Tag Archives: Marie

Interlude (5)

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Another quick set of variants across editions. I’m including this one partly because it graphically demonstrates also that you can’t trust modern editors: neither of my two ‘standards’, Blanchemain and Marty-Laveaux, actually print the text which appears in the edition they say they are using…

1552
 
Thiard, chacun disoit à mon commencement,
Que j’estoi trop obscur au simple populaire :
Aujourd’hui, chacun dit que je suis au contraire,
Et que je me dements parlant trop bassement.
 
Toi, qui as enduré presqu’un pareil torment,
Di moi, je te suppli, di moi que doi-je faire ?
Di moi, si tu le sçais, comme doi-je complaire
A ce monstre testu, divers en jugement ?
 
Quand j’escri haultement, il ne veult pas me lire,
Quand j’escri basement, il ne fait qu’en médire :
De quel estroit lien tiendrai-je, ou de quels clous,
 
Ce monstrueux Prothé, qui se change à tous cous ?
Paix, paix, je t’enten bien : il le faut laisser dire,
Et nous rire de lui, comme il se rit de nous.
 
 
 
Thiard, everyone said when I began
That I was too obscure for the simple man in the street;
Today, everyone says that I am the opposite,
And that I’ve gone mad for speaking in too low a style.
 
You who have endured much the same torture,
Tell me, I beg, tell me what must I do?
Tell me, if you know, how I should please
This many-headed monster, with such varied opinions?
 
When I write in a high style, they don’t want to read me;
When I write in a low style, they just abuse me.
With what tight bonds or what nails can I hold
 
This monstrous Proteus who changes shape at every moment?
OK, OK, I understand you completely: we must leave them to speak,
And laugh at them, as they laugh at us.
 
1560
 
Mon Thiard, on disoit à mon commencement,
Que j’estoi trop obscur au simple populaire :
Mais aujourdhuy lon dit que je suis au contraire,
Et que je me dements parlant trop bassement.
 
Toy, de qui le labeur enfante doctement
Des livres immortels, di-moi, que doi-je faire ?
Di-moi (car tu sçais tout) comme doi-je complaire
A ce monstre testu, divers en jugement ?
 
Quand j’escri hautement, il ne veult pas me lire,
Quand j’escri basement, il ne fait qu’en médire :
De quels liens serrez ou de quel rang de clous
 
Tiendrai-je ce Prothé, qui se change à tous cous ?
Paix, paix, je t’enten bien : il le faut laisser dire,
Et nous rire de lui, comme il se rit de nous.
 
 
 
My Thiard, they used to say at the beginning
That I was too obscure to the simple man in the street;
But today they say that I am the opposite,
And that I’ve gone mad for speaking in too low a style.
 
You whose labour gives birth learnedly
To immortal books, tell me, what should I do?
Tell me (for you know everything) how I should please
This many-headed monster, with such varied opinions?
 
When I write in a high style, they don’t want to read me;
When I write in a low style, they just abuse me.
With what tight bonds or what line of nails
 
Can I hold this Proteus who changes shape at every moment?
OK, OK, I understand you completely: we must leave them to speak,
And laugh at them, as they laugh at us.
 
1578
 
Tyard, on me blasmoit à mon commencement,
Que j’estoi trop obscur au simple populaire :
Mais on dit aujourd’huy que je suis au contraire,
Et que je me dements parlant trop bassement.
 
Toy, de qui le labeur enfante doctement
Des livres immortels, dy-moy, que doy-je faire ?
Dy-moy (car tu sçais tout) comme doy-je complaire
A ce monstre testu, divers en jugement ?
 
Quand je brave en mes vers, il a peur de me lire :
Quand ma voix se desenfle, il ne fait que mesdire.
Dy moy de quels liens, et de quel rang de clous
 
Tiendray-je ce Prothé, qui se change à tous coups ?
Tyard, je t’enten bien, il le faut laisser dire,
Et nous rire de luy, comme il se rit de nous.
 
 
 
Tyard, they used to blame me at the beginning
That I was too obscure to the simple man in the street;
But today they say that I am the opposite,
And that I’ve gone mad for speaking in too low a style.
 
