Category Archives: Amours de Cassandre

Poems from the Première Livre d’Amours

Interlude (3)

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To conclude this brief series, a poem from book 2 of the Amours: no. 42. This first appeared as one of the ‘Sinope’ poems in 1559, but even with fewer years to work on it, Ronsard generated a multitude of versions. Here is emendation with a vengeance! There’s also an intriguing textual puzzle in the version Blanchemain offers, in which there are two variants I haven’t (yet) found in a Ronsard edition, and another which seems to have come from a very late text…

1559
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Sinope, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, royne des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison la grand mer vous auriez :
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire sous vos mains, dame des terres rondes,
Et de sur une coche en belles tresses blondes,
Par le peuple en honneur deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne le suis pas, et puis vous ennuyez
D’aymer les bonnets rons, gras troupeau de l’Eglise.
Ah ! vous ne sçavez pas l’honneur que vous fuiez,
 
Ny les biens qui cachez dedans ce bonnet sont.
Si l’amour dans le monde a sa demeure prise,
Il ne la prit jamais que dans un bonnet rond.
 
 
 
 
If I were Jupiter, Sinope, you would be
My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
And would have as your home the great sea ;
 
If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
Power in your hands, lady, over the round world,
And on a coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
But I am not that, and then you’re bored
with loving the round-bonneted troop of Churchmen.
Ah, you know not the honour you flee
 
Nor the good things which are hidden inside this bonnet.
If love had made his home in this world,
He’d never have made it other than in a round bonnet.
 
1560
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Sinope, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, royne des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison la grand mer vous auriez :
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire sous vos mains, dame des terres rondes,,
Et de sur une coche en belles tresses blondes,
Par le peuple en honneur deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne le suis pas, et si ne le puis estre :
Pour telles dignités le ciel ne m’a fait naistre ;
Mais je voudrois avoir changé mon bonnet rond,
 
Et vous avoir chez moi pour ma chère espousée ;
Tout ainsi que la neige au chaut soleil se fond,
Je me fondrois en vous d’une douce rousée.
 
 
 
 
If I were Jupiter, Sinope, you would be
My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
And would have as your home the great sea ;
 
If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
Power in your hands, lady, over the round world,
And on a coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
But I am not that, nor can I become that :
For such honours heaven did not have me born.
But I wish I could have exchanged my round bonnet
 
And had you in my home as my dear wife ;
Just as the snow melts in the hot sunshine,
So I would melt into you like the soft dew.
 
Belleau (ed Buon 1571)
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Sinope, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, royne des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison la grand mer vous auriez :
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire sous vos mains, dame des terres rondes,,
Et dessus une coche en belles tresses blondes,
Par le peuple en honneur deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Pour telles dignités le ciel ne m’a fait naistre ;
Mais je voudrois avoir changé de bonnet rond,
 
Et vous avoir chez moi pour ma chère espousée ;
Tout ainsi que la neige au chaut soleil se fond,
Je me fondrois en vous d’une douce rousée.
 
 
 
If I were Jupiter, Sinope, you would be
My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
And would have as your home the great sea ;
 
If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
Power in your hands, lady, over the round world,
And upon a coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
For such honours heaven did not have me born.
But I wish I could have exchanged my round bonnet
 
And had you in my home as my dear wife ;
Just as the snow melts in the hot sunshine,
So I would melt into you like the soft dew.
 
1578
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Marie, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois Roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, Roine des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison les ondes vous auriez.
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire sous vos mains, dame des terres rondes,
Et dessus un beau Coche en belles tresses blondes
Par le peuple en honneur Deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Le ciel pour vous servir seulement m’a fait naistre,
De vous seule je prens mon sort avantureux.
 
Vous estes tout mon bien, mon mal, et ma fortune.
S’il vous plaist de m’aimer, je deviendray Neptune,
Tout Dieu, tout Jupiter, tout riche et tout heureux.
 
 
 
If I were Jupiter, Marie, you would be
My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
And would have the waves as your home ;
 
If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
Power in your hands, lady, over the round world,
And upon a beautiful coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
Heaven had me born only to serve you,
From you alone I receive my venturesome fate.
 
You are all my good, my ills, my fortune.
If it pleases you to love me, I shall become Neptune,
A god entire, Jupiter entire, entirely rich, and entirely happy.
 
 
1584
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Marie, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois Roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, Roine des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison les ondes vous auriez.
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire sous vos mains, dame des terres rondes,
Et dessus un beau Coche en belles tresses blondes
Par le peuple en honneur Deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Le ciel pour vous servir seulement m’a fait naistre,
De vous seule je prens mon sort avantureux.
 
Vous estes tout mon bien, mon mal, et ma fortune.
S’il vous plaist de m’aimer, je deviendray Neptune,
Tout Jupiter tout Roy tout riche et tout heureux.
 
 
 
 
If I were Jupiter, Marie, you would be
My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
And would have as your home the waves ;
 
If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
Power in your hands, lady, over the round world,
And upon a fine coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
Heaven had me born only to serve you,
From you alone I receive my venturesome fate.
 
You are all my good, my ills, my fortune.
If it pleases you to love me, I shall become Neptune,
Jupiter entire, King entire, entirely rich, and entirely happy.
 
1587
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Maistresse, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois Roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, Roine des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre palais les ondes vous auriez.
 
Si le Monde estoit mien, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire de la terre aux mammelles fecondes,
Et dessus un beau Coche en belles tresses blondes
Par le peuple en honneur Deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Le ciel pour vous servir seulement m’a fait naistre,
De vous seule je prens mon sort avantureux.
 
Vous estes tout mon bien, mon mal, et ma fortune.
S’il vous plaist de m’aimer, je deviendray Neptune,
Tout Jupiter tout Roy tout riche et tout heureux.
 
 
 
 
If I were Jupiter, mistress, you would be
My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
And would have as your palace the waves ;
 
If the world were mine, you would hold with me
Power over the earth with its fertile breasts,
And upon a fine coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
Heaven had me born only to serve you,
From you alone I receive my venturesome fate.
 
You are all my good, my ills, my fortune.
If it pleases you to love me, I shall become Neptune,
Jupiter entire, King entire, entirely rich, and entirely happy.
 
And Blanchemain’s version? He appears to use the 1571 (rather than 1560) text as his basis, but with a number of oddities:  “mon bonnet” in line 11 pre-dates the minor change in 1571, but line 6 is otherwise found only in the latest, posthumous text!  And I have not (yet) found “Ocean” (line 4) or “soft” (line 13) in any early edition.
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Sinope, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, royne des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison l’Océan vous auriez :
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire de la terre aux mammelles fecondes,
Et, dessus une coche en belles tresses blondes,
Par le peuple en honneur deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Pour telles dignités le ciel ne m’a fait naistre ;
Mais je voudrois avoir changé mon bonnet rond,
 
Et vous avoir chez moi pour ma chère espousée ;
Tout ainsi que la neige au doux soleil se fond,
Je me fondrois en vous d’une douce rousée.
 
