Category Archives: Elegy

Poems which Ronsard labelled as ‘Elegies’

Amours book 2 – Elégie à son livre (again)

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Blanchemain’s early version of the lengthy elegy Ronsard places at the beginning of book 2.

Mon fils, si tu sçavois ce qu’on dira de toy,
Tu ne voudrois jamais déloger de chez moy,
Enclos en mon estude, et ne voudrois te faire
User ny fueilleter aux mains du populaire.
Quand tu seras party sans jamais retourner,
Il te faudra bien loin de mes yeux sejourner :
« Car, ainsi que le vent sans retourner s’envole,
« Sans espoir de retour s’eschappe la parole.
 
Ma parole, c’est toi, à qui de nuict et jour
J’ay conté les propos que m’a tenus Amour,
Pour les mettre en ces vers qu’en lumiere tu portes,
Crochetant maugré moy de ma chambre les portes,
Pauvret! qui ne sçais pas que les petits enfans
De la France ont le nez plus subtil qu’elephans.
 
Donc, avant que tenter le hazard du naufrage,
Voy du port la tempeste et demeure au rivage :
On se repend trop tard quand on est embarqué.
 
Tu seras assez tôt des médisans moqué
D’yeux, et de hausse-becs, et d’un branler de teste.
« Sage est celuy qui croit à qui bien l’admoneste.
 
Tu sçais (mon cher enfant) que je ne te voudrois
Ni tromper, ni moquer. Grandement je faudrois,
Et serois engendré d’une ingrate nature,
Si je voulois trahir ma propre geniture :
Car tel que je te voy n’agueres je te fis,
Et je ne t’aime moins qu’un pere aime son fils.
 
Quoy ! tu veux donc partir ; et tant plus je te cuide
Retenir au logis, plus tu hausses la bride.
Va donc, puis qu’il te plaist ; mais je te suppliray
De respondre à chacun ce que je te diray,
Afin que toi (mon fils) gardes bien en l’absence
De moy, le pere tien, l’honneur et l’innocence.
 
Si quelque dame honneste et gentille de cœur
(Qui aura l’inconstance et le change en horreur)
Me vient en te lisant d’un gros sourcil reprendre
Dequoy je ne devois abandonner Cassandre,
Qui la premiere au cœur le trait d’Amour me mit,
Et que le bon Petrarque un tel peché ne fit,
Qui fut trente et un an amoureux de sa dame,
Sans qu’une autre jamais luy peust eschauffer l’ame,
Respons-luy, je te pri’, que Petrarque sur moy
N’avoit authorité de me donner sa loy,
Ny à ceux qui viendroyent apres luy, pour les faire
Si long temps enchainez sans leur lien desfaire.
 
Luy-mesme ne fut tel : car, à voir son escrit,
Il estoit éveillé d’un trop gentil esprit
Pour estre sot trente ans, abusant sa jeunesse
Et sa Muse au giron d’une vieille maistresse ;
Ou bien il jouyssoit de sa Laurette, ou bien
Il estoit un grand fat d’aimer sans avoir rien ;
Ce que je ne puis croire, aussi n’est-il croyable.
Non, il en jouyssoit ; puis la fit admirable,
« Chaste, divine, saincte : aussi tout amant doit
« Louer celle de qui jouyssance il reçoit :
« Car celuy qui la blasme aprés la jouyssance
« N’est homme, mais d’un tigre il a prins sa naissance.
 
Quand quelque jeune fille est au commencement
Cruelle, dure, fiere, à son premier amant,
He bien ! il faut attendre : il peut estre qu’une heure
Viendra, sans y penser, qui la rendra meilleure.
Mais, quand elle devient, sans se changer un jour,
Plus dure et plus rebelle et plus rude en amour,
Il s’en faut esloigner, sans se rompre la teste
De vouloir adoucir une si sotte beste.
Je suis de tel advis ; me blasme de ceci,
M’estime qui voudra ; mais la chose est ainsi.
 
Les femmes bien souvent sont cause que nous sommes
Inconstants et legers, amadouans les hommes
D’un espoir enchanteur, les tenants quelquefois,
Par une douce ruse, un an, ou deux, ou trois,
Dans les liens d’amour, sans aucune allegeance ;
Cependant un valet en aura jouyssance,
Ou bien quelque mignon dont on ne se dout’ra
Sa faux en la moisson secretement mettra.
Et si ne laisseront, je parle des rusées
Qui ont au train d’amour leurs jeunesses usées,
(C’est bien le plus grand mal qu’un homme puisse avoir
Que servir une femme accorte à decevoir)
D’enjoindre des labeurs qui sont insupportables,
Des services cruels, des tasches miserables :
Car, sans avoir esgard à la simple amitié,
Aux prieres, aux cœurs, cruelles, n’ont pitié,
De leurs pauvres servans, tant elles font les braves,
Qu’un Turc n’a de pitié de ses valets esclaves.
Il faut vendre son bien, il faut faire presens
De chaines, de carquans, de diamans luysans ;
Il faut donner la perle et l’habit magnifique,
Il faut entretenir la table et la musique,
Il faut prendre querelle, il faut les suporter.
Certes, j’aimeroy mieux dessus le dos porter
La hotte pour curer les estables d’Augée
Que me voir serviteur d’une dame rusée.
« La mer est bien à craindre, aussi est bien le feu,
« Et le ciel quand il est de tonnerres esmeu.
« Mais trop plus est à craindre une femme clergesse,
« Sçavante en l’art d’amour, quand elle est tromperesse :
« Par mille inventions mille maux elle fait,
« Et d’autant qu’elle est femme, et d’autant qu’elle sçait.
Quiconque fut le Dieu qui la mit en lumiere
Il fut premier auteur d’une grande misere.
 
Il falloit par presens consacrez aux autels
Acheter nos enfans des grands dieux immortels,
Et non user sa vie avec ce mal aimable,
Les femmes, passion de l’homme miserable,
Miserable et chetif, d’autant qu’il est vassal,
Vingt ou trente ans qu’il vit, d’un si fier animal.
Mais, je vous pri’, voyez comme par fines ruses
Elles sçavent trouver mille feintes excuses,
Apres qu’ell’ ont failly. Voyez Helene après
Qu’Ilion fut bruslé de la flamme des Grecs,
Comme elle amadoua d’une douce blandice
Son badin de mary, qui pardonna son vice,
Et qui plus que devant de ses yeux fut épris,
Qui scintilloient encor les amours de Pâris.
 
Ulyss’, qui fut si caut, bien qu’il sceut qu’une trope
De jeunes poursuyvans baisassent Penelope,
Devorant tout son bien, si est-ce qu’il brusloit
D’embrasser son espouse, et jamais ne vouloit
Devenir immortel avec Circe la belle,
Pour ne revoir jamais Penelope, laquelle,
Pleurant, luy rescrivoit de son fascheux sejour,
Pendant que, luy absent, elle faisoit l’amour ;
Si bien que le dieu Pan de ses jeux print naissance
(D’elle et de ses muguets la commune semence),
Envoyant tout exprès, pour sa commodité,
Le fils chercher le père en Sparte la cité.
« Voilà comment la femme avec ses ruses donte
« L’homme, de qui l’esprit toute beste surmonte.
 
Quand un jeune homme peut heureusement choisir
Une belle maistresse eslue à son plaisir,
Soit de haut ou bas lieu, pourveu qu’elle soit fille
Humble, courtoise, honneste, amoureuse et gentille,
Sans fard, sans tromperie, et qui sans mauvaistié
Garde de tout son cœur une simple amitié,
Aimant trop mieux cent fois à la mort estre mise
Que de rompre sa foy quand elle l’a promise,
Il la faut bien aimer tant qu’on sera vivant,
Comme un rare joyau qu’on trouve peu souvent.
« Celuy certainement merite sur la teste
« Le feu le plus ardent d’une horrible tempeste,
« Qui trompe une pucelle, et mesmement alors
« Qu’elle se donne à nous et de cœur et de corps. »
 
N’est-ce pas un grand bien, quand on fait un voyage,
De rencontrer quelqu’un qui d’un pareil courage
Veut nous accompagner et comme nous passer
Les chemins, tant soient-ils fascheux à traverser ?
Aussi n’est-ce un grand bien de trouver une amie
Qui nous ayde à passer ceste chetive vie,
Qui, sans estre fardée ou pleine de rigueur,
Traitte fidelement de son amy le cœur ?
 
Dy-leur, si de fortune une belle Cassandre
Vers moy se fust monstrée un peu courtoise et tendre,
Un peu douce et traitable, et soigneuse à guerir
Le mal dont ses beaux yeux dix ans m’ont fait mourir,
Non seulement du corps, mais sans plus, d’une œillade
Eust voulu soulager mon pauvre cœur malade,
Je ne l’eusse laissée, et m’en soit à tesmoin
Ce jeune enfant ailé qui des amours a soin.
 
Mais voyant que tousjours elle marchoit plus fiere,
Je desliay du tout mon amitié premiere,
Pour en aimer une autre en ce pays d’Anjou,
Où maintenant Amour me detient sous le jou,
Laquelle tout soudain je quitteray, si elle
M’est, comme fut Cassandre, orgueilleuse et rebelle,
Pour en chercher une autre, à fin de voir un jour
De pareille amitié recompenser m’amour,
Sentant l’affection d’une autre dans moy-mesme :
« Car un homme est bien sot d’aimer si on ne l’aime. »
 
Or’ si quelqu’un après me vient blasmer dequoy
Je ne suis plus si grave en mes vers que j’estoy
A mon commencement, quand l’humeur pindarique
Enfloit empoulément ma bouche magnifique,
Dy-luy que les amours ne se souspirent pas
D’un vers hautement grave, ains d’un beau stile bas,
Populaire et plaisant, ainsi qu’a fait Tibulle,
L’ingenieux Ovide et le docte Catulle.
Le fils de Venus hait ces ostentations ;
Il suffit qu’on luy chante au vray ses passions,
Sans enflure ny fard, d’un mignard et doux stile,
Coulant d’un petit bruit comme une eau qui distile.
Ceux qui font autrement, ils font un mauvais tour
A la simple Venus et à son fils Amour.
 
S’il advient quelque jour que d’une voix hardie
J’anime l’eschafaut par une tragedie
Sententieuse et grave, alors je feray voir
Combien peuvent les nerfs de mon petit sçavoir,
Et si quelque furie en mes vers je rencontre,
Hardy j’opposeray mes muses à l’encontre,
Et feray resonner d’un haut et grave son
(Pour avoir part au bouc) la tragique tançon.
Mais ores que d’Amour les passions je pousse,
Humble, je veux user d’une Muse plus douce.
Non ! non ! je ne veux pas que, pour ce livre-ci,
J’entre dans une escole, ou qu’un regent aussi
Me lise pour parade : il suffit si m’amie
Le touche de la main dont elle tient ma vie :
Car je suis satisfait si elle prend à gré
Ce labeur que je vouë à ses pieds consacré
[Et à celles qui sont de nature amiables
Et qui jusqu’à la mort ne sont point variables.]
My son, if you knew what they’ll say of you,
You’d never want to leave my home,
But stay shut away in my study; you wouldn’t want yourself
Used or leafed thorough by the crowd’s hands.
When you’ve gone, never to return,
You’ll have to live very far from my eyes :
“For as the wind flies off without returning,
So, without hope of returning, the word escapes.”
 
My word, that’s what you are, to whom night and day
I have told the ideas which Love held out to me,
So I could put them into these verses which you take into the light,
Picking the locks of the doors of my room in defiance of me,
Poor thing, who know not that the little children
Of France have sharper noses than elephants.
 
So, before testing the risks of shipwreck,
See the storm from port, and stay on the shore.
You repent too late when you’re already on board.
 
Soon enough you’ll be mocked by ill-wishers,
With their eyes, their lifted noses and a shake of the head.
“Wise the man who believes a person who gives good advice.”
 
You know, my dear child, that I have no desire
To deceive or mock. I’d do great wrong,
And would have been born of an ungrateful nature,
If I sought to betray my own offspring,
For as I see you, so I recently made you,
And I love you no less than a father loves his son.
 
Yet you still wish to go? And the more I wish
To keep you at home, the more you pull at the bit.
Go on then, since you want to, but I beg you
To answer everyone as I will tell you,
So that you, my son, properly protect in my absence
Your father’s – my own! – honour and innocence.
 
If some honest lady of noble heart,
Who is horrified by inconstancy and change,
On reading you reproves me with a heavy frown
That I ought not to have abandoned my Cassandre,
Who was first to shoot the arrow of love into my heart,
And that good old Petrarch committed no such sin,
Being thirty-one years in love with his lady
Without any other ever being able to set his soul ablaze,
Then reply to her, I beg, that Petrarch had
No authority over me to subject me to his law,
Nor those others who came after him, to make us
Chained so long a time without breaking our ties.
 
He himself was not like that; for if you look at what he wrote
He was a sharp man, with too noble a spirit
To be a fool for thirty years, wasting his youth
And his Muse in the lap of an old mistress.
Either he enjoyed his little Laura, or he was
Indeed a great fool to love but not have her at all.
I can’t believe that, nor is it believable;
No, he enjoyed her, then made her out to be admirable,
Chaste, divine, holy: “every lover should also
Praise her from whom he gains enjoyment;
For he who blames her after enjoying her
Is no man, but was born of a tiger.”
 
When some young girl is at the beginning
Cruel, harsh and proud to her first lover,
Ah well, he must still remain; it may be that the time
Will come, unexpectedly, which will make her better.
But when she becomes, without a day passing
Harsher and more contrary, and coarser in love,
You must distance yourself, without wearying yourself
Trying to soften so foolish a beast.
That’s my advice: blame me for it
Or praise me who will: these are the facts.
 
Women are often the reason we are
Inconstant and flighty, coaxing men
With bewitching hope, sometimes keeping them
With sweet tricks for a year, or two, or three,
In love’s bonds without relief;
And yet a servant will enjoy them,
Or perhaps some sweet thing no-one suspects
Will secretly put his scythe to the harvest.
And still they won’t stop, I mean those sly girls
Who have spent their youths in Love’s train,
(It’s certainly the greatest trouble a man can have
To serve a woman used to deception)
[They won’t stop] demanding labour which is insupportable,
Cruel service, wretched tasks;
For without regard to simple love
To prayers, to hearts, they cruelly have no pity
For their poor servants, so proud they appear,
No more than a Turk has pity on his slave-servants
[The lover] has to sell his goods, make presents
Of chains, purses, and shining diamonds;
He must give pearls and magnificent clothes,
He must look after the table and the music,
He must take up her quarrels, and endure them.
Certainly I’d prefer to carry on my back
A basket and clean the Augean stables,
Than to become the servant of a sly Lady.
“The sea really should be feared, the fire as well,
And the sky when it is shaken with thunder,
But much more to be feared is a learned woman
Well-versed in the art of love, when she is a deceiver;
By a thousand tricks she makes a thousand evils,
And she’s as wise as she is a woman.”
Whichever was the god who brought her to life,
He was the prime author of great misery.
 
We ought, with presents consecrated at their altars
To offer bribes for our children with the great, immortal gods,
So they don’t waste their lives with that pleasant evil
Woman, the passion of wretched men,
Wretched and weak insofar as they’re vassals,
For the 20 or 30 years of their lives, of so proud a beast.
I beg you, see how by subtle tricks
They are able to find a thousand fake excuses
After they’ve deceived! Look at Helen after
Troy was burned by the Greeks’ fire,
How she wheedled with sweet flattery
Her fool of a husband, who pardoned her vice
And fell in love more than before with her eyes
Which sparkled still with love for Paris.
 
