Tag Archives: Loir

Amours 2:69

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Cesse tes pleurs, mon livre : il n’est pas ordonné
Du destin, que moy vif tu sois riche de gloire :
Avant que l’homme passe outre la rive noire,
L’honneur de son travail ne luy est point donné.
 
Quelqu’un apres mille ans de mes vers estonné
Voudra dedans mon Loir, comme en Permesse, boire,
Et voyant mon pays, à peine pourra croire
Que d’un si petit lieu tel Poëte soit né.
 
Pren, mon livre, pren cœur : la vertu precieuse
« De l’homme, quand il vit, est toujours odieuse :
« Apres qu’il est absent, chacun le pense un Dieu.
 
« La rancueur nuit tousjours à ceux qui sont en vie :
« Sur les vertus d’un mort elle n’a plus de lieu,
« Et la posterité rend l’honneur sans envie.
 
 
 
                                                                            Cease your tears, my book : it was not ordained
                                                                            By fate that, while I am alive, you should be rich in glory ;
                                                                            Before any man passes beyond the black river,
                                                                            The honour due his work is never given to him.
 
                                                                            Someone, astonished by my verse after a thousand years,
                                                                            Will want to drink from my Loir, as from Permessus,
                                                                            And seeing my homeland will hardly be able to believe
                                                                            That from so small a place was such a poet born.
 
                                                                            Take heart, my book: “The precious virtue
                                                                            Of a man, while he lives, is always disliked;
                                                                            After he is gone, everyone thinks him a god.
 
                                                                            Rancour only harms those who are alive;
                                                                            It has no power over the virtues of the dead,
                                                                            And posterity renders honour without envy.”
 
 
 
A gently-classicising poem to end book 2 as originally conceived.  The black river in line 3 is the Styx, the border of the underworld; Permessus in line 6 is the spring on Mt Helicon, home of the Muses. Both do not demand great learning from Marie! Ronsard remains full of certainty about his eventual acceptance as France’s pre-eminent poet…!
 
Blanchemain’s early version has the usual array of variants in the first half: in the opening stanza the honour is due his book, not him, which is slightly more modest!  (The change in line 3 is one of those where Ronsard rejects a poetic inversion (“passé j’aye”) even though the replacement is rather prosaic by comparison: a pity.)

 
 
Cesse tes pleurs, mon livre : il n’est pas ordonné
Du destin que, moy vif, tu reçoives la gloire ;
Avant que passé j’aye outre la rive noire,
L’honneur que l’on te doit ne te sera donné.
 
Quelqu’un, apres mil ands, de mes vers estonné,
Voudra dedans mon Loir comme en Permesse boire,
Et, voyant mon pays, à peine voudra croire
Que d’un si petit champ tel poëte soit né.
 
Pren, mon livre, pren cœur : la vertu precieuse
De l’homme, quand il vit, est tousjours odieuse.
Après qu’il est absent, chacun le pense un dieu.
 
La rancueur nuit tousjours à ceux qui sont en vie ;
Sur les vertus d’un mort elle n’a plus de lieu,
Et la posterité rend l’honneur sans envie.
 
 
 
                                                                            Cease your tears, my book : it was not ordained
                                                                            By fate that, while I am alive, you should receive glory;
                                                                            Before I have passed beyond the black river,
                                                                            The honour people owe you will not be given you.
 
                                                                            Someone, astonished by my verse after a thousand years,
                                                                            Will want to drink form my Loir, as from Permessus,
                                                                            And seeing my homeland will hardly want to believe
                                                                            That from so small a countryside was such a poet born.
 
                                                                            Take heart, my book: “The precious virtue
                                                                            Of a man, while he lives, is always disliked;
                                                                            After he is gone, everyone thinks him a god.
 
                                                                            Rancour only harms those who are alive;
                                                                            It has no power over the virtues of the dead,
                                                                            And posterity renders honour without envy.”
 
 
 
And so we reach the end of book 2: merry Christmas! 
 
 
 
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Elégie à Marie (Amours 2:68a )

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

 

 
 

Amours 1.225

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Si hors du cep où je suis arresté,
Cep où l’Amour de ses fleches m’enclouë,
J’eschappe franc, et du reth qui me nouë,
En libre col je me voy dé-rheté :
 
Au cœur d’un pré loing des gens escarté,
Qu’à bras fourchus l’eau du Loir entrenoüe,
De gazons d’herbe un temple je te voüe,
Heureuse saincte et alme Liberté.
 