If I were Jupiter, Sinope, you would be
My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
And would have as your home the Ocean ;
 
If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
Power over the earth with its fertile breasts,
And upon a coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
For such honours heaven did not have me born.
But I wish I could have exchanged my round priest’s hat
 
And had you in my home as my dear wife ;
Just as the snow melts in the soft sunshine,
So I would melt into you like the soft dew.

 

(The exploration of this poem was inspired by the work of R A Sayce in « Ronsard the Poet » ed Terence Cave.)

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Interlude (2)

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Continuing the brief series of multi-variant poems, let’s look at no.2 in the 1st book of Amours…. Here there are fewer variant versions, and it’s noticeable that the poem had a 25-year run before Ronsard began adjusting! Quite what made him begin then is – well, your theory is as good as mine. Note that he reversed some of the 1578 changes in 1584 (marked in blue).  Again, there are some ‘posthumous’ variants from the edition Ronsard was working on when he died.

1552
 
Nature ornant la dame qui devoyt
De sa douceur forcer les plus rebelles,
Luy fit present des beautez les plus belles,
Que des mille ans en espargne elle avoyt.
 
Tout ce qu’Amour avarement couvoyt,
De beau, de chaste, et d’honneur soubz ses ailles,
Emmiella les graces immortelles
De son bel oeil qui les dieux emouvoyt.
 
Du ciel à peine elle estoyt descendue,
Quand je la vi, quand mon ame ésperdue
En devint folle: et d’un si poignant trait,
 
Le fier destin l’engrava dans mon ame,
Que vif ne mort, jamais d’une aultre dame
Empraint au cuoeur je n’auray le portraict.
 
 
 
Nature, adorning the lady who ought
By her sweetness to compel the most mutinous,
Made her a gift of the most lovely of beautiful features
Which she had been keeping in her closet for a thousand years.
 
Everything which Cupid avariciously brewed
Of beauty, chastity and honour beneath his wings
Sweetened the immortal grace
Of her beautiful eyes, which moved the gods themselves.
 
Scarcely had she come down from heaven
When I saw her, when my desperate soul
Became crazy for her: and with such a sharp wound
 
Did proud Fate engrave her on my soul
That living or dead, I shall never have the portrait
Of any other lady imprinted on my heart.
1578
 
Nature ornant Cassandre, qui devoyt
De sa douceur forcer les plus rebelles,
Luy fit present des beautez les plus belles,
Que des mille ans en espargne elle avoyt
 
De tous les biens qu’Amour-oiseau couvoyt,
Au plus beau Ciel cherement sous ses ailles,
Il enrichit les graces immortelles
De l’œil son Nyc [=nid], qui les dieux emouvoyt.
 
Du ciel à peine elle estoyt descendue,
Quand je la vi, quand mon ame ésperdue
Perdit raison, et d’un si poignant trait,
 
Le fier destin la poussa dans mes veines,
Qu’autres plaisirs je ne sens que mes peines,
Ny autre bien qu’adorer son portrait.
 
 
 
Nature, adorning Cassandre who ought
By her sweetness to compel the most mutinous,
Made her a gift of the most lovely of beautiful features
Which she had been keeping in her closet for a thousand years.
 
With all the good things which the Love-bird brewed,
So dear to him, under his wings in beautiful Heaven
He enriched the immortal grace
Of his nest, her eyes, which moved the gods themselves.
 
Scarcely had she come down from heaven
When I saw her, when my desperate soul
Lost its reason: and with such a sharp blow
 
Did proud Fate drive her into my veins
That other pleasures than my pains I feel not,
Nor any good but worshipping her portrait.
 
1584
 
Nature ornant Cassandre, qui devoyt
De sa douceur forcer les plus rebelles,
La composa de cent beautez nouvelles,
Que des mille ans en espargne elle avoyt
 
De tous les biens qu’Amour-oiseau couvoyt,
Au plus beau Ciel cherement sous ses ailles,
Elle enrichit les graces immortelles
De son bel oeil qui les dieux emouvoyt.
 
Du ciel à peine elle estoyt descendue,
Quand je la vi, quand mon ame ésperdue
En devint folle: et d’un si poignant trait,
 
Amour coula ses beautez en mes veines,
Qu’autres plaisirs je ne sens que mes peines,
Ny autre bien qu’adorer son portrait.
 
 
 
Nature, adorning Cassandre who ought
By her sweetness to compel the most mutinous,
Composed her of a hundred novel beauties
Which she had been keeping in her closet for a thousand years.
 
With all the good things which the Love-bird brewed,
So dear to him, under his wings in beautiful Heaven
She enriched the immortal grace
Of her fair eyes, which moved the gods themselves.
 
Scarcely had she come down from heaven
When I saw her, when my desperate soul
Became crazy for her: and with such a sharp blow
 
Did Love pour her beauties into my veins
That other pleasures than my pains I feel not,
Nor any good but worshipping her portrait.
1587
 
Nature ornant Cassandre, qui devoyt
De sa douceur forcer les plus rebelles,
La composa de cent beautez nouvelles,
Que des mille ans en espargne elle avoyt
 
De tous les biens qu’Amour au Ciel couvoyt,
Comme un tresor cherement sous ses ailles,
Elle enrichit les graces immortelles
De son bel oeil qui les dieux emouvoyt.
 
Du ciel à peine elle estoyt descendue,
Quand je la vi, quand mon ame ésperdue
En devint folle: et d’un si poignant trait,
 
Amour coula ses beautez en mes veines,
Qu’autres plaisirs je ne sens que mes peines,
Ny autre bien qu’adorer son portrait.
 
 
 
Nature, adorning Cassandre who ought
By her sweetness to compel the most mutinous,
Composed her of a hundred novel beauties
Which she had been keeping in her closet for a thousand years.
 
With all the good things which Love in heaven brewed,
So dear to him, under his wings like a treasure,
She enriched the immortal grace
Of her fair eyes, which moved the gods themselves.
 
Scarcely had she come down from heaven
When I saw her, when my desperate soul
Became crazy for her: and with such a sharp blow
 
Did Love pour her beauties into my veins
That other pleasures than my pains I feel not,
Nor any good but worshipping her portrait.
 

(These explorations of poems 1 & 2  were inspired by the work of Louis Terreaux, in « Ronsard Correcteur de Ses Œuvres » (1968).)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interlude – Ronsard as emender

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I thought it might be illuminating to look at the way Ronsard adjusted his poems through the various editions in his lifetime. It will already be obvious that there are sometimes quite substantial variants between the two editions (broadly, early & late) that I’ve been using. Here I’m filling in some extra detail!

We’ll look at 3 poems: chosen mainly because someone else pointed them out as good examples! First, the opening poem of the 1st book of Amours.

Note the arrival then departure of the dying swan motif: Ronsard’s friends and editors thought he remnoved it because editors pointed out that dying swans don’t sing, they just moan!  No further commentary though: scholars and poets are thoroughly divided on whether Ronsard improved or damaged his poems by continually fiddling with them, and to me the best approach is simply to admit this is a subjective judgement – and consequently one each reader will make for him- or herself.

I’ve included the 1587 posthumous edition, for it’s one-word variation (!)

