Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sonnet 102

Par l’œil de l’ame à toute heure je voy
Ceste beauté dedans mon cœur presente :
Ny mont, ny bois, ny fleuve ne m’exente,
Que par pensée elle ne parle à moy.
Dame, qui sçais ma constance et ma foy,
Voy, s’il te plaist, que le temps qui s’absente,
Depuis sept ans en rien ne desaugmente
Le plaisant mal que j’endure pour toy.
De l’endurer lassé je ne suis pas,
Ny ne serois, allassé-je là bas
Pour mille fois en mille corps renaistre.
Mais de mon cœur je suis desja lassé,
Qui me desplaist, et plus ne me peut estre
Cher comme il fut, puis que tu l’as chassé.
                                                                            Through the eye of my soul, at every moment I see
                                                                            That beauty present within my heart;
                                                                            No hill, no wood, no river gives me relief
                                                                            That in thought she does not speak to me.
                                                                            My Lady, you know my constancy and faithfulness,
                                                                            Please see that the time which has gone
                                                                            Has not, in seven years, in any way reduced
                                                                            The pleasing pain that I endure for you.
                                                                            Of enduring it I am not weary,
                                                                            Nor shall I be, even if after death I was allowed
                                                                            To be born again a thousand times in a thousand bodies.
                                                                            But of my heart I am already weary;
                                                                            It displeases me, and can no longer be to me
                                                                            Dear as it was, since you hunted it down.




Blanchemain’s earlier version has a number of small differences, including the opening: “Las ! sans la voir à toute heure je voy” (‘Alas! Without sight of it, at every moment I see’). I’m not sure the replacement is a big improvement but it does remove the repeat of “voir … voy”.
In line 10, the earlier version has “Ny ne seroy-je, allassé-je là bas”, the later version providing a better caesura in mid-line; the last tercet a number of small differences – the main improvement being the loss of that “sans plus” which seems unsure what it refers back to – more of what?!
Mais de mon cœur sans plus je suis lassé,
Qui me desplaist et qui plus ne peut estre
Mien comme il fut, puis que tu l’as chassé.
                                                                            But of my heart I am weary without any more;
                                                                            It displeases me, and can no longer be
                                                                            Mine as it was, since you hunted it down.

A short interlude now as I am away for a week or two.


Sonnet 101


Back now to Cassandre, and into the second hundred sonnets 🙂

Morne de corps, et plus morne d’espris
Je me trainois dans une masse morte :
Et sans sçavoir combien la Muse apporte
D’honneur aux siens, je l’avois à mespris.
Mais dés le jour que de vous je m’épris,
A la vertu vostre œil me fut escorte,
Et me ravit, voire de telle sorte
Que d’ignorant je devins bien appris.
Doncques mon Tout, si je fay quelque chose,
Si dignement de vos yeux je compose,
Vous me causez vous-mesmes tels effets.
Je pren de vous mes graces plus parfaites :
Vous m’inspirez, et dedans moy vous faites,
Si je fay bien, tout le bien que je fais.
                                                                            Dreary in body, drearier in spirit,
                                                                            I dragged myself along in my dead mass;
                                                                            And not understanding how much honour
                                                                            The Muse brings her own, I scorned her.
                                                                            But since the day that with you I fell in love,
                                                                            Towards Virtue your eye has led me
                                                                            And delighted me, even to the extent
                                                                            That, from ignorant, I have become learned.
                                                                            And so, my All, if I make something,
                                                                            If worthily of your eyes I compose,
                                                                            You yourself bring about such results in me.
                                                                            I take from you my most perfect graces;
                                                                            You inspire me, and within me you do,
                                                                            Whenever I do something good, all the good that I do.



