Tag Archives: Jean Antoine de Baïf

‘Calisto’ again

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For interest’s sake, and because the poems are a closely-linked pair, here are the poems by Baif and Calisto I mentioned here. Some sources say Baif’s came first, but the 1555 edition of “Francine” puts Baif’s poem as a response to Calisto’s (though printing Calisto’s as an appendix) – which makes sense to me, and that’s the order they are in here.
 
Calisto’s poem to Baif:
 
Je ne sçay si l’Amour, mon Baïf, te tourmente,
Au tant comme en tes vers tu te fais douloureux,
Pour te voir tant au vif peindre l’heur malheureux
Et l’heureux mal qu’on a d’une ardeur vehemente :
 
Je ne sçay si l’amour ta fureur douce augmente,
Dont tu ecris si bien tout le faict amoureux
Que le docte s’y plaist : et l’amant langoureux
En charme sa douleur, ou avec toy lamente.
 
Mais si l’amour tu sens n’estant que demy-tien,
Comme sont tous amans, et tu nous peins si bien
Les passions d’un cueur alaicté d’esperance :
 
Tu nous fais esperer, rapellant celle part
Que ton ame esgarée à Francine depart,
De te voir desvancer les premiers de la France.
 
 
 
                                                                            I know not if Love torments you, my Baif,
                                                                            As much as, in your verse, you present yourself as miserable,
                                                                            So that we see you, as if in real life, picturing the unfortunate fortune
                                                                            And fortunate misfortune which people in ardent love show:
 
                                                                            I know not if love increases your sweet madness,
                                                                            With which you write so well all the facts of love
                                                                            That learned men can be pleased with it, and the pining lover
                                                                            Charm away his sadness with it, or else lament with you.
 
                                                                            But if the love you feel is only half yours,
                                                                            Like all lovers are, you too paint for us so well
                                                                            The passions of a heart nourished on hope;
 
                                                                            You make us hope, recalling that place
                                                                            Where your soul, straying to Francine, has gone,
                                                                            That we’ll see you outstripping the foremost in France.
 
 
I think we can say that Calisto, whoever he was, was a more-than-competent amateur poet; though his poetry does involve some small torturing of French grammar and construction !
 
Here’s Baif’s response, reflecting back much of the phraseology of the original (but avoiding torturing the language):
 
Calliste, croy pour vray que l’Amour me tourmente,
Bien plus que je ne suis en ces vers douloureux.
Sans rien feindre au plus pres je pein l’heur malheureux
Avec l’heureux malheur d’une ardeur vehemente.
 
Croy pour vray que l’amour ma fureur folle augmente,
Qui me fait degorger ces soupirs amoureux,
Que le sage reprend, où l’amant langoureux
Rengrege sa douleur, et la mienne lamente,
 
Amour ne me permet non d’estre demi-mien,
Moins qu’à nul autre amant : et m’empesche si bien,
Que de me ravoir plus je per toute esperance.
 
Or puis que j’ay perdu celle meilleure part,
Que mon ame égaree à Francine depart,
Je me voy le dernier des derniers de la France.
 
 
 
                                                                            Callisto, believe it true that Love torments me,
                                                                            Much more sad than I seem in these verses.
                                                                            Feigning nothing, I paint my unfortunate fortune as closely as I can
                                                                            With the fortunate misfortune of my passionate ardour.
 
                                                                            Believe it true that love increases my foolish madness,
                                                                            Which makes me dig up these sighs of love
                                                                            That wise men can pick up, with which the pining lover
                                                                            Aggravates his sadness, and laments mine.
 
                                                                            But if the love you feel is only half yours,
                                                                            No less than any other lover; and so completely impedes me
                                                                            That I lose all hope of having myself back again.
 
                                                                            Since I have lost that better part
                                                                            As my soul, straying to Francine, has gone,
                                                                            I see myselfas the hindmost of the hindmost in France.
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:53

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Veux-tu sçavoir, Bruez, en quel estat je suis ?
Je te le veux conter : d’un pauvre miserable
Il n’y a nul malheur, tant soit-il pitoyable,
Que je n’aille passant d’un seul de mes ennuis.
 
Je tien tout je n’ay rien je veux et si ne puis,
Je revy je remeurs ma playe est incurable :
Qui veut servir Amour, ce Tyran execrable,
Pour toute recompense il reçoit de tels fruis.
 
Pleurs larmes et souspirs accompagnent ma vie,
Langueur douleur regret soupçon et jalousie,
Transporté d’un penser qui me vient decevoir.
 
Je meurs d’impatience : et plus je ne sens vivre
L’esperance en mon cœur, mais le seul desespoir
Qui me guide à la mort, et je le veux bien suivre.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Do you want to know, Bruez, the state I’m in ?
                                                                            I want to tell you : a wretched pauper
                                                                            Has no ills, however pitiful,
                                                                            That a single one of my own troubles doesn’t surpass.
 
                                                                            I have everything and nothing, I want but cannot,
                                                                            I live and die again and again, my wound is incurable;
                                                                            Whoever wants to serve Love, that cursed tyrant,
                                                                            Receives as all his payment just such fruits.
 
                                                                            Tears, weeping and sighs accompany my life,
                                                                            Pining, sadness, regret, suspicion, jealousy,
                                                                            All carried on a thought which has just deceived me.
 