1552
 
Qui voudra voir comme un dieu me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
A suivre en vain l’objet de son malheur,
Me vienne voir: il verra ma douleur
Et la rigueur de l’archer qui me dompte.
 
Il cognoistra combien la raison peut,
Contre son arc, quand une fois il veut
Que nostre cueur son esclave demeure,
 
Et si verra que je suis trop heureux
D’avoir au flanc l’aiguillon amoureux,
Plein du venin dont il faut que je meure.
 
 
 
Whoever wants to see how a god is overcoming me,
How he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
How he is burning then freezing my heart,
How he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
Whoever wants to see youth quick
To pursue in vain the object of its misfortune,
Let him come and see me: he will see my misfortune,
And the harshness of the archer who overwhelms me.
 
He will understand how much reason can do
Against his bow, when once he wishes
Our hearts to remain his slaves,
 
And, too, will see that I am too happy
To have love’s spur in my side,
Full of the poison which must kill me.
1567
 
Qui voudra voir comme un dieu me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
A suivre en vain l’objet de son malheur,
Me vienne voir: il verra ma douleur
Et la rigueur de l’archer qui me dompte.
 
Il cognoistra combien peut la raison,
Contre son trait, quand sa douce poison
Tourmente un cueur que la jeunesse enchante;
 
Et cognoistra que je suis trop heureux
D’estre, en mourant, nouveau cygne amoureux,
Qui plus languit, et plus doucement chante.
 
 
 
 
Whoever wants to see how a god is overcoming me,
How he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
How he is burning then freezing my heart,
How he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
Whoever wants to see youth quick
To pursue in vain the object of its misfortune,
Let him come and see me: he will see my misfortune,
And the harshness of the archer who overwhelms me.
 
He will understand how much reason can do
Against his blow, when its sweet poison
Torments a heart which youth enchants;
 
And he will know that I am too happy
To be, as I die, another swan in love
Who, as he fades, sings sweeter still.
1578
 
Qui voudra voir comme un dieu me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
Qui voudra voir un sujet de malheur,
Me vienne lire: il lira ma douleur
Dont ma Maistresse et Amour font conte.
 
Il cognoistra que foible est la raison,
Contre son trait, quand sa douce poison
Corrompt le sang, tant le mal nous enchante;
 
Et cognoistra que je suis trop heureux
D’estre, en mourant, nouveau cygne amoureux,
Qui son obseque à soy-mesme se chante.
 
 
 
 
Whoever wants to see how a god is overcoming me,
How he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
How he is burning then freezing my heart,
How he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
Whoever wants to see excited youth,
Whoever wants to see an object of misfortune,
Let him come and read me: he will read of my misfortune,
Of which my Mistress and Love tell stories.
 
He will understand that reason is feeble
Against his blow, when its sweet poison
Corrupts the blood, so much does evil enchant us;
 
And he will know that I am too happy
To be, as I die, another swan in love
Who, as he fades, sings sweeter still.
1584
 
Qui voudra voir comme Amour me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
A suivre en vain l’objet de son malheur,
Me vienne lire: il verra ma douleur
Dont ma déesse et mon dieu ne font conte.
 
Il cognoistra qu’Amour est sans raison,
Un doux abus, une belle prison,
Un vain espoir qui de vent nous vient paistre.
 
Et cognoistra que l’homme se décoit
Quand plein d’erreur un aveugle il reçoit
Pour sa conduite, un enfant pour son maistre.
 
 
 
Whoever wants to see how Love is overcoming me,
How he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
How he is burning then freezing my heart,
How he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
Whoever wants to see excited youth,
Whoever wants to see an object of misfortune,
Let him come and read me: he will see my misfortune,
Of which my goddess and my god tell stories.
 
He will understand that Love is without reason
a sweet illusion, a good-looking prison,
an empty hope which tries to feed us with a breeze.
 
And he will understand that man deceives himself
when utterly mistakenly he takes blind Love
as his guide, the child Cupid as his master.
 
1587
 
Qui voudra voir comme Amour me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
A suivre en vain l’objet de son malheur,
Me vienne lire: il verra ma douleur
Dont ma déesse et mon dieu ne font conte.
 
Il cognoistra qu’Amour est sans raison,
Un doux abus, une belle prison,
Un vain espoir qui de vent nous vient paistre.
 
Il cognoistra que l’homme se décoit
Quand plein d’erreur un aveugle il reçoit
Pour sa conduite, un enfant pour son maistre.
 
 
 
Whoever wants to see how Love is overcoming me,
How he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
How he is burning then freezing my heart,
How he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
Whoever wants to see excited youth,
Whoever wants to see an object of misfortune,
Let him come and read me: he will see my misfortune,
Of which my goddess and my god tell stories.
 
He will understand that Love is without reason
a sweet illusion, a good-looking prison,
an empty hope which tries to feed us with a breeze.
 
He will understand that man deceives himself
when utterly mistakenly he takes blind Love
as his guide, the child Cupid as his master.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amours 1: “Vow”

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The second of the two dedicatory sonnets included at the front of book 1. In the last line, Ronsard clearly imagines this poem appearing opposite the picture engraved at the front of the book, showing Cassandre (see top of my Amours 1 page.)

 

Divines Sœurs, qui sur les rives molles
De Castalie, et sur le mont Natal,
Et sur le bord du chevalin crystal
M’avez d’enfance instruit en vos escoles :
 
Si tout ravy des saults de vos caroles,
D’un pied nombreux j’ay guidé vostre bal :
Plus dur qu’en fer, qu’en cuivre et qu’en metal,
Dans vostre Temple engravez ces paroles :
 
RONSARD, AFIN QUE LE SIECLE AVENIR
DE TEMPS EN TEMPS SE PUISSE SOUVENIR
QUE SA JEUNESSE A L’AMOUR FIST HOMAGE :
 
DE LA MAIN DEXTRE APAND A VOSTRE AUTEL
L’HUMBLE PRESENT DE SON LIVRE IMMORTEL,
SON CŒUR DE L’AUTRE AUX PIEDS DE CESTE IMAGE. 
 
 
.                                                                            Divine sisters, who on the soft streams
.                                                                            Of Castalia, and on your native mount
.                                                                            And on the banks of the equine waters
                                                                           Have taught me since childhood in your school ;
 
.                                                                            If, swept away by leaping in your round-dances
                                                                           I have led your dances with many a step ;
.                                                                            [Then], stronger than in iron, in bronze or in metal
.                                                                            Engrave these words within your temple :
 
                                                                           Ronsard, so that future ages
                                                                           May from time to time recall
                                                                           That his youth paid homage to Love,
 
.                                                                            With his right hand places on your altar
.                                                                            The humble gift of his immortal book,
.                                                                            With the other his heart at the feet of this image.
 
 
 
An appeal to the Muses (and their Castalian spring), as so often in the poems in the book. We’ve already noted elsewhere that the spring is also associated with Pegasus, whose (equine) hoof stamping the ground caused it to flow. There’s also a reminiscence of Horace and his odes specifying dedications in temples. Note that, even at the start of his career, Ronsard is already sure his book will be ‘immortal’ – even while it is ‘humble’!
 