 I love that last couplet – though the whole poem is splendid. The earlier version in Blanchemain shows that the second quatrain took a while to get right, however:
Mais aussi tost que de vous je m’épris,
Tout aussitôt vostre œil me fut escorte
A la vertu, voire de telle sorte
Que d’ignorant je devins bien appris.
                                                                            But as soon as with you I fell in love,
                                                                            Just as soon your eye led me
                                                                            To virtue, even to the extent
                                                                            That, from ignorant, I have become learned.
 Here the repetition works rather less well than in the final couplet – and is just as clumsy as my translation! There is also one other minor change, with far less impact, in line 11 where Blanchemain has “ces effets” instead of “tels effets” (‘these results’ rather than ‘such results’).

Discours – à Pierre L’Escot


This ought to be, approximately, the 300th poem I’ve posted. So to mark this ‘special occasion’ I thought I’d post a tongue-in-cheek follow-up to Ronsard’s autobiographical Elegy which was my 200th post.  This time it’s from book 2 of his “Poems”, and one of many longer poems which Ronsard called ‘discours’ – discourses. Here his father lectures him – in perfect Alexandrines! – about why almost anything is better than being a poet…

It’s addressed to Pierre L’Escot, architect and friend of Ronsard. In Marty-Laveaux’s edition he is identified just as ‘Pierre L’Escot, Lord of Clany’, but in the earlier edition he is given a longer set of titles: ‘Abbot of Cleremont, Lord of Clany, chaplain in ordinary to the King’. Blanchemain further adds: ‘This piece is addressed to Lord L’Escot of Clany, who designed the pavilion of the Louvre. In the 1572 edition, it begins the 2nd book of Poems, which is dedicated as a whole to Pierre L’Escot.’

