Tag Archives: Apollo

Le Voyage de Tours (part 3)

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And, finally, the last third of the poem…

Bateau qui par les flots ma chere vie emportes,
Des vents en ta faveur les haleines soient mortes.
Et le Ban perilleux qui se trouve parmy
Les eaux, ne t’envelope en son sable endormy :
Que l’air, le vent, et l’eau favorisent ma dame,
Et que nul flot bossu ne destourbe sa rame.
En guise d’un estang sans vague paresseux
Aille le cours de Loire, et son limon crasseux
Pour ce jourd’huy se change en gravelle menüe,
Pleine de meint ruby et meinte perle esleüe.
 
Que les bords soient semez de mille belles fleurs
Representant sur l’eau mille belles couleurs,
Et le tropeau Nymphal des gentilles Naïades
Alentour du vaisseau face mille gambades :
Les unes balloyant des paumes de leurs mains
Les flots devant la barque, et les autres leurs seins
Descouvrent à fleur d’eau, et d’une main ouvriere
Conduisent le bateau du long de la riviere.
 
L’azuré Martinet puisse voler davant
Avecques la Mouette, et le Plongeon suivant
Son malheureux destin pour le jourd’huy ne songe
En sa belle Hesperie, et dans l’eau ne se plonge :
Et le Heron criard, qui la tempeste fuit,
Haut pendu dedans l’air ne face point de bruit :
Ains tout gentil oiseau qui va cherchant sa proye
Par les flots poissonneux, bien-heureux te convoye,
Pour seurement venir evecq’ ta charge au port,
Où Marion verra, peut-estre, sur le bort
Un orme des longs bras d’une vigne enlassée,
Et la voyant ainsi doucement embrassée,
De son pauvre Perrot se pourra souvenir,
Et voudra sur le bord embrassé le tenir.
 
On dit au temps passé que quelques uns changerent
En riviere leur forme, et eux-mesmes nagerent
Au flot qui de leur sang goutte à goutte sailloit,
Quand leur corps transformé en eau se distilloit.
 
Que ne puis-je muer ma ressemblance humaine,
En la forme de l’eau qui ceste barque emmeine ?
J’irois en murmurant sous le fond du vaisseau,
J’irois tout alentour, et mon amoureuse eau
Baiseroit or’ sa main, ore sa bouche franche,
La suivant jusqu’au port de la Chappelle blanche :
Puis laissant mon canal pour jouyr de mon vueil,
Par le trac de ses pas j’irois jusqu’à Bourgueil,
Et là dessous un pin, couché sur la verdure,
Je voudrois revestir ma premiere figure.
 
Se trouve point quelque herbe en ce rivage icy
Qui ait le goust si fort, qu’elle me puisse ainsi
Muer comme fut Glauque, en aquatique monstre,
Qui homme ne poisson, homme et poisson se monstre ?
Je voudrois estre Glauque, et avoir dans mon sein
Les pommes qu’ Hippomane eslançoit de sa main
Pour gaigner Atalante : à fin de te surprendre,
Je les ru’rois sur l’eau, et te ferois apprendre
Que l’or n’a seulement sur la terre pouvoir
Mais qu’il peult desur l’eau les femmes decevoir.
Or cela ne peult estre, et ce qui se peult faire,
Je le veux achever afin de te complaire :
Je veux soigneusement ce coudrier arroser,
Et des chapeaux de fleurs sur ses fueilles poser :
Et avecq’un poinçon je veux desur l’escorce
Engraver de ton nom les six lettres à force,
Afin que les passans en lisant Marion,
Facent honneur à l’arbre entaillé de ton nom.
 
Je veux faire un beau lict d’une verte jonchee,
De Parvanche fueillue encontre-bas couchee,
De Thym qui fleure bon, et d’Aspic porte-epy,
D’odorant Poliot contre terre tapy,
De Neufard tousjours verd, qui la froideur incite,
Et de Jonc qui les bords des rivieres habite.
 
Je veux jusques au coude avoir l’herbe, et je veux
De roses et de lys couronner mes cheveux.
Je veux qu’on me défonce une pipe Angevine,
Et en me souvenant de ma toute divine,
De toy mon doux soucy, espuiser jusqu’au fond
Mille fois ce jourd’huy mon gobelet profond,
Et ne partir d’icy jusqu’à tant qu’à la lie
De ce bon vin d’ Anjou la liqueur soit faillie.
 
Melchior Champenois, et Guillaume Manceau,
L’un d’un petit rebec, l’autre d’un chalumeau,
Me chanteront comment j’eu l’ame despourveüe
De sens et de raison si tost que je t’eu veüe,
Puis chanteront comment pour flechir ta rigueur
Je t’appellay ma vie, et te nommay mon cœur,
Mon œil, mon sang, mon tout : mais ta haute pensée
N’a voulu regarder chose tant abaissee,
Ains en me dedaignant tu aimas autre part
Un qui son amitié chichement te depart.
Voila comme il te prend pour mespriser ma peine,
Et le rustique son de mon tuyau d’aveine.
 
Ils diront que mon teint vermeil au paravant,
Se perd comme une fleur qui se fanist au vent :
Que mon poil devient blanc, et que la jeune grace
De mon nouveau printemps de jour en jour s’efface :
Et que depuis le mois que l’amour me fit tien,
De jour en jour plus triste et plus vieil je devien.
 
Puis ils diront comment les garçons du village
Disent que ta beauté tire desja sur l’age,
Et qu’au matin le Coq dés la poincte du jour
N’oyra plus à ton huis ceux qui te font l’amour.
« Bien fol est qui se fie en sa belle jeunesse,
« Qui si tost se derobe, et si tost nous delaisse.
« La rose à la parfin devient un gratecu,
« Et tout avecq’ le temps par le temps est vaincu. »
 
Quel passetemps prens-tu d’habiter la valee
De Bourgueil où jamais la Muse n’est allee ?
Quitte moy ton Anjou, et vien en Vandomois :
Là s’eslevent au ciel les sommets de nos bois,
Là sont mille taillis et mille belles plaines,
Là gargouillent les eaux de cent mille fontaines,
Là sont mille rochers, où Echon alentour
En resonnant mes vers ne parle que d’ Amour.
 
Ou bien si tu ne veux, il me plaist de me rendre
Angevin pour te voir, et ton langage apprendre :
Et pour mieux te flechir, les hauts vers que j’avois
En ma langue traduit du Pindare Gregeois,
Humble, je veux redire en un chant plus facile
Sur le doux chalumeau du pasteur de Sicile.
 
Là parmy tes sablons Angevin devenu,
Je veux vivre sans nom comme un pauvre incognu,
Et dés l’Aube du jour avecq’ toy mener paistre
Aupres du port Guiet nostre troupeau champestre :
Puis sur le chaud du jour je veux en ton giron
Me coucher sous un chesne, où l’herbe à l’environ
Un beau lict nous fera de mainte fleur diverse,
Pour nous coucher tous deux sous l’ombre à la renverse :
Puis au Soleil penchant nous conduirons noz bœufs
Boire le haut sommet des ruisselets herbeux,
Et les reconduirons au son de la musette,
Puis nous endormirons dessus l’herbe mollette.
 
Là sans ambition de plus grands biens avoir,
Contenté seulement de t’aimer et te voir,
Je passerois mon âge, et sur ma sepulture
Les Angevins mettroient ceste breve escriture.
 
Celuy qui gist icy, touché de l’aiguillon
Qu’ amour nous laisse au cœur, garda comme Apollon
Les tropeaux de sa dame, et en ceste prairie
Mourut en bien aimant une belle Marie,
Et elle apres sa mort mourut aussi d’ennuy,
Et sous ce verd tombeau repose avecques luy.
 
A peine avois je dit, quand Thoinet se dépâme,
Et à soy revenu alloit apres sa dame :
Mais je le retiray le menant d’autre part
Pour chercher à loger, car il estoit bien tard.
 
Nous avions ja passé la sablonneuse rive,
Et le flot qui bruyant contre le pont arrive,
Et ja dessus le pont nous estions parvenus,
Et nous apparoissoit le tumbeau de Turnus,
Quand le pasteur Janot tout gaillard nous emmeine
Dedans son toict couvert de javelles d’aveine.
“O boat who carry my dear life through the waves,
May the breath of the winds favourable to you be dead,
And may the perilous bank which is found
In the waters not wrap you in his sleeping sands;
May air, wind and water favour my lady
And no bumpy wave disturb her oars.
May the course of the Loire flow with the appearance
Of a pool, without any lazy waves, and may its dirty lime
For today change into fine gravel
Full of many a ruby and many a choice pearl.
 
May the banks be sown with a thousand beautiful flowers
Reflecting their thousand beautiful colours on the water;
And may the nymphly troop of gentle Naiads
Make around the vessel a thousand gambols,
Some making the waves before the bark dance
With the palms of their hands, others reveal
Their breasts in the water’s foam, and with workers’ hands
Lead the boat along the river.
 
Let the sky-blue martin fly before
With the gull, and let the loon pursuing
His wretched fate not dream for today
Of his fair Hesperia, and not throw himself under the water;
And let the noisy Heron, who flees the storm,
Hanging high in the air make no sound;
So, let every gentle bird which seeks its prey
Among the fishy waves bring you with good fortune
To come safely with your charge to port,
Where Marion shall see perhaps on the bank
An elm with long boughs, bound by a vine,
And seeing it embraced so gently
Shall maybe recall her poor Pete
And wish to have him in her embrace on the bank.
 
“They used to say in past time that some people could change
Their form into a river, and themselves swam
In the waves which mounted drop by drop with their blood
As their bodies, transformed into water, melted away.
 
