Tag Archives: Bourgueil

Elégie à Marie (Amours 2:68a )

Standard

 

Ma seconde ame à fin que le siecle advenir
De nos jeunes amours se puisse souvenir,
Et que vostre beauté que j’ay long temps aimee
Ne se perde au tombeau par les ans consumee,
Sans laisser quelque marque apres elle de soy :
Je vous consacre icy le plus gaillard de moy,
L’esprit de mon esprit qui vous fera revivre
Ou long temps ou jamais par l’âge de ce livre.
 
Ceux qui liront les vers que j’ay chantez pour vous
D’un stile varié entre l’aigre et le dous
Selon les passions que vous m’avez donnees,
Vous tiendront pour Deesse : et tant plus les annees
En volant s’enfuiront, et plus vostre beauté
Contre l’âge croistra vieille en sa nouveauté.
 
O ma belle Angevine, ô ma douce Marie,
Mon œil mon cœur mon sang mon esprit et ma vie,
Dont la vertu me monstre un droit chemin aux cieux :
Je reçoy tel plaisir quand je baise vos yeux,
Quand je languis dessus, et quand je les regarde,
Que sans une frayeur qui la main me retarde,
Je me serois occis, qu’impuissant je ne puis
Vous monstrer par effect combien vostre je suis.
 
Or’ cela que je puis, je le veux icy faire :
Je veux en vous chantant vos louanges parfaire,
Et ne sentir jamais mon labeur engourdy
Que tout l’ouvrage entier pour vous ne soit ourdy.
 
Si j’estois un grand Roy, pour eternel exemple
De fidelle amitié, je bastirois un temple
Desur le bord de Loire, et ce temple auroit nom
Le temple de Ronsard et de sa Marion.
De marbre Parien seroit vostre effigie,
Vostre robe seroit à plein fons eslargie
De plis recamez d’or, et vos cheveux tressez
Seroient de filets d’or par ondes enlassez.
D’un crespe canellé seroit la couverture
De vostre chef divin, et la rare ouverture
D’un reth de soye et d’or, fait de l’ouvriere main
D’Arachne ou de Pallas, couvriroit vostre sein.
Vostre bouche seroit de roses toute pleine,
Respandant par le temple une amoureuse haleine.
Vous auriez d’une Hebé le maintien gracieux,
Et un essain d’Amours sortiroit de vos yeux :
Vous tiendriez le haut bout de ce temple honorable,
Droicte sur le sommet d’un pillier venerable.
 
Et moy d’autre costé assis au mesme lieu,
Je serois remerquable en la forme d’un Dieu :
J’aurois en me courbant dedans la main senestre
Un arc demy-vouté, tout tel qu’on voit renaistre
Aux premiers jours du mois le reply d’un croissant :
Et j’aurois sur la corde un beau trait menassant,
Non le serpent Python, mais ce sot de jeune homme,
Qui maintenant sa vie et son ame vous nomme,
Et qui seul me fraudant, est Roy de vostre cœur,
Qu’en fin en vostre amour vous trouverez mocqueur.
 
Quiconque soit celuy, qu’en vivant il languisse,
Et de chacun haï luy mesme se haysse,
Qu’il se ronge le cœur, et voye ses dessains
Tousjours lui eschapper comme vent de ses mains,
Soupçonneux et resveur arrogant, solitaire,
Et luy-mesme se puisse à luy-mesme desplaire.
 
J’aurois desur le chef un rameau de Laurier,
J’aurois desur le flanc un beau poignard guerrier,
Mon espé’ seroit d’or, et la belle poignée
Ressembleroit à l’or de ta tresse peignée :
J’aurois un cystre d’or, et j’aurois tout aupres
Un Carquois tout chargé de flames et de traits.
 
Ce temple frequenté de festes solennelles
Passeroit en honneur celuy des immortelles,
Et par vœux nous serions invoquez tous les jours,
Comme les nouveaux Dieux des fidelles amours.
 
D’âge en âge suivant au retour de l’annee
Nous aurions pres le temple une feste ordonnee,
Non pour faire courir, comme les anciens,
Des chariots couplez aus jeux Olympiens,
Pour saulter pour lutter ou de jambe venteuse
Franchir en haletant la carriere poudreuse :
Mais tous les jouvenceaux des pays d’alentour,
Touchez au fond du cœur de la fleche d’Amour,
Aiant d’un gentil feu les ames allumees,
S’assembleroient au temple avecques leurs aimees :
Et là, celuy qui mieux sa lévre poseroit
Dessus la lévre aimee, et plus doux baiseroit,
Ou soit d’un baiser sec ou d’un baiser humide,
D’un baiser court ou long, ou d’un baiser qui guide
L’ame desur la bouche, et laisse trespasser
Le baiseur qui ne vit sinon que du penser,
Ou d’un baiser donné comme les colombelles,
Lors qu’ils se font l’amour de la bouche et des ailes.
 
Celuy qui mieux seroit en tels baisers appris,
Sur tous les jouvenceaux emporteroit le prix,
Seroit dit le veinqueur des baisers de Cythere,
Et tout chargé de fleurs s’en iroit à sa mere.
Aux pieds de mon autel en ce temple nouveau
Luiroit le feu veillant d’un eternel flambeau,
Et seroient ces combats nommez apres ma vie
Les jeux que fit Ronsard pour sa belle Marie.
 
