Le Voyage de Tours (part 3)

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And, finally, the last third of the poem…

Bateau qui par les flots ma chere vie emportes,
Des vents en ta faveur les haleines soient mortes.
Et le Ban perilleux qui se trouve parmy
Les eaux, ne t’envelope en son sable endormy :
Que l’air, le vent, et l’eau favorisent ma dame,
Et que nul flot bossu ne destourbe sa rame.
En guise d’un estang sans vague paresseux
Aille le cours de Loire, et son limon crasseux
Pour ce jourd’huy se change en gravelle menüe,
Pleine de meint ruby et meinte perle esleüe.
 
Que les bords soient semez de mille belles fleurs
Representant sur l’eau mille belles couleurs,
Et le tropeau Nymphal des gentilles Naïades
Alentour du vaisseau face mille gambades :
Les unes balloyant des paumes de leurs mains
Les flots devant la barque, et les autres leurs seins
Descouvrent à fleur d’eau, et d’une main ouvriere
Conduisent le bateau du long de la riviere.
 
L’azuré Martinet puisse voler davant
Avecques la Mouette, et le Plongeon suivant
Son malheureux destin pour le jourd’huy ne songe
En sa belle Hesperie, et dans l’eau ne se plonge :
Et le Heron criard, qui la tempeste fuit,
Haut pendu dedans l’air ne face point de bruit :
Ains tout gentil oiseau qui va cherchant sa proye
Par les flots poissonneux, bien-heureux te convoye,
Pour seurement venir evecq’ ta charge au port,
Où Marion verra, peut-estre, sur le bort
Un orme des longs bras d’une vigne enlassée,
Et la voyant ainsi doucement embrassée,
De son pauvre Perrot se pourra souvenir,
Et voudra sur le bord embrassé le tenir.
 
On dit au temps passé que quelques uns changerent
En riviere leur forme, et eux-mesmes nagerent
Au flot qui de leur sang goutte à goutte sailloit,
Quand leur corps transformé en eau se distilloit.
 
Que ne puis-je muer ma ressemblance humaine,
En la forme de l’eau qui ceste barque emmeine ?
J’irois en murmurant sous le fond du vaisseau,
J’irois tout alentour, et mon amoureuse eau
Baiseroit or’ sa main, ore sa bouche franche,
La suivant jusqu’au port de la Chappelle blanche :
Puis laissant mon canal pour jouyr de mon vueil,
Par le trac de ses pas j’irois jusqu’à Bourgueil,
Et là dessous un pin, couché sur la verdure,
Je voudrois revestir ma premiere figure.
 
Se trouve point quelque herbe en ce rivage icy
Qui ait le goust si fort, qu’elle me puisse ainsi
Muer comme fut Glauque, en aquatique monstre,
Qui homme ne poisson, homme et poisson se monstre ?
Je voudrois estre Glauque, et avoir dans mon sein
Les pommes qu’ Hippomane eslançoit de sa main
Pour gaigner Atalante : à fin de te surprendre,
Je les ru’rois sur l’eau, et te ferois apprendre
Que l’or n’a seulement sur la terre pouvoir
Mais qu’il peult desur l’eau les femmes decevoir.
Or cela ne peult estre, et ce qui se peult faire,
Je le veux achever afin de te complaire :
Je veux soigneusement ce coudrier arroser,
Et des chapeaux de fleurs sur ses fueilles poser :
Et avecq’un poinçon je veux desur l’escorce
Engraver de ton nom les six lettres à force,
Afin que les passans en lisant Marion,
Facent honneur à l’arbre entaillé de ton nom.
 
Je veux faire un beau lict d’une verte jonchee,
De Parvanche fueillue encontre-bas couchee,
De Thym qui fleure bon, et d’Aspic porte-epy,
D’odorant Poliot contre terre tapy,
De Neufard tousjours verd, qui la froideur incite,
Et de Jonc qui les bords des rivieres habite.
 