(I hope this layout works – I’m having trouble getting the ‘stanzas’ lined up 🙂 )
Puis que Dieu ne m’a fait pour supporter les armes,
Et mourir tout sanglant au milieu des alarmes
En imitant les faits de mes premiers ayeux,
Si ne veux-je pourtant demeurer ocieux :
Ains comme je pourray, je veux laisser memoire
Que j’allay sur Parnasse acquerir de la gloire,
Afin que mon renom des siecles non veincu,
Rechante à mes neveux qu’autrefois j’ay vescu
Caressé d’Apollon et des Muses aimées,
Que j’ay plus que ma vie en mon âge estimées.
Pour elles à trente ans j’avois le chef grison,
Maigre, palle. desfait, enclos en la prison
D’une melancolique et rheumatique estude,
Renfrongné, mal-courtois, sombre, pensif, et rude,
A fin qu’en me tuant je peusse recevoir
Quelque peu de renom pour un peu de sçavoir.
Je fus souventesfois retansé de mon pere
Voyant que j’aimois trop les deux filles d Homere,
Et les enfans de ceux qui doctement ont sceu
Enfanter en papier ce qu’ils avoient conceu :
Et me disoit ainsi, Pauvre sot, tu t’amuses
A courtizer en vain Apollon et les Muses :
Que te sçauroit donner ce beau chantre Apollon,
Qu’une lyre, un archet, une corde, un fredon,
Qui se respand au vent ainsi qu’une fumée,
Ou comme poudre en l’air vainement consumée ?
Que te sçauroient donner les Muses qui n’ont rien ?
Sinon au-tour du chef je ne sçay quel lien
De myrte, de lierre, ou, d’une amorce vaine
T’allecher tout un jour au bord d’une fontaine,
Ou dedans un vieil antre, à fin d’y reposer
Ton cerveau mal-rassis, et béant composer
Des vers qui te feront, comme pleins de manie,
Appeller un bon fol en toute compagnie ?
Laisse ce froid mestier, qui jamais en avant
N’a poussé l’artizan, tant fust-il bien sçavant :
Mais avec sa fureur qu’il appelle divine,
Meurt tousjours accueilly d’une palle famine :
Homere que tu tiens si souvent en tes mains,
Qu’en ton cerveau mal-sain comme un Dieu tu te peins,
N’eut jamais un liard ; sa Troyenne vielle,
Et sa Muse qu’on dit qui eut la voix si belle,
Ne le sceurent nourrir, et falloit que sa fain
D’huis en huis mendiast le miserable pain.
Laisse-moy, pauvre sot, ceste science folle :
Hante-moy les Palais, caresse-moy Bartolle,
Et d’une voix dorée au milieu d’un parquet
Aux despens d’un pauvre homme exerce ton caquet,
Et fumeux et sueux d’une bouche tonnante
Devant un President mets-moy ta langue en vente :
On peut par ce moyen aux richesses monter,
Et se faire du peuple en tous lieux bonneter.
Ou bien embrasse-moy l’argenteuse science
Dont le sage Hippocras eut tant d’experience,
Grand honneur de son isle : encor que son mestier
Soit venu d’Apollon, il s’est fait heritier
Des biens et des honneurs, et à la Poësie
Sa sœur n’a rien laissé qu’une lyre moisie.
Ne sois donq paresseux d’apprendre ce que peut
La Nature en nos corps, tout cela qu’elle veut,
Tout cela qu’elle fuit : par si gentille adresse
En secourant autruv on gaigne la richesse.
Ou bien si le desir genereux et hardy,
En t’eschauffant le sang, ne rend acoüardy
Ton cœur à mespriser les perils de la terre,
Pren les armes au poing, et va suivre la guerre,
Et d’une belle playe en l’estomac ouvert
Meurs dessus un rempart de poudre tout couvert :
Par si noble moyen souvent on devient riche,
Car envers les soldats un bon Prince n’est chiche.
Ainsi en me tansant mon pere me disoit,
Ou fust quand le Soleil hors de l’eau conduisoit
Ses coursiers gallopans par la penible trette,
Ou fust quand vers le soir il plongeoit sa charrette,
Fust la nuict, quand la Lune avec ses noirs chevaux
Creuse et pleine reprend l’erre de ses travaux.
« O qu’il est mal-aisé de forcer la nature !
« Tousjours quelque Genie, ou l’influence dure
« D’un Astre nous invite à suivre maugré tous
« Le destin qu’en naissant il versa desur nous.
Pour menace ou priere, ou courtoise requeste
Que mon pere me fist, il ne sceut de ma teste
Oster la Poesie, et plus il me tansoit,
Plus à faire des vers la fureur me poussoit.
Je n’avois pas douze ans qu’au profond des vallées,
Dans les hautes forests des hommes recullées,
Dans les antres secrets de frayeur tout-couvers,
Sans avoir soin de rien je composois des vers :
Echo me respondoit, et les simples Dryades,
Faunes, Satyres, Pans, Napées, Oreades,
Aigipans qui portoient des cornes sur le front,
Et qui ballant sautoient comme les chévres font,
Et le gentil troupeau des fantastiques Fées
Autour de moy dansoient à cottes degrafées.
Je fu premierement curieux du Latin :
Mais voyant par effect que mon cruel destin
Ne m’avoit dextrement pour le Latin fait naistre,
Je me fey tout François, aimant certes mieux estre
En ma langue ou second, ou le tiers, ou premier,
Que d’estre sans honneur à Rome le dernier. 
Donc suivant ma nature aux Muses inclinée,
Sans contraindre ou forcer ma propre destinée,
J’enrichy nostre France, et pris en gré d’avoir,
En servant mon pays, plus d’honneur que d’avoir. 
Toy, L’Escot, dont le nom jusques aux Astres vole,
As pareil naturel : car estant à l’escole,
On ne peut le destin de ton esprit forcer
Que tousjours avec l’encre on ne te vist tracer
Quelque belle peinture, et ja fait Geomettre,
Angles, lignes et poincts sur une carte mettre :
Puis estant parvenu au terme de vingt ans,
Tes esprits courageux ne furent pas contans
Sans doctement conjoindre avecques la Peinture
L’art de Mathematique et de l’Architecture,
Où tu es tellement avec honneur monté,
Que le siecle ancien est par toy surmonté. 
Car bien que tu sois noble et de mœurs et de race,
Bien que dés le berceau l’abondance te face
Sans en chercher ailleurs, riche en bien temporel,
