Tag Archives: Phoebus Apollo

Amours book 2 – Elégie à son livre

Standard

Although it’s been months since my last post, I find myself still in book 2 of the Amours! This is really the very last poem from book 2 I’ll be posting, though: the lengthy Elegy which Ronsard prefixed to the book as he sent it out into the world.

Mon fils, si tu sçavois ce qu’on dira de toy,
Tu ne voudrois jamais desloger de chez moy,
Enclos en mon estude : et ne voudrois te faire
Salir ny fueilleter aux mains du populaire.
Quand tu seras parti, sans jamais retourner,
Estranger loin de moy te faudra sejourner :
« Car ainsi que le vent sans retourner s’envole,
« Sans espoir de retour s’eschappe la parole.
 
Or tu es ma parole, à qui de nuict et jour
J’ay conté les propos que me contoit Amour,
Pour les mettre en ces vers qu’en lumiere tu portes,
Crochetant maugré moy de ma chambre les portes,
Pauvret! qui ne sçais pas que nos citoyens sont
Plus subtils par le nez que le Rhinoceront.
 
Donc avant que tenter la mer et le naufrage,
Voy du port la tempeste, et demeure au rivage.
« Tard est le repentir de tost s’estre embarqué.
 
Tu seras tous les jours des médisans moqué
D’yeux, et de hausse-becs, et d’un branler de teste.
« Sage est celuy qui croit à qui bien l’amoneste.
 
Tu sçais (mon cher enfant) que je ne te voudrois
Tromper, contre nature impudent je faudrois,
Et serois un Serpent de farouche nature
Si je voulois trahir ma propre geniture :
Car tout tel que tu es, n’agueres je te fis,
Et je ne t’aime moins qu’un pere aime son fils.
 
Quoy? tu veux donc partir : et tant plus je te cuide
Retenir au logis, plus tu hausses la bride.
Va donc puis qu’il te plaist, mais je te suppliray
De respondre à chacun ce que je te diray,
Afin que toy (mon fils) tu gardes en l’absence
De moy le pere tien, l’honneur et l’innocence.
 
Si quelque dame honneste et gentille de cœur
(Qui aura l’inconstance et le change en horreur)
Me vient, en te lisant, d’un gros sourcil reprendre
Dequoy je ne devois oublier ma Cassandre,
Qui la premiere au cœur le trait d’amour me mist,
Et que le bon Petrarque un tel peché ne fist,
Qui fut trente et un an amoureux de sa dame,
Sans qu’une autre jamais luy peust eschauffer l’ame :
Respons-luy je te pri’, que Petrarque sur moy
N’avoit authorité pour me donner sa loy,
Ny à ceux qui viendroyent apres luy, pour les faire
Si long temps amoureux sans leur lien desfaire.
 
Luy-mesme ne fut tel : car à voir son escrit
Il estoit esveillé d’un trop gentil esprit
Pour estre sot trente ans, abusant sa jeunesse
Et sa Muse au giron d’une vieille maistresse :
Ou bien il jouyssoit de sa Laurette, ou bien
Il estoit un grand fat d’aimer sans avoir rien.
Ce que je ne puis croire, aussi n’est-il croyable :
Non, il en jouyssoit : puis la fist admirable,
« Chaste, divine, saincte : aussi l’amoureux doit
« Celebrer la beauté dont plaisir il reçoit :
« Car celuy qui la blasme apres la jouissance
« N’est homme, mais d’un Tygre il a prins sa naissance.
Quand quelque jeune fille est au commencement
Cruelle, dure, fiere à son premier amant,
Constant il faut attendre : il peut estre qu’une heure
Viendra sans y penser, qui la rendra meilleure.
Mais quand elle devient voire de jour en jour
Plus dure et plus rebelle, et plus rude en amour,
On s’en doit esloigner, sans se rompre la teste
De vouloir adoucir une si sotte beste.
Je suis de tel advis : me blasme de ceci,
M’estime qui voudra, je le conseille ainsi.
 
