Tag Archives: lily

To his mistress (Odes 2:7)

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Cassandre ne donne pas
Des baisers, mais des appas
Qui seuls nourrissent mon ame,
Les biens dont les dieux sont fous,
Du nectar, du sucre dous,
De la cannelle et du bâme,
 
Du thym, du lis, de la rose
Parmy ses lévres desclose,
Fleurante en totes saisons,
Et du miel tel qu’en Hymette
La desrobe-fleur avette
Remplit ses douces maisons.
 
O dieux ! que j’ay de plaisir
Quand je sen mon col saisir
De ses bras en mainte sorte !
Sur moy se laissant courber,
Peu à peu la voy tomber
Dans mon sain à demi-morte ;
 
Puis, mettant la bouche sienne
Tout à plat dessus la mienne,
Me mord, et je la remors.
Je luy darde, elle me darde
Sa languette fretillarde ;
Puis en ses bras je m’endors.
 
D’un baiser doucement long,
Ell’ me suce l’ame adonc,
Puis en souflant la repousse,
La ressuce encore un coup,
La ressouffle tout à coup
Avec son haleine douce.
 
Tout ainsi les colombelles,
Tremoussant un peu des ailes,
Havement se vont baisant,
Après que l’oiseuse glace
A quitté la froide place
Au printemps doux et plaisant.
 
Helas ! mais tempere un peu
Les biens dont je suis repeu,
Tempere un peu ma liesse ;
Tu me ferois immortel.
Hé ! je ne veux estre tel
Si tu n’es aussi déesse.
Cassandre does not give
Kisses, but charms
Which alone nourish my soul –
The good things for which the gods are mad,
Nectar, sweet sugar,
Cinnamon and balm,
 
Thyme, lily, rose
Blooming on her lips,
Flowering in all seasons,
And honey like that with which on Hymettus
The flower-thieves, the bees,
Fills their sweet homes.
 
O gods ! what pleasure I get
When I feel my neck seized
By her arms so very often!
Letting herself curve on me
Little by little I see her fall
On my breast half-dead.
 
Then, placing her mouth
Flat on mine,
She bites me, and I bite back,
I nibble her and she my
Frisky tongue;
Then in her arms I fall asleep.
 
With a sweet long kiss
She sucks out my soul thus,
Then breathing out she pushes it back,
Sucks it out once again,
Breathes it back all at once
With her sweet breath.
 
Just so doves,
Fidgeting their wings a little,
Careworn, go on kissing
After the lazy ice
Has left its cold place
In sweet and pleasant spring.
 
Oh, moderate a little
The good things with which I am fed,
Moderate my happiness a little!
You will make me immortal –
But I don’t want to be
Unless you are also a goddess.

 

 

 
 
 
 

Chanson (Amours 2:48a)

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Veu que tu es plus blanche que le liz
Qui t’a rougi ta lévre vermeillette ?
Qui est l’ouvrier qui proprement t’a mis
Dessus ton teint ceste couleur rougette ?
 
Qui t’a noircy les arcs de tes sourcis ?
Qui t’a noircy tes yeux brunets, Madame ?
O grand’ beauté sujet de mes soucis,
O grand’ beauté qui me resjouis l’ame !
 
O douce belle honneste cruauté
Qui doucement me contrains de te suivre !
O fiere ingrate et fascheuse beauté
Avecques toy je veux mourir et vivre !
 
 
 
                                                                            Since you are whiter than the lily,
                                                                            Who reddened your crimson lips for you ?
                                                                            Who was the workman who so justly set
                                                                            This delicate blush upon your pale flesh?
 
                                                                            Who darkened the arcs of your eyebrows for you?
                                                                            Who darkened your brown eyes, my Lady?
                                                                            O great beauty, subject of my cares,
                                                                            O great beauty which rejoices my soul!
 
                                                                             O sweet, fair, reasonable cruelty
                                                                            Which gently forces me to follow you;
                                                                            O proud, ungrateful and displeasing beauty,
                                                                            With you I wish to die – and live!
 
 
How could so simple a poem have a complex history?!  Here’s the earlier Blanchemain edition:
 
 
Veu que tu es plus blanche que le lis,
Qui t’a rougi ta lèvre vermeillette ?
Pour l’embellir, qui est-ce qui t’a mis
Dessus ton teint ceste couleur rougette ? 
 
Qui t’a noircy les arcs de tes soucis ?
Qui t’a noircy tes beaux yeux, ma maistresse ?
O grand beauté subjet de mes soucis !
O grand beauté pleine de grand liesse
 
O douce, belle, honneste cruauté,
Qui doucement me contrains de te suivre !
O fiere, ingrate et fascheuse beauté,
Avecques toy je veux mourir et vivre !

 
 
 
                                                                            Since you are whiter than the lily,
                                                                            Who reddened your crimson lips for you ?
                                                                            Who was it who, to make it fairer yet
                                                                            Set this delicate blush upon your pale flesh?
 
                                                                            Who darkened the arcs of your eyebrows for you?
                                                                            Who darkened your beautiful eyes, my mistress?
                                                                            O great beauty, subject of my cares,
                                                                            O great beauty full of great happiness!
 
                                                                             O sweet, fair, reasonable cruelty
                                                                            Which gently forces me to follow you;
                                                                            O proud, ungrateful and displeasing beauty,
                                                                            With you I wish to die – and live!

 

For the interested, Ronsard dipped into his edition of Marullus before writing this. Here’s the Latin poem which he re-thought into French:

 

Epigram 2.44
AD NEAERAM
 
Cum tu candida sis magis ligustro,

quis genas minio, Neaera, tinxit ?
Quis labella tibi notavit ostro ?
Unde sunt capiti aurei capilli ?
Quis supercilii nigravit arcum ?
Quis faces oculis dedit potentes ?
O quies animi laboriosa !
O labor nimium mihi quiete !
O amarities petita votis,
qua mori sine amem volens lubensque !

 
 
                                                                            TO NEAERA
 
                                                                            As you are whiter than the privet-flower,
                                                                            Who painted your cheeks with vermilion, Neaera?
                                                                            Who picked out your lips with rich purple?
                                                                            Whence are you crowned with golden hair?
                                                                            Who darkened the arc of your brow?
                                                                            Who gave such powerful fires to your eyes?
                                                                            O wearisome rest for the soul,
                                                                            O weariness too great for my rest!
                                                                            O bitterness sought in prayers,
                                                                            Without which I’d love to die willingly, happily!
 