Je veux jusques au coude avoir l’herbe, et je veux
De roses et de lys couronner mes cheveux.
Je veux qu’on me défonce une pipe Angevine,
Et en me souvenant de ma toute divine,
De toy mon doux soucy, espuiser jusqu’au fond
Mille fois ce jourd’huy mon gobelet profond,
Et ne partir d’icy jusqu’à tant qu’à la lie
De ce bon vin d’ Anjou la liqueur soit faillie.
 
Melchior Champenois, et Guillaume Manceau,
L’un d’un petit rebec, l’autre d’un chalumeau,
Me chanteront comment j’eu l’ame despourveüe
De sens et de raison si tost que je t’eu veüe,
Puis chanteront comment pour flechir ta rigueur
Je t’appellay ma vie, et te nommay mon cœur,
Mon œil, mon sang, mon tout : mais ta haute pensée
N’a voulu regarder chose tant abaissee,
Ains en me dedaignant tu aimas autre part
Un qui son amitié chichement te depart.
Voila comme il te prend pour mespriser ma peine,
Et le rustique son de mon tuyau d’aveine.
 
Ils diront que mon teint vermeil au paravant,
Se perd comme une fleur qui se fanist au vent :
Que mon poil devient blanc, et que la jeune grace
De mon nouveau printemps de jour en jour s’efface :
Et que depuis le mois que l’amour me fit tien,
De jour en jour plus triste et plus vieil je devien.
 
Puis ils diront comment les garçons du village
Disent que ta beauté tire desja sur l’age,
Et qu’au matin le Coq dés la poincte du jour
N’oyra plus à ton huis ceux qui te font l’amour.
« Bien fol est qui se fie en sa belle jeunesse,
« Qui si tost se derobe, et si tost nous delaisse.
« La rose à la parfin devient un gratecu,
« Et tout avecq’ le temps par le temps est vaincu. »
 
Quel passetemps prens-tu d’habiter la valee
De Bourgueil où jamais la Muse n’est allee ?
Quitte moy ton Anjou, et vien en Vandomois :
Là s’eslevent au ciel les sommets de nos bois,
Là sont mille taillis et mille belles plaines,
Là gargouillent les eaux de cent mille fontaines,
Là sont mille rochers, où Echon alentour
En resonnant mes vers ne parle que d’ Amour.
 
Ou bien si tu ne veux, il me plaist de me rendre
Angevin pour te voir, et ton langage apprendre :
Et pour mieux te flechir, les hauts vers que j’avois
En ma langue traduit du Pindare Gregeois,
Humble, je veux redire en un chant plus facile
Sur le doux chalumeau du pasteur de Sicile.
 
Là parmy tes sablons Angevin devenu,
Je veux vivre sans nom comme un pauvre incognu,
Et dés l’Aube du jour avecq’ toy mener paistre
Aupres du port Guiet nostre troupeau champestre :
Puis sur le chaud du jour je veux en ton giron
Me coucher sous un chesne, où l’herbe à l’environ
Un beau lict nous fera de mainte fleur diverse,
Pour nous coucher tous deux sous l’ombre à la renverse :
Puis au Soleil penchant nous conduirons noz bœufs
Boire le haut sommet des ruisselets herbeux,
Et les reconduirons au son de la musette,
Puis nous endormirons dessus l’herbe mollette.
 
Là sans ambition de plus grands biens avoir,
Contenté seulement de t’aimer et te voir,
Je passerois mon âge, et sur ma sepulture
Les Angevins mettroient ceste breve escriture.
 
Celuy qui gist icy, touché de l’aiguillon
Qu’ amour nous laisse au cœur, garda comme Apollon
Les tropeaux de sa dame, et en ceste prairie
Mourut en bien aimant une belle Marie,
Et elle apres sa mort mourut aussi d’ennuy,
Et sous ce verd tombeau repose avecques luy.
 
A peine avois je dit, quand Thoinet se dépâme,
Et à soy revenu alloit apres sa dame :
Mais je le retiray le menant d’autre part
Pour chercher à loger, car il estoit bien tard.
 