Les femmes bien souvent sont cause que nous sommes
Volages et legers, amadoüans les hommes
D’un espoir enchanteur, les tenant quelquefois
Par une douce ruse, un an, ou deux, ou trois,
Dans les liens d’Amour sans aucune allegeance :
Ce-pendant un valet en aura joüissance,
Ou bien quelque badin emportera ce bien
Que le fidele amy à bon droit cuidoit sien.
Et si ne laisseront, je parle des rusées
Qui ont au train d’amour leurs jeunesses usées,
(C’est bien le plus grand mal qu’un homme puisse avoir
Que servir une femme accorte à decevoir)
D’enjoindre des travaux qui sont insupportables,
Des services cruels, des tâches miserables :
Car sans avoir esgard à la simple amitié
De leurs pauvres servans, cruelles n’ont pitié,
Non plus qu’un fier Corsaire en arrogance braves,
N’a pitié des captifs aux environs esclaves.
Il faut vendre son bien, il faut faire presens
De chaisnes, de carquans, de diamans luisans :
Il faut donner la Perle, et l’habit magnifique,
Il faut entretenir la table et la musique,
Il faut prendre querelle, il faut les suporter.
Certes j’aimerois mieux dessus le dos porter
La hotte, pour curer les estables d’Augée,
Que me voir serviteur d’une Dame rusée.
« La mer est bien à craindre, aussi est bien le feu,
« Et le Ciel quand il est de tonnerres esmeu,
« Mais trop plus est à craindre une femme clergesse,
« Sçavante en l’art d’amour, quand elle est tromperesse :
« Par mille inventions mille maux elle fait,
« Et d’autant qu’elle est femme, et d’autant qu’elle sçait.
Quiconque fut le Dieu qui la mit en lumiere
Il fut premier autheur d’une grande misere.
 
Il falloit par presens consacrez aux autels
Acheter nos enfans des grands Dieux immortels,
Et non user sa vie avec ce mal aimable,
Les femmes, passion de l’homme miserable,
Miserable et chetif d’autant qu’il est vassal,
Durant le temps qu’il vit, d’un si fier animal.
Mais je vous pri’, voyez comment par fines ruses
Elles sçavent trouver mille feintes excuses,
Apres qu’ell’ ont failly ! voyez Helene apres
Qu’Ilion fut bruslé de la flamme des Grecs,
Comme elle amadoüa d’une douce blandice
Son badin de mary, qui luy remit son vice,
Et qui plus que devant de ses yeux fut épris,
Qui scintilloient encor les amours de Pâris.
Que dirons-nous d’Ulysse ? encores qu’une trope
De jeunes poursuyvans aimassent Penelope,
Devorans tout son bien, si est-ce qu’il brusloit
D’embrasser son espouse, et jamais ne vouloit
Devenir immortel avec Circe la belle,
Pour ne revoir jamais Penelope, laquelle
Pleurant luy rescrivoit de son fascheux sejour,
Pendant qu’en son absence elle faisoit l’amour :
Si bien que le Dieu Pan de ses jeux print naissance,
(D’elle et de ses muguets la commune semence)
Envoyant tout expres, pour sa commodité,
Le fils chercher le père en Sparte la cité.
« Voilà comment la femme avec ses ruses donte
« L’homme, de qui l’esprit toute beste surmonte.
 
Quand on peut par hazard heureusement choisir
Quelque belle maistresse, et l’avoir à plaisir,
Soit de haut ou bas lieu, pourveu qu’elle soit fille
Humble, courtoise, honneste, amoureuse et gentille,
Sans fard, sans tromperie, et qui sans mauvaitié
Garde de tout son cœur une simple amitié,
Aimant trop mieux cent fois à la mort estre mise,
Que de rompre sa foy quand elle l’a promise :
Il la faut honorer tant qu’on sera vivant,
Comme un rare joyau qu’on treuve peu souvent.
« Celuy certainement merite sur la teste
« Le feu le plus ardent d’une horrible tempeste,
« Qui trompe une pucelle et mesmement alors
« Qu’elle se donne à nous, et de cœur et de cors.
 