                                                                            I’m dying of impatience, I no longer feel hope
                                                                            Living in my heart, but only despair
                                                                            Which leads me to death – and I’m ready to follow.
 
 
 
Belleau’s commentary tells us that Brués, as the dedicatee seems to have spelled it, was “learned in law and philosophy, author of dialogues”. Indeed you can still read, courtesy of Google Books, the Dialogues of Guy de Brués, “against the new Academicians”, featuring invented dialogues in the renaissance style between the men of letters Ronsard, Baif, Guillaume Aubert (dedicatee of “Versons ces roses“) and Jean Nicot (who introduced tobacco to France, and is the source of ‘nicotine’!)  In later editions, this sonnet is addressed to Claude Binet who was, says Belleau, “a very learned man and among the best-versed in understanding of law and poetry”. Binet was in fact Ronsard’s closest friend and amanuensis in his old age.
 
There are some minor variants scattered through Blanchemain’s earlier version: here’s his version of the opening quatrain,
 
 
Veux-tu sçavoir, Brués, en quel estat je suis ?
Je te le conteray : d’un pauvre miserable
Il n’y a nul estat, tant soit-il pitoyable,
Que je n’aille passant d’un seul de mes ennuis.
 
                                                                            Do you want to know, Bruez, the state I’m in ?
                                                                            I will tell you : a wretched pauper’s
                                                                            Condition, however pitiful, is nothing
                                                                            That a single one of my own troubles doesn’t surpass.
 
 
and of lines 11-12,
 
Avecques un penser qui ne me laisse avoir
Un moment de repos : et plus je ne sens vivre
 
                                                                            With a thought which lets me have
                                                                            No moment of rest; I no longer feel hope …
 
 
This is another poem ‘translated’ from Petrarch; and this time it does indeed follow the original closely, though Ronsard’s opening quatrain is not paralleled in the Italian.
 
 
Pace non trovo, et non ò da far guerra;
e temo, et spero; et ardo, et son un ghiaccio;
et volo sopra ‘l cielo, et giaccio in terra;
et nulla stringo, et tutto ‘l mondo abbraccio.
 
Tal m’à in pregion, che non m’apre né serra,
né per suo mi riten né scioglie il laccio;
et non m’ancide Amore, et non mi sferra,
né mi vuol vivo, né mi trae d’impaccio.
 
Veggio senza occhi, et non ò lingua et grido;
et bramo di perir, et cheggio aita;
et ò in odio me stesso, et amo altrui.
 
Pascomi di dolor, piangendo rido;
egualmente mi spiace morte et vita:
in questo stato son, donna, per voi.
 
 
 
                                                                            I cannot find peace, yet cannot make war;
                                                                            I both fear and hope; I burn and am ice;
                                                                            I fly above the heavens and fall to earth;
                                                                            I hold nothing and embrace the whole world.
 
                                                                            Such a lady is she who keeps me in prison, but neither frees nor binds me,
                                                                            Neither keeps me for herself nor unlooses the knot;
                                                                            Love does not kill me, does not unleash me,
                                                                            Neither wants me to live, nor rescues me from my troubles.
 
                                                                            I see without eyes, I cry out without a tongue,
                                                                            I yearn to perish and seek help,
                                                                            I hate myself and love another.
 
                                                                            I feed on grief, I laugh as I cry,
                                                                            Death and life displease me equally:
                                                                            I am in this state, my lady, because of you.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Le Voyage de Tours: ou, Les amoureux

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Some poetry is long overdue. Here’s the first 70 lines of “The Journey to Tours”, subtitled ‘The Lovers’, which is inserted by Ronsard into the middle of the 2nd book of Amours, featuring as it does his heroine of that book, Marie (here called Marion).

The poem is an extended eclogue or pastoral poem, imitating the Arcadian literature both of Greece & Rome and of the renaissance poets who renewed these themes. Although the pastoral poets demonstrate their erudition regularly with classical references or simply with complex and allusive verse, Ronsard plays to the genre theme, slightly mocking it in the light semi-comic “rustic” style he adopts, and the ‘colloquial’ names he gives his principal characters.. Marie becomes Marion, as we have seen, and ‘Thoinet’, from ‘Antoine’ (de Baif), approximates to ‘Tony’ in English; though ‘Perrot’ (from ‘Pierre’ de Ronsard) doesn’t quite work as Pete.  The poem gives Ronsard scope both to describe the details of the countryside in loving detail, and also to locate it firmly in the France he knows; we cannot be sure that the journey is an invented one, the details make it so believable.

C’estoit en la saison que l’amoureuse Flore
Faisoit pour son amy les fleurettes esclore
Par les prez bigarrez d’autant d’esmail de fleurs,
Que le grand arc du Ciel s’esmaille de couleurs :
Lors que les papillons et les blondes avettes,
Les uns chargez au bec, les autres aux cuissettes,
Errent par les jardins, et les petits oiseaux
Voletans par les bois de rameaux en rameaux
Amassent la bechée, et parmy la verdure
Ont souci comme nous de leur race future.
 
 
Thoinet au mois d’Avril passant par Vandomois,
Me mena voir à Tours Marion que j’aimois,
Qui aux nopces estoit d’une sienne cousine :
Et ce Thoinet aussi alloit voir sa Francine,
Qu’ Amour en se jouant d’un trait plein de rigueur,
Luy avoit pres le Clain escrite dans le coeur.
 
