Monthly Archives: April 2016

Le Voyage de Tours: ou, Les amoureux

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Some poetry is long overdue. Here’s the first 70 lines of “The Journey to Tours”, subtitled ‘The Lovers’, which is inserted by Ronsard into the middle of the 2nd book of Amours, featuring as it does his heroine of that book, Marie (here called Marion).

The poem is an extended eclogue or pastoral poem, imitating the Arcadian literature both of Greece & Rome and of the renaissance poets who renewed these themes. Although the pastoral poets demonstrate their erudition regularly with classical references or simply with complex and allusive verse, Ronsard plays to the genre theme, slightly mocking it in the light semi-comic “rustic” style he adopts, and the ‘colloquial’ names he gives his principal characters.. Marie becomes Marion, as we have seen, and ‘Thoinet’, from ‘Antoine’ (de Baif), approximates to ‘Tony’ in English; though ‘Perrot’ (from ‘Pierre’ de Ronsard) doesn’t quite work as Pete.  The poem gives Ronsard scope both to describe the details of the countryside in loving detail, and also to locate it firmly in the France he knows; we cannot be sure that the journey is an invented one, the details make it so believable.

C’estoit en la saison que l’amoureuse Flore
Faisoit pour son amy les fleurettes esclore
Par les prez bigarrez d’autant d’esmail de fleurs,
Que le grand arc du Ciel s’esmaille de couleurs :
Lors que les papillons et les blondes avettes,
Les uns chargez au bec, les autres aux cuissettes,
Errent par les jardins, et les petits oiseaux
Voletans par les bois de rameaux en rameaux
Amassent la bechée, et parmy la verdure
Ont souci comme nous de leur race future.
 
 
Thoinet au mois d’Avril passant par Vandomois,
Me mena voir à Tours Marion que j’aimois,
Qui aux nopces estoit d’une sienne cousine :
Et ce Thoinet aussi alloit voir sa Francine,
Qu’ Amour en se jouant d’un trait plein de rigueur,
Luy avoit pres le Clain escrite dans le coeur.
 
 
Nous partismes tous deux du hameau de Coustures,
Nous passasmes Gastine et ses hautes verdures,
Nous passasmes Marré, et vismes à mi- jour
Du pasteur Phelipot s’eslever la grand tour,
Qui de Beaumont la Ronce honore le village
Comme un pin fait honneur aux arbres d’un bocage.
Ce pasteur qu’on nommoit Phelippot tout gaillard,
Chez luy nous festoya jusques au soir bien tard.
De là vinsmes coucher au gué de Lengenrie,
Sous des saules plantez le long d’une prairie :
Puis dés le poinct du jour redoublant le marcher,
Nous vismes en un bois s’eslever le clocher
De sainct Cosme pres Tours, où la nopce gentille
Dans un pré se faisoit au beau milieu de l’isle.
 
 
Là Francine dançoit, de Thoinet le souci,
Là Marion balloit, qui fut le mien aussi :
Puis nous mettans tous deux en l’ordre de la dance,
Thoinet tout le premier ceste plainte commence.
 
 
Ma Francine, mon cueur, qu’oublier je ne puis,
Bien que pour ton amour oublié je me suis,
Quand dure en cruauté tu passerois les Ourses
Et les torrens d’hyver desbordez de leurs courses,
Et quand tu porterois en lieu d’humaine chair
Au fond de l’estomach, pour un cueur un rocher :
Quand tu aurois succé le laict d’une Lyonne,
Quand tu serois, cruelle, une beste felonne,
Ton cœur seroit pourtant de mes pleurs adouci,
Et ce pauvre Thoinet tu prendrois à merci.
 