Nous avions ja passé la sablonneuse rive,
Et le flot qui bruyant contre le pont arrive,
Et ja dessus le pont nous estions parvenus,
Et nous apparoissoit le tumbeau de Turnus,
Quand le pasteur Janot tout gaillard nous emmeine
Dedans son toict couvert de javelles d’aveine.
“O boat who carry my dear life through the waves,
May the breath of the winds favourable to you be dead,
And may the perilous bank which is found
In the waters not wrap you in his sleeping sands;
May air, wind and water favour my lady
And no bumpy wave disturb her oars.
May the course of the Loire flow with the appearance
Of a pool, without any lazy waves, and may its dirty lime
For today change into fine gravel
Full of many a ruby and many a choice pearl.
 
May the banks be sown with a thousand beautiful flowers
Reflecting their thousand beautiful colours on the water;
And may the nymphly troop of gentle Naiads
Make around the vessel a thousand gambols,
Some making the waves before the bark dance
With the palms of their hands, others reveal
Their breasts in the water’s foam, and with workers’ hands
Lead the boat along the river.
 
Let the sky-blue martin fly before
With the gull, and let the loon pursuing
His wretched fate not dream for today
Of his fair Hesperia, and not throw himself under the water;
And let the noisy Heron, who flees the storm,
Hanging high in the air make no sound;
So, let every gentle bird which seeks its prey
Among the fishy waves bring you with good fortune
To come safely with your charge to port,
Where Marion shall see perhaps on the bank
An elm with long boughs, bound by a vine,
And seeing it embraced so gently
Shall maybe recall her poor Pete
And wish to have him in her embrace on the bank.
 
“They used to say in past time that some people could change
Their form into a river, and themselves swam
In the waves which mounted drop by drop with their blood
As their bodies, transformed into water, melted away.
 
“Why cannot I change my human appearance
Into the form of the water which draws that bark?
I would go murmuring under the bottom of the vessel,
I would go all around it, and my loving water
Would kiss now her hand, now her open lips,
Following her right up to the White Chapel;
Then, leaving the stream to enjoy my wish,
I would follow the traces of her feet right to Bourgueil
And there, lying beneath a pine on the green grass,
I would want to re-assume my previous shape.
 
“Is there any plant on this bank here
Which has so strong a taste that it might thus
Change me as Glaucus was changed, into an aquatic beast,
With the form of neither man nor fish, yet of both man and fish?
I would like to be Glaucus and keep in my lap
The apples which Hippomenes threw from his hand
To win Atalanta; to surprise you
I would hurl them on the water and make you realise
That gold has power not only upon the earth,
But that it can deceive women upon water also.
Well, that won’t happen; but what can be done
I want to achieve, to please you.
I want to water this hazel-tree carefully
And place chaplets of flowers upon its leaves;
And with an awl upon its bark I want
To engrave the six letters of your name strongly
So that passers-by, reading ‘Marion’,
May do honour to the tree cut with your name.
 
“I want to make a fair bed of green reeds,
Laid upon leafy periwinkle
And thyme which flowers well, and tufted spikenard,
And fragrant mint carpeting the earth,
And ever-green water-lilies, which bring on the cold,
And reeds which live on the river-banks.
 
“I want to have grass up to my elbows, and I want
With roses and lilies to crown my hair.
I want someone to break me open an Angevin cask
And, as I recall my completely divine one,
You, my sweet care, to empty right to the bottom
My deep cup, a thousand times this very day,
And not to leave here until to the lees
Of this fine wine of Anjou the liquor is drained.
 
Melchior of Champagne and William of Mance,
One on his little fiddle, the other on pipes,
Will sing of me, how my soul was destitute
Of sense and reason as soon as I saw you.
Then they’ll sing how, to turn aside your harshness,
I called you my life, and named you my heart,
My eyes, my blood, my everything: but your haughty thoughts
Did not wish to look on a thing so abased,
Even as – while you disdained me – you loved elsewhere
Someone who stingily took away from you his love.
See how he led you to despise my pain,
And the rustic sound of my oat-stalk pipe.
 
They’ll sing how my previously-pink colour
Was lost like a flower which withers in the wind:
How my skin became pale, and how the youthful grace
Of my fresh springtime has faded day by day:
And how since the month when love made me yours
From day to day I’ve become sadder and older.
 
