Monthly Archives: February 2014

Sonnet to Robert Garnier

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The Galland poem reminded me of the Garnier dedications… These 4 sonnets come from Ronsard’s ‘uncollected works’ which is to say they are dedicatory poems written to go in the front of books of Garnier’s works. They demonstrate that Ronsard could exaggerate and be adulatory with the best (or worst) of them, and provide some amusing but often frankly beautiful little poems well worth seeing more of.  Marty-Laveaux collected these & others into an “Autre recueil des sonnets” (‘another collection of sonnets’), Blanchemain into “Sonnets diverses” (‘various sonnets’) – neither very inspired titles. Of the 4 Garnier sonnets to come, only the first two are in Marty-Laveaux.

 
A ROBERT GARNIER,
Prince des Tragiques.
 
Je suis ravi quand ce brave sonneur
Donte en ses vers la Romaine arrogance,
Quand il bastit Athenes en la France,
Par le cothurne acquerant de l’honneur :
 
Le bouc n’est pas digne de son bon-heur,
La liërre est trop basse recompense,
Le Temps certain qui les hommes avance,
De ses vertus sera le guerdonneur.
 
Par toy, Garnier, la Scene des François
Se change en or, qui n’estoit que de bois,
Digne où les Grands lamentent leur fortune.
 
Sur Helicon tu grimpes des derniers,
Mais tels derniers souvent sont les premiers
En ce bel art où la gloire est commune.
 
 
 
 
                                                                             TO ROBERT GARNIER
                                                                             Prince of Tragedians
 
                                                                             I am swept away when this great poet
                                                                             Tames in his verse the arrogance of Rome,
                                                                             When he builds Athens in France,
                                                                             Gaining honour through the tragic buskin;
 
                                                                             The ram is not a worthy [prize] for his good fortune,
                                                                             The ivy is too little reward,
                                                                             But unvarying Time which advances men
                                                                             Will honour him for his virtues.
 
                                                                             Through you, Garnier, the French stage,
                                                                             Which once was wood, is changed to gold,
                                                                             Worthy for the greats to lament their fate.
 
                                                                             You are climbing Helicon among the latest,
                                                                             But such latecomers are often the first
                                                                             In this fair art in which glory is common.

 

 
 
The “cothorne” (‘cothurnus’ or buskin) is the traditional footwear of antique actors – rather like the leather boots strapped up the calf or lower leg which you see in pictures of Roman soldiers.  Helicon is of course the home of the Muses and therefore the home of Art in all its forms. I love the last line: Ronsard says ‘glory is common’, perhaps meaning glory is shared by many great writers, but it’s hard not to see him as hinting strongly that it’s just too easy to gain glory with stage works, where the quality of the poetry may be overlooked amongst so many distractions…! 
 
 
 
 
 
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To Jean Galland

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Because I like it – and because it starts with a ‘G’ 🙂 – here is a « fragment que Ronsard n’a peu achever, prevenu de mort. » (a fragment Ronsard was unable to finish, overtaken by death).

 
Galland, ma seconde ame, Atrebatique race,
Encor que nos ayeux ay’nt emmuré la place
De nos villes bien loin, la tienne prés d’Arras,
La mienne prés Vendosme, où le Loir de ses bras
Arrouse doucement nos collines vineuses,
Et nos champs fromentiers de vagues limoneuses,
Et la Lise des tiens qui baignent ton Artois
S’enfuit au sein du Rhin, la borne des Gaulois :
Pour estre separé de villes et d’espaces,
Cela n’empesche point que les trois belles Graces,
L’honneur et la vertu, n’ourdissent le lien
Qui serre de si prés mon cœur avec le tien.
Heureux qui peut trouver pour passer l’avanture
De ce Monde un amy de gentille nature,
Comme tu es, Galland, en qui les Cieux ont mis
Tout le parfait requis aux plus parfaits amis.
Jà mon soir s’embrunit, et déja ma journée
Fuit vers son Occident à demy retournée,
La Parque ne me veut ny me peut secourir :
Encore ta carriere est bien longue à courir,
Ta vie est en sa course, et d’une forte haleine
Et d’un pied vigoureux tu fais jaillir l’areine
Sous tes pas, aussi fort que quelque bon guerrier
Le sablon Elean pour le prix du Laurier …
 
 
 