O ma belle Maistresse, hé que je voudrois bien
Qu’Amour nous eust conjoint d’un semblable lien,
Et qu’apres nos trespas dans nos fosses ombreuses
Nous fussions la chanson des bouches amoureuses :
Que ceux de Vandomois dissent tous d’un accord,
(Visitant le tombeau sous qui je serois mort)
Nostre Ronsard quittant son Loir et sa Gastine,
A Bourgueil fut espris d’une belle Angevine :
Et que les Angevins dissent tous d’une vois,
Nostre belle Marie aimoit un Vandomois :
Les deux n’avoient qu’un cœur, et l’amour mutuelle
Qu’on ne voit plus icy leur fut perpetuelle :
Siecle vrayment heureux, siecle d’or estimé,
Où tousjours l’amoureux se voyoit contre-aimé.
 
Puisse arriver apres l’espace d’un long âge,
Qu’un esprit vienne à bas sous le mignard ombrage
Des Myrthes, me conter que les âges n’ont peu
Effacer la clairté qui luist de nostre feu :
Mais que de voix en voix de parole en parole
Nostre gentille ardeur par la jeunesse vole,
Et qu’on apprend par cœur les vers et les chansons
Qu’Amour chanta pour vous en diverses façons,
Et qu’on pense amoureux celuy qui rememore
Vostre nom et le mien et nos tumbes honore.
 
Or il en adviendra ce que le ciel voudra,
Si est-ce que ce Livre immortel apprendra
Aux hommes et aux temps et à la renommee
Que je vous ay six ans plus que mon cœur aimee.
My second soul, so that the coming age
May remember our youthful love,
And that your beauty which I have long loved
May not be lost in the tomb, consumed by years,
Without leaving some mark of you behind itself,
I consecrate here to you the liveliest part of me,
The spirit of my spirit, which will make you live again
For a long time or forever, as long as this book lasts.
 
Those who will read the verse I have sung for you
In a varied style, a mix of bitter and sweet
In accord with the passions you’ve aroused in me,
Will consider you a goddess; and the more the years
Fly fleeting by, the more your beauty
In despite of age will grow old in its novelty.
 
O my fair lass of Anjou, o my sweet Marie,
My eyes, my heart, my blood, my spirit and my life,
Whose virtue shows me a path straight to heaven,
I get such pleasure when I kiss your eyes,
When I linger over them, when I look at them,
That, if it were not for a fear which holds back my hand,
I would have killed myself since I have no power
To show you in deed how much I am yours.
 
Still, what I can do I want to do here:
I want to perfect your praises as I sing of you,
And never to feel my work paralysed
So that my whole work for you should not be heard.
 
If I were a great king, as an eternal example
Of faithful love, I would build a temple
Upon the bank of the Loire, and this temple would be called
The temple of Ronsard and of his Marion.
Your effigy would be of Parian marble,
Your dress would be spread out with deep-carved
Folds embroidered with gold, your piled-up hair
Would be enlaced in waves with golden fillets.
With crisp cinnamon would be covered
Your divine head, and the rare openings
Of a net of silk and gold, made by the hardworking hand
Of Arachne or of Pallas, would cover your breast.
Your mouth would be filled with roses,
Breathing throughout the temple a lovely scent.
You would have the gracious bearing of a Hebe,
And a swarm of cupids would fly from your eyes,
You would hold up the high top of his honourable temple
Right on top of a venerable pillar.
 
And I, seated on the other side of the same space
Would be prominent in the form of a god;
I would have curved in my left hand
A half-moon bow, just as you see reborn
In the first days of the month the curve of a crescent moon,
And I’d have on the bowstring a fine arrow menacing
Not the serpent Python but that foolish young man
Who now calls you his life and his soul
And who alone, cheating me, is king of your heart,
And who you’ll fond in the end is deceiving your love.
 
Whoever he is, may he fade away as he lives;
May he, hated by everyone, hate himself;
May he gnaw his heart, and see his designs
Always escape like wind from his hands;
Suspicious and arrogant dreamer, may he be lonely
And always displeasing to himself!
 
I’d have on my head a laurel branch,
I’d have at my side a fine warlike sabre,
My sword would be gold, and the fine hilt
Would resemble the gold of your combed hair:
I would have a golden lyre, and next to it I’d have
A quiver filled with flaming darts.
 
This temple, host of many a solemn feast,
Would surpass in glory that of the immortals,
And we would be invoked in vows every day
Like the new gods of faithful love.
 
From age to following age, at the return of the year,
We would have ordained a festival by the temple
Not for racing, like the ancients,
Coupled chariots in the Olympic games,
Or for jumping, wrestling, or with flying limbs
Negotiating the dusty race, panting;
Instead, all the young people from the surrounding countryside,
Struck deep in their hearts by the dart of Love,
Their souls warmed by its gentle fire,
Would assemble at the temple with their girlfriends;
And there, he who best placed his lips
Upon his beloved’s lips, and most sweetly kissed –
Whether with a dry or a wet kiss,
A long or a short kiss, with a kiss which leads
The soul onto the lips and leaves the kisser
Dying, who lives only on the memory,
Or with a kiss given like the doves
When they make love with beaks and wings.
 