N’est-ce pas un grand bien quand on fait un voyage,
De rencontrer quelcun qui d’un pareil courage
Veut nous acompagner, et comme nous passer
Les torrens, les rochers, fascheux à traverser ?
Aussi n’est-ce un grand bien de trouver une amie,
Qui nous aide à passer cette chetive vie,
Qui sans estre fardée ou pleine de rigueur,
Traite fidellement de son amy le cueur ?
 
Dy leur, si de fortune une belle Cassandre
Vers moy se fust monstrée un peu courtoise et tendre,
Et pleine de pitié eust cherché à guarir
Le mal dont ses beaux yeux dix ans m’ont fait mourir,
Non seulement du corps, mais sans plus d’une œillade
Eust voulu soulager mon pauvre cœur malade,
Je ne l’eusse laissée, et m’en soit à tesmoin
Ce jeune enfant ailé qui des amours a soin.
 
Mais voiant que tousjours elle marchoit plus fiere,
Je desliay du tout mon amitié premiere,
Pour en aimer une autre en ce païs d’Anjou,
Où maintenant Amour me detient sous le jou :
Laquelle tout soudain je quitteray, si elle
M’est comme fut Cassandre, orgueilleuse et rebelle,
Pour en chercher une autre, à fin de voir un jour
De pareille amitié recompenser m’amour,
Sentant l’affection d’une autre dans moymesme :
« Car un homme est bien sot d’aimer si on ne l’aime.
 
Or’ si quelqu’un apres me vient blasmer, dequoy
Je ne suis plus si grave en mes vers que j’estoy
A mon commencement, quand l’humeur Pindarique
Enfloit empoulément ma bouche magnifique :
Dy luy que les amours ne se souspirent pas
D’un vers hautement grave, ains d’un beau stille bas,
Populaire et plaisant, ainsi qu’a fait Tibulle,
L’ingenieux Ovide, et le docte Catulle.
Le fils de Venus hait ces ostentations :
Il suffist qu’on luy chante au vray ses passions
Sans enflure ny fard, d’un mignard et doux stile,
Coulant d’un petit bruit, comme une eau qui distile.
Ceux qui font autrement, ils font un mauvais tour
A la simple Venus, et à son fils Amour.
 
S’il advient quelque jour que d’une voix hardie
J’anime l’eschafaut par une tragedie
Sentencieuse et grave, alors je feray voir
Combien peuvent les nerfs de mon petit sçavoir.
Et si quelque furie en mes vers je rencontre,
Hardi j’opposeray mes Muses alencontre :
Et feray resonner d’un haut et grave son
(Pour avoir part au bouc) la tragique tançon.
Mais ores que d’Amour les passions je pousse,
Humble je veux user d’une Muse plus douce.
 
Je ne veux que ce vers d’ornement indigent
Entre dans une escole, ou qu’un brave regent
Me lise pour parade : il suffist si m’amie
Le touche de la main dont elle tient ma vie.
Car je suis satisfait, si elle prend à gré
Ce labeur que je voüe à ses pieds consacré.
My son, if you knew what they’ll say of you,
You’d never want to leave my home,
But stay shut away in my study; you wouldn’t want yourself
Dirtied or leafed thorough by the crowd’s hands.
When you’ve gone, never to return,
You’ll have to live like a stranger far from me :
“For as the wind flies off without returning,
So, without hope of returning, the word escapes.”
 
And you are my word, to whom night and day
I have told the ideas which Love told me,
So I could put them into these verses which you take into the light,
Picking the locks of the doors of my room in defiance of me,
Poor thing, who know not that our citizens have
Sharper noses than the rhinoceros.
 
So, before trying the sea and shipwreck,
See the storm from port, and stay on the shore.
“Early to board, late to repent.”
 
Every day you’ll be mocked by ill-wishers,
With their eyes, their lifted noses, and a shake of the head.
“Wise the man who believes a person who gives good advice.”
 