 
Je suis, s’il t’en souvient, Thoinet qui dés jeunesse
Te voyant sur le Clain t’appella sa maistresse,
Qui musette et flageol à ses lévres usa
Pour te donner plaisir, mais cela m’abusa :
Car te pensant flechir comme une femme humaine,
Je trouvay ta poitrine et ton aureille pleine,
Helas qui l’eust pensé ! de cent mille glaçons
Lesquels ne t’ont permis d’escouter mes chansons :
Et toutesfois le temps, qui les prez de leurs herbes
Despouille d’an en an, et les champs de leurs gerbes,
Ne m’a point despouillé le souvenir du jour,
Ny du mois où je mis en tes yeux mon amour :
Ny ne fera jamais voire eussé-je avallée
L’onde qui court là bas sous l’obscure valée.
C’estoit au mois d’Avril, Francine, il m’en souvient,
Quand tout arbre florit, quand la terre devient
De vieillesse en jouvence, et l’estrange arondelle
Fait contre un soliveau sa maison naturelle :
Quand la Limace au dos qui porte sa maison,
Laisse un trac sur les fleurs : quand la blonde toison
Va couvrant la chenille, et quand parmy les prées
Volent les papillons aux ailes diaprées,
Lors que fol je te vy, et depuis je n’ay peu
Rien voir apres tes yeux que tout ne m’ait despleu.
It was in the season when Flora, being in love,
Made flowers bloom for her lover
In the meadows scattered with such a mottling of flowers
As the great arc of the Heavens is mottled with colours:
As the butterflies and yellow bees,
Their mouths or their little thighs full,
Wander through the gardens, and the little birds
Fluttering among the woods from branch to branch
Gather their beak-fuls, and among the greenery
Plan, as we do, for the future of their race.
 
 
Tony, passing through the Vendôme in April,
Took me to Tours, to see Marion whom I loved,
Who was at the wedding of her cousin;
And Tony too was going to see his Francine
Whom Love, laughingly striking him a blow full of trouble,
Had written on his heart, near Clain.
 
 
The two of us left the hamlet of Coustures,
Crossed Gastine and its rich greenery,
Passed Marré and saw at midday
The great tower of Philip the shepherd rising up,
Which brings credit to the village of Beaumont la Ronce
As a pine brings credit to the trees of a copse.
This shepherd they call Philip merrily
Feasted us at his house until late in the evening.
From there, we reached our beds at Lengenrie ford,
Beneath willows planted the length of a field;
Then at daybreak taking up our walk again
We saw rising in a wood the bell-tower
Of St Cosmas near Tours, where the noble wedding
Was taking place in a meadow right in the middle of the island.
 
 
There Francine was dancing, Tony’s beloved;
There Marion was capering, my own also:
Then, as both of us joined in the line of dancers,
Tony first began his complaint:
 
 
My Francine, my heart whom I cannot forget,
Although for your love I am forgotten,
Though harsh in cruelty you exceed bears
And the winter torrents bursting their banks,
And though you bear, in place of human flesh
Deep in your belly not a heart but a stone;
Though you have sucked the milk of a lioness,
Though you are a ravenous beast, o cruel one,
Your heart can still be softened by my tears
And you’ll still grant mercy to your poor Tony.
 
 
I am, you recall, that Tony who, from his youth,
Seeing you on the Clain, called you his mistress,
Who put bagpipe and flute to his lips
To give you pleasure: but that deceived me,
For thinking to influence you like a human woman
I found your breast and ears full –
Ah, who’d have thought it! – of a million icicles
Which prevented you from hearing my songs;
And still time, which steals from the meadows
Their plants from year to year, and from the fields their sheaves,
Has not stolen from me the memory of that day
Or month when your eyes took my love.
Nor will it ever, even if I had drunk
The water which flows down below in the dark valley.
It was in the month of April, Francine, I remember,
When every tree blossoms, when the earth changes
From old age to youth, and the swallow from abroad
Makes against a small beam his own kind of home;
When the snail who bears his house on his back
Leaves his tracks on the flowers; when a yellow fleece
Covers the caterpillar, and when in the meadows
Butterflies fly on their colourful wings,
It was then that I saw you, fell in love, and since then everything I’ve seen
Apart from but your eyes has displeased me.
 
