Poems 1.18 – The Marigold / Worries

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Although the poem is about the marigold, the French word also means ‘cares’ or ‘worries’ – particularly in Ronsard, the troubles of a lover. Here there is a subtext throughout, a message to his lady about the pain she causes him. The title in Blanchemain’s version, ‘the marigold in the garden’, sets the expectation of a rather less ambiguous poem, perhaps.

Le Souci
 
Je veux chanter, Cherouvrier, le Souci
Qui te plaist tant et qui me plaist aussi :
Non les soucis dont Amour me fait guerre,
Mais les Soucis estoiles de la terre :
Ains les Soleils des jardins, tant ils sont
Jaunes, luisans et dorez sur le front.
 
La rose emporte (empourprant son espine)
Le premier lieu à cause d’Erycine,
Et du beau sang d’Adon qui la peingnit :
L’Oeillet apres qu’Apollon contraingnit
Joüer au disque, et qui le fist occire
Sans y penser à l’amoureux Zephire,
Et fut depuis aux Spartes un grand Dieu.
 
Ces deux, Souci, ont eu le premier lieu,
Toy le troisiesme, et s’il n’y a fleurette
Ny giroflée, ou double violette,
Genest, josmin plus odorant que toy :
Au moins, Souci, s’il n’est vray, je le croy.
 
Soit que ma Dame autrefois m’ait donnée
Ta couleur jaune, ou que l’ame inclinée
A voir, sentir et contempler ta fleur,
Sur tous parfums j’estime ton odeur :
Jamais repas ne me fut agreable,
Si ton bouton n’enfleurit une table,
Salade, pain, et toute la maison
Aux plus beaux mois de la prime saison :
Car de couleur ta couleur je ressemble,
Tu es, Souci, mon frere ce me semble.
 
Tu es tout jaune, et tout jaune je suis
Pour trop d’amour qu’effacer je ne puis.
 
Printemps, Hyver, tu gardes ta verdure :
Printemps, Hyver, le soin d’amour me dure.
 
Double est ta fleur, ta fleur est simple aussi,
Mon cœur est simple, et vit tousjours ainsi :
Mais mes pensers et mes ennuis sont doubles
Selon les yeux et farouches et troubles
De ma Maistresse, et mon soin est doublé
Si son œil est ou farouche ou troublé.
 
Quand le Soleil ton amoureux s’abaisse
Dedans le sein de Tethys son hostesse,
Allant revoir le pere de la mer,
On voit ton chef se clorre et se fermer
Palle, desfait : mais quand sa tresse blonde
De longs cheveux s’esparpille sur l’onde
Se resveillant, tu t’esveilles joyeux,
Et pour le voir tu dessilles tes yeux,
Et sa clarté est seule ton envie,
Un seul Soleil te donnant mort et vie.
 
Quand je ne voy mon beau Soleil levé,
De toutes parts un sommeil agravé
Dessus le front des tenebres me donne,
Si qu’esblouy je ne cognois personne.
 
Mais aussi tost que ses rais dessus moy
Me font un jour, des yeux du cœur je voy
Mille beautez, tant sa gentille flame
En m’esclairant me reluist dedans l’ame,
Et loin du corps dont je suis empesché,
Tient mon esprit aux Astres attaché.
 
On dit, Souci, quand au bras on te lie,
Que tu guaris de la melancholie.
Or en cela nous sommes differens :
Ce que je voy, tout triste je le rens
Ainsi que moy, tant il sort de tristesse
Hors de mes yeux pour ma rude Maistresse,
Qui froide et lente et morne en amitié
Mon pauvre cœur ne veut prendre à pitié,
Me consommant d’amour, tant elle est belle :
Et je veux bien me consommer pour elle.
 
Adieu Souci, si Cherouvrier passant
Par son jardin voit ton chef florissant,
Qui toute fleur au temps d’Hyver surpasse,
Que l’Aube engendre et qu’une nuict efface,
Te voyant naistre aussi tost que fanir :
Soir et matin fay le moy souvenir
Que nostre vie aux fleurettes resemble,
Qui presque vit et presque meurt ensemble :
Et ce-pendant qu’il est en son printemps,
Vive amoureux et n’espargne le temps.
 
Si en naissant ce grand Maistre qui donne
Heur et malheur à chacune personne,
M’avoit donné, mon Cherouvrier, ta vois
Dont tu flechis les peuples et les Rois,
Comme estant seul de France la merveille
Pour attirer une ame par l’oreille :
Je chasserois la fiévre de mon corps
Par la douceur de tant de beaux accords.
 
En lieu d’avoir ta nombreuse Musique
J’ay l’autre ardeur, la vérve poëtique,
Qui rompt ma fiévre et charme mon souci,
Ou s’il n’est vray, je me console ainsi.
 