You know, my dear child, that I have no desire
To deceive you: I would have to be shameless, contrary to nature
And a serpent with an untamed nature
If I sought to betray my own offspring,
For just as you are, I recently made you,
And I love you no less than a father loves his son.
 
Yet you still wish to go? And the more I wish
To keep you at home, the more you pull at the bit.
Go on then, since you want to, but I beg you
To answer everyone as I will tell you,
So that you, my son, protect in my absence
Your father’s – my own! – honour and innocence.
 
If some honest lady of noble heart,
Who is horrified by inconstancy and change,
On reading you reproves me with a heavy frown
That I ought not to have forgotten my Cassandre,
Who was first to shoot the arrow of love into my heart,
And that good old Petrarch committed no such sin,
Being thirty-one years in love with his lady
Without any other ever being able to set his soul ablaze,
Then reply to her, I beg, that Petrarch had
No authority over me to subject me to his law,
Nor those others who came after him, to make us
Love so long a time without breaking our ties.
 
He himself was not like that; for if you look at what he wrote
He was a sharp man, with too noble a spirit
To be a fool for thirty years, wasting his youth
And his Muse in the lap of an old mistress.
Either he enjoyed his little Laura, or he was
Indeed a great fool to love but not have her at all.
I can’t believe that, nor is it believable;
No, he enjoyed her, then made her out to be admirable,
Chaste, divine, holy: “The lover should also
Celebrate the beauty from whom he gains his pleasure;
For he who blames her after enjoying her
Is no man, but was born of a tiger.”
 
When some young girl is at the beginning
Cruel, harsh and proud to her first lover,
He must remain constant; it may be that the time
Will come, unexpectedly, which will make her better.
But when she becomes from day to day
Harsher and more contrary, and coarser in love,
You should distance yourself, without wearying yourself
Trying to soften so foolish a beast.
That’s my advice: blame me for it
Or praise me who will, I counsel him thus.
 
Women are often the reason we are
Light and flighty, coaxing men
With bewitching hope, sometimes keeping them
With sweet tricks for a year, or two, or three,
In love’s bonds without relief;
And yet a servant will enjoy them,
Or perhaps some wag will run off with the delight
Which the faithful lover rightly thought his own.
And still they won’t stop, I mean those sly girls
Who have spent their youths in Love’s train,
(It’s certainly the greatest trouble a man can have
To serve a woman used to deception)
[They won’t stop] demanding work which is insupportable,
Cruel service, wretched tasks;
For without regard to the simple love
Of their poor servants, they cruelly have no pity,
No more than a proud corsair, brave and arrogant,
Has pity on the captives in his slave-quarters.
[The lover] has to sell his goods, make presents
Of chains, purses, and shining diamonds;
He must give pearls and magnificent clothes,
He must look after the table and the music,
He must take up her quarrels, and endure them.
Certainly I’d prefer to carry on my back
A basket and clean the Augean stables,
Than to become the servant of a sly Lady.
“The sea really should be feared, the fire as well,
And the sky when it is shaken with thunder,
But much more to be feared is a learned woman
Well-versed in the art of love, when she is a deceiver;
By a thousand tricks she makes a thousand evils,
And she’s as wise as she is a woman.”
Whichever was the god who brought her to life,
He was the prime author of great misery.
 
We ought, with presents consecrated at their altars
To offer bribes for our children with the great, immortal gods,
So they don’t waste their lives with that pleasant evil
Woman, the passion of wretched men,
Wretched and weak insofar as they’re vassals
During their lives of so proud a beast.
I beg you, see how by subtle tricks
They are able to find a thousand fake excuses
After they’ve deceived! Look at Helen after
Troy was burned by the Greeks’ fire,
How she wheedled with sweet flattery
Her fool of a husband, who forgave her vice
And fell in love more than before with her eyes
Which sparkled still with love for Paris.
And what shall we say of Ulysses? While a troop
Of young suitors was making love to Penelope,
Devouring all his goods, yet still he burned
To kiss his wife, and never wished
To become immortal with the beautiful Circe
So as never again to see Penelope, whom
Weeping he wanted to tell about his wearisome journey,
While in his absence she was making love:
So much so that the god Pan was born from their frolics
(The common seed of her and her dandies)
As she immediately sent, to make things easier for her,
The son to seek his father in the city of Sparta.
“That is how woman with her cunning defeats
Man, whose spirit overcomes all the animals.”
 