He who has learned to kiss the best
Would take the prizeabove all the other youths,
Would be called the winner of Cytherea’s kisses,
And covered in flowers would go home to his mother.
At the feet of my altar in this new temple
Would burn the watch-fire of an eternal torch,
And these contests would be named after my life
The games which Ronsard made for his fair Marie.
 
O my fair mistress, how wish
That Love had joined us with similar ties,
And that after our deaths, in our shadowy graves,
We might be the song of amorous lips:
That the people of the Vendôme might say with one accord,
Visiting the tomb under which I would be dead,
“Our Ronsard, leaving his Loir and Gastine,
Fell in love at Bourgueil with a fair lass of Anjou”;
And that the people of Anjou might say with one voice,
“Our fair Marie loved a man from Vendôme,
The two had but one heart, and their mutual love
Which we no longer see here was for them everlasting;
O truly fortunate age, age considered golden,
In which a lover always found himself loved in return.”
 
May it happen that, after the space of a long age,
A spirit might come down below the dear shade
Of the myrtle, to tell me that the ages have not been able
To efface the brightness which shines from our fire;
But that from voice to voice, from speech to speech,
Our gentle ardour flies among the young people,
And that they learn by heart the verse and songs
Which Love sang for you in varying forms,
And that they consider a lover is he who recalls
Your name and mine and honours our tombs.
 
Then will result what heaven wishes,
That this immortal book should teach
Men and their times and fame
That I have loved you more than my heart for six years.
 
 
 
Ronsard in his elegies and longer poems often reminds us that the sixteenth century was a different age: less hurried, perhaps, certainly less concerned to make a point simply and quickly when it can be made several times in different ways! Here as he brings to a close the second book, he allows himself an extravagant classicising dream – a temple of love, statues of himself and Marie as gods of love, a new Olympics based around games of love, … Most importantly, these images are integrated with the evelasting fame Ronsard’s poetry will guarantee them both: Ronsard demonstrates he is hard-headed about fame, not reliant on soft-focus images of classical memorials.
 
Aimed at Marie, the classical references are not complex or profound:  Parian marble is a byword for quality now as then; the needlework skills of Arachne and Athene are well-known through the story of their competition which resulted in Arachne the weaver being turned into a spider; the reference to Python situate neatly within a phrase which makes the memory of Apollo’s victory easy to recall, particularly as it is also associated with the Delphic Oracle, most famous of Apollo references; Cytherea a well-known reference to Venus of Cythera; and myrtles are commonly associted with the afterworld.
 
Some references though are odd: cinnamon curls on her head, a lyre mixed in with the military armoury?  Maybe I have misunderstood Ronsard’s meanings. I think it likely, however, that Marie’s “virtue” in the third ‘stanza’ has a classical aura to it, implying power as well as virtue in the modern sense.
 
The earlier version printed by Blanchemain has variants scattered throughout, sometimes isolated changes, sometimes larger areas. So, although it makes for a long post, here’s the whole poem again in its earlier incarnation.
 
 Marie, à celle fin que le siecle à venir
De nos jeunes amours se puisse souvenir,
Et que vostre beauty, que j’ay long temps aimée
Ne se perde au tombeau, par les ans consumée,
Sans laisser quelque marque après elle de soy,
Je vous consacre icy le plus gaillard de moy,
L’esprit de mon esprit, qui vous fera revivre
Ou long temps, ou jamais, par l’âge de ce livre.
 
Ceux qui liront les vers que j’ay chantez pour vous
D’un stile qui varie entre l’aigre et le doux,
Selon les passions que vous m’avez données,
Vous tiendront pour déesse ; et tant plus les années
En volant s’enfuiront, et plus vostre beauté
Contre l’âge croistra, vieille en sa nouveauté.
 
O ma belle Angevine ! ô ma douce Marie !
Mon œil, mon cœur, mon sang, mon esprit et ma vie,
Dont la vertu me monstre un droit chemin aux cieux !
Je reçoy tant de bien quand je baise vos yeux,
Quand je languis dessus et quand je les regarde,
Que, sans une frayeur qui la main me retarde,
Je me serois occis de dueil que je ne peux
Vous monstrer par effect le bien que je vous veux.
 
Or cela que je puis, pour vous je le veux faire :
Je veux, en vous chantant, vos louanges parfaire,
Et ne sentir jamais mon labeur engourdy
Que tout l’ouvrage entier pour vous ne soit ourdy.
 
Si j’estois un grand roy, pour eternel exemple
De fidelle amitié, je bastirois un temple
Dessus le bord de Loire, et ce temple auroit nom
Le temple de Ronsard et de sa Marion.
De marbre parien seroit vostre effigie,
Vostre robe seroit à plein fons eslargie
De plis recamez d’or, et vos cheveux tressez
Seroient de filets d’or par ondes enlassez.
D’un crespe canelé seroit la couverture
De vostre chef divin, et la rare ouverture
D’un reth de soye et d’or, fait de l’ouvriere main
D’Arachne ou de Pallas, couvriroit vostre sein ;
Vostre bouche seroit de roses toute pleine,
Respandant par le temple une amoureuse haleine ;
Vous auriez d’une Hebé le maintien gracieux,
Et un essein d’Amours sortiroit de vos yeux ;
Vous tiendriez le haut bout de ce temple honorable,
Droicte sur le sommet d’un pilier venerable.
 