Donq si j’avois ceste voix si divine,
Present du ciel qui sort de ta poitrine,
Je chanterois : mais ne pouvant chanter,
De l’autre ardeur il me faut contenter.
The Marigold
 
I shall sing, Cherouvrier, of the marigold
Which pleases you so, and pleases me too ;
Not the cares with which Love makes war on me
But the flowery stars of the earth,
Like suns in the garden, so yellow
Are they, shining gold on their brows.
 
The rose (em-purpling its thorns) takes
First place, because of Erycine [Venus of Mt Eryx]
And the fair blood of Adonis which colours it ;
The carnation next, which Apollo made
Play at the discus and whom Zephyr made him kill
Without considering his lover,
And was afterward a great god to the Spartans.
 
These two, marigold, have first place,
You the third, and indeed there is no flower,
Not the wallflower nor double-violet,
Broom nor jasmine more sweet-smelling than you ;
At least, marigold, that’s what I believe, true or not.
 
Whether my Lady had once given me
Your yellow tint, or whether my soul was inclined
To look at, smell and consider your flower,
Above all perfumes I esteem your odour ;
Never was a meal pleasing to me
Unless your bud flowered on the table,
Salad, bread and all the house
In the fairest months of the best season ;
Because in my colour your colour I resemble
You are, marigold, my brother, it seems.
 
You are all yellow, and I am all yellow
From too much love, nor can I wipe it away.
 
In Spring and Winter, you keep your freshness ;
In Spring and Winter, love’s cares linger in me.
 
Double is your flower, but single too ;
My heart is single, and lives always thus ;
But my thoughts and cares are doubled
Because of the timid, troubled eyes
Of my mistress, and my care is doubled
If her eyes are either timid or troubled.
 
When the sun, your lover, sets
Within the breast of Tethys his hostess,
Going to see again the father of the sea,
We see your bloom close, lock itself away
Pale and undone ; but when his yellow locks
Scatter their long hair over the waves
As he awakes again, then you wake joyfully
And open your eyes to see him
And his brightness is your only desire,
The Sun alone bringing you death and life.
 
When I do not see my own Sun arise,
From every side a painful sleep
Gives me shadows on my brow,
So that, dazzled, I recognise no-one.
 
But as soon as her rays shine daylight
Upon me, with my heart’s eyes I see
A thousand beauties, so much does her noble flame
Shining on me lighten again my soul,
And, far from the body with which I am weighted down,
Keeps my spirit bound to the stars.
 
They say, marigold, that when we tie you to our arm
You will cure melancholy.
Well, in that we are different :
Whatever I see, I make unhappy
Like I am myself, so much sadness flows
From my eyes for my harsh mistress,
Who – cold, slow and sad in loving –
Does not want to take pity on my poor heart,
Consuming me with love, so beautiful she is ;
And I’d willingly consume myself for her.
 
Farewell, marigold : if Cherouvrier passes
By your garden and sees your flowering head
Which surpasses all flowers in winter-time,
Which Dawn brings to birth and a single night extinguishes,
Seeing you born as quick as fading ;
Night and day remind him for me
That our life is like that of the flowers
Who virtually live and die at the same moment ;
And yet while he is in his springtime
Let him live, love, and not spare of his time.
 
If at birth that great Master who gives
Fortune and misfortune to each person
Had given me, my Cherouvrier, your voice
With which you sway peoples and Kings,
As if the sole wonder in France
Able to draw out the soul through the ears,
I would drive away the fever from my body
Through the sweetness of so many fine harmonies.
 
Instead of having your many-faceted Music
I have that other passion, poetic inspiration,
Which breaks my fever and charms away my cares –
Or so I console myself, even if it is not true.
 
So, if I had your god-like voice,
Which emerges from your breast like a gift from heaven,
I would sing : but being unable to sing,
With that other passion I must content myself.
 
We met Guillaume Cherouvrier a while back in one of Ronsard’s more cynical poems, so it is good to find him here as the recipient of something far less cynical!  You may recall he was a member of the Royal Chapel, hence the reference to ‘his music’ near the end of the poem.
 
Tethys in the middle of the poem is the sun’s ‘hostess’ because she is a sea-nymph, and of course the sun spends his nights in the sea. Adonis, near the beginning, is more usually associated with the blood-red anemone, though it’s obvious why the rose could also fit; he links closely to Venus (who loved him) but not especially to her cult on Mt Eryx in Sicily.  The three lines about the carnation are confusing, not least because you need to know the story to be able to work out who is doing what to whom! The carnation here replaces the hyacinth: Hyacinth was loved by Apollo, but also by Zephyr who, while Apollo and Hyacinth were throwing the discus, blew it off course so that Apollo’s throw killed Hyacinth. So here the meaning is that Apollo made Hyacinth play, Zephyr made Apollo kill him, sacrificing his own love to spite Apollo. (Apollo transformed the blood of Hyacinth into a flower, marked with his tears or the blood depending on the version of the myth and the flower it represents!)
 