Si as-tu franchement suivi ton naturel :
Et tes premiers Regens n’ont jamais peu distraire
Ton cœur de ton instinct pour suivre le contraire. 
On a beau d’une perche appuyer les grands bras
D’un arbre qui se plie, il tend tousjours en bas :
La nature ne veut en rien estre forcée,
Mais suivre le destin duquel elle est poussée.
Jadis le Roy François des Lettres amateur,
De ton divin esprit premier admirateur,
T’aima par dessus tous : ce ne fut en son âge
Peu d’honneur d’estre aimé d’un si grand personnage,
Qui soudain cognoissoit le vice et la vertu,
Quelque desguisement dont l’homme fust vestu.
Henry qui apres luy tint le sceptre de France,
Ayant de ta valeur parfaite cognoissance
Honora ton sçavoir, si bien que ce grand Roy
Ne vouloit escouter un autre homme que toy,
Soit disnant et soupant, et te donna la charge
De son Louvre enrichi d’edifice plus large,
Ouvrage somptueux, à fin d’estre montré
Un Roy tres-magnifique en t’ayant rencontré.
Il me souvient un jour que ce Prince à la table
Parlant de ta vertu comme chose admirable,
Disoit que tu avois de toy-mesmes appris,
Et que sur tous aussi tu emportois le pris,
Comme a fait mon Ronsard, qui à la Poësie
Maugré tous ses parens a mis sa fantaisie.
Et pour cela tu fis engraver sur le haut
Du Louvre, une Déesse, à qui jamais ne faut
Le vent à joüe enflée au creux d’une trompete,
Et la monstras au Roy, disant qu’elle estoit faite
Expres pour figurer la force de mes vers,
Qui comme vent portoyent son nom par l’Univers.
Or ce bon Prince est mort, et pour faire cognoistre
Que nous avons servi tous deux un si grand maistre,
Je te donne ces vers pour eternelle foy,
Que la seule vertu m’accompagna de toy.
Although God did not make me to take up arms
And die all bloodied in the midst of alarms
Mimicking the deeds of my earliest ancestors,
Yet do I not want to remain useless:
However I can I want to leave a memorial
That I went up Parnassus to gain glory,
That my fame, unconquered by the centuries,
Should sing to my descendants that I lived
Cherished by Apollo and his beloved Muses,
Whom I have honoured more than my life in this age.
For them, I was grey-haired at thirty,
Thin, pale, defeated, shut up in the prison
Of melancholic and arthritic study,
Scowling, discourteous, gloomy, pensive and coarse,
So that in killing myself I might have gained
Some little fame for little understanding.
I was many times scolded by my father
Who saw I loved too much Homer’s two daughters,
And the children of those who learnedly were able
To give birth on paper to what they’d conceived;
And he would say to me, “You poor fool, you amuse yourself
With courting – in vain! – Apollo and the Muses ;
What can he give you, that fine singer Apollo,
But a lyre, a bow on a string, a murmur
Which will be lost in the wind like smoke,
Or like ash in the air burned up without gain?
What can the Muses give you, who have nothing themselves?
Perhaps around your head some thread
Of myrtle, or ivy? Or with empty attraction
Luring you all day beside a fountain,
Or in some ancient cave, so that there you can rest
Your un-calm head, and gaping compose
Some verses which, as if full of madness, will get you
Called a right fool in all company?
“Leave this cold career, which has never brought
To the fore the artisan, however skilled he is;
But rather, in that passion he calls divine,
He always dies, welcomed by pale famine.
That Homer you have so often in your hands,
Whom you paint as some sort of god in your unsound brain,
Never had a farthing; his Trojan fiddle,
And his Muse whom they say had so fair a voice,
Could not feed him, and his hunger had
To beg from door to door for the wretched pain.
“Leave this foolish study for me, you poor fool;
Haunt palaces for me, caress Bartolle for me;,
Either carry on your cackle with your golden voice
In the middle of the floor [=centre-stage?] at the expense of some poor man,
Or smoky and sweaty, with thundering lips,
Put your tongue on sale for me before some president;
In this way one can arrive at riches
And make oneself lionised by people in all places.
“Or else embrace for me that silvery learning
Of which the wise Hippocras had such experience,
The great honour of his island; though his path too
Came from Apollo, he became the heir
Of goods and honours, while to Poetry
His sister left nothing but a mildewed lyre.
“Or be not idle in learning what Nature
Can do in our bodies, all that she favours,
All that she rejects; through noble address
In helping others, you can win riches.
“Or even, if noble and bold desire
Does not, as it warms your blood, make your heart
Too afraid to undertake earthly dangers.
Take arms in your fist, go follow war,
And with a fine wound opened in your stomach
Die upon some rampart, covered in dust;
By such noble means people often become rich,
For to his soldiers a good Prince is not stingy.”
Reproaching me thus my father spoke to me,
Whether when the Sun leads from the waters
His chargers galloping on their arduous course,
Or when towards evening he submerges his chariot,
Or at night, when the Moon with her dark horses,
Both hollow and full, takes up the course of her labours.
“Oh how uncomfortable it is to force nature!
Always some spirit, or the harsh influence
Of some star, invites us to follow, despite everything,
The fate which it poured upon us at our birth.”
Whatever threat or prayer or courteous request
My father made me, he could not drive
Poetry from my head, and the more he reproached me,
The more the passion to write verse drove me on.