Blanchemain’s version is nearer in time to the beginning of the career, of course:
 
 
Divines Sœurs, qui sur les rives molles
Du fleuve Eurote et sur le mont natal
Et sur le bord du chevalin crystal
M’avez nourri maître de vos escoles :
 
Si mille fois en vos douces carolles,
Le guide-danse, ay conduit vostre bal :
Plus dur qu’en fer, qu’en cuivre et qu’en metal,
En vostre Temple engravez ces paroles :
 
Ronsard, afin que le siecle à venir
De père en fils se puisse souvenir
D’une beauté qui sagement affole,
 
De la main dextre append à nostre autel
L’humble discours de son livre immortel,
Son cœur de l’autre aux pieds de ceste idole.
 
 
 
.                                                                            Divine sisters, who on the soft streams
.                                                                            Of river the river Eurotas, and on your native mount
.                                                                            And on the banks of the equine waters
.                                                                            Have brought me up as a master in your lessons ;
 
.                                                                            If a thousand times in your sweet round-dances
.                                                                            I have steered your balls as leader of the dance ;
.                                                                            [Then], stronger than in iron, in bronze or in metal
.                                                                            Engrave these words in your temple :
 
.                                                                            Ronsard, so that the age to come
.                                                                            May recall from father to son
.                                                                            A beauty who wisely made men mad,
 
.                                                                            With his right hand places on our altar
.                                                                            The humble words of his immortal book,
.                                                                            With the other his heart at the feet of this idol.
 
 
 
Here the Muses are located by the river Eurotas – whose spring is in (the real, southern Greek) Arcadia. Note too that Ronsard is not just participating in, but leading, the Muses’ dances!  Devotees of Ronsard’s variants may also enjoy this version which Blanchemain footnotes, again showing the (lesser) variants from the late Marty-Laveaux version:
 
 
Divin troupeau, qui sur les rives molles
De Castalie, et sur le mont Natal,
Et sur le bord du chevalin crystal
Assis, tenez vos plus saintes escoles
 
Si quelquefois, aux sauts de vos carolles,
M’avez receu par un astre fatal :
Plus dur qu’en fer, qu’en cuivre et qu’en metal,
Dans vostre Temple engravez ces paroles :
 
RONSARD, AFIN QUE LE SIECLE AVENIR
MAUGRE LE TEMPS, SE PUISSE SOUVENIR
QUE SA JEUNESSE A L’AMOUR FIST HOMAGE :
 
DE LA MAIN DEXTRE APAND A VOSTRE AUTEL
L’HUMBLE PRESENT DE SON LIVRE IMMORTEL,
SON CŒUR DE L’AUTRE AUX PIEDS DE CESTE IMAGE. 
 
 
.                                                                            Divine company, who on the soft streams
.                                                                            Of Castalia, and on your native mount
.                                                                            And seated on the banks of the equine waters
.                                                                            Hold your most holy lessons
 
.                                                                            If sometimes in the leaps of your round-dances
.                                                                            You have accepted me by some fateful star,
.                                                                            [Then], stronger than in iron, in bronze or in metal
.                                                                            Engrave these words within your temple :
 
                                                                           Ronsard, so that future ages
                                                                           Despite time’s [passing], may recall
                                                                           That his youth paid homage to Love,
 
.                                                                            With his right hand places on your altar
.                                                                            The humble gift of his immortal book,
.                                                                            With the other his heart at the feet of this image.
 
 
 
 **EDIT**  complete Cassndre poems (Amours 1) now available as a pdf here.
 

Amours 1: “To his book”

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It would be silly to leave the 1st book of Amours without including the 2 dedicatory sonnets Ronsard included at the front of the book. The first of these is his “Sonnet to his book” (in Blanchemain’s edition headed “The Author to his Book”).

 

Va Livre, va, desboucle la barriere,
Lasche la bride, et asseure ta peur,
Ne doute point par un chemin si seur
D’un pied venteux em-poudrer la carriere :
 
Vole bien tost, j’entens desja derriere
De mes suivans l’envieuse roideur
Opiniastre à devancer l’ardeur
Qui me poussoit en ma course premiere.
 
Mais non, arreste, et demeure en ton rang,
Bien que mon cœur bouillonne d’un beau sang,
Fort de genoux, d’haleine encore bonne :
 
Livre cesson d’acquerir plus de bien,
Sans nous fascher si la belle couronne
Du Laurier serre autre front que le mien.
 
 
 
 
.                                                                            Go, my book, unlock the gate,
.                                                                            Loose the reins, calm your fears,
.                                                                            Don’t be concerned, on so safe a road,
.                                                                            To make your journey dusty with wind-like feet ;
 
.                                                                           Fly quickly, I hear already behind us
.                                                                            The envious persistence of my pursuers,
.                                                                            Eager to outstrip the ardour
.                                                                            Which urged me first on this course.
 
.                                                                            But no – stop, stay in your place,
.                                                                            Though my heart seethes and my blood is up,
.                                                                            My knees are strong, my wind still good ;
 
.                                                                            My book, let’s not gather any more honours,
.                                                                            And stop worrying whether the fair crown
.                                                                            Of laurel will press upon brows other than mine.
 
 
Typically honest, bold, proud – and at the same time disarmingly charming – Ronsard points out that he already has plenty of fame & awards: so, no need to worry whether this book will gather more, just let it go and let others judge…  (The laurel crown is of course the traditional classical prize for a victor; I was delighted to find recently that students in Italy still get a laurel crown to wear at their graduation!!)
 
Also typically, Blanchemain’s version is considerably different: Ronsard re-worked his dedicatory epistles as much as any other verse he wrote.
 
 
Va Livre, va, desboucle la carrière,
Lasche la bride, et asseure ta peur ;
En cependant que le chemin est seur,
D’un pied venteux empoudre la carriere :
 
Vole bien tost, j’entens desja derriere
De mes suivans l’envieuse roideur
Opiniastre à devancer l’ardeur
Qui m’esperonne en ma course premiere.
 
Mais non, demeure, et n’avance en ton rang,
Bien que je sois eschauffé d’un beau sang,
Fort de genoux, d’haleine encore bonne :
 
Livre cessons d’acquerir plus de bien,
Sans nous fascher si la belle couronne
De Laurier serre autre front que le mien.
 
 
.                                                                            Go, my book, off on your journey,
.                                                                            Loose the reins, calm your fears,
.                                                                            And while the road is safe,
.                                                                            Make your journey dusty with wind-like feet ;
 
.                                                                            Fly quickly, I hear already behind us
.                                                                            The envious persistence of my pursuers,
.                                                                            Eager to outstrip the ardour
.                                                                            Which spurred me first on this course.
 
.                                                                            But no – stay, don’t march forward,
.                                                                            Though I am on fire with my blood up,
.                                                                            My knees are strong, my wind still good ;
 
.                                                                            My book, let’s not gather any more honours,
.                                                                            And stop worrying whether the fair crown
.                                                                            Of laurel will press upon brows other than mine.
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Élégie à Muret (Amours 1:227c)

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Non Muret, non ce n’est pas du jourd’huy,
Que l’Archerot qui cause nostre ennuy,
Cause l’erreur qui retrompe les hommes :
Non Muret, non, les premiers nous ne sommes,
A qui son arc d’un petit trait veinqueur,
Si grande playe a caché sous le cœur :
Tous animaux, ou soient ceux des campagnes,
Soient ceux des bois, ou soient ceux des montagnes
Sentent sa force, et son feu doux-amer
Brusle sous l’eau les Monstres de la mer.
 