Et moy, d’autre costé, assis au plus bas lieu,
Je serois remarquable en la forme d’un dieu ;
J’aurois, en me courbant, dedans la main senestre
Un arc demy-vouté, tel que l’on voit renaistre
Aux premiers jours du mois le reply d’un croissant,
Et j’aurois sur la corde un beau traict menassant,
Non le serpent Python, mais ce sot de jeune homme
Qui maintenant sa vie et son ame vous nomme,
Et qui seul, me fraudant, est roy de vostre cœur,
Qu’en fin en vostre amour vous trouverez mocqueur.
 
Quiconque soit celuy, qu’en vivant il languisse,
Et de chacun hay luy-mesme se haysse ;
Qu’il se ronge le cœur, et voye ses dessains
Tousjours luy eschapper comme vent de ses mains,
Soupçonneux et réveur, arrogant, solitaire,
Et luy-mesme se puisse à luy-mesme desplaire.
 
J’aurois dessur le chef un rameau de laurier,
J’aurois dessur le flanc un beau poignard guerrier ;
La lame seroit d’or, et la belle poignée
Ressembleroit à l’or de ta tresse peignée ;
J’aurois un cistre d’or, et j’aurois tout auprès
Un carquois tout chargé de flammes et de traits.
 
Ce temple, frequenté de festes solennelles,
Passeroit en honneur celuy des immortelles,
Et par vœux nous serions invoquez tous les jours,
Comme les nouveaux dieux des fidelles amours.
 
D’âge en âge suivant, au retour de l’année
Nous aurions près le temple une feste ordonnée,
Non pour faire courir, comme les anciens,
Des chariots couplez aus jeux olympiens,
Pour saulter, pour lutter, ou de jambe venteuse
Franchir en haletant la carriere poudreuse ;
Mais tous les jouvenceaux des pays d’alentour,
Touchez au fond du cœur de la fleche d’Amour,
Aiant d’un gentil feu les ames allumees,
S’assembleroient au temple avecques leurs aimées ;
Et là celuy qui mieux sa lévre poseroit
Sur la lévre amoureuse, et qui mieux baiseroit,
Ou soit d’un baiser sec ou d’un baiser humide,
D’un baiser court ou long, ou d’un baiser qui guide
L’ame dessur la bouche, et laisse trespasser
Le baiseur, qui ne vit sinon que du penser,
Ou d’un baiser donné comme les colombelles,
Lors qu’elles font l’amour et du bec et des ailes ;
Celuy qui mieux seroit en tels baisers appris
Sur tous les jouvenceaux emporteroit le prix,
Seroit dit le vainqueur des baisers de Cythere,
Et tout chargé de fleurs s’en-iroit à sa mere.
 
[Aux pieds de mon autel, en ce temple nouveau,
Luiroit le feu veillant d’un eternel flambeau,
Et seroient ces combats nommez, apres ma vie,
Les jeux que fit Ronsard pour sa belle Marie.]
 
O ma belle maistresse ! hé ! que je voudrois bien
Qu’Amour nous eust conjoint d’un semblable lien,
Et qu’après nos trespas, dans nos fosses ombreuses,
Nous fussions la chanson des bouches amoureuses ;
Que ceux de Vendomois dissent tous d’un accord,
Visitant le tombeau sous qui je serois mort :
« Nostre Ronsard, quittant son Loir et sa Gastine,
A Bourgueil fut épris d’une belle Angevine »,
Et que ceux-là d’Anjou dissent tous d’une vois :
« Nostre belle Marie aimoit un Vendomois ;
Tous les deux n’estoient qu’un, et l’amour mutuelle,
Qu’on ne void plus icy, leur fut perpetuelle.
Leur siecle estoit vrayment un siecle bienheureux,
Où tousjours se voyoit contre-aimé l’amoureux ! »
 
Puisse arriver, apres l’espace d’un long âge,
Qu’un esprit vienne à bas, sous l’amoureux ombrage
Des myrtes, me conter que les âges n’ont peu
Effacer la clarté qui luist de nostre feu,
Mais que de voix en voix, de parole en parole,
Nostre gentille amour par la jeunesse vole,
Et qu’on apprend par cœur les vers et les chansons
Que j’ai tissus pour vous en diverses façons,
Et qu’on pense amoureux celuy qui rememore
Vostre nom et le mien et nos tombes honore !
 
Or les dieux en feront cela qu’il leur plaira ;
Si est-ce que ce livre après mille ans dira
Aux hommes et au temps, et à la Renommée,
Que je vous ay six ans plus que mon cœur aimée.
Marie, to the end that the age to come
May remember our youthful love,
And that your beauty which I have long loved
May not be lost in the tomb, consumed by years,
Without leaving some mark of you behind itself,
I consecrate here to you the liveliest part of me,
The spirit of my spirit, which will make you live again
For a long time or forever, as long as this book lasts.
 
Those who will read the verse I have sung for you
In a style which varies between bitter and sweet
In accord with the passions you’ve aroused in me,
Will consider you a goddess; and the more the years
Fly fleeting by, the more your beauty
In despite of age will grow old in its novelty.
 