I should just mention the ‘double / single’ antithesis in the middle of the poem. Ronsard’s words are “double / simple”, so that each time something is ‘single’ it is also ‘simple’. I have reluctantly chosen ‘single’, so that the antithesis works, but I feel that the other meaning, of simplicity, is really the one that should come through!
 
Let’s have a look at the variant texts offered by Blanchemain: 
 
Le Souci du Jardin
 
Au Sieur Cherouvrier
Excellent musicien
 
Je veux chanter, Cherouvrier, le Souci
Qui te plaist tant, et qui me plaist aussi ;
Non les soucys qui tout le cœur nous serre,
Mais les Soucis, estoilles d’un parterre,
Ains les soleils des jardins, tant ils sont
Jaunes, luisans, et dorez sur le front.
 
La rose emporte (empourprant son espine)
Le premier lieu à cause d’Erycine,
Et du beau sang d’Adon qui la peingnit ;
L’œillet après qu’Apollon contraingnit
Jouer au disque, et qui le fit occire
Sans y penser à l’amoureux Zephyre,
Et fut depuis aux Spartes un grand Dieu.
 
Ces deux, Soucy, ont eu le premier lieu,
Toy le troisiesme, et s’il n’y a fleurette,
Ny giroflée, ou double violette,
Genest, josmin plus odorant que toy ;
Au moins, Souci, s’il n’est vray, je le croy.
 
Soit que ma dame autresfois m’ait donnée
Ta couleur jaune, ou que l’âme inclinée
A voir, sentir, et contempler ta fleur,
Sur tous parfums j’estime ton odeur ;
Jamais repas ne me fut agreable,
Si ton bouton n’enfleurit une table,
Salade, pain, et toute la maison
Aux plus beaux mois de la prime saison ;
Car de couleur, Soucy, je te ressemble,
Tu es, Soucy, mon frere, ce me semble.
 
Tu es tout jaune, et tout jaune je suis
Pour trop d’amour qu’effacer je ne puis.
 
Printemps, hyver, tu gardes ta verdure ;
Printemps, hyver, le soin d’amour me dure.
 
Double tu es et simple. Quant à moy
J’ay simple cœur et j’ay simple la foy ;
Mais mes pensers et mes ennuis sont doubles
Selon les yeux et farouches et troubles
De ma maistresse, et mon soin est doublé
Si son œil est ou farouche ou troublé.
 
Quand le soleil, ton amoureux, s’abaisse
Dedans le sein de Tethys son hostesse,
Allant revoir le pere de la mer,
On voit ton chef se clorre et se fermer
Palle, défait ; mais quand sa tresse blonde
De longs cheveux s’esparpille sur l’onde
Se réveillant, tu t’éveilles joyeux,
Et pour le voir tu dessiles tes yeux,
Et sa clarté est seule ton envie,
Un seul soleil te donnant mort et vie.
 
Quand je ne voy les yeux de mon soleil,
De toutes parts un aggravé sommeil
Dessus le front des tenebres me donne,
Si qu’esblouy je ne cognois personne.
 
Mais aussi tost que ses rais dessus moy
Me font un jour, d’yeux et de cœur je voy
Mille beautez, tant sa gentille flame
En m’éclairant me reluit dans l’ame,
Et loin du corps dont je suis empesché,
Tient mon esprit aux astres attaché.
 
On dit, Souci, quand au bras on te lie,
Que tu guaris de la melancholie.
Or en cela nous sommes differens ;
Ce que je voy, tout triste je le rens
Ainsi que moy, tant il sort de tristesse
Hors de mes yeux pour ma rude maistresse,
Qui froide et lente, et morne en amitié
Mon pauvre cœur ne veut prendre à pitié,
Me consommant d’amour, tant elle est belle ;
Et je veux bien me consommer pour elle.
 
Adieu, Souci ! si Cherouvrier, passant
Par son jardin, voit ton chef florissant,
Qui toute fleur au temps d’hyver surpasse,
Que l’aube engendre et qu’une nuict efface,
Te voyant naistre aussi tost que fanir ;
Soir et matin fay-le-moy souvenir
Que nostre vie aux fleurettes ressemble,
Qui presque vit, et presque meurt ensemble ;
Et ce-pendant qu’il est en son printemps,
Vive amoureux et n’espargne le temps.
 