Hé ! qu’est-il rien que ce garçon ne brûle ?
Ce porte-ciel, ce tu’-geant Hercule
Le sentit bien : je dy ce fort Thebain
Qui le sangler estrangla de sa main,
Qui tua Nesse, et qui de sa massue
Morts abbatit les enfans de la Nue :
Qui de son arc toute Lerne estonna,
Qui des enfers le chien emprisonna,
Qui sur le bord de l’eau Thermodontee
Prit le baudrier de la vierge dontee :
Qui tua l’Ourque, et qui par plusieurs fois
Se remocqua des feintes d’Achelois :
Qui fit mourir la pucelle de Phorce,
Qui le Lion desmachoira par force,
Qui dans ses bras Anthee acravanta,
Qui deux piliers pour ses marques planta.
 
Bref, cest Herôs correcteur de la terre,
Ce cœur sans peur, ce foudre de la guerre,
Sentit ce Dieu, et l’amoureuse ardeur
Le matta plus que son Roy commandeur.
Non pas espris comme on nous voit esprendre,
Toy de ta Janne ou moy de ma Cassandre :
Mais de tel Tan amour l’aiguillonnoit,
Que tout son cœur sans raison bouiilonnoit
Au souffre ardent qui luy cuisoit les veines :
Du feu d’amour elles fumoient si pleines,
Si pleins ses os, ses muscles et ses ners,
Que dans Hercul’ qui purgea l’univers,
Ne resta rien sinon une amour fole,
Que Iuy versoient les deux beaux yeux d’Iole.
 
Tousjours d’Iole il aimoit les beaux yeux,
Fust que le char qui donne jour aux cieux
Sortist de l’eau, ou fust que devalee
Tournast sa rouë en la plaine salee,
De tous humains accoisant les travaux,
Mais non d’Hercul’ les miserables maux.
 
Tant seulement il n’avoit de sa dame
Les yeux fichez au plus profond de l’ame :
Mais son parler, sa grace, et sa douceur
Tousjours colez s’attachoient à son cœur.
 
D’autre que d’elle en son ame ne pense :
Tousjours absente il la voit en presence.
Et de fortune, Alcid’, si tu la vois,
Dans ton gosier begue reste ta voix,
Glacé de peur voyant la face aimee :
Ore une fiévre amoureuse allumee
Ronge ton ame, et ores un glaçon
Te fait trembler d’amoureuse frisson.
 
Bas à tes pieds ta meurdriere massue
Gist sans honneur, et bas la peau velue,
Qui sur ton doz roide se herissoit,
Quand ta grand’main les Monstres punissoit.
 
Plus ton sourcil contre eux ne se renfrongne :
O vertu vaine, ô bastarde vergongne,
O vilain blasme, Hercule estant donté
(Apres avoir le monde surmonté)
Non d’Eurysthée, ou de Junon cruelle,
Mais de la main d’une simple pucelle.
 
Voyez pour Dieu, quelle force a l’Amour,
Quand une fois elle a gaigné la tour
De la raison, ne nous laissant partie
Qui ne soit toute en fureur convertie.
 
Ce n’est pas tout : seulement pour aimer,
Il n’oublia la façon de s’armer,
Ou d’empoigner sa masse hazardeuse,
Ou d’achever quelque emprinse douteuse :
Mais lent et vain anonchalant son cœur,
Qui des Tyrans l’avoit rendu veinqueur,
Terreur du monde (ô plus lasche diffame)
Il s’habilla des habits d’une femme,
Et d’un Heros devenu damoiseau,
Guidoit l’esguille, et tournoit le fuseau,
Et vers le soir, comme une chambriere,
Rendoit sa tasche à sa douce joliere,
Qui le tenoit en ses fers plus serré
Qu’un prisonnier dans les ceps enferré.
 
Grande Junon, tu es assez vengee
De voir sa vie en paresse changee,
De voir ainsi devenu filandier
Ce grand Alcid’ des Monstres le meurdrier,
Sans adjouster à ton ire indomtee
Les mandemens de son frere Eurysthee.
 
Que veux-tu plus ? Iôle le contraint
D’estre une femme : il la doute, il la craint.
Il craint ses mains plus qu’un valet esclave
Ne craint les coups de quelque maistre brave.
 
Et ce-pendant qu’il ne fait que penser
A s’atiffer, à s’oindre, à s’agencer,
A dorloter sa barbe bien rongnee,
A mignoter sa teste bien pignée,
Impuniment les Monstres ont loisir
D’assujettir la terre à leur plaisir,
Sans plus cuider qu’Hercule soit au monde :
Aussi n’est-il : car la poison profonde,
Qui dans son cœur s’alloit trop derivant,
L’avoit tué dedans un corps vivant.
 
Nous doncq, Muret, à qui la mesme rage
Peu cautement affole le courage,
S’il est possible, evitons le lien
Que nous ourdist l’enfant Cytherien :
Et rabaisson la chair qui nous domine,
Dessous le joug de la raison divine,
Raison qui deust au vray bien nous guider,
Et de nos sens maistresse presider.
 
Mais si l’amour de son traict indomtable
A desja fait nostre playe incurable,
Tant que le mal peu subject au conseil
De la raison desdaigne l’appareil,
Vaincuz par luy, faisons place à l’envie,
Et sur Alcid’ desguisons nostre vie :
En ce-pendant que les rides ne font
Cresper encor l’aire de nostre front,
Et que la neige en vieillesse venue
Encor ne fait nostre teste chenue,
Qu’un jour ne coule entre nous pour neant
Sans suivre Amour : il n’est pas mal-seant,
Mais grand honneur au simple populaire,
Des grands seigneurs imiter l’exemplaire.
No Muret, no : it is not in our days
That the little Archer who causes our pain
Has created the delusion which still fools men ;
No Muret, no : we are not the first
In whom his bow with its little conquering dart
Has concealed so great a wound beneath the heart :
All creatures, whether those of the fields
Or of the woods, or of the mountains
Feel his power, and his bitter-sweet fire
Burns the monsters of the sea below the waters.
 
Ah, is there none this child does not burn ?
Hercules, sky-bearer and giant-slayer,
Felt him strongly ; I tell you, that strong Theban
Who strangled the boar with his hands,
Who killed Nessus, and with his club
Struck dead the children of the Cloud;
Who with his bow amazed all of Lerna,
Who imprisoned the dog from Hell,
Who on the banks of the Thermodontian waters
Seized the belt of the defeated maiden ;
Who killed the sea-monster, and time and again
Mockingly overcame the tricks of Achelous;
Who put to death the maid of Phorcis,
Who ripped the jaws off the Lion with his strength,
Who crushed in his arms Antaeus,
Who planted two pillars as his mark.
 
