Category Archives: Gayetez & Epigrammes

Gayetez et Epigrammes (39)

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While wandering through some of the more obscure poems, how about this one…

SUR UN LIVRE TRAICTANT DE LA FOY CATHOLIQUE,
TRADUIT PAR JEAN DE LAVARDIN.
 
DIALOGUE DU PASSANT ET DU LIBRAIRE
 
 
Qui est ce livre ? – Estranger. – Qui l’a faict ?
– Le grand Osie en sçavoir tout parfaict.
– Qui l’a conduit des terres poulonoises,
Et fait sonner nos parolles françoises ?
– C’est Lavardin, ce sçavant translateur,
Et docte autant que le premier autheur.
– De quoy discourt ce livre magnifique ?
– De nostre loy, de la foy catholique ;
Tout ce qu’il faut retenir ou laisser,
Et qu’un chrestien doit à Dieu confesser,
Pour estre net du fard de l’heresie,
Croyant l’Eglise, et non la fantaisi
De ces cerveaux éventez, esgarez,
Qui par orgueil sont de nous separez.
Et bref, Passant, si le zele t’allume
Des peres vieux, achepte ce volume,
Pour vivre seur en la ferme union.
Mais si tu es de l’autre opinion,
Et si tu veux les mensonges ensuivre
Des nouveaux fols, n’achepte pas ce livre
Pour t’en mocquer ; tu porterois en vain
En lieu d’un livre un fardeau dans la main.
On a book concerning the Catholic faith,
translated by Jean de Lavardin
 
Dialogue between a passer-by and a bookseller
 
 
What is this book ? – A foreign one. – Who wrote it ?
– The great Hosius, perfect in learning.
– Who has brought it from Polish lands,
And made it shout out with our French words ?
– It is Lavardin, that scholarly translator,
As learned as its first author.
– Of what does this magnificent book tell ?
– Of our law, the Catholic faith ;
All that must be retained or let go,
And that a Christian should confess to God,
To be clear of the burden of heresy,
Believing in the Church and not the fantasy
Of those airy, bewildered minds
Who are separated from us by their pride.
In brief, traveller, if zeal for the ancient Fathers
Has fired you, accept this volume
In order to live surely, in firm union.
But if you are of the other opinion
And if you want to follow the lies
Of new madmen, do not take this book
To laugh at it ; you’ll be taking in vain,
Instead of a book, a burden in your hands.
 
This is a poem included among Ronsard’s posthumous pieces, i.e. not one he published within his collected editions in his lifetime.  Ronsard makes clear his own position is with the Catholic church.  But, given our image of the Wars of Religion in France (the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre etc), he is perhaps surprisingly relaxed in his address to any protestant/Huguenot reading it. OK, he uses words like ‘lies’ and ‘madmen’, but he warns only of the eternal rather than earthly consequences of that religious choice.
 
Jean de Lavardin is not the Marquis de Lavardin who rose to be Marshal France under Henry IV (after a career on both sides of the religious divide in the Wars of Religion!); he is, rather, the abbot of the Premonstratensian monastery of the Étoile (the Star — “l’Abbaye Sainte-Trinité et Saint-Sauveur de l’Étoile” in full) at Authon next to Vendôme. and thus very much part of Ronsard’s world in the Loir region. He was known principally as a translator of the Letters of St Jerome, but also – relevant to this poem – of the “Confession catholique de la foy chrestienne” (‘Catholic confession of the Christian faith’) of Bishop Hosius, published in 1579. Its attractive title page – see it here – states “Faite Françoise du Latin de Stanislaus HOSIVS, Cardinal Polonois, Euesque de Vvarme, & President au Concile de TRENTE, PAR Iean de LAVARDIN, Vandomois, Abbé de l’Estoille.” (‘Done into French from the Latin of Stanisław Hozjusz, Polish Cardinal, Bishop of Warmia, and President of the Council of Trent….’), which explains the reference to Poland in the third line.
 
It also makes clear that the reference to ‘Osius’ in line 2 is not to Bishop Hosius (or Osius) who led the Council of Nicaea in the 300s AD in creating the Nicene Creed we still use today; but to Stanislaus Hosius, the Latinized version of Stanisław Hozjusz.
 
It was a chunky book – nearly 1700 pages! – which suggests that Ronsard is gently joking about its size in the final line when he refers to it as a ‘burden’ 🙂
 

 

 
 
 
 
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Gayetez et Epigrammes (48)

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After that last poem, maybe something related…

SUR LES SEPT AGES DE L’HOMME
 
    ENFANCE
L’âge premier de l’homme Enfance est appellé ;
Son cours est de quatre ans, maistrisé par la lune ;
Auquel il s’agrandit, desja serf de fortune,
Humide, delicat, d’ignorance voilé.
 
    LA PUERILITÉ
La Puerilité est nostre âge second ;
Son regne est de dix ans, gouverné par Mercure.
Vollage, sans arrest, est lors nostre nature,
Et l’esprit au sçavoir se veut rendre facond.
 
    ADOLESCENCE
Le tiers est de huict ans, par Venus gouverné,
Qui rend homme amoureux en son Adolescence,
Son naturel enclin aux jeux et à la dance,
De flammes et de feux son cœur environné.
 
    JEUNESSE
La Jeunesse est le quart, guidé par le soleil,
Regnant dix et neuf ans, poussant au mariage
L’homme qui veult (vivant) colloquer son mesnage,
Desireux de richesse, en force sans pareil.
 
    LE VIRIL
Le quint est le Viril, suivant l’aspect de Mars ;
Son cours est de quinze ans, sa nature fascheuse,
Magnanime, constante, avare, dangereuse,
Rendant l’homme guerrier suivant ses estendars.
 
    VIEILLESSE
Le six, soubs Jupiter, dans douze ans faict son cours,
Jusqu’en l’an soixante-huit, âge nommé Vieillesse.
L’homme alors vers le ciel tout repentant s’adresse.
Soigneux de son salut, des humbles le secours.
 
    LE CADUC
Le Caduc est le sept des âges le dernier,
Où Saturne commande, arrestant sa carriere
En l’an quatre-vingt-huit. Nature à sa premiere
Foiblesse le conduit, retournant au premier.
On the Seven Ages of Man
 
    Infancy
The first age of man is called Infancy ;
It runs for four years, under the moon’s governance,
In which he grows bigger, already a slave to fortune,
Moist, delicate, veiled in ignorance.
 
    Childhood
Childhood is our second age ;
Its reign is ten years long, governed by Mercury.
Flighty, not stopping, is then our nature
And the spirit tries to become fluent in learning.
 
    Adolescence
The third is eight years long, governed by Venus
Who makes men fall in love in their Adolescence,
Their natures inclined to games and the dance,
Their hearts beset by flames and fires.
 
    Youth
Youth is the fourth, guided by the Sun,
Reigning for nineteen years, driving to marriage
The man who wishes, while alive, to establish his household,
Desiring riches, unequalled in strength.
 
    Manhood
The fifth is Manhood, following the aspect of Mars.
It runs for fifteen years, its nature irritable,
Kind-hearted, constant, greedy, eager for danger,
Making man a warrior following the standards.
 
    Old age
The sixth, under Jupiter, runs its course in twelve years
Up to the age of 68, the period called Old age.
Man then, repentant, directs himself to Heaven,
Careful of his salvation, the help of humble men.
 
    Decrepitude
Decrepitude is the seventh and last age,
Where Saturn holds sway, cutting short its career
In his 88th year. Nature leads him back
To his first feebleness, returning to the start.
 
Associating periods of life with different zodiacal signs or governing planets is nothing unusual in renaissance Catholicism, even if today Christianity generally excludes astrology. On the other hand, the popularity of Holst’s “Planets” suggests there is a continuing nostalgia for the days when we could believe the stars guided our lives…
 
This is an occasional piece which Blanchemain prints at the end of the Gayetez and Epigrammes, with a lengthy footnote, from which the following is excerpted: 
“I owe to M. Rathery, learned librarian, the reference to a volume preserved in the Imperial Library. This book, among many fine engravings by Martin de Voos and other engravers of the 16th century, contains a series of plates preceded by the title:
Figures and portraits of the seven ages of man, with texts in quatrains by the late M. de Ronsard at the foot of each. Drawn and engraved on principles set out by the late M. Baptiste Pellerin – 1595, Paris. …”
 
If you are interested, you can look through the plates on the Gallica website.
ronsard_youth