O my fair lass of Anjou, o my sweet Marie,
My eyes, my heart, my blood, my spirit and my life,
Whose virtue shows me a path straight to heaven,
I get so much good from kissing your eyes,
When I linger over them, when I look at them,
That, if it were not for a fear which holds back my hand,
I would have killed myself from grief that I cannot
Show you in deed the good that I wish you.
 
Still, what I can do I want to do for you:
I want to perfect your praises as I sing of you,
And never to feel my work paralysed
So that my whole work for you should not be heard.
 
If I were a great king, as an eternal example
Of faithful love, I would build a temple
Upon the bank of the Loire, and this temple would be called
The temple of Ronsard and of his Marion.
Your effigy would be of Parian marble,
Your dress would be spread out with deep-carved
Folds embroidered with gold, your piled-up hair
Would be enlaced in waves with golden fillets.
With crisp cinnamon would be covered
Your divine head, and the rare openings
Of a net of silk and gold, made by the hardworking hand
Of Arachne or of Pallas, would cover your breast.
Your mouth would be filled with roses,
Breathing throughout the temple a lovely scent.
You would have the gracious bearing of a Hebe,
And a swarm of cupids would fly from your eyes,
You would hold up the high top of his honourable temple
Right on top of a venerable pillar.
 
And I, seated on the other side in a lower place
Would be prominent in the form of a god;
I would have curved in my left hand
A half-moon bow, such as you see reborn
In the first days of the month the curve of a crescent moon,
And I’d have on the bowstring a fine arrow menacing
Not the serpent Python but that foolish young man
Who now calls you his life and his soul
And who alone, cheating me, is king of your heart,
And who you’ll fond in the end is deceiving your love.
 
Whoever he is, may he fade away as he lives;
May he, hated by everyone, hate himself;
May he gnaw his heart, and see his designs
Always escape like wind from his hands;
Suspicious and arrogant dreamer, may he be lonely
And always displeasing to himself!
 
I’d have on my head a laurel branch,
I’d have at my side a fine warlike sabre,
The blade would be gold, and the fine hilt
Would resemble the gold of your combed hair:
I would have a golden lyre, and next to it I’d have
A quiver filled with flaming darts.
 
This temple, host of many a solemn feast,
Would surpass in glory that of the immortals,
And we would be invoked in vows every day
Like the new gods of faithful love.
 
From age to following age, at the return of the year,
We would have ordained a festival by the temple
Not for racing, like the ancients,
Coupled chariots in the Olympic games,
Or for jumping, wrestling, or with flying limbs
Negotiating the dusty race, panting;
Instead, all the young people from the surrounding countryside,
Struck deep in their hearts by the dart of Love,
Their souls warmed by its gentle fire,
Would assemble at the temple with their girlfriends;
And there, he who best placed his lips
Upon his beloved’s lips, and who kissed the best –
Whether with a dry or a wet kiss,
A long or a short kiss, with a kiss which leads
The soul onto the lips and leaves the kisser
Dying, who lives only on the memory,
Or with a kiss given like the doves
When they make love with beak and wings.
He who has learned to kiss the best
Would take the prizeabove all the other youths,
Would be called the winner of Cytherea’s kisses,
And covered in flowers would go home to his mother.
 
[At the feet of my altar in this new temple
Would burn the watch-fire of an eternal torch,
And these contests would be named after my life
The games which Ronsard made for his fair Marie.]
 
O my fair mistress, how wish
That Love had joined us with similar ties,
And that after our deaths, in our shadowy graves,
We might be the song of amorous lips:
That the people of the Vendôme might say with one accord,
Visiting the tomb under which I would be dead,
“Our Ronsard, leaving his Loir and Gastine,
Fell in love at Bourgueil with a fair lass of Anjou”;
And that those from Anjou might say with one voice,
“Our fair Marie loved a man from Vendôme,
The two were but one, and their mutual love
Which we no longer see here was for them everlasting;
Their age was truly a happy age,
In which the lover always found himself loved in return.”
 
May it happen that, after the space of a long age,
A spirit might come down below the loving shade
Of the myrtle, to tell me that the ages have not been able
To efface the brightness which shines from our fire;
But that from voice to voice, from speech to speech,
Our gentle love flies among the young people,
And that they learn by heart the verse and songs
Which I’ve created for you in varying forms,
And that they consider a lover is he who recalls
Your name and mine and honours our tombs.
 
Then the gods can do with it what they want,
Since this book a thousand years hence will tell
Men and their times, and Fame too,
That I have loved you more than my heart for six years.
 
 
It’s worth noting that in this earlier version Marie’s place in the temple is higher than Ronsard’s: he places himself there as an equal in the later version. Blanchemain also includes the four lines beginning “Aux pieds de mon autel…” in parentheses, admitting in a footnote that they were added in the 1584 edition (a quarter-century after the edition he is supposed to be using!).
 
 
 

 

 
 
Advertisements

Le Voyage de Tours (part 3)

Standard

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.
 
 

Sonnet 38

Standard
Si quelque amoureux passe en Anjou par Bourgueil,
Voye un Pin qui s’esleve au dessus du village,
Et là sur le sommet de son pointu fueillage,
Voirra ma liberté trofée d’un bel œil
 
Qu’amour victorieux, qui se plaist de mon dueil,
Appendit pour sa pompe et mon servil hommage :
A fin qu’à tous passans elle fust tesmoignage
Que l’amoureuse vie est un plaisant cercueil.
 