 
Nous partismes tous deux du hameau de Coustures,
Nous passasmes Gastine et ses hautes verdures,
Nous passasmes Marré, et vismes à mi- jour
Du pasteur Phelipot s’eslever la grand tour,
Qui de Beaumont la Ronce honore le village
Comme un pin fait honneur aux arbres d’un bocage.
Ce pasteur qu’on nommoit Phelippot tout gaillard,
Chez luy nous festoya jusques au soir bien tard.
De là vinsmes coucher au gué de Lengenrie,
Sous des saules plantez le long d’une prairie :
Puis dés le poinct du jour redoublant le marcher,
Nous vismes en un bois s’eslever le clocher
De sainct Cosme pres Tours, où la nopce gentille
Dans un pré se faisoit au beau milieu de l’isle.
 
 
Là Francine dançoit, de Thoinet le souci,
Là Marion balloit, qui fut le mien aussi :
Puis nous mettans tous deux en l’ordre de la dance,
Thoinet tout le premier ceste plainte commence.
 
 
Ma Francine, mon cueur, qu’oublier je ne puis,
Bien que pour ton amour oublié je me suis,
Quand dure en cruauté tu passerois les Ourses
Et les torrens d’hyver desbordez de leurs courses,
Et quand tu porterois en lieu d’humaine chair
Au fond de l’estomach, pour un cueur un rocher :
Quand tu aurois succé le laict d’une Lyonne,
Quand tu serois, cruelle, une beste felonne,
Ton cœur seroit pourtant de mes pleurs adouci,
Et ce pauvre Thoinet tu prendrois à merci.
 
 
Je suis, s’il t’en souvient, Thoinet qui dés jeunesse
Te voyant sur le Clain t’appella sa maistresse,
Qui musette et flageol à ses lévres usa
Pour te donner plaisir, mais cela m’abusa :
Car te pensant flechir comme une femme humaine,
Je trouvay ta poitrine et ton aureille pleine,
Helas qui l’eust pensé ! de cent mille glaçons
Lesquels ne t’ont permis d’escouter mes chansons :
Et toutesfois le temps, qui les prez de leurs herbes
Despouille d’an en an, et les champs de leurs gerbes,
Ne m’a point despouillé le souvenir du jour,
Ny du mois où je mis en tes yeux mon amour :
Ny ne fera jamais voire eussé-je avallée
L’onde qui court là bas sous l’obscure valée.
C’estoit au mois d’Avril, Francine, il m’en souvient,
Quand tout arbre florit, quand la terre devient
De vieillesse en jouvence, et l’estrange arondelle
Fait contre un soliveau sa maison naturelle :
Quand la Limace au dos qui porte sa maison,
Laisse un trac sur les fleurs : quand la blonde toison
Va couvrant la chenille, et quand parmy les prées
Volent les papillons aux ailes diaprées,
Lors que fol je te vy, et depuis je n’ay peu
Rien voir apres tes yeux que tout ne m’ait despleu.
It was in the season when Flora, being in love,
Made flowers bloom for her lover
In the meadows scattered with such a mottling of flowers
As the great arc of the Heavens is mottled with colours:
As the butterflies and yellow bees,
Their mouths or their little thighs full,
Wander through the gardens, and the little birds
Fluttering among the woods from branch to branch
Gather their beak-fuls, and among the greenery
Plan, as we do, for the future of their race.
 
 
Tony, passing through the Vendôme in April,
Took me to Tours, to see Marion whom I loved,
Who was at the wedding of her cousin;
And Tony too was going to see his Francine
Whom Love, laughingly striking him a blow full of trouble,
Had written on his heart, near Clain.
 
 
The two of us left the hamlet of Coustures,
Crossed Gastine and its rich greenery,
Passed Marré and saw at midday
The great tower of Philip the shepherd rising up,
Which brings credit to the village of Beaumont la Ronce
As a pine brings credit to the trees of a copse.
This shepherd they call Philip merrily
Feasted us at his house until late in the evening.
From there, we reached our beds at Lengenrie ford,
Beneath willows planted the length of a field;
Then at daybreak taking up our walk again
We saw rising in a wood the bell-tower
Of St Cosmas near Tours, where the noble wedding
Was taking place in a meadow right in the middle of the island.
 
 
There Francine was dancing, Tony’s beloved;
There Marion was capering, my own also:
Then, as both of us joined in the line of dancers,
Tony first began his complaint:
 
 
My Francine, my heart whom I cannot forget,
Although for your love I am forgotten,
Though harsh in cruelty you exceed bears
And the winter torrents bursting their banks,
And though you bear, in place of human flesh
Deep in your belly not a heart but a stone;
Though you have sucked the milk of a lioness,
Though you are a ravenous beast, o cruel one,
Your heart can still be softened by my tears
And you’ll still grant mercy to your poor Tony.
 