In short, this hero, amender of the world,
This heart without fear, this thunderclap of war,
Felt that God, and love’s passion
Flattened him more than his King and commander.
Not in love as people see we are,
You with your Janne and me with my Cassandre,
Rather Love pricked him with such a blow
That his whole heart boiled, his reason failed,
At the ardent suffering which burned his veins ;
They steamed, so full of the fire of love,
His bones, muscles and nerves so full too
That in Hercules, who had cleaned up the world,
Remained nothing but the crazed love
Which the two fair eyes of Iole had poured into him.
 
Still he loved the fair eyes of Iole
Whether the chariot which gives day to the heavens
Left the seas, or whether rushing down
It turned its wheels back to the salty plain
Giving rest to the labours of all men
But not to the wretched troubles of Hercules.
 
He did not have only his lady’s
Gaze fixed in the deeps of his soul;
But her speech, her grace, her sweetness
Were always attached, stuck to his heart.
 
He thought of no other than her in his soul;
Always when she was away he saw her present.
And if you saw her by chance, Alcides,
Your voice remained dumb in your throat
Frozen with fear at seeing the beloved face;
Now love’s fever, aflame,
Clawed your soul; and now an icicle
Made you tremble with a shiver of love.
 
Down at your feet your murderous club
Stands without honour, and the shaggy skin
Which bristled stiffly on your back
When your mighty hand punished monsters.
 
Your brow no longer frowns upon them:
O empty virtue, o impure shame,
O sordid blame, Hercules being overcome
(After overcoming the world)
Not by Eurystheus or cruel Juno,
But by the hand of just a maiden.
 
See, by heaven, what power Love has
When she has once won the tower
Of reason, not leaving us any part
Which cannot be changed entirely into madness.
 
That’s not all: simply from love
He did not forget how to arm himself
Or to grip his dangerous club in his fist
Or to achieve some uncertain task;
But slowly and vainly making listless his heart
Which had made him conqueror of tyrants,
The terror of the world – so unmanly a tale –
Dressed himself in the garments of a woman
And, from hero become a maid,
Plied his needle and twisted the spindle
And towards evening, like a chambermaid,
Handed his work to his pretty jailer
Who held him tighter in her chains
Than a prisoner chained in the stocks.
 
Great Juno, you have taken revenge enough
In seeing his life changed to laziness,
In seeing thus the great Alcides
Become weaver, after being murderer of monsters,
Without adding on to your unconquered anger
The commands of his brother Eurystheus.
 
What more do you want? Iole forced him
To be a woman; he doubted her, he feared her,
He feared her hands more than a slave-servant
Fears the blows of his good master.
 
And while he thought of nothing but
Dressing up, anointing and arranging himself,
Of pampering his nicely-trimmed beard,
Of cosseting his well-oiled hair,
Those monsters had leisure with immunity
To subject the earth at their pleasure,
No longer believing that Hercules was alive;
Nor was he, for the deep poison
Which coursed in his heart, overflowing,
Had killed him though his body still lived.
 
So we, Muret, in whom the same madness
So casually makes courage foolish,
If possible let us avoid the bonds
Which the child of Cythera prepares for us:
And let’s put the flesh which masters us
Beneath the yoke of divine reason,
Reason which ought indeed to guide us
And rule as mistress of our senses.
 
But love with his unbeatable wound
Has already made our wound incurable,
Since the illness, hardly subject to Reason’s
Counsel, scorns the medicine:
So, conquered by him, let’s make room for desire
And on Alcides’ example model our lives:
As long as wrinkles no longer make
Our brows look furrowed,
And the snow which comes with age
Has not yet made hoary our hair,
Let’s aim that no day should pass for nothing
Without following love: it is not improper
But a great honour for us simple folk
To copy the example of great lords.
 
Ronsard rounds off his first book with poems to several friends; the last of them I’ve got to, but not the last int he book, is this one to Marc-Antoine Muret. It is of course Muret who provided the first commentary on book 1 – he is quite restrained in his comments about this poem’s dedication! Despite its learned references (below), this is a true ode to love in keeping with the book it rounds off. And as usual Ronsard is careful to be consistent : here it is Cupid, the ‘child of the Cytherian’ Venus, who is the villain both at the beginning and at the end of the poem.
 
Ronsard appeals to classical exempla, as so often: in this case, he focuses on Hercules, the hero whose great deeds are complemented, if not overshadowed, by the furious moments of madness associated with his various loves. First come the heroic deeds:
 – Hercules is introduced as “sky-bearer and giant-slayer” (both references return later): among his 12 Labours, he had to retrieve the Golden aApples of the Hesperides, which he did by holding up the sky while Atlas fetched the apples (see also the ‘variant’ Blanchemain prints further down the poem in the earlier version below); he also killed the three-headed Geryon in order to bring back his cattle, but I think ‘giant-slayer’ refers instead to his defeat of Antaeus, who was undefeatable so long as he was in contact with the earth and whom Hercules therefore had to lift off the ground to beat;
 – then we have a number of the other Labours:  the Erymanthean boar, the ‘children of the cloud’ which I assume to mean the Stymphalian birds, the Lernaean Hydra, the three-headed hell-dog Cerberus, the magical belt of Hippolyta (queen of the Amazons, who were supposed to live by the river Terme – the ‘Thermodontian waters’), the ‘maid of Phorcis’ (apparently a reference to the dragon guarding the golden apples of the Hesperides, Ladon, which was Phorcys’s child but which is usually male), and the Nemean lion;
 – intermixed with this list are Nessus the centaur, killed by Hercules after he stole away Deianeira, Hercules’ wife; the sea-monster which was threatening Hesione, the daughter of Laomedon of Troy (Laomedon had persuaded Apollo and Poseidon to build Troy’s walls, but then refused their reward; Poseidon sent the sea-monster to take revenge; Hercules later abducted Hesione when Laomedon also refused him his promised reward!); Achelous, whom Hercules defeated to claim Deianeira as his wife; and last Antaeus again, and the Pillars of Hercules.

 

Then we move on to the lover’s madness: Ronsard focuses on his love for Iole (though, as we have seen, he had other wives too!), which was more powerful than the commands of King Eurystheus (the ‘king and commander’ for whom Hercules undertook the Labours, and also his cousin – not ‘brother’ as Ronsard terms him). Juno appears, because in her jealousy she had driven Hercules (or ‘Alcides’) mad so that he killed his earlier wife Megara: it was to atone for this that he was tasked with the Twelve Labours. Ronsard however melds the story of Iole with that of Omphale, for it was her he served (as yet another penance) dressed as woman, while she wore his lion-skin.
 
 
========
 
As usual the earlier version, printed by Blanchemain, has plenty of minor variants; but there’s nothing substantial. So, as usual, the best way to show them is to re-print the full text, rather than scatter dozens of line references here. They are mostly ‘corrections’ for euphony – e.g. in the 3rd stanza where “ce heros” is replaced by “cest heros” (which runs on more easily) – though “Sentit ce dieu” (in place of “Sentit Amour” – removing the ‘t’ sound) raplces it with a rather insistent ‘s’ repetition instead.