If by chance you might fortunately choose
Some fair mistress, and have her for your pleasure,
No matter if she’s from a high or low place provided she is
A humble, courteous, honest, loving and gentle girl,
Without disguise, without trickery, who without wickedness
Keeps with all her heart her simple love,
Much preferring to be put to death a hundred times
Than to break her word when she has promised it;
Then you must honour her while you live
As a rare jewel most infrequently found.
“He certainly deserves the hottest fires
Of terrible storms upon his head
Who deceives a maid, especially when
She gives herself to us heart and body.“
 
Isn’t it a great delight when we’re travelling
To meet someone who with equal bravery
Wishes to a company us and like us to journey
Over torrents and rocks, tiresome to cross?
And isn’t it a great delight to find a girl
Who helps us on this life’s wretched journey,
Who without being burdened or full of harshness
Treats her lover’s heart faithfully?
 
Tell them, then, if perchance the fair Cassandre
Had showed herself a little courteous and tender towards me,
And full of pity had sought to cure
The ills with which her fair eyes had put me to death those ten years;
If not with her body but with just a single glance
She’d been willing to soothe my poor, ill heart,
I’d not have left her, let my witness be
That young winged child who watches over love-affairs.
 
But seeing how she always continued more proud
I unbound myself from all my first love
To love with it another in the country of Anjou,
Where Love now keeps me under his yoke.
[A love] which I will immediately abandon if she
Is to me as Cassandre was, proud and rebellious,
To find another, so that one day I may see
My love returned with an equal love,
Feeling the affection of another within myself:
“For a man is a complete fool to love if he isn’t loved.”
 
So, if someone afterwards chooses to blame me that
I am no more as grave in my verse as I was
At the beginning, when the Pindaric mood
Puffed up in swollen words my magniloquent voice;
Then tell him that love does not sigh
In high-flown grave verse, but in a fine low style,
Pleasant and popular, like that of Tibullus,
The ingenious Ovid and the learned Catullus.
The son of Venus hates ostentation:
Enough that we sing his passions to him truly
Without bombast or disguise, in a charming sweet style
Flowing with a gentle sound like a tinkling spring.
Those who do otherwise do a bad turn
To simple Venus and her son Love.
 
If it should happen one day that with bold voice
I enliven the stage with some tragedy
Grave and sententious, then I shall show
How loud the strings of my little learning can sound.
And if I encounter passion in my verse
I shall boldly set my Muses against it,
And make a tragic dialogue resound with high-flown
And serious tones (assuming the tragic buskin).
But while I focus on the passions of Love,
In lower style I prefer to employ a sweeter Muse.
 
I do not want these verses, stripped of ornament,
To enter some school, or a worthy regent
To read me for show; it’s enough if my beloved
Touches it with the hand in which she holds my life.
For I am satisfied if she approves
This work which I dedicate, consecrated, at her feet.
 
 
 

 

A few words of commentary on these 200 lines:- the rhinoceros (or, in the earlier version, elephant) has a ‘subtle’ nose, one good for smelling out the good and the bad: ‘sharp’, we could more easily say in English, but while it’s obvious which sort of ‘sharpness’ the elephant’s nose has, it’s perhaps less so for the rhinoceros where a ‘sharp’ nose could refer to its horn not its sensitivity.- Ronsard’s cynicism about Petrarch’s chaste relationship with Laura is perhaps also a corrective to those scholars who think Ronsard’s own affairs were more imagined than real?  His harsh words about women, implicitly applied to Cassandra, should not be taken too literally: he speaks elsewhere of still loving her.