 
I am, you recall, that Tony who, from his youth,
Seeing you on the Clain, called you his mistress,
Who put bagpipe and flute to his lips
To give you pleasure: but that deceived me,
For thinking to influence you like a human woman
I found your breast and ears full –
Ah, who’d have thought it! – of a million icicles
Which prevented you from hearing my songs;
And still time, which steals from the meadows
Their plants from year to year, and from the fields their sheaves,
Has not stolen from me the memory of that day
Or month when your eyes took my love.
Nor will it ever, even if I had drunk
The water which flows down below in the dark valley.
It was in the month of April, Francine, I remember,
When every tree blossoms, when the earth changes
From old age to youth, and the swallow from abroad
Makes against a small beam his own kind of home;
When the snail who bears his house on his back
Leaves his tracks on the flowers; when a yellow fleece
Covers the caterpillar, and when in the meadows
Butterflies fly on their colourful wings,
It was then that I saw you, fell in love, and since then everything I’ve seen
Apart from but your eyes has displeased me.
 
Remy Belleau’s commentary offers a range of useful, and less useful, details on the places named by Ronsard. Coustures, he tells us, is “where our poet was born”; the forest of Gastine we have met before; Marré and Beaumont la Ronce are villages, Lengenrie a “little village”!  Saint-Cosmas was a priory situated on an island next to Tours. The Clain is the river which passes by Poictiers, which (Belleau tells us, in case we didn’t read the line in the poem) is where Baif first fell in love with Francine!
 
A couple of classical references:  Flora, the goddess of spring, most familiar to us from her appearance in a flowery dress in Botticelli’s “Primavera” (Spring); and, again in case we didn’t read the poem, Belleau explains that the ‘waters flowing down below’ are the waters of the river Lethe which make you lose your memory.
 
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The earlier version given by Blanchemain of course differs in detail, but also comes with an introductory dedication. Blanchemain explains “this dedication to L’Huillier, a rich bourgeois of Paris, perhaps the father or grandfather of Chapelle, is found only in the 1560 edition.” He doesn’t explain why Ronsard would call a bourgeois “Seigneur” (my lord).
 
Jérôme L’Huillier, lord of Maisonfleur, was a close friend of Ronsard’s (and an amateur poet) around 1560, and Ronsard wrote two Elegies for him as well as dedicating his “Second Livre du Recueil des nouvelles poesies” to him in 1564 – here’s the title page.
 
2nd_livreWhen L’Huillier converted to Protestantism in 1566, the dedications were all removed (Ronsard remaining a good Catholic). But oddly L’Huillier’s name remained in the first line of one of the elegies, and the fourth book of Elegies was dedicated to L’Huillier on its publication in 1567! (The fluidity of religious boundaries at the time perhaps also shows in Ronsard’s writing a Hymn to his friend Cardinal Coligny, which he retained in later editions after Coligny defected and became a Huguenot…)  Perhaps there are further signs of a rapprochement in 1586, when L’Huillier’s son & heir Estienne included in a set of Reformist ‘Cantiques’ a translation of the Te Deum by Ronsard which the latter had published in his anti-Reformation ‘Discours’! A later 1592 edition also added three more sizeable Ronsard poems.
 
In this dedication, Ronsard writes 12 lines, but unusually and intriguingly groups them 5-3-4
 
 
Au seigneur L’Huillier
L’Huillier, à qui Phoebus, comme au seul de nostre age,
A donné ses beaux vers et son luth en partage,
En ta faveur icy je chante les amours
Que Perrot et Thoinet souspirerent à Tours,
L’un espris de Francine, et l’autre de Marie.
 
Ce Thoinet est Baïf, qui doctement manie
Les mestiers d’Apollon ; ce Perrot est Ronsard,
Que la Muse n’a fait le dernier en son art.
 
Si ce grand duc de Guyse, honneur de nostre France,
N’amuse point ta plume en chose d’importance,
Preste moy ton oreille, et t’en viens lire icy
L’amour de ces pasteurs et leur voyage aussy.
 
 
                                                                                        To my lord L’Huillier
                                                                                        L’Huillier, to whom Phoebus as to the only man of our age
                                                                                        Has given a share of his beautiful verse and his lute,
                                                                                        For you I here sing of the love
With which Pete and Tony sighed at Tours,
                                                                                        One fallen for Francine, the other for Marie.
 
                                                                                        This Tony is Baïf, who learnedly handles
                                                                                        Apollo’s tasks; Pete is Ronsard
                                                                                        Whom the Muse has not made last in his art.
 
                                                                                        If the great Duke of Guise, the honour of France,
                                                                                        Does not keep your pen employed on important things,
                                                                                        Lend me your ear, and come with me to read here
                                                                                        Of the loves of these shepherds and their journey too.

 

There are few changes in this part of the poem, though already we can see ways in which Ronsard tidied up and improved the poem in the later version above.
C’estoit en la saison que l’amoureuse Flore
Faisoit pour son amy les fleurettes esclore
Par les prez bigarrez d’autant d’esmail de fleurs,
Que le grand arc du Ciel s’esmaille de couleurs :
Lors que les papillons et les blondes avettes,
Les uns chargez au bec, les autres aux cuissettes,
Errent par les jardins, et les petits oiseaux
Voletans par les bois de rameaux en rameaux
Amassent la bechée, et parmy la verdure
Ont souci comme nous de leur race future.
 
 
Thoinet, en ce beau temps, passant par Vandomois,
Me mena voir à Tours Marion que j’aimois,
Qui aux nopces estoit d’une sienne cousine :
Et ce Thoinet aussi alloit voir sa Francine,
Que la grande Venus, d’un trait plein de rigueur,
Luy avoit pres le Clain escrite dans le coeur.
 
