Ode 3:13 – to Joachim du Bellay

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Nous avons quelque fois grand faute
Soit de biens, soit de faveur haute,
Comme l’affaire nous conduit,
Mais tousjours tandis que nous sommes
Ou morts, ou mis au rang des hommes,
Nous avons besoing de bon bruit.
 
Car la louange emmiellée
Au sucre des Muses mellée
Nous perçe l’aureille en riant
Je di louange qui ne cede
A l’or que Pactole possede
Ny aux perles de l’Orient.
 
La vertu qui n’a cognoissance
Combien la Muse a de puissance
Languit en tenebreux sejour
Et en vain elle est soupirante
Que sa clarté n’est apparante
Pour se monstrer au raiz du jour.
 
France sous Henry fleurist comme
Sous August’ fleurist Romme,
Elle n’est plaine seulement
D’hommes qui animent le cuïvre,
Ny de peintres qui en font vivre
Deux ensamble eternellement ;
 
Mais grosse de sçavoir enfante
Des filz dont el’ est triumphante,
Qui son nom rendent honoré :
L’un chantre d’amour la decore
L’autre Mars, et l’autre encore,
De Phoebus au beau crin doré.
 
Entre lesquelz le ciel ordonne
Que le premier lieu l’on te donne,
Si tu monstres au jour tes vers
Entés dans le tronc d’une Olive,
Qui hausse sa perrucque vive
Jusque à l’esgal des lauriers vers.
We have sometimes a great lack
Either of goods or of high favour,
As matters lead us,
But always while we are
Either dead or placed among the ranks of men,
We have need of good report.
 
For honeyed praise
Mixed with the sugar of the Muses
Pierces our ears amidst laughter;
 I sing a praise which does not give place
To the gold which Pactolus owns
Nor to the pearls of the Orient.
 
Virtue, which takes no note
How powerful is the Muse,
Pines in a shadowy place
And in vain it sighs
That its brightness is not bright enough
To show itself in the light of day.
 
France under Henry flourishes as
Rome flourished under Augustus;
It is not full only
Of men who bring life to brass,
Nor of painters who make the two of them
Together live eternally;
 
But pregnant with knowledge it gives birth
To sons in whom she is triumphant,
Who make her name honoured;
One ornaments her as a singer of love,
Another of war, another still
Of Phoebus with his fair golden hair.
 
Among these, heaven ordains
That we give you the first place,
If you show the daylight your verse
Grafted on the trunk of an Olive,
Which raises its living crown
Up to level with the green laurels.

 

 Today, a lovely & beautifully-built ode to his friend du Bellay, praising his ‘Olive’ (the first book of sonnets in French). Along the way Ronsard manages to get in a brief but telling patriotic gesture of praise to Henri II’s France, another Rome in the golden age of Augustus. As each stanza moves us one step closer to the goal, in a very carefully-calculated but artful way, there is a definite sense of climax.
 
 
 
 
 
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