Tag Archives: Cytherea

Elégie à Marie (Amours 2:68a )

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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!).
 
 
 

 

 
 
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Amours diverses: chanson 1 (12a)

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(Numbered as ‘chanson 1’, this comes after sonnet 12, hence the 12a numbering.)

Petite Nymfe folâtre,
Nymphette que j’idolâtre,
Ma mignonne, dont les yeux
Logent mon pis et mon mieux :
Ma doucette, ma sucrée,
Ma Grace, ma Citherée,
Tu me dois pour m’appaiser
Mille fois le jour baiser. 
 
Tu m’en dois au matin trente,
Puis apres disner cinquante,
Et puis vingt apres souper.
Et quoy ? me veux-tu tromper ?  
 
Avance mes quartiers, belle,
Ma tourtre, ma colombelle :
Avance-moy les quartiers
De mes paymens tous entiers. 
 
Demeure, où fuis-tu Maistresse ?
Le desir qui trop me presse,
Ne sçauroit arrester tant,
S’il n’est payé tout contant. 
 
Revien revien mignonette,
Mon doux miel, ma violette,
Mon oeil, mon cœur, mes amours,
Ma cruelle, qui tousjours
Trouves quelque mignardise,
Qui d’une douce feintise
Peu à peu mes forces fond,
Comme on voit dessus un mont
S’escouler la neige blanche :
Ou comme la rose franche
Perd le vermeil de son teint,
Des rais du soleil esteint.
 
Où fuis-tu mon Angelette,
Ma vie, mon amelette ?
Appaise un peu ton courroux,
Assy-toy sur mes genoux,
Et de cent baisers appaise
De mon cœur la chaude braise. 
 
Donne moy bec contre bec,
Or’ un moite, ores un sec,
Or’ un babillard, et ores
Un qui soit plus long encores
Que ceux des pigeons mignars,
Couple à couple fretillars. 
 
Hà Dieu ! ma douce Guerriere,
Tire un peu ta bouche arriere :
Le dernier baiser donné
A tellement estonné
De mille douceurs ma vie,
Que du sein me l’a ravie,
Et m’a fait voir à demi
Le Nautonnier ennemy,
Et les plaines où Catulle,
Et les rives où Tibulle,
Pas à pas se promenant,
Vont encore maintenant
De leurs bouchettes blesmies
Rebaisotans leurs amies.
Frolicsome little Nymph,
Nymphette I idolize,
my sweetheart in whose eyes
I see my best and my worst,
my darling, my sweet,
my graceful one, my Cytherea:
to calm me you must kiss me
a thousand times a day.
 
You owe me thirty of them in the morning,
Then after dinner fifty,
And then twenty after supper.
What? Are you trying to cheat me?!
 
Pay me my quarters in advance, my fair one,
My turtledove;
Advance me all of the quarters
Of my payment!
 
Wait! Where are you going, mistress?
The desire which presses on me so
Cannot stop like that
If it is not happy with its payment.
 
Come back, come back, sweetie,
My honey, my violet,
Apple of my eye, my heart, my love:
O my cruel one, who always
Find some charming trick
Which with its sweet deception
Bit by bit overcomes my strength,
Just as you see atop a mountain
The white snow suddenly rush down,
Or as the fresh rose
Loses the redness of its colour,
Faded by the sun’s rays.
 
Where are you going, my little angel,
My life, my soul?
Calm your anger a little,
Sit on my knees,
And with a hundred kisses calm
The burning fire in my heart.
 
Give me lips against lips,
One moist, one dry,
One babbling, and one
Which is still longer
Than those of loving doves
Fluttering couple by couple.
 
Oh god! my sweet warrior,
Draw back your mouth a little:
That last kiss you gave
Has so overwhelmed
My life with a thousand pleasures
That it has torn it from my breast,
And has made me half-see
The Boatman, our enemy
And the plains where Catullus
And the banks where Tibullus
Wandered pace by pace,
And still go now
Again, with their pallid lips
Giving their lovers gentle kisses.

Another of Ronsard’s very famous songs. Incidentally, it became a cause célèbre when Nabokov’s Lolita emerged and was credited with introducing the word ‘nymphette’ into the language; French students actually demonstrated in public reclaiming the word for their own poet Ronsard!