 
Nous partismes tous deux du hameau de Coustures,
Nous passasmes Gastine et ses hautes verdures,
Nous passasmes Marré, et vismes à mi- jour
Du pasteur Phelipot s’eslever la grand’ tour,
Qui de Beaumont la Ronce honore le village
Comme un pin fait honneur aux arbres d’un bocage.
Ce pasteur qu’on nommoit Phelippot le gaillard,
Courtois, nous festoya jusques au soir bien tard.
De là vinsmes coucher au gué de Lengenrie,
Sous des saules plantez le long d’une prairie :
Puis dés le poinct du jour redoublant le marcher,
Nous vismes en un bois s’eslever le clocher
De sainct Cosme pres Tours, où la nopce gentille
Dans un pré se faisoit au beau milieu de l’isle.
 
 
Là Francine dançoit, de Thoinet le souci,
Là Marion balloit, qui fut le mien aussi :
Puis nous mettans tous deux en l’ordre de la dance,
Thoinet tout le premier ceste plainte commence.
 
 
Ma Francine, mon cueur, qu’oublier je ne puis,
Bien que pour ton amour oublié je me suis,
Quand dure en cruauté tu passerois les Ourses
Et les torrens d’hyver desbordez de leurs courses,
Et quand tu porterois en lieu d’humaine chair
Au fond de l’estomach, pour un cueur un rocher :
Quand tu aurois succé le laict d’une Lyonne,
Quand tu serois autant qu’une tigre felonne,
Ton cœur seroit pourtant de mes pleurs adouci,
Et ce pauvre Thoinet tu prendrois à merci.
 
 
Je suis, s’il t’en souvient, Thoinet qui dés jeunesse
Te voyant sur le Clain t’appella sa maistresse,
Qui musette et flageol à ses lévres usa
Pour te donner plaisir, mais cela m’abusa :
Car te pensant flechir comme une femme humaine,
Je trouvay ta poitrine et ton aureille pleine,
Helas qui l’eust pensé ! de cent mille glaçons
Lesquels ne t’ont permis d’escouter mes chansons :
Et toutesfois le temps, qui les prez de leurs herbes
Despouille d’an en an, et les champs de leurs gerbes,
Ne m’a point despouillé le souvenir du jour,
Ny du mois où je mis en tes yeux mon amour :
Ny ne fera jamais voire eussé-je avallée
L’onde qui court là bas sous l’obscure valée.
C’estoit au mois d’Avril, Francine, il m’en souvient,
Quand tout arbre florit, quand la terre devient
De vieillesse en jouvence, et l’estrange arondelle
Fait contre un soliveau sa maison naturelle :
Quand la Limace au dos qui porte sa maison,
Laisse un trac sur les fleurs : quand la blonde toison
Va couvrant la chenille, et quand parmy les prées
Volent les papillons aux ailes diaprées,
Lors que fol je te vy, et depuis je n’ay peu
Rien voir apres tes yeux que tout ne m’ait despleu.
It was in the season when Flora, being in love,
Made flowers bloom for her lover
In the meadows scattered with such a mottling of flowers
As the great arc of the Heavens is mottled with colours:
As the butterflies and yellow bees,
Their mouths or their little thighs full,
Wander through the gardens, and the little birds
Fluttering among the woods from branch to branch
Gather their beak-fuls, and among the greenery
Plan, as we do, for the future of their race.
 
 
Tony, passing through the Vendôme at this beautiful time,
Took me to Tours, to see Marion whom I loved,
Who was at the wedding of her cousin;
And Tony too was going to see his Francine
Whom great Venus, with a blow full of trouble,
Had written on his heart, near Clain.
 
 
The two of us left the hamlet of Coustures,
Crossed Gastine and its rich greenery,
Passed Marré and saw at midday
The great tower of Philip the shepherd rising up,
Which brings credit to the village of Beaumont la Ronce
As a pine brings credit to the trees of a copse.
This shepherd they call Philip the merry
Feasted us in courtly fashion until late in the evening.
From there, we reached our beds at Lengenrie ford,
Beneath willows planted the length of a field;
Then at daybreak taking up our walk again
We saw rising in a wood the bell-tower
Of St Cosmas near Tours, where the noble wedding
Was taking place in a meadow right in the middle of the island.
 
 
There Francine was dancing, Tony’s beloved;
There Marion was capering, my own also:
Then, as both of us joined in the line of dancers,
Tony first began his complaint:
 
 
My Francine, my heart whom I cannot forget,
Although for your love I am forgotten,
Though harsh in cruelty you exceed bears
And the winter torrents bursting their banks,
And though you bear, in place of human flesh
Deep in your belly not a heart but a stone;
Though you have sucked the milk of a lioness,
Though you are like a cruel tigress,
Your heart can still be softened by my tears
And you’ll still grant mercy to your poor Tony.
 
 
I am, you recall, that Tony who, from his youth,
Seeing you on the Clain, called you his mistress,
Who put bagpipe and flute to his lips
To give you pleasure: but that deceived me,
For thinking to influence you like a human woman
I found your breast and ears full –
Ah, who’d have thought it! – of a million icicles
Which prevented you from hearing my songs;
And still time, which steals from the meadows
Their plants from year to year, and from the fields their sheaves,
Has not stolen from me the memory of that day
Or month when your eyes took my love.
Nor will it ever, even if I had drunk
The water which flows down below in the dark valley.
It was in the month of April, Francine, I remember,
When every tree blossoms, when the earth changes
From old age to youth, and the swallow from abroad
Makes against a small beam his own kind of home;
When the snail who bears his house on his back
Leaves his tracks on the flowers; when a yellow fleece
Covers the caterpillar, and when in the meadows
Butterflies fly on their colourful wings,
It was then that I saw you, fell in love, and since then everything I’ve seen
Apart from but your eyes has displeased me.
 