 

Non Muret, non ce n’est pas du jourd’huy,
Que l’Archerot qui cause nostre ennuy,
Cause l’erreur qui retrompe les hommes :
Non Muret, non, les premiers nous ne sommes,
A qui son arc d’un petit trait veinqueur,
Si grande playe a caché sous le cœur :
Tous animaux, ou soient ceux des campagnes,
Soient ceux des bois, ou soient ceux des montagnes
Sentent sa force, et son feu doux-amer
Brusle sous l’eau les Monstres de la mer.
 
Hé ! qu’est-il rien que ce garçon ne brûle ?
Ce porte-ciel, ce tu’-geant Hercule
Le sentit bien : je dy ce fort Thebain
Qui le sanglier estrangla de sa main,
Qui tua Nesse, et qui de sa massue
Morts abbatit les enfans de la Nue :
Qui de son arc toute Lerne estonna,
Qui des enfers le chien emprisonna,
Qui sur le bord de l’eau Thermodontee
Print le baudrier de la vierge dontee :
Qui tua l’Ourque, et qui par plusieurs fois
Se remocqua des feintes d’Achelois :
Qui fit mourir la pucelle de Phorce,
Qui le Lion desmachoira par force,
Qui dans ses bras Anthee acravanta,
Et qui deux mons pour ses marques planta.
 
Bref, ce héros correcteur de la terre,
Ce cœur sans peur, ce foudre de la guerre,
Sentit Amour, et l’amoureuse ardeur
Le matta plus que son Roy commandeur.
Non pas espris comme on nous voit esprendre,
Toy de ta Janne ou moy de ma Cassandre :
Mais de tel Tan amour l’aiguillonnoit,
Que tout son cœur sans raison bouiilonnoit
Au souffre ardent qui luy cuisoit les veines :
Du feu d’amour elles fumoient si pleines,
Si pleins ses os, ses muscles et ses ners,
Que dans Hercul’ qui dompta l’univers,
Ne resta rien sinon une amour fole,
Que Iuy versoient les deux beaux yeux d’Iole.
 
Tousjours d’Iole il aimoit les beaux yeux,
Fust que le char qui donne jour aux cieux
Sortist de l’eau, ou fust que devalee
Tournast sa rouë en la plaine salee,
De tous humains accoisant les travaux,
Mais non d’Hercul’ les miserables maux.
 
Tant seulement il n’avoit de sa dame
Les yeux fichez au plus profond de l’ame :
Mais son parler, sa grace, et sa douceur
Tousjours colez s’attachoient à son cœur.
 
D’autre que d’elle en son cœur il ne pense :
Tousjours absente il la voit en presence.
Et de fortune, Alcid’, si tu la vois,
Dans ton gosier begue reste ta voix,
Glacé de peur voyant la face aimee :
Ore une fiévre ardamment allumee
Ronge ton ame, et ores un glaçon
Te fait trembler d’amoureuse frisson.
 
Bas à tes pieds ta meurdriere massue
Gist sans honneur, et bas la peau velue,
Qui sur ton doz roide se herissoit,
Quand ta grand’main les Monstres punissoit.
 
Plus ton sourcil contre eux ne se renfrongne :
O vertu vaine, ô honteuse vergongne,
O deshonneur, Hercule estant donté
(Apres avoir le monde surmonté)
    [var :
     Après avoir le ciel courbe porté.]
Non d’Eurysthée, ou de Junon cruelle,
Mais de la main d’une simple pucelle.
 
Voyez pour Dieu, quelle force a l’Amour,
Quand une fois elle a gaigné la tour
De la raison, ne nous laissant partie
Qui ne soit toute en fureur convertie.
 
Ce n’est pas tout : seulement pour aimer,
Il n’oublia la façon de s’armer,
Ou d’empoigner sa masse hazardeuse,
Ou d’achever quelque emprise douteuse :
Mais lent et vain abatardant son cœur,
Et son esprit, qui l’avoit fait vainqueur
De tout le monde (ô plus lasche diffame)
Il s’habilla des habits d’une femme,
Et d’un Heros devenu damoiseau,
Guidoit l’aiguille ou tournoit le fuseau,
Et vers le soir, comme une chambriere,
Rendoit sa tasche à sa douce geolière,
Qui le tenoit en ses lacs plus serré
Qu’un prisonnier dans les ceps enferré.
 
Vraiment, Junon, tu es assez vengee
De voir ainsi sa vie estre changée,
De voir ainsi devenu filandier
Ce grand Alcid’ des Monstres le meurdrier,
Sans adjouster à ton ire indomtee
Les mandemens de son frere Eurysthee.
 
Que veux-tu plus ? Iôle le contraint
D’estre une femme : il la doute, il la craint.
Il craint ses mains plus qu’un valet esclave
Ne craint les coups de quelque maistre brave.
 
Et ce-pendant qu’il ne fait que penser
A s’atiffer, à s’oindre, à s’agencer,
A dorloter sa barbe bien rongnee,
A mignoter sa teste bien pignee,
Impuniment les Monstres ont plaisir
D’assujettir la terre à leur loisir,
Sans plus cuider qu’Hercule soit au monde :
Aussi n’est-il : car la poison profonde,
Qui dans son cœur s’alloit trop derivant,
L’avoit tué dedans un corps vivant.
 
Nous doncq, Muret, à qui la mesme rage
Peu cautement affole le courage,
S’il est possible, evitons le lien
Que nous ourdist l’enfant Cytherien :
Et rabaisson la chair qui nous domine,
Dessous le joug de la raison divine,
Raison qui deust au vray bien nous guider,
Et de nos sens maistresse presider.
 
Mais si l’Amour, las ! las ! trop misérable !
A desja fait nostre playe incurable,
Tant que le mal peu subject au conseil
De la raison desdaigne l’appareil,
Vaincuz par luy, faisons place à l’envie,
Et sur Alcid’ desguisons nostre vie :
En ce-pendant que les rides ne font
Cresper encor le champ de nostre front,
Et que la neige avant l’age venue
Ne fait encor nostre teste chenue,
Qu’un jour ne coule entre nous pour neant
Sans suivre Amour : car il n’est mal-seant,
Pour quelquefois, au simple populaire,
Des grands seigneurs imiter l’exemplaire.
No Muret, no : it is not in our days
That the little Archer who causes our pain
Has created the delusion which still fools men ;
No Muret, no : we are not the first
In whom his bow with its little conquering dart
Has concealed so great a wound beneath the heart :
All creatures, whether those of the fields
Or of the woods, or of the mountains
Feel his power, and his bitter-sweet fire
Burns the monsters of the sea below the waters.
 
Ah, is there none this child does not burn ?
Hercules, sky-bearer and giant-slayer,
Felt him strongly ; I tell you, that strong Theban
Who strangled the boar with his hands,
Who killed Nessus, and with his club
Struck dead the children of the Cloud;
Who with his bow amazed all of Lerna,
Who imprisoned the dog from Hell,
Who on the banks of the Thermodontian waters
Seized the belt of the defeated maiden ;
Who killed the sea-monster, and time and again
Mockingly overcame the tricks of Achelous;
Who put to death the maid of Phorcis,
Who ripped the jaws off the Lion with his strength,
Who crushed in his arms Antaeus,
And who planted two mounds as his mark.
 