– there’s a cluster of classical references in the middle of the poem:  the Augean stables, cleaning whose filth was one of Heracles’ ‘impossible’ tasks;  Helen of Troy, taken back by Menelaus after Troy’s fall as she was still the most beautiful woman in the world, though her continuing love for Paris is largely a Ronsardian invention (in Homer, she and Menelaus are genuinely reconciled)

– Ronsard invents, too, Penelope’s unfaithfulness to Odysseus with her troop of suitors – in the Odyssey she famously remains loyal; his son Telemachus journeys to Sparta seeking information from Menelaus at the goddess Athene’s prompting, not sent away by Penelope; and Circe did not offer Odysseus immortality but threatened to turn him into a pig like his followers!  Ronsard has, ironically because it would be obvious to all his readers, twisted the Greek tale on its head. However, at the same time he demonstrates his wide and deep reading: in a pretty obscure Pindar fragment, but as far as I know nowhere else, Penelope is indeed said to be Pan’s mother (the father, though, Apollo not one or several human suitors!)

– where Ronsard turns to his new love in Anjou, he says “Je desliay du tout mon amitié premiere, / Pour en aimer une autre en ce païs d’Anjou“; that “en” technically means that he is giving Marie his first love, transferring it from Cassandre: this is not a new love, but the old one with a new subject.

– for the really interested, “empoulément” is ampoulément, from the same root as ampoule, a ‘swollen’ bulb of glass.

– Ronsard contrasts the style of Pindar – the great Greek poet of Odes – with that of Tibullus, Ovid and Catullus: Romans, but principally contrasted as love-poets and slightly licentious ones at that. (The ‘son of Venus’ is of course Cupid, god of love.)

 

 

See the next post for Blanchemain’s earlier version with its many variants.

 

Amours 2:60

Standard
A Phebus, Patoillet, tu es du tout semblable
De face et de cheveux et d’art et de sçavoir :
A tous deux dans le cœur Amour a fait avoir
Pour une belle Dame une playe incurable.
 
Ny herbe ny onguent contre Amour n’est valable :
« Car rien ne peut forcer de Venus le pouvoir :
Seulement tu peux bien par tes vers recevoir
A ta playe amoureuse un secours allegeable.
 
En chantant, Patoillet, on charme le soucy :
Le Cyclope Ætnean se guarissoit ainsi,
Chantant sur son flageol sa belle Galatée.
 
La peine descouverte adoucit nostre ardeur :
« Ainsi moindre devient la plaisante langueur
« Qui vient de trop aimer quand elle est bien chantée.
 
 
 
                                                                            Patoillet, you are just like Phoebus
                                                                            In face and hair and art and knowledge ;
                                                                            Love has given both of you in your heart
                                                                            An incurable wound for a fair lady.
 
                                                                            No herb or unguent has any worth against Love,
                                                                            “For nothing can force Venus’s power”.
                                                                            Only you can obtain through your verse
                                                                            Some aid to lighten your lover’s wound.
 
                                                                            By singing, Patoillet, we can charm care :
                                                                            The cyclops of Etna cured himself that way
                                                                            Singing with his flute about his fair Galatea.
 
                                                                            Pain revealed reduces our passion:
                                                                            “And so becomes less the pleasant pining
                                                                            Which comes from loving too much, when it is well-sung.”
 
 
 
I’m not sure I can think of another poem we’ve looked at in which he compares one of his (male) friends to a god! His mistresses, yes, it’s virtually a given in love poetry; but to compare his friend to Apollo, not just for his situation but for his appearance and his art? Impressive. So who was this Patoillet? Belleau’s commentary tells us:  “Jean Patoillet, one of our best and loyalest friends, (was) a man of great judgement, great reading, and best-versed in the knowledge of languages, history and other good learning.” To this we can add that he was a native of Dijon, eldest of seven children, never married (though left one illegitimate child, later legitimated by royal order), and died in 1585. He was a protonotary apostolic (a very high papal official), and as a local notable was also the dedicatee of a contemporary history of Dijon. His epitaph recorded that he could recite from memory large chunks of the major classical authors; and he was supposed to have worked on a History though nothing seems to have survived. In other words, a good solid Renaissance man!
 