The classical references in the final stanza are all to the classical underworld, where the Boatman (Charon) would ferry dead souls over to Hades. The Roman lyric poets Catullus and Tibullus are envisaged as among the privileged souls of poets who wander able still to recall their loves on earth.
 
There are some variants in Blanchemain. He [brackets] the second stanza (“Tu m’en dois…”) as this was added in 1578, after the date of the edition he takes as ‘standard’. Four stanzas later he has
 
Où fuis-tu mon Angelette,
Mon diamant, ma perlette ?
Là reviens, mon sucre doux,
Sur mon sein, sur mes genoux …
 
                                                                           Where are you going, my little angel,
                                                                           My diamond, my little pearl?
                                                                           Come back here, my sweetheart,
                                                                           Onto my breast, onto my knees …
 
Then there are minor changes at the start of the next stanza (“Donne m’en bec contre bec”, ‘Give me them lips against lips’) and the following one (“Hà ! ma douce guerriere”, ‘Ho there! my sweet warrior’); and in the middle of that final stanza
 
Le dernier baiser donné
A tellement estonné
De mille douceurs ma vie,
Qu’il me l’a presque ravie, …
 
                                                                           That last kiss you gave
                                                                           Has so overwhelmed
                                                                           My life with a thousand pleasures
                                                                           That it has practically torn it from me …
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 115

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Sonnets 113 and 114 are already available, so on to no.115…

 
Plus que les Rois, leurs sceptres et leur bien,
J’aime ce front où mon Tyran se jouë,
Et le vermeil de ceste belle jouë,
Qui fait honteux le pourpre Tyrien.
 
Toutes beautez à mes yeux ne sont rien
Au prix du sein, qui souspirant secoüe
Son gorgerin, sous qui doucement noüe
Un petit flot que Venus diroit sien.
 
En la façon que Jupiter est aise,
Quand de son chant une Muse l’appaise :
Ainsi je suis de ses chansons épris,
 
Lors qu’à son luth ses doigts elle embesongne,
Et qu’elle dit le branle de Bourgongne,
Qu’elle disoit le jour que je fus pris.
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                            More than kings, their sceptres and their wealth,
                                                                            I love that brow with which my tyrant deceives,
                                                                            And the crimson of that fair cheek
                                                                            Which puts Tyrian purple to shame.
 
                                                                            All beauties are to my eyes nothing
                                                                            Beside the value of that breast, which sighing shakes
                                                                            Her pretty throat, under which she sweetly gathers
                                                                            A little storm which Venus could call her own.
 
                                                                            In the way Jupiter is at ease
                                                                            When with her song a Muse calms him;
                                                                            Just so I am delighted with her songs,
 
                                                                            When at her lute she works her fingers diligently,
                                                                            And when she sings that Burgundian dance
                                                                            That she sang the day I fell in love.
 
 
 
 
After a series of poems with few classical allusions, here come several at once! ‘Tyrian purple’ is a commonplace of classical poetry, Tyre being the key trade centre in the Mediterranean where (expensive) purple dyes could be obtained. Both the value and rarity of Tyrian purple is in Ronsard’s mind.  In similar fashion the references to Venus (love) and Jupiter (impetuous anger) are classical commonplaces.
 
Whether there is significance in a Burgundian dance I can’t say; earlier in the Middle Ages Burgundy was a major centre of culture, but a “branle” is a relatively low-class dance – the English ‘brawl’ which derives from it gives you some idea of its informality and lack of subtlety! I imagine though that ‘Burgundian brawl’ is chosen for alliteration rather than for class-distinctions…
 
Ronsard modified lines all the ay through the first three-quarters of the poem, leaving only the last tercet unchanged. So here are lines1-11 in the earlier Blanchemain version, to which you’ll need to add the last three lines above to complete the poem 🙂
 
 
 
Plus mille fois que nul or terrien,
J’aime ce front où mon Tyran se joue,
Et le vermeil de ceste belle joue,
Qui fait honteux le pourpre tyrien.
 