“Why cannot I change my human appearance
Into the form of the water which draws that bark?
I would go murmuring under the bottom of the vessel,
I would go all around it, and my loving water
Would kiss now her hand, now her open lips,
Following her right up to the White Chapel;
Then, leaving the stream to enjoy my wish,
I would follow the traces of her feet right to Bourgueil
And there, lying beneath a pine on the green grass,
I would want to re-assume my previous shape.
 
“Is there any plant on this bank here
Which has so strong a taste that it might thus
Change me as Glaucus was changed, into an aquatic beast,
With the form of neither man nor fish, yet of both man and fish?
I would like to be Glaucus and keep in my lap
The apples which Hippomenes threw from his hand
To win Atalanta; to surprise you
I would hurl them on the water and make you realise
That gold has power not only upon the earth,
But that it can deceive women upon water also.
Well, that won’t happen; but what can be done
I want to achieve, to please you.
I want to water this hazel-tree carefully
And place chaplets of flowers upon its leaves;
And with an awl upon its bark I want
To engrave the six letters of your name strongly
So that passers-by, reading ‘Marion’,
May do honour to the tree cut with your name.
 
“I want to make a fair bed of green reeds,
Laid upon leafy periwinkle
And thyme which flowers well, and tufted spikenard,
And fragrant mint carpeting the earth,
And ever-green water-lilies, which bring on the cold,
And reeds which live on the river-banks.
 
“I want to have grass up to my elbows, and I want
With roses and lilies to crown my hair.
I want someone to break me open an Angevin cask
And, as I recall my completely divine one,
You, my sweet care, to empty right to the bottom
My deep cup, a thousand times this very day,
And not to leave here until to the lees
Of this fine wine of Anjou the liquor is drained.
 
Melchior of Champagne and William of Mance,
One on his little fiddle, the other on pipes,
Will sing of me, how my soul was destitute
Of sense and reason as soon as I saw you.
Then they’ll sing how, to turn aside your harshness,
I called you my life, and named you my heart,
My eyes, my blood, my everything: but your haughty thoughts
Did not wish to look on a thing so abased,
Even as – while you disdained me – you loved elsewhere
Someone who stingily took away from you his love.
See how he led you to despise my pain,
And the rustic sound of my oat-stalk pipe.
 
They’ll sing how my previously-pink colour
Was lost like a flower which withers in the wind:
How my skin became pale, and how the youthful grace
Of my fresh springtime has faded day by day:
And how since the month when love made me yours
From day to day I’ve become sadder and older.
 
Then they’ll sing how the boys in the village
Say that your beauty is already lessening with age,
And how in the morning the cock at break of day
Won’t hear any more at your door those who make love to you.
“The true fool is he who trusts in his fair youth,
Which so soon fades, and so soon leaves us.
The rose in the end becomes a rose-hip,
And everything in time by time is overcome.”
 
Why do you pass your time living in the valley
Of Bourgueil, where the Muse has never visited?
Leave your Anjou for me, and come to the Vendôme:
There the tops of our trees rise to the skies,
There are a thousand copses and a thousand lovely plains,
There the waters of millions of springs gurgle,
There are a thousand rocks where Echo all around
Re-sounding my verses speaks only of Love.
 
Or again, if you don’t want to, I’m happy to become
Angevin, to see you, and to learn your language;
And, to sway you further, the high-flown verse which I have
Translated into my tongue from Greek Pindar
I am willing humbly to re-write into an easier song
Played on the sweet pipes of the Sicilian shepherd.
 
There among your sands, become an Angevin,
I want to live nameless like a poor unknown,
And from the dawn of day to lead with you to pasture
Near the Guiet gate our country herd;
Then, in the heat of the day, I want to lie
In your lap beneath an oak, where the grass around
Will make a lovely bed for us of many varied flowers
So we can sleep, both of us, backwards beneath the shade;
Then as the sun sets, we will lead our cattle
To drink from the high origins of grassy streams,
And lead them back, to the sound of the pipe,
Then we’ll sleep upon the softest grass.
 
There, with no ambition to have greater goods,
Contented only with loving you and seeing you,
I shall live out my years, and on my grave
The Angevins will place this brief inscription:
 
“He who lies here, wounded by the arrow
Which love plants in our hearts, watched like Apollo
His lady’s herds, and on this plain
He died, loving well his fair Marie,
And she after his death died too, of grief,
And lies beneath this green tomb with him.”
 
I had barely spoken, when Tony came around,
And, recovered, was going after his lady;
But I drew him back, leading him elsewhere
To find lodging, for it was very late.
 
We had already passed the sandy bank,
And the waves which crash noisily against the bridge,
And we’d already arrived on the bridge,
And the tomb of Turnus had already appeared before us,
When Johnny the shepherd gaily led us
Into his home, covered with armful of oat-straw.
 
I love the way, a stanza before the end, Ronsard leads us to expect yet more extended lovers’ complaints, the instead brings things to a swift conclusion: “he was going to carry on, but instead we looked for a place to stay the night…”
 
As usual, plenty of classical references, and even a joke about re-writing his poem to be simpler and less learned! Note also the line about ‘learning her language’, a reminder that dialects could be extraordinarily unlike one another – consider the southern-French ‘langue d’oc’ which contains a considerable admixture of Spanish.
 – the Naiads, like mermaids, inhabit the waters, but these are river-spirits;
 – when his beloved Hesperia died, Aesacus leapt from a cliff and was transformed into a bird, as Bellay tells us in his note – not specifically a sand-martin but the image of these birds sweeping in and out of their riverside holes fits very well;
 – Bellay tells us that the people who “could change /Their form into a river” is a reference to the satyr Marsyas – Ovid links him with the river Marsyas, whose source was in Phrygia near that of the Maeander;
 – there’s no link between the legends of Hippomenes, throwing apples to delay Atalanta in her race with him, and Glaucus, the fisherman transformed into a mer-man or sea-god; Ronsard’s link is purely the translation of the land-based story of Hippomenes to an appropriate water-based figure;
 – Pindar was one of the ‘classic’ Greek poets, famed for the beauty of his images and the complexity of his writing; Daphnis the ‘Sicilian shepherd’, on the other hand, stands as ‘father’ of pastoral poetry;
 – Apollo, though he did act as a herdsman, is generally held to have done so as a punishment, and to have watched the herds of Admetus, not of a lady. However, while serving Admetus, Apollo did help him to win the hand of Alcestis, so perhaps Ronsard is simply conflating a couple of related myths here;
 – Bellay tells us, “they say that Turnus, who founded Tours, is buried under the town’s castle [or château], washed by the waters of the Loire, near the bridge in the wall of that castle”  He is probably referring to the Château des Sablons now a hotel with rooms available! Since Ronsard, no-one seems to have placed Turnus at Bourgueil, and indeed the guide-books tell us that Tours for a long time claimed (and displayed) the ‘tomb of Turnus’.
 
I should probably have translated the ‘White Chapel’ as ‘Whitechapel’, since it refers to a small village near Bourgueil rather than to a building. There was however a chapel (of St Nicholas) at the Guiet gate (le Port-Guyet) which you can see here. In his edition, Blanchemain identified the house as Marie’s. The name Melchior of Champagne is probably not a joke, but we might note that these days a giant, 24-bottle-sized bottle of champagne is called a ‘melchior’: was it when Ronsard wrote? Mance is another village in the area; I don’t imagine these two are supposed to recall ‘real’ musicians.
 
Bellay tells us that what Ronsard calls ‘Aspic’ or ‘spikenard’ is what is commonly called lavender. What he calls ‘Neufard’ is also called ‘neneufard’, from the same Arabic root as our own ‘ninufar’, a water-lily with very wide leaves, which can be used to cool the skin. (Here is one change in the later version which is certainly an improvement on the earlier version below, where the large leaves are ‘like tables’!)
 
========
 
The earlier version given by Blanchemain of course differs in detail. The only substantial change is the  his pale skin: the earlier version offers an extended and perhaps over-done simile featuring the snow-capped mountains of southern France, the later version replaces it with a safer series of more conventional similes. Your preference probably depends on whether you prefer the bold rashness of the earlier approach, risking going too far in the search for originality, or whether you prefer the similes not to be so extreme!
 
Bateau qui par les flots ma chere vie emportes,
Des vents en ta faveur les haleines soient mortes.
Et le banc perilleux qui se trouve parmy
Les eaux, ne t’envelope en son sable endormy :
Que l’air, le vent, et l’eau ]favorisent ma dame,
Et que nul flot bossu ne destourbe sa rame.
En guise d’un estang sans vague paresseux
Aille le cours de Loire, et son limon crasseux
Pour ce jourd’huy se change en gravelle menüe,
Pleine de meint ruby et meinte perle esleüe.
 
Que les bords soient semez de mille belles fleurs
Representant sur l’eau mille belles couleurs,
Et le tropeau Nymphal des gentilles Naïades
Alentour du vaisseau face mille gambades :
Les unes balloyant des paumes de leurs mains
Les flots devant la barque, et les autres leurs seins
Descouvrent à fleur d’eau, et d’une main ouvriere
Conduisent le bateau du long de la riviere.
 
L’azuré Martinet puisse voler davant
Avecques la Mouette, et le Plongeon suivant
Son malheureux destin pour le jourd’huy ne songe
En sa belle Hesperie, et dans l’eau ne se plonge :
Et le Heron criard, qui la tempeste fuit,
Haut pendu dedans l’air ne face point de bruit :
Ains tout gentil oiseau qui va cherchant sa proye
Par les flots poissonneux, bien-heureux te convoye,
Pour seurement venir avec ta charge au port,
Où Marion verra, peut-estre, sur le bort
Une orme des longs bras d’une vigne enlassée,
Et la voyant ainsi doucement embrassée,
De son pauvre Perrot se pourra souvenir,
Et voudra sur le bord embrassé le tenir.
 
On dit au temps passé que quelques uns changerent
En riviere leur forme, et eux-mesmes nagerent
Au flot qui de leur sang et de leurs yeux sailloit,
Quand leur corps ondoyant peu à peu defailloit.
 