You whose labour gives birth learnedly
To immortal books, tell me, what should I do?
Tell me (for you know everything) how I should please
This many-headed monster, with such varied opinions?
 
When I am defiant in my verse, they are afraid to read me;
When my voice becomes less grand, they just abuse me.
Tell me with what bonds or what line of nails
 
Can I hold this Proteus who changes shape at every moment?
Tyard, I understand you completely: we must leave them to speak,
And laugh at them, as they laugh at us.
 
 
1584
 
Tyard, on me blasmoit à mon commencement,
Dequoy j’estois obscur au simple populaire :
Mais on dit aujourd’huy que je suis au contraire,
Et que je me démens parlant trop bassement.
 
Toy de qui le labeur enfante doctement
Des livres immortels, dy-moy, que doy-je faire ?
Dy-moy (car tu sçais tout) comme doy-je complaire
A ce monstre testu divers en jugement ?
 
Quand je brave en mes vers il a peur de me lire :
Quand ma voix se desenfle, il ne fait qu’en mesdire.
Dy-moy de quel lien, force, tenaille, ou clous
 
Tiendray-je ce Proté qui se change à tous coups ?
Tyard, je t’enten bien, il le faut laisser dire,
Et nous rire de luy, comme il se rit de nous.
 
 
 
Tyard, they used to blame me at the beginning
Because I was too obscure to the simple man in the street;
But today they say that I am the opposite,
And that I’ve gone mad for speaking in too low a style.
 
You whose labour gives birth learnedly
To immortal books, tell me, what should I do?
Tell me (for you know everything) how I should please
This many-headed monster, with such varied opinions?
 
When I am defiant in my verse, they are afraid to read me;
When my voice becomes less grand, they just abuse me.
Tell me with what bond, force, manacles or nails
 
Can I hold this Proteus who changes shape at every moment?
Tyard, I understand you completely: we must leave them to speak,
And laugh at them, as they laugh at us.
 
1587
 
Ma Muse estoit blasmée à son commencement,
D’apparoistre trop haulte au simple populaire :
Maintenant des-enflée on la blasme au contraire,
Et qu’elle se desment parlant trop bassement.
 
Toy de qui le labeur enfante doctement
Des livres immortels, dy-moy, que doy-je faire ?
Dy-moy (car tu sçais tout) comme doy-je complaire
A ce monstre testu divers en jugement ?
 
Quand je tonne en mes vers il a peur de me lire :
Quand ma voix se rabaisse il ne fait qu’en mesdire.
Dy-moy de quel lien force tenaille ou clous
 
Tiendray-je ce Proté qui se change à tous coups ?
Tyard, je t’enten bien, il le faut laisser dire,
Et nous rire de luy comme il se rit de nous.
 
 
 
My Muse used to be blamed at the beginning
For appearing too high-flown for the simple man in the street;
Now she’s become less grand, they blame her for the opposite,
And that she’s gone mad for speaking in too low a style.
 
You whose labour gives birth learnedly
To immortal books, tell me, what should I do?
Tell me (for you know everything) how I should please
This many-headed monster, with such varied opinions?
 
When I thunder in my verse, they are afraid to read me;
When my voice becomes less grand, they just abuse me.
Tell me with what bond, force, manacles or nails
 
Can I hold this Proteus who changes shape at every moment?
Tyard, I understand you completely: we must leave them to speak,
And laugh at them, as they laugh at us.
 
 
No doubt, as it was the opening poem in the Continuation des Amours and then became the first poem of book 2 in its various editions, Ronsard would have devoted significant effort to thinking and re-thinking the way his book opens.
 
If you look back at my original post, you’ll see that:
 – Marty-Laveaux inserts “Quand je tonne” from 1587 into his ‘1584’ version;
 – Blanchemain, basing his text on the 1560 edition, uses the 1578 version for line 3 (where Ronsard re-organised simply to remove the medieval ‘lon’), and also for line 13 (where Ronsard re-uses Tyard’s name, to avoid the repetitive exclamation “paix, paix!”)
 