Toutes beautez à mes yeux ne sont rien
Au prix du sein qui lentement secoue
Son gorgerin, sous qui per à per noue
Le branle égal d’un flot cytherien.
 
Ne plus ne moins que Jupiter est aise
Quand de son luth quelque Muse l’appaise,
Ainsi je suis de ses chansons épris …
 
 
 
 
                                                                            A thousand times more than any earthly gold
                                                                            I love that brow with which my tyrant deceives,
                                                                            And the crimson of that fair cheek
                                                                            Which puts Tyrian purple to shame.
 
                                                                            All beauties are to my eyes nothing
                                                                            Beside the value of that breast, which slowly shakes
                                                                            Her pretty throat, under which she gathers, paired together,
                                                                            The well-matched dance of a Cytherian storm.
 
                                                                            No more nor less than Jupiter is at ease
                                                                            When with her lute one of the Muses calms him;
                                                                            Just so I am delighted with her songs, …
 
 
 
Here, ‘Cytherian’ is a reference to Venus, who was born there (or, technically, came ashore from her shell – as in Botticelli’s famous painting). Note here that the “branle” in line 8 here means something like ‘movement’, but it can still figuratively be translated as ‘dance’; “égal” here suggesting the dancers move closely together. It’s pretty obvious that Ronsard is thinking some fairly low-class thoughts about the ‘pair’ which dance so attractively underneath her throat!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 57

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Divin Bellay, dont les nombreuses lois
Par un ardeur du peuple separée,
Ont revestu l’enfant de Cytherée
D’arcs, de flambeaux, de traits, et de carquois :
 
Si le doux feu dont jeune tu ardois,
Enflambe encor ta poitrine sacrée,
Si ton oreille encore se recrée,
D’ouir les plaints des amoureuses vois :
 
Oy ton Ronsard qui sanglote et lamente,
Pâle de peur, pendu sur la tourmente,
Croizant en vain ses mains devers les Cieux,
 
En fraile nef, sans mast, voile ne rame,
Et loin du havre où pour astre Madame
Me conduisoit du Fare de ses yeux.
 
 
 
                                                                           Divine Bellay, whom numerous statutes
                                                                           For your ardour distinct from the norm
                                                                           Have invested as the son of Venus
                                                                           With bows, torches, arrows and quiver;
 
                                                                           If the soft fire with which you burned when young
                                                                           Still flames within your holy breast,
                                                                           If your ear still enjoys
                                                                           Hearing the woes of lovers’ tongues;
 
                                                                           Then hear your Ronsard, who sobs and weeps,
                                                                           Pale with fear, suspended in torment,
                                                                           Holding his hands up in vain to Heaven,
 
                                                                           In a frail ship without mast, sail or oar,
                                                                           Far from the harbour where, like a star, my Lady
                                                                           Leads me with the beacon of her eyes.
 
 
 
Here is Ronsard writing a sonnet to his friend Joachim du Bellay, in response to one du Bellay had written him in his “Olive” (the first book of French love sonnets and inspiration for Ronsard’s own “Amours”). But, as will appear, it is not a direct response, for it is a carefully-constructed love poem about Cassandre while addressed to du Bellay.  Bellay’s, by contrast, is in praise of Ronsard himself. Should we read too much into that? I don’t think so: there’s no intended slight on du Bellay simply because Ronsard doesn’t tell him he too is marvellous! After all, both call the other ‘divine’.
 
Let’s have a look at du Bellay’s sonnet to Ronsard:
 
 
Divin Ronsard, qui de l’arc à sept cordes
Tiras premier au but de la Memoire
Les traits ailez de la françoise gloire,
Que sur ton luth hautement tu accordes.
 
Fameux harpeur et prince de nos odes,
Laisse ton Loir, hautain de ta victoire,
Et vien sonner au rivage de Loire
De tes chansons les plus nouvelles modes.
 
Enfonce l’arc du vieil Thebain archer,
Où nul que toi ne sceut onc encocher
Des doctes sœurs les sagettes divines.
 
Porte pour moy parmy le ciel des Gaules
Le sainct honneur des nymphes angevines,
Trop pesant faix pour mes foibles espaules.
 
