Mon Des-Autels, qui avez dés enfance
Puisé de l’eau qui coule sur le mont,
Où les neuf Sœurs dedans un antre font
Seules à part leur saincte demeurance :
Si autrefois, l’amoureuse puissance
Vous a planté le myrte sur le front,
Enamoure de ces beaux yeux qui sont
Par vos escrits l’honneur de nostre France :
Ayez pitié de ma pauvre langueur,
Et de vos sons adoucissez le cœur
D’une qui tient ma franchise en contrainte.
Si quelquefois en Bourgoigne je suis,
Je flechiray par mes vers, si je puis,
La cruauté de vostre belle Saincte.
My dear Des Autels, you who have since childhood
Drawn from the waters which flow on the mount
Where the nine sisters, within a cave, make
Alone and apart their holy residence ;
If once the power of love
Placed laurels upon your brow,
Enamoured of those fair eyes which are
Through your writings the credit of our France ;
[Now] have pity on my weak pining
And with your music soften the heart
Of the one who holds my liberty in chains.
And if sometime I am in Burgundy
I shall turn aside with my verse, if I can,
The cruelty of your fair Saint.
Amidst the chansons and elegies which conclude the first book, there are a couple of final sonnets. This is one of them, a quick tribute to Ronsard’s friend Guillaume Des Autels, “gentilhomme Charrolois”. He was a cousin of Pontus de Tyard and, through the literary circle around him in Lyons became a sometime member of the Pleiade. Indeed, most of Des Autels’ poetry comes from the 1550s, when he was in his twenties. His birthplace is uncertain, though clearly in or near the city of Charolles in Burgundy; the date of his death likewise unknown. Des Autels always referred to his beloved as ‘his Saint’ in his verse, echoed here by Ronsard. Ronsard’s book of “Discours” opens with an elegy to Des Autels, one of several tributes to his fellow-poet.
The nine sisters of the opening stanza are of course the Muses, whose home was on Mount Helicon; though they are normally associated with the springs and sacred grove there, not a cave. The Corcyrian cave on mount Parnassus is, however, sacred to the Muses; and there is a stray reference in Pausanias to a rck ‘worked like a cave’ in the grove on Helicon. Perhaps Ronsard amalgamated the two!