Neither is a great sin, of course, but neither is a version Ronsard actually authorised!
 
 
 

 

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Interlude (4)

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Six months ago I posted a few poems in multiple versions, showing how they changed as Ronsard re-edited them through various editions. Here’s another which, as you can see, Ronsard virtually re-wrote every time he looked at it…

1552
 
Marie, qui voudroit vostre beau nom tourner,
Il trouveroit Aimer: aimez-moi donq, Marie,
Faites cela vers moi dont vostre nom vous prie,
Vostre amour ne se peut en meilleur lieu donner:
 
S’il vous plaist pour jamais un plaisir demener,
Aimez-moi, nous prendrons les plaisirs de la vie,
Penduz l’un l’autre au col, et jamais nulle envie
D’aimer en autre lieu ne nous pourra mener.
 
Si faut il bien aimer au monde quelque chose:
Cellui qui n’aime point, cellui-là se propose
Une vie d’un Scyte; et ses jours veut passer
 
Sans gouster la douceur des douceurs la meilleure.
E, qu’est-il rien de doux sans Venus? las! à l’heure
Que je n’aimeray point puissai-je trépasser!
 
 
 
Marie, anyone who tried re-arranging your lovely name
Would find “Aimer” [‘to love’]; so love me, Marie,
Do to me what your name asks of you,
Your love cannot be given anywhere better.
 
If you please to keep it a pleasure for ever,
Love me, we will enjoy the pleasures of life
Hanging on each other’s necks, and never will any desire
To love elsewhere be able to lead us away.
 
After all, you have to love something in this world;
Whoever loves not at all offers himself only
The life of a Scythian, and wants to spend his days
 
Without tasting the sweetest sweet of all.
What is there that is sweet without Love? Oh, at the moment
When I cease loving, may I die!
1560
 
Marie, qui voudroit vostre nom retourner,
Il trouveroit Aimer : aimez-moy donc, Marie ;
Puisque vostre beau nom à l’amour vous convie,
Il faut vostre jeunesse à l’amour adonner.
 
S’il vous plaist pour jamais vostre amy m’ordonner,
Ensemble nous prendrons les plaisirs de la vie,
D’une amour contra aymée, et jamais autre envie
Ne me pourra le cœur du vostre detourner.
 
Si faut-il bien aimer au monde quelque chose ;
Celuy qui n’aime point, pour son but se propose
Une vie d’un Scythe, et ses jours veut passer
 
Sans gouster la douceur des douceurs la meilleure.
Eh! qu’est-il rien de doux sans Venus? las! à l’heure
Que je n’aimeray point puissai-je trespasser!
 
 
 
Marie, anyone who tried re-arranging your name
Would find “Aimer”; so love me, Marie,
Since your fair name makes you ready to love,
You should give your youth to love.
 
If you please to appoint me your love for ever,
Together we shall take the pleasures of life,
With a love loved in return, and never will any other desire
Be able to turn my heart away from yours.
 
You really must love something in this world;
Whoever loves not at all, offers himself the goal of
The life of a Scythian, and wants to spend his days
 
Without tasting the sweetest sweet of all.
Ah, is there anything that is sweet without Love? Oh, at the moment
When I cease loving, may I die!
1578
 
Marie, qui voudroit vostre nom retourner,
Il trouveroit Aimer : aimez-moy donc, Marie ;
Vostre nom de nature à l’amour vous convie,
Pecher contre son nom ne se doit pardonner.
 
S’il vous plaist vostre cœur pour gage me donner,
Je vous offre le mien : ainsi de ceste vie
Nous prendrons les plaisirs, et jamais autre envie
Ne me pourra l’esprit d’une autre emprisonner.
 
Il fault aimer, maistresse, au monde quelque chose.
Celuy qui n’aime point, malheureux se propose
Une vie d’un Scythe, et ses jours veut passer
 
Sans gouster la douceur des douceurs la meilleure.
Eh! qu’est-il rien de doux sans Venus? las! à l’heure
Que je n’aimeray plus puissai-je trespasser!
 