 
                                                                             Galland, my second soul, descended from the Atrebates,
                                                                             Although our ancestors had established the walls
                                                                             Of our towns far apart, yours near Arras
                                                                             And mine near Vendôme, where the Loir with its arms
                                                                             Gently waters our vine-bearing hills
                                                                             And our fields of wheat with its muddy waves,
                                                                             While the Lise with its [arms] which bathe your Artois
                                                                             Runs down to the bosom of the Rhine, the edge of Gaul;
                                                                             Though separated by towns and distance,
                                                                             That does not prevent the three fair Graces,
                                                                             Honour and virtue from weaving the bond
                                                                             Which binds my heart so closely with yours.
                                                                             Fortunate he who can find, to share the adventure
                                                                             Of this world, a friend of noble nature
                                                                             Like you, Galland, in whom the Heavens have placed
                                                                             Everything perfect required in the most perfect friends.
                                                                             Now my evening darkens, and my daytime
                                                                             Flees westward, half-passed,
                                                                             And Fate neither can nor will help me;
                                                                             But your career has long to run,
                                                                             Your life is set in its course, and with strong lungs
                                                                             And vigorous feet you make the sand leap
                                                                             Beneath your feet, as strongly as some fine warrior
                                                                             Might the sand of Elis to take the prize, the laurel-wreath …
 
 
 
Ronsard’s trusted friend Jean Galland was principal of the Collège de Boncourt in Paris, and after Ronsard’s death both organised an annual commemoration of the poet in the chapel there, and (together with Claude Binet) edited Ronsard’s late verse and put together the ‘Tombeau de Ronsard’, a (substantial) collection of poems in Ronsard’s honour. The Collège had other links with Ronsard’s circle: tragedies by Jodelle were performed there, and Muret taught Jodelle and Belleau there. In 1688 it was Pierre Galand, then principal, who merged the Collège with the Collège de Navarre.
 
This fragment is (obviously) very classicising, and stuffed with antique references.  The Atrebates were a tribe from the Pas-de-Calais area, who established an offshoot in southern England after Caesar’s conquest. The centre of the region is now Artois, its capital Arras, from which the river (now the Scarpe) heads east towards the Rhine and the border between Gaul and Germania.
 
Elis was a state in the south of ancient Greece: within it was Olympus, seat of the Olympic Games – so running on Elean sands is running in the Olympics.
 
A minor editorial note: Blanchemain has “Pour estre separés de villes et d’espaces” in line 9. The text above in effect says ‘though I am separated from you…’, while Blanchemain’s plural says ‘though we are separated…’ – I leave you to choose which you prefer.
 
 
 
 

Ode 58 – To his Muse

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A SA MUSE
 
Grossi-toy, ma Muse Françoise,
Et enfante un vers resonant,
Qui bruye d’une telle noise
Qu’un fleuve debordé tonant,
 
Alors qu’il saccage et emmeine,
Pillant de son flot, sans mercy,
Le thresor de la riche plaine,
Le bœuf et le bouvier aussi.
 
Et fay voir aux yeux de la France
Un vers qui soit industrieux,
Foudroyant la vieille ignorance
De nos peres peu curieux.
 
Ne suy ny le sens, ny la rime,
Ny l’art du moderne ignorant,
Bien que le vulgaire l’estime,
Et en béant l’aille adorant.
 
Sus donque l’Envie surmonte,
Coupe la teste à ce serpent,
Par tel chemin au ciel on monte,
Et le nom au monde s’épend.
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                              TO HIS MUSE
 
                                                                             Grow great, my French Muse,
                                                                             And give birth to resounding poetry
                                                                             Which roars with rage like that
                                                                             Of a thunderous river overflowing its banks,
 
                                                                             As it ransacks and plunders,
                                                                             Mercilessly pillaging with its flood
                                                                             The treasure of the rich fields,
                                                                             The cow and the cowman too.
 
                                                                             And bring before the eyes of France
                                                                             A verse which can be useful,
                                                                             Shattering the old ignorance
                                                                             Of our fathers with their small curiosity.
 
                                                                             Do not aim at the sense or rhyme
                                                                             Or art of the ignorant moderns,
                                                                             Although the common folk value them,
                                                                             And open-mouthed give them their adoration.
 
                                                                             Up then and defeat Envy,
                                                                             Cut off that serpent’s head,
                                                                             That is the way to reach the heavens
                                                                             And make your name known in the world.
 
 
 
One minor variant in Marty-Laveaux’s edition, in line 3 where he has
 
Qui brusle d’une telle noise
 
                                                                             Which burns with rage like that
 
 
As my daughter has been translating Baudelaire, I dedicate the penultimate verse to her! Incidentally, only the second poem by Ronsard I’ve posted which begins with a ‘G’…!
 
 
 

Ode à Marguerite

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This is no.2 in Blanchemain’s set of the “Odes retranchées”; it heads up Marty-Laveaux’s set as no.1.

Marguerite is both a lady’s name and the flower we know as daisy. So I have used Daisy as the name in the translation.

En mon coeur n’est ecrite
La rose ny autre fleur ;
C’est toy, blanche Marguerite,
Par qui j’ay cette couleur.
 
N’es-tu celle dont les yeux
    Ont surpris
Par un regard gracieux
    Mes espris ?
Puis que ta sœur de haut pris,
Ta sœur, pucelle d’elite,
N’est cause de ma douleur,
C’est donc par toy, Marguerite,
Que j’ay pris ceste couleur.
 
Ma couleur palle nasquit,
    Quand mon cœur
Pour maistresse te requit :
    Mais rigueur
D’une amoureuse langueur
Soudain paya mon merite,
Me donnant ceste paleur
Pour t’aimer trop, Marguerite,
Et ta vermeille couleur.
 
Quel charme pourroit casser
    Mon ennuy
Et ma couleur effacer
    Avec luy ?
De l’amour que tant je suy
La jouissance subite
Seule osteroit le malheur
Que me donna Marguerite,
Par qui j’ay cette couleur.
In my heart is engraved
No rose, nor other flower ;
You, pale Daisy, are the one
By whom I’ve got this colour.
 
Aren’t you she whose eyes
    Surprised
With a gracious glance
    My heart?
For your sister, highly-prized,
Your sister, chosen maid,
Is not the cause of my sadness,
It’s because of you, Daisy,
That I acquired this colour.
 
My pale colour began from
    When my heart
Begged you as mistress;
    But severity
With a lover’s carelessness
Suddenly gave me my reward,
Giving me this pallor
From loving you too much, Daisy,
And your rosy colour.
 
What charm could destroy
     My pain
And wipe away my colour
     With it?
The sudden joy
Of the love which I pursue so hard
Alone can remove the misfortune
Which Daisy gives me,
By whom I’ve got this colour.
 
 
Marty-Laveaux’s version contains a number of differences. As there are minor changes throughout, it’s perhaps easiest to print the whole poem again:
 
En mon coeur n’est point escrite
La rose, ny autre fleur,
C’est toy, belle Marguerite,
Par qui j’ay cette couleur.
 
N’es-tu celle dont les yeux
    Ont surpris
Par un regard gracieux
    Mes espris ?
Puis que ta sœur de haut pris
Ta sœur pucelle d’elite
N’est cause de ma douleur,
C’est donc pour toy, Marguerite,
Que je pris ceste couleur.
 
Un soir ma fiévre nasquit,
    Quand mon cœur
Pour Maistresse te requit :
    Mais rigueur
D’une amoureuse langueur
Soudain paya mon merite,
Me donnant ceste paleur
Pour t’aimer trop, Marguerite,
Et ta vermeille couleur.
 
Hé ! quel charme pourroit bien
    Consumer
Le souci qui s’est fait mien
    Pour aimer ?
De mon tourment si amer
La jouïssance subite
Seule osteroit le malheur
Que me donna Marguerite
Par qui j’ay cette couleur.
In my heart is nowhere engraved
The rose, nor other flower ;
You, pale Daisy, are the one
By whom I’ve got this colour.
 
Aren’t you she whose eyes
Surprised
With a gracious glance
My heart?
For your sister, highly-prized,
Your sister, chosen maid,
Is not the cause of my sadness,
It’s for you, Daisy,
That I acquire this colour.
 
One eve my fever began
When my heart
Begged you as mistress;
But severity
With a lover’s carelessness
Suddenly gave me my reward,
Giving me this paleness
From loving you too much, Daisy,
And your rosy colour.
 
Ah, what charm could indeed
Consume
The worry which has become mine
Over love?
From my bitter torment
Sudden joy
Alone can remove the misfortune
Which Daisy gives me,
By whom I’ve got this colour.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ode 4: 32

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Verson ces roses en ce vin,
En ce bon vin versons ces roses,
Et boivon l’un à l’autre, afin
Qu’au cœur nos tristesses encloses
Prennent en boivant quelque fin.
 
La belle rose du printemps,
Aubert, admoneste les hommes
Passer joyeusement le temps,
Et pendant que jeunes nous sommes,
Esbattre la fleur de nos ans.
 
Car ainsi qu’elle défleurit
A bas en une matinée,
Ainsi nostre âge se flestrit,
Las ! et en moins d’une journée
Le printemps d’un homme perit.
 
Ne veis-tu pas hier Brinon
Parlant et faisant bonne chere,
Lequel aujourd’hui n’est sinon
Qu’un peu de poudre en une bière,
Qui de luy n’a rien que le nom ?
 
Nul ne desrobe son trespas,
Caron serre tout en sa nasse,
Roys et pauvres tombent là bas ;
Mais ce-pendant le temps se passe,
Rose, et je ne te chante pas.
 
La rose est l’honneur d’un pourpris,
La rose est des fleurs la plus belle,
Et dessus toutes a le pris :
C’est pour cela que je l’appelle
La violette de Cypris.
 
Le rose est le bouquet d’amour,
La rose est le jeu des Charites,
La rose blanchit tout autour
Au matin de perles petites
Qu’elle emprunte du poinct du jour.
 
La rose est le parfum des dieux,
La rose est l’honneur des pucelles,
Qui leur sein beaucoup aiment mieux
Enrichir de roses nouvelles,
Que d’un or tant soit precieux.
 
Est-il rien sans elle de beau ?
La rose embellit toutes choses,
Venus de roses a la peau,
Et l’Aurore a les doigts de roses,
Et le front le Soleil nouveau.
 
Les nymphes de rose ont le sein,
Les coudes, les flancs et les hanches ;
Hebé de roses a la main,
Et les Charites, tant soient blanches,
Ont le front de roses tout plein.
 
Que le mien en soit couronné,
Ce m’est un laurier de victoire :
Sus, appelon le deux-fois-né,
Le bon pere, et le faisons boire,
De cent roses environné.
 
Bacchus, espris de la beauté
Des roses aux fueilles vermeilles,
Sans elles n’a jamais esté,
Quand en chemise sous les treilles
Il boit au plus chaud de l’esté.
Pour these roses into the wine,
Into this fine wine pour these roses,
And drink one to another, that
Those sad things we keep in our hearts
May meet in drinking some kind of end.
 
The fair rose of spring,
Aubert, admonishes men
To spend their time joyously
And, while we’re young,
To frolic away the flower of our years.
 
For just as her petals fall
Down in a morning,
So our age is blighted:
Alas, in less than a day
A man’s springtime perishes.
 
Didn’t you see Brinon yesterday
Chattering and making good cheer,
Who is nothing today but
A little powder in a beer
Which has nothing of him but his name?
 
None can avoid his death,
Charon closes his net on us all,
Kings and paupers fall down below;
But – time is passing,
O Rose, and I am not singing of you!
 
The Rose is the most distinguished of crimsons,
The Rose is of flowers most beautiful,
And above all others takes the prize:
That’s why I call it
The violet of Cypris (=Venus).
 
Rose is the scent of love
The Rose is the plaything of the Graces,
The Rose makes all around it fade,
In the morning, with tiny pearls
She borrows from the dawn.
 
The Rose is the perfume of the gods,
The Rose is the symbol of virgins,
Who love far more to enrich
Their breast with fresh roses
Than with gold however precious.
 
Is there anything beautiful without her?
The Rose enhances all things,
Venus has skin like roses,
And Dawn is rosy-fingered
And the morning Sun is rose-pink.
 
The nymphs have rosy breasts,
Arms, bodies, legs;
Hebe has a rosy hand,
And the Graces, though fair-skinned,
Have all-rosy brows.
 
Would that mine was so crowned,
That would be for me a laurel of victory;
Up then, call the twice-born,
The good father, and let’s make him drink,
Encircled by a hundred roses.
 
Bacchus, enamoured of the beauty
Of roses with their crimson petals,
Has never been without them
When in shirt-sleeves he drinks
Beneath the arbour in the hottest days of summer.
 
 In the 5th stanza, Charon is the boatman who ferries dead souls across the river Styx; I can’t recall anywhere else where the image is of him fishing them up in his net!  In the 9th stanza, ‘rosy-fingered Dawn’ is how Homer always terms her.  In the penultimate stanza the ‘twice-born’ is Dionysus, or Bacchus as in the final stanza. Why twice-born? Well, Bacchus was the child of Jupiter and Semele; those who know the Handel opera will know Semele died as a result of seeing Jupiter in all his glory – before giving birth. Jupiter then took her unborn child (a ‘six-month child’ according to some Greek writers) and sewed it into his thigh to complete its growth until ready to be born. Hence ‘twice-born’, once from Semele’s womb, once from Jupiter’s thigh.
 
Aubert in the 2nd stanza is Guillaume Aubert, friend of du Bellay & posthumous editor of his works.
 