 
 
 

Amours retranch. 40

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Ne me dy plus, Imbert, que je chante d’Amour,
Ce traistre, ce méchant: comment pourroy-je faire
Que mon esprit voulust louer son adversaire,
Qui ne donne à ma peine un moment de sejour!
 
S’il m’avoit fait, Imbert, seulement un bon tour,
Je l’en remercirois, mais il ne se veut plaire
Qu’à rengreger mon mal, et pour mieux me défaire,
Me met devant les yeux ma Dame nuit et jour.
 
Bien que Tantale soit miserable là-bas,
Je le passe en mal-heur: car s’il ne mange pas
Le fruict qui pend sur luy, toutesfois il le touche,
 
Et le baise, et s’en joüe: et moy bien que je sois
Aupres de mon Plaisir, seulement de la bouche,
Ny des mains tant soit peu, toucher ne l’oserois.
 
 
 
                                                                            Tell me no more, Imbert, that I should sing of Love,
                                                                            That traitor, that wicked one. How could I make
                                                                            My spirit desire to praise his opponent,
                                                                            Who gives to my pain not a moment of rest!
 
                                                                            If [Love] had done me, Imbert, a single good turn
                                                                            I would thank him, but he prefers not to please
                                                                            But to aggravate my ills; and to destroy me more easily
                                                                            He puts my Lady before my eyes night and day.
 
                                                                            Though Tantalus is wretched down below,
                                                                            I surpass him in misfortune; for if he cannot eat
                                                                            The fruit which hangs over him, he can still touch it
 
                                                                            And kiss it and enjoy it; but I, although I am
                                                                            Right beside my Pleasure, I’d not dare even to touch
                                                                            Her mouth nor, however little, her hands.
 
 
Although a footnote assures us that Imbert was a classical scholar, familiar with Latin & Greek poetry, there’s nothing here that would put his skills to the test! The reference to Tantalus is not recondite, and indeed Ronsard even explains it (lines 10-11). I suspect this rather weak metaphor is the reason the poem got cut.
 
Who was Imbert?  Gérard Marie Imbert was born at Condom-en-Armagnac in 1530, and was later a student with Ronsard & Baif at the collège de Coqueret where the Pleiade first began to come together.  He was the author of a book of sonnets (Sonnets exotériques) published in 1578.
 
 
 
 
 

Chanson – Amours 2:67a

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Another of the cluster of songs from the end of book 2.

Qui veut sçavoir Amour et sa nature,
Son arc ses feux ses traits et sa pointure,
Quel est son estre, et que c’est qu’il desire
Lise ces vers je m’en vay le decrire.
 
C’est un plaisir tout remply de tristesse,
C’est un tourment tout confit de liesse,
Un desespoir où tousjours on espere,
Un esperer où l’on se desespere.
 
C’est un regret de jeunesse perdue,
C’est dedans l’air une poudre espandue,
C’est peindre en l’eau, et c’est vouloir encore
Prendre le vent, et dénoircir un more.
 
C’est un feint ris, c’est une douleur vraye,
C’est sans se plaindre avoir au cœur la playe,
C’est devenir valet en lieu de maistre,
C’est mille fois le jour mourir et naistre.
 
C’est un fermer à ses amis la porte
De la raison qui languist presque morte,
Pour en bailler la clef a l’ennemie,
Qui la reçoit sous ombre d’estre amie.
 
C’est mille maux pour une seule œillade
C’est estre sain et feindre le malade
C’est en mentant se parjurer, et faire
Profession de flater et de plaire.
 
C’est un grand feu couvert d’un peu de glace,
C’est un beau jeu tout remply de fallace,
C’est un despit une guerre une tréve,
Un long penser, une parole bréve.
 
C’est par dehors dissimuler sa joye,
Celant une ame au-dedans qui larmoye :
C’est un malheur si plaisant qu’on desire
Tousjours languir en un si beau martyre.
 
C’est une paix qui n’a point de durée,
C’est une guerre au combat asseurée,
Où le veincu reçoit toute la gloire,
Et le veinqueur ne gaigne la victoire.
 
C’est une erreur de jeunesse qui prise
Une prison trop plus que sa franchise :
C’est un penser qui douteux ne repose
Et pour sujet n’a jamais qu’une chose.
 
Bref, Nicolas, c’est une jalousie,
C’est une fiévre en une frenaisie.
Quel plus grand mal au monde pourroit estre
Que recevoir une femme pour maistre ?
 
Doncques à fin que ton cœur ne se mette
Sous les liens d’une loy si sujette,
Si tu m’en crois, prens y devant bien garde :
« Le repentir est une chose tarde.
He who would know Love and his nature,
His bow, his fires, his blows and his stabs,
What his essence is, and what he desires,
Read these verses; I shall go on to describe him.
 