Then they’ll sing how the boys in the village
Say that your beauty is already lessening with age,
And how in the morning the cock at break of day
Won’t hear any more at your door those who make love to you.
“The true fool is he who trusts in his fair youth,
Which so soon fades, and so soon leaves us.
The rose in the end becomes a rose-hip,
And everything in time by time is overcome.”
 
Why do you pass your time living in the valley
Of Bourgueil, where the Muse has never visited?
Leave your Anjou for me, and come to the Vendôme:
There the tops of our trees rise to the skies,
There are a thousand copses and a thousand lovely plains,
There the waters of millions of springs gurgle,
There are a thousand rocks where Echo all around
Re-sounding my verses speaks only of Love.
 
Or again, if you don’t want to, I’m happy to become
Angevin, to see you, and to learn your language;
And, to sway you further, the high-flown verse which I have
Translated into my tongue from Greek Pindar
I am willing humbly to re-write into an easier song
Played on the sweet pipes of the Sicilian shepherd.
 
There among your sands, become an Angevin,
I want to live nameless like a poor unknown,
And from the dawn of day to lead with you to pasture
Near the Guiet gate our country herd;
Then, in the heat of the day, I want to lie
In your lap beneath an oak, where the grass around
Will make a lovely bed for us of many varied flowers
So we can sleep, both of us, backwards beneath the shade;
Then as the sun sets, we will lead our cattle
To drink from the high origins of grassy streams,
And lead them back, to the sound of the pipe,
Then we’ll sleep upon the softest grass.
 
There, with no ambition to have greater goods,
Contented only with loving you and seeing you,
I shall live out my years, and on my grave
The Angevins will place this brief inscription:
 
“He who lies here, wounded by the arrow
Which love plants in our hearts, watched like Apollo
His lady’s herds, and on this plain
He died, loving well his fair Marie,
And she after his death died too, of grief,
And lies beneath this green tomb with him.”
 
I had barely spoken, when Tony came around,
And, recovered, was going after his lady;
But I drew him back, leading him elsewhere
To find lodging, for it was very late.
 
We had already passed the sandy bank,
And the waves which crash noisily against the bridge,
And we’d already arrived on the bridge,
And the tomb of Turnus had already appeared before us,
When Johnny the shepherd gaily led us
Into his home, covered with armful of oat-straw.
 
I love the way, a stanza before the end, Ronsard leads us to expect yet more extended lovers’ complaints, the instead brings things to a swift conclusion: “he was going to carry on, but instead we looked for a place to stay the night…”
 
As usual, plenty of classical references, and even a joke about re-writing his poem to be simpler and less learned! Note also the line about ‘learning her language’, a reminder that dialects could be extraordinarily unlike one another – consider the southern-French ‘langue d’oc’ which contains a considerable admixture of Spanish.
 – the Naiads, like mermaids, inhabit the waters, but these are river-spirits;
 – when his beloved Hesperia died, Aesacus leapt from a cliff and was transformed into a bird, as Bellay tells us in his note – not specifically a sand-martin but the image of these birds sweeping in and out of their riverside holes fits very well;
 – Bellay tells us that the people who “could change /Their form into a river” is a reference to the satyr Marsyas – Ovid links him with the river Marsyas, whose source was in Phrygia near that of the Maeander;
 – there’s no link between the legends of Hippomenes, throwing apples to delay Atalanta in her race with him, and Glaucus, the fisherman transformed into a mer-man or sea-god; Ronsard’s link is purely the translation of the land-based story of Hippomenes to an appropriate water-based figure;
 – Pindar was one of the ‘classic’ Greek poets, famed for the beauty of his images and the complexity of his writing; Daphnis the ‘Sicilian shepherd’, on the other hand, stands as ‘father’ of pastoral poetry;
 – Apollo, though he did act as a herdsman, is generally held to have done so as a punishment, and to have watched the herds of Admetus, not of a lady. However, while serving Admetus, Apollo did help him to win the hand of Alcestis, so perhaps Ronsard is simply conflating a couple of related myths here;
 – Bellay tells us, “they say that Turnus, who founded Tours, is buried under the town’s castle [or château], washed by the waters of the Loire, near the bridge in the wall of that castle”  He is probably referring to the Château des Sablons now a hotel with rooms available! Since Ronsard, no-one seems to have placed Turnus at Bourgueil, and indeed the guide-books tell us that Tours for a long time claimed (and displayed) the ‘tomb of Turnus’.
 