 
 
 
 

Chanson – Amours 2:67d

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Quand ce beau Printemps je voy,
     J’apperçois
Rajeunir la terre et l’onde
Et me semble que le jour,
     Et l’amour,
Comme enfans naissent au monde. 
 
Le jour qui plus beau se fait,
     Nous refait
Plus belle et verte la terre :
Et Amour armé de traits
     Et d’attraits,
En nos cœurs nous fait la guerre. 
 
Il respand de toutes parts
     Feux et dards
Et domte sous sa puissance
Hommes Bestes et Oiseaux,
     Et les eaux
Luy rendent obeïssance. 
 
Vénus avec son enfant
     Triomphant
Au haut de son Coche assise,
Laisse ses cygnes voler
     Parmy l’air
Pour aller voir son Anchise.  
 
Quelque part que ses beaux yeux
     Par les cieux
Tournent leurs lumieres belles,
L’air qui se monstre serein,
     Est tout plein
D’amoureuses estincelles. 
 
Puis en descendant à bas
     Sous ses pas
Naissent mille fleurs écloses :
Les beaux liz et les œillets
     Vermeillets
Rougissent entre les roses.  
 
Je sens en ce mois si beau
     Le flambeau
D’Amour qui m’eschauffe l’ame,
Y voyant de tous costez
     Les beautez
Qu’il emprunte de ma Dame. 
 
Quand je voy tant de couleurs
     Et de fleurs
Qui esmaillent un rivage,
Je pense voir le beau teint
     Qui est peint
Si vermeil en son visage. 
 
Quand je voy les grand rameaux
     Des ormeaux
Qui sont lassez de lierre,
Je pense estre pris és laz
     De ses bras,
Et que mon col elle serre.  
 
Quand j’entens la douce vois
     Par les bois
Du gay Rossignol qui chante,
D’elle je pense jouyr
     Et ouyr
Sa douce voix qui m’enchante. 
 
Quand je vois en quelque endroit
     Un Pin droit,
Ou quelque arbre qui s’esleve,
Je me laisse decevoir,
     Pensant voir
Sa belle taille et sa gréve. 
 
Quand je voy dans un jardin,
     Au matin
S’esclorre une fleur nouvelle,
J’accompare le bouton
     Au teton
De son beau sein qui pommelle. 
 
Quand le Soleil tout riant
     D’orient
Nous monstre sa blonde tresse,
Il me semble que je voy
     Davant moy
Lever ma belle maistresse. 
 
Quand je sens parmy les prez
     Diaprez
Les fleurs dont la terre est pleine,
Lors je fais croire à mes sens
     Que je sens  
La douceur de son haleine.
 
Bref je fais comparaison
     Par raison
Du Printemps et de m’amie :
Il donne aux fleurs la vigueur,
     Et mon cœur
D’elle prend vigueur et vie. 
 
Je voudrois au bruit de l’eau
     D’un ruisseau
Desplier ses tresses blondes,
Frizant en autant de nœus
     Ses cheveux
Que je verrois frizer d’ondes. 
 
Je voudrois pour la tenir,
     Devenir
Dieu de ces forests desertes,
La baisant autant de fois
     Qu’en un bois
Il y a de fueilles vertes. 
 
Hà maistresse mon soucy,
     Vien icy,
Vien contempler la verdure :
Les fleurs de mon amitié
     Ont pitié,
Et seule tu n’en as cure. 
 
Au moins leve un peu tes yeux
     Gracieux,
Et voy ces deux colombelles,
Qui font naturellement
     Doucement
L’amour du bec et des ailes : 
 
Et nous sous ombre d’honneur,
     Le bon heur
Trahissons par une crainte :
Les oiseaux sont plus heureux
     Amoureux,
Qui font l’amour sans contrainte. 
 
Toutesfois ne perdons pas
     Nos esbats
Pour ces loix tant rigoureuses :
Mais si tu m’en crois vivons,
     Et suivons
Les colombes amoureuses.
 
Pour effacer mon esmoy,
     Baise moy,
Rebaise moy ma Deesse :
Ne laissons passer en vain
     Si soudain
Les ans de notre jeunesse.
When I see the fair Springtime
I recognise
Earth and sea renewing their youth
And it seems to me that Day
And Love
Like children are born into the world.
 
Day which makes itself lovelier,
Makes the earth again
Lovelier and greener for us,
And Love armed with charms
And harms
Makes war on us in our hearts.
 
He looses in all directions
His fiery darts
And overcomes with his power
Men, beasts and birds,
And even the waters
Give him obedience.
 
Venus with her
Triumphant son
Sitting up high on her couch
Sets her swans flying
Through the air
To go and see her Anchises.
 
Wherever her lovely eyes
Around the heavens
Turn their fair light,
The air, remaining calm,
Is filled
With sparks of love.
 
Then coming down low
Under her feet
A thousand flowers blooming are born;
Fair lilies and bright red
Carnations
Redden among the roses.
 
In this month so lovely, I feel
The flame
Of Love warming my soul,
Seeing there on all sides
The beauties
Which it has borrowed from my Lady.
 
When I see so many colours
And flowers
Studding a riverbank,
I imagine I see the fair colour
Which paints
Her complexion so pink.
 
When I see the great branches
Of the elms
Which are laced with ivy,
I imagine being taken into the lakes
Of her arms
And her supporting my neck.
 
When I hear the soft voice
Of the happy nightingale
Singing in the woods,
I imagine enjoying her
And hearing
Her soft voice which enchants me.
 
When I see in some place
A tall pine
Or some other tree growing tall
I allow myself to be deceived
And imagine I see
Her lovely shape and size.
 
When I see in a garden
In the morning
A new flower opening,
I compare its bud
With the nipple
Of her fair breast, swelling.
 
When the sun, smiling
In the east,
Shows us his golden tresses,
I imagine I see
Before me
My fair mistress arising.
 
When I spy the meadows
Dotted
With the flowers which fill the earth,
Ah then I make my senses believe
That I feel
The softness of her breath.
 
In short, I make the comparison,
With good reason
Of Springtime with my beloved;
One gives the flowers their new strength,
And my heart
Takes from the other its strength and life.
 