Ulysses, who was so cunning, though he knew that a troop
Of young suitors was kissing Penelope,
Devouring all his goods, yet still he burned
To kiss his wife, and never wished
To become immortal with the beautiful Circe
So as never again to see Penelope, whom
Weeping he wanted to tell about his wearisome journey,
While, as he was away, she was making love:
So much so that the god Pan was born from their frolics
(The common seed of her and her dandies)
As she immediately sent, to make things easier for her,
The son to seek his father in the city of Sparta.
“That is how woman with her cunning defeats
Man, whose spirit overcomes all the animals.”
 
If a young man might fortunately choose
A fair mistress, selected for his pleasure,
No matter if she’s from a high or low place provided she is
A humble, courteous, honest, loving and gentle girl,
Without disguise, without trickery, who without wickedness
Keeps with all her heart her simple love,
Much preferring to be put to death a hundred times
Than to break her word when she has promised it;
Then you must love her truly while you live
As a rare jewel most infrequently found.
“He certainly deserves the hottest fires
Of terrible storms upon his head
Who deceives a maid, especially when
She gives herself to us heart and body.“
 
Isn’t it a great delight when we’re travelling
To meet someone who with equal bravery
Wishes to a company us and like us to journey
Long roads, however tiresome they are to cross?
And isn’t it a great delight to find a girl
Who helps us on this life’s wretched journey,
Who without being burdened or full of harshness
Treats her lover’s heart faithfully?
 
Tell them, then, if perchance the fair Cassandre
Had showed herself a little courteous and tender towards me,
A bit gentle and someone you could deal with, and keen to cure
The ills with which her fair eyes had put me to death those ten years;
If not with her body but with just a single glance
She’d been willing to soothe my poor, ill heart,
I’d not have left her, let my witness be
That young winged child who watches over love-affairs.
 
But seeing how she always continued more proud
I unbound myself from all my first love
To love with it another in the country of Anjou,
Where Love now keeps me under his yoke.
[A love] which I will immediately abandon if she
Is to me as Cassandre was, proud and rebellious,
To find another, so that one day I may see
My love returned with an equal love,
Feeling the affection of another within myself:
“For a man is a complete fool to love if he isn’t loved.”
 
So, if someone afterwards chooses to blame me that
I am no more as grave in my verse as I was
At the beginning, when the Pindaric mood
Puffed up in swollen words my magniloquent voice
Then tell him that love does not sigh
In high-flown grave verse, but in a fine low style,
Pleasant and popular, like that of Tibullus,
The ingenious Ovid and the learned Catullus.
The son of Venus hates ostentation:
Enough that we sing his passions to him truly
Without bombast or disguise, in a charming sweet style
Flowing with a gentle sound like a tinkling spring.
Those who do otherwise do a bad turn
To simple Venus and her son Love.
 
If it should happen one day that with bold voice
I enliven the stage with some tragedy
Grave and sententious, then I shall show
How loud the strings of my little learning can sound.
And if I encounter passion in my verse
I shall boldly set my Muses against it,
And make a tragic dialogue resound with high-flown
And serious tones (assuming the tragic buskin).
But while I focus on the passions of Love,
In lower style I prefer to employ a sweeter Muse.
No, no, I do not want through this book
To enter a school, or for a regent too
To read me for show; it’s enough if my beloved
Touches it with the hand in which she holds my life.
For I am satisfied if she approves
This work which I dedicate, consecrated, at her feet,
[And to those who are by nature amiable
And who remain unchanging till death. ]

 

Changes vary from minor grammatical variants (Ronsard changes his mind about whether a participle like “tenant” should vary in number or gender), to quite different versions of the same thought, and occasionally some quite different ideas entirely. I wonder if he removed the reference to a lover living “20 or 30 years” as he himself was living proof that lovers could last a good while longer! We can also see Ronsard tidying up where he had in his early years ‘cheated’ a bit in the scansion: so he gets rid of the elision in “Ulyss’ qui”, as being something alien to French.
 
I think it would be wrong to attribute the modern slang meaning of “baiser” (‘having sex’ but rather cruder!) to what Ronsard accuses Penelope and her lovers of doing; but I don’t think we should rule out the possibility that a cruder meaning lurks behind the word.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Amours book 2 – Elégie à son livre

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Although it’s been months since my last post, I find myself still in book 2 of the Amours! This is really the very last poem from book 2 I’ll be posting, though: the lengthy Elegy which Ronsard prefixed to the book as he sent it out into the world.

Mon fils, si tu sçavois ce qu’on dira de toy,
Tu ne voudrois jamais desloger de chez moy,
Enclos en mon estude : et ne voudrois te faire
Salir ny fueilleter aux mains du populaire.
Quand tu seras parti, sans jamais retourner,
Estranger loin de moy te faudra sejourner :
« Car ainsi que le vent sans retourner s’envole,
« Sans espoir de retour s’eschappe la parole.
 
Or tu es ma parole, à qui de nuict et jour
J’ay conté les propos que me contoit Amour,
Pour les mettre en ces vers qu’en lumiere tu portes,
Crochetant maugré moy de ma chambre les portes,
Pauvret! qui ne sçais pas que nos citoyens sont
Plus subtils par le nez que le Rhinoceront.
 
Donc avant que tenter la mer et le naufrage,
Voy du port la tempeste, et demeure au rivage.
« Tard est le repentir de tost s’estre embarqué.
 
Tu seras tous les jours des médisans moqué
D’yeux, et de hausse-becs, et d’un branler de teste.
« Sage est celuy qui croit à qui bien l’amoneste.
 
Tu sçais (mon cher enfant) que je ne te voudrois
Tromper, contre nature impudent je faudrois,
Et serois un Serpent de farouche nature
Si je voulois trahir ma propre geniture :
Car tout tel que tu es, n’agueres je te fis,
Et je ne t’aime moins qu’un pere aime son fils.
 
Quoy? tu veux donc partir : et tant plus je te cuide
Retenir au logis, plus tu hausses la bride.
Va donc puis qu’il te plaist, mais je te suppliray
De respondre à chacun ce que je te diray,
Afin que toy (mon fils) tu gardes en l’absence
De moy le pere tien, l’honneur et l’innocence.
 
Si quelque dame honneste et gentille de cœur
(Qui aura l’inconstance et le change en horreur)
Me vient, en te lisant, d’un gros sourcil reprendre
Dequoy je ne devois oublier ma Cassandre,
Qui la premiere au cœur le trait d’amour me mist,
Et que le bon Petrarque un tel peché ne fist,
Qui fut trente et un an amoureux de sa dame,
Sans qu’une autre jamais luy peust eschauffer l’ame :
Respons-luy je te pri’, que Petrarque sur moy
N’avoit authorité pour me donner sa loy,
Ny à ceux qui viendroyent apres luy, pour les faire
Si long temps amoureux sans leur lien desfaire.
 
Luy-mesme ne fut tel : car à voir son escrit
Il estoit esveillé d’un trop gentil esprit
Pour estre sot trente ans, abusant sa jeunesse
Et sa Muse au giron d’une vieille maistresse :
Ou bien il jouyssoit de sa Laurette, ou bien
Il estoit un grand fat d’aimer sans avoir rien.
Ce que je ne puis croire, aussi n’est-il croyable :
Non, il en jouyssoit : puis la fist admirable,
« Chaste, divine, saincte : aussi l’amoureux doit
« Celebrer la beauté dont plaisir il reçoit :
« Car celuy qui la blasme apres la jouissance
« N’est homme, mais d’un Tygre il a prins sa naissance.
Quand quelque jeune fille est au commencement
Cruelle, dure, fiere à son premier amant,
Constant il faut attendre : il peut estre qu’une heure
Viendra sans y penser, qui la rendra meilleure.
Mais quand elle devient voire de jour en jour
Plus dure et plus rebelle, et plus rude en amour,
On s’en doit esloigner, sans se rompre la teste
De vouloir adoucir une si sotte beste.
Je suis de tel advis : me blasme de ceci,
M’estime qui voudra, je le conseille ainsi.
 
Les femmes bien souvent sont cause que nous sommes
Volages et legers, amadoüans les hommes
D’un espoir enchanteur, les tenant quelquefois
Par une douce ruse, un an, ou deux, ou trois,
Dans les liens d’Amour sans aucune allegeance :
Ce-pendant un valet en aura joüissance,
Ou bien quelque badin emportera ce bien
Que le fidele amy à bon droit cuidoit sien.
Et si ne laisseront, je parle des rusées
Qui ont au train d’amour leurs jeunesses usées,
(C’est bien le plus grand mal qu’un homme puisse avoir
Que servir une femme accorte à decevoir)
D’enjoindre des travaux qui sont insupportables,
Des services cruels, des tâches miserables :
Car sans avoir esgard à la simple amitié
De leurs pauvres servans, cruelles n’ont pitié,
Non plus qu’un fier Corsaire en arrogance braves,
N’a pitié des captifs aux environs esclaves.
Il faut vendre son bien, il faut faire presens
De chaisnes, de carquans, de diamans luisans :
Il faut donner la Perle, et l’habit magnifique,
Il faut entretenir la table et la musique,
Il faut prendre querelle, il faut les suporter.
Certes j’aimerois mieux dessus le dos porter
La hotte, pour curer les estables d’Augée,
Que me voir serviteur d’une Dame rusée.
« La mer est bien à craindre, aussi est bien le feu,
« Et le Ciel quand il est de tonnerres esmeu,
« Mais trop plus est à craindre une femme clergesse,
« Sçavante en l’art d’amour, quand elle est tromperesse :
« Par mille inventions mille maux elle fait,
« Et d’autant qu’elle est femme, et d’autant qu’elle sçait.
Quiconque fut le Dieu qui la mit en lumiere
Il fut premier autheur d’une grande misere.
 
Il falloit par presens consacrez aux autels
Acheter nos enfans des grands Dieux immortels,
Et non user sa vie avec ce mal aimable,
Les femmes, passion de l’homme miserable,
Miserable et chetif d’autant qu’il est vassal,
Durant le temps qu’il vit, d’un si fier animal.
Mais je vous pri’, voyez comment par fines ruses
Elles sçavent trouver mille feintes excuses,
Apres qu’ell’ ont failly ! voyez Helene apres
Qu’Ilion fut bruslé de la flamme des Grecs,
Comme elle amadoüa d’une douce blandice
Son badin de mary, qui luy remit son vice,
Et qui plus que devant de ses yeux fut épris,
Qui scintilloient encor les amours de Pâris.
Que dirons-nous d’Ulysse ? encores qu’une trope
De jeunes poursuyvans aimassent Penelope,
Devorans tout son bien, si est-ce qu’il brusloit
D’embrasser son espouse, et jamais ne vouloit
Devenir immortel avec Circe la belle,
Pour ne revoir jamais Penelope, laquelle
Pleurant luy rescrivoit de son fascheux sejour,
Pendant qu’en son absence elle faisoit l’amour :
Si bien que le Dieu Pan de ses jeux print naissance,
(D’elle et de ses muguets la commune semence)
Envoyant tout expres, pour sa commodité,
Le fils chercher le père en Sparte la cité.
« Voilà comment la femme avec ses ruses donte
« L’homme, de qui l’esprit toute beste surmonte.
 
Quand on peut par hazard heureusement choisir
Quelque belle maistresse, et l’avoir à plaisir,
Soit de haut ou bas lieu, pourveu qu’elle soit fille
Humble, courtoise, honneste, amoureuse et gentille,
Sans fard, sans tromperie, et qui sans mauvaitié
Garde de tout son cœur une simple amitié,
Aimant trop mieux cent fois à la mort estre mise,
Que de rompre sa foy quand elle l’a promise :
Il la faut honorer tant qu’on sera vivant,
Comme un rare joyau qu’on treuve peu souvent.
« Celuy certainement merite sur la teste
« Le feu le plus ardent d’une horrible tempeste,
« Qui trompe une pucelle et mesmement alors
« Qu’elle se donne à nous, et de cœur et de cors.
 
N’est-ce pas un grand bien quand on fait un voyage,
De rencontrer quelcun qui d’un pareil courage
Veut nous acompagner, et comme nous passer
Les torrens, les rochers, fascheux à traverser ?
Aussi n’est-ce un grand bien de trouver une amie,
Qui nous aide à passer cette chetive vie,
Qui sans estre fardée ou pleine de rigueur,
Traite fidellement de son amy le cueur ?
 
Dy leur, si de fortune une belle Cassandre
Vers moy se fust monstrée un peu courtoise et tendre,
Et pleine de pitié eust cherché à guarir
Le mal dont ses beaux yeux dix ans m’ont fait mourir,
Non seulement du corps, mais sans plus d’une œillade
Eust voulu soulager mon pauvre cœur malade,
Je ne l’eusse laissée, et m’en soit à tesmoin
Ce jeune enfant ailé qui des amours a soin.
 
Mais voiant que tousjours elle marchoit plus fiere,
Je desliay du tout mon amitié premiere,
Pour en aimer une autre en ce païs d’Anjou,
Où maintenant Amour me detient sous le jou :
Laquelle tout soudain je quitteray, si elle
M’est comme fut Cassandre, orgueilleuse et rebelle,
Pour en chercher une autre, à fin de voir un jour
De pareille amitié recompenser m’amour,
Sentant l’affection d’une autre dans moymesme :
« Car un homme est bien sot d’aimer si on ne l’aime.
 
Or’ si quelqu’un apres me vient blasmer, dequoy
Je ne suis plus si grave en mes vers que j’estoy
A mon commencement, quand l’humeur Pindarique
Enfloit empoulément ma bouche magnifique :
Dy luy que les amours ne se souspirent pas
D’un vers hautement grave, ains d’un beau stille bas,
Populaire et plaisant, ainsi qu’a fait Tibulle,
L’ingenieux Ovide, et le docte Catulle.
Le fils de Venus hait ces ostentations :
Il suffist qu’on luy chante au vray ses passions
Sans enflure ny fard, d’un mignard et doux stile,
Coulant d’un petit bruit, comme une eau qui distile.
Ceux qui font autrement, ils font un mauvais tour
A la simple Venus, et à son fils Amour.
 
S’il advient quelque jour que d’une voix hardie
J’anime l’eschafaut par une tragedie
Sentencieuse et grave, alors je feray voir
Combien peuvent les nerfs de mon petit sçavoir.
Et si quelque furie en mes vers je rencontre,
Hardi j’opposeray mes Muses alencontre :
Et feray resonner d’un haut et grave son
(Pour avoir part au bouc) la tragique tançon.
Mais ores que d’Amour les passions je pousse,
Humble je veux user d’une Muse plus douce.
 
Je ne veux que ce vers d’ornement indigent
Entre dans une escole, ou qu’un brave regent
Me lise pour parade : il suffist si m’amie
Le touche de la main dont elle tient ma vie.
Car je suis satisfait, si elle prend à gré
Ce labeur que je voüe à ses pieds consacré.
My son, if you knew what they’ll say of you,
You’d never want to leave my home,
But stay shut away in my study; you wouldn’t want yourself
Dirtied or leafed thorough by the crowd’s hands.
When you’ve gone, never to return,
You’ll have to live like a stranger far from me :
“For as the wind flies off without returning,
So, without hope of returning, the word escapes.”
 
And you are my word, to whom night and day
I have told the ideas which Love told me,
So I could put them into these verses which you take into the light,
Picking the locks of the doors of my room in defiance of me,
Poor thing, who know not that our citizens have
Sharper noses than the rhinoceros.
 
So, before trying the sea and shipwreck,
See the storm from port, and stay on the shore.
“Early to board, late to repent.”
 
Every day you’ll be mocked by ill-wishers,
With their eyes, their lifted noses, and a shake of the head.
“Wise the man who believes a person who gives good advice.”
 
You know, my dear child, that I have no desire
To deceive you: I would have to be shameless, contrary to nature
And a serpent with an untamed nature
If I sought to betray my own offspring,
For just as you are, I recently made you,
And I love you no less than a father loves his son.
 