I should probably have translated the ‘White Chapel’ as ‘Whitechapel’, since it refers to a small village near Bourgueil rather than to a building. There was however a chapel (of St Nicholas) at the Guiet gate (le Port-Guyet) which you can see here. In his edition, Blanchemain identified the house as Marie’s. The name Melchior of Champagne is probably not a joke, but we might note that these days a giant, 24-bottle-sized bottle of champagne is called a ‘melchior’: was it when Ronsard wrote? Mance is another village in the area; I don’t imagine these two are supposed to recall ‘real’ musicians.
 
Bellay tells us that what Ronsard calls ‘Aspic’ or ‘spikenard’ is what is commonly called lavender. What he calls ‘Neufard’ is also called ‘neneufard’, from the same Arabic root as our own ‘ninufar’, a water-lily with very wide leaves, which can be used to cool the skin. (Here is one change in the later version which is certainly an improvement on the earlier version below, where the large leaves are ‘like tables’!)
 
========
 
The earlier version given by Blanchemain of course differs in detail. The only substantial change is the  his pale skin: the earlier version offers an extended and perhaps over-done simile featuring the snow-capped mountains of southern France, the later version replaces it with a safer series of more conventional similes. Your preference probably depends on whether you prefer the bold rashness of the earlier approach, risking going too far in the search for originality, or whether you prefer the similes not to be so extreme!
 
Bateau qui par les flots ma chere vie emportes,
Des vents en ta faveur les haleines soient mortes.
Et le banc perilleux qui se trouve parmy
Les eaux, ne t’envelope en son sable endormy :
Que l’air, le vent, et l’eau ]favorisent ma dame,
Et que nul flot bossu ne destourbe sa rame.
En guise d’un estang sans vague paresseux
Aille le cours de Loire, et son limon crasseux
Pour ce jourd’huy se change en gravelle menüe,
Pleine de meint ruby et meinte perle esleüe.
 
Que les bords soient semez de mille belles fleurs
Representant sur l’eau mille belles couleurs,
Et le tropeau Nymphal des gentilles Naïades
Alentour du vaisseau face mille gambades :
Les unes balloyant des paumes de leurs mains
Les flots devant la barque, et les autres leurs seins
Descouvrent à fleur d’eau, et d’une main ouvriere
Conduisent le bateau du long de la riviere.
 
L’azuré Martinet puisse voler davant
Avecques la Mouette, et le Plongeon suivant
Son malheureux destin pour le jourd’huy ne songe
En sa belle Hesperie, et dans l’eau ne se plonge :
Et le Heron criard, qui la tempeste fuit,
Haut pendu dedans l’air ne face point de bruit :
Ains tout gentil oiseau qui va cherchant sa proye
Par les flots poissonneux, bien-heureux te convoye,
Pour seurement venir avec ta charge au port,
Où Marion verra, peut-estre, sur le bort
Une orme des longs bras d’une vigne enlassée,
Et la voyant ainsi doucement embrassée,
De son pauvre Perrot se pourra souvenir,
Et voudra sur le bord embrassé le tenir.
 
On dit au temps passé que quelques uns changerent
En riviere leur forme, et eux-mesmes nagerent
Au flot qui de leur sang et de leurs yeux sailloit,
Quand leur corps ondoyant peu à peu defailloit.
 
Que ne puis-je muer ma ressemblance humaine,
En la forme de l’eau qui ceste barque emmeine ?
J’irois en murmurant sous le fond du vaisseau,
J’irois tout alentour, et mon amoureuse eau
Baiseroit or’ sa main, ore sa bouche franche,
La suivant jusqu’au port de la Chappelle blanche :
Puis forçant mon canal pour ensuivre mon vueil,
Par le trac de ses pas j’irois jusqu’à Bourgueil,
Et là dessous un pin, couché sur la verdure,
Je voudrois revestir ma premiere figure.
 