I’d like, to the sound of the water
Of some stream
To untie her blonde tresses
Curling her hair into
So many knots
That I’d see waves curling.
 
I’d like, so I could hold her,
To become
God of these empty forests,
Kissing her as many times
As there are
Green leaves in a wood.
 
Ah, my mistress, my desire,
Come here
Come and consider the greensward;
The flowers take pity
On my love
And only you care not.
 
At least lift your gracious eyes
A little
And see these two doves
Who quite naturally
And sweetly
Make love with beak and wings.
 
And we, beneath the shade of honour
Betray
Our happiness through fear:
The birds are luckier
Lovers
Who make love without constraint.
 
Still, let us not give up
Our frolics
For these too restrictive laws;
But if you trust me, let’s live
Let’s copy
The amorous doves.
 
To sweep away my anguish
Kiss me
Kiss me again, my goddess!
Don’t let them go by empty
And quickly,
These years of our youth!
 
 One of Ronsard’s most famous poems – and deservedly so.
 
We met Venus & Anchises recently; also Zephyr the warm west wind.
 
Perhaps surprisingly there are no many variants between versions; though he did remove stanzas here and there as he revised. So in Blanchemain’s version, after the 6th stanza (just before “Je sens en ce mois si beau”) there is an extra stanza:
 
Celuy vrayment est de fer
   Qu’eschaufer
Ne peut sa beauté divine,
Et en lieu d’humaine chair
   Un rocher
Porte au fond de la poitrine
 
 
                                                          He indeed is made of iron
                                                             Whom her divine
                                                          Beauty cannot set afire,
                                                          And in place of human flesh
                                                             A rock
                                                          He carries deep in his breast.
 
 
Then, 4 stanzas later, just before the tall pine:
 
Quand Zephyre meine un bruit
   Qui se suit
Au travers d’une ramée,
Des propos il me souvient
   Que me tient
Seule à seul ma bien aimée.
 
 
                                                          When Zephyr’s sound
                                                             Chases itself
                                                          Through the branches,
                                                          I recall her words
                                                             Which keep me
                                                          Alone with my beloved alone.
 
 
Additionally there are a few minor changes:  in the 3rd stanza Love looses “Feu et dards” (‘His fiery darts’) in the 2nd line; 3 stanzas later, beneath her feet “Croissent mille fleurs écloses” (‘Grow a thousand flowers blooming’); and just before Zephyr (above) he hears the soft voice “Du beau rossignol” (‘Of the fair nightingale’) in the woods.
 
Incidentally, I love the way (in the middle of the poem) he bends the word ‘tetin’ into ‘teton’ to rhyme with ’bouton’, and makes it sound like a form of endearment at the same time!
 
 
 
 
 

Chanson – Amours 2:66a

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At the end of Amours 2 (Marie) Ronsard places a cluster of chansons and other lyrics. Time to have a look at them!

Quand j’estois libre, ains qu’une amour nouvelle
Ne se fut prise en ma tendre moëlle,  
   Je vivois bien-heureux,
Comme à l’envy les plus accortes filles
Se travailloyent par leurs flammes gentilles,  
   De me rendre amoureux. 
 
Mais tout ainsi qu’un beau Poulain farouche,
Qui n’a masché le frein dedans la bouche,  
   Va seulet escarté,
N’ayant souci sinon d’un pied superbe
A mille bonds fouler les fleurs et l’herbe,  
   Vivant en liberté : 
 
Ores il court le long d’un beau rivage,
Ores il erre en quelque bois sauvage  
   Fuyant de sault en sault :
De toutes parts les Poutres hanissantes
Luy font l’amour pour néant blandissantes,  
   A luy qui ne s’en chaut. 
 
Ainsi j’allois desdaignant les pucelles,
Qu’on estimoit en beauté les plus belles,  
   Sans respondre à leur vueil :
Lors je vivois amoureux de moy-mesme,
Content et gay, sans porter couleur blesme  
   Ny les larmes à l’œil. 
 
J’avois escrit au plus haut de la face
Avec l’honneur une agreable audace  
   Plaine d’un franc desir :
Avec le pied marchoit ma fantaisie
Où je voulois sans peur ne jalousie  
   Seigneur de mon plaisir. 
 
Mais aussi tost que par mauvais desastre
Je vey ton sein blanchissant comme albastre,  
   Et tes yeux deux soleils,
Tes beaux cheveux espanchez par ondées,
Et les beaux lis de tes lévres bordées  
   De cent œillets vermeils : 
 
Incontinent j’appris que c’est service.
La liberté de mon ame nourrice,  
   S’eschappa loin de moy :
Dedans tes rets ma premiere franchise
Pour obeïr à ton bel œil, fut prise  
   Esclave sous ta loy. 
 
Tu mis cruelle en signe de conqueste,
Comme veinqueur tes deux pieds sur ma teste,  
   Et du front m’a osté
L’honneur, la honte, et l’audace première,
Acouhardant mon ame prisonniere,  
   Serve à ta volonté. 
 
Vengeant d’un coup mille fautes commises,
Et les beautez qu’à grand tort j’avois mises  
   Par-avant à mespris,
Qui me prioyent en lieu que je te prie :
Mais d’autant plus que merci je te crie,  
   Tu es sourde à mes cris, 
 
Et ne respons non plus que la fontaine
Qui de Narcis mira la forme vaine,  
   En vengeant à son bord
Mille beautez des Nymphes amoureuses,
Que cest enfant par mines desdaigneuses  
   Avoit mises à mort.
When I was free, and a novel love
Had not been caught in my tender marrow,
   I lived happily;
How the most attractive girls competitively
Worked hard with their gentle flames
   To make me fall in love!
 
But just as a handsome wild colt
Which has not chewed the curb in his mouth
   Wanders far and wide by himself,
Having no care except with his proud foot
To trample with a thousand leaps the flowers and grass,
   Living in liberty;
 
Sometimes he runs along a fair riverbank,
Sometimes he wanders in some wild wood
   Fleeing with leap upon leap;
And on every side whinnying fillies
Make love to him, flattering him for nothing,
   He who cares nothing for it.
 
Just so I used to disdain the maids
That everyone thought fairest of the fair,
   Without responding to their wishes;
Then, I was in love with myself,
Happy and joyful, not wearing this pale colour
   Nor with tears in my eyes.
 