Yet you still wish to go? And the more I wish
To keep you at home, the more you pull at the bit.
Go on then, since you want to, but I beg you
To answer everyone as I will tell you,
So that you, my son, protect in my absence
Your father’s – my own! – honour and innocence.
 
If some honest lady of noble heart,
Who is horrified by inconstancy and change,
On reading you reproves me with a heavy frown
That I ought not to have forgotten my Cassandre,
Who was first to shoot the arrow of love into my heart,
And that good old Petrarch committed no such sin,
Being thirty-one years in love with his lady
Without any other ever being able to set his soul ablaze,
Then reply to her, I beg, that Petrarch had
No authority over me to subject me to his law,
Nor those others who came after him, to make us
Love so long a time without breaking our ties.
 
He himself was not like that; for if you look at what he wrote
He was a sharp man, with too noble a spirit
To be a fool for thirty years, wasting his youth
And his Muse in the lap of an old mistress.
Either he enjoyed his little Laura, or he was
Indeed a great fool to love but not have her at all.
I can’t believe that, nor is it believable;
No, he enjoyed her, then made her out to be admirable,
Chaste, divine, holy: “The lover should also
Celebrate the beauty from whom he gains his pleasure;
For he who blames her after enjoying her
Is no man, but was born of a tiger.”
 
When some young girl is at the beginning
Cruel, harsh and proud to her first lover,
He must remain constant; it may be that the time
Will come, unexpectedly, which will make her better.
But when she becomes from day to day
Harsher and more contrary, and coarser in love,
You should distance yourself, without wearying yourself
Trying to soften so foolish a beast.
That’s my advice: blame me for it
Or praise me who will, I counsel him thus.
 
Women are often the reason we are
Light and flighty, coaxing men
With bewitching hope, sometimes keeping them
With sweet tricks for a year, or two, or three,
In love’s bonds without relief;
And yet a servant will enjoy them,
Or perhaps some wag will run off with the delight
Which the faithful lover rightly thought his own.
And still they won’t stop, I mean those sly girls
Who have spent their youths in Love’s train,
(It’s certainly the greatest trouble a man can have
To serve a woman used to deception)
[They won’t stop] demanding work which is insupportable,
Cruel service, wretched tasks;
For without regard to the simple love
Of their poor servants, they cruelly have no pity,
No more than a proud corsair, brave and arrogant,
Has pity on the captives in his slave-quarters.
[The lover] has to sell his goods, make presents
Of chains, purses, and shining diamonds;
He must give pearls and magnificent clothes,
He must look after the table and the music,
He must take up her quarrels, and endure them.
Certainly I’d prefer to carry on my back
A basket and clean the Augean stables,
Than to become the servant of a sly Lady.
“The sea really should be feared, the fire as well,
And the sky when it is shaken with thunder,
But much more to be feared is a learned woman
Well-versed in the art of love, when she is a deceiver;
By a thousand tricks she makes a thousand evils,
And she’s as wise as she is a woman.”
Whichever was the god who brought her to life,
He was the prime author of great misery.
 
We ought, with presents consecrated at their altars
To offer bribes for our children with the great, immortal gods,
So they don’t waste their lives with that pleasant evil
Woman, the passion of wretched men,
Wretched and weak insofar as they’re vassals
During their lives of so proud a beast.
I beg you, see how by subtle tricks
They are able to find a thousand fake excuses
After they’ve deceived! Look at Helen after
Troy was burned by the Greeks’ fire,
How she wheedled with sweet flattery
Her fool of a husband, who forgave her vice
And fell in love more than before with her eyes
Which sparkled still with love for Paris.
And what shall we say of Ulysses? While a troop
Of young suitors was making love to Penelope,
Devouring all his goods, yet still he burned
To kiss his wife, and never wished
To become immortal with the beautiful Circe
So as never again to see Penelope, whom
Weeping he wanted to tell about his wearisome journey,
While in his absence she was making love:
So much so that the god Pan was born from their frolics
(The common seed of her and her dandies)
As she immediately sent, to make things easier for her,
The son to seek his father in the city of Sparta.
“That is how woman with her cunning defeats
Man, whose spirit overcomes all the animals.”
 
If by chance you might fortunately choose
Some fair mistress, and have her for your pleasure,
No matter if she’s from a high or low place provided she is
A humble, courteous, honest, loving and gentle girl,
Without disguise, without trickery, who without wickedness
Keeps with all her heart her simple love,
Much preferring to be put to death a hundred times
Than to break her word when she has promised it;
Then you must honour her while you live
As a rare jewel most infrequently found.
“He certainly deserves the hottest fires
Of terrible storms upon his head
Who deceives a maid, especially when
She gives herself to us heart and body.“
 
Isn’t it a great delight when we’re travelling
To meet someone who with equal bravery
Wishes to a company us and like us to journey
Over torrents and rocks, tiresome to cross?
And isn’t it a great delight to find a girl
Who helps us on this life’s wretched journey,
Who without being burdened or full of harshness
Treats her lover’s heart faithfully?
 
Tell them, then, if perchance the fair Cassandre
Had showed herself a little courteous and tender towards me,
And full of pity had sought to cure
The ills with which her fair eyes had put me to death those ten years;
If not with her body but with just a single glance
She’d been willing to soothe my poor, ill heart,
I’d not have left her, let my witness be
That young winged child who watches over love-affairs.
 
But seeing how she always continued more proud
I unbound myself from all my first love
To love with it another in the country of Anjou,
Where Love now keeps me under his yoke.
[A love] which I will immediately abandon if she
Is to me as Cassandre was, proud and rebellious,
To find another, so that one day I may see
My love returned with an equal love,
Feeling the affection of another within myself:
“For a man is a complete fool to love if he isn’t loved.”
 
So, if someone afterwards chooses to blame me that
I am no more as grave in my verse as I was
At the beginning, when the Pindaric mood
Puffed up in swollen words my magniloquent voice;
Then tell him that love does not sigh
In high-flown grave verse, but in a fine low style,
Pleasant and popular, like that of Tibullus,
The ingenious Ovid and the learned Catullus.
The son of Venus hates ostentation:
Enough that we sing his passions to him truly
Without bombast or disguise, in a charming sweet style
Flowing with a gentle sound like a tinkling spring.
Those who do otherwise do a bad turn
To simple Venus and her son Love.
 
If it should happen one day that with bold voice
I enliven the stage with some tragedy
Grave and sententious, then I shall show
How loud the strings of my little learning can sound.
And if I encounter passion in my verse
I shall boldly set my Muses against it,
And make a tragic dialogue resound with high-flown
And serious tones (assuming the tragic buskin).
But while I focus on the passions of Love,
In lower style I prefer to employ a sweeter Muse.
 
I do not want these verses, stripped of ornament,
To enter some school, or a worthy regent
To read me for show; it’s enough if my beloved
Touches it with the hand in which she holds my life.
For I am satisfied if she approves
This work which I dedicate, consecrated, at her feet.
 
 
 

 

A few words of commentary on these 200 lines:- the rhinoceros (or, in the earlier version, elephant) has a ‘subtle’ nose, one good for smelling out the good and the bad: ‘sharp’, we could more easily say in English, but while it’s obvious which sort of ‘sharpness’ the elephant’s nose has, it’s perhaps less so for the rhinoceros where a ‘sharp’ nose could refer to its horn not its sensitivity.- Ronsard’s cynicism about Petrarch’s chaste relationship with Laura is perhaps also a corrective to those scholars who think Ronsard’s own affairs were more imagined than real?  His harsh words about women, implicitly applied to Cassandra, should not be taken too literally: he speaks elsewhere of still loving her.

– there’s a cluster of classical references in the middle of the poem:  the Augean stables, cleaning whose filth was one of Heracles’ ‘impossible’ tasks;  Helen of Troy, taken back by Menelaus after Troy’s fall as she was still the most beautiful woman in the world, though her continuing love for Paris is largely a Ronsardian invention (in Homer, she and Menelaus are genuinely reconciled)

– Ronsard invents, too, Penelope’s unfaithfulness to Odysseus with her troop of suitors – in the Odyssey she famously remains loyal; his son Telemachus journeys to Sparta seeking information from Menelaus at the goddess Athene’s prompting, not sent away by Penelope; and Circe did not offer Odysseus immortality but threatened to turn him into a pig like his followers!  Ronsard has, ironically because it would be obvious to all his readers, twisted the Greek tale on its head. However, at the same time he demonstrates his wide and deep reading: in a pretty obscure Pindar fragment, but as far as I know nowhere else, Penelope is indeed said to be Pan’s mother (the father, though, Apollo not one or several human suitors!)

– where Ronsard turns to his new love in Anjou, he says “Je desliay du tout mon amitié premiere, / Pour en aimer une autre en ce païs d’Anjou“; that “en” technically means that he is giving Marie his first love, transferring it from Cassandre: this is not a new love, but the old one with a new subject.

– for the really interested, “empoulément” is ampoulément, from the same root as ampoule, a ‘swollen’ bulb of glass.

– Ronsard contrasts the style of Pindar – the great Greek poet of Odes – with that of Tibullus, Ovid and Catullus: Romans, but principally contrasted as love-poets and slightly licentious ones at that. (The ‘son of Venus’ is of course Cupid, god of love.)

 

 

See the next post for Blanchemain’s earlier version with its many variants.

 

Élégie à Muret (Amours 1:227c)

Standard

 

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.
 
 
 
 

Elégie à Janet, Peintre du Roy – Elegy, to Janet the King’s artist (Am. 1:228b)

Standard

Today, nearly 200 lines of charming verse – twice!

Pein-moy, Janet, pein-moy je te supplie
Sur ce tableau les beautez de m’amie
De la façon que je te les diray.
Comme importun je ne te suppliray
D’un art menteur quelque faveur luy faire.
Il suffit bien si tu la sçais portraire
Telle qu’elle est, sans vouloir desguiser
Son naturel pour la favoriser :
Car la faveur n’est bonne que pour celles
Qui se font peindre, et qui ne sont pas belles.
 
Fay-luy premier les cheveux ondelez,
Serrez, retors, recrespez, annelez,
Qui de couleur le cedre representent :
Ou les allonge, et que libres ils sentent
Dans le tableau, si par art tu le peux,
La mesme odeur de ses propres cheveux :
Car ses cheveux comme fleurettes sentent,
Quand les Zephyrs au printemps les éventent.
 
Que son beau front ne soit entre-fendu
De nul sillon en profond estendu,
Mais qu’il soit tel qu’est l’eau de la marine,
Quand tant soit peu le vent ne la mutine,
Et que gisante en son lict elle dort,
Calmant ses flots sillez d’un somne mort.
 
Tout au milieu par la gréve descende
Un beau ruby, de qui l’esclat s’espande
Par le tableau, ainsi qu’on voit de nuit
Briller les raiz de la Lune, qui luit
Dessus la neige au fond d’un val coulée,
De trace d’homme encore non foulée.
 
Apres fay luy son beau sourcy voutis
D’Ebene noir, et que son ply tortis
Semble un Croissant, qui monstre par la nuë
Au premier mois sa vouture cornuë :
Ou si jamais tu as veu l’arc d’Amour,
Pren le portrait dessus le demy-tour
De sa courbure à demy-cercle close :
Car l’arc d’Amour et luy n’est qu’une chose.
 
Mais las! Janet, helas je ne sçay pas
Par quel moyen, ny comment tu peindras
(Voire eusses-tu l’artifice d’Apelle)
De ses beaux yeux la grace naturelle,
Qui font vergongne aux estoilles des Cieux.
Que l’un soit doux, l’autre soit furieux,
Que l’un de Mars, l’autre de Venus tienne :
Que du benin toute esperance vienne,
Et du cruel vienne tout desespoir :
L’un soit piteux et larmoyant à voir,
Comme celuy d’Ariadne laissée
Aux bords de Die, alors que l’insensee
Pres de la mer, de pleurs se consommoit,
Et son Thesée en vain elle nommoit :
L’autre soit gay, comme il est bien croyable
Que l’eut jadis Penelope louable
Quand elle vit son mary retourné,
Ayant vingt ans loing d’elle sejourné.
 
Apres fay luy sa rondelette oreille
Petite, unie, entre blanche et vermeille,
Qui sous le voile apparoisse à l’egal
Que fait un lis enclos dans un crystal,
Ou tout ainsi qu’apparoist une rose
Tout fraischement dedans un verre enclose.
 
Mais pour neant tu aurois fait si beau
Tout l’ornement de ton riche tableau,
Si tu n’avois de la lineature
De son beau nez bien portrait la peinture.
Pein-le moy donc ny court, ny aquilin,
Poli, traitis, où l’envieux malin
Quand il voudroit n’y sçauroit que reprendre,
Tant proprement tu le feras descendre
Parmi la face, ainsi comme descend
Dans une plaine un petit mont qui pend.
 
Apres au vif pein moy sa belle joüe
Pareille au teint de la rose qui noüe
Dessus du laict, ou au teint blanchissant
Du lis qui baise un œillet rougissant.
 
Dans le milieu portrais une fossette,
Fossette, non, mais d’Amour la cachette,
D’où ce garçon de sa petite main
Lasche cent traits et jamais un en vain,
Que par les yeux droit au cœur il ne touche.
 
Helas ! Janet, pour bien peindre sa bouche,
A peine Homere en ses vers te diroit
Quel vermillon egaler la pourroit :
Car pour la peindre ainsi qu’elle merite,
Peindre il faudroit celle d’une Charite.
Pein-la moy doncq, qu’elle semble parler,
Ores sou-rire, ores embasmer l’air
De ne sçay quelle ambrosienne haleine :
Mais par sur tout fay qu’elle semble pleine
De la douceur de persuasion.
Tout à l’entour attache un milion
De ris, d’attraits, de jeux, de courtoisies,
Et que deux rangs de perlettes choisies
D’un ordre egal en la place des dents
Bien poliment soyent arrangez dedans.
 
Pein tout autour une lévre bessonne,
Qui d’elle-mesme en s’elevant semonne
D’estre baisée, ayant le teint pareil
Ou de la rose, ou du coural vermeil :
Elle flambante au Printemps sur l’espine,
Luy rougissant au fond de la marine.
 
Pein son menton au milieu fosselu,
Et que le bout en rondeur pommelu
Soit tout ainsi que lon voit apparoistre
Le bout d’un coin qui ja commence à croistre.
 
Plus blanc que laict caillé dessus le jonc
Pein luy le col, mais pein-le un petit long,
Gresle et charnu, et sa gorge doüillette
Comme le col soit un petit longuette.
 
Apres fay luy par un juste compas,
Et de Junon les coudes et les bras,
Et les beaux doigts de Minerve, et encore
La main egale à celle de l’Aurore.
 
Je ne sçay plus, mon Janet, où j’en suis :
Je suis confus et muet : je ne puis
Comme j’ay fait, te declarer le reste
De ses beautez qui ne m’est manifeste :
Las ! car jamais tant de faveurs je n’u,
Que d’avoir veu ses beaux tetins à nu.
Mais si lon peut juger par conjecture,
Persuadé de raisons je m’asseure
Que la beauté qui ne s’apparoit, doit
Estre semblable à celle que lon voit.
Donque pein-la, et qu’elle me soit faite
Parfaite autant comme l’autre est parfaite.
 
Ainsi qu’en bosse esleve moy son sein
Net, blanc, poli, large, entre-ouvert et plein,
Dedans lequel mille rameuses veines
De rouge sang tressaillent toutes pleines.
 
Puis, quand au vif tu auras descouvers
Dessous la peau les muscles et les ners,
Enfle au dessus deux pommes nouvelettes,
Comme l’on void deux pommes verdelettes
D’un orenger, qui encores du tout
Ne font qu’à l’heure à se rougir au bout.
 