Là je veux pendre au plus haut chœur du temple
Un sainct tableau, qui servira d’exemple
A tous amans, qu’ils ne m’aillent suyvant.
 
Et pour garder que plus je n’y retombe,
Je veux tuer aux Dieux une Hecatombe.
« Belle fin fait qui s’amende en vivant.
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                            If out of the vine in which I was caught,
                                                                            The vine in which Love with his arrows bound me,
                                                                            I can clean escape, and from the net which twists around me
                                                                            I can see myself un-netted, my neck freed:
 
                                                                            Then, in the heart of a meadow far remote from people
                                                                            Which the forked arms of the Loir’s waters twist around,
                                                                            On grassy lawns I shall dedicate a temple to you,
                                                                            Happy, holy, divine Liberty.
 
                                                                            There I intend to hang in the highest choirs of the temple
                                                                            A holy image, which will serve as an example
                                                                            To all lovers not to follow me.
 
                                                                            And to make sure I do not fall back,
                                                                            I intend to sacrifice to the gods a hecatomb:
                                                                            “A fine end makes he who mends his ways while alive.”
 
 
 
Some fine neologisms from Ronsard, neatly placed by Ronsard so their meaning is inescapable: I love “dé-rheté” in line 4, half a line after the noun appeared. Muret still felt the need to expound its meaning in his notes, though… (Muret also felt the need to explain that ‘vine’ in line 1 is intended as a synonym for ‘bond’.) This poem is also one of Ronsard’s lovely joinings of the classical and the contemporary – here, he’s offering Greek sacrifices (‘hecatomb’ is direct from Homer) in a temple of Liberty, right beside the Loir in France. He also reflects Horace, who memorably wrote of hanging up his lover’s weeds and making way for a more fortunate lover. It’s not obvious that any o the poems around this one – though it comes near the end of the book – mark an end to his love, or liberty from it. But that doesn’t stop it being a fine poem, carefully placed as a fitting classicising farewell to this book of the non-classical sonnets Ronsard had taken up instead of classical odes simply because they were more popular!
 
The second half was radically different in the earlier version, not least becasue it does NOT celebrate freedome, but the ‘liberty’ of Love’s chains:
 
 
Si hors du cep où je suis arresté,
Cep où l’Amour de ses fleches m’enclouë,
J’eschappe franc, et du reth qui me nouë,
En libre col je me voy dé-rheté :
 
Au cœur d’un pré loing des gens escarté,
Qu’à bras fourchus l’eau du Loir entrenoüe,
De gazons verts un temple je te voüe,
Heureuse saincte et alme Liberté.
 
j’apprendrai le soin et les ennuis,
Les faux plaisirs, les mensonges des nuits,
Le vain espoir, les soupirs et l’envie ;
 
Là, tous les ans, je te paîrai mes vœux,
Et sous tes pieds j’immolerai cent bœufs,
Pour le bienfait d’avoir sauvé ma vie. 
 
 
 
                                                                            If out of the vine in which I was caught,
                                                                            The vine in which Love with his arrows bound me,
                                                                            I can clean escape, and from the net which twists around me
                                                                            I can see myself un-netted, my neck freed:
 
                                                                            Then, in the heart of a meadow far remote from people
                                                                            Which the forked arms of the Loir’s waters twist around,
                                                                            On green lawns I shall dedicate a temple to you,
                                                                            Happy, holy, divine Liberty.
 
                                                                            There I shall learn of care and troubles,
                                                                            False pleasures, night’s deceptions,
                                                                            Empty hope, sighs and longing;
 
                                                                            There every year I shall pay my vows to you
                                                                            And beneath your feet massacre a hundred bulls
                                                                            For the kindness of having saved my life.
 
 
 Blanchemain also prints the later sestet, though with the dramatic (and classicising) word “macter” (‘slaughter’) for the rather tamer “tuer” in line 13.
 
 
 

Amours 1.207

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Sœur de Pâris, la fille au Roy d’Asie,
A qui Phebus en doute fit avoir
Peu cautement l’aiguillon du sçavoir,
Dont sans profit ton ame fut saisie :
 
Tu variras vers moy de fantaisie,
Puis qu’il te plaist (bien que tard) de vouloir
Changer ton Loire au sejour de mon Loir,
Pour y fonder ta demeure choisie.
 