I had written on my forehead,
Together with honour, a pleasant audacity
Filled with frank desire;
My imagination advanced with my feet
Wherever I wanted, without fear or jealousy,
The master of my pleasure.
 
But as soon as through terrible misfortune
I saw your breast white as alabaster
   And your eyes, twin suns,
Your fine hair pouring down in waves,
And the fair lilies of your lips bordered
   With a hundred pink carnations,
 
Straightway I learned what it is to be in service,
And liberty, the nurse of my soul,
   Fled far from me;
Within your nets my earlier freedom
Was caught, so that it obeyed your fair eyes,
   A slave beneath your law.
 
As a sign of your conquest you cruelly placed
Your two feet on my head, as conqueror,
   And took from my brow
Honour, shame, and my earlier boldness
Rendering my imprisoned soul a coward,
   Servant to your desires.
 
Avenging with one blow a thousand faults I’d committed
And the beauties whom, greatly in the wrong, I had held
Before this in scorn
Who had begged me, instead now I beg you.
But as often as I beg for mercy from you,
   You are deaf to my cries
 
And respond no more than the fountain
Which showed Narcissus the image of his shape
   Taking revenge on its bank
For the thousand beauteous nymphs in love
Which that boy, with his scornful manner,
   Had put to death.
 
 
As with so many of Ronsard’s lyrics, the fluency and apparent inevitability of his lines is amazing. It seems so easy, so natural – and yet it makes perfect poetry, it rhymes and scans as if by chance. Wonderful.
 
But as we know, that’s the result of hard work & lots of re-working. Some variants in Blanchemain’s version to demonstrate the process.  The opening is different, there is an extra stanza, one of the existing stanzas is largely different, and there are plenty of other minor variants.  Easiest to see the whole thing again:
 
Quand j’estois libre, ains que l’amour cruelle
Ne fust esprise encore en ma mouelle,  
   Je vivois bien-heureux,
Comme à l’envy les plus accortes filles
Se travailloyent par leurs flammes gentilles,  
   De me rendre amoureux. 
 
Mais tout ainsi qu’un beau Poulain farouche,
Qui n’a masché le frein dedans la bouche,  
   Va seulet escarté,
N’ayant souci sinon d’un pied superbe
A mille bonds fouler les fleurs et l’herbe,  
   Vivant en liberté : 
 
Ores il court le long d’un beau rivage,
Ores il erre en quelque bois sauvage  
   Ou sur quelque mont haut ;
De toutes parts les Poutres hanissantes
Luy font l’amour pour néant blandissantes,  
   A luy qui ne s’en chaut. 
 
Ainsi j’allois desdaignant les pucelles,
Qu’on estimoit en beauté les plus belles,  
   Sans respondre à leur vueil :
Lors je vivois amoureux de moy-mesme,
Content et gay, sans porter couleur blesme  
   Ny les larmes à l’œil. 
 
J’avois escrit au plus haut de la face
Avec l’honneur une agreable audace  
   Plaine d’un franc desir :
Avec le pied marchoit ma fantaisie
De ça, de la, sans peur ne jalousie,
   Vivant de mon plaisir.
 
Mais aussi tost que par mauvais desastre
Je vey ton sein blanchissant comme albastre,  
   Et tes yeux deux soleils,
Tes beaux cheveux espanchez par ondées,
Et les beaux lis de tes lévres bordées  
   De cent œillets vermeils : 
 
Incontinent j’appris que c’est service.
La liberté, de ma vie nourrice,  
   Fuit ton œil felon
Comme la nue en temps serein poussée
Fuit à grands pas l’haleine courroucée  
   De l’oursal Aquilon.
 
[Et lors tu mis mes deux mains à la chaisne
Mon col au cep et mon cœur à la gesne,
   N’ayant de moy pitié,
Non plus, helas ! qu’un outrageux corsaire,
(O fier Destin) n’a pitié d’un forcère  
   A la chaisne lié.]
 
Tu mis apres en signe de conqueste,
Comme veinqueur tes deux pieds sur ma teste,  
   Et du front m’a osté
L’honneur, la honte, et l’audace première,
Acouhardant mon ame prisonniere,  
   Serve à ta volonté. 
 
Vengeant d’un coup mille fautes commises,
Et les beautez qu’à grand tort j’avois mises  
   Par-avant à mespris,
Qui me prioyent en lieu que je te prie :
Mais d’autant plus que merci je te crie,  
   Tu es sourde à mes cris, 
 
Et ne respons non plus que la fontaine
Qui de Narcis mira la forme vaine,  
   Vengeant dessus son bord
Mille beautez des Nymphes amoureuses,
Que cest enfant par mines desdaigneuses  
   Avoit mises à mort.
When I was free,and cruel love
Had not yet taken hold in my marrow,
   I lived happily;
How the most attractive girls competitively
Worked hard with their gentle flames
   To make me fall in love!
 
But just as a handsome wild colt
Which has not chewed the curb in his mouth
   Wanders far and wide by himself,
Having no care except with his proud foot
To trample with a thousand leaps the flowers and grass,
   Living in liberty;
 
Sometimes he runs along a fair riverbank,
Sometimes he wanders in some wild wood
   Or on some high mountain;
And on every side whinnying fillies
Make love to him, flattering him for nothing,
   He who cares nothing for it.
 
Just so I used to disdain the maids
That everyone thought fairest of the fair,
   Without responding to their wishes;
Then, I was in love with myself,
Happy and joyful, not wearing that pale colour
   Nor with tears in my eyes.
 
I had written on my forehead,
Together with honour, a pleasant audacity
Filled with frank desire;
My imagination advanced with my feet
Wherever I wanted, without fear or jealousy,
The master of my pleasure.
 
But as soon as through terrible misfortune
I saw your breast white as alabaster
   And your eyes, twin suns,
Your fine hair pouring down in waves,
And the fair lilies of your lips bordered
   With a hundred pink carnations,
 
 Straightway I learned what it is to be in service,
Andliberty, the nurse of my life,
   Fled your treacherous eye
As a cloud in clear weather
Flees at great pace when pushed by the angry breath
   Of polar Aquilo.
 
[And then you put my two hands to the chain,
My neck to the vine and my heart to shame,
Having no pity on me,
No more alas than a hostile corsair
Has pity – o proud fate! – on a galley-slave
Bound with a chain.]
 