N’y a-t-il point quelque herbe en ce rivage icy
Qui ait le goust si fort, qu’elle me puisse ainsi
Muer comme fut Glauque, en aquatique monstre,
Qui homme ne poisson, homme et poisson se monstre ?
Je voudrois estre Glauque, et avoir dans mon sein
Les pommes qu’ Hippomane eslançoit de sa main
Pour gaigner Atalante : à fin de te surprendre,
Je les ru’rois sur l’eau, et te ferois apprendre
Que l’or n’a seulement sur la terre pouvoir
Mais qu’il peult desur l’eau les femmes decevoir.
Or cela ne peult estre, et ce qui se peult faire,
Je le veux achever afin de te complaire :
Je veux soigneusement ce coudrier arroser,
Et des chapeaux de fleurs sur ses fueilles poser :
Et avecq’un poinçon je veux dessus l’escorce
Engraver de ton nom les six lettres à force,
Afin que les passans en lisant Marion,
Facent honneur à l’arbre entaillé de ton nom.
 
Je veux faire un beau lict d’une verte jonchee,
De Parvanche fueillue encontre-bas couchee,
De Thym qui fleure bon, et d’Aspic porte-epy,
D’odorant Poliot contre terre tapy,
De Neufard tousjours verd, qui les tables imitent,
Et de Jonc qui les bords des rivieres habite.
 
Je veux jusques au coude avoir l’herbe, et si veux
De roses et de lys couronner mes cheveux.
Je veux qu’on me défonce une pipe Angevine,
Et en me souvenant de ma toute divine,
De toy mon doux soucy, espuiser jusqu’au fond
Mille fois ce jourd’huy mon gobelet profond,
Et ne partir d’icy jusqu’à tant qu’à la lie
De ce bon vin d’ Anjou la liqueur soit faillie.
 
Melchior Champenois, et Guillaume Manceau,
L’un d’un petit rebec, l’autre d’un chalumeau,
Me chanteront comment j’eu l’ame despourveüe
De sens et de raison si tost que je t’eu veüe,
Puis chanteront comment pour flechir ta rigueur
Je t’appellay ma vie, et te nommay mon cœur,
Mon œil, mon sang, mon tout : mais ta haute pensée
N’a voulu regarder chose tant abaissee,
Ains en me dedaignant tu aimas autre part
Un qui son amitié chichement te depart.
Voila comme il te prend pour mespriser ma peine,
Et le rustique son de mon tuyau d’aveine.
 
Ils diront que mon teint, auparavant vermeil,
De crainte en te voyant se blanchit tout pareil
A la neige ou d’Auvergne ou des monts Pyrénées,
Qui se conserve blanche en despit des années,
Et que depuis le mois que l’amour me fit tien,
De jour en jour plus triste et plus vieil je devien.
 
Puis ils diront comment les garçons du village
Disent que ta beauté touche desja sur l’age,
Et qu’au matin le Coq dés la poincte du jour
Ne voirra plus sortir ceux qui te font l’amour.
« Bien fol est qui se fie en sa belle jeunesse,
« Qui si tost se derobe, et si tost nous delaisse.
« La rose à la parfin devient un gratecu,
« Et tout avecq’ le temps par le temps est vaincu. »
 
Quel passetemps prens-tu d’habiter la valee
De Bourgueil où jamais la Muse n’est allee ?
Quitte moy ton Anjou, et vien en Vandomois :
Là s’eslevent au ciel les sommets de nos bois,
Là sont mille taillis et mille belles plaines,
Là gargouillent les eaux de cent mille fontaines,
Là sont mille rochers, où Echon alentour
En resonnant mes vers ne parle que d’ Amour.
 
Ou bien si tu ne veux, il me plaist de me rendre
Angevin pour te voir, et ton langage apprendre :
Et là pour te flechir, les hauts vers que j’avois
En ma langue traduit du Pindare Gregeois,
Humble je redirai en un chant plus facile
Sur le doux chalumeau du pasteur de Sicile.
 