Que ne puis-je muer ma ressemblance humaine,
En la forme de l’eau qui ceste barque emmeine ?
J’irois en murmurant sous le fond du vaisseau,
J’irois tout alentour, et mon amoureuse eau
Baiseroit or’ sa main, ore sa bouche franche,
La suivant jusqu’au port de la Chappelle blanche :
Puis forçant mon canal pour ensuivre mon vueil,
Par le trac de ses pas j’irois jusqu’à Bourgueil,
Et là dessous un pin, couché sur la verdure,
Je voudrois revestir ma premiere figure.
 
N’y a-t-il point quelque herbe en ce rivage icy
Qui ait le goust si fort, qu’elle me puisse ainsi
Muer comme fut Glauque, en aquatique monstre,
Qui homme ne poisson, homme et poisson se monstre ?
Je voudrois estre Glauque, et avoir dans mon sein
Les pommes qu’ Hippomane eslançoit de sa main
Pour gaigner Atalante : à fin de te surprendre,
Je les ru’rois sur l’eau, et te ferois apprendre
Que l’or n’a seulement sur la terre pouvoir
Mais qu’il peult desur l’eau les femmes decevoir.
Or cela ne peult estre, et ce qui se peult faire,
Je le veux achever afin de te complaire :
Je veux soigneusement ce coudrier arroser,
Et des chapeaux de fleurs sur ses fueilles poser :
Et avecq’un poinçon je veux dessus l’escorce
Engraver de ton nom les six lettres à force,
Afin que les passans en lisant Marion,
Facent honneur à l’arbre entaillé de ton nom.
 
Je veux faire un beau lict d’une verte jonchee,
De Parvanche fueillue encontre-bas couchee,
De Thym qui fleure bon, et d’Aspic porte-epy,
D’odorant Poliot contre terre tapy,
De Neufard tousjours verd, qui les tables imitent,
Et de Jonc qui les bords des rivieres habite.
 
Je veux jusques au coude avoir l’herbe, et si veux
De roses et de lys couronner mes cheveux.
Je veux qu’on me défonce une pipe Angevine,
Et en me souvenant de ma toute divine,
De toy mon doux soucy, espuiser jusqu’au fond
Mille fois ce jourd’huy mon gobelet profond,
Et ne partir d’icy jusqu’à tant qu’à la lie
De ce bon vin d’ Anjou la liqueur soit faillie.
 
Melchior Champenois, et Guillaume Manceau,
L’un d’un petit rebec, l’autre d’un chalumeau,
Me chanteront comment j’eu l’ame despourveüe
De sens et de raison si tost que je t’eu veüe,
Puis chanteront comment pour flechir ta rigueur
Je t’appellay ma vie, et te nommay mon cœur,
Mon œil, mon sang, mon tout : mais ta haute pensée
N’a voulu regarder chose tant abaissee,
Ains en me dedaignant tu aimas autre part
Un qui son amitié chichement te depart.
Voila comme il te prend pour mespriser ma peine,
Et le rustique son de mon tuyau d’aveine.
 
Ils diront que mon teint, auparavant vermeil,
De crainte en te voyant se blanchit tout pareil
A la neige ou d’Auvergne ou des monts Pyrénées,
Qui se conserve blanche en despit des années,
Et que depuis le mois que l’amour me fit tien,
De jour en jour plus triste et plus vieil je devien.
 
Puis ils diront comment les garçons du village
Disent que ta beauté touche desja sur l’age,
Et qu’au matin le Coq dés la poincte du jour
Ne voirra plus sortir ceux qui te font l’amour.
« Bien fol est qui se fie en sa belle jeunesse,
« Qui si tost se derobe, et si tost nous delaisse.
« La rose à la parfin devient un gratecu,
« Et tout avecq’ le temps par le temps est vaincu. »
 
Quel passetemps prens-tu d’habiter la valee
De Bourgueil où jamais la Muse n’est allee ?
Quitte moy ton Anjou, et vien en Vandomois :
Là s’eslevent au ciel les sommets de nos bois,
Là sont mille taillis et mille belles plaines,
Là gargouillent les eaux de cent mille fontaines,
Là sont mille rochers, où Echon alentour
En resonnant mes vers ne parle que d’ Amour.
 
Ou bien si tu ne veux, il me plaist de me rendre
Angevin pour te voir, et ton langage apprendre :
Et là pour te flechir, les hauts vers que j’avois
En ma langue traduit du Pindare Gregeois,
Humble je redirai en un chant plus facile
Sur le doux chalumeau du pasteur de Sicile.
 
Là parmy tes sablons Angevin devenu,
Je veux vivre sans nom comme un pauvre incognu,
Et dés l’Aube du jour avecq’ toy mener paistre
Aupres du port Guiet nostre troupeau champestre :
Puis sur le chaud du jour je veux en ton giron
Me coucher sous un chesne, où l’herbe à l’environ
Un beau lict nous fera de mainte fleur diverse,
Où nous serons tournés tous deux à la renverse :
Puis au Soleil couchant nous mènerons noz bœufs
Boire sur le sommet des ruisselets herbeux,
Et les remènerons au son de la musette,
Puis nous endormirons dessus l’herbe mollette.
 
Là sans ambition de plus grands biens avoir,
Contenté seulement de t’aimer et de voir,
Je passerois mon âge, et sur ma sepulture
Les Angevins mettroient ceste breve escriture.
 
Celuy qui gist icy, touché de l’aiguillon
Qu’ amour nous laisse au cœur, garda comme Apollon
Les tropeaux de sa dame, et en ceste prairie
Mourut en bien aimant une belle Marie,
Et elle apres sa mort mourut aussi d’ennuy,
Et sous ce verd tombeau repose avecques luy.
 
A peine avois je dit, quand Thoinet se dépâme,
Et à soy revenu alloit apres sa dame :
Mais je le retiray le menant d’autre part
Pour chercher à loger, car il estoit bien tard.
 
Nous avions ja passé la sablonneuse rive,
Et le flot qui bruyant contre le pont arrive,
Et ja dessus le pont nous estions parvenus,
Et nous apparoissoit le tumbeau de Turnus,
Quand le pasteur Janot tout gaillard nous emmeine
Dedans son toict couvert de javelles d’aveine.
“O boat who carry my dear life through the waves,
May the breath of the winds favourable to you be dead,
And may the perilous bank which is found
In the waters not wrap you in his sleeping sands;
May air, wind and water favour my lady
And no bumpy wave disturb her oars.
May the course of the Loire flow with the appearance
Of a pool, without any lazy waves, and may its dirty lime
For today change into fine gravel
Full of many a ruby and many a choice pearl.
 
May the banks be sown with a thousand beautiful flowers
Reflecting their thousand beautiful colours on the water;
And may the nymphly troop of gentle Naiads
Make around the vessel a thousand gambols,
Some making the waves before the bark dance
With the palms of their hands, others reveal
Their breasts in the water’s foam, and with workers’ hands
Lead the boat along the river.
 
Let the sky-blue martin fly before
With the gull, and let the loon pursuing
His wretched fate not dream for today
Of his fair [ Hesperia ], and not throw himself under the water;
And let the noisy Heron, who flees the storm,
Hanging high in the air make no sound;
So, let every gentle bird which seeks its prey
Among the fishy waves bring you with good fortune
To come safely with your charge to port,
Where Marion shall see perhaps on the bank
An elm with long boughs, bound by a vine,
And seeing it embraced so gently
Shall maybe recall her poor Pete
And wish to have him in her embrace on the bank.
 
“They used to say in past time that some people could change
Their form into a river, and themselves swam
In the waves which mounted with their blood and tears
As their bodies, wavering, little by little faded away.
 
“Why cannot I change my human appearance
Into the form of the water which draws that bark?
I would go murmuring under the bottom of the vessel,
I would go all around it, and my loving water
Would kiss now her hand, now her open lips,
Following her right up to the White Chapel;
Then, forcing a passage to follow my wish,
I would follow the traces of her feet right to Bourgueil
And there, lying beneath a pine on the green grass,
I would want to re-assume my previous shape.
 
“Is there no plant on this bank here
Which has so strong a taste that it might thus
Change me as Glaucus was changed, into an aquatic beast,
With the form of neither man nor fish, yet of both man and fish?
I would like to be Glaucus and keep in my lap
The apples which Hippomanes threw from his hand
To win Atalanta; to surprise you
I would hurl them on the water and make you realise
That gold has power not only upon the earth,
But that it can deceive women upon water also.
Well, that won’t happen; but what can be done
I want to achieve, to please you.
I want to water this hazel-tree carefully
And place chaplets of flowers upon its leaves;
And with an awl upon its bark I want
To engrave the six letters of your name strongly
So that passers-by, reading ‘Marion’,
May do honour to the tree cut with your name.
 
“I want to make a fair bed of green reeds,
Laid upon leafy periwinkle
And thyme which flowers well, and tufted aspic,
And fragrant mint carpeting the earth,
And ever-green water-lilies, which imitate tables,
And reeds which live on the river-banks.
 
“I want to have grass up to my elbows, and I want
With roses and lilies to crown my hair.
I want someone to break me open an Angevin cask
And, as I recall my completely divine one,
You, my sweet care, to empty right to the bottom
My deep cup, a thousand times this very day,
And not to leave here until to the lees
Of this fine wine of Anjou the liquor is drained.
 
Melchior of Champagne and William of [ Mance ],
One on his little fiddle, the other on pipes,
Will sing of me, how my soul was destitute
Of sense and reason as soon as I saw you.
Then they’ll sing how, to turn aside your harshness,
I called you my life, and named you my heart,
My eyes, my blood, my everything: but your haughty thoughts
Did not wish to look on a thing so abased,
Even as – while you disdained me – you loved elsewhere
Someone who stingily took away from you his love.
See how he led you to despise my pain,
And the rustic sound of my oat-stalk pipe.
 