As a sign of your conquest you then placed
Your two feet on my head, as conqueror,
   And took from my brow
Honour, shame, and my earlier boldness
Rendering my imprisoned soul a coward,
   Servant to your desires.
 
Avenging with one blow a thousand faults I’d committed
And the beauties whom, greatly in the wrong, I had held
Before this in scorn
Who had begged me, instead now I beg you.
But as often as I beg for mercy from you,
   You are deaf to my cries
 
And respond no more than the fountain
Which showed Narcissus the image of his shape
   Taking revenge on its bank
For the thousand beauteous nymphs in love
Which that boy, with his scornful manner,
   Had put to death.
 
Just a few words about “l’oursal Aquilon” in the middle of the poem:  ‘oursal’ indicates ‘of the bear’ here indicating the Pole Star in the constellation of the Little Bear – which points north, where Aquilo, the north wind, blows from.  (Blanchemain puts the following stanza in [brackets] without explanation – this usually means it disappeared quite early on from the published editions.
 
 
 
 
 
 

De la defloration de Lede (Odes 3:20)

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Time for one of Ronsard’s longer poems, I think! This is one of his mythological extravaganzas, and its topic is the ‘Defloration of Leda’ – it is dedicated to Cassandre(!)

Ronsard divides it into 3 ‘pauses’ or parts; and there are two alternative openings (the later 1587 one printed by Blanchemain in a footnote). For simplicity I’ve shown the two at the beginning of the poem. I’ve also added a number of ‘footnotes’, indicated in the text to make it easier to locate them.

Premier pause
 
Le cruel Amour, vainqueur
De ma vie, sa sujette,
M’a si bien écrit au cœur
Votre nom de sa sagette,
Que le temps, qui peut casser
Le fer et la pierre dure,
Ne le sauroit effacer
Qu’en moi vivant il ne dure.
 
[alternative opening (1587) :
Amour, dont le traict vainqueur
Fait en mon sang sa retraite,
M’a si bien escrit au cœur
Le nom de ma Cassandrette,
Que le tombeau mange-chair,
Logis de la pourriture,
Ne pourra point arracher
De mon cœur sa pourtraiture.]
 
Mon luth, qui des bois oyans
Souloit alléger les peines,
Las ! de mes yeux larmoyans
Ne tarit point les fontaines ;
Et le soleil ne peut voir,
Soit quand le jour il apporte,
Ou quand il se couche au soir,
Une autre douleur plus forte.
 
Mais vostre cœur obstiné,
Et moins pitoyable encore
Que l’Ocean mutine
Qui baigne la rive more,
Ne prend mon service à gré,
Ains d’immoler envie
Le mien, à luy consacré
Des premiers ans de ma vie.
 
Jupiter, espoinçonné
De telle amoureuse rage,
A jadis abandonné
Et son trône et son orage ;
Car l’œil qui son cœur estraint,
Comme estraints ores nous sommes
Ce grand seigneur a contraint
De tenter l’amour des hommes.
 
Impatient du desir
Naissant de sa flame esprise,
Se laissa d’amour saisir,
Comme une despouille prise.
Puis il a, bras, teste et flanc,
Et sa poitrine cachée
Sous un plumage plus blanc
Que le laict sur la jonchée.
 
Et son col mit un carcan
Avec une chaîne où l’œuvre
Du laborieux Vulcan
Admirable se descœuvre.
D’or en estoient les cerceaux,
Piolez d’émail ensemble.
A l’arc qui note les eaux
Ce bel ouvrage ressemble.
 
L’or sur la plume reluit
D’une semblable lumiere
Que le clair œil de la nuit
Dessus la neige premiere.
Il fend le chemin des cieux
Par un voguer de ses ailes,
Et d’un branle spatieux
Tire ses rames nouvelles.
 
Comme l’aigle fond d’en haut,
Ouvrant l’espais de la nue,
Sur l’aspic qui leche au chaud
Sa jeunesse revenue,
Ainsi le cygne voloit
Contre-bas, tant qu’il arrive
Dessus l’estang où souloit
Jouer Lede sur la rive.
 
Quand le ciel eut allumé
Le beau jour par les campagnes,
Elle au bord accoustumé
Mena jouer ses compagnes ;
Et, studieuse des fleurs
En sa main un pannier porte
Peint de diverse couleurs
Et peint de diverse sorte.
 
 
Seconde pause
 
D’un bout du pannier s’ouvroit,
Entre cent nues dorées,
Une aurore qui couvroit
Le ciel de fleurs colorées ;
Ses cheveux vagoient errans,
Souflez du vent des narines
Des prochains chevaux tirans
Le soleil des eaux marines.
 
Comme au ciel il fait son tour
Par sa voye courbe et torte,
Il tourne tout a l’entour
De l’anse en semblable sorte.
Les nerfs s’enflent aux chevaux
Et leur puissance indontée
Se lasse sous les travaux
De la penible montée.
 
La mer est peinte plus bas,
L’eau ride si bien sur elle,
Qu’un pescheur ne nieroit pas
Qu’elle ne fust naturelle.
Ce soleil tombant au soir
Dedans l’onde voisine entre
A chef bas se laissant cheoir
Jusqu’au fond de ce grand ventre.
 
Sur le sourci d’un rocher
Un pasteur le loup regarde,
Qui se haste d’approcher,
Du couard peuple qu’il garde ;
Mais de cela ne luy chaut,
Tant un limas luy agrée,
Qui lentement monte au haut
D’un lis au bas de la prée.
 
Un satyre tout follet,
Larron, en folastrant tire
La panetiere et le laict
D’un autre follet satyre.
L’un court après tout ireux,
L’autre defend sa despouille,
Le laict se verse sur eux,
Qui sein et menton leur souille.
 
Deux beliers qui se heurtoient
Le haut de leurs testes dures
Pourtraits aux deux bords estoient
Pour la fin de ses peintures.
Tel pannier en ses mains mist
Lede, qui sa troupe excelle,
Le jour qu’un oiseau la fist
Femme en lieu d’une pucelle.
 
L’une arrache d’un doigt blanc
Du beau Narcisse les larmes,
Et la lettre teinte au sang
Du Grec marry pour les armes.
De crainte l’œillet vermeil
Pallist entre ces pillardes,
Et la fleur que toy, Soleil,
Des cieux encor tu regardes.
 