Là parmy tes sablons Angevin devenu,
Je veux vivre sans nom comme un pauvre incognu,
Et dés l’Aube du jour avecq’ toy mener paistre
Aupres du port Guiet nostre troupeau champestre :
Puis sur le chaud du jour je veux en ton giron
Me coucher sous un chesne, où l’herbe à l’environ
Un beau lict nous fera de mainte fleur diverse,
Où nous serons tournés tous deux à la renverse :
Puis au Soleil couchant nous mènerons noz bœufs
Boire sur le sommet des ruisselets herbeux,
Et les remènerons au son de la musette,
Puis nous endormirons dessus l’herbe mollette.
 
Là sans ambition de plus grands biens avoir,
Contenté seulement de t’aimer et de voir,
Je passerois mon âge, et sur ma sepulture
Les Angevins mettroient ceste breve escriture.
 
Celuy qui gist icy, touché de l’aiguillon
Qu’ amour nous laisse au cœur, garda comme Apollon
Les tropeaux de sa dame, et en ceste prairie
Mourut en bien aimant une belle Marie,
Et elle apres sa mort mourut aussi d’ennuy,
Et sous ce verd tombeau repose avecques luy.
 
A peine avois je dit, quand Thoinet se dépâme,
Et à soy revenu alloit apres sa dame :
Mais je le retiray le menant d’autre part
Pour chercher à loger, car il estoit bien tard.
 
Nous avions ja passé la sablonneuse rive,
Et le flot qui bruyant contre le pont arrive,
Et ja dessus le pont nous estions parvenus,
Et nous apparoissoit le tumbeau de Turnus,
Quand le pasteur Janot tout gaillard nous emmeine
Dedans son toict couvert de javelles d’aveine.
“O boat who carry my dear life through the waves,
May the breath of the winds favourable to you be dead,
And may the perilous bank which is found
In the waters not wrap you in his sleeping sands;
May air, wind and water favour my lady
And no bumpy wave disturb her oars.
May the course of the Loire flow with the appearance
Of a pool, without any lazy waves, and may its dirty lime
For today change into fine gravel
Full of many a ruby and many a choice pearl.
 
May the banks be sown with a thousand beautiful flowers
Reflecting their thousand beautiful colours on the water;
And may the nymphly troop of gentle Naiads
Make around the vessel a thousand gambols,
Some making the waves before the bark dance
With the palms of their hands, others reveal
Their breasts in the water’s foam, and with workers’ hands
Lead the boat along the river.
 
Let the sky-blue martin fly before
With the gull, and let the loon pursuing
His wretched fate not dream for today
Of his fair [ Hesperia ], and not throw himself under the water;
And let the noisy Heron, who flees the storm,
Hanging high in the air make no sound;
So, let every gentle bird which seeks its prey
Among the fishy waves bring you with good fortune
To come safely with your charge to port,
Where Marion shall see perhaps on the bank
An elm with long boughs, bound by a vine,
And seeing it embraced so gently
Shall maybe recall her poor Pete
And wish to have him in her embrace on the bank.
 
“They used to say in past time that some people could change
Their form into a river, and themselves swam
In the waves which mounted with their blood and tears
As their bodies, wavering, little by little faded away.
 
“Why cannot I change my human appearance
Into the form of the water which draws that bark?
I would go murmuring under the bottom of the vessel,
I would go all around it, and my loving water
Would kiss now her hand, now her open lips,
Following her right up to the White Chapel;
Then, forcing a passage to follow my wish,
I would follow the traces of her feet right to Bourgueil
And there, lying beneath a pine on the green grass,
I would want to re-assume my previous shape.
 