In short, this hero, amender of the world,
This heart without fear, this thunderclap of war,
Felt Love, and love’s passion
Flattened him more than his King and commander.
Not in love as people see we are,
You with your Janne and me with my Cassandre,
Rather Love pricked him with such a blow
That his whole heart boiled, his reason failed,
At the ardent suffering which burned his veins ;
They steamed, so full of the fire of love,
His bones, muscles and nerves so full too
That in Hercules, who conquered everything,
Remained nothing but the crazed love
Which the two fair eyes of Iole had poured into him.
 
Still he loved the fair eyes of Iole
Whether the chariot which gives day to the heavens
Left the seas, or whether rushing down
It turned its wheels back to the salty plain
Giving rest to the labours of all men
But not to the wretched troubles of Hercules.
 
He did not have only his lady’s
Gaze fixed in the deeps of his soul;
But her speech, her grace, her sweetness
Were always attached, stuck to his heart.
 
He thought of no other than her in his heart;
Always when she was away he saw her present.
And if you saw her by chance, Alcides,
Your voice remained dumb in your throat
Frozen with fear at seeing the beloved face;
Now a fever, fiercely flaming,
Clawed your soul; and now an icicle
Made you tremble with a shiver of love.
 
Down at your feet your murderous club
Stands without honour, and the shaggy skin
Which bristled stiffly on your back
When your mighty hand punished monsters.
 
Your brow no longer frowns upon them:
O empty virtue, o shameful immodesty,
O dishonour, Hercules being overcome
(After overcoming the world)
    [var:
      After bearing the curved skies]
Not by Eurystheus or cruel Juno,
But by the hand of just a maiden.
 
See, by heaven, what power Love has
When she has once won the tower
Of reason, not leaving us any part
Which cannot be changed entirely into madness.
 
That’s not all: simply from love
He did not forget how to arm himself
Or to grip his dangerous club in his fist
Or to achieve some uncertain task;
But slowly and vainly bastardising his heart
And spirit, which had made him a conqueror
Of all the world – so unmanly a tale –
Dressed himself in the garments of a woman
And, from hero become a maid,
Plied his needle or twisted the spindle
And towards evening, like a chambermaid,
Handed his work to his pretty jailer
Who held him tighter in her snares
Than a prisoner chained in the stocks.
 
Truly, Juno, you have taken revenge enough
In seeing his life so changed,
In seeing thus the great Alcides
Become weaver, after being murderer of monsters,
Without adding on to your unconquered anger
The commands of his brother Eurystheus.
 
What more do you want? Iole forced him
To be a woman; he doubted her, he feared her,
He feared her hands more than a slave-servant
Fears the blows of his good master.
 
And while he thought of nothing but
Dressing up, anointing and arranging himself,
Of pampering his nicely-trimmed beard,
Of cosseting his well-oiled hair,
Those monsters had pleasure with immunity
To subject the earth at their leisure,
No longer believing that Hercules was alive;
Nor was he, for the deep poison
Which coursed in his heart, overflowing,
Had killed him though his body still lived.
 
So we, Muret, in whom the same madness
So casually makes courage foolish,
If possible let us avoid the bonds
Which the child of Cythera prepares for us:
And let’s put the flesh which masters us
Beneath the yoke of divine reason,
Reason which ought indeed to guide us
And rule as mistress of our senses.
 
But love – alas, alas, how wretched! –
Has already made our wound incurable,
Since the illness, hardly subject to Reason’s
Counsel, scorns the medicine:
So, conquered by him, let’s make room for desire
And on Alcides’ example model our lives:
As long as wrinkles no longer make
The plains of our forehea furrowed,
And the snow arriving before its time
Has not yet made hoary our hair,
Let’s aim that no day should pass for nothing
Without following love: for it is not improper
For us simple folk sometimes
To copy the example of great lords.
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.229

Standard
J‘alloy roulant ces larmes de mes yeux,
Or’ plein de doute ore plein d’esperance,
Lors que Henry loing des bornes de France
Vengeoit l’honneur de ses premiers ayeux :
 
Lors qu’il trenchoit d’un bras victorieux
Au bord du Rhin l’Espagnole vaillance,
Ja se traçant de l’aigu de sa lance
Un beau sentier pour s’en aller aux cieux.
 
Vous sainct troupeau, mon soustien et ma gloire,
Dont le beau vol m’a l’esprit enlevé,
Si autrefois m’avez permis de boire
 
Les eaux qui ont Hesiode abreuvé,
Soit pour jamais ce souspir engravé
Au plus sainct lieu du temple de Memoire.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            I have been continually pouring these tears from my eyes,
                                                                            Now full of doubt, now of hope,
                                                                            While Henri, far from the bounds of France,
                                                                            Has avenged the honour of his first ancestors ;
 
                                                                            While he has broken with his victorious arm
                                                                            Spain’s valour, on the banks of the Rhine,
                                                                            Marking out with the point of his lance
                                                                            A fair path to raise himself to the heavens.
 
                                                                            Oh holy troop, my support and my glory,
                                                                            Whose lovely flight has lifted my spirits,
                                                                            If previously you have allowed me to drink
 
                                                                            The waters which generously you gave Hesiod,
                                                                            May this my plaint be for ever engraved
                                                                            In the holiest place in Memory’s temple. 
 
 
Simplicity, as Ronsard closes his first book of sonnets. And also a glance at the ‘real world’ around him: for this was not a time of peace and love in European politics! The Italian wars were a major feature of Henri II’s reign, all the way through the 1550s, and early victories led ultimately to the embarrassing Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis… The Spanish on the Rhine are, incidentally, the Habsburgs – for that family controlled Austro-Germanic Europe as well as Iberian Europe.
 
So, Ronsard acknowledges that love poetry may not seem the right thing at this time, while gently swinging the balance back towards the pre-eminence of poetry at the end. (Hesiod claimed inspiration from drinking at the fountain of the ‘holy troop’ of Muses on Mt Helicon.)
 
Blanchemain’s version shows considerable variation in the sestet: the opening octet was not changed.
 
 
Vous sainct troupeau qui desus Pinde errez,
Et qui de grâce ouvrez et desserrez
Vos doctes eaux à ceux qui les vont boire
 
Si quelquefois vous m’avez abreuvé,
Soit pour jamais ce souspir engravé
Au plus sainct lieu du temple de Memoire
 
 
                                                                                        Oh holy troop who wander upon Pindus
                                                                                       And who by grace open and release
                                                                                       Your learned waters to those who come to drink them,
 
                                                                                       If sometimes you have given me to drink
                                                                                       May this my plaint be for ever engraved
                                                                                       In the holiest place in Memory’s temple.
 
 
 
  Note how in this earlier version Ronsard does not refer back to Hesiod, but simply offers his own name as proof enough of the Muses’ generosity! There remains one other variant of the later version at the top of the page: in line 12, where yet another great poet enters: “L’eau dont amour a Petrarque abreuvé…” (‘The waters which love generously gave to Petrarch…’)