                                                                               I’d like to stretch out under a laurel,
                                                                                               And I’d like Love to tie, with a strand
                                                                                               Of linen or of hemp,
                                                                                               Her light dress at her side
                                                                                               And, half-naked, pour me wine.
 
                                                                                               The uncertain life of man
                                                                                               Unfolds from day to day like
                                                                                               Waves rolling onto the riverbanks;
                                                                                               And, after our final hour,
                                                                                               Nothing of us remains in the coffin
                                                                                               But a few little bones.
 
                                                                                               I do not wish, as is the custom,
                                                                                               That they perfume my tomb with incense,
                                                                                               Nor pour out sweet-smelling oil on it,
                                                                                               But so long as I am alive
                                                                                               I would like to be perfumed
                                                                                               And indeed crowned with flowers.
 
                                                                                               Corydon, go and summon my love.
                                                                                               Before ill-featured Fate
                                                                                               Sends me into the eternal night,
                                                                                               With full cup and with her
                                                                                               I want to take away the pain
                                                                                               Of my lamentable troubles.
 
 
This is Blanchemain’s chosen text.  Ronsard later improved the weak line at the end of the 1st stanza, offering instead “Qu’une vieille carcasse d’os” (“Nothing but an old frame of bones”). He also completely re-wrote the end of the sonnet; Blanchemain records this alternative last stanza from 1587 in a footnote:
 
De moy-mesme je me veux faire
L’heritier pour me satisfaire ;
Je ne veux vivre pour autruy.
Fol le pelican qui se blesse
Pour les siens, et fol qui se laisse
Pour les siens travailler d’ennuy.
 
                                                                                               I would like to make myself
                                                                                               My legatee, to satisfy myself;
                                                                                               I wish to live for no-one else.
                                                                                               Foolish the pelican who wounds herself
                                                                                               For her little ones, and foolish he who lets himself
                                                                                               For his little ones work in boredom.
 
The image of the ‘pelican in his/her pride’, pecking its own breast to make it bleed so that (s)he can feed the youngsters, is a commonplace of medieval art, because of its obvious metaphor for the blood of Christ. So, mocking it like this is quite a daring way to round off the tone of levity !
 
 
 
 
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About fattoxxon

Who am I? Lover of all sorts of music - classical, medieval, world (anything from Africa), world-classical (Uzbek & Iraqi magam for instance), and virtually anything that won't be on the music charts... Lover of Ronsard's poetry (obviously) and of sonnets in general. Reader of English, French, Latin & other literature. And who is Fattoxxon? An allusion to an Uzbek singer - pronounce it Patahan, with a very plosive 'P' and a throaty 'h', as in 'khan')

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