 
 
Marie, anyone who tried re-arranging your name
Would find “Aimer”; so love me, Marie,
Your fair name naturally makes you ready to love,
Sinning against your own name you should not forgive yourself.
 
If you please to give me your heart as guarantee,
I shall offer you mine: so this life’s
Pleasures we shall take, and never will any other desire
Let me emprison the spirit of another lady.
 
One must love something, mistress, in this world;
If anyone loves not at all, that unfortunate offers himself
The life of a Scythian, and wants to spend his days
 
Without tasting the sweetest sweet of all.
Ah, is there anything that is sweet without Love? Oh, at the moment
When I cease loving, may I die!
 
1584
 
Marie, qui voudroit vostre nom retourner,
Il trouveroit aimer : aimez-moi donc, Marie,
Vostre nom de nature à l’amour vous convie,
A qui trahist Nature il ne faut pardonner.
 
S’il vous plaist vostre cœur pour gage me donner,
Je vous offre le mien : ainsi de ceste vie,
Nous prendrons les plaisirs, et jamais autre envie
Ne me pourra l’esprit d’une autre emprisonner.
 
Il faut aimer, maistresse, au monde quelque chose.
Celuy qui n’aime point, malheureux se propose
Une vie d’un Scythe, et ses jours veut passer
 
Sans gouster la douceur des douceurs la meilleure.
Rien n’est doux sans Venus et sans son fils : à l’heure
Que je n’aimeray plus puissé-je trespasser.
 
 
 
Marie, anyone who tried re-arranging your name
Would find “Aimer”; so love me, Marie,
Your fair name naturally makes you ready to love,
And anyone who betrays Nature ought not to be forgiven.
 
If you please to give me your heart as guarantee,
I shall offer you mine: so this life’s
Pleasures we shall take, and never will any other desire
Let me emprison the spirit of another lady.
 
One must love something, mistress, in this world;
If anyone loves not at all, that unfortunate offers himself
The life of a Scythian, and wants to spend his days
 
Without tasting the sweetest sweet of all.
Nothing is sweet, without Venus and her son:  at the moment
When I cease loving, may I die!
1587
 
Marie, qui voudroit vostre nom retourner,
Il trouveroit aimer : aimez-moi donc, Marie,
Vostre nom de luymesme à l’amour vous convie,
Il fault suyvre Nature, et ne l’abandonner.
 
S’il vous plaist vostre cœur pour gage me donner,
Je vous offre le mien : ainsi de ceste vie,
Nous prendrons les plaisirs, et jamais autre envie
Ne me pourra l’esprit d’une autre emprisonner.
 
Il faut aimer, maistresse, au monde quelque chose.
Celuy qui n’aime point, malheureux se propose
Une vie d’un Scythe, et ses jours veut passer
 
Sans gouster la douceur des douceurs la meilleure.
Rien n’est doux sans Venus et sans son fils : à l’heure
Que je n’aimeray plus puissé-je trespasser.
 
 
 
Marie, anyone who tried re-arranging your name
Would find “Aimer”; so love me, Marie,
Your fair name of itself makes you ready to love,
You should follow Nature and not abandon her.
 
If you please to give me your heart as guarantee,
I shall offer you mine: so this life’s
Pleasures we shall take, and never will any other desire
Let me emprison the spirit of another lady.
 
One must love something, mistress, in this world;
If anyone loves not at all, that unfortunate offers himself
The life of a Scythian, and wants to spend his days
 
Without tasting the sweetest sweet of all.
Nothing is sweet, without Venus and her son:  at the moment
When I cease loving, may I die!
 
 

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 2:43

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Marie, que je sers en trop cruel destin,
Quand d’un baiser d’amour vostre bouche me baise
Je suis tout esperdu, tant le cœur me bat d’aise :
Entre vos doux baisers puissé-je prendre fin.
 
Il sort de vostre bouche un doux flair qui le thin
Le josmin et l’œillet la framboise et la fraise
Surpasse de douceur, tant une douce braise
Vient de la bouche au cœur par un nouveau chemin.
 
Il sort de vostre sein une odoreuse haleine
(Je meurs en y pensant) de parfum toute pleine,
Digne d’aller au ciel embasmer Jupiter.
 
