Ode to Ronsard, by Peletier


As proposed, here is Jacques Peletier’s response to Ronsard’s ode dedicated to him. It replicates Ronsard’s stanzas, rhyme-scheme, etc. I was reading Peletier to find out about his proposed spelling reforms andideas for a new orthography of French, with lots of different diacritical marks differentiating different ‘e’ sounds etc (think of English – ee-normous, en-normous, in-normous, even a-normous). Though I’ve normalised his e’s, I’ve left some of his other idiosyncratic spelling (-z endings for instance) in the text below.

While Ronsard must have had a smile on his face while describing the ideal (and unattainable) mistress, I imagine Peletier had a broad grin on his face as he described her ideal lover – who’s rather unlike Ronsard in many respects!

Response par Peletier,

Des beautez et accomplissemens

d’un Amant.

En contemplant ceste jeune femelle,
Sa grace, sa ronde mammelle,
Elle me semble estre marrie
Si bien tost on ne la marie
A un Amy aussi gentil comme elle.
Et en cela si mon esprit ne faut,
Je say bien quel il le luy faut :
Et puis ell’ est si bien apprise,
Qu’impossible est qu’elle ne prise
Un tel present, y eust il du defaut.
Je veux qu’au plus de dix ans il la passe,
Stature ny haute ny basse :
Le grand est suget au mocqueur,
Et le petit n’a que le cueur :
Le seul moyen toutes choses compasse.
Les deux yeux noirs souz deux arcs noirs assis,
Ny trop felons ny trop lascisz :
Large front, nez de long pourtrait :
Bouche bien close a petit trait :
Membres nerveux, bien charnuz et massifz.
Teste et menton de noire chevelure,
La ou n’y ait rien de mellure :
Col musculeux et large dos :
Cuisse de chair remplie et d’os :
Jambe videe, et mesuree allure.
Je ne luy veux la chere si jolie,
Qu’il n’ait rien de melancholie :
Une sage simplicité,
Avecques dousse gravité :
Trop grande joye est trop tost abolie.
De la beauté je ne puis tout ensemble
Bien declairer ce qu’il m’en semble :
Mais je le veux de telle monstre,
Que de la premiere rencontre
Les cueurs de tous par dousse force il emble :
Aux armes soit hardis et bienheuré,
A cheval droit et asseuré :
Soit terrible aux audacieux,
Et aux humbles soit gracieux :
Cueur de mesure en corps bien mesuré.
Je veux qu’aussi Nature l’ait fait naistre
A tous exercices addestre :
Car les Dames plus hardiment
Jugent au plaisant maniment
Combien ailleurs habile il pourroit estre.
En la Musicque il pregne passetemps,
Pour faire deux espritz contens :
Qu’il sache toucher l’Epinette
Avec le Luc de sa Brunette
D’un bon accord, gardant mesure et temps.
Pour son maintien et son parler exquis,
Il soit des plus belles requis :
Affin que par leur grand’ attente
Face sa Dame plus contente
De ce qui est a elle seule acquis.
De jalousie oncq’ n’ait esté vaincu,
Tant qu’avec elle aura vescu :
Lors elle sera sans excuse,
Si paraventure on l’accuse
Que quleque fois elle l’ait fait cocu.

Response by Peletier,

On the beauties and accomplishments

of a lover

In contemplating this young lady,
Her grace, her round breast,
It seems to me she’ll be sad
If we don’t marry her very quickly
To a lover as noble as herself.
And in that respect, if my mind is not in error,
I know well what he should be like:
And then, she is so well informed
That it’s impossible that she wouldn’t take
Such a man if he were here, even if by default.
I’d like him to be more than ten years older than her,
In stature neither tall nor short;
The tall man is subject to mockery,
The small man has only his heart;
Only the man of average height compasses all things.
Two black eyes set beneath two black brows,
Neither too tricky nor too lewd;
A broad forehead, a long well-made nose;
A mouth nicely-closed, with small lips;
Lively limbs, well-fleshed and massive.
His head and chin covered in black hair
Since nothing looks better there;
A muscular neck, a broad back;
Thighs strong in flesh and bone,
A well-set leg and a measured gait.
I don’t wish him to have so pretty a love
That he is never melancholic;
A wise simplicity
With gentle gravity;
Too great a joy is too quickly gone.
Concerning beauty, I cannot briefly
Set out exactly what I think it is;
But I wish for it in such a paladin,
Such that at the first encounter
he warms everyone’s hearts with its sweet power.
He should be bold and fortunate in arms,
On a horse upright and assured;
He should be terrifying to the bold,
And gracious to the lowly;
A moderate heart in a well-moderated body.
I wish Nature also to have given him from birth
Skill in all pursuits;
For ladies judge most boldly
By a pleasing capability
How skilful he might be in other matters…
He should spend his leisure time in music
So as to make two spirits content;
He should know how to play the spinet
Accompanying his brown-haired lass’s lute
In good harmony, keeping rhythm and time.
For his bearing and his delightful conversation
He should be sought by all the beauties;
So that, through their great desire,
His Lady should appear still happier
With the man that she alone has won.
By jealousy, though, he should not be overcome,
Even when he has lived with her;
Then she will be without excuse
If perchance someone should accuse her
Of sometimes making him a cuckold…

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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