Ironically, however, the poem was originally addressed to someone else: see below!  Jacques Grévin was a playwright and poet, and a member of Ronsard’s circle until they fell out. Like so many others, he wrote a book of sonnets (L’Olimpe, addressed to his fiancée, though they subsequently parted); though he is remembered more for his plays. His first major success, on Julius Caesar, was imitated from a Latin play by Muret. Younger, a poet, and more showy than Patoillet, the opening comparison with Apollo fits better! Why did his name disappear? Although Belleau simply says that Ronsard was ‘angry’ with him, in fact they fell out over religion, taking different sides in the struggles between the Catholics and Huguenots (Protestants) in the Wars of Religion.
 
The classical reference, to Polyphemus the cyclops and Galatea, is perhaps best known to us these days through Handel’s “Acis and Galatea”.
 
Blanchemain also has a few minor text variants beyond the change of name:
 
 
A Phebus, mon Grevin, tu es du tout semblable
De face et de cheveux et d’art et de sçavoir :
A tous deux dans le cœur Amour a fait avoir
Pour une belle Dame une playe incurable.
 
Ny herbe ny onguent ne t’est point secourable,
Car rien ne peut forcer de Venus le pouvoir :
Seulement tu peux bien par tes vers recevoir
A ta playe amoureuse un secours profitable.
 
En chantant, mon Grevin, on charme le soucy :
Le Cyclope Ætnean se guarissoit ainsi,
Chantant sur son flageol sa belle Galatée.
 
La peine descouverte allege nostre cœur:
Ainsi moindre devient la plaisante langueur
Qui vient de trop aimer quand elle est bien chantée.
 
 
 
                                                                            My Grévin, you are just like Phoebus
                                                                            In face and hair and art and knowledge ;
                                                                            Love has given both of you in your heart
                                                                            An incurable wound for a fair lady.
 
                                                                            No herb or unguent is any help to you,
                                                                            “For nothing can force Venus’s power”.
                                                                            Only you can obtain through your verse
                                                                            Some gainful aid for your lover’s wound.
 
                                                                            By singing, my Grévin, we can charm care :
                                                                            The cyclops of Etna cured himself that way
                                                                            Singing with his flute about his fair Galatea.
 
                                                                            Pain revealed lightens our heart:
                                                                            “And so becomes less the pleasant pining
                                                                            Which comes from loving too much, when it is well-sung.”

 

 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.223

Standard
Mets en oubly, Dieu des herbes puissant,
Le mauvais tour que non loin d’Hellesponte
Te fit m’amie, et vien d’une main pronte
Guarir son teint de fiévres pallissant.
 
Tourne en santé son beau corps perissant !
Ce te sera, Phebus, une grand’honte,
Si la langeur sans ton secours surmonte
L’œil, qui te tient si long temps languissant.
 
En ma faveur si tu as pitié d’elle,
Je chanteray comme l’errante Dele
S’enracina par ton commmandement :
 
Que Python fut ta premiere conqueste,
Et comme Dafne aux tresses de ta teste
Donna l’honneur du premier ornement.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Forget, God of powerful herbs,
                                                                            The wicked trick which, not far from the Hellespont,
                                                                            My beloved did you, and come with ready hand
                                                                            To cure her complexion, pallid with fever.
 
                                                                            Return to health her fair but perishing body !
                                                                            It would be great shame on you, Phoebus,
                                                                            If this weakness, without your help, overcame
                                                                            Those eyes which kept you for so long weak-kneed.
 
                                                                            If to please me you have pity on her
                                                                            I shall sing how the wandering Delos
                                                                            Rooted itself at your command ;
 
                                                                            That Python was your first conquest,
                                                                            And how Daphne gave to the tresses of your head
                                                                            The glory of their first ornament.
 