 
 
 
 

Ode 2: 10 – Du retour de Maclou de la Haie

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DU RETOUR DE MACLOU DE LA HAIE
 
A SON PAGE
 
Fay refraischir le vin de sorte
Qu’il passe en froideur un glaçon,
Page, et que Marguerite apporte
Son luth pour dire une chanson :
Nous ballerons tous trois au son ;
Et dy à Jane qu’elle vienne
Les cheveux tors à la façon
D’une folastre Italienne.
 
Ne sens-tu que le jour se passe ?
Et tu ne te vas point hastant !
Qu’on verse du vin dans ma tasse !
A qui le boirai-je d’autant ?
Pour ce jourd’hui je suis content
Qu’un autre plus fol ne se treuve
Revoyant mon Maclou, que tant
J’ai connu seur ami d’épreuve.
 
 
 
 
                                                                              ON THE RETURN OF MACLOU DE LA HAYE
 
                                                                              [SPOKEN] TO HIS PAGE
 
                                                                              Bring new wine, the kind
                                                                              That surpasses ice in its coldness,
                                                                              My page, and have Margaret bring
                                                                              Her lute and sing a song;
                                                                              We’ll all three dance to the sound;
                                                                              And tell Jeanne to come
                                                                              With her hair twisted up in the style
                                                                              Of a frisky Italian.
 
                                                                              Don’t you feel the light is going?
                                                                              And yet you aren’t hurrying!
                                                                              If only someone would pour wine in my cup!
                                                                              To whom shall I drink hugely ?
                                                                              For today, I’m happy
                                                                              That there’ll be no-one more crazy
                                                                              Meeting my Maclou, whom I’ve so often
                                                                              Known by trial to be a sure friend.
 
 
 
 For today, an Ode.  We’ve met Marguerite and Janne, Ronsard’s servants, before. Maclou we haven’t: he was one of the King’s ‘valets de chambre’, and himself published poetry including ‘sonetz d’amour’.  Blanchemain offers us an entirely new second stanza in a footnote: in its 6th line, I wonder if he means ‘medecines’ rather than ‘doctors’ (distinguished by gender & spelling in modern French, likely to have been less so at his time?).
 
 
Ne vois-tu que le jour se passé?
Je ne vy point au lendemain.
Page, reverse dans ma tasse,
Que ce grand verre soit tout plein.
Maudit soit qui languit en vain !
Ces vieux medecins je n’appreuve :
Mon cerveau n’est jamais bien sain
Si beaucoup de vin ne l’abreuve.
 
 
 
                                                                              Don’t you see the light is going?
                                                                              I’m not living for tomorrow.
                                                                              Page, pour again in my cup,
                                                                              Let this big glass be filled.
                                                                              Cursed he who languishes empty!
                                                                              Those old doctors [medicines] I don’t accept:
                                                                              My head is never really well
                                                                              Unless lots of wine plentifully waters it.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 42

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Il ne sera jamais, soit que je vive en terre,
Soit qu’aus enfers je sois, ou là-haut dans les cieus,
Il ne sera jamais que je n’aime trop mieus
Que myrthe ou que laurier la feuille de lierre.
 
Sus elle cette main qui tout le coeur me serre
Trassa premierement de ses doigts gracieus
Les lettres de l’amour que me portoient ses yeus,
Et son coeur qui me fait une si douce guerre.
 
Jamais si belle fueille à la rive Cumée
Ne fut par la Sibylle en lettres imprimée
Pour bailler par écrit aus hommes leur destin,
 
Comme ma Dame a paint d’une espingle poignante
Mon sort sus le lierre: é Dieu, qu’amour est fin!
Est-il rien qu’en aimant une Dame n’invente.
 
 
 
 
                                                                              It will never happen. Whether I live on earth
                                                                              Or am in hell, or up above in the heavens,
                                                                              It will never happen – I will always love, better
                                                                              Than myrtle or laurel, the leaves of the ivy.
 
                                                                              Upon them, that hand which so grips my heart
                                                                              First traced with her graceful fingers
                                                                              The letters of that love which her eyes bore me
                                                                              And her heart, which made on me such sweet warfare.
 
                                                                              Never was so beautiful a leaf on the Cumaean shores
                                                                              Imprinted with letters by the Sibyl
                                                                              To open out for men their fate in writing,
 
                                                                              As my Lady with a sharp pin painted
                                                                              My destiny on the ivy; oh God, how shrewd is love!
                                                                              Is there nothing which a Lady in love cannot contrive?!

 

 
 
 Another sonnet ‘retranchée’, this time with less reason. I find this light and charming and well up to the standards Ronsard set himself! As well as a very good classical reference – the Sibyl did after all write her prophecies on leaves – there is that very arresting and unusual beginning. One of the ‘lesser’ poems well worth knowing.