A l’envi sont jà cueillis
Les verds tresors de la plaine,
Les bassinets et les lis,
La rose et la marjolaine,
Quand la vierge dit ainsi,
De son destin ignorante :
« De tant de fleurs que voicy
Laissons la proye odorante.
 
« Allons, troupeau bien-heureux,
Que j’aime d’amour naïve,
Ouyr l’oiseau douloureux
Qui se plaint sur nostre rive. »
Et elle, en hastant le pas,
Fuit par l’herbe d’un pied vite ;
Sa troupe ne la suit pas,
Tant sa carriere est subite ;
 
Du bord luy tendit la main,
Et l’oiseau, qui tressaut d’aise,
S’en approche tout humain,
Et le blanc yvoire baise.
Ores l’adultere oiseau,
Au bord par les fleurs se joue,
Et ores au haut de l’eau
Tout mignard près d’elle noue.
 
Puis, d’une gaye façon,
Courbe au dos l’une et l’autre aile,
Et au bruit de sa chanson
Il apprivoise la belle.
La nicette en son giron
Reçoit les flammes secrettes,
Faisant tout à l’environ
Du cygne un lict de fleurettes.
 
Luy, qui fut si gracieux,
Voyant son heure opportune,
Devint plus audacieux,
Prenant au poil la fortune.
De son col comme ondes long
Le sein de la vierge touche,
Et son bec luy mit adonc
Dedans sa vermeille bouche.
 
Il va ses ergots dressant
Sur les bras d’elle qu’il serre,
Et de son ventre pressant
Contraint la rebelle à terre.
Sous l’oiseau se debat fort,
Le pince et le mord, si est-ce
Qu’au milieu de tel effort
Ell’ sent ravir sa jeunesse.
 
Le cinabre çà et là
Couloura la vergongneuse.
A la fin elle parla
D’une bouche desdaigneuse :
« D’où es-tu, trompeur volant ?
D’où viens-tu, qui as l’audace
D’aller ainsi violant
Les filles de noble race ? 
 
« Je cuidois ton cœur, helas !
Semblable à l’habit qu’il porte,
Mais (hè pauvrette ! ) tu l’as,
A mon dam, d’une autre sorte.
O ciel ! qui mes cris entens,
Morte puissé-je estre enclose
Là bas, puis que mon printemps
Est despouillé de sa rose !
 
« Plustost vien pour me manger,
O veufve tigre affamèe,
Que d’un oiseau estranger
Je sois la femme nommée. »
Ses membres tombent peu forts,
Et dedans la mort voisine
Ses yeux jà nouoient, alors
Que luy respondit le cygne :
 
Troisiesme pause
 
« Vierge, dit-il, je ne suis
Ce qu’à me voir il te semble ;
Plus grande chose je puis
Qu’un cygne à qui je ressemble :
Je suis le maistre des cieux,
Je suis celuy qui desserre
Le tonnerre audacieux
Sur les durs flancs de la terre.
 
« La contraignante douleur
Du tien, plus chaud, qui m’allume,
M’a fait prendre la couleur
De ceste non mienne plume.
Ne te va donc obstinant
Contre l’heur de ta fortune :
Tu seras incontinant
La belle-sœur de Neptune,
 
« Et si tu pondras deux œufs
De ma semence feconde,
Ainçois deux triomphes neufs,
Futurs ornemens du monde.
L’un deux jumeaux esclorra :
Pollux, vaillant à l’escrime,
Et son frere, qu’on loûra
Pour des chevaliers le prime ;
 
« Dedans l’autre germera
La beauté, au ciel choisie,
Pour qui un jour s’armera
L’Europe contre l’Asie. »
A ces mots, elle consent,
Recevant telle avanture,
Et jà de peu à peu sent
Haute eslever sa ceinture.
 
 
Cruel Love, conqueror
Of my life, his subject,
Has written so well in my heart
Your name with his arrow
That time, which can break
Iron and hard stone,
Could not wipe it away
Such that it will not last in me while alive.
 
 
Love, whose conquering dart
Has made its home in my blood,
Has so well written in my heart
The name of my little Cassandre
That the flesh-eating tomb,
Where decay lives,
Could not take any part
From my heart of her portrait.
 
My lute, which is accustomed
To lessening the woes of the listening woods,
Alas, dries not the fountains
Of my weeping eyes;
And the sun cannot see,
Either when he brings the day
Or when he goes to bed at night,
Any other grief more strong.
 
But your stubborn heart,
Less pitiful still
Than the unruly ocean
Which bathes the Moorish coast,
Does not like my service,
But wants to sacrifice
My own, consecrated to it
From the earliest years of my life.
 
Jupiter, excited
By a similar passionate love,
Once abandoned
His throne and his storm;
For his eye, which compelled his heart
As sometimes our hearts are compelled,
Compelled this great lord
To try a human love.
 
Impatient with the desire
Growing from his love-struck flame,
He gave himself over to love
Like the captured spoils of war.
Then his arms, head and flanks
And his breast he head
Beneath a plumage whiter
Than milk on scattered rushes.
 
And his neck wore a collar
With a chain, on which the work
Of hard-working Vulcan
Could be seen and admired.
The hoops were of gold
Together with enamel of many colours.
The bow which the waters draw
This lovely piece of work resembled.
 
Gold shone out on his feathers
With a light like
The bright eye of the night
On a first snow.
He cleaved his path through the heavens
With the sail of his wings,
And with a measured beat
He pulled his new oarage.
 
As the eagle swoops from on high,
Making an opening in the thick clouds,
Upon the asp which, in the heat, licks
Its recovered youthfulness;1
So the swan flew
Down here to arrive
Upon the pool where Leda
Was accustomed to play on the bank.
 
When fair day had lit
The sky over the fields,
She led her companions to play
On the usual bank
And fascinated by flowers
She bore in her hand a basket
Painted in many colours
And painted many ways.
 
 
 
 
On one end of the basket was shown2
Amidst a hundred golden clouds
A Dawn which covered
The sky with colourful flowers;
Her waving hair flying,
Blown by the breath from the nostrils
Of the nearby horses drawing
The sun from the waters of the sea.3
 
As it makes its journey in the heavens
On its curved, twisting route,
It turns entirely around
The handle [of the basket] in a similar way;
The sinews on the horses swell
And their undaunted power
Tires under the labours
Of the arduous climb.
 