Tout au plus haut des espaules marbrines,
Pein le sejour des Charites divines,
Et que l’Amour sans cesse voletant
Tousjours les couve et les aille esventant,
Pensant voler avec le Jeu son frere
De branche en branche és vergers de Cythere.
 
Un peu plus bas en miroir arrondi,
Tout potelé, grasselet, rebondi,
Comme celuy de Venus, pein son ventre :
Pein son nombril ainsi qu’un petit centre,
Le fond duquel paroisse plus vermeil
Qu’un bel œillet favoris du Soleil.
 
Qu’atten’s-tu plus ? portray moy l’autre chose
Qui est si belle, et que dire je n’ose,
Et dont l’espoir impatient me poind :
Mais je te pry, ne me l’ombrage point,
Si ce n’estoit d’un voile fait de soye
Clair et subtil, à fin qu’on l’entre-voye.
 
Ses cuisses soyent comme faites au Tour
A pleine chair, rondes tout à l’entour,
Ainsi qu’un Terme arrondi d’artifice
Qui soustient ferme un royal edifice.
 
Comme deux monts enleve ses genous,
Douillets, charnus, ronds, delicats et mous,
Dessous lesquels fay luy la gréve pleine,
Telle que l’ont les vierges de Lacene,
Quand pres d’Eurote en s’accrochant des bras
Luttent ensemble et se jettent à bas :
Ou bien chassant à meutes decouplees
Quelque vieil cerf és forests Amyclees.
 
Puis pour la fin portray-luy de Thetis
Les pieds estroits, et les talons petis.
 
Ha, je la voy ! elle est presque portraite :
Encore un trait, encore un, elle est faite.
Leve tes mains, hà mon Dieu, je la voy !
Bien peu s’en faut qu’elle ne parle à moy.
Paint me, Janet, paint me I pray
In this picture the beauties of my beloved
In the manner I’ll tell you them.
I shall not ask as a beggar
That you do her any favours with lying art.
It will be enough if you can portray her
Just as she is, without trying to disguise
Her natural looks to favour her :
For favour is no good but for those
Who have themselves painted but are not fair.
 
First, make her hair in waves,
Tied up, swept back, curled in ringlets,
Which have the colour of cedar ;
Or make it long and free, scented
In the picture, if you can do it with art,
With the same scent her own hair has ;
For her hair smells like flowers
When the spring Zephyrs fan them.
 
Make sure her fair brow is not lined
By any furrow long-extended,
But that it looks like the waters of the sea
When the wind does not disturb them in the slightest,
And when it sleeps, lying on its bed,
Calming its waves sunk in deepest sleep.
 
Down the middle of this strand make descend
A fair ruby, whose brightness should spread
Throughout the picture, as at night you see
Shining the rays of the moon, spreading light
Over the snow in the deeps of a sunken valley
Still untrodden by the foot of man.
 
Then make her fair arched eyebrow
Of black ebony, so that its curve
Resembles a crescent moon, showing through cloud
Its horned arc at the beginning of the month ;
Or, if you have ever seen Love’s bow,
Use its image above, the half-turn
Of its curve makig a half-circle ;
For Love’s bow and herself are but one thing.
 
But ah, Janet, ah ! I do not know
In what way or how you will paint
(Even if you had the skill of Apelles)
The natural grace of her lovely eyes
Which make the stars of Heaven ashamed.
Make one sweet, the other furious,
One having something of Mars, the other of Venus :
That from the kind one, every hope should come,
And from the cruel one, every despair ;
Let one be pitiful to see, in tears,
Like that of Ariadne abandoned
On the shores of Dia, while maddened
She was consumed in tears beside the sea
And called on her Theseus in vain ;
Let the other be happy, as we can believe
The praiseworthy Penelope was formerly
When she saw her husband returned
After staying for twenty years far from her.
 
Next, make her rounded ear,
Small, elegant, between white and pink,
Which should appear beneath its veil exactly
As a lily does, enclosed in crystal,
Or just a a rose would appear,
Completely fresh, enclosed in a vase.
 
But you would have painted so well
Every ornament of your rich picture, for nothing
If you had not well-depicted the line
Of her fair nose.
Paint me it, then, not short nor aquiline,
Elegant and well-made, so the wicked or envious
Even if he wanted could not reprove,
So exactly you’ll have made it descend
In the midst of her face, just as descends
Over a plain a little raised mound.
 
Then as in life paint me her fair cheek,
Equal to the tint of a rose which swims
Upon milk, or to the white tint
Of the lily kissing a blushing pink.
 
In the middle,portray a small dimple –
No not a dimple, but the hiding-place of Love
From which that boy with his little hand
Launches a hundred arrows and never one in vain
Which does not through the eyes go straight to the heart.
 
Ah, Janet ! to paint her mouth well
Homer himself in his verse could barely say
What crimson could equal it ;
For to paint it as it deserves
You would need to paint a Grace’s.
So, paint me it as she seems to be talking,
Now smiling, now perfuming the air
With some kind of ambrosial breath ;
But above all make her appear full
Of the sweetness of persuasion.
All around, attach a million
Smiles, attractiveness, jokes, courtesies ;
And let there be two rows of choice little pearls
In a neat line, in place of teeth,
Elegantly arrayed within.
 
Paint all round them those twin lips
Which, rising up, themselves invite
Being kissed, their colour equal
To a rose’s or crimson coral’s ;
The one flaming in spring on its thorn,
The other reddening at the bottom of the sea.
 
Paint her chin dimpled in the middle
And make the tip bud into roundness
Just as if we were seeing appear
The tip of a quince just beginning to grow.
 
Whiter than clotted cream on rushes
Paint her neck, but paint it a little long,
Slender but plump, and her soft throat
Like her neck should be a little long.
 
Then make her, accurately drawn,
The arms and elbows of Juno
And the lovely fingers of Minerva, and too
Hands equal to the Dawn’s.
 
I no longer know, Janet, where I am :
I am confused, dumb : I cannot
As I have done tell you the rest
Of her beauties which have not been shown me.
Ah, I have never had the good favour
To have seen her fair breasts naked,
But if we may judge by conjecture
With good reason I am convinced
That the beauty which is unseen should
Be like that we see.
So paint her, and let her be made
Perfect just as the lady herself is perfect.
 
As if embossed, raise up her breast
Clear, white, elegant, wide, half-uncovered, full,
Within which a thousand branchy veins
Filled with red blood quiver.
 
Then when as in life you have revealed
Beneath the skin the muscles and nerves,
Make swell on top two fresh apples,
Just as you night see two green apples
In an orchard, which still and all
Just grow redder by the moment at the tip.
 
Right above her marble shoulders
Paint the divine Graces resting,
And let Love ceaselessly flying around
Gaze on them always and keep fanning them,
Thinking he’s flying with Jest, his brother,
From branch to branch in the orchards of Cythera.
 
A little below, rounded like a mirror,
All rounded, plump and shapely,
Like that of Venus, paint her belly ;
Paint its button like a little target
The depths of which should appear more crimson
Than the lovely carnation, the Sun’s favourite.
 
What are you waiting for ? Paint me that other part
Which is so lovely, and which I dare not mention,
And impatient hope for which pricks me :
But I beg you, do not cover it over
Unless it be with a veil made of silk,
Clear and fine, that you can party see through.
 
Her thighs should be made like towers
Full-fleshed, rounded all about,
Just as a column artfully rounded
Which firmly holds up a royal building.
 
Like two hills raise up her knees
Downy, plump, round, delicate and soft ;
Beneath them make her calves full
As were those of the maids of Laconia
When near Eurotas, gripping their arms
They fought together and threw one another down ;
Or indeed hunting with unleashed hounds
Some old stag in the forests of Amyclae.
 
Then, finally, portray her with Thetis’
Narrow feet and small toes.
 
Ha, I see her ! she is almost portayed :
But one stroke more, justl one and she is done.
Raise your hands, ah my god, I see her !
She all but speaks to me.
 
We’ve met the painter Janet – a.k.a. François Clouet, known as Janet (‘Johnny’) as his father had been – before.
 
At the end of book 1, in two long Elegies, Ronsard puts on a firework display of classical names and references. But the two are done very differently: the Elegy to Muret (learned classicist and poet) is full of very obscure and learned references to Achilles; this poem (to Clouet) is full of readily-accessible classical references which point to well-known representations in art and (sometimes) literature, appropriate to a non-specialist like Clouet – and us! Let’s skim through them:
 – Zephyrs, that is to say just ‘gentle breezes’
 – Apelles is the ‘type’ of a great painter
 – Mars and Venus simply personify war and love
 – Ariadne & Theseus on Dia, another well-known image of the lady abandoned as her lover sails into the rising sun
 – Penelope and her husband Odysseus, famously separated for 20 years by his involvement in the Trojan War (Iliad) and then his adventures on the way home (Odyssey)
 – Homer, the ‘type’ of a great poet for his Iliad and Odyssey
 – the Graces, simply personifying ‘grace’ here
 – Juno and Minerva, ‘types’ for beauty because of their competition with Venus for the title of most beautiful in the ‘Judgement of Paris’
 – Dawn’s hands, because Homer always refers to ‘rosy-fingered Dawn’
 – Venus was born (and sometimes lived in) Cythera, with her son Cupid or Love; his brother is usually Anteros, the go of requited (as opposed to unrequited) love – not a god of games or jokes, as Ronsard seems to imply here. But clearly games and happiness in love are what is really going on here
 – the ‘maids of Laconia’ are those hardy Spartan lasses who used to do fighting and hunting like the Spartan boys. The city of Amyclae and the river Eurotas are in Sparta (the Peloponnese)
 – Thetis, a sea-goddess, leading Nereid and mother of Achilles, was surnamed ‘Silver-footed’ in classical times, and her feet are regularly used as a ‘type’ of beauty.
 
Overall, a lovely easy-going poem: Ronsard of course uses the form of the body to create expectation through the poem – we know he’s leading up to the breasts, and later the ‘part he dares not mention’, and that in itself gives the poem a certain sense of rise and fall.
 
The earlier version of course differs in detail, but also includes a whole extra ‘paragraph’ early in the description, later removed:
 
Pein-moy, Janet, pein-moy je te supplie
Sur ce tableau les beautez de m’amie
De la façon que je te les diray.
Comme importun je ne te suppliray
D’un art menteur quelque faveur luy faire.
Il suffit bien si tu la sçais portraire
Telle qu’elle est, sans vouloir desguiser
Son naturel pour la favoriser :
Car la faveur n’est bonne que pour celles
Qui se font peindre, et qui ne sont pas belles.
 
Fay-luy premier les cheveux ondelez,
Nouez, retors, recrespez, annelez,
Qui de couleur le cedre representent :
Ou les allonge, et que libres ils sentent
Dans le tableau, si par art tu le peux,
La mesme odeur de ses propres cheveux :
Car ses cheveux comme fleurettes sentent,
Quand les Zephyrs au printemps les éventent.
 
[Fais-lui le front en bosse revoûté,
Sur lequel soient d’un et d’autre côté
Peints gravement, sur trois sièges d’ivoire
A majesté, la vergogne at la gloire.]
 
Que son beau front ne soit entre-fendu
De nul sillon en profond estendu,
Mais qu’il soit tel qu’est la calme marine,
Quand tant soit peu le vent ne la mutine,
Et que gisante en son lict elle dort,
Calmant ses flots sillez d’un somne mort.
 
Tout au milieu par la gréve descende
Un beau ruby, de qui l’esclat s’espande
Par le tableau, ainsi qu’on voit de nuit
Briller les raiz de la Lune, qui luit
Dessus la neige au fond d’un val coulée,
De trace d’homme encore non foulée.
 
Apres fay luy son beau sourcy voutis
D’Ebene noir, et que son ply tortis
Semble un Croissant, qui monstre par la nuë
Au premier mois sa vouture cornuë :
Ou si jamais tu as veu l’arc d’Amour,
Pren le portrait dessus le demy-tour
De sa courbure à demy-cercle close :
Car l’arc d’Amour et luy n’est qu’une chose.
 
Mais las! mon Dieu, mon Dieu, je ne sçay pas
Par quel moyen, ny comment tu peindras
(Voire eusses-tu l’artifice d’Apelle)
De ses beaux yeux la grace naturelle,
Qui font vergongne aux estoilles des Cieux.
Que l’un soit doux, l’autre soit furieux,
Que l’un de Mars, l’autre de Venus tienne :
Que du benin toute esperance vienne,
Et du cruel vienne tout desespoir :
Ou que l’un soit pitoyable a le voir,
Comme celuy d’Ariadne laissée
Aux bords de Die, alors que l’insensee
Voyant la mer, de pleurs se consommoit,
Et son Thesée en vain elle nommoit :
L’autre soit gay, comme il est bien croyable
Que l’eut jadis Penelope louable
Quand elle vit son mary retourné,
Ayant vingt ans loing d’elle sejourné.
 
Apres fay luy sa rondelette oreille
Petite, unie, entre blanche et vermeille,
Qui sous le voile apparoisse à l’egal
Que fait un lis enclos dans un crystal,
Ou tout ainsi qu’apparoist une rose
Tout fraischement dedans un verre enclose.
 
Mais pour neant tu aurois fait si beau
Tout l’ornement de ton riche tableau,
Si tu n’avois de la lineature
De son beau nez bien portrait la peinture.
Pein-le moy donc gresle, long, aquilin,
Poli, traitis, où l’envieux malin
Quand il voudroit n’y sçauroit que reprendre,
Tant proprement tu le feras descendre
Parmi la face, ainsi comme descend
Dans une plaine un petit mont qui pend.
 
Apres au vif pein moy sa belle joüe
Pareille au teint de la rose qui noüe
Dessus du laict, ou au teint blanchissant
Du lis qui baise un œillet rougissant.
 
Dans le milieu portrais une fossette,
Fossette, non, mais d’Amour la cachette,
D’où ce garçon de sa petite main
Lasche cent traits et jamais un en vain,
Que par les yeux droit au cœur il ne touche.
 
Helas ! Janet, pour bien peindre sa bouche,
A peine Homere en ses vers te diroit
Quel vermillon egaler la pourroit :
Car pour la peindre ainsi qu’elle merite,
Peindre il faudroit celle d’une Charite.
Pein-la moy doncq, qu’elle semble parler,
Ores sou-rire, ores embasmer l’air
De ne sçay quelle ambrosienne haleine :
Mais par sur tout fay qu’elle semble pleine
De la douceur de persuasion.
Tout à l’entour attache un milion
De ris, d’attraits, de jeux, de courtoisies,
Et que deux rangs de perlettes choisies
D’un ordre egal en la place des dents
Bien poliment soyent arrangez dedans.
 
Pein tout autour une lévre bessonne,
Qui d’elle-mesme en s’elevant semonne
D’estre baisée, ayant le teint pareil
Ou de la rose, ou du coural vermeil :
Elle flambante au Printemps sur l’espine,
Luy rougissant au fond de la marine.
 
Pein son menton au milieu fosselu,
Et que le bout en rondeur pommelu
Soit tout ainsi que lon voit apparoistre
Le bout d’un coin qui ja commence à croistre.
 
Plus blanc que laict caillé dessus le jonc
Pein luy le col, mais pein-le un petit long,
Gresle et charnu, et sa gorge doüillette
Comme le col soit un petit longuette.
 
Apres fay luy par un juste compas,
Et de Junon les coudes et les bras,
Et les beaux doigts de Minerve, et encore
La main pareille à celle de l’Aurore.
 
Je ne sçay plus, mon Janet, où j’en suis :
Je suis confus et muet : je ne puis
Comme j’ay fait, te declarer le reste
De ses beautez qui ne m’est manifeste :
Las ! car jamais tant de faveurs je n’eu,
Que d’avoir veu ses beaux tetins à nu.
Mais si l’on peut juger par conjecture,
Persuadé de raisons je m’asseure
Que la beauté qui ne s’apparoit, doit
Estre semblable à celle que lon voit.
Donque pein-la, et qu’elle me soit faite
Parfaite autant comme l’autre est parfaite.
 