They’ll sing how my previously-pink colour
For fear on seeing you paled just like
The snow in the Auvergne or the Pyrenean mountains,
Which remains white despite the passing year,
And how since the month when love made me yours
From day to day I’ve become sadder and older.
 
Then they’ll sing how the boys in the village
Say that your beauty is already beginning to age,
And how in the morning the cock at break of day
Won’t any longer see leaving those who make love to you.
“The true fool is he who trusts in his fair youth,
Which so soon fades, and so soon leaves us.
The rose in the end becomes a rose-hip,
And everything in time by time is overcome.”
 
Why do you pass your time living in the valley
Of Bourgueil, where the Muse has never visited?
Leave your Anjou for me, and come to the Vendôme:
There the tops of our trees rise to the skies,
There are a thousand copses and a thousand lovely plains,
There the waters of millions of springs gurgle,
There are a thousand rocks where Echo all around
Re-sounding my verses speaks only of Love.
 
Or even, if you don’t want to, I’m happy to become
Angevin, to see you, and to learn your language;
And there, to sway you, the high-flown verse which I have
Translated into my tongue from Greek Pindar
I shall humbly re-write into an easier song
Played on the sweet pipes of the Sicilian shepherd.
 
There among your sands, become an Angevin,
I want to live nameless like a poor unknown,
And from the dawn of day to lead with you to pasture
Near the Guiet gate our country herd;
Then, in the heat of the day, I want to lie
In your lap beneath an oak, where the grass around
Will make a lovely bed for us of many varied flowers
Where we shall both turn backwards;
Then as the sun sets, we will lead our cattle
To drink from the high origins of grassy streams,
And we’ll lead them back, to the sound of the pipe,
Then we’ll sleep upon the softest grass.
 
There, with no ambition to have greater goods,
Contented only with loving you and looking,
I shall live out my years, and on my grave
The Angevins will place this brief inscription:
 
“He who lies here, wounded by the arrow
Which love plants in our hearts, watched like Apollo
His lady’s herds, and on this plain
He died, loving well his fair Marie,
And she after his death died too, of grief,
And lies beneath this green tomb with him.”
 
I had barely spoken, when Tony came around,
And, recovered, was going after his lady;
But I drew him back, leading him elsewhere
To find lodging, for it was very late.
 
We had already passed the sandy bank,
And the waves which crash noisily against the bridge,
And we’d already arrived on the bridge,
And the tomb of Turnus had already appeared before us,
When Johnny the shepherd gaily led us
Into his home, covered with armful of oat-straw.
 
A complete version of the later text and translation is collected here.
 
 

Amours 1.194

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Quelle langueur ce beau front des-honore ?
Quel voile obscur embrunist ce flambeau ?
Quelle palleur dépourpre ce sein beau,
Qui per à per combat avec l’Aurore?
 
Dieu medecin, si en toy vit encore
L’antique feu du Thessale arbrisseau,
Vien au secours de ce teint damoiseau,
Et son liz palle en œillets recolore.
 
Et toy Barbu, fidele gardien
Des Rhagusins, peuple Epidaurien,
Fais amortir le tison de ma vie :
 
S’il vit je vy, s’il meurt je ne suis riens :
Car tant son ame à la mienne est unie,
Que ses destins seront suivis des miens.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            What langour dishonours that fair brow?
                                                                            What shadowy veil darkens that torch?
                                                                            What pallor un-reddens that fair breast,
                                                                            Which competes on equal terms with the Dawn?
 
                                                                            O doctor-god, if in you still lives
                                                                            The antique fire of the Thessalian bush,
                                                                            Come to the aid of this maiden tint
                                                                            And re-colour her pale lilies as pinks.
 
                                                                            And you, Bearded God, faithful guardian
                                                                            Of the Rhagusians, a people of Epidaurum,
                                                                            Un-deaden the fire-brand of my life;
 
                                                                            If she lives, I live; if she dies, I am nothing;
                                                                            For her soul is so united to mine
                                                                            That her fate will be followed by mine.
 
 
 
 
Some neologisms from Ronsard in this lovely ‘get well soon’ message:  ‘un-redden’ in line 3, ‘un-deaden’ in line 11 – “amortir” usually means to reduce, but here it is “a-mort-ir”.  Ragusa is Dubrovnik, founded by Illyrians from Epidaurum (or Epidaurus, but not the one where the famous theatre is). Epidaurum was some 15km south of Dubrovnik, both on the Dalmatian coast. Its patron god was Asclepius/Aesculapius, the ‘bearded god’ of line 9 whose image can be found carved into a column in the portico of the Rector’s Palace in Dubrovnik today. Asclepius is also associated with Thessaly (it was there he was supposedly born), and in particular with Epidaurus (the one with the theatre!) where there is a temple to him.  So in lines 5-6 Ronsard may be referring to another aspect of the same deity, as well as making a link between the two Epidauruses. Alternatively, he may mean Apollo (father of Asclepius) whose association with the ‘Thesalian bush’ recalls Daphne, turned into a bush to escape his lustful pursuit.
 
Note that in line 12, Ronsard actually writes ‘if it [the torch or fire-brand] lives…’; I have personalised his simile to make it clearer.
 
Blanchemain’s text offers us another neologism in line 11 – “Déflamme aussi le tizon de ma vie” (‘Un-flame too the fire-brand…’); no doubt Ronsard adjusted this image as it is confusing to imagine the flames of a torch being put out but the torch still living… In line 7, Blanchemain’s text has “Las ! prends pitié de ce teint damoiseau”, adjusted in the later version to eliminate the weak exclamation.
 
 
 
 
 

Odes 1.3

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Today one of Ronsard’s early Odes, very formally structured in the classical style with strophes & antistrophes repeating a metrical scheme, and then epodes acting as a ‘refrain’ structure in between pairs of these.

A LA ROYNE
 
Strophe 1
 
Je suis troublé de fureur,
Le poil me dresse d’horreur,
D’un effroy mon ame est pleine,
Mon estomac est pantois,
Et par son canal ma vois
Ne se desgorge qu’à peine.
Une deité m’emmeine ;
Fuyez, peuple, qu’on me laisse,
Voicy venir la deesse ;
Fuyez, peuple, je la voy.
Heureux ceux qu’elle regarde,
Et plus heureux qui la garde
Dans l’estomac comme moy !
 
Antistrophe 1
 
Elle, esprise de mes chants,
Loin me guide par les champs
Où jadis sur le rivage
Apollon Florence aima,
Lorsque jeune elle s’arma
Pour combattre un loup sauvage.
L’art de filer ny l’ouvrage
Ne plurent à la pucelle,
Ny le lit mignard ; mais elle,
Devant le jour s’éveillant,
Cherchoit des loups le repaire,
Pour les bœufs d’Arne son père
Sans repos se travaillant.
 
Epode 1
 
Ce Dieu, qui du ciel la vit
Si valeureuse et si belle,
Pour sa femme la ravit,
Et surnomma du nom d’elle
La ville qui te fit naistre,
Laquelle se vante d’estre
Mere de nostre Junon,
Et qui par les gens étranges
Pour ses plus grandes louanges
Ne celebre que ton nom.
 
Strophe 2
 
Là les faits de tes ayeux
Vont flamboyant comme aux cieux
Flamboye l’aurore claire ;
Là l’honneur de ton Julien
Dans le ciel italien
Comme une planette esclaire.
Par luy le gros populaire
Pratiqua l’experience
De la meilleure science,
Et là reluisent aussi
Tes deux grands papes, qui ores
Du ciel, où ils sont encores,
Te favorisent icy.
 
Antistrophe 2
 
On ne compte les moissons
De l’esté, ni des glaçons
Qui, l’hiver, tiennent la trace
Des eaux roides à glisser :
Ainsi je ne puis penser
Les louanges de ta race.
Le Ciel t’a peint en la face
Je ne sçay quoy qui nous monstre,
Dès la premiere rencontre,
Que tu passes par grand-heur
Les princesses de nostre âge,
Soit en force de courage,
Soit en royale grandeur.
 
Epode 2
 
Le comble de ton sçavoir
Et de tes vertus ensemble
Dit que l’on ne peut icy voir
Rien que toy qui te resemble.
Quelle dame a la pratique
De tant de mathematique ?
Quelle princesse entend mieux
Du grand monde la peinture,
Les chemins de la nature
Et la musique des cieux ?
 
Strophe 3
 
Ton nom, que mon vers dira,
Tout le monde remplira
De ta loüange notoire :
Un tas qui chantent de toy
Ne sçavent si bien que moy
Comme il faut sonner ta gloire.
Jupiter, ayant mémoire
D’une vieille destinée
Autrefois determinée
Par l’oracle de Themis,
A commandé que Florence
Dessous les loix de la France
Se courbe le chef soumis.
 
Antistrophe 3
 
Mais il veut que ton enfant
En ait honneur triomphant,
D’autant qu’il est tout ensemble
Italien et François,
Qui de front, d’yeux et de vois,
A père et mere resemble.
Déjà tout colere il semble
Que sa main tente les armes,
Et qu’au milieu des alarmes
Jà desdaigne les dangers ;
Et, servant aux siens de guide,
Vainqueur, attache une bride
Aux royaumes estrangers.
 
Epode 3
 
Le Ciel, qui nous l’a donné
Pour estre nostre lumiere,
Son empire n’a borné
D’un mont ou d’une riviere.
Le destin veut qu’il enserre
Dans sa main toute la terre,
Seul roy se faisant nommer,
D’où Phébus les Indes laisse,
Et d’où son char il abbaisse
Tout panché dedans la mer.
To the Queen
 
 
 
I am assailed by madness,
My hair stands up with horror,
Panic fills my soul,
My heart is stunned,
And my voice can barely
Pass through my throat.
A deity has seized me.
Run, people, please leave me,
See, here comes the goddess !
Run, people, I see her !
Fortunate the men on whom she looks,
More fortunate the man who keeps her
In his heart, like me !
 