Mais quand toute mon ame en plaisir se consomme
Mourant dessus vos yeux, lors pour me despiter
Vous fuyez de mon col pour baiser un jeune homme.
 
 
                                                                            Marie, whom I serve under too cruel a fate,
                                                                            When with a loving kiss your lips kiss me
                                                                            I am totally overcome, so happily does my hart beat ;
                                                                            Oh that could die among your sweet kisses!
 
                                                                            From your mouth comes a sweet scent which surpasses
                                                                            The sweetness of thyme, jasmine and pink,
                                                                            Raspberry and strawberry, such a gentle warmth
                                                                            Comes from your mouth to my heart by this new route.
 
                                                                            There rises from your breast a sweet-smelling breath
                                                                            (I die to think of it) full of perfume,
                                                                            Worthy to to anoint Jupiter in heaven.
 
                                                                            But when all my soul is consumed in pleasure,
                                                                            Dying beneath your gaze, then to spite me
                                                                            You rush from my embrace to kiss some young man.
 
 

Another of the Marie/Sinope poems, this time focusing on her sweet-smelling breath rather than her eye-problems! Much more gallant …

 
Blanchemain’s version again keeps Sinope’s name not Marie’s at the beginning (“Sinope, que je sers en trop cruel destin”); otherwise the only change is at the start of the sestet, where Ronsard replaced his first thoughts, the more vivid “vos tetins“, with the less tactile and perhaps less titillating “vostre sein” (above).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:46

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Astres qui dans le ciel rouez vostre voyage,
D’où vient nostre destin de la Parque ordonné ?
Si ma muse autrefois vos honneurs a sonné,
Destournez (s’il vous plaist) mon malheureux presage.
 
Ceste nuict en dormant sans faire aucun outrage
A l’anneau que Marie au soir m’avoit donné,
S’est rompu dans mon doigt, et du faict estonné,
J’ay senty tout mon cœur bouillonner d’une rage.
 
Si ma Dame perjure a peu rompre sa foy
Ainsi que cest anneau s’est rompu dans mon doy,
Astres, je veux mourir, envoyez moy le Somme,
 
Somme aux liens de fer, ennemy du Soleil,
Et faites, s’il est vray, que mes yeux il assomme
Pour victime eternelle au frere du sommeil.
 
 
 
                                                                            O stars who wheel on your way in the heavens,
                                                                            Where does our destiny, ordained by Fate, come from?
                                                                            If my muse in the past made your honour resound
                                                                            Turn aside – please! – my unhappy future.
 
                                                                            Tonight as I slept, without doing any damage
                                                                            To the ring which Marie had given me that evening,
                                                                            It broke on my finger, and astonished by that
                                                                            Infect my whole heart boiling with anger.
 
                                                                            If my forsworn lady could break her faith
                                                                            Just as this ring of hers broke on my finger,
                                                                            O stars, I’d rather die; send me Sleep
 
                                                                            The sleep with iron cords, enemy of the Sun,
                                                                            And, if it is true, make him strike down my eyes
                                                                            As eternal victims for sleep’s brother.
 
 
Ronsard as always is very precise in his mythology: “sleep’s brother” is clearly Death (Thanatos), who is indeed the brother of Hypnos, god of sleep. Nowadays we’re more likely to think of Morpheus, but he was god of dreams not sleep, and the son of Hypnos.
 
The way in which Ronsard leaps to the conclusion that Marie is unfaithful seems here rather unmotivated, calling on sleep to kill him immediately “if it is true”: in the earlier Blanchemain version – which is the same until the final tercet – we get a rather stronger line of thought, with sleep being invoked initially as a test, a check on the ‘oracle’:
 
 
                    … envoyez moy le Somme,
 
Afin d’interpreter la doute de mon sort,
Et faites, s’il est vray, que mes yeux il assomme
Sans plus les réveiller, au dormir de la mort.
 