Ainsi qu’en bosse esleve moy son sein
Net, blanc, poli, large, profond et plein,
Dedans lequel mille rameuses veines
De rouge sang tressaillent toutes pleines.
 
Puis, quand au vif tu auras descouvers
Dessous la peau les muscles et les ners,
Enfle au dessus deux pommes nouvelettes,
Comme l’on void deux pommes verdelettes
D’un orenger, qui encores du tout
Ne font alors que se rougir au bout.
 
Tout au plus haut des espaules marbrines,
Pein le sejour des Charites divines,
Et que l’Amour sans cesse voletant
Tousjours les couve et les aille esventant,
Pensant voler avec le Jeu son frere
De branche en branche és vergers de Cythere.
 
Un peu plus bas en miroir arrondi,
Tout potelé, grasselet, rebondi,
Comme celuy de Venus, pein son ventre :
Pein son nombril ainsi qu’un petit centre,
Le fond duquel paroisse plus vermeil
Qu’un bel œillet entr’ouvert au Soleil.
 
Qu’atten’s-tu plus ? portray moy l’autre chose
Qui est si belle, et que dire je n’ose,
Et dont l’espoir impatient me poind :
Mais je te pry, ne me l’ombrage point,
Si ce n’estoit d’un voile fait de soye
Clair et subtil, à fin qu’on l’entre-voye.
 
Ses cuisses soyent comme faites au Tour
En grelissant, rondes tout à l’entour,
Ainsi qu’un Terme arrondi d’artifice
Qui soustient ferme un royal edifice.
 
Comme deux monts enleve ses genous,
Douillets, charnus, ronds, delicats et mous,
Dessous lesquels fay luy la gréve pleine,
Telle que l’ont les vierges de Lacene,
Quand pres d’Eurote en s’accrochant des bras
Luttent ensemble et se jettent à bas :
Ou bien chassant à meutes decouplees
Quelque vieil cerf és forests Amyclees.
 
Puis pour la fin portray-luy de Thetis
Les pieds estroits, et les talons petis.
 
Ha, je la voy ! elle est presque portraite :
Encore un trait, encore un, elle est faite.
Leve tes mains, hà mon Dieu, je la voy !
Bien peu s’en faut qu’elle ne parle à moy.
Paint me, Janet, paint me I pray
In this picture the beauties of my beloved
In the manner I’ll tell you them.
I shall not ask as a beggar
That you do her any favours with lying art.
It will be enough if you can portray her
Just as she is, without trying to disguise
Her natural looks to favour her :
For favour is no good but for those
Who have themselves painted but are not fair.
 
First, make her hair in waves,
Knotted up, swept back, curled in ringlets,
Which have the colour of cedar ;
Or make it long and free, scented
In the picture, if you can do it with art,
With the same scent her own hair has ;
For her hair smells like flowers
When the spring Zephyrs fan them.
 
[Make her brow projecting in an arc
On which should be, on each side,
Painted gravely modesty and glory
In majesty on three ivory thrones.
 
Make sure her fair brow is not lined
By any furrow long-extended,
But that it looks like the calm sea
When the wind does not disturb them in the slightest,
And when it sleeps, lying on its bed,
Calming its waves sunk in deepest sleep.
 
Down the middle of this strand make descend
A fair ruby, whose brightness should spread
Throughout the picture, as at night you see
Shining the rays of the moon, spreading light
Over the snow in the deeps of a sunken valley
Still untrodden by the foot of man.
 
Then make her fair arched eyebrow
Of black ebony, so that its curve
Resembles a crescent moon, showing through cloud
Its horned arc at the beginning of the month ;
Or, if you have ever seen Love’s bow,
Use its image above, the half-turn
Of its curve makig a half-circle ;
For Love’s bow and herself are but one thing.
 
But ah, my God, my God, I do not know
In what way or how you will paint
(Even if you had the skill of Apelles)
The natural grace of her lovely eyes
Which make the stars of Heaven ashamed.
Make one sweet, the other furious,
One having something of Mars, the other of Venus :
That from the kind one, every hope should come,
And from the cruel one, every despair ;
Or, let one be pitiful to see,
Like that of Ariadne abandoned
On the shores of Dia, while maddened
She was consumed in tears watching the sea
And called on her Theseus in vain ;
Let the other be happy, as we can believe
The praiseworthy Penelope was formerly
When she saw her husband returned
After staying for twenty years far from her.
 
Next, make her rounded ear,
Small, elegant, between white and pink,
Which should appear beneath its veil exactly
As a lily does, enclosed in crystal,
Or just a a rose would appear,
Completely fresh, enclosed in a vase.
 
But you would have painted so well
Every ornament of your rich picture, for nothing
If you had not well-depicted the line
Of her fair nose.
Paint me it, then, slender, long, aquiline,
Elegant and well-made, so the wicked or envious
Even if he wanted could not reprove,
So exactly you’ll have made it descend
In the midst of her face, just as descends
Over a plain a little raised mound.
 
Then as in life paint me her fair cheek,
Equal to the tint of a rose which swims
Upon milk, or to the white tint
Of the lily kissing a blushing pink.
 
In the middle,portray a small dimple –
No not a dimple, but the hiding-place of Love
From which that boy with his little hand
Launches a hundred arrows and never one in vain
Which does not through the eyes go straight to the heart.
 
Ah, Janet ! to paint her mouth well
Homer himself in his vere could barely say
What crimson could equal it ;
For to paint it as it deserves
You would need to paint a Grace’s.
So, paint me it as she seems to be talking,
Now smiling, now perfuming the air
With some kind of ambrosial breath ;
But above all make her appear full
Of the sweetness of persuasion.
All around, attach a million
Smiles, attractiveness, jokes, courtesies ;
And let there be two rows of choice little pearls
In a neat line, in place of teeth,
Elegantly arrayed within.
 
Paint all round them those twin lips
Which, rising up, themselves invite
Being kissed, their colour equal
To a rose’s or crimson coral’s ;
The one flaming in spring on its thorn,
The other reddening at the bottom of the sea.
 
Paint her chin dimpled in the middle
And make the tip bud into roundness
Just as if we were seeing appear
The tip of a quince just beginning to grow.
 
Whiter than clotted cream on rushes
Paint her neck, but paint it a little long,
Slender but plump, and her soft throat
Like her neck should be a little long.
 
Then make her, accurately drawn,
The arms and elbows of Juno
And the lovely fingers of Minerva, and too
Hands like the Dawn’s.
 
I no longer know, Janet, where I am :
I am confused, dumb : I cannot
As I have done tell you the rest
Of her beauties which have not been shown me.
Ah, I have never had the good favour
To have seen her fair breasts naked,
But if we may judge by conjecture
With good reason I am convinced
That the beauty which is unseen should
Be like that we see.
So paint her, and let her be made
Perfect just as the lady herself is perfect.
 
As if embossed, raise up her breast
Clear, white, elegant, wide, deep, full,
Within which a thousand branchy veins
Filled with red blood quiver.
 
Then when as in life you have revealed
Beneath the skin the muscles and nerves,
Make swell on top two fresh apples,
Just as you night see two green apples
In an orchard, which still and all
Just grow redder at the tip.
 
Right above her marble shoulders
Paint the divine Graces resting,
And let Love ceaselessly flying around
Gaze on them always and keep fanning them,
Thinking he’s flying with Jest, his brother,
From branch to branch in the orchards of Cythera.
 
A little below, rounded like a mirror,
All rounded, plump and shapely,
Like that of Venus, paint her belly ;
Paint its button like a little target
The depths of which should appear more crimson
Than the lovely carnation, half-open to the Sun.
 
What are you waiting for ? Paint me that other part
Which is so lovely, and which I dare not mention,
And impatient hope for which pricks me :
But I beg you, do not cover it over
Unless it be with a veil made of silk,
Clear and fine, that you can party see through.
 
Her thighs should be made like towers
Becoming slenderer, rounded all about,
Just as a column artfully rounded
Which firmly holds up a royal building.
 
Like two hills raise up her knees
Downy, plump, round, delicate and soft ;
Beneath them make her calves full
As were those of the maids of Laconia
When near Eurotas, gripping their arms
They fought together and threw one another down ;
Or indeed hunting with unleashed hounds
Some old stag in the forests of Amyclae.
 
Then, finally, portray her with Thetis’
Narrow feet and small toes.
 
Ha, I see her ! she is almost portayed :
But one stroke more, justl one and she is done.
Raise your hands, ah my god, I see her !
She all but speaks to me.
 
 
 
 

Élégie à Cassandre (Am. 1.227b)

Standard

 

Mon œil, mon cœur, ma Cassandre, ma vie,
Hé! qu’à bon droit tu dois porter d’envie
A ce grand Roy, qui ne veut plus souffrir
Qu’à mes chansons ton nom se vienne offrir.
C’est luy qui veut qu’en trompette j’echange
Mon luth, afin d’entonner sa louange,
Non de luy seul mais de tous ses ayeux
Qui sont là hault assis au rang des Dieux.
 
Je le feray puis qu’il me le commande :
Car d’un tel Roy la puissance est si grande,
Que tant s’en faut qu’on la puisse eviter,
Qu’un camp armé n’y pourroit resister.
 
Mais que me sert d’avoir tant leu Tibulle,
Properce, Ovide, et le docte Catulle,
Avoir tant veu Petrarque et tant noté,
Si par un Roy le pouvoir m’est oté
De les ensuyvre, et s’il faut que ma Iyre
Pendue au croc ne m’ose plus rien dire ?
 
Doncques en vain je me paissois d’espoir
De faire un jour à la Tuscane voir,
Que nostre France, autant qu’elle, est heureuse
A souspirer une pleinte amoureuse :
Et pour monstrer qu’on la peut surpasser,
J’avois desja commencé de trasser
Mainte Elegie à la façon antique,
Mainte belle Ode, et mainte Bucolique.
 
Car, à vray dire, encore mon esprit
N’est satisfait de ceux qui ont escrit
En nostre langue, et leur amour merite
Ou du tout rien, ou faveur bien petite.
 
Non que je sois vanteur si glorieux
D’oser passer les vers laborieux
De tant d’amans qui se pleignent en France :
Mais pour le moins j’avoy bien esperance,
Que si mes vers ne marchoient les premiers,
Qu’ils ne seroient sans honneur les derniers.
Car Eraton qui les amours descœuvre,
D’assez bon œil m’attiroit à son œuvre.
 
L’un trop enflé les chante grossement,
L’un enervé les traine bassement,
L’un nous depeint une Dame paillarde,
L’un plus aux vers qu’aux sentences regarde,
Et ne peut onq tant se sceut desguiser,
Apprendre l’art de bien Petrarquiser.
 
Que pleures-tu, Cassandre, ma douce ame ?
Encor Amour ne veut couper la trame
Qu’en ta faveur je pendis au métier,
Sans achever l’ouvrage tout entier.
 
Mon Roy n’a pas d’une beste sauvage
Succé le laict, et son jeune courage,
Ou je me trompe, a senti quelquefois
Le trait d’Amour qui surmonte les Rois.
 
S’il l’a senti, ma coulpe est effacee,
Et sa grandeur ne sera corroucee
Qu’à mon retour des horribles combas,
Hors de son croc mon Luth j’aveigne à-bas,
Le pincetant, et qu’en lieu des alarmes
Je chante Amour, tes beautez et mes larmes.
« Car l’arc tendu trop violentement,
« Ou s’alentit, ou se rompt vistement.
 
Ainsi Achille apres avoir par terre
Tant fait mourir de soudars en la guerre,
Son Luth doré prenoit entre ses mains
Teintes encor de meurdres inhumains,
Et vis à vis du fils de Menetie,
Chantoit l’amour de Brisëis s’amie :
Puis tout soudain les armes reprenoit,
Et plus vaillant au combat retoumoit.
 
Ainsi, apres que l’ayeul de mon maistre
Hors des combats retirera sa dextre,
Se desarmant dedans sa tente à part,
Dessus le Luth à l’heure ton Ronsard
Te chantera : car il ne se peut faire
Qu’autre beauté luy puisse jamais plaire,
Ou soit qu’il vive, ou soit qu’outre le port,
Leger fardeau, Charon le passe mort.
My eyes, my heart, my Cassandre, my life,
Oh, how rightly you must be envious
Of that great King who no longer wishes to suffer
Your name to put itself forward in my songs.
It is he who wishes that I should change my lute
For a trumpet, to sing out his praises,
And not only his own but those of his ancestors
Who are seated above in the ranks of the gods.
 
I shall do it, as he commands it :
For the power of such a King is so great
That it is as hard to keep out of its way
As for an armed force to resist it.
 
What use for me to have read so much of Tibullus,
Propertius, Ovid, and the learned Catullus ;
To have looked over and noted so much of Petrarch,
If by a King the power is taken from me
Of following them, and if my lyre must
Hang from a hook and dare no longer speak ?
 
I have therefore vainly fed the hope
Of one day seeing Tuscany,
When our France, as much as it, is happy
To sigh a lover’s plaint ;
And, to show [Italy] can be surpassed
I had already begun to set down
Many an Elegy in the antique fashion,
Many a fine Ode, many a Pastoral.
 
For to speak the truth, my soul is still
Not satisfied with those who have written
In our language, and their love deserves
Either nothing at all, or very little favour.
 
Not that I am so vainglorious a boaster
As to venture to surpass the laborious poetry
Of so many lovers who have made their plaints in France ;
But at least I have a fair hope
That, even if my verse does not go first,
It will not be dishonourably last.
For Erato, who discloses love-affairs,
Drew me with a clear eye to her work.
 
One puffed-up poet sings grossly of love,
Another nervous one drags on in too mean a style ;
One depicts a Lady who is lewd,
Another takes more care over his verse than his meaning
And can never, however he tries to conceal it,
Learn the art of Petrarch-ising well.
 
Why do you weep, Cassandre, my sweet soul ?
Love does not yet seek to cut off the warp and weft
Which I have hung on my loom for you,
Without completing the whole of my work.
 
My King has not sucked the milk of some
Savage beast, and his youthful courage too,
Unless I am mistaken, has sometimes felt
The wound of Love which can overcome Kings.
 
If he has felt it, my [ error ] is erased
And his greatness will not be angered
If, on my return from terrible battles,
I take my lute down from its hook
And pluck it, and instead of loud war
I sing of Love, your beauty, and my tears.
« For the bow which is drawn too tightly
Either weakens [slows] or quickly breaks. »
 
Just so Achilles, after having across the world
Put so many soldiers to death in war,
Took his golden lute in his hands –
Still stained with inhuman massacres –
And sitting opposite the son of Menetius
Sang of his love for Briseis, his beloved ;
Then as suddenly took up arms again
And returned, more courageous, to battle.
 
And so, after my master’s ancestor
Withdraws his hand from battle,
Disarming himself within his tent away from the field,
Upon his lute just then your Ronsard will sing
To you ; for it cannot be
That another beauty could ever please him
While he is alive or when, beyond this harbour,
Charon carries his light burden, dead.
 
 
The conclusion of the first book of Amours brings with it some weightier material to give it a firm feeling of ending – rather like Beethoven’s 5th, which iterates and reiterates the thumping C-major chords to emphasise that this really is the end of the piece, Ronsard feels (rightly) that he cannot simply end the long run of sonnets without something more definitely marking a conclusion. Perhaps there is, nonetheless, a sense of loss as Ronsard explains how he must stop writing love poetry to focus, by royal command, on his epic Franciad.
 