 
 
In love with my songs, she
Guides me far among the fields
Where once on the riverbank
Apollo loved Florence,
When the young [nymph] armed herself
To fight a savage wolf.
Not the art of spinning nor its works
Could please the maid,
Nor her pretty bed ; but she,
Before the breaking day
Would seek the dens of wolves,
Working without rest
For the cattle of her father Arno.
 
 
 
This god, who from heaven saw her
So bold and so fair,
Seized her as his wife
And named from her name
The town which gave you birth.
That town boasts of being
Mother of our Juno [queen],
And amongst foreign peoples
For her greater praise
Celebrates only your name.
 
 
 
There the deeds of your ancestors
Rise blazing, as in the heavens
Blazes the bright dawn ;
There [blazes] the glory of your Guiliano
In the Italian skies
Like a bright planet.
Through him, the rude commons
Gained understanding
Of the best learning,
And there shone forth too
Your two great Popes, who still
From heaven, where they are now,
Favour you here.
 
 
 
We cannot count the harvest
Of summer, nor the icicles
Which in winter mark the route
Of waters stubborn in flowing ;
Just so I cannot encompass
The praises of your family.
Heaven painted something
In your appearance which has shown us,
Since first we met,
That you surpass in the greatnes of your destiny
The princesses of our age,
Whether in the force of your courage
Or in royal grandeur.
 
 
 
The sum of your learning
And of all your virtues
Tells us that we cannot see here
Anyone but you, who is like you.
What lady has the skill
Of so much mathematics ?
What princess understands better
The design of the great world,
The paths of nature
And the music of the heavens ?
 
 
 
Your name, which my verse shall praise,
Will fill the whole world
With your well-known praise ;
A mass of those who sing of you
Do not know as well as I
How we should sound your glory.
Jupiter, recalling
An ancient fate
Once determined
By the oracle of Themis,
Commanded that Florence
Beneath the laws of France
Should bend its submissive head.
 
 
 
But he wanted your child
To have triumphant honour from it
As he is, at the same time,
Italian and French,
His brow, eyes and voice
Resembling his father’s and mother’s.
Already full of anger it seems
That his hand tries out arms
And in the midst of alarms
Already disdains danger ;
And, acting as a guide to his men,
As victor places a bridle
On foreign kingdoms.
 
 
 
Heaven, which gave us him
To be our light,
Has not bounded his empire
With hill or river.
Fate wants him to grip
In his hand the whole earth,
Giving him the name of king alone,
From where Phoebus leaves the Indies
To where he brings down his chariot
Sinking into the sea.
 
We’ve seen Ronsard in panegyric mode before. Obviously it was important to lavish priase on potential patrons, especially royalty; what I think distinguishes Ronsard’s work in this vein is the way he knits so many ideas together into a complex and sophisticated hymn of (undeserved) praise.
 
So here he adopts a very classical style, with a very un-classical theme; and indeed opens with the singer being ‘possessed’ by a god in a theme harking back to Greek tragedy. Indeed the whole form of the poem echoes tragic choruses in Greek plays.
 
Antistrophe 1 invents a foundation myth for Florence. The poem is ddressed to Queen Catherine (de Medici), whose family famously rules Florence for much of the renaissance.  Ronsard himself offered some footnotes to help us through the invented myth:  “as in Pausanias Apollo loved the maiden Bolina, after whom is named a town in Achaea. In the style of the ancients, the poet disguises true things with fictions and fables, and invents a nymph who gave her name to the town of Florence, a daughter of Arno, loved and raped by Apollo; which in effect means that this town is full of courage and learning, as in truth many admirable spirits & many great captains have come from it.” Note that, for all his praise of Florence, Ronsard praises France more for having seized the city – strophe 3!
 
The authorial footnote is less helpful in strophe 2, where – regarding the reference to “Julien” he tells us only ‘See here the history of Florence’!  There are two famous Giuliano de Medicis – brother and son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The former is famous for being assassinated in the Duomo (cathedral) in Florence; the latter for marrying into the royal family of Savoy and being made Duke of Nemours by king Francis I (of France), before dying prematurely. Both are buried side by side in the Medici chapel in Florence, beneath monuments designed by Michelangelo. I suspect Ronsard is referring to the Duke of Nemours – Catherine’s father’s uncle; but it could be either.
 
The two great Popes are also, of course, Medicis:  Clement VII, alias Giulio de Medici, the posthumous son of the assassinated Giuliano; and Leo X, alias Giovanni de Medici, nephew of the same Giuliano. Both feature in Raphael’s famous portarit of Leo X (Giulio as a cardinal).
 
Epode 2 brings an unexpected appearance of the word ‘mathematics’ in poetry…! While the praises here are overdone, there is no doubting that Catherine was cultured and knowledgeable: her patronage of the arts and of public spectacles has left little to remember, but she also spent enormous sums on building programmes, and no doubt took a close interest in the architectural designs (which would have been mathematically proportioned). The authorial footnote in any case tells us that ‘mathematics covers all kinds of science, geometry, astronomy and the others, which are all called mathematics’. Some have read the remaining lines as further evidence of scientific learning: ‘the painting of the great world’ (as it translates literally) might be cosmography, but could equally be a reference to her understanding of the art of perspective etc in painting; the ‘paths of nature’ might refer to an understanding of natural phenomena as much as the knowledge of physics (or perhaps alchemy/chemistry) suggested by some; and the ‘music of the spheres’ need not imply metaphysics any more than an understanding of ‘musical proportion’ etc. But however we read it the message is clear: a clever, learned and cultured queen.
 
Although the prophecy in strophe 3 is invented, Themis is invoked as the classical (or pre-classical) model of what is ‘right’. The footnote tells us ‘this ancient goddess is, high in the heavens for the gods, what justice is here below for men on the earth’. Themis can be translated as ‘right’, though it carries strong connotations of divine order, natural law, the right way of doing things, the will of the gods…  All of which Ronsard is invoking through his reference, as ordaining France’s conquest of Florence – so that France’s king, Catherine’s son, might have the best of French and Italian spirit and courage.  In the 1550s, this would have been a clear reference to Francis II; but in the following 30 years Catherine was a major power behind the throne for three of her sons, Francis being followed by Charles IX and then Henri III as the Valois dynasty tottered towards its collapse. Ronsard’s decision not to name her son here proved very handy, and kept the poem up-to-date through the rest of his life (Catherine died 4 years after him).
 
 
Strophe 3 and Epode 2 (in that order) form the text of Lassus’s 1571 musical setting which, though not openly naming Catherine or dedicated to her, retains the reference to Florence as well as France. As Charles IX had married the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor in 1570, we can be pretty confident that he expected the song to be recognised as a tribute to the most powerful Queen in Europe, and a powerful supporter of the Catholic faith at a time when much of northern Europe was riven by the Protestant-Catholic troubles.
 
 
 
 

Poems 1.18 – The Marigold / Worries

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Although the poem is about the marigold, the French word also means ‘cares’ or ‘worries’ – particularly in Ronsard, the troubles of a lover. Here there is a subtext throughout, a message to his lady about the pain she causes him. The title in Blanchemain’s version, ‘the marigold in the garden’, sets the expectation of a rather less ambiguous poem, perhaps.

Le Souci
 
Je veux chanter, Cherouvrier, le Souci
Qui te plaist tant et qui me plaist aussi :
Non les soucis dont Amour me fait guerre,
Mais les Soucis estoiles de la terre :
Ains les Soleils des jardins, tant ils sont
Jaunes, luisans et dorez sur le front.
 
La rose emporte (empourprant son espine)
Le premier lieu à cause d’Erycine,
Et du beau sang d’Adon qui la peingnit :
L’Oeillet apres qu’Apollon contraingnit
Joüer au disque, et qui le fist occire
Sans y penser à l’amoureux Zephire,
Et fut depuis aux Spartes un grand Dieu.
 
Ces deux, Souci, ont eu le premier lieu,
Toy le troisiesme, et s’il n’y a fleurette
Ny giroflée, ou double violette,
Genest, josmin plus odorant que toy :
Au moins, Souci, s’il n’est vray, je le croy.
 
Soit que ma Dame autrefois m’ait donnée
Ta couleur jaune, ou que l’ame inclinée
A voir, sentir et contempler ta fleur,
Sur tous parfums j’estime ton odeur :
Jamais repas ne me fut agreable,
Si ton bouton n’enfleurit une table,
Salade, pain, et toute la maison
Aux plus beaux mois de la prime saison :
Car de couleur ta couleur je ressemble,
Tu es, Souci, mon frere ce me semble.
 
Tu es tout jaune, et tout jaune je suis
Pour trop d’amour qu’effacer je ne puis.
 
Printemps, Hyver, tu gardes ta verdure :
Printemps, Hyver, le soin d’amour me dure.
 
Double est ta fleur, ta fleur est simple aussi,
Mon cœur est simple, et vit tousjours ainsi :
Mais mes pensers et mes ennuis sont doubles
Selon les yeux et farouches et troubles
De ma Maistresse, et mon soin est doublé
Si son œil est ou farouche ou troublé.
 
Quand le Soleil ton amoureux s’abaisse
Dedans le sein de Tethys son hostesse,
Allant revoir le pere de la mer,
On voit ton chef se clorre et se fermer
Palle, desfait : mais quand sa tresse blonde
De longs cheveux s’esparpille sur l’onde
Se resveillant, tu t’esveilles joyeux,
Et pour le voir tu dessilles tes yeux,
Et sa clarté est seule ton envie,
Un seul Soleil te donnant mort et vie.
 
Quand je ne voy mon beau Soleil levé,
De toutes parts un sommeil agravé
Dessus le front des tenebres me donne,
Si qu’esblouy je ne cognois personne.
 