I was not yet twelve when, in deep valleys,
In the high forests from which men shrink,
In hidden caves entirely swathed in dread,
Without a care for anything I composed verses;
Echo replied to me, and the simple Dryads,
Fauns, Satyrs, Pans, Naiads, Oreads,
Goat-Pans who bear horns on their brows
And who in their dances leap as stags do,
And the gentle troop of fantastical Fairies
Danced around me, their skirts unfastened.
I was at first intrigued by Latin;
But seeing by trying that my cruel fate
Had not made me naturally skilful in Latin,
I made myself entirely French, preferring far to be
In my own tongue the second, or third, or first,
Than to be the last, and without honour, in Rome.
So, following my nature inclined to the Muses,
Without constraining or forcing my own fate,
I enriched our France, and made the choice to have
In serving my country more honour than wealth.
You too, L’Escot, whose name flies high as the stars,
Have a similar nature: for when you were at school
They could not compel your mind’s destiny,
So that you could always be seen with ink tracing
Some fine painting, or now doing Geometry,
Making angles, lines and points upon some sheet;
Then when you reached the end of twenty years,
Your brave spirits were not content
Till learnedly joining together with Painting
The arts of Mathematics and Architecture,
In which you have risen so high with honour
That ancient times are surpassed by you.
For though you are noble in manner and family,
Although since the cradle abundance has been yours
Without seeking it from outside, rich in worldly goods,
Yet have you boldly followed your nature;
And your first regents never could distract
Your heart from your instinct to oppose them.
One might as well prop up with a pole the great limbs
Of a tree which bends over, it will still tend downwards;
Nature does not wish anywhere to be compelled,
But to follow the destiny by which she is impelled.
Previously King François, a lettered man,
The first admirer of your divine spirit,
Loved you above all others; there was not in his time
Little honour in being loved by so great a personage
Who could immediately recognise vice and virtue
Whatever disguise a man was dressed in.
Henry who after him took up the sceptre of France,
Having perfect understanding of your worth,
Honoured your learning so well that that great King
Wanted to hear no other man than you,
Whether at dinner or supper, and gave you the charge
Of enriching his Louvre with a larger building,
A sumptuous work, that he might be shown to be
A most magnificent King in having encountered you.
I recall a day when that Prince, speaking
At table of your virtue as a thing to be wondered at,
Said that you had learned from yourself
And that beyond all others too you took the prize,
As has done my Ronsard who to Poetry
Despite all his family has set his imagination.
And therefore you had sculpted at the top
Of the Louvre a goddess, never short of breath,
Her cheek puffed out at the mouthpiece of a trumpet,
And showed it to the King, saying that she had been made
Expressly to symbolise the power of my verse,
Which like the wind bore his name throughout the world.
Now that good Prince is dead, and that it should be known
That both of us have served so great a master
I give you these verses as an everlasting oath
That virtue alone accompanies me from you.
In the second ‘stanza’, Homer’s two daughters are the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey. In the fourth, the advice to ‘caress Bartolle’ apparently refers to a ‘spiky’ senior lawyer (he’s referred to elsewhere as “l’espineux Bartolle”). 
In the 5th ‘stanza’, Marty-Laveaux’s text has “Hippocras”: hippocras is a drink, but Ronsard (or his father) here clearly means Hippocrates the Greek physician. I’m not sure whose mistake this is – I suppose Ronsard is making fun of his father for not quite getting the name right?! Blanchemain’s version has “Hippocrate” so Ronsard (or his father, or Blanchemain) obviously had got the right one at some stage… The island Hippocrates honours is Cos, where he was born. His medical learning comes from Apollo, because Aesculapius was Apollo’s son; Apollo’s sister is Minerva.
In ‘stanza’ 7, I enjoy his father saying ‘go and die in battle – that’s a good way to get rich’… Ronsard poking a little fun at his father again…
The statue placed by L’Escot on the Louvre represents Fame. Though Ronsard says that the King ‘gave you the charge / Of enriching his Louvre with a larger building’, he doesn’t say that the original work was undertaken by L’Escot’s rival, Philibert de Lorme, whom Ronsard apparently disliked (perhaps out of loyalty to L’Escot!). In  poems 2.3 he writes
Maintenant je ne suis ny veneur, ny maçon
Pour acquerir du bien en si basse façon,
Et si j’ay fait service autant à ma contrée
Qu’une vile truelle à trois crosses tymbrée !
                                                                         Now I am neither a hunter [ overtones of ‘venal’, arriviste’] nor a mason
                                                                         To gain riches in so base a fashion,
                                                                         And yet I have done as good service to my country
                                                                         As a vile trowel stamped with three bishoprics!
The last line is an allusion to the three abbeys enjoyed by Philibert de Lorme; and note that “timbré” also means ‘crack-brained’…