Je ne pouvois trouver plante plus estimée
Pour pendre ma despouille, en qui fut transformée
La jeune peau d’Atys dessur le mont Idé.
 
Mais entre Atys et moi il y a difference,
C’est qu’il fut amoureux d’un visage ridé,
Et moy d’une beauté qui ne sort que d’enfance.
 
 
                                                                                            If any lover passes through Bourgueil in Anjou,
                                                                                            Let him look at the pine which rises above the village,
                                                                                            And there on the top of its pointed foliage
                                                                                            He’ll see my freedom, the trophy of a fair eye
 
                                                                                            Which victorious love, who is pleased with my grief,
                                                                                            Hung up for his splendour and my slavish tribute;
                                                                                            So that it would be evidence to all passers-by
                                                                                            That the lover’s life is an absurd coffin.
 
                                                                                            I could not find a plant more valued
                                                                                            To hang up my mortal effects, for into it was transformed
                                                                                            The young skin of Atys upon mount Ida.
 
                                                                                            But between Atys and me there is a difference –
                                                                                            It is that he was in love with a lined face,
                                                                                            And I with a beauty who is just leaving childhood.
 
 For the allusion in the sestet to Atys, Remy Belleau provides us a note:  “Atys, young and merry, falling into madness from the love which he bore for Cybele, mother of the gods, was transformed into a pine.”  This is another poem which Ronsard re-worked thoroughly, changing a lot of the text without substantially changing the content! Here is his version:
 
 
Si quelque amoureux passe en Anjou par Bourgueil,
Voye un pin eslevé par-dessus le village,
Et là sur le sommet de son pointu fueillage,
Verra ma liberté qu’un favorable accueil
 
A pendu pour trophée aux graces d’un bel œil
Qui depuis quinze mois me detient en servage,
Mais servage si doux que la fleur de mon age
Est heureuse d’avoir le bien d’un si beau deuil.
 
Amour n’eust seu trouver un arbre plus aimé
Pour pendre ma despouille, en qui fut transformée
La jeune peau d’Atys sur la montagne Idée.
 
Mais entre Atys et moi il y a difference,
C’est qu’il fut amoureux d’une vieille ridée,
Et moy d’une beauté qui ne sort que d’enfance.
 
                                                                                             If any lover passes through Bourgueil in Anjou,
                                                                                             Let him look at the pine rising above the village,
                                                                                             And there on the top of its pointed foliage
                                                                                             He’ll see my freedom, which a favourable reception
 
                                                                                             Hung up as a trophy to the graces of a fair eye,
                                                                                             Which has kept me in servitude for fifteen months;
                                                                                             But a servitude so sweet that the flower of my youth
                                                                                             Is fortunate to have the benefit of so fair a grief.
 
                                                                                             Love could not have found a tree more beloved
                                                                                             To hang up my mortal effects, for into it was transformed
                                                                                             The young skin of Atys on the mountain of  Ida.
 
                                                                                             But between Atys and me there is a difference –
                                                                                             It is that he was in love with an old wrinkled woman,
                                                                                             And I with a beauty who is just leaving childhood.
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 29

Standard
J’aime la fleur de Mars, j’aime la belle rose,
L’une qui est sacrée à Venus la Deesse,
L’autre qui a le nom de ma belle maistresse,
Pour qui troublé d’esprit en paix je ne repose.
 
J’aime trois oiselets, l’un qui la plume arrose
De la pluye de May, et vers le Ciel se dresse :
L’autre qui veuf au bois lamente sa destresse :
L’autre qui pour son fils mille versets compose.
 
J’aime un pin de Bourgueil, où Venus apendit
Ma jeune liberté, quand prise elle rendit
Mon cœur qui doucement un bel œil emprisonne.
 
J’aime un jeune laurier de Phebus l’arbrisseau,
Dont ma belle maistresse en pliant un rameau
Lié de ses cheveux me fist une couronne.
 
 
 
                                                                                            I love the March flowers [or, the flower of Mars], I love the fair rose,
                                                                                            The one which is sacred to the goddess Venus,
                                                                                            The other which has the name of my fair mistress
                                                                                            For whom, troubled in spirit, I cannot rest in peace.
 
                                                                                            I love three birds, one which sprinkles its feathers
                                                                                            With May’s rains and draws itself up towards the heavens,
                                                                                            Another which, widowed, bewails its grief in the woods,
                                                                                            The other which composes a thousand songs for its child.
 
                                                                                            I love a pine in Bourgueil, where Venus hung up
                                                                                            My youth’s freedom when, captured, she returned
                                                                                            My heart, which a fair eye had sweetly imprisoned.
 
                                                                                            I love a fair laurel, the tree of Apollo,
                                                                                            With which my fair mistress, bending a twig
                                                                                            Tied with her hair, made me a crown.
 
 
Belleau adds a footnote to tell us the 3 birds of the second stanza are “the lark, the turtle-dove and the nightingale“. In the first stanza, the rose is obvious but the ‘fleur de Mars’ less so. It’s another of Ronsard’s diificult-to-translate moments: is it, in the company of Venus, ‘the flower of Mars’? Or is it ‘the flowers in March’? Or a specific ‘flower of March’?   A spring flower, the wood violet is often called the ‘fleur de Mars’ – but it doesn’t carry Marie’s name. On the other hand, a variety of thistle, the ‘silybum marianum’, is known in French as ‘Chardon-Marie’. For me, though, the most likely is the “marguerite” or daisy: so I think the meaning is “I love the March flowers, especially the daisy”.
 
Apollo is associated with the laurel because the nymph Daphne whom he was pursuing for love was changed into one. Venus is associated with the pine, because pinecones were a symbol of fertility.
 
Blanchemain offers minor variants, which are easier to indicate in his text than to spell out laboriously here:
 
 
J’aime la fleur de Mars, j’aime la belle rose,
L’une qui est sacrée à Venus la Deesse,
L’autre qui a le nom de ma belle maistresse,
Pour qui ne nuit, ne jour en paix je ne repose.
 
J’aime trois oiselets, l’un qui la plume arrose
De la pluye de May, et vers le Ciel se dresse :
L’autre qui veuf au bois lamente sa destresse :
L’autre qui pour son fils mille versets compose.
 
J’aime un pin de Bourgueil, où Venus apendit
Ma jeune liberté, quand pris elle rendit
Mon cœur que doucement un bel œil emprisonne.
 
J’aime un gentil laurier de Phebus l’arbrisseau,
Dont ma belle maistresse en tordant un rameau
Lié de ses cheveux me fist une couronne.
 
 
                                                                                             I love the flower of Mars, I love the fair rose,
                                                                                             The one which is sacred to the goddess Venus,
                                                                                             The other which has the name of my fair mistress
                                                                                             For whom neither night nor day can I rest in peace.
 
                                                                                             I love three birds, one which sprinkles its feathers
                                                                                             With May’s rains and draws itself up towards the heavens,
                                                                                             Another which, widowed, bewails its grief in the woods,
                                                                                             The other which composes a thousand songs for its child.
 
                                                                                             I love a pine in Bourgueil, where Venus hung up
                                                                                             My youth’s freedom when she returned my captured
                                                                                             Heart, which a fair eye had sweetly imprisoned.
 
                                                                                             I love a noble laurel, the tree of Apollo,
                                                                                             With which my fair mistress, twisting a twig
                                                                                             Tied with her hair, made me a crown.
 
 

Sonnet 17

Standard

(the 100th post – apparently! – though not the 100th poem; and it’s good to have a poem in which Ronsard really throws himself into the emotions of the blighted lover, with which to celebrate it)

 
Fuyon, mon coeur, fuyon, que mon pied ne s’arreste
Un quart d’heure à Bourgueil, où par l’ire des Dieux
Sur mon vingt et un an, le feu de deux beaux yeux
(Souvenir trop amer) me foudroya la teste.
 
Le Grec qui a senty la meurdriere tempeste
Des rochers Cafarés, abomine tels lieux,
Et s’il les apperçoit, ils luy sont odieux,
Et pour n’y aborder tient sa navire preste.
 
Adieu donc ville adieu, puis qu’en toy je ne fais
Que re-semer le mal dont tousjours je me pais,
Et tousjours refraischir mon ancienne playe.
 
Vivon, mon coeur, vivon sans desirer la mort :
Je ne cours plus fortune, il est temps que j’essaye
Apres tant de rochers de rencontrer le port.
 
 
                                                                      Flee, flee, my heart! May my foot not pause
                                                                      In Bourgueil even for a quarter-hour, or by the anger of the gods
                                                                      On my twenty-one years, the fire of two fair eyes
                                                                      (Too bitter a memory) will strike my head.
 
                                                                      The Greek who felt the murderous tempest
                                                                      At the rocks of Caphareus, abominates such places,
                                                                      And if he ever sees them they are hateful to him
                                                                      And he hastily steers his ship so as not to approach them.
 
                                                                      Farewell then my town, since in you I shall only
                                                                      Re-seed the ills on which I’m always feeding,
                                                                      And always refreshing my old wound.
 
                                                                      Live, live, my heart, without wishing for death;
                                                                      I no longer pursue fortune, it is time to try
                                                                      After so many rocks to reach port.
 
 
The “rochers Cafarés” (“Capharez” in Blanchemain) are the rocks of Caphareus, a cape on the SE coast of the island of Euboea (Greece) where the fleet returning from the Trojan War was shipwrecked; they are thus a symbol of mortal dangers [note by Roland Guillot, to “Oeuvres poetiques de Clovis Hesteau de Nuysement” (1994) ]  ‘The Greek’ in this case is therefore general – any Greek helmsman – though perhaps Ronsard is thinking specifically of Ulysses who avoided shipwreck here but ended up travelling widely before getting home, in the Odyssey.
 
Blanchemain has a different line 2 – see below – which prompts him to add the note “the latest editions mention Bourgueil, this is because the sonnet was written in Blois and originally addressed to Cassandre; it was only later applied to Marie.”  
 
Once again, with variations throughout, it is perhaps easiest to give the whole sonnet again, with the differences highlighted – except where Blanchemain simply re-spells or re-punctuates:
 
 
Fuyons, mon coeur, fuyons ; que mon pied ne s’arreste
Une heure en cette ville, où, par l’ire des Dieux,
Sur mes vingt et un ans le feu de deux beaux yeux
(Souvenir trop amer ! ) me foudroya la teste.
 