 
Plenty of mythological reference here, as Ronsard begs Apollo, god of healing (‘powerful herbs’), to cure his beloved.Cassandre’s Trojan namesake, the priestess, was originally ‘cursed’ with prophetic madness by Apollo after she refused his advances (or, worse, led him on and then tricked him). Python links to the oracular side of Apollo as well, being the dragon-deity associated with the oracle at Delphi, defeated by Apollo so that the Delphic oracle became his – and was served by a ‘Pythian’ priestess.According to Ronsard, Delos (the island) rooted itself at Apollo’s command: more generally, legend has it that the wandering island was eventually fixed in its position – equidistant from the mainland to north and west, the Greek islands on the coast of Turkey in the east, and Crete to the south – by Poseidon, and subsequently became Apollo’s birthplace. And Daphne picks up the theme of ‘becoming rooted’, as she was the nymph turned into a laurel tree to avoid Apollo’s advances. (Whence the laurel wreath as a symbol of victory in competition is associated with Apollo.)

Note that the two mythical girls in the poem are both failed conquests of Apollo, who received terrible punishments!

In lines 7-8 I have tried to find a parallel for “langueur … languissant” and settled on ‘weak’ words: I’m not sure Ronsard would approve of ‘weak at the knees’ though!

Blanchemain’s version has a variant in lines 11-12:

 
                         … comme l’errante Dele
S’enracina sous ta voix, et comment
Python sentit ta premiere conqueste
 

                                                                                       … how the wandering Delos
                                                                            Rooted itself at your call, and how
                                                                            Python felt your first conquest
  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.207

Standard
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’)
 
 
 
 

Poems 2.2 – to Jehan du Thier

Standard

 

A Jehan du Thier,
Seigneur de Beau-regard, Secretaire d’Estat
 
Qui fait honneur aux Rois, il fait honneur à Dieu :
Les Princes et les Rois tiennent le plus grand lieu
« Apres la Deité ; et qui revere encore
« Les serviteurs d’un Roy, le Roy mesme il honore.
Il est vray, mon du Thier, qu’un homme comme toy
Donne plus de travail à celebrer, qu’un Roy;
Car la gloire des Rois en sujet est fertille,
Et ne travaille guere une plume gentille,
Ny un espoir gaillard, s’il a reçeu tant d’heur
Que de ne s’efforcer de chanter leur grandeur.
 
D’un theme si fecond en abondance viennentt
Propos desur propos, qui la Muse entretiennent,
Comme en hyver les eaux qui s’escoulent d’un mont,
Et courans dans le mer file-à-file s’en-vont :
Mais pour louer un moindre il faut de l’artifice,
A fin que la vertu n’aparoisse estre vice.
 
Si est-ce, mon du Thier, que les plus grands honneurs
Qui sont communs en France à nos plus grands Seigneurs,
Te sont communs aussi, et si je l’osois dire,
De toy seul à bon droit on les devroit escrire
Comme propres à toy : mais ces Dieux de la Court
Me happent à la gorge, et me font taire court.
 
Comme on voit bien souvent aux mines dessous terre
Soyent d’argent soyent de fer de grands pilliers de pierre,
Qui sont veus soustenir la mine de leurs bras,
Et ahanner beaucoup, et si n’ahannent pas ;
Ce sont d’autres pillers qui loin du jour se tiennent
Dedans des coings à part, qui tout le faix soustiennent :
Ainsi les grands Seigneurs, soit en guerre ou en paix,
En credit eslevez, semblent porter le faix
Des affaires de France avec l’espaule large,
Et toutesfois c’est toy qui en portes la charge.
 
S’il arrive un paquet d’Itale, ou plus avant,
Soit de Corse ou de Grece, ou du bout de Levant,
Ils le dépliront bien, mais il te faudra mettre
En ton estude apres pour respondre à la lettre.
Car ainsi que le Ciel ne soustient qu’un Soleil,
France n’a qu’un du Thier qui n’a point de pareil,
Ou soit pour sagement les Estrangers semondre,
Ou soit pour cautement à leurs paquets respondre ;
Car soit en stile bas, ou en stile hautain,
Les Graces du François s’escoulent de ta main.
 
Nul homme ne se vante estre heureux en la prose,
Que pour certain exemