Love or philosophy? And is philosophy just the refuge of the one who isn’t loved – or is too old for love?! I’m sure Aristotle (and others) would be annoyed by Ronsard’s thinking here; though to be fair, Ronsard is actually saying he should go back to more important things and give up this ridiculous floating around after a girl who doesn’t love him.Blanchemain footnotes an alternative to the line about Aristotle’s daughter: “Courtizer un Platon à nostre vie utile” (‘Court a Plato, useful in our lives’. That would remove the possibility that Ronsard is being more specific about reason & virtue, these not being specifically Platonic traits. Incidentally, note that here Ronsard has been in love with Helen for 5 years; by the end of the book the affair is in its 7th year.
J’ay honte de ma honte, il est temps de me taire, Sans faire l’amoureux en un chef si grison: Il vaut mieux obeyr aux loix de la Raison, Qu’estre plus desormais en l’amour volontaire. J’ay juré cent fois : mais je ne le puis faire. Les Roses pour l’Hyver ne sont plus de saison : Voicy le cinquiesme an de ma longue prison, Esclave entre les mains d’une belle Corsaire. Maintenant je veux estre importun amokureux Du bon pere Aristote, et d’un soin genereux Courtiser et servir la beauté de sa fille. Il est temps que je sois de l’Amour deslié : Il vole comme un Dieu : homme je vais à pié. Il est jeune il est fort: je suis gris et debile. I’m ashamed of my shame, it’s time to shut up And stop acting like a lover with my hairs so grey ; Better to obey the laws of Reason Than still in future to volunteer for love. I’ve sworn it a hundred times; but I cannot do it. Roses in winter are no longer in season; And this is the fifth year of my long imprisonment, A slave in the hands of a fair Corsair. Now I’d rather be the demanding lover Of good father Aristotle, and with generous care Court and serve his daughter’s beauty. It’s time that I was unbound from Love. He flies like a god, as a man I have to walk; He is young and powerful, I am grey and weak. Blanchemain helpfully notes, in case you hadn’t got it, that Aristotle’s daughter in line 11 is philosophy, not a real girl. (We might note, though, that Aristotle had a real daughter Pythias, who was married 3 times: maybe then she was a beauty!) Being more precise, we might look at Aristotle’s philosophical ‘children’ as being logic & ethics (=reason & virtue), which would link neatly with two themes (other than love) which often appear in these poems.