The sea is painted below,
The water ripples so well on it
That a fisherman would not deny
That it was natural;
And the sun sinking at evening
Into the waves beside, goes in
With head lowered, letting itself fall
Right to the bottom of its great belly.
 
On the brow of a rock
A shepherd watches a wolf
Which hastens to get near
The cowardly race which he guards;
But he cares not about that
So much he is amused by a snail
That slowly climbs to the top
Of a lily, at the bottom of the meadow.
 
A frolicking satyr,
A thief, as he frolics steals
A basket and milk
From another frolicking satyr;
The one runs after him, utterly livid,
The other defends his spoils,
The milk gets tipped over them
And soils their breasts and chins.
 
Two rams crashing together
The tops of their hard heads
Shown at the two edges were
The last of its pictures.
Such was the basket which Leda took
In her hands, she who outshines her followers,
On the day when a bird would make her
A woman instead of a maid.
 
One [of the ladies] picked with her white fingers
The tears of fair Narcissus,
And the letters painted by the blood
Of the Greek distraught over the armour. 4
In fear the pink carnation
Pales amidst these looters,
And so too the flower which you, o Sun,
Still watch over from the heavens.
 
As competitively they were picking
The green treasures of the plain,
The buttercup and lily,
The rose and marjoram,
The maid spoke thus,
Ignorant of her fate:
“Leave your perfumed prey,
The flowers that are so many here.
 
Come, my happy band
Whom I love with an artless love,
Come and hear the sad bird
Who laments upon our riverbank.”
And she, hurrying her steps,
Ran through the grass with quick feet;
Her band did not follow,
So sudden was her flight.
 
On the bank, she held out her hand to it
And the bird, which was fidgeting with pleasure,
Approached her, entirely like a man,
And kissed her white ivory.
Sometimes the false bird 5
Played on the bank amidst the flowers,
Sometimes on top of the water
It swam, all daintily, near her.
 
Then in a jolly fashion
It curved both wings over its back,
And with the sound of its singing
It tamed the fair maid.
The silly girl felt
His hidden fire in her lap,
Making all around
The swan little flowers of light.
 
He, from being so gracious,
As he saw his opportune moment
Became more daring,
Going with fortune’s flow.
With long waves of his neck
He touched the maid’s breast
And then placed his beak
Within her crimson mouth.
 
Putting his spurs upon
The arms of her he grasped,
And pressing down with his belly,
He forced her, unwilling, to the ground.
Beneath the swan she fought hard,
Pinching and biting him, yet it was
That in the midst of her efforts
She felt her youth stolen away.
 
Cinnabar here and there
Coloured the shamed lass.
In the end she spoke
In a disdainful voice:
“Where are you from, you flying deceiver?
Where do you come from, who dare
To go around thus raping
Girls of noble race?
 
I thought your heart, alas,
Was like the colours you wear,
But – poor me! – you have one
Of another sort, to my destruction.
O heavens, who hear my cries,
I would rather be dead and shut up
Down below, since my springtime
Has been stripped of its rose!
 
Rather come and eat me,
Some hungry widowed tigress,
Than that I should be called the wife
Of some unknown bird.”
Her limbs fell strengthless
And her eyes were already swimming
In death, her neighbout, when
The swan replied thus to her:
 
 
 
“Maiden,” he said, “I am not
What I seem to you as you see me;
Greater things can I do
Than the swan I appear;
I am the master of the heavens,
I am he who looses
The insolent thunderbolts
Upon the hard flanks of the earth.
 
A painful compulsion
For your warmer [colour], which excites me,
Made me take on the colour
Of these feathers which are not mine.
So do not go on complaining
About the misfortune of your fate;
You will forthwith be
Neptune’s sister-in-law,
 
And so you will lay two eggs
From my fruitful seed,
And with them two new triumphs,
Future ornaments of the world.
One will disclose two twins:
Pollux, valiant in the swordfight,
And his brother who will be praised
As the finest of horsemen;
 
Within the other will grow
The beauty, chosen for heaven,
For whom one day Europe
Will take arms against Asia.”
At these words, she accepted,
Gaining such an outcome,
And then little by little felt
Her belt rising higher.
 
 Footnotes:
 1 i.e. its new skin after shedding the old2 the description of what is painted on the basket, which fills the remainder of the poem, is a gentle parody of the descriptions of heroes’ shields in Homer and Virgil.

3 i.e. the sun’s chariot, pulled by fiery horses, rising from the sea at dawn

4 the narcissus grew from the tears of Narcissus; the ‘flower of Ajax’ [perhaps a fritillary (lily) or a larkspur] grew from the blood spilled at his suicide on failing to win the arms of Achilles, and the Greeks read its markings as the letters AI (= ‘ah, woe!’)

5 the French word means both ‘fake’ and ‘adulterous’; ‘false’ carries something of the same effect in English

 
 Those unfamiliar with the myth – which was a major source of inspiration to Renaissance artists – should glance at Wikipedia, or this indicative set of images! The reference in the last stanza is to Helen of Troy.

Stances lyriques (Lyric stanzas) – from the Poèmes retranchées

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This one comes with variant subtitles:  in Marty-Laveaux it is simply “pour un banquet” (‘for a banquet’); but the Blanchemain version is helpfully headed “Stances promptement faites pour jouer sur la lyre, un joueur respondant à l’autre, au baptesme du fils de Monsieur de Villeroy, en faveur de Monsieur de l’Aubespine à présent” (‘Stanzas written to be played on the lyre, one player responding to the other, at the baptism of the son of M. de Villeroy …’).  Here then is a prime example of Ronsard’s concern to make his poetry adaptable to music. Many of his ‘withdrawn’ items were withdrawn simply because their rhyme-schemes no longer fitted the more advanced ideas he developed – principally, about metrical regularity in the use of masculine & feminine endings (broadly, alternating 10-syllable and 11-syllable lines, which clearly has an impact on the way a composer sets the text).

I Joueur
Autant qu’au Ciel on voit de flames
Dorer la nuict de leur clartez,
Autant voit-on icy de Dames
Orner ce soir de leurs beautez.
 