Le Grec qui a senty la meurdriere tempeste
Des rochers Capharez abomine tels lieux,
Et, s’il les voit de loin, ils luy sont odieux,
Et pour les eviter tient sa navire preste.
 
Adieu donc, ville, adieu, puis qu’en toy je ne fais
Que tousjours re-semer le mal dont je me pais,
Et tousjours refraischir mon ancienne playe.
 
Vivons, mon coeur, vivons sans desirer la mort ;
C‘est trop souffert de peine, il est temps que j’essaye
Apres mille perils de rencontrer le port.
 
 
                                                                      Flee, flee, my heart! May my foot not pause
                                                                      In this town even for an hour, or by the anger of the gods
                                                                      On my twenty-one years, the fire of two fair eyes
                                                                      (Too bitter a memory!) will strike my head.
 
                                                                      The Greek who felt the murderous tempest
                                                                      At the rocks of Caphareus, abominates such places,
                                                                      And if he sees them far off they are hateful to him
                                                                      And he hastily steers his ship to avoid them.
 
                                                                      Farewell then my town, since in you I shall only
                                                                      Re-seed the ills on which I’m always feeding,
                                                                      And always refreshing my old wound.
 
                                                                      Live, live, my heart, without wishing for death;
                                                                      Too much pain has been suffered, it is time to try
                                                                      After a thousand dangers to reach port.
 
 
 

Sonnet 6

Standard
Douce belle amoureuse et bien-fleurante Rose,
Que tu es à bon droit aux amours consacrée !
Ta delicate odeur hommes et Dieux recrée,
Et bref, Rose tu es belle sur toute chose.
 
Marie pour son chef un beau bouquet compose
De ta feuille, et tousjours sa teste en est parée :
Tousjours ceste Angevine, unique Cytherée,
Du parfum de ton eau sa jeune face arrose.
 
Ha Dieu que je suis aise alors que je te voy
Esclorre au poinct du jour sur l’espine à requoy,
Aux jardins de Bourgueil pres d’une eau solitaire !
 
De toy les Nymphes ont les coudes et le sein,
De toy l’Aurore emprunte et sa jouë et sa main,
Et son teint la beauté qu’on adore en Cythere.
 
 
 
 
                                                                      Soft, pretty, fair-flowering Rose of lovers,
                                                                      How rightly you are dedicated to love!
                                                                      Your delicate scent refreshes men and gods,
                                                                      And in short, o Rose, you are the loveliest of all things.
 
                                                                      Marie makes a fair chaplet for her head
                                                                      From your blooms, and her head is always adorned with it;
                                                                      And this lady from Anjou, herself Cytherea, always
                                                                      Bathes her young face with the perfume of your water.
 
                                                                      Oh God, how content I am when I see you
                                                                      Blossoming at the break of day on the thorn when I need you,
                                                                      In the Bourgueil gardens near a lonely spring!
 
                                                                      The Nymphs have arms and breasts of your hue,
                                                                      Dawn borrows it for her cheek and hand,
                                                                      And the beauty they worship in Cythera borrows it for her complexion.
 
 
 
Cytherea, a name for Venus who was ‘born’ in Cythera, we have met before; similarly ‘rosy-fingered’ Dawn. The gardens at Bourgueil (in the Loire region) are those of the abbaye Saint-Pierre, now ruined but once famous for its vast gardens.
 
This is one of those sonnets re-worked in detail by Ronsard; Blanchemain’s version in full below with changes marked:
 
 
Douce belle gentille et bien-flairante Rose,
Que tu es à bon droit aux amours consacrée !
Ta delicate odeur hommes et Dieux recrée,
Et bref, Rose tu es belle sur toute chose.
 
La Grâce pour son chef un chapelet compose
De ta feuille, et tousjours sa gorge en est parée :
Et mille fois le jour la gaye Cytherée,
De ton eau pour son fard sa belle joue arrose.
 
Ha Dieu que je suis aise alors que je te voy
Esclorre au poinct du jour sur l’espine à requoy,
Aux jardins de Bourgueil pres d’un bois solitaire !
 
De toy les Nymphes ont les coudes et le sein,
De toy l’Aurore emprunte et sa jouë et sa main,
Et son teint ceste là qui d‘Amour est la mère.
 
 
 
                                                                      Soft, pretty, noble and fair-flowering Rose,
                                                                      How rightly you are dedicated to love!
                                                                      Your delicate scent refreshes men and gods,
                                                                      And in short, o Rose, you are the loveliest of all things.
 
                                                                      Grace makes a fair chaplet for her head
                                                                      From your blooms, and her throat is always adorned with them;
                                                                      And a thousand times a day the joyful Cytherea,
                                                                      Bathes her fair cheek with your water as her make-up.
 
                                                                      Oh God, how content I am when I see you
                                                                      Blossoming at the break of day on the thorn when I need you,
                                                                      In the Bourgueil gardens near a lonely wood!
 
                                                                      The Nymphs have arms and breasts of your hue,
                                                                      Dawn borrows it for her cheek and hand,
                                                                      And she who is the mother of Cupid borrows it for her complexion.