The Elegy to Cassandre is an elegy in the classical sense – a description of its form, rather than its mood (as we use it today to mean ‘something noble but sad, in remembrance’). Accordingly, it is full of classical (and neo-classical) references:
 – Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, and Catullus are all Latin love-poets; and we might detect a glancing reference to one of Horace’s odes in the lines about ‘hanging his lyre on a hook’;
 – Petrarch is of course the shining example of (relatively) modern love-poetry, Tuscany his home;
 – Erato is the muse of lyric poetry;
 – in the Iliad Achilles sings of the slave-girl Briseis whom he loves (and who plays a pivotal role in the development of the action); his other (male) love is Patroclus, the son of Menoetius;
 – Charon is of course the boatman who ferries the dead across the river Styx.
 
Muret suggests that, in the last ‘stanza’, Ronsard is using the word “ayeul” (ancestor, grandfather) to refer to Francus, the mythical ancestor of the kings of France – and thus to the Franciad, the commission for which has drawn Ronsard forcibly away from writing love-poems.  (The ‘great king’ at the time of the publication of the Amours in the 1550s was Henri II; his direct ancestors were noble rather than royal, his father having come to the throne by virtue of his marriage to Louis XII’s daughter.)
 
 
The earlier Blanchemain version has only minor differences:
 – in stanza 3, the list of Roman poets is “Tibulle, / Gallus, Ovide, et Properce et Catulle,” – Cornelius Gallus was a lyric poet contemporary with the others;
 – in stanza 5, the line is “En nostre langue, et leur Muse merite” (‘and their Muse deserves’ instead of ‘their love’);
– towards the end, “Mon Roy n’a pas d’une tigre sauvage …” (a savage tiger’s milk rather than a savage beast’s).
 
 
 
 
 
 

Elegy XVI (Ronsard’s autobiography) – epic 200th post :-)

Standard

This is my 200th post (though not yet the 200th poem), so I wanted to do something special. In the end it has snowballed a bit and this post is going to be monstrously long…!!  Hope you enjoy it anyway.

In his Elegies, Ronsard included a poem – addressed to his old friend Remy Belleau – which provides his family background and details of his early life – sometimes uncorroborated details we only learn here but often events we can triangulate against other records. So, here is his Elegy XVI (or in Blanchemain’s numbering Elegy XX), with translations, annotations and added biographical detail…   🙂

It is worth noting before we start, though, that this poem was published in the Bocage in 1554 addressed to his friend Pierre de Pascal [Paschal] “du bas païs de Languedoc” (‘from the low country of Languedoc’), not to Remy Belleau!  In that version Durbam/Durban [Michel-Pierre de Mauléon, protonotary of Durban], not Baïf, is the 3rd in their group in the final line…

1 – the poem

As usual, in Marty-Laveaux’s edition (Ronsard’s latest thoughts) first:

Je veux, mon cher Belleau, que tu n’ignores point
D’où, ne qui est celuy, que les Muses ont joint
D’un nœud si ferme à toy, afin que des années,
A nos neveux futurs, les courses retournées
Ne celent que Belleau et Ronsard n’estoient qu’un,
Et que tous deux avoient un mesme cœur commun.
 
 
 
Or quant à mon ancestre, il a tiré sa race
D’où le glacé Danube est voisin de la Thrace :
Plus bas que la Hongrie, en une froide part,
Est un Seigneur nommé le Marquis de Ronsart,
Riche d’or et de gens, de villes et de terre.
Un de ses fils puisnez ardant de voir la guerre,
Un camp d’autres puisnez assembla hazardeux,
Et quittant son pays, faict Capitaine d’eux
Traversa la Hongroie et la basse Allemaigne.
Traversa la Bourgongne et la grasse Champaigne,
Et hardy vint servir Philippes de Valois,
Qui pour lors avoit guerre encontre les Anglois.
 
Il s’employa si bien au service de France,
Que le Roy luy donna des biens à suffisance
Sur les rives du Loir : puis du tout oubliant
Freres, pere et pays, François se mariant
Engendra les ayeux dont est sorty le pere
Par qui premier je vy ceste belle lumiere.
 
 
Mon pere fut tousjours en son vivant icy
Maistre-d’hostel du Roy, et le suivit aussi
Tant qu’il fut prisonnier pour son pere en Espaigne :
Faut-il pas qu’un servant son Seigneur accompaigne
Fidele à sa fortune, et qu’en adversité
Luy soit autant loyal qu’en la felicité ?

Du costé maternel j’ay tiré mon lignage
De ceux de la Trimouille, et de ceux du Bouchage,
Et de ceux des Roüaux, et de ceux des Chaudriers
Qui furent en leurs temps si vertueux guerriers,
Que leur noble vertu que Mars rend eternelle
Reprint sur les Anglois les murs de la Rochelle,
Où l’un fut si vaillant qu’encores aujourd’huy
Une rue à son los porte le nom de luy.
 
Mais s’il te plaist avoir autant de cognoissance
(Comme de mes ayeux) du jour de ma naissance,
Mon Belleau, sans mentir je diray verité
Et de l’an et du jour de ma nativité.
 
 
L’an que le Roy François fut pris devant Pavie,
Le jour d’un Samedy, Dieu me presta la vie
L’onzieme de Septembre, et presque je me vy
Tout aussi tost que né, de la Parque ravy.
 
 
Je ne fus le premier des enfants de mon pere,
Cinq davant ma naissance en enfanta ma mere :
Deux sont morts au berceau, aux trois vivans en rien
Semblable je ne suis ny de mœurs ny de bien.
 
Si tost que j’eu neuf ans, au college on me meine :
Je mis tant seulement un demy an de peine
D’apprendre les leçons du regent de Vailly,
Puis sans rien profiter du college sailly.
Je vins en Avignon, où la puissante armée
Du Roy François estoit fierement animée
Contre Charles d’Autriche, et là je fus donné
Page au Duc d’Orleans : apres je fus mené
Suivant le Roi d’Escosse en l’Escossoise terre,
Où trente mois je fus, et six en Angleterre.
 
 
A mon retour ce Duc pour page me reprint :
Long temps à l’Escurie en repos ne me tint
Qu’il me renvoyast en Flandres et Zelande,
Et depuis en Escosse, où la tempeste grande
Avecques Lassigni, cuida faire toucher
Poussée aux bords Anglois la nef contre un rocher.
 
Plus de trois jours entiers dura ceste tempeste,
D’eau, de gresle et d’esclairs nous menassant la teste :
A la fin arrivez sans nul danger au port,
La nef en cent morceaux se rompt contre le bord,
Nous laissant sur la rade, et point n’y eut de perte
Sinon elle qui fut des flots salez couverte,
Et le bagage espars que le vent secoüoit,
Et qui servoit flottant aux ondes de jouet.
 
 
D’Escosse retourné, je fus mis hors de page,
Et à peine seize ans avoient borné mon âge,
Que l’an cinq cens quarante avec Baïf je vins
En la haute Allemaigne, où la langue j’apprins.
 
Mais làs ! à mon retour une aspre maladie
Par ne sçay quel destin me vint boucher l’ouie,
Et dure m’accabla d’assommement si lourd,
Qu’encores aujourd’huy j’en reste demy-sourd.
L’an d’apres en Avril, Amour me fist surprendre,
Suivant la Cour à Blois, des beaux yeux de Cassandre
Soit le nom faux ou vray, jamais le temps veinqueur
N’effacera ce nom du marbre de mon cœur.
 
 
 
 
Convoiteux de sçavoir, disciple je vins estre
De d’Aurat à Paris, qui cinq ans fut mon maistre
En Grec et en Latin : chez luy premierement
Nostre ferme amitié print son commencement,
Laquelle dans mon ame à tout jamais, et celle
De nostre amy Baïf sera perpetuelle.
 
I’d like, my dear Belleau, for you not to be in any way uninformed
About where he’s from, and who he is, this man whom the Muses have bound
With so firm a knot to you, such that the years’
Course turning will not hide from our future descendants
That Belleau and Ronsard were but one person,
The two joined by one shared heart.
 
So, as for my first ancestor, he came from roots
Where the freezing Danube runs beside Thrace;
Lower down than Hungary, in a cold region,
There was a Lord named Marquis of Ronsart,
Rich in gold and retainers, in towns and lands.
One of his younger sons, eager to see war,
Assembled a band of other daring younger sons
And, leaving his country, as their Captain
Crossed Hungary and lower Germany,
Crossed Burgundy and rich Champagne,
And boldly came to serve Philip of Valois
Who for some time had been at war with the English.
 
He acted so well in the service of France
That the King gave him plentiful holdings
On the banks of the Loir; then forgetting all about
Brothers, father and homeland, as a Frenchman he married
And bore the ancestors from whom descended the father
Through whom I first saw this fair light.
 
My father was always while living here
In charge of the King’s household, and he followed him
Even when he was a prisoner in Spain for his father;
Shouldn’t a servant accompany his Lord,
Loyal to his fate, and in bad times
Be as loyal to him as in good?
 
On my mother’s side, I take my lineage
From the people of Trimouille, of Bouchage,
Of Rouaux, and of Chaudriers;
They were in their time such brave warriors
That their noble bravery (may Mars make it everlasting)
Re-took from the English the walls of La Rochelle,
Where one of them was so valiant that even today
In his honour a street bears his name.
 
But if it would please you to have as much information
About the date of my birth, as about my ancestors,
Dear Belleau, then without falsifying anything I shall tell you the true
Date, both the year and the day, of my birth.
 
The year in which King Francis was taken before Pavia,
On a Saturday, God granted me life –
The 11th September it was – and I very nearly found myself
As soon as born, torn away by Fate.
 
I was not the first of my father’s children,
My mother had produced five children before my birth:
Two died in the cradle, and to the three living am I
In no way similar in either way of life or wealth.
 
As soon as I was nine, they sent me to college,
But I spent only half a year troubling
To learn the lessons of the master, de Vailly.
Then I left having gained nothing from college.
I came to Avignon, where the powerful army
Of King Francis was proudly in action
Against Charles of Austria; and there I was granted
The role of page to the Duke of Orleans; afterwards I was sent
In the King of Scotland’s entourage to Scotland
Where I spent 30 months, and six in England.
 
On my return the Duke took me back as page,
But I did not stay quietly in the Royal Mews for long
Before he sent me to Flanders and Zeeland
And then to Scotland, where a great storm
Tried to drive the ship, along with Lassigni,
Onto the rocks, after blowing it to the coast of England.
 
More than three whole days the storm lasted,
Menacing our lives with water, hail and lightning;
In the end, as we arrived with no danger at port,
The ship broke into a hundred pieces on the coast
Leaving us in the harbour with no losses
Except the ship herself, sunk in the salty waves,
And our widely-scattered baggage blown about by the wind
Which used it as a plaything as it floated on the waves.
 
Returned from Scotland I lost my job as page
And had barely reached the age of sixteen
When in 1540 I went with Baïf
To Upper Germany, where I learned the language.
 
But alas, on my return a terrible illness
For some end unknown came and stopped up my hearing,
And hit me hard with a blow so heavy
That still today I remain half-deaf as a result.
The year after, in April, love took me unawares
As I followed the Court to Blois, through the fair eyes of Cassandre.
Whether that name is her true one or not, never will conquering time
Wipe that name from the marble [memorial] in my heart.
 
Eager to learn, I came to be the disciple
Of d’Aurat in Paris, and he was for five years my teacher
In Greek and Latin; it was at his home that first
Our firm friendship began
And it shall for all time in my soul, along with that
For our friend Baïf, be everlasting.
 
 

Inevitably, there are varants in Blanchemain’s edition (Ronsard’s first version):  for simplicity here is the whole poem with changes marked in red:

ELEGIE XX
A REMY BELLEAU
Excellent Poëte françois
 
Je veux, mon cher Belleau, que tu n’ignores point
D’où, ne qui est celuy, que les Muses ont joint
D’un nœud si ferme à toy, afin que des années,
A nos neveux futurs, les courses retournées
Ne celent que Belleau et Ronsard n’estoient qu’un,
Et que tous deux avoient un mesme cœur commun.
 
 
 
Or quant à mon ancestre, il a tiré sa race
D’où le glacé Danube est voisin de la Thrace :
Plus bas que la Hongrie, en une froide part,
Est un Seigneur nommé le Marquis de Ronsart,
Riche d’or et de gens, de villes et de terre.
Un de ses fils puisnez ardant de voir la guerre,
Un camp d’autres puisnez assembla hazardeux,
Et quittant son pays, faict Capitaine d’eux
Traversa la Hongrie et la basse Allemaigne.
Traversa la Bourgongne et toute la Champaigne,
Et soudard vint servir Philippes de Valois,
Qui pour lors avoit guerre encontre les Anglois.
 
Il s’employa si bien au service de France,
Que le Roy luy donna des biens à suffisance
Sur les rives du Loir : puis du tout oubliant
Freres, pere et pays, François se mariant
Engendra les ayeux dont est sorty le pere
Par qui premier je vy ceste belle lumiere.
 
 
Mon pere de Henry gouverna la maison,
Fils du grand Roy François, quand il fut en prison
Servant de seur hostage à son pere en Espagne:
Faut-il pas qu’un servant son Seigneur accompaigne
Fidele à sa fortune, et qu’en adversité
Luy soit autant loyal qu’en la felicité ?
 
 
Du costé maternel j’ay tiré mon lignage
De ceux de la Trimouille, et de ceux du Bouchage,
Et de ceux des Roüaux, et de ceux des Chaudriers
Qui furent en leurs temps si vertueux guerriers,
Que leur noble prouesse, au fait des armes belle
Reprint sur les Anglois les murs de la Rochelle,
Où l’un fut si vaillant qu’encores aujourd’huy
Une rue à son los porte le nom de luy.
 
Mais s’il te plaist avoir autant de cognoissance
(Comme de mes ayeux) du jour de ma naissance,
Mon Belleau, sans mentir je diray verité
Et de l’an et du jour de ma nativité.
 
 
L’an que le Roy François fut pris devant Pavie,
Le jour d’un Samedy, Dieu me presta la vie
L’onziesme de Septembre, et presque je me vy
Tout aussi tost que né, de la Parque ravy.
 
 
Je ne fus le premier des enfants de mon père,
Cinq avant moy longtemps en enfanta ma mere :
Deux sont morts au berceau, aux trois vivans en rien
Semblable je ne suis ny de mœurs ny de bien.
 
Si tost que j’eu neuf ans, au college on me meine :
Je mis tant seulement un demy an de peine
D’apprendre les leçons du regent de Vailly,
Puis sans rien profiter du college sailly,
Je vins en Avignon, où la puissante armée
Du Roy François estoit fierement animée
Contre Charles d’Austriche, et là je fus donné
Page au Duc d’Orleans : apres je fus mené
Suivant le Roy d’Escosse en l’Escossoise terre,
Où trente mois je fus, et six en Angleterre.
 
 
A mon retour ce Duc pour Pape me reprint :
Et guere à l’Escurie en repos ne me tint
Qu’il me renvoyast en Flandres et Zelande,
Et encore en Escosse, où la tempeste grande
Avecques Lassigni, cuida faire toucher
Poussée aux bords Anglois ma nef contre un rocher.
 
 
 
Plus de trois jours entiers dura ceste tempeste,
D’eau, de gresle et d’esclairs nous menassant la teste :
A la fin arrivez sans nul danger au port,
La nef en cent morceaux se rompt contre le bord,
Nous laissant sur la rade, et point n’y eut de perte
Sinon elle qui fut des flots salez couverte,
Et le bagage espars que le vent secoüoit,
Et qui servoit flottant aux ondes de jouet.
 
 
D’Escosse retourné, je fus mis hors de page,
Et à peine seize ans avoient borné mon âge,
Que l’an cinq cens quarante avec Baïf je vins
En la haute Allemaigne, où la langue j’apprins.
 