Remy Belleau’s commentary offers a range of useful, and less useful, details on the places named by Ronsard. Coustures, he tells us, is “where our poet was born”; the forest of Gastine we have met before; Marré and Beaumont la Ronce are villages, Lengenrie a “little village”!  Saint-Cosmas was a priory situated on an island next to Tours. The Clain is the river which passes by Poictiers, which (Belleau tells us, in case we didn’t read the line in the poem) is where Baif first fell in love with Francine!
 
A couple of classical references:  Flora, the goddess of spring, most familiar to us from her appearance in a flowery dress in Botticelli’s “Primavera” (Spring); and, again in case we didn’t read the poem, Belleau explains that the ‘waters flowing down below’ are the waters of the river Lethe which make you lose your memory.
 
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The earlier version given by Blanchemain of course differs in detail, but also comes with an introductory dedication. Blanchemain explains “this dedication to L’Huillier, a rich bourgeois of Paris, perhaps the father or grandfather of Chapelle, is found only in the 1560 edition.” He doesn’t explain why Ronsard would call a bourgeois “Seigneur” (my lord).
 
Jérôme L’Huillier, lord of Maisonfleur, was a close friend of Ronsard’s (and an amateur poet) around 1560, and Ronsard wrote two Elegies for him as well as dedicating his “Second Livre du Recueil des nouvelles poesies” to him in 1564 – here’s the title page.
 
2nd_livreWhen L’Huillier converted to Protestantism in 1566, the dedications were all removed (Ronsard remaining a good Catholic). But oddly L’Huillier’s name remained in the first line of one of the elegies, and the fourth book of Elegies was dedicated to L’Huillier on its publication in 1567! (The fluidity of religious boundaries at the time perhaps also shows in Ronsard’s writing a Hymn to his friend Cardinal Coligny, which he retained in later editions after Coligny defected and became a Huguenot…)  Perhaps there are further signs of a rapprochement in 1586, when L’Huillier’s son & heir Estienne included in a set of Reformist ‘Cantiques’ a translation of the Te Deum by Ronsard which the latter had published in his anti-Reformation ‘Discours’! A later 1592 edition also added three more sizeable Ronsard poems.
 
In this dedication, Ronsard writes 12 lines, but unusually and intriguingly groups them 5-3-4
 
 
Au seigneur L’Huillier
L’Huillier, à qui Phoebus, comme au seul de nostre age,
A donné ses beaux vers et son luth en partage,
En ta faveur icy je chante les amours
Que Perrot et Thoinet souspirerent à Tours,
L’un espris de Francine, et l’autre de Marie.
 
Ce Thoinet est Baïf, qui doctement manie
Les mestiers d’Apollon ; ce Perrot est Ronsard,
Que la Muse n’a fait le dernier en son art.
 
Si ce grand duc de Guyse, honneur de nostre France,
N’amuse point ta plume en chose d’importance,
Preste moy ton oreille, et t’en viens lire icy
L’amour de ces pasteurs et leur voyage aussy.
 
 
                                                                                        To my lord L’Huillier
                                                                                        L’Huillier, to whom Phoebus as to the only man of our age
                                                                                        Has given a share of his beautiful verse and his lute,
                                                                                        For you I here sing of the love
With which Pete and Tony sighed at Tours,
                                                                                        One fallen for Francine, the other for Marie.
 
                                                                                        This Tony is Baïf, who learnedly handles
                                                                                        Apollo’s tasks; Pete is Ronsard
                                                                                        Whom the Muse has not made last in his art.
 
                                                                                        If the great Duke of Guise, the honour of France,
                                                                                        Does not keep your pen employed on important things,
                                                                                        Lend me your ear, and come with me to read here
                                                                                        Of the loves of these shepherds and their journey too.

 

There are few changes in this part of the poem, though already we can see ways in which Ronsard tidied up and improved the poem in the later version above.
C’estoit en la saison que l’amoureuse Flore
Faisoit pour son amy les fleurettes esclore
Par les prez bigarrez d’autant d’esmail de fleurs,
Que le grand arc du Ciel s’esmaille de couleurs :
Lors que les papillons et les blondes avettes,
Les uns chargez au bec, les autres aux cuissettes,
Errent par les jardins, et les petits oiseaux
Voletans par les bois de rameaux en rameaux
Amassent la bechée, et parmy la verdure
Ont souci comme nous de leur race future.
 