Mais aussi tost que ses rais dessus moy
Me font un jour, des yeux du cœur je voy
Mille beautez, tant sa gentille flame
En m’esclairant me reluist dedans l’ame,
Et loin du corps dont je suis empesché,
Tient mon esprit aux Astres attaché.
 
On dit, Souci, quand au bras on te lie,
Que tu guaris de la melancholie.
Or en cela nous sommes differens :
Ce que je voy, tout triste je le rens
Ainsi que moy, tant il sort de tristesse
Hors de mes yeux pour ma rude Maistresse,
Qui froide et lente et morne en amitié
Mon pauvre cœur ne veut prendre à pitié,
Me consommant d’amour, tant elle est belle :
Et je veux bien me consommer pour elle.
 
Adieu Souci, si Cherouvrier passant
Par son jardin voit ton chef florissant,
Qui toute fleur au temps d’Hyver surpasse,
Que l’Aube engendre et qu’une nuict efface,
Te voyant naistre aussi tost que fanir :
Soir et matin fay le moy souvenir
Que nostre vie aux fleurettes resemble,
Qui presque vit et presque meurt ensemble :
Et ce-pendant qu’il est en son printemps,
Vive amoureux et n’espargne le temps.
 
Si en naissant ce grand Maistre qui donne
Heur et malheur à chacune personne,
M’avoit donné, mon Cherouvrier, ta vois
Dont tu flechis les peuples et les Rois,
Comme estant seul de France la merveille
Pour attirer une ame par l’oreille :
Je chasserois la fiévre de mon corps
Par la douceur de tant de beaux accords.
 
En lieu d’avoir ta nombreuse Musique
J’ay l’autre ardeur, la vérve poëtique,
Qui rompt ma fiévre et charme mon souci,
Ou s’il n’est vray, je me console ainsi.
 
Donq si j’avois ceste voix si divine,
Present du ciel qui sort de ta poitrine,
Je chanterois : mais ne pouvant chanter,
De l’autre ardeur il me faut contenter.
The Marigold
 
I shall sing, Cherouvrier, of the marigold
Which pleases you so, and pleases me too ;
Not the cares with which Love makes war on me
But the flowery stars of the earth,
Like suns in the garden, so yellow
Are they, shining gold on their brows.
 
The rose (em-purpling its thorns) takes
First place, because of Erycine [Venus of Mt Eryx]
And the fair blood of Adonis which colours it ;
The carnation next, which Apollo made
Play at the discus and whom Zephyr made him kill
Without considering his lover,
And was afterward a great god to the Spartans.
 
These two, marigold, have first place,
You the third, and indeed there is no flower,
Not the wallflower nor double-violet,
Broom nor jasmine more sweet-smelling than you ;
At least, marigold, that’s what I believe, true or not.
 
Whether my Lady had once given me
Your yellow tint, or whether my soul was inclined
To look at, smell and consider your flower,
Above all perfumes I esteem your odour ;
Never was a meal pleasing to me
Unless your bud flowered on the table,
Salad, bread and all the house
In the fairest months of the best season ;
Because in my colour your colour I resemble
You are, marigold, my brother, it seems.
 
You are all yellow, and I am all yellow
From too much love, nor can I wipe it away.
 
In Spring and Winter, you keep your freshness ;
In Spring and Winter, love’s cares linger in me.
 
Double is your flower, but single too ;
My heart is single, and lives always thus ;
But my thoughts and cares are doubled
Because of the timid, troubled eyes
Of my mistress, and my care is doubled
If her eyes are either timid or troubled.
 
When the sun, your lover, sets
Within the breast of Tethys his hostess,
Going to see again the father of the sea,
We see your bloom close, lock itself away
Pale and undone ; but when his yellow locks
Scatter their long hair over the waves
As he awakes again, then you wake joyfully
And open your eyes to see him
And his brightness is your only desire,
The Sun alone bringing you death and life.
 
When I do not see my own Sun arise,
From every side a painful sleep
Gives me shadows on my brow,
So that, dazzled, I recognise no-one.
 
But as soon as her rays shine daylight
Upon me, with my heart’s eyes I see
A thousand beauties, so much does her noble flame
Shining on me lighten again my soul,
And, far from the body with which I am weighted down,
Keeps my spirit bound to the stars.
 
They say, marigold, that when we tie you to our arm
You will cure melancholy.
Well, in that we are different :
Whatever I see, I make unhappy
Like I am myself, so much sadness flows
From my eyes for my harsh mistress,
Who – cold, slow and sad in loving –
Does not want to take pity on my poor heart,
Consuming me with love, so beautiful she is ;
And I’d willingly consume myself for her.
 
Farewell, marigold : if Cherouvrier passes
By your garden and sees your flowering head
Which surpasses all flowers in winter-time,
Which Dawn brings to birth and a single night extinguishes,
Seeing you born as quick as fading ;
Night and day remind him for me
That our life is like that of the flowers
Who virtually live and die at the same moment ;
And yet while he is in his springtime
Let him live, love, and not spare of his time.
 
If at birth that great Master who gives
Fortune and misfortune to each person
Had given me, my Cherouvrier, your voice
With which you sway peoples and Kings,
As if the sole wonder in France
Able to draw out the soul through the ears,
I would drive away the fever from my body
Through the sweetness of so many fine harmonies.
 
Instead of having your many-faceted Music
I have that other passion, poetic inspiration,
Which breaks my fever and charms away my cares –
Or so I console myself, even if it is not true.
 
So, if I had your god-like voice,
Which emerges from your breast like a gift from heaven,
I would sing : but being unable to sing,
With that other passion I must content myself.
 
We met Guillaume Cherouvrier a while back in one of Ronsard’s more cynical poems, so it is good to find him here as the recipient of something far less cynical!  You may recall he was a member of the Royal Chapel, hence the reference to ‘his music’ near the end of the poem.
 
Tethys in the middle of the poem is the sun’s ‘hostess’ because she is a sea-nymph, and of course the sun spends his nights in the sea. Adonis, near the beginning, is more usually associated with the blood-red anemone, though it’s obvious why the rose could also fit; he links closely to Venus (who loved him) but not especially to her cult on Mt Eryx in Sicily.  The three lines about the carnation are confusing, not least because you need to know the story to be able to work out who is doing what to whom! The carnation here replaces the hyacinth: Hyacinth was loved by Apollo, but also by Zephyr who, while Apollo and Hyacinth were throwing the discus, blew it off course so that Apollo’s throw killed Hyacinth. So here the meaning is that Apollo made Hyacinth play, Zephyr made Apollo kill him, sacrificing his own love to spite Apollo. (Apollo transformed the blood of Hyacinth into a flower, marked with his tears or the blood depending on the version of the myth and the flower it represents!)
 
I should just mention the ‘double / single’ antithesis in the middle of the poem. Ronsard’s words are “double / simple”, so that each time something is ‘single’ it is also ‘simple’. I have reluctantly chosen ‘single’, so that the antithesis works, but I feel that the other meaning, of simplicity, is really the one that should come through!
 
Let’s have a look at the variant texts offered by Blanchemain: 
 
Le Souci du Jardin
 
Au Sieur Cherouvrier
Excellent musicien
 
Je veux chanter, Cherouvrier, le Souci
Qui te plaist tant, et qui me plaist aussi ;
Non les soucys qui tout le cœur nous serre,
Mais les Soucis, estoilles d’un parterre,
Ains les soleils des jardins, tant ils sont
Jaunes, luisans, et dorez sur le front.
 
La rose emporte (empourprant son espine)
Le premier lieu à cause d’Erycine,
Et du beau sang d’Adon qui la peingnit ;
L’œillet après qu’Apollon contraingnit
Jouer au disque, et qui le fit occire
Sans y penser à l’amoureux Zephyre,
Et fut depuis aux Spartes un grand Dieu.
 
Ces deux, Soucy, ont eu le premier lieu,
Toy le troisiesme, et s’il n’y a fleurette,
Ny giroflée, ou double violette,
Genest, josmin plus odorant que toy ;
Au moins, Souci, s’il n’est vray, je le croy.
 
Soit que ma dame autresfois m’ait donnée
Ta couleur jaune, ou que l’âme inclinée
A voir, sentir, et contempler ta fleur,
Sur tous parfums j’estime ton odeur ;
Jamais repas ne me fut agreable,
Si ton bouton n’enfleurit une table,
Salade, pain, et toute la maison
Aux plus beaux mois de la prime saison ;
Car de couleur, Soucy, je te ressemble,
Tu es, Soucy, mon frere, ce me semble.
 
Tu es tout jaune, et tout jaune je suis
Pour trop d’amour qu’effacer je ne puis.
 
Printemps, hyver, tu gardes ta verdure ;
Printemps, hyver, le soin d’amour me dure.
 
Double tu es et simple. Quant à moy
J’ay simple cœur et j’ay simple la foy ;
Mais mes pensers et mes ennuis sont doubles
Selon les yeux et farouches et troubles
De ma maistresse, et mon soin est doublé
Si son œil est ou farouche ou troublé.
 
Quand le soleil, ton amoureux, s’abaisse
Dedans le sein de Tethys son hostesse,
Allant revoir le pere de la mer,
On voit ton chef se clorre et se fermer
Palle, défait ; mais quand sa tresse blonde
De longs cheveux s’esparpille sur l’onde
Se réveillant, tu t’éveilles joyeux,
Et pour le voir tu dessiles tes yeux,
Et sa clarté est seule ton envie,
Un seul soleil te donnant mort et vie.
 
Quand je ne voy les yeux de mon soleil,
De toutes parts un aggravé sommeil
Dessus le front des tenebres me donne,
Si qu’esblouy je ne cognois personne.
 