Mais làs ! à mon retour une aspre maladie
Par ne sçay quel destin me vint boucher l’ouie,
Et dure m’accabla d’assommement si lourd,
Qu’encores aujourd’huy j’en reste demy-sourd.
L’an d’apres en Avril, Amour me fist surprendre,
Suivant la Cour à Blois, des beaux yeux de Cassandre
Soit le nom faux ou vray, jamais le temps veinqueur
N’ostera ce beau nom du marbre de mon cœur.
 
 
 
 
 
Incontinent apres disciple je vins estre
A Paris, de Daurat qui cinq ans fut mon maistre
En Grec et en Latin : chez luy premierement
Nostre ferme amitié print son commencement,
Laquelle dans mon ame à tout jamais, et celle
De nostre amy Baïf sera perpetuelle.
 
ELEGY 20
TO REMY BELLEAU
Excellent poet of France
 
I’d like, my dear Belleau, for you not to be in any way uninformed
About where he’s from, and who he is, this man whom the Muses have bound
With so firm a knot to you, such that the years’
Course turning will not hide from our future descendants
That Belleau and Ronsard were but one person,
The two joined by one shared heart.
 
So, as for my first ancestor, he came from roots
Where the freezing Danube runs beside Thrace;
Lower down than Hungary, in a cold region,
There was a Lord named Marquis of Ronsart,
Rich in gold and retainers, in towns and lands.
One of his younger sons, eager to see war,
Assembled a band of other daring younger sons
And, leaving his country, as their Captain
Crossed Hungary and lower Germany,
Crossed Burgundy and all of Champagne,
And came as a mercenary to serve Philip of Valois
Who for some time had been at war with the English.
 
He acted so well in the service of France
That the King gave him plentiful holdings
On the banks of the Loir; then forgetting all about
Brothers, father and homeland, as a Frenchman he married
And bore the ancestors from whom descended the father
Through whom I first saw this fair light.
 
My father managed the household of Henry,
Son of the great King Francis, serving his lord
When he was in prison as a hostage for his father in Spain;
Shouldn’t a servant accompany his Lord,
Loyal to his fate, and in bad times
Be as loyal to him as in good?
 
On my mother’s side, I take my lineage
From the people of Trimouille, of Bouchage,
Of Rouaux, and of Chaudriers;
They were in their time such brave warriors
That their noble prowess, fair in deeds of arms,
Re-took from the English the walls of La Rochelle,
Where one of them was so valiant that even today
In his honour a street bears his name.
 
But if it would please you to have as much information
About the date of my birth, as about my ancestors,
Dear Belleau, then without falsifying anything I shall tell you the true
Date, both the year and the day, of my birth.
 
The year in which King Francis was taken before Pavia,
On a Saturday, God granted me life –
The 11th September it was – and I very nearly found myself
As soon as born, torn away by Fate.
 
I was not the first of my father’s children,
My mother had produced five long before me;
Two died in the cradle, and to the three living am I
In no way similar in either way of life or wealth.
 
As soon as I was nine, they sent me to college,
But I spent only half a year troubling
To learn the lessons of the master, de Vailly.
Then I left having gained nothing from college.
I came to Avignon, where the powerful army
Of King Francis was proudly in action
Against Charles of Austria; and there I was granted
The role of page to the Duke of Orleans; afterwards I was sent
In the King of Scotland’s entourage to Scotland
Where I spent 30 months, and six in England.
 
On my return the Duke took me back [on the Pope’s behalf??]
   [surely a misprint for ‘page’?!]
But barely had I stopped quietly in the Royal Mews
Before he sent me to Flanders and Zeeland
And again to Scotland, where a great storm
Tried to drive my ship, along with Lassigni,
Onto the rocks, after blowing it to the coast of England.
 
More than three whole days the storm lasted,
Menacing our lives with water, hail and lightning;
In the end, as we arrived with no danger at port,
The ship broke into a hundred pieces on the coast
Leaving us in the harbour with no losses
Except the ship herself, sunk in the salty waves,
And our widely-scattered baggage blown about by the wind
Which used it as a plaything as it floated on the waves.
 
Returned from Scotland I lost my job as page
And had barely reached the age of sixteen
When in 1540 I went with Baïf
To Upper Germany, where I learned the language.
 
But alas, on my return a terrible illness
For some end unknown came and stopped up my hearing,
And hit me hard with a blow so heavy
That still today I remain half-deaf as a result.
The year after, in April, love took me unawares
As I followed the Court to Blois, through the fair eyes of Cassandre.
Whether that name is her true one or not, never will conquering time
Remove that fair name from the marble [memorial] in my heart.
 
Immediately afterwards, I came to be the disciple
Of Daurat in Paris, and he was for five years my teacher
In Greek and Latin; it was at his home that first
Our firm friendship began
And it shall for all time in my soul, along with that
For our friend Baïf, be everlasting.

(As noted in the text, I assume the printing of “Pape” instead of “page” is a typo. My approximation of what the Pope might be doing in there is really not a translation of what the French says in any case!)

2 – biographical notes

(i) Blanchemain

Blanchemain litters his text with footnotes: as he puts it “we have retained (‘conservé’) all the notes on this piece…” – though I am not sure which early edition he’s “conserved” them from. So here are the relevant lines from the translation of his edition (above), paired with his notes. My own additions or clarifications are in [brackets]:
So, as for my first ancestor, he came from roots
Where the freezing Danube runs beside Thrace;
Lower down than Hungary, in a cold region,
There was a Lord named Marquis of Ronsart,
Rich in gold and retainers, in towns and lands.
One of his younger sons, eager to see war,
Assembled a band of other daring younger sons
And, leaving his country, as their Captain
Crossed Hungary and lower Germany,
Crossed Burgundy and all of Champagne,
And came as a mercenary to serve Philip of Valois
Who for some time had been at war with the English.
He acted so well in the service of France
That the King gave him plentiful holdings
On the banks of the Loir;
This ancestor of our poet, who came from the lower Danube to offer his services to Philip of Valois, was called Marucini or Mârâcinâ like his father, who added to his name the title of Bano (Ban). Once settled in France he translated his paternal name and title literally, changing ‘bano’ into Marquis and Marucini (=Ronces – bramble; or Roncière – bramble-bush) into Ronsard. Source: Ubicini 1855, Romanian Popular Songs collected by Alecsandri [see further the notes below about Alecsandri’s contribution on this origins story].
My father managed the household of Henry,
Son of the great King Francis, serving his lord
When he was in prison as a hostage for his father in Spain;

Henry = Henry II, then Duke of Orleans. It was a great thing at that time to be in charge of the king’s household; for his responsibilities were given only to noble folk and there were no valets [grooms] who were not gentlemen.

King Francis I, who was captured before Pavia covered in dust and blood, returned to France [in exchange for] leaving his two sons, Francis the dauphin & Henry Duke of Orleans (later king) as hostages in Spain.

On my mother’s side, I take my lineage
From the people of Trimouille, of Bouchage,
Of Rouaux, and of Chaudriers;

Trimouille: the princess, mother of the Prince of Condé, bore this name.  Bouchage: of the house of Joyeuse, father of madame de Guise, mother of mlle. De Montpensier.  Rouaux: from which came that great warrior Joachim Roüaut [Rouault], marshal of France under Charles VII [actually, under Louis XI in 1461 rather than under Charles; Jeanne Chaudrier, Ronsard’s mother, was a descendant].  Chaudriers: an ancient house [going back to the Mayor of la Rochelle c1300;  Ronsard’s mother was also Dame du Bouchaige].

 … and I very nearly found myself
As soon as born, torn away by Fate.

The maid carrying him when they were taking him to baptism dropped him on a meadow, specified as the pré Bouju by Cohen(!).

Two died in the cradle, and to the three living am I
In no way similar in either way of life or wealth.

Descended from the eldest brother and still alive in 1623, his grandsons, were de la Poissonière & the knight Ronsard, and several girls descended from one or the other of the children.

 As soon as I was nine, they sent me to college,

He studied at the college in Navarre under a man called de Vailly, beneath whom also studied the Cardinal of Lorraine [a member of the influential Guise family].

 I came to Avignon, where the powerful army
Of King Francis was proudly in action
Against Charles of Austria; and there I was granted
The role of page to the Duke of Orleans; afterwards I was sent
In the King of Scotland’s entourage to Scotland
Where I spent 30 months, and six in England.

Charles = Charles V, [Holy Roman] Emperor and King of Spain, who attacked Provence and who boasted he’d hold Paris like Madrid.

Orleans = Henry II, being Dauphin on the death of his brother, poisoned at Tournon by the Count of Montecuculo [Count Sebastiano de Montecuccoli, secretary to the Dauphin, was executed for his murder though it is likely the Dauphin died of tuberculosis].

Ronsard made the journey to Scotland in 1536, in the entourage of James V who had just married Madeleine, daughter of Francis I, in Paris. That king married secondly [Mary of Guise] the sister of M de Guise, Francis of Lorraine; from whence comes the blood-relationship between the Guise family & the king of England.

Before he sent me to Flanders and Zeeland
And again to Scotland, where a great storm
Tried to drive my ship, along with Lassigni,
Onto the rocks,

Flanders: the Duke of Orleans sent Ronsard, who was his page, to Flanders and Zeeland, with several letters of credit that he sent to his mistress, niece of the Emperor.

Lassigni: a French lord.

When in 1540 I went with Baïf
To Upper Germany,

This was Lazare Baïf, a gentleman of Anjou, related to those [gentlemen] de Laval [an important family, producing several marshals of France in mid-1400s] and de Guimené; the king’s ambassador in Germany as he had been in Venice; a very learned man, witness the books he wrote De re navali [About naval matters] and De re vestiaria [Concerning clothes]. He was father of Jean Antoine Baïf, excellent poet.

(ii) additional notes

“My father was always while living here
In charge of the King’s household “
“My father managed the household of Henry,
Son of the great King Francis, serving his lord
When he was in prison as a hostage for his father in Spain;”

Loys de Ronsard served Louis XII with distinction in the Italian wars between 1495 and 1515 – being present at the taking of Milan in 1499 and Genoa in 1507, the capture of Ludovico Sforza in 1500, and the battles of Agnadello (1509) and Marignano (1515). After the King’s death Loys became maître-d’hotel and then premier maître-d’hotel to King Francis I and remained in France, but following the disastrous battle of Pavia when the King was captured he spent the years 1526-30 in Spain with the hostages who had been swapped for the King’s freedom after Pavia: the dauphin Francis and his younger brother Henry, later Henry II. He brought back a fair bit of Renaissance sculpture from Italy to adorn his home (the Château de la Poissonière, near Vendôme, where his son Pierre was later born), among the earlier Frenchmen to appreciate the new art burgeoning in Italy.

 “The year in which King Francis was taken before Pavia,
On a Saturday, God granted me life –
The 11th September it was”

Ronsard’s birthdate is a cause of endless confusion, argument and uncertainty. It amuses me that the biography on Wikipedia.fr states three different dates in three different places… We know where he was born (the Château de la Poissonière, near Vendôme), but not quite when. Ronsard says here he was born on Saturday 11th September 1524.  However, the 11th September was in fact a Sunday in 1524.  (And, because 1524 was a leap year, it was a Friday the year before; and thus 11th September was never a Saturday in the 1520s!)  Other dates suggested therefore include Saturday 10th; as well as Friday 2nd or even late at night on Saturday 10th as it was just turning into Sunday(!). Perhaps  from a mis-reading of the poem, a tradition grew up that he was born on the date of the Battle of Pavia, 25th February 1525, as well. [Note: this is still ‘in the same year’ as his birth because new year was at the beginning of March at this time.] The 2nd September 1525, and even 6th September 1522 – both of which are Saturdays – have also been suggested. The fact is, we will never know: but a date in early September 1524 seems likeliest.

 “I was not the first of my father’s children,
My mother had produced five long before me;
Two died in the cradle”

We know that Ronsard had a sister and two brothers: Louise (b. 1514), Claude (b. 1515) and Charles (b. 1519) who entered the church. He was the last born – and (as he says here) a ‘long time’, five years, after the other children. However, Chalandon writing in 1875 mentions also a fifth surviving child, another Loys, who became abbé at Tyron; I haven’t been able to track down anything more about this claim, which seems an extraordinary one – would Ronsard have forgotten or attempted to erase the existence of one of his brothers?

 “As soon as I was nine, they sent me to college,
But I spent only half a year troubling
To learn the lessons of the master, de Vailly”

Ronsard went to the Collège de Navarre (part of the university of Paris) in the autumn of 1533, perhaps in preparation for a career in the Catholic church to which, as a younger son, his father may have destined him.  He left quickly, though it is not clear why: perhaps because the teaching was bad, more probably because he didn’t like the idea of a church career and wanted to see some excitement with the Court and the army. Simonin’s 1990 biography also suggests he left college (or perhaps was removed by his family?) because of agitation there by the Protestant reformer Gérard Roussel. This was of course a period of immense tensions in France, as in the rest of Europe, between the established church and protestant reformers. While he was there, though, Ronsard apparently made the acquaintance of Charles de Guise, later Cardinal of Lorraine, and as a Guise a member of a powerful and influential family. Another, Mary of Guise, later married James V of Scotland and precipitated Ronsard’s return to France.

It is interesting to note that one of the great theologians of the time, Mathurin Cordier, had been master at the college a few years earlier, though he had moved on to another college by this time.

 “there I was granted
The role of page to the Duke of Orleans; afterwards I was sent
In the King of Scotland’s entourage to Scotland
Where I spent 30 months, and six in England”

Ronsard was appointed a page at Court in 1536, initially to the Dauphin but when he died soon afterwards he joined (as he says) the suite of Charles, Duke of Orleans.  When the King’s daughter, Madeleine (sister of Charles) was married to King James V of Scotland in January 1537, Ronsard was given to Madeleine by Charles and went to Scotland in her service. She died in June the same year, and was thus known as the ‘Summer Queen’ by the Scots. The boy Ronsard was then attached to the Court of King James. There is little corroborating detail for Ronsard’s claim to have spent 3 years abroad; some doubt the whole story. But it seems probable that he stayed in Scotland until 1538, when the king re-married; and thus it seems likely (to me at least) that his 3 years in England and Scotland includes time later when he travelled in the suite of Lassigny (below). It’s not clear why he spent 6 months in England; but there are later links with the Renaissance court there and it is possible the precocious teenage Ronsard was extending his knowledge of humanist poetry and poetic forms at Henry VIII’s court?

 “But barely had I stopped quietly in the Royal Mews
Before he sent me to Flanders and Zeeland
And again to Scotland where a great storm
Tried to drive my ship, along with Lassigni,
Onto the rocks, after blowing it to the coast of England”

Returning to France, Ronsard joined the other pages in the Écurie or Stable (we might perhaps say the Royal Mews), where all the pages were housed. Scholars tend to say he then joined the suite of Claude d’Humières, Seigneur de Lassigny, who was an equerry in charge of the pages (at an annual remuneration of 400 livres) and with him travelled in Flanders. Cohen states that they left on 24th December 1538. Then in 1539-40 Ronsard was again in England and Scotland. Notably, though, Ronsard only links Lassigny with the shipwreck in England. So perhaps (with Blanchemain, and following Ronsard’s lead) we might conclude that the missions to Flanders and Zeeland were in the service of the Duke of Orleans instead?  (Nothing beyond Ronsard’s own account seems to exist to add detail about the place of the shipwreck, nor his missions in Flanders and Scotland.)

“And had barely reached the age of sixteen
When in 1540 I went with Baïf
To Upper Germany, where I learned the language”

Again a page to the Duke of Orleans in 1539, Ronsard joined the embassy sent to Germany in 1540. This was led by Lazare de Baïf, whose son Jean-Antoine also accompanied him. It is possible that Ronsard was sent by the Duke to keep an eye on things; the embassy was designed to try to detach some of the German princes from Charles V’s side and perhaps bring them into alliance with France, and no doubt the Duke would have liked to have his own sources of information as well as the ‘official’ sources. (The embassy is sometimes referred to as going to the Diet of Speyer; the Diet was though convened by Charles V, so this mission might have been rather delicate – if the Diet had been in session in 1540, which it wasn’t. Cohen however says the embassy stayed in Haguenau, in the Alsace – nearby, and perhaps a more obvious target for French alliances.)