Naturally there are also plenty of variants in Blanchemain’s version. These are:
‘stanza’ 1
line 2, “Et pour mourir sanglant …” (‘And to die bleeding …’)
line 6, “Que les Muses jadis m’ont acquis de la gloire” (‘I want to leave a memorial / That the Muses once gained me glory’)
‘stanza’ 3
«  Laisse ce froid mestier qui ne pousse en avant
Celuy qui par sus tous y est le plus sçavant ;
Mais avec sa fureur qu’il appelle divine,
Tout sot se laisse errer accueilly de famine.
Homère, que tu tiens si souvent en tes mains,
Que dans ton cerveau creux comme un Dieu tu te peins,
N’eut jamais un liard ; si bien que sa vielle,
Et sa Muse qu’on dit qui eut la voix si belle,
Ne le sceurent nourrir, et falloit que sa faim
D’huis en huis mendiast le miserable pain.
                                                                         “Leave this cold career, which does not bring to the fore
                                                                          He who above all others is the most skilled;
                                                                          But rather, in that passion he calls divine,
                                                                          All those fools allow themselves to wander in error, welcomed by famine.
                                                                          That Homer you have so often in your hands,
                                                                          Whom you paint as some sort of god in your empty brain,
                                                                          Never had a farthing; so much so that his fiddle,
                                                                          And his Muse whom they say had so fair a voice,
                                                                          Could not feed him, and his hunger had
                                                                          To beg from door to door for the wretched pain.
Later on, the Sun’s chargers are “haletans de la penible trette” (‘panting from their arduous pulling’); and the fairies dance “à cottes agrafées” (‘their skirts pinned up’). As for Ronsard’s Latin, “Mais cognoissant, helas! que mon cruel destin … ” (‘But recognising, alas, that my cruel fate / Had not made me naturally skilful…).
When he arrives at the description of L’Escot’s youth, he says:
Toy, L’Escot, dont le nom jusques aux astres vole,
En as bien fait ainsi ; car estant à l’escole,
Jamais on ne te peut ton naturel forcer
Que tousjours avec l’encre on ne te vist tracer
Quelque belle peinture, et ja fait geomettre,
Angles, lignes et poincts sur une carte mettre ;
Puis arrivant ton âge au terme de vingt ans,
Tes esprits courageux ne furent pas contens …
                                                                          You too, L’Escot, whose name flies high as the stars,
                                                                          Have rightly done the same: for when you were at school
                                                                          They could never compel your nature,
                                                                          So that you could always be seen with ink tracing
                                                                          Some fine painting, or now doing Geometry,
                                                                          Making angles, lines and points upon some sheet;
                                                                          Then when your age arrived at the term of twenty years,
                                                                          Your brave spirits were not content …
and later “Toutefois si as-tu suivi ton naturel ” (‘Yet always have you followed your nature’).