En ma faveur le Ciel te guide ici,
Pour te monstrer de plus pres le souci
Qui peint au vif de ses couleurs ma face.
 
Vien Nymphe vien, les rochers et les bois,
Qui de pitié s’enflamment sous ma voix,
Pleurant ma peine, eschaufferont ta glace.  
 
 
 
                                                                            Sister of Paris, daughter to the King of Asia,
                                                                            To whom Phoebus, doubting, gave
                                                                            Incautiously the goad of knowledge,
                                                                            By which your soul was without profit seized ;
 
                                                                            You will change your ideas towards me
                                                                            Since you choose (though late) to consider
                                                                            Exchanging your Loire to stay on my Loir
                                                                            And to found there your chosen home.
 
                                                                            For my benefit is Heaven guiding you here
                                                                            To show you more closely the pain
                                                                            Which paints my face so vividly with its colours.
 
                                                                            Come, Nymph, come : the rocks and woods
                                                                            Which blaze up in pity at my voice,
                                                                            Weeping for my pain, will warm up your ice.
 
 
 
 
Classical allusiion to the fore again, though here Ronsard’s use of a roundabout way to identify Cassandre is fairly obvious – he rapidly gives us as much information as possible (sister of Paris, daughter of Priam, prophetic mouthpiece of Apollo … ah yes, that would be Cassandra!) In line 3 the “aiguillon” (goad, or prick, or sting, or really anything sharp and painful) perhaps calls to mind a more Christian image, that of St Paul “kicking against the pricks” as the King James version so wonderfully puts it. (Have you ever noticed how many of Jesus’s turns of phrase and stories are the language of a farmer in the fields, not that of a carpenter? If he did follow his father’s trade, he can only have done so part-time!)  Whether an intended reference or not, it is clearly the same metaphor: just as cattle were goaded with sharp sticks to keep them from wandering in the wrong direction, so here prophetic knowledge is both painful and also leaves no choice – Cassandra must prophesy, no matter that it hurts.
 
But then, in the rest of the poem, we abandon that image and the pains (or otherwise) of knowledge – because it becomes clear that was all just an elaborate way to say “Cassandre”. There is no real suggestion in the first tercet that Heaven’s guiding is in any way painful to Cassandre, as it was to her Trojan namesake; nor that the need to understand lies behind any decision to move closer to his home. And that is probably why I find this sonnet a bit irritating. There are thematic links between the opening and the rest, but those links seem accidental and un-purposed, which is un-satisfactory in a poet of Ronsard’s quality.
 
The earlier version printed by Blanchemain does not offer any substantive changes. In lines 7-8 he becomes slightly less certain of her intentions:
 
Changer ton Loire au rives de mon Loir,
Voire y fonder ta demeure choisie.
 
                                                                            Exchanging your Loire for the banks of my Loir,
                                                                            Maybe even founding there your chosen home. 
 
and in the final line becomes “De leurs soupirs eschauferont ta glace” (‘the rocks and woods … With their sighs will warm up your ice’)
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.212

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Lest it seem I’ve forgotten Ronsard in my enthusiasm for the music, let’s have another sonnet!

 
D’une vapeur enclose sous la terre
Ne s’est conceu un air si ventueux :
Ny de ses flôs le Loir impetueux
Perdant noz bleds, les campagnes n’enserre.
 
Le Prince Eole en ces mois ne deterre
L’esclave orgueil des vents tumultueux,
Ny l’Ocean des flots tempestueux
De sa grand clef les sources ne desserre.
 
Seuls mes souspirs ont ce vent enfanté,
Et de mes pleurs le Loir s’est augmenté
Pour le depart d’une beauté si fiere :
 
Et m’esbahis de tant continuer
Souspirs et pleurs, que je n’ay veu muer
Les uns en vent, les autres en riviere.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            From no vapour shut up beneath the earth
                                                                            Was such a tempestuous breeze conceived ;
                                                                            Nor with his waves does the impetuous Loir,
                                                                            Destroying our sheep, enclose our fields.
 
                                                                            Prince Aeolus in those months does not unearth
                                                                            The slavish pride of the tumultuous winds,
                                                                            Nor does Ocean unfasten the springs
                                                                            Of his tempestous waves with his great key.
 
                                                                            Only my sighs have given birth to this wind,
                                                                            And with my tears the Loir has overflowed
                                                                            At the departure of so proud a beauty ;
 
                                                                            And it amazes me, as so many sighs and tears
                                                                            Continue, that I have not seen them change
                                                                            The ones into wind, the others into a river.
 