 
Thoinet, en ce beau temps, passant par Vandomois,
Me mena voir à Tours Marion que j’aimois,
Qui aux nopces estoit d’une sienne cousine :
Et ce Thoinet aussi alloit voir sa Francine,
Que la grande Venus, d’un trait plein de rigueur,
Luy avoit pres le Clain escrite dans le coeur.
 
 
Nous partismes tous deux du hameau de Coustures,
Nous passasmes Gastine et ses hautes verdures,
Nous passasmes Marré, et vismes à mi- jour
Du pasteur Phelipot s’eslever la grand’ tour,
Qui de Beaumont la Ronce honore le village
Comme un pin fait honneur aux arbres d’un bocage.
Ce pasteur qu’on nommoit Phelippot le gaillard,
Courtois, nous festoya jusques au soir bien tard.
De là vinsmes coucher au gué de Lengenrie,
Sous des saules plantez le long d’une prairie :
Puis dés le poinct du jour redoublant le marcher,
Nous vismes en un bois s’eslever le clocher
De sainct Cosme pres Tours, où la nopce gentille
Dans un pré se faisoit au beau milieu de l’isle.
 
 
Là Francine dançoit, de Thoinet le souci,
Là Marion balloit, qui fut le mien aussi :
Puis nous mettans tous deux en l’ordre de la dance,
Thoinet tout le premier ceste plainte commence.
 
 
Ma Francine, mon cueur, qu’oublier je ne puis,
Bien que pour ton amour oublié je me suis,
Quand dure en cruauté tu passerois les Ourses
Et les torrens d’hyver desbordez de leurs courses,
Et quand tu porterois en lieu d’humaine chair
Au fond de l’estomach, pour un cueur un rocher :
Quand tu aurois succé le laict d’une Lyonne,
Quand tu serois autant qu’une tigre felonne,
Ton cœur seroit pourtant de mes pleurs adouci,
Et ce pauvre Thoinet tu prendrois à merci.
 
 
Je suis, s’il t’en souvient, Thoinet qui dés jeunesse
Te voyant sur le Clain t’appella sa maistresse,
Qui musette et flageol à ses lévres usa
Pour te donner plaisir, mais cela m’abusa :
Car te pensant flechir comme une femme humaine,
Je trouvay ta poitrine et ton aureille pleine,
Helas qui l’eust pensé ! de cent mille glaçons
Lesquels ne t’ont permis d’escouter mes chansons :
Et toutesfois le temps, qui les prez de leurs herbes
Despouille d’an en an, et les champs de leurs gerbes,
Ne m’a point despouillé le souvenir du jour,
Ny du mois où je mis en tes yeux mon amour :
Ny ne fera jamais voire eussé-je avallée
L’onde qui court là bas sous l’obscure valée.
C’estoit au mois d’Avril, Francine, il m’en souvient,
Quand tout arbre florit, quand la terre devient
De vieillesse en jouvence, et l’estrange arondelle
Fait contre un soliveau sa maison naturelle :
Quand la Limace au dos qui porte sa maison,
Laisse un trac sur les fleurs : quand la blonde toison
Va couvrant la chenille, et quand parmy les prées
Volent les papillons aux ailes diaprées,
Lors que fol je te vy, et depuis je n’ay peu
Rien voir apres tes yeux que tout ne m’ait despleu.
It was in the season when Flora, being in love,
Made flowers bloom for her lover
In the meadows scattered with such a mottling of flowers
As the great arc of the Heavens is mottled with colours:
As the butterflies and yellow bees,
Their mouths or their little thighs full,
Wander through the gardens, and the little birds
Fluttering among the woods from branch to branch
Gather their beak-fuls, and among the greenery
Plan, as we do, for the future of their race.
 
 
Tony, passing through the Vendôme at this beautiful time,
Took me to Tours, to see Marion whom I loved,
Who was at the wedding of her cousin;
And Tony too was going to see his Francine
Whom great Venus, with a blow full of trouble,
Had written on his heart, near Clain.
 
 
The two of us left the hamlet of Coustures,
Crossed Gastine and its rich greenery,
Passed Marré and saw at midday
The great tower of Philip the shepherd rising up,
Which brings credit to the village of Beaumont la Ronce
As a pine brings credit to the trees of a copse.
This shepherd they call Philip the merry
Feasted us in courtly fashion until late in the evening.
From there, we reached our beds at Lengenrie ford,
Beneath willows planted the length of a field;
Then at daybreak taking up our walk again
We saw rising in a wood the bell-tower
Of St Cosmas near Tours, where the noble wedding
Was taking place in a meadow right in the middle of the island.
 
 
There Francine was dancing, Tony’s beloved;
There Marion was capering, my own also:
Then, as both of us joined in the line of dancers,
Tony first began his complaint:
 
 
My Francine, my heart whom I cannot forget,
Although for your love I am forgotten,
Though harsh in cruelty you exceed bears
And the winter torrents bursting their banks,
And though you bear, in place of human flesh
Deep in your belly not a heart but a stone;
Though you have sucked the milk of a lioness,
Though you are like a cruel tigress,
Your heart can still be softened by my tears
And you’ll still grant mercy to your poor Tony.
 
 
I am, you recall, that Tony who, from his youth,
Seeing you on the Clain, called you his mistress,
Who put bagpipe and flute to his lips
To give you pleasure: but that deceived me,
For thinking to influence you like a human woman
I found your breast and ears full –
Ah, who’d have thought it! – of a million icicles
Which prevented you from hearing my songs;
And still time, which steals from the meadows
Their plants from year to year, and from the fields their sheaves,
Has not stolen from me the memory of that day
Or month when your eyes took my love.
Nor will it ever, even if I had drunk
The water which flows down below in the dark valley.
It was in the month of April, Francine, I remember,
When every tree blossoms, when the earth changes
From old age to youth, and the swallow from abroad
Makes against a small beam his own kind of home;
When the snail who bears his house on his back
Leaves his tracks on the flowers; when a yellow fleece
Covers the caterpillar, and when in the meadows
Butterflies fly on their colourful wings,
It was then that I saw you, fell in love, and since then everything I’ve seen
Apart from but your eyes has displeased me.
 
 
 
 
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Regnard – D’un joyeux dueil

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Title

D’un joyeux dueil sans fin je me repais

Composer

François Regnard

Source

Poésies de P. de Ronsard … , Le Roy & Ballard 1579

(text not yet on Lieder.net site)
(blog entry here)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract not available)

 

As we move towards the end of his book, Regnard continues to ring the changes: he writes here in a very fluent imitative style, constantly shifting the number and disposition of voices, to create a piece which sounds delightful throughout, shifting seamlessly from the long notes of ‘grief’ at the beginning to a happier-sounding second half. Typically, Regnard sets only part of Ronsard’s poem, cho0osing the section with the maximum short-range contrast of emotion.

Sadly, this is one of those pieces not yet recorded by anyone.

 

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Regnard – Las, toy qui es

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Title

Las, toy qui es de moy la quintessence

Composer

François Regnard

Source

Poésies de P. de Ronsard … , Le Roy & Ballard 1579

(text on Lieder.net site here)
(blog entry not yet available)
(listen to the score here)
(recorded extract here, source: Ensemble Clément Janequin, Chansons sur des Poèmes de Ronsard)

 

Here Regnard’s 5th voice is an extra tenor, but with a fairly low alto part as well he fluidly switches between a texture which is in effect melody + 4-part harmony, and an ensemble opposing the 2 upper voices and the 3 lower ones. (There are of course other combinations as well.) It’s an attractive piece, whose melodic invention is enhanced by the way the ensemble keeps changing.

Once again, the Ensemble Clément Janequin provide the recording. In this case they choose a rather mournful pace & a similalry consistent texture throughout – unofrtunately, as I think they could have made this sound rather better!  I’ve provided bars 38-63.

 

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