Dernier vers – sonnet 6

Il faut laisser maisons et vergers et Jardins,
Vaisselles et vaisseaux que l’artisan burine,
Et chanter son obseque en la façon du Cygne,
Qui chante son trespas sur les bors Maeandrins.

C’est fait j’ay devidé le cours de mes destins,
J’ay vescu, j’ay rendu mon nom assez insigne,
Ma plume vole au ciel pour estre quelque signe
Loin des appas mondains qui trompent les plus fins.

Heureux qui ne fut onc, plus heureux qui retourne
En rien comme il estoit, plus heureux qui sejourne
D’homme fait nouvel ange aupres de Jesuchrist,

Laissant pourrir ça bas sa despouille de boüe
Dont le sort, la fortune, et le destin se joüe,
Franc des liens du corps pour n’estre qu’un esprit.

                                                                                                  Time to leave home and orchards and gardens,
                                                                                                  Plates and cups which the craftsman engraved,
                                                                                                  And sing our funeral song like the swan
                                                                                                  Who sings out his death on the banks of the Mæander.
                                                                                                  It is finished. I have run through my fated course,
                                                                                                  I have lived, I have made my name pretty famous,
                                                                                                  My pen flies heavenward to become a symbol
                                                                                                  Far from the worldly charms which deceive the best of us.
                                                                                                  Happy he who never was, happier he who returns
                                                                                                  Nothing like what he was, happiest he who rests,
                                                                                                  Changed from man to a new angel at the side of Christ,
                                                                                                  Leaving the dirt of his remains to rot down here,
                                                                                                  The sport of chance, luck and fate,
                                                                                                  Free from the ties of the body to be simply a spirit.
A really beautiful excerpt from Ronsard’s “Last poems”. Elegantly weighted, and beautifully balanced.

Sonnet 100

Quand je vous voy, ou quand je pense en vous,
D’une frisson tout le cueur me fretille,
Mon sang s’esmeut, et d’un penser fertile
Un autre croist, tant le suget m’est dous.
Je tremble tout de nerfs et de genous :
Comme la cire au feu je me distile :
Ma raison tombe, et ma force inutile
Me laisse froid sans haleine et sans pous.
Je semble au mort qu’en la fosse on devale,
Tant je suis have espouventable et pale,
Voyant mes sens par le mort se muer :
Et toutefois je me plais en ma braise.
D’un mesme mal l’un et l’autre est bien aise,
Moy de mourir, et vous de me tuer.
                                                                            When I see you, or when I think of you,
                                                                            My whole heart trembles with a shudder,
                                                                            My blood riots, and from one fertile thought
                                                                            Another rises, so sweet is the subject to me.
                                                                            I tremble all over, in my nerves and in my knees;
                                                                            Like wax in the fire I melt;
                                                                            My reason fails, my useless strength
                                                                            Leaves me cold, without breath or heartbeat.
                                                                            I seem like a dead man thrown into a ditch,
                                                                            So colourless and dreadfully pale am I,
                                                                            Seeing my senses transforming in death;
                                                                            And still I am happy in my burning.
                                                                            With the same wrong both one and the other can be comforted –
                                                                            Me to die, and you to kill me.