“Is there no plant on this bank here
Which has so strong a taste that it might thus
Change me as Glaucus was changed, into an aquatic beast,
With the form of neither man nor fish, yet of both man and fish?
I would like to be Glaucus and keep in my lap
The apples which Hippomanes threw from his hand
To win Atalanta; to surprise you
I would hurl them on the water and make you realise
That gold has power not only upon the earth,
But that it can deceive women upon water also.
Well, that won’t happen; but what can be done
I want to achieve, to please you.
I want to water this hazel-tree carefully
And place chaplets of flowers upon its leaves;
And with an awl upon its bark I want
To engrave the six letters of your name strongly
So that passers-by, reading ‘Marion’,
May do honour to the tree cut with your name.
 
“I want to make a fair bed of green reeds,
Laid upon leafy periwinkle
And thyme which flowers well, and tufted aspic,
And fragrant mint carpeting the earth,
And ever-green water-lilies, which imitate tables,
And reeds which live on the river-banks.
 
“I want to have grass up to my elbows, and I want
With roses and lilies to crown my hair.
I want someone to break me open an Angevin cask
And, as I recall my completely divine one,
You, my sweet care, to empty right to the bottom
My deep cup, a thousand times this very day,
And not to leave here until to the lees
Of this fine wine of Anjou the liquor is drained.
 
Melchior of Champagne and William of [ Mance ],
One on his little fiddle, the other on pipes,
Will sing of me, how my soul was destitute
Of sense and reason as soon as I saw you.
Then they’ll sing how, to turn aside your harshness,
I called you my life, and named you my heart,
My eyes, my blood, my everything: but your haughty thoughts
Did not wish to look on a thing so abased,
Even as – while you disdained me – you loved elsewhere
Someone who stingily took away from you his love.
See how he led you to despise my pain,
And the rustic sound of my oat-stalk pipe.
 
They’ll sing how my previously-pink colour
For fear on seeing you paled just like
The snow in the Auvergne or the Pyrenean mountains,
Which remains white despite the passing year,
And how since the month when love made me yours
From day to day I’ve become sadder and older.
 
Then they’ll sing how the boys in the village
Say that your beauty is already beginning to age,
And how in the morning the cock at break of day
Won’t any longer see leaving those who make love to you.
“The true fool is he who trusts in his fair youth,
Which so soon fades, and so soon leaves us.
The rose in the end becomes a rose-hip,
And everything in time by time is overcome.”
 
Why do you pass your time living in the valley
Of Bourgueil, where the Muse has never visited?
Leave your Anjou for me, and come to the Vendôme:
There the tops of our trees rise to the skies,
There are a thousand copses and a thousand lovely plains,
There the waters of millions of springs gurgle,
There are a thousand rocks where Echo all around
Re-sounding my verses speaks only of Love.
 
Or even, if you don’t want to, I’m happy to become
Angevin, to see you, and to learn your language;
And there, to sway you, the high-flown verse which I have
Translated into my tongue from Greek Pindar
I shall humbly re-write into an easier song
Played on the sweet pipes of the Sicilian shepherd.
 
There among your sands, become an Angevin,
I want to live nameless like a poor unknown,
And from the dawn of day to lead with you to pasture
Near the Guiet gate our country herd;
Then, in the heat of the day, I want to lie
In your lap beneath an oak, where the grass around
Will make a lovely bed for us of many varied flowers
Where we shall both turn backwards;
Then as the sun sets, we will lead our cattle
To drink from the high origins of grassy streams,
And we’ll lead them back, to the sound of the pipe,
Then we’ll sleep upon the softest grass.
 
There, with no ambition to have greater goods,
Contented only with loving you and looking,
I shall live out my years, and on my grave
The Angevins will place this brief inscription:
 
“He who lies here, wounded by the arrow
Which love plants in our hearts, watched like Apollo
His lady’s herds, and on this plain
He died, loving well his fair Marie,
And she after his death died too, of grief,
And lies beneath this green tomb with him.”
 
I had barely spoken, when Tony came around,
And, recovered, was going after his lady;
But I drew him back, leading him elsewhere
To find lodging, for it was very late.
 
We had already passed the sandy bank,
And the waves which crash noisily against the bridge,
And we’d already arrived on the bridge,
And the tomb of Turnus had already appeared before us,
When Johnny the shepherd gaily led us
Into his home, covered with armful of oat-straw.
 
A complete version of the later text and translation is collected here.
 
 
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