 
 
Ronsard enjoys nature, and shows himself keenly interested in his images of the Loir in particular. I have to say I’m not so taken by the first tercet, which seems a bit weak, but the rest of the poem is less formulaic and far better than a cursory reading might suggest.
 
Aeolus ‘unearths’ the wnids because he keeps them trapped in his cave until releasing them.
 
Strangely, in view of my comments above, it’s the opening that got re-worked by Ronsard! And rather considerably improved, I think.
 
 
D’une vapeur enclose sous la terre
Ne s’est pas fait cet esprit ventueux,
Ny par les champs le Loir impetueux
De neige cheute à toutes brides n’erre ;
 
Le Prince Eole en ces mois ne deterre
L’esclave orgueil des vents tumultueux,
Ny l’Ocean des flots tempestueux
De sa grand’ clef les sources ne desserre.
 
Seuls mes souspirs ont ce vent enfanté,
Et de mes pleurs le Loir s’est augmenté
Pour le depart d’une beauté si fiere :
 
Et m’esbahis de tant continuer
Souspirs et pleurs, que je n’ay veu muer
Mon cœur en vent et mes yeux en riviere.
 
 
 
                                                                            From no vapour shut up beneath the earth
                                                                            Was made this tempestuous spirit ;
                                                                            Nor across the fields does the impetuous Loir
                                                                            Wander, his bridle loosed with the fallen snow;
 
                                                                            Prince Aeolus in those months does not unearth
                                                                            The slavish pride of the tumultuous winds,
                                                                            Nor does Ocean unfasten the springs
                                                                            Of his tempestous waves with his great key.
 
                                                                            Only my sighs havaae given birth to this wind,
                                                                            And with my tears the Loir has overflowed
                                                                            At the departure of so proud a beauty ;
 
                                                                            And it amazes me, as so many sighs and tears
                                                                            Continue, that I have not seen
                                                                            My heart change into wind and my eyes into a river.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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.

 

 

 
 
 

Sonnet 165

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Sonnets 163 and 164 are already available, so our journey through book 1 continues with no. 165 …

Saincte Gastine, ô douce secretaire
De mes ennuis, qui respons en ton bois,
Ores en haute ores en basse voix,
Aux longs souspirs que mon cœur ne peut taire :
 
Loir, qui refreins la course volontaire
Des flots roulant par nostre Vandomois,
Quand accuser ceste beauté tu m’ois,
De qui tousjours je m’affame et m’altere :
 
Si dextrement l’augure j’ay receu,
Et si mon œil ne fut hier deceu
Des doux regards de ma douce Thalie,
 
Maugré la mort Poëte me ferez
Et par la France appellez vous serez
L’un mon Laurier, l’autre ma Castalie.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Holy Gastine, sweet minister
                                                                            Of my troubles, who reply in your wood
                                                                            Now with loud, now with quiet voice
                                                                            To the long sighs which my heart cannot silence;
 
                                                                            Loir, who restrain the headstrong course
                                                                            Of your waves running through our Vendôme,
                                                                            When you hear me accusing that beauty
                                                                            For whom I’m always hungry and thirsty;
 
                                                                            If I’ve rightly understood the prophecy,
                                                                            And if my eye was not deceived yesterday
                                                                            By the sweet glances of my sweet Thalia,
 
                                                                            In spite of death you will make me a Poet,
                                                                            And throughout France one of you will be called
                                                                            My Laurel, the other my Castalia.
 
 
 
Here again Ronsard connects his own small aprt of the Vendome with the classical sites well-known to all his readers: the forest of Gastine, and the little river Loir, become the equivalents of the victory-crowning laurel, and the Castalian spring which emerges beside the Delphic oracle – though here Ronsard is thinking less of the oracle’s link with prophecy than its link with Apollo who inspires poets. Thalia (as he calls Cassandre here) was the muse associated with pastoral poetry – but also, less relevantly, with comedy!
 
Once more there are only minor changes between versions. Blanchemain offers in line 1 “Saincte Gastine, heureuse secretaire” (‘happy minister’); in lines 5-6 “la course volontaire / Du plus courant de tes flots vendomois” (‘the headstrong course / Of the fastest-running of your waters of Vendome’); and in line 12 “Dorenavant poëte me ferez,” (‘Henceforward you will make me a Poet’).