For poem no.100, almost inevitably one which is almost two different poems, so much did Ronsard re-write!  Blanchemain prints the later version (above) in a footnote – though with a variant in line 13, which reads “D’un mesme mal nous sommes tous deux aise” (‘with the same wrong we are both satisfied’). 
But his primary version is the substantially-different poem below; it’s a pity he didn’t change the first line too, then it would be more visible that this is a ‘new’ poem!
Quand je vous voi, ou quand je pense en vous,
Je ne sais quoi dans le cœur me fretille,
Qui me pointelle et tout d’un coup me pille
L’esprit emblé d’un ravissement doux.
Je tremble tout de nerfs et de genous,
Comme la cire au feu je me distile 
Sous mes soupirs, et ma force inutile
Me laisse froid, sans haleine et sans pous.
Je semble au mort qu’on devale en la fosse,
Ou à celui qui d’une fièvre grosse
Perd le cerveau, dont les esprits mués
Revent cela qui plus leur est contraire.
Ainsi mourant je ne saurai tant faire
Que je ne pense en vous qui me tuez.
                                                                            When I see you, or when I think of you,
                                                                            Something within my heart trembles,
                                                                            Which stabs me and all at once steals away
                                                                            My spirit, rapt by sweet delight..
                                                                            I tremble all over, in my nerves and in my knees;
                                                                            Like wax in the fire I melt
                                                                            Beneath my sighs, and my useless strength
                                                                            Leaves me cold, without breath or heartbeat.
                                                                            I seem like a dead man who is thrown into a ditch,
                                                                            Or like the man who loses his head
                                                                            From a dreadful fever, whose broken spirits
                                                                            Dream of that which is most harmful to them.
                                                                            So, dying, I shan’t be able to do anything
                                                                            But think of you who are killing me.
 As we’ve reached another round number, I’ll shortly put together a ‘complete’ Cassandre 1-100 for download…

Sonnet 99

Jaloux Soleil contre Amour envieux,
Soleil masqué d’une face blesmie,
Qui par trois jours as retenu m’amie
Seule au logis par un temps pluvieux :
Je ne croy plus tant d’amours que les vieux
Chantent de toy : ce n’est que poësie.
S’il eust jadis touché ta fantaisie,
D’un mesme mal, tu serois soucieux.
Par tes rayons à la pointe cornuë,
En ma faveur eusses rompu la nuë,
Faisant d’obscur un temps serein et beau.
Va te cacher, vieil Pastoureau champestre,
Tu n’es pas digne au Ciel d’estre un flambeau,
Mais un Bouvier qui meine les bœufs paistre.
                                                                            Jealous Sun, envious of Love,
                                                                            Sun masked behind a pallid appearance,
                                                                            Who has for three days kept my beloved
                                                                            Alone at her home through the rainy weather;
                                                                            I no longer believe so much in the love-stories which the ancients
                                                                            Sing of you; that’s just poetry.
                                                                            If it had ever moved your imagination
                                                                            With a similar pain, you’d have been more caring.
                                                                            With your sharp-pointed rays
                                                                            To favour me you’d have burst through the clouds
                                                                            Making the dimness into fine and fair weather.
                                                                            Go hide yourself, you old rustic shepherd,
                                                                            You are not worthy to be a torch for the heavens,
                                                                            But rather a cowman leading his cows to pasture.



I do love Ronsard in humorous mode; and his rudeness to the sun is wonderful.  I especially like lines 5-6 – ‘that’s just poetry’, says Ronsard who simultaneously wants us (and Cassandre) to believe in the underlying truth of his own love poems, and more importantly in the power of poetry, its function of being more than just pretty.  Whether Ronsard wanted to ‘change the world’ with his poetry is a complex question, but I think the sheer volume and variety of his poetry, and its commentary on contemporary issues, strongly suggests he believed his poems could structure arguments and influence outcomes. So “ce n’est que poësie”? Tongue firmly in cheek, and a strongly ironic inflection, I think!