Mais aussi tost que ses rais dessus moy
Me font un jour, d’yeux et de cœur je voy
Mille beautez, tant sa gentille flame
En m’éclairant me reluit dans l’ame,
Et loin du corps dont je suis empesché,
Tient mon esprit aux astres attaché.
 
On dit, Souci, quand au bras on te lie,
Que tu guaris de la melancholie.
Or en cela nous sommes differens ;
Ce que je voy, tout triste je le rens
Ainsi que moy, tant il sort de tristesse
Hors de mes yeux pour ma rude maistresse,
Qui froide et lente, et morne en amitié
Mon pauvre cœur ne veut prendre à pitié,
Me consommant d’amour, tant elle est belle ;
Et je veux bien me consommer pour elle.
 
Adieu, Souci ! si Cherouvrier, passant
Par son jardin, voit ton chef florissant,
Qui toute fleur au temps d’hyver surpasse,
Que l’aube engendre et qu’une nuict efface,
Te voyant naistre aussi tost que fanir ;
Soir et matin fay-le-moy souvenir
Que nostre vie aux fleurettes ressemble,
Qui presque vit, et presque meurt ensemble ;
Et ce-pendant qu’il est en son printemps,
Vive amoureux et n’espargne le temps.
 
Si en naissant ce grand maistre qui donne
Heur et mal-heur à chacune personne,
M’avoit donné, mon Cherouvrier, ta vois
Dont tu flechis les peuples et les Rois,
Comme estant seul de France la merveille
Pour attirer une âme par l’aureille ;
Je chasserois la fiévre de mon corps
Par la douceur de mes divers accords.
 
En lieu d’avoir ta nombreuse musique,
J’ay l’autre ardeur, la verve poëtique,
Qui rompt ma fiévre et charme ma langueur,
Me fait gaillard et me tient en vigueur.
 
Doncq’ si j’avois ceste voix si divine,
Present du ciel, qui sort de ta poitrine,
Je chanterois ; mais ne pouvant chanter,
D’escrire en vers il me faut contenter.
The garden Marigold
 
To my lord Cherouvrier
An excellent musician
 
I shall sing, Cherouvrier, of the marigold
Which pleases you so, and pleases me too ;
Not the cares which grip our whole heart
But the flowery stars of a lawn,
Like suns in the garden, so yellow
Are they, shining gold on their brows.
 
The rose (em-purpling its thorns) takes
First place, because of Erycine
And the fair blood of Adonis which colours it ;
The carnation next, which forced Apollo
Play at the discus and made him kill
Without considering it the amorous Zephyr,
And was afterward a great god to the Spartans.
 
These two, marigold, have first place,
You the third, and indeed there is no flower,
Not the wallflower nor double-violet,
Broom nor jasmine more sweet-smelling than you ;
At least, marigold, that’s what I believe, true or not.
 
Whether my Lady had once given me
Your yellow tint, or whether my soul was inclined
To look at, smell and consider your flower,
Above all perfumes I esteem your odour ;
Never was a meal pleasing to me
Unless your bud flowered on the table,
Salad, bread and all the house
In the fairest months of the best season ;
Because my colour resembles yours, marigold,
You are, marigold, my brother, it seems.
 
You are all yellow, and I am all yellow
From too much love, nor can I wipe it away.
 
In Spring and Winter, you keep your freshness ;
In Spring and Winter, love’s cares linger in me.
 
Double you are and single too ; as for me,
I have a single heart and my faithfulness is single too ;
But my thoughts and cares are doubled
Because of the timid, troubled eyes
Of my mistress, and my care is doubled
If her eyes are either timid or troubled.
 
When the sun, your lover, sets
Within the breast of Tethys his hostess,
Going to see again the father of the sea,
We see your bloom close, lock itself away
Pale and undone ; but when his yellow locks
Scatter their long hair over the waves
As he awakes again, then you wake joyfully
And open your eyes to see him
And his brightness is your only desire,
The Sun alone bringing you death and life.
 
When I do not see the eyes of my own sun,
From every side a painful sleep
Gives me shadows on my brow,
So that, dazzled, I recognise no-one.
 
But as soon as her rays shine daylight
Upon me, with my eyes and heart I see
A thousand beauties, so much does her noble flame
Shining on me lighten again my soul,
And, far from the body with which I am weighted down,
Keeps my spirit bound to the stars.
 
They say, marigold, that when we tie you to our arm
You will cure melancholy.
Well, in that we are different :
Whatever I see, I make unhappy
Like I am myself, so much sadness flows
From my eyes for my harsh mistress,
Who – cold, slow and sad in loving –
Does not want to take pity on my poor heart,
Consuming me with love, so beautiful she is ;
And I’d willingly consume myself for her.
 
Farewell, marigold : if Cherouvrier passes
By your garden and sees your flowering head
Which surpasses all flowers in winter-time,
Which Dawn brings to birth and a single night extinguishes,
Seeing you born as quick as fading ;
Night and day remind him for me
That our life is like that of the flowers
Who virtually live and die at the same moment ;
And yet while he is in his springtime
Let him live, love, and not spare of his time.
 
If at birth that great Master who gives
Fortune and misfortune to each person
Had given me, my Cherouvrier, your voice
With which you sway peoples and Kings,
As if the sole wonder in France
Able to draw out the soul through the ears,
I would drive away the fever from my body
Through the sweetness of my varied harmonies.
 
Instead of having your many-faceted Music
I have that other passion, poetic inspiration,
Which breaks my fever and charms away my pining,
Makes me jolly and keeps me vigorous.
 
So, if I had your god-like voice,
Which emerges from your breast like a gift from heaven,
I would sing : but being unable to sing,
With writing in verse I must content myself.
 
Note that the variant of line 3 is placed by Blanchemain in a footnote and his ‘preferred’ text retains the same line 3 as in Marty-Laveaux. In mid-poem I find the text “dans l’ame” odd – it scans but only painfully, and the revised version (“dedans l’ame”) works so much more easily!

 
 
 

Odes 3.21

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A GASPAR D’AUVERGNE
 
Gaspar, qui, loin de Pegase,
As les filles de Parnase
Conduites en ta maison,
Ne sçais-tu que moy, poête,
De mon Phoebus je souhéte
Quand je fais une oraison ?
 
Les moissons je ne quiers pas
Que le faux arrange à bas
Sur la Beauce fructueuse ;
Ny tous les cornus troupeaux
Qui sautent sur les coupeaux
De l’Auvergne montueuse ;
 
Ny l’or sans forme qu’ameine
La mine pour nostre peine ;
Ny celuy qui est formé
Portant d’un roy la figure
Ou la fiere pourtraiture
De quelque empereur armé ;
 
Ny l’ivoire marqueté
En l’Orient acheté
Pour parade d’une sale ;
Ny les cousteux diamans
Magnifiques ornemens
D’une majesté royale ;
 
Ny tous les champs que le fleuve
Du Loir lentement abreuve ;
Ny tous les prez emmurez
Des plis de Braye argentine ;
Ny tous les bois dont Gastine
Void ses bras en-verdurez ;
 
Ny le riche accoustrement
D’une laine qui dément
Sa teinture naturelle
Ez chaudrons du Gobelin,
S’yvrant d’un rouge venin
Pour se disguiser plus belle
 
Que celuy dans une coupe
Toute d’or boive à la troupe
De son vin de Prepatour,
A qui la vigne succede,
Et près Vendôme en possede
Deux cents arpens en un tour.
 
Que celuy qui aime Mars
S’enrolle entre les soldars,
Et face sa peau vermeille
D’un beau sang pour son devoir,
Et que la trompette, au soir,
D’un son luy raze l’aureille.
 
Le marchant hardiment vire
Par le mer de sa navire
La proue et la poupe encor ;
Ce n’est moy, bruslé d’envie,
A tels despens de ma vie,
Rapporter des lingots d’or.
 
Tous ces biens je ne quiers point,
Et mon courage n’est poingt
De telle gloire excessive.
Manger o mon compagnon
Ou la figue d’Avignon,
Ou la provençale olive,
 
L’artichôt et la salade,
L’asperge et le pastenade,
Et les pompons tourangeaux,
Me sont herbes plus friandes
Que les royales viandes
Qui se servent à monceaux.
 
Puis qu’il faut si tost mourir,
Que me vaudroit d’acquerir
Un bien qui ne dure guere,
Qu’un heritier qui viendroit
Après mon trespas vendroit
Et en feroit bonne chere ?
 
Tant seulement je desire
Une santé qui n’empire ;
Je desire un beau sejour,
Une raison saine et bonne
Et une lyre qui sonne
Tousjours le vin et l’amour.
TO GASPAR OF AUVERGNE
 
Gaspar, who – without Pegasus –
Has brought the daughters of Parnassus
Into your home,
Do you not know what I, a poet,
Ask of my Apollo
When I make him a prayer ?
 
Crops I don’t request,
Those which the scythe cuts down
Upon the fruitful Beauce ;
Nor do I ask for all the horned troop
Which leap upon the scarps
Of the mountainous Auvergne ;
 
Nor shapeless gold which the mine
Provides for our trouble ;
Nor do I ask to be one made
To bear a king’s figure
Or the proud appearance
Of some armed emperor ;
 
Nor inlaid ivory
Bought in the East
For some dishonest woman’s display ;
Nor costly diamonds,
Magnificent ornaments
Of royal majesty ;
 
Nor all the fields which the river
Loir slowly waters ;
Nor all the meadows walled in
By the bends of the silvery Braye ;
Nor all the woods with which Gastine
Sees his arms greened ;
 
Nor the rich clothing
Of wool which gives the lie to
Its natural colour
In Gobelin’s cauldrons,
Drinking in the red poison
To disguise itself, more beautiful
 
Than his wine of Prepatour,
Which he himself, in a cup
Made all of gold, drinks to his troop –
The vines to which he succeded
And possesses near Vendome
Two hundred acres of them.
 