He is pleasure filled with sadness,
He is torture blended with joy,
Despair in which you always hope,
Hope in which you despair.
 
He is regret for lost youth,
He is dust scattered in the air,
He is painting with water, and he is the desire
To seize the wind, or un-blacken a moor.
 
He is a pretended smile, and true sadness,
He is not complaining when your heart is wounded,
He is becoming the servant instead of the master,
He is a thousand times a day dying and being reborn.
 
He is closing on friends the door
Of reason, which languishes near death,
And handing over the key to your enemy
Who takes it under pretence of being a friend.
 
He is a thousand ills for just one glance,
He is being well but feigning illness,
He is lying and being forsworn, and
Professing to flatter and please.
 
He is a great fire covered with a little ice,
He is a good game filled with cheating,
He is scorn, war, truce,
Long thinking and brief words.
 
He is pretending to be happy outside
Hiding within a soul which weeps;
He is an illness so pleasing that you wish
Always to languish in so fair a punishment.
 
He is peace which does not last,
He is war with fighting guaranteed,
In which the conquered takes all the glory
And the conquerors gain no victory.
 
He is a youthful mistake which prizes
Prison more than freedom;
He is a thought which, doubting, never rests
And has as subject always only one thing.
 
In short, Nicolas, he is jealousy,
He is a fever and a frenzy;
What greater evil in the world could there be
Than taking a woman as master?
 
So, that your heart should not place itself
In the bonds of rules so submissive,
If you believe me, take good care ahead of time:
Repenting comes too late!
 
 
In this (late) version, the poem is addressed to M. Nicolas – presumably the great Nicolas de Neufville, seigneur de Villeroy, who was secretary of state to four kings (and Catherine de Medici) at the time of the Huguenot massacres and civil wars.
 
Of course, originally Ronsard had addressed the poem to someone else – de Neufville didn’t become a secretary of state till 1567. The dedicatee was Olivier de Magny, a poet from Cahors (after whom the local university is now named!) who joined Baif’s circle and became an author of Ronsardian odes and sonnets; he was also a long-serving secretary to the king. With him dead by 1561, Ronsard was free to re-address the poem to another powerful figure at Court! Here’s the earlier Magny version, from Blanchemain’s edition: as usual, plenty of evidence of tinkering but no substantial re-thinking here.
 
Qui veut sçavoir Amour et sa nature,
Son arc, ses feux, ses traits et sa pointure,
Que c’est qu’il est et que c’est qu’il desire,
Lise ces vers, je m’en-vay le descrire.
 
C’est un plaisir tout remply de tristesse,
C’est un tourment tout confit de liesse,
Un desespoir où tousjours on espere,
Un esperer où l’on se desespere.
 
C’est un regret de jeunesse perdue,
C’est dedans l’air une poudre espandue,
C’est peindre en l’eau, et c’est vouloir encore
Tenir le vent et desnoircir un More.
 
[C’est une foy pleine de tromperie,
Où plus est seur celuy qui moins s’y fie ;
C’est un marché qu’une fraude accompaigne,
Où plus y perd celuy qui plus y gaigne.]
 
C’est un feint ris, c’est une douleur vraye,
C’est sans se plaindre avoir au cœur la playe,
C’est devenir valet en lieu de maistre,
C’est mille fois le jour mourir et naistre.
 
C’est un fermer à ses amis la porte
De la raison, qui languit presque morte,
Pour en bailler la clef à l’ennemye,
Qui la reçoit sous ombre d’estre amie.
 
C’est mille maux pour une seule œillade,
C’est estre sain et feindre le malade,
C’est en mentant se parjurer et faire
Profession de flater et de plaire.
 
C’est un grand feu couvert d’un peu de glace,
C’est un beau jeu tout remply de fallace,
C’est un despit, une guerre, une trève,
Un long penser, une parole breve.
 
C’est par dehors dissimuler sa joye,
Celant un cœur au dedans qui larmoye ;
C’est un malheur si plaisant, qu’on desire
Tousjours languir en un si beau martyre.
 
C’est une paix qui n’a point de durée,
C’est une guerre au combat asseurée,
Où le vaincu reçoit toute la gloire,
Et le vainqcueur ne gaigne la victoire.
 
C’est un erreur de jeunesse, qui prise
Une prison trop plus que sa franchise ;
C’est un penser qui jamais ne repose
Et si ne veut penser qu’en une chose.
 
Et bref, Magny, c’est une jalousie,
C’est une fievre en une frenaisie.
Quel plus grand mal au monde pourroit estre
Que recevoir une femme pour maistre ?
 
Donques, à fin que ton cœur ne se mette
Sous les liens d’une loy si sujette,
Si tu m’en crois, prens-y devant bien garde :
Le repentir est une chose tarde.
He who would know Love and his nature,
His bow, his fires, his blows and his stabs,
What it is that he is and desires,
Read these verses; I shall go on to describe him.
 
He is pleasure filled with sadness,
He is torture blended with joy,
Despair in which you always hope,
Hope in which you despair.
 
He is regret for lost youth,
He is dust scattered in the air,
He is painting with water, and he is the desire
To catch the wind, or un-blacken a moor.
 
He is faithfulness filled with deception,
In which that man is safest who trusts it least;
He is a market accompanied by fraud
Where that man loses most who gains most.
 