 
 
                                                                           Divine Ronsard, who with the seven-stringed bow
                                                                           First shot at the target of Memory
                                                                           The winged arrows of French glory
                                                                           Which you tune precisely  on your lute;
 
                                                                           Famous harper and prince of our [French] odes,
                                                                           Leave your Loir, proud in your victory,
                                                                           And come to sing on the banks of the Loire
                                                                           The newest strains of your songs.
 
                                                                           Bend the bow of the old Theban archer,
                                                                           On which none but you have ever been able to notch
                                                                           The divine arrows of the learned Sisters.
 
                                                                           Bear for me among the Gallic heavens
                                                                           The holy honour of the nymphs of Anjou,
                                                                           Too weighty a deed for my feeble shoulders.
 
 
Wonderful as this poem is, it’s immediately obvious that it’s in a far more ‘learned’ style, replete with classical allusions: we know Ronsard can do this too if he wants to, so it is worth noticing that he didn’t. That is, perhaps, what sets Ronsard apart in his earliest poetry – the cultivation of a more natural style, a new way of writing French poetry which retains the art but broadens the range of subjects, of themes and of language.
 
Just how complex du Bellay’s classical references are, is worth a brief digression. In fact, trying to pinpoint them requires a digression! In lines 9-11 we have the ‘Theban archer’ and the ‘divine arrows of the learned Sisters’. Neither seem (to me) to translate simply into an obvious classical figure…
 
So, Theban archer?  Well, Ulysses famously had a bow that could not be bent by anyone else (end of the Odyssey); but he’s not Theban. Philoctetes (in Sophocles’ play) has to be lured back to the Trojan War because only he can use the essential bow; but he’s not Theban either. Diana/Artemis joins with her brother Apollo in killing Niobe’s children – Niobe was Theban, but not the gods. I think the likeliest candidate is Hercules – who is also not Theban.  Philoctetes is keeper of the bow of Hercules, which only he can draw; and Hercules married Megara, the daughter of the Theban king, before killing their children in a divinely-induce rage and thus having to undertake the twelve Labours. The children (and, some say, Megara) were venerated at, and  said to be buried in, a ‘heroon’ (hero’s tomb) at Thebes in classical times.
 
The how about the ‘divine arrows of the learned sisters’?  Well, Apollo and Artemis certainly have divine arrows – see Niobe’s fate above – but they are not ‘learned sisters’. Equally, the Muses are learned but not in the arts of war. Other groups of siblings might include the Graiai and Moirai (Fates) but they don’t use arrows. And of course the arrows in du Bellay’ metaphor are the arrows of art & poetry. So, my own hunch – no more than that – is that du Bellay is conflating the Muses and Apollo, for Apollo was ‘mousagetes’, the leader of the Muses:  Apollo brings the bow, the ‘arrows’ are the attainments of the Muses.
 
His vocabulary is also deliberately demanding of the reader:  in line 2 the target “Memoire” is clearly Remembrance or being remembered, the target of gaining a Memorial, rather than simple Memory. And in what way does du Bellay want Ronsard to sing his ‘newest modes’ on the Loire – is that new poetic forms (ode, elegy, hymn); or the stylistic innovations mentioned above; or simply ‘come and write your new poems here on the Loire’? 
 
Well, enough about du Bellay’s complexity. Let’s return to Ronsard’s artful simplicity, and look at the minor variants in Blanchemain’s earlier version:
 
 
Divin Bellay, dont les nombreuses lois
Par une ardeur du peuple separée,
Ont revestu l’enfant de Cytherée
D’arc, de flambeau, de traits, et de carquois :
 
Si le doux feu dont jeune tu ardois,
Enflambe encor ta poitrine sacrée,
Si ton oreille encore se recrée,
D’ouir les plaints des amoureuses vois :
 
Oy ton Ronsard qui sanglote et lamente,
Pâle, agité des flots de la tourmente,
Croizant en vain ses mains devers les Cieux,
 
En fraile nef, et sans voile et sans rame,
Et loin du bord où pour astre sa dame
Le conduisoit du Fare de ses yeux.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Divine Bellay, whom numerous statutes
                                                                           For your ardour distinct from the norm
                                                                           Have invested as the son of Venus
                                                                           With bow, torch, arrows and quiver;
 
                                                                           If the soft fire with which you burned when young
                                                                           Still flames within your holy breast,
                                                                           If your ear still enjoys
                                                                           Hearing the woes of lovers’ tongues;
 
                                                                           Then hear your Ronsard, who sobs and weeps,
                                                                           Pale and tossed by waves of torment,
                                                                           Holding his hands up in vain to Heaven,
 
                                                                           In a frail ship, without either sail or oar,
                                                                           Far from the shore where, like a star, his lady
                                                                           Leads him with the beacon of her eyes.
 