Let he who loves Mars [war]
Enrol among his soldiers,
And print his pink skin
With bright blood for his work,
And let the evening trumpet
With its call crash on his ear.
 
Let the merchant boldly steer
Over the sea his ship’s
Prow and poop too ;
It’s not for me, burning with desire
At such cost to my life,
To bring back golden ingots.
 
All these good things I seek not at all,
And my courage is not pricked
To such excessive glory.
Eating with my friend
Figs from Avignon
Or olives from Provence,
 
Artichokes and salad,
Asparagus and parsnip
And melons from Tours,
These are tastier foods
Than the king’s meat
Which is served in mountains.
 
Since we must die so soon,
What use to me is gaining
Some good thing which hardly lasts,
Which my inheritor will come
After my death and sell
And make a great deal from ?
 
I simply desire
Health which doesn’t worsen ;
I desire a fine time here,
My reason unimpaired,
And a lyre which sings
Always of wine and love.
 
 
Blanchemain reprints several footnotes from Richelet’s commentary.In the 4th stanza, he notes that “tous les champs” are ‘the fields of his Vendome region’ (as we’d have guessed from the references to the Braye & Gastine); in the following stanza he tells us that Gobelin was  ‘formerly the famous & rich dyer of Paris’, though we now think of his Belgin tapestry factory; and explains that the “rouge venin” (‘red poison’) is scarlet dye in which the wool is soaked for a long time. A stanza later, he epxlains that Prepatour is ‘an excellent wine, whose vine belongs to the king & is in his domain in the Vendome’.
 
The stanzas 3rd & 4th from last also deserve a note or two: Ronsard says “Manger o mon compagnon”, which I guess to be Provençal dialect (“o” for “au”?), suited to the Avignon/Provencal food mentioned in the following lines, and or the Auvergne form which Gaspar hails. “Pastenade” is also Provençal, and there is even today a special variety of melon (“pompon”) grown around Tours: see here.
 
And what of Gaspar himself? Ronsard’s friend Gaspar (or Gaspard) was another of that learned circle of humanists, known among other things for translating Machiavelli into French – particularly ‘Le Prince’ and “Les discours de l’estat de paix et de guerre”, the former apparently undertaken between 1547 and 1553 but not published till the 1560s, one of three roughly contemporary translations of the notorious work.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chanson (Amours 2:49b)

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Je suis si ardent amoureux,
Que fol souvenir ne me puis,
Ny où je suis ne qui je suis,
Ny combien je suis malheureux.
 
J’ay pour mes hostes nuict et jour
En mon cœur la rage et l’esmoy
Qui vont pratiquant dessus moy
Toutes les cruautez d’Amour.
 
Et toutesfois je n’ose armer
Ma raison pour vaincre le tort :
Car plus on me donne la mort,
Et plus je suis content d’aimer.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            I am so ardently in love
                                                                            That, mad, I cannot remember
                                                                            Where I am, or who I am,
                                                                            Or how unhappy I am.
 
                                                                            I have as guest night and day
                                                                            In my heart rage and agitation
                                                                            Which practice on me
                                                                            All the cruelties of love.
 
                                                                            And yet all the time I dare not arm
                                                                            My reason to overcome wrong;
                                                                            For the more it pains me to death
                                                                            The more I’m happy to be in love.
 
 
 
A lovely, neatly-wrought poem. Who’d have thought it had been so revised?!  Here’s Blancheamin’s earlier version, sharing just over half its text with the later one!
 
Je suis tellement amoureux,
Qu’au vray raconter je ne puis,
Ny où je suis, ne qui je suis,
Ny combien je suis malheureux. 
 
J’ay pour mon hoste nuict et jour
Comme un tigre, un cruel esmoy
Qui va pratiquant dessus moy
Toutes les cruautez d’Amour. 
 
Et si mon cœur ne peut s’armer
Contre l’œil qui le navre à tort :
Car, plus il me donne la mort,
Plus je suis contraint de l’aimer.

 
 
 
                                                                            I am so in love
                                                                           That truly I cannot tell
                                                                           Where I am, or who I am,
                                                                           Or how unhappy I am. 
 
                                                                           I have as guest night and day
                                                                           Like a tiger a cruel agitation
                                                                           Which practices on me
                                                                           All the cruelties of love. 
 
                                                                           And yet my heart cannot arm itself
                                                                           Against the eyes which wrongly rend it;
                                                                           For the more they pain me to death
                                                                           The more I’m forced to love them.
 
 
 
The poem is another of Ronsard’s responses to Marullus, this time an epigram “De suo amore” (‘On his love’):
 
Jactor, dispereo, crucior, trahor huc miser atque huc,
ipse ego jam quis sim nescio aut ubi sim :
tot simul insidiis premor undique : proh dolor !  In me
saevitiae Cypris dat documenta suae.
Saevitiae documenta suae dat, ego hanc tamen unam
depereo, utque nocet, sic libet usque sequi.
Qua siquis miserum solam me liberet horam,
Hic mihi sit Phoebo doctior et melior.
 
 
                                                 I am cast down, I despair, I’m tortured, I drag myself here and there wretchedly,
                                                 I don’t now know who I am, or where I am;
                                                 I am caught in so many plots, at the same time, on all sides; o wretchedness, against me
                                                 Cypris [Venus] has given evidence of her savagery.
                                                 She has given evidence of her savagery, but I perish
                                                 For this one lady, and as she harms me so I am pleased to follow her further.
                                                 If anyone could free me in my wretchedness from her for just one hour,
                                                 He would be to me wiser and better than Apollo.

 

 
 
 

Sonnet 161

Standard
Que n’ay-je, Amour, cette Fere aussi vive
Entre mes bras, qu’elle est vive en mon cœur ?
Un seul moment guariroit ma langueur,
Et ma douleur feroit aller à rive.
 
Plus elle court, et plus elle est fuitive
Par le sentier d’audace et de rigueur :
Plus je me lasse, et recreu de vigueur
Je marche apres d’une jambe tardive.
 
Au moins escoute, et ralente tes pas :
Comme veneur je ne te poursuy pas,
Ou comme archer qui blesse à l’impourveuë.
 
Mais comme amy de ton amour touché,
Navré du coup qu’Amour m’a décoché,
Forgeant ses traits des beaux rais de ta veuë.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Why do I not have, o Love, this wild animal as alive
                                                                            Within my arms, as she is within my heart?
                                                                            A single moment would cure my listlessness,
                                                                            And make my sadness go by the board.
 
                                                                            The more she runs away, and the more she flies
                                                                            Along the path of boldness and harshness,
                                                                            The more I become tired and, recovering my strength,
                                                                            I walk after her with slow limbs.
 
                                                                            At least hear me, and slow your pace;
                                                                            I do not pursue you like a hunter,
                                                                            Or an archer who wounds unexpectedly;
 
                                                                            But like a lover, wounded by your love,
                                                                            Struck down by the blow which Love loosed on me,
                                                                            Forging his darts from the fair rays of your glance.

 

 

 
 Another satisfying arc to the poem, but why the switch from 3rd to 2nd person halfway through? Odd, though far from unusual in Ronsard!
 
Only minor variants from the Blanchemain version: the very opening, “Puissé-je avoir ceste fere aussi vive …” (‘Oh that I might have this wild animal as alive …’); and in lines 12-13 he is “comme amy de ton amour touché / Du fer cruel qu’Amour m’a décoché”. That could be translated either with the two clauses in juxtaposition – – ‘like a lover, wounded by your love, / By the cruel weapon which Love loosed on me’ – – but if we prefer to enjamb the lines and make a proper sentence out of it, we have something along the lines of ”as one who loves being in love with you, wounded by the cruel weapon …’ (and contrariwise, the Marty-Laveaux version can be read with the verbs juxtaposed as ‘as one who loves being in love with you, wounded and struck down by the blow …’) Though that second option makes sense, context suggests the first version.
 
Muret reminds us that Ronsard is alluding to a well-known passage in Ovid’s metamorphoses in the sestet:  in Dryden’s translation, Apollo calls to Daphne
 
Stay Nymph, he cry’d, I follow, not a foe.
Thus from the lyon trips the trembling doe;
Thus from the wolf the frighten’d lamb removes,
And, from pursuing faulcons, fearful doves;
Thou shunn’st a God, and shunn’st a God, that loves.
 
He adds that the opening two lines are adapted from Pietro Bembo; Ronsard’s poem however goes off in a different direction thereafter. Bembo’s poem is below; my translation is again approximate.

 

La fera che scolpita nel cor tengo,
Così l’avess’ io viva entro le braccia:
Fuggì sì leve, ch’io perdei la traccia,
Né freno il corso, né la sete spengo.
 
Anzo così tra due vivo e sostengo
L’anima forsennata, che procaccia
Far d’una tigre sciolta preda in caccia,
Traendo me, che seguir lei convengo.
 
E so ch’io movo indarno, o penser casso,
E perdo inutilmente il dolce tempo
De la mia vita, che giamai non torna.
 
Ben devrei ricovrarmi, or ch’i’ m’attempo
Et ho forse vicin l’ultimo passo:
Ma piè mosso dal ciel nulla distorna.
 
 
 
                                                                            The wild beast which I keep engraved in my heart,
                                                                            Oh that I thus had her alive within my arms;
                                                                            She flees so lightly that I lose the track,
                                                                            Nor slow my course nor sate my thirst.
 
                                                                            Yet thus between the two I live and my soul
                                                                            Remains crazed, as it tries
                                                                            To make a free-roaming tigress its prey in the hunt,
                                                                            Dragging me along as I agree to pursue her.
 
                                                                            And I know I pursue in vain, my thoughts shattered,
                                                                            And uselessly waste the sweet time
                                                                            Of my life, which will never return.
 
                                                                            I must indeed recover, or at least attempt it,
                                                                            And I am perhaps close to that last step;
                                                                            But a step away from heaven can never turn back.