He is a pretended smile, and true sadness,
He is not complaining when your heart is wounded,
He is becoming the servant instead of the master,
He is a thousand times a day dying and being reborn.
 
He is closing on friends the door
Of reason, which languishes near death,
And handing over the key to your enemy
Who takes it under pretence of being a friend.
 
He is a thousand ills for just one glance,
He is being well but feigning illness,
He is lying and being forsworn, and
Professing to flatter and please.
 
He is a great fire covered with a little ice,
He is a good game filled with cheating,
He is scorn, war, truce,
Long thinking and brief words.
 
He is pretending to be happy outside
Hiding within a heart which weeps;
He is an illness so pleasing that you wish
Always to languish in so fair a punishment.
 
He is peace which does not last,
He is war with fighting guaranteed,
In which the conquered takes all the glory
And the conquerors gain no victory.
 
He is a youthful mistake which prizes
Prison more than freedom;
He is a thought which never rests
Yet wishes to think of only one thing.
 
In short, Magny, he is jealousy,
He is a fever and a frenzy;
What greater evil in the world could there be
Than taking a woman as master?
 
So, that your heart should not place itself
In the bonds of rules so submissive,
If you believe me, take good care ahead of time:
Repenting comes too late!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Baif’s copy of the Works

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In a comment on another post, I was pointed to this edition of the Oeuvres (Buon, 1584). It’s worth taking a look, it’s a beautiful book & beautifully reproduced – I wish I could own one, but copies seem to sell for upwards of 20, 000 euros and I don’t think my family would be happy swapping all their holidays for the next few years for one book…! 🙂  However, scan back up to the top of the book – and there’s an ownership inscription. This was Baif’s own copy, and judging from the inscription (in Latin – “Jean Antoine de Baif received/accepted [this book] with a very grateful heart) given to him by Ronsard!!!!  Lovely things found on Google Books no.1…

 

Sonnet 166

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Pendant, Baif, que tu frappes au but
De la vertu, qui n’a point de seconde,
Et qu’à longs traits tu t’enyvres de l’onde
Que l’Ascrean entre les Muses but :
 
Icy bany, où le mont de Sabut
Charge de vins son espaule feconde,
Pensif je voy la fuitte vagabonde
Du Loir qui traine à la mer son tribut.
 
Ores un antre, ores un bois sauvage,
Ores me plaist le secret d’un rivage,
Pour essayer de tromper mon ennuy :
 
Mais je ne puis, quoy que seul je me tienne,
Faire qu’Amour en se taisant ne vienne
Parler à moy, et moy tousjours à luy.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Baif, while you’ve practically reached the goal
                                                                            Of Virtue, which has no peer,
                                                                            And while you are becoming drunk with the long draughts of water
                                                                            Held by the Ascraean between the Muses;
 
                                                                            Banished here, where Sabut’s hill
                                                                            Fills with vines its fertile shoulders,
                                                                            I watch thoughtfully the wandering flight
                                                                            Of the Loir which brings its tribute to the sea.
 
                                                                            Sometimes a cave, others a savage wood
                                                                            Or a hidden place on the riverbank charms me,
                                                                            To try to outwit my cares;
 
                                                                            But I cannot, however lonely I remain,
                                                                            Make Love keep quiet, and not come
                                                                            To speak with me, and me likewise with him.

 

 
 
This is, to my mind, a very attractive poem.  We’ve met Jean Antoine de Baïf, Ronsard’s friend and mentor, before; note that in line 2 Ronsard might just be saying that he (Baif) has no peer  – but that is stretching the grammar a bit. In line 4 the Ascraean is Hesiod, the original poet of ordinary life. We’ve also heard of the hill, Sabut, and river Loir which mark out Ronsard’s lands.
 
There are lots of minor changes from the earlier, Blanchemain version; one of which moves Baif’s name down towards the middle of the poem. To those of us brought up on Wordsworth’s dramatic sonnet openings, setting off with the name of the dedicatee at the beginning of the first line (often followed by a ‘!’), that seems almost casual…!
 
 
Encependant que tu frapes au but
De la vertu, qui n’a point sa seconde,
Et qu’à longs traits tu t’enyvres de l’onde
Que l’Ascrean entre les Muses but :
 
Icy, Baif, où le mont de Sabut
Charge de vins son espaule feconde,
Pensif je voy la fuite vagabonde
Du Loir qui traine à la mer son tribut.
 
Ores un antre, or un desert sauvage,
Ores me plaist le secret d’un rivage,
Pour essayer de tromper mon ennuy.
 
Mais quelque horreur de forest qui me tienne,
Faire ne puis qu’amour toujours ne vienne
Parlant à moy, et moy toujours à luy.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Although you’ve practically reached the goal
                                                                            Of Virtue, which has no peer,
                                                                            And while you are becoming drunk with the long draughts of water
                                                                            Held by the Ascrean between the Muses;
 
                                                                            Here, Baif, where Sabut’s hill
                                                                            Fills with vines its fertile shoulders,
                                                                            I watch thoughtfully the wandering flight
                                                                            Of the Loir which brings its tribute to the sea.
 
                                                                            Sometimes a cave, others a savage desert
                                                                            Or a hidden place on the riverbank charms me,
                                                                            To try to outwit my cares;
 
                                                                            But whatever terror of the woods might hold me,
                                                                            I cannot prevent Love always coming
                                                                            And talking with me, and me likewise with him.