 
Notably (to me at least) the early version of the ending is consistently third-person – Ronsard is ‘he’. In the later version at the top of the page, he is third-person in the first tercet but switches awkwardly to first-person in the second tercet.  That could have been easily remedied:  “Croizant en vain les mains devers les Cieux” would have done the trick. It is interesting to see that Ronsard puts the poetic effect of the repeated ‘s’ and ‘z’ sounds – and the visual effect of the other ‘s’s in the line – ahead of a strictly consistent pictorial or grammatical approach.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 7

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Amour abandonnant les vergers de Cytheres,
D’Amathonte et d’Eryce, en la France passa :
Et me monstrant son arc, comme Dieu, me tança,
Que j’oubliois, ingrat, ses loix et ses mysteres.
 
Il me frappa trois fois de ses ailes legeres :
Un traict le plus aigu dans les yeux m’eslança.
La playe vint au cœur, qui chaude me laissa
Une ardeur de chanter les honneurs de Surgeres.
 
Chante (me dist Amour) sa grace et sa beauté,
Sa bouche ses beaux yeux sa douceur sa bonté :
Je la garde pour toy le sujet de ta plume.
 
Un sujet si divin ma Muse ne poursuit.
Je te feray l’esprit meilleur que de coustume :
«  L’homme ne peut faillir, quand un Dieu le conduit.
 
 
 
                                                                                 The god of Love, abandoning the orchards of Cythera,
                                                                                 Amathus and Eryx, has moved to France
                                                                                 And showing me his bow like a god he scolded me
                                                                                 For ungratefully forgetting his laws and mysteries.
 
                                                                                 He struck me three times with his light wings;
                                                                                 The sharpest of his arrows he shot in my eyes.
                                                                                 The wound reached my heart, and that burning wound gave me
                                                                                 A burning desire to sing of the glory of Surgères.
 
                                                                                 “Sing,” said the god of Love to me “of her grace and beauty,
                                                                                 Her lips, her fair eyes, her sweetness, her goodness;
                                                                                 I am watching over her for you, to be the subject of your verse.”
 
                                                                                 So godlike a subject my Muse was not seeking!
                                                                                 “I shall make your spirit greater than it was;
                                                                                 Man cannot fail, when a god leads him.”
 
 
  
 
Ronsard sets out the inspiration for his new book of poems in a strongly classicising style, pointing to the direct inspiration – indeed, demands – of the god of love as his motivation. He also localises his Helen as the lady from Surgères – and indeed she remains the town’s principal claim to fame.
 
Blanchemain’s version is identical except that he (curiously) prints “Un ardeur” at the beginning of line 8 – I don’t recall seeing it as a masculine noun elsewhere, maybe this is a typo?
 
The opening classical allusions may need some explanation:  though all are sites associated with Venus as goddess of love.  The Palicastro (Old Town) on the island of Cythera has an archaic Greek temple to Venus (Aphrodite) ‘of the Heavens’;  Amathus on Cyprus was the second-largest cult site for Venus in the ancient world (after her birthplace, Paphos); and mount Eryx in Sicily (now Monte San Giuliano), which was in ancient times considered equal to Etna as one of Sicily’s greatest mountains, was topped by another temple of Venus.
 
 
 
 

Chanson (18a)

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This is my 100th poem posted: appropriately, one of Ronsard’s lighter, more amusing, loving, hardest-to-translate pieces!

Ma maistresse est toute angelette,
Ma toute rose nouvellette,
Toute mon gracieux orgueil,
Toute ma petite brunette,
Toute ma douce mignonnette,
Toute mon coeur, toute mon oeil.
 