 
                                                                                                                    … send me Sleep

 

                                                                           To interpret the uncertainty of my fate,

                                                                            And, if it is true, make him strike down my eyes,
                                                                            No more to wake, with the sleep of death.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:41

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Je reçoy plus de joye à regarder vos yeux,
Qu’à boire, qu’à manger, qu’à dormir, ny qu’à faire
Chose qui soit à l’ame ou au corps necessaire,
Tant de vostre regard je suis ambitieux.
 
Pource ny froid hyver, ny esté chaleureux
Ne me peut empescher que je n’aille complaire
A ce cruel plaisir, qui me rend tributaire
De vos yeux qui me sont si doux et rigoureux.
 
Marie, vous avez de vos lentes œillades
Gasté de mes deux yeux les lumieres malades,
Et si ne vous chaut point du mal que m’avez fait.
 
Ou guarissez mes yeux, ou confessez l’offense :
Si vous la confessez, je seray satisfait,
Me donnant un baiser pour toute recompense.
 
 
                                                                            I get more joy from looking into your eyes
                                                                            Than from drinking, eating, sleeping, doing
                                                                            Anything which might be necessary to soul or body,
                                                                            So eager am I for your glance.
 
                                                                            Thus neither cold winter nor hot summer
                                                                            Can stop me from delighting
                                                                            In this cruel pleasure of bringing tribute
                                                                            To your eyes which to me are both so sweet and harsh.
 
                                                                            Marie, you have with your slow glances
                                                                            Wrecked the weak lights of my eyes
                                                                            And yet you care nothing for the harm you’ve done me.
 
                                                                            Either cure my eyes, or confess the offence:
                                                                            If you confess it I’ll be satisfied
                                                                            And just one kiss will be all my recompense.
 
 
There is a small cluster of Marie poems which refer to her having some sort of eye-condition. It appears that Ronsard’s eyes too got infected – whether just for poetic reasons, or in real life, depends on your views on the autobiographical authenticity of his poetry. Ronsard of course turns the messy illness into poetic gold.
 
This eye-condition is the reason that Belleau connects the Sinope poems with Marie. Indeed, as we shall see in another poem, Ronsard himself provides what you might think a convincing statement that Sinope and Marie are the same, when he states explicitly that he called Marie ‘Sinope’ (Greek: without sight) because of her condition. (We might think that a little insensitive: but perhaps the rules of finding classicizing pseudonyms override such concerns … !)
 
Blanchemain’s version again keeps Sinope’s name not Marie’s, and has a couple of other minor differences: here I think the later changes are a clear improvement, both for sense (in the final tercet) and for vividness (‘joy’ in line 1 rather than ‘good’).
 
 
Je reçoy plus de bien à regarder vos yeux,
Qu’à boire, qu’à manger, qu’à dormir, ny qu’à faire
Chose qui soit à l’ame ou au corps necessaire,
Tant de vostre regard je suis ambitieux.
 
Pource ny froid hyver, ny esté chaleureux
Ne me peut empescher que je n’aille complaire
A ce cruel plaisir, qui me rend tributaire
De vos yeux qui me sont si doux et rigoureux.
 
Sinope, vous avez de vos lentes œillades
Gasté de mes deux yeux les lumieres malades,
Et si ne vous chaut point du mal que m’avez fait.
 
Au moins guarissez les, ou confessez l’offense :
Si vous la confessez, je seray satisfait,
Me donnant un baiser pour toute recompense.
 
 
                                                                            I get more good from looking into your eyes
                                                                            Than from drinking, eating, sleeping, doing
                                                                            Anything which might be necessary to soul or body,
                                                                            So eager am I for your glance.
 
                                                                            Thus neither cold winter nor hot summer
                                                                            Can stop me from delighting
                                                                            In this cruel pleasure of bringing tribute
                                                                            To your eyes which to me are both so sweet and harsh.
 
                                                                            Sinope, you have with your slow glances
                                                                            Wrecked the weak lights of my eyes
                                                                            And yet you care nothing for the harm you’ve done me.
 
                                                                            At least cure them, or confess the offence:
                                                                            If you confess it I’ll be satisfied
                                                                            And just one kiss will be all my recompense.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Le Voyage de Tours: ou, Les amoureux

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

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

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

 

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