Cohen doubts that Ronsard bothered to learn German; it wasn’t a very useful language at the time!

“on my return a terrible illness
For some end unknown came and stopped up my hearing,
And hit me hard with a blow so heavy
That still today I remain half-deaf as a result”

Struck by illness (Cohen postulates a possible venereal origin!), Ronsard retired to Poissonière for a lengthy recovery. Half-deaf he decided to abandon a politico-military career and turned again to study, perhaps with a view to some sort of church career. He in fact took the tonsure in 1543; this did not make him a priest but it did make him eligible for a number of church posts from which he could have drawn (and later did draw) income. In the event, though, he remained in the service of Charles of Orleans and attached to the Court.

“The year after, in April, love took me unawares
As I followed the Court to Blois, through the fair eyes of Cassandre”

“The year after” – after what?  If it was the year after visiting Germany as Ronsard’s text implies that would be 1541 – which is too early.  So it’s likely to be a year after his illness and convalescence – implying a 2-3 period for these (see above). While Ronsard is certain he met Cassandre at Blois in April 1546, court records apparently show that the court did not go to Blois in 1546! There was however a ball held there in 1545, so it seems likely the two met in that year – and Ronsard’s memory was at fault…

 “Immediately afterwards, I came to be the disciple
Of d’Aurat in Paris”

So when did Ronsard move to Paris? Immediately after what?  (Or perhaps the later change to the text means it wasn’t ‘immediately after’?) Ronsard’s parents both died in 1544, and Lazare de Baïf apparently stepped in to offer the young man the chance to study in Paris, with the younger Baïf under Jean Dorat (D’Aurat). Initially the pair lived at the Baïf residence, as did Dorat who had been engaged to tutor Jean-Antoine; but Lazare died in 1547, and it is likely that at this point Dorat installed himself at the Collège de Coqueret where he became principal around this time. The ‘five years’ spent under Dorat would therefore include those initial years when they studied privately with him.

“… it was at his home that first
Our firm friendship began”

Although after Lazare de Baïf’s death Ronsard and the younger Baïf moved out and apparently joined Dorat, it is not clear that they attended his Collège. That is hardly “chez luy”.  Indeed Ronsard entered into a contract to rent no.2, rue de la Poterie, at Easter 1548 jointly with a minor cleric – interesting evidence also of a continued involvement in ecclesiastical circles.  Baïf and Ronsard were joined under Dorat’s tutelage by Belleau, and then by du Bellay, at this time – the core of the Pléiade. At least one source refers to the Pléiade arising from ‘teaching/learning [enseignement] at Chef Saint-Jean’ – Dorat’s own home. Perhaps then the group met informally at Dorat’s house rather than formally at the Collège. And it was from this context that du Bellay launched the Pléiade’s “manifesto” Défense et illustration de la langue française in 1549 and Ronsard exploded the bombshell of his first major collection, the Odes I-IV, in 1550.

3 – a Romanian (or Bulgarian) ancestor?

“So, as for my first ancestor, he came from roots
Where the freezing Danube runs beside Thrace;
Lower down than Hungary, in a cold region,
There was a Lord named Marquis of Ronsart,”

Did Mârâcinâ Ban exist, and was he Ronsard’s ancestor? The probable answer is no: this was quite possibly a family tradition which Ronsard reports – though it has also been suggested it might be pure imagination on his part!

The romantic tradition of Ronsard’s Romanian origins was not just popular in France. A French teacher and activist working in Romania during the 1830s -40s, Jean Vaillant, adopted Ronsard’s story in his 1844 book La Roumanie, using him as a symbol of the links between France and Romania.  Then the Romanian poet Vasile Alecsandri, writing in Paris after the failure of the 1848 Wallachian revolution, produced Banul Mărăcină in 1855 (though it was not published till 1861). This developed the bare bones of Ronsard’s story with circumstantial detail: Alecsandri made Mărăcină a boyar, lord of Ronsart, governor of Craiova (70 miles west of Bucharest, now Romania’s 6th largest city); and specified a troop of 50 younger sons coming to liberate France. It interests me that Blanchemain used Alecsandri’s “research” (indirectly) as a source for his footnote providing the story.

But romantic legends are not facts.

Further scholarly activity in France established that Ronsard’s grandfather was Olivier Ronsart or Roussart, who was an enfeoffed sergeant (sergent fieffé) in Gastine forest. Though some have said this title is, in modern terms, a gamekeeper it is worth noting that Loys de Ronsard carried the same title; I think it would therefore be better to see him as ‘warden of the forest’ or equivalent, a minor noble rather than a mere gamekeeper. He was a vassal of the Du Bellay family, ancestors of Joachim du Bellay.

Minor gentility does not of course invalidate a romantic Romanian origin, several generations further back. And scholars have identified a tradition which might be relevant: “a certain Baudoin Rossart came to France with John of Bohemia to fight the English at Crécy in 1346. King Philip of Valois apparently gave him as a sign of his recognition a domain in the Vendômois, where the brave gallant established himself.”  (Alliot & Baillou 1926, in a quatercentenary volume on Ronsard)  The same scholars also turned up an 11th century cartulary mentioning a ‘moulin Ronzart’ (Ronzart mill), however; which might suggest that the family had French origins several centuries older than the ‘Romanian link’.

And perhaps Romania is the wrong place to look anyway? At the end of the 19th century a Hungarian suggested that the lower Danubian area in question is Bulgaria – and even pointed to a town called Tarnovo which could (just) be translated as ‘Ronces’ (brambles). Today, there is a Musée Ronsard in Tarnovo…

Where does this leave us? For some scholars Olivier Ronsart’s ‘humble’ title of sergent fieffé means the Romanian/Bulgarian story cannot be true; others find no reason to argue against a possible East European root for the family. For myself, I rather like the Baudoin Rossart story but am not convinced.

In the end, does it matter? Ronsard came from minor noble stock; whether those minor nobles were home-grown, or came from dashing romantic Balkan stock racing across Europe in a crusade to ‘liberate France’, is really only a question of how colourful the story of his ancestry is!

My source for much of the detail in this section is:  N Popa  La Légende des Origines Roumaines de Ronsard in Lumières de la Pléiade (9ème Stage International d’Etudes Huamnistes, Tours 1965. Special thanks to nikolchina for providing a link to http://www.patev.net/origironsard.htm which – for French readers – provides substantially more detail on the controversy over Ronsard’s Bulgarian roots, and takes a slightly less ambivalent attitude to the possibility. It also has some helpful maps!

Élégie – part 3

Standard
Pourroy-je raconter le mal que je senty,
Oyant vostre trespas ? mon cœur fut converty
En rocher insensible, et mes yeux en fonteines :
Et si bien le regret s’escoula par mes veines,
Que pasmé je me feis la proye du torment,
N’ayant que vostre nom pour confort seulement.
 
Bien que je resistasse, il ne me fut possible
Que mon cœur, de nature à la peine invincible,
Peust cacher sa douleur : car plus il la celoit,
Et plus dessus le front son mal estinceloit.
En fin voyant mon ame extremement attainte,
Je desliay ma bouche, et feis telle complainte.
 
Ah faux Monde trompeur, que tu m’as bien deceu !
Amour, tu es enfant : par toy j’avois receu
La divine beauté qui surmontoit l’envie,
Que maugré toy la Mort en ton regne a ravie.
Je desplais à moymesme, et veux quitter le jour,
Puis que je voy la Mort triompher de l’amour,
Et luy ravir son mieux, sans faire resistance.
Malheureux qui te croit, et qui suit ton enfance !
 
Et toy Ciel, qui te dis le père des humains,
Tu ne devois tracer un tel corps de tes mains
Pour si tost le reprendre : et toy mere Nature,
Pour mettre si soudain ton œuvre en sepulture.
 
Maintenant à mon dam je cognois pour certain,
Que tout cela qui vit sous ce globe mondain,
N’est que songe et fumee, et qu’une vaine pompe,
Qui doucement nous rit et doucement nous trompe.
 
Hà, bien-heureux esprit fait citoyen des cieux,
Tu es assis au rang des Anges precieux
En repos eternel, loin de soin et de guerres :
Tu vois dessous tes pieds les hommes et les terres,
Et je ne voy qu’ennuis, que soucis, et qu’esmoy,
Comme ayant emporté tout mon bien avec toy.
Je ne te trompe point : du ciel tu vois mes peines,
Si tu as soin là haut des affaires humaines.
 
Que doy-je faire, Amour ? que me conseilles-tu ?
J’irois comme un Sauvage en noir habit vestu
Volontiers par les bois, et mes douleurs non feintes
Je dirois aus forests : mais ils sçavent mes plaintes.
 
Il vaut mieux que je meure au pied de ce rocher,
Nommant tousjours son nom qui me sonne si cher,
Sans chercher par la peine apres elle de vivre,
Gaignant le bruit d’ingrat de ne la vouloir suivre.
Aussi toute la terre, où j’ay perdu mon bien,
Apres son fascheux vol ne me semble plus rien
Sinon qu’horreur, qu’effroy, qu’une obscure poussiere,
Au ciel est mon Soleil, au ciel est ma lumiere :
Le monde ny ses laqs n’y ont plus de pouvoir :
Il faut haster ma mort, si je la veux revoir :
La mort en a la clef, et par sa seule porte
Je revoiray le jour qui ma nuict reconforte.
 
Or quand la dure Parque aura le fil coupé,
Qui retient en mon corps l’esprit envelopé,
J’ordonne que mes os pour toute couverture
Reposent pres des siens sous mesme sepulture :
Que des larmes du ciel le tumbeau soit lavé,
Et tout à l’environ de ces vers engravé :
 
Passant, de cest amant enten l’histoire vraye,
De deux traicts differens il receut double playe :
L’une que feit Amour ne versa qu’amitié,
L’autre que feit la Mort ne versa que pitié.
Ainsi mourut navré d’une double tristesse,
Et tout pour aimer trop une jeune maistresse.
Will I be able to tell of the pain I felt
Hearing of your death?  My heart was changed
Into an unfeeling stone, my eyes into fountains;
And loss flowed so strongly in my veins
That fainting I became the prey of torments
Having only your name for my comfort.
 
Although I resisted, for me it was not possible
That my heart, by nature invincible to pain,
Could hide its grief; for the more it hid it
The more its hurt shone out upon my face
At last, seeing my soul so fearfully wounded,
I opened my mouth and made this lament:
 
Ah, false deceiving world, how thoroughly you have deceived me!
Love, you are a child; through you I had received
The divine beauty which surpassed desire,
Which despite you death has stolen away to his kingdom.
I offend myself, and wish to leave life
As I see death triumph over love
And steal his best from him without being resisted.
Unhappy he who believes in you, and seeks your care!
 
And you, Heaven, who call yourself father of mankind,
You should not have designed such a form with your hands
Only to take it back so soon: and you, mother Nature,
To place your work so suddenly in a tomb.
 
Now to my harm I realise for certain
That all that which lives upon this world’s globe
Is nothing but dreams and smoke, and empty show,
Which sweetly mocks us and sweetly deceives us.
 
 Ah, happy spirit made a citizen of heaven,
You are seated in the ranks of precious angels
In eternal rest, far from care and war;
You see beneath your feet men and lands,
While I see only worries, cares, troubles,
As one who has packed off all my good with you.
I make no mistake: from heaven you see my pain,
If you have care up there for human affairs.
 
What must I do, Love? What do you advise?
I shall go like a Savage, dressed in black clothes,
Of my own will into the woods, and with unfeigned grief
I shall speak to the forests; but they know my woes.
 
 Better that I should die at the foot of this rock,
Continually naming her name which sounds so dear to me,
Without seeking to live on through my pain after her,
Winning an ingrate’s reputation for not wanting to follow her.
So all the earth, where I have lost my good,
Seems to me, after her painful flight, no more
Than horror, than dismay, than gloomy dust.
In heaven is my Sun, in heaven is my light;
The world and its attractions no longer have power there.
I must hasten my death if I want to see her again;
Death has the key to it, and through her doorway alone
Shall I see again the day which comforts my night.
 
 So, when Fate will have cut the thread
Which keeps my spirit encased in my body,
I command that my bones for their covering
Should repose next to hers beneath the same tomb;
May the tomb be washed with tears from heaven,
And all round it, these lines engraved:
 
Passer-by, hear the true history of this lover:
He was doubly-wounded by two different strokes,
The one which Love made bled only its love,
The other which Death made bled only pity.
So he died, grieved by a double sadness,
And all for loving too much a young mistress.
 
 
The remainder of the poem.   There are some minor variants in Blanchemain, and a major re-write of one stanza.  
 
In the second stanza above Blanchemain omits the “me” in the middle of the line – ‘Although I resisted, it was not possible…‘;  then, at the end of the next stanza, the final line becomes “Malheureux qui le suit et vit sous son enfance” (‘Unhappy he who follows him and lives beneath his care‘).
 
The major change is towards the end of the section:  according to Blanchemain’s note, Ronsard felt the following was too close to an image he’d used in the Elegy at the end of the Amours de Marie, so he changed it wholesale for the version above.  (In fact, although there is a jousting image in the other Elegy, it is not an image of combat but of kissing!)
 
 
Que doy-je faire, Amour ? que me conseilles-tu ?
J’irois comme un Sauvage en noir habit vestu
Volontiers par les bois, et mes douleurs non feintes
Je dirois aus rochers: mais ils sçavent mes plaintes.
Il vaut mieux d’un grand temple honorer son tombeau,
Et dedans eslever, d’artifice nouveau,
Cent autels dediez à la mémoire d’elle,
Esclairez jour et nuit d’une lampe éternelle,
Et devant le portail, comme les anciens
Célébroient les combats aux jeux olympiens,
Sacrer en son honneur, au retour de l’année,
Une feste chomable, à la jouste ordonnée.
Là tous les jouvenceaux au combat mieux appris
Le funeste cyprès emporteront pour prix,
Et seront appelez longtemps après ma vie
Les jeux que fist Ronsard pour sa belle Marie.
 
Puis, quand l’une des sœurs aura le fil coupé, …
 
 
 
                                                                                                      What must I do, Love? What do you advise?
                                                                                                      I shall go like a Savage, dressed in black clothes,
                                                                                                      Of my own will into the woods, and with unfeigned grief
                                                                                                      I shall speak to the rocks; but they know my woes.
                                                                                                      Better to honour her tomb with a great temple,
                                                                                                      And within it to raise, by novel artifice,
                                                                                                      A hundred altars dedicated to her memory,
                                                                                                      Lighting day and night with an everlasting lamp;
                                                                                                      And before the portal, just as the ancients
                                                                                                      Used to celebrate with contests at the Olympic games,
                                                                                                      To consecrate in her honour, at the anniversary,
                                                                                                      A holiday feast dedicated to the joust.
                                                                                                      There all the young men most learned in arms
                                                                                                      Will win as prize funereal cypress,
                                                                                                      And will be called for long after my lifetime
                                                                                                      The games which Ronsard arranged for his fair Marie.

                                                                                                      Then, when one of the Sisters will have cut the thread
 
 
Blanchemain prints the later text in his footnote, except that he has one further variant to offer: in the last line of the big stanza, he has “Je doy passer au jour qui ma nuict reconforte” (‘… through her doorway alone / Must I pass to the day …‘) instead of “Je revoiray le jour …” (‘… Shall I see again the day …‘).
 

As before, a complete version of this Elegy is available in a Word doc here.