II Joueur
Autant que l’on voit une prée
Fleurir en jeunes nouveautez
Autant ceste troupe sacrée
S’enrichit de mille beautez.
 
I
La Cyprine et les Graces nuës,
Se desrobant de leur sejour,
Sont au festin icy venuës,
Pour de la nuict faire un beau jour.
 
II
Ce ne sont pas femmes mortelles
Qui vous esclairent de leurs yeux,
Ce sont Déesses eternelles,
Qui pour un soir quittent les Cieux.
 
I
Quand Amour perdroit ses flaméches
Et ses dards trempez de soucy,
Il trouveroit assez de fléches
Aux yeux de ces Dames icy.
 
II
Amour qui cause nos detresses
Par la cruauté de ses dards,
Fait son arc de leurs blondes tresses,
Et ses fléches de leurs regards.
 
I
Il ne faut point que l’on desire
Qu’autre saison puisse arriver,
Voicy un Printemps qui souspire
Ses fleurs au milieu de l’Hyver.
 
II
Ce mois de Janvier qui surmonte
Avril par la vertu des yeux
De ces Damoiselles, fait honte
Au Printemps le plus gracieux.
 
I
Ce grand Dieu, Prince du tonnerre,
Puisse sans moi l’air habiter,
Il me plaist bien de voir en terre
Ce qui peut blesser Jupiter.
 
II
Les Dieux épris comme nous sommes,
Pour l’amour quittent leur sejour :
Mais je ne voy point que les hommes
Aillent là-haut faire l’amour.
 
I
A la couleur des fleurs écloses
Ces Dames ont le teint pareil,
Aux blancs Lys, aux vermeilles roses
Qui naissent comme le Soleil.
 
II
Leur blanche main est un yvoire,
De leurs yeux les astres se font :
Amour a planté sa victoire
Sus la Majesté de leur front.
 
I
Las ! que ne suis-je en ceste trope
Un Dieu caché sous un Toreau ?
Je ravirois encore Europe
Au beau milieu de ce tropeau.
 
II
Que n’ay-je d’un Cygne la plume,
Pour joüir encore à plaisir
De ceste beauté qui m’allume
Le cœur de crainte et de desir ?
 
I
Amour qui tout void et dispense,
Ces Dames vueille contenter :
Et si la rigueur les offense,
Nouvel amy leur presenter.
 
II
Afin qu’au changer de l’année,
Et au retour des jeunes fleurs,
Une meilleure destinée
Puisse commander à leurs cœurs.
 
Just as we see the lights in heaven
Gild the night with their brightness,
So we see here ladies
Adorn the evenings with their beauty.
 
 
Just as we see a meadow
Flower with fresh newness,
So this holy band
Enriches itself with a thousand beauties.
 
 
The Cyprian goddess [Venus] and the naked Graces,
Abandoning their homes,
Have come here to the feast
To make night into fair day.
 
 
These are not mortal women
Who light you with their eyes,
These are eternal goddesses
Who have, for an evening, have left the heavens.
 
 
When love loses his fiery bolts
And his darts drenched in pain,
He will find enough arrows
In the eyes of these ladies here.
 
 
Love who causes our distress
Through the cruelty of his darts
Makes his bow from their blond tresses
And his arrows from their glances.
 
 
We need not wish
That another season might arrive,
Here is spring, breathing out
Its flowers in the midst of winter.
 
 
This month of January, which is better
Than April because of the power in the eyes
Of these maidens, makes ashamed
Even the most graceful spring.
 
 
That great god, prince of thunder,
Can live in the sky without me;
I am quite happy seeing on earth
That beauty which can wound Jupiter.
 
 
The gods, smitten as we are,
Leave their dwelling for love;
But I never see men
Going up there to make love!
 
 
Like the colour of blossoming flowers
Is the hue these Ladies have,
Like white lilies, like crimson roses,
Which grow as the sun.
 
 
Their white hands are ivory,
Of their eyes are the stars made;
Love has founded his victory
On the majesty of their brows.
 
 
Alas, why can’t I be among this troop
A god hidden beneath [the likeness of] a bull?
I would again steal away Europa
From the fair midst of this troop.
 
 
Why can’t I have the feathers of a swan,
To play again at my pleasure
With this beauty which fires my
Heart with fear and longing?
 
 
Love, who sees all and grants all,
Wishes to please these Ladies;
And if my strictness injures them
He will present them a new lover.
 
 
If only, at the turn of the year
And when the young flowers come back,
A better fate
Might control their hearts.
 
 The ‘great god of the thunder’ (i.e. Jupiter) re-appears near the end of the poem as the bull who carried off Europa, and the swan that ravished Leda.
 
(Like most items “retranchées”, there is not much to report concerning variants: in this case, “fleurer” rather than ‘fleurir’ in the second verse (a variant conjugation for the verb) is about the only interest!)
 

Sonnet 128

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Ny ce coral qui double se compasse,
Sur meinte perle, un thresor d’Orient,
Ny ces beaux lis, qu’Amour en suppliant
Ose baiser, et jamais ne s’en lasse :
 
Ny ce bel or qui frisé s’entrelasse
En mille nouds crespez folastrement,
Ny ces œillets égalez proprement
Au blanc des liz encharnez dans sa face :
 
Ny de ce front le beau ciel esclarcy,
Ny le double arc de ce double sourcy,
N’ont à la mort ma vie condemnée :
 
Seuls les beaux yeux (où le certain Archer
Pour me tuer sa fleche vint cacher)
Devant le soir finissent ma journée.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Not this coral which in double-row is set
                                                                            On many a pearl, a treasure of the East;
                                                                            Not these fair lilies which Love, pleading,
                                                                            Dares to kiss and never tires of;
 
                                                                            Not this fine gold which, curling, ties itself
                                                                            In a thousand knots, twisting and frisking;
                                                                            Not these pinks, neatly matched
                                                                            On the white of the lilies embodied in her cheeks;
 
                                                                            Not the fine clear sky of her face,
                                                                            Not the double bow of these double brows –
                                                                            These have not condemned my life to death;
 
                                                                            Solely the fair eyes, in which that sure Archer
                                                                            Had hidden his dart to kill me,
                                                                            Before evening have drawn my day to its close.

 

 

 

 

A lovely little poem – no commentary required!  (This one is not printed in Blanchemain’s edition of the first book.)