Toute ma Muse, ma Charite,
Ma toute où mon penser habite,
Toute mon tout, toute mon rien,
Toute ma maistresse Marie,
Toute ma douce tromperie,
Toute mon mal, toute mon bien.
 
Toute fiel, toute ma sucree,
Toute ma jeune Cytheree,
Toute ma joye, et ma langueur,
Toute ma petite Angevine,
Ma toute simple et toute fine,
Toute mon ame et tout mon coeur.
 
Encor un envieux me nie
Que je ne dois aimer Marie.
Mais quoy ? si ce sot envieux
Disoit que mes yeux je n’aimasse,
Voudriez-vous bien que je laissasse
Pour un sot à n’aimer mes yeux ?
 
 
 
                                                                      My mistress is all angel,
                                                                      All new-blooming little rose,
                                                                      All gracious pride,
                                                                      Entirely my little brunette,
                                                                      Entirely my sweet darling,
                                                                      All my heart, all my soul.
 
                                                                      All my Muse, all my Grace,
                                                                      My all, in whom my thoughts live,
                                                                      All my all, all my everything,
                                                                      Entirely my mistress Marie,
                                                                      Entirely my sweet deceiver,
                                                                      All my ills, all my good.
 
                                                                      All gall, all sweetness,
                                                                      All my young Venus,
                                                                      All my joy, and my longing,
                                                                      Entirely my little girl of Anjou,
                                                                      Entirely simple and entirely shrewd,
                                                                      All my soul and all my heart.
 
                                                                      Yet still some envious man tells me
                                                                      I should not love Marie.
                                                                      Why?  If that envious fool
                                                                      Should tell me not to love my eyes,
                                                                      Would you like me to give up
                                                                      Loving my eyes, for a fool?
 
 
Ronsard’s use of ‘toute’ (all, entirely, every) seems to me hard to pull off in an English version using the same word every time; I found a pattern using ‘all’ and ‘entirely’, consistently from verse to verse, achieved a better sense in English. But you may disagree 🙂
 
Blanchemain offers variants at the start of the 2nd and 3rd stanza:  for stanza 2, he offers 2 variant texts both different from Marty-Laveaux (above).
 
Toute ma Muse et ma Charite,
Toute le gain de mon merite, …
 
                                                                      All my Muse and my Grace,
                                                                      All the gain of my merit, …
Toute mes jeux et mes blandices,
Mes mignardises, mes delices …
 
                                                                      All my games and blandishments,
                                                                      My sweet notings, my delights …
 
 
For stanza 3, just one variant:
 
Toute mon miel et ma delice,
Toute ma gentille malice, …
 
                                                                      All my honey and my delight,
                                                                      All my gentle malice, …
 
 
This chanson is based on an epigram by Marullus:  book 4 no.2.  It’s not as close a translation as some of the later chansons in this book of Amours, but as you can see it is strongly based on its ‘original’. Incidentally, Martellus & Resorbolus have been identified with Braccio Martelli & Cristoforo Risorboli, who were of the circle of PierFrancesco Medici in Florence, providing some biographical context for Marullus.
 
 
Tota es candida, tota munda, tota
succi plenula, tota mollicella,
tota nequitiaeque amorque, tota
elegantula, tota delicata,
tota mel, mea vita, sacharumque
et tota Assyrii Indicique odores.
At sunt qui tamen hanc negent amandam,
Martellusque meus Resorbolusque :
quid, si idem aut oculos negent amandos
aut siquid magis est amandum ocellis ?
O viros lepidos parum ac molestos !
 
 
                                                                      You are all brightness, all neatness, all
                                                                      Full of vigour, all tenderness,
                                                                      All lightness and love, all
                                                                      Refinement, all delicacy,
                                                                      All honey and sweetness, my life,
                                                                      And all Assyrian and Indian perfumes.
                                                                      But there are those who say I should not love you,
                                                                      My friends Martellus and Resorbolus:
                                                                      What if they said I shouldn’t love my eyes,
                                                                      Or denied there’s anything I should love more than my eyes?
                                                                      How unhelpful and annoying they are!
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 6

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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.