Mets en oubly, Dieu des herbes puissant,
Le mauvais tour que non loin d’Hellesponte
Te fit m’amie, et vien d’une main pronte
Guarir son teint de fiévres pallissant.
Tourne en santé son beau corps perissant !
Ce te sera, Phebus, une grand’honte,
Si la langeur sans ton secours surmonte
L’œil, qui te tient si long temps languissant.
En ma faveur si tu as pitié d’elle,
Je chanteray comme l’errante Dele
S’enracina par ton commmandement :
Que Python fut ta premiere conqueste,
Et comme Dafne aux tresses de ta teste
Donna l’honneur du premier ornement.
Forget, God of powerful herbs,
The wicked trick which, not far from the Hellespont,
My beloved did you, and come with ready hand
To cure her complexion, pallid with fever.
Return to health her fair but perishing body !
It would be great shame on you, Phoebus,
If this weakness, without your help, overcame
Those eyes which kept you for so long weak-kneed.
If to please me you have pity on her
I shall sing how the wandering Delos
Rooted itself at your command ;
That Python was your first conquest,
And how Daphne gave to the tresses of your head
The glory of their first ornament.
Plenty of mythological reference here, as Ronsard begs Apollo, god of healing (‘powerful herbs’), to cure his beloved.Cassandre’s Trojan namesake, the priestess, was originally ‘cursed’ with prophetic madness by Apollo after she refused his advances (or, worse, led him on and then tricked him). Python links to the oracular side of Apollo as well, being the dragon-deity associated with the oracle at Delphi, defeated by Apollo so that the Delphic oracle became his – and was served by a ‘Pythian’ priestess.According to Ronsard, Delos (the island) rooted itself at Apollo’s command: more generally, legend has it that the wandering island was eventually fixed in its position – equidistant from the mainland to north and west, the Greek islands on the coast of Turkey in the east, and Crete to the south – by Poseidon, and subsequently became Apollo’s birthplace. And Daphne picks up the theme of ‘becoming rooted’, as she was the nymph turned into a laurel tree to avoid Apollo’s advances. (Whence the laurel wreath as a symbol of victory in competition is associated with Apollo.)
Note that the two mythical girls in the poem are both failed conquests of Apollo, who received terrible punishments!
In lines 7-8 I have tried to find a parallel for “langueur … languissant” and settled on ‘weak’ words: I’m not sure Ronsard would approve of ‘weak at the knees’ though!
Blanchemain’s version has a variant in lines 11-12:
… comme l’errante Dele
S’enracina sous ta voix, et comment
Python sentit ta premiere conqueste
… how the wandering Delos
Rooted itself at your call, and how
Python felt your first conquest