Category Archives: Dernier Vers

To his soul (Dernier vers)

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Amelette Ronsardelette,
Mignonnelette doucelette,
Treschere hostesse de mon corps,
Tu descens là bas foiblelette,
Pasle, maigrelette, seulette,
Dans le froid Royaume des mors :
Toutesfois simple, sans remors
De meurtre, poison, ou rancune,
Mesprisant faveurs et tresors
Tant enviez par la commune.
 
Passant, j’ay dit, suy ta fortune
Ne trouble mon repos, je dors.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Little soul of little Ronsard
                                                                            Darling and sweet,
                                                                            Dearest guest within my body
                                                                            You are going down below weak,
                                                                            Pale, small, thin and lonely,
                                                                            Into the cold kingdom of the dead:
                                                                            And yet modest, not remorseful
                                                                            For murder, poison or malice,
                                                                            Despising favours and treasures
                                                                            So envied by the common herd.
 
                                                                            Traveller, I have spoken: follow your fortune,
                                                                            Trouble not my rest, I sleep.
 
 
 
His very last poem – at least, the last poem in the Dernier Vers, placed at the end of his collected works; though these days followed by a mountain of pieces he’d cut from earlier editions, not published, published but not collected…! Are the last two lines an address to his soul, or to a passing traveller (like an inscription for his tomb)? It’s ambiguous: read it both ways.
 
 
 
 
 

Dernier vers, sonnet 4

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Ah longues nuicts d’hyver, de ma vie bourrelles,
Donnez moy patience, et me laissez dormir,
Vostre nom seulement et suer et fremir
Me fait par tout le corps, tant vous m’estes cruelles. 
 
Le sommeil tant soit peu n’esvente de ses ailes
Mes yeux tousjours ouvers, et ne puis affermir
Paupiere sur paupiere, et ne fais que gemir,
Souffrant comme Ixion des peines eternelles. 
 
Vielle umbre de la terre, ainçois l’umbre d’enfer,
Tu m’as ouvert les yeux d’une chaisne de fer,
Me consumant au lict, navré de mille pointes: 
 
Pour chasser mes douleurs ameine moy la mort.
Ha mort, le port commun, des hommes le confort,
Viens enterrer mes maux, je t’en prie à mains jointes.

 
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Oh the long nights of winter, executioners of my life!
                                                                           Give me patience and let me sleep;
                                                                           Your name alone makes my whole body
                                                                           Sweat and shiver, so cruel are you to me.
 
                                                                           Sleep, little as it is, cannot make my eyes
                                                                           Droop with his wings; they are always open, and I cannot close
                                                                           Eyelid on eyelid, can do nothing but groan,
                                                                           Suffering, like Ixion, eternal torments.
 
                                                                           Old ghost of the earth, and likewise ghost of hell,
                                                                           You have kept my eyes open with a fiery chain
                                                                           Wearing me out in my bed, deeply wounded by a thousand pricks:
 
                                                                           To chase away my pains, bring me death –
                                                                           Ah, death, the haven for us all, the comfort of men,
                                                                           Come and bury my ills, I beg you with clasped hands.
 
 
 

With the depths of winter upon us, perhaps we can all identify with at least the first two-thirds of the poem! Unsurprisingly, there are no later revisions by the poet…

 
 
 

Dernier vers: Ronsard’s epitaph

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When I started posting poems, I liked the idea of a blog because I could post in any order, and use the tabs at the top to organise the poems into sets. It’s about time I got back to that ideal of posting random poems I like, and then worrying about the gaps later. So here’s the first of a series of random poems!

How about starting with Ronsard’s epitaph for himself. This comes from the collection published as Ronsard’s ‘last verses’.  Note: I am not claiming that ‘Ronsard rests here’ on this blog 🙂

 
 
Ronsard repose icy qui hardy dés enfance
Détourna d’Helicon les Muses en la France,
Suivant le son du Luth et les traits d’Apollon :
Mais peu valut sa Muse encontre l’eguillon
De la mort, qui cruelle en ce tombeau l’enserre,
Son ame soit à Dieu, son corps soit à la terre.
 
 
                                                                                             Ronsard lies here, who, bold from childhood
                                                                                             Turned the Muses aside from Helicon and towards France,
                                                                                             Following the sound of the lute and Apollo’s darts:
                                                                                             But little worth was his muse against the prick
                                                                                             Of death, who cruelly sealed him in this tomb:
                                                                                             May his soul belong to God, his body to the earth.