Si en naissant ce grand maistre qui donne
Heur et mal-heur à chacune personne,
M’avoit donné, mon Cherouvrier, ta vois
Dont tu flechis les peuples et les Rois,
Comme estant seul de France la merveille
Pour attirer une âme par l’aureille ;
Je chasserois la fiévre de mon corps
Par la douceur de mes divers accords.
 
En lieu d’avoir ta nombreuse musique,
J’ay l’autre ardeur, la verve poëtique,
Qui rompt ma fiévre et charme ma langueur,
Me fait gaillard et me tient en vigueur.
 
Doncq’ si j’avois ceste voix si divine,
Present du ciel, qui sort de ta poitrine,
Je chanterois ; mais ne pouvant chanter,
D’escrire en vers il me faut contenter.
The garden Marigold
 
To my lord Cherouvrier
An excellent musician
 
I shall sing, Cherouvrier, of the marigold
Which pleases you so, and pleases me too ;
Not the cares which grip our whole heart
But the flowery stars of a lawn,
Like suns in the garden, so yellow
Are they, shining gold on their brows.
 
The rose (em-purpling its thorns) takes
First place, because of Erycine
And the fair blood of Adonis which colours it ;
The carnation next, which forced Apollo
Play at the discus and made him kill
Without considering it the amorous Zephyr,
And was afterward a great god to the Spartans.
 
These two, marigold, have first place,
You the third, and indeed there is no flower,
Not the wallflower nor double-violet,
Broom nor jasmine more sweet-smelling than you ;
At least, marigold, that’s what I believe, true or not.
 
Whether my Lady had once given me
Your yellow tint, or whether my soul was inclined
To look at, smell and consider your flower,
Above all perfumes I esteem your odour ;
Never was a meal pleasing to me
Unless your bud flowered on the table,
Salad, bread and all the house
In the fairest months of the best season ;
Because my colour resembles yours, marigold,
You are, marigold, my brother, it seems.
 
You are all yellow, and I am all yellow
From too much love, nor can I wipe it away.
 
In Spring and Winter, you keep your freshness ;
In Spring and Winter, love’s cares linger in me.
 
Double you are and single too ; as for me,
I have a single heart and my faithfulness is single too ;
But my thoughts and cares are doubled
Because of the timid, troubled eyes
Of my mistress, and my care is doubled
If her eyes are either timid or troubled.
 
When the sun, your lover, sets
Within the breast of Tethys his hostess,
Going to see again the father of the sea,
We see your bloom close, lock itself away
Pale and undone ; but when his yellow locks
Scatter their long hair over the waves
As he awakes again, then you wake joyfully
And open your eyes to see him
And his brightness is your only desire,
The Sun alone bringing you death and life.
 
When I do not see the eyes of my own sun,
From every side a painful sleep
Gives me shadows on my brow,
So that, dazzled, I recognise no-one.
 
But as soon as her rays shine daylight
Upon me, with my eyes and heart I see
A thousand beauties, so much does her noble flame
Shining on me lighten again my soul,
And, far from the body with which I am weighted down,
Keeps my spirit bound to the stars.
 
They say, marigold, that when we tie you to our arm
You will cure melancholy.
Well, in that we are different :
Whatever I see, I make unhappy
Like I am myself, so much sadness flows
From my eyes for my harsh mistress,
Who – cold, slow and sad in loving –
Does not want to take pity on my poor heart,
Consuming me with love, so beautiful she is ;
And I’d willingly consume myself for her.
 
Farewell, marigold : if Cherouvrier passes
By your garden and sees your flowering head
Which surpasses all flowers in winter-time,
Which Dawn brings to birth and a single night extinguishes,
Seeing you born as quick as fading ;
Night and day remind him for me
That our life is like that of the flowers
Who virtually live and die at the same moment ;
And yet while he is in his springtime
Let him live, love, and not spare of his time.
 
If at birth that great Master who gives
Fortune and misfortune to each person
Had given me, my Cherouvrier, your voice
With which you sway peoples and Kings,
As if the sole wonder in France
Able to draw out the soul through the ears,
I would drive away the fever from my body
Through the sweetness of my varied harmonies.
 
Instead of having your many-faceted Music
I have that other passion, poetic inspiration,
Which breaks my fever and charms away my pining,
Makes me jolly and keeps me vigorous.
 
So, if I had your god-like voice,
Which emerges from your breast like a gift from heaven,
I would sing : but being unable to sing,
With writing in verse I must content myself.
 
Note that the variant of line 3 is placed by Blanchemain in a footnote and his ‘preferred’ text retains the same line 3 as in Marty-Laveaux. In mid-poem I find the text “dans l’ame” odd – it scans but only painfully, and the revised version (“dedans l’ame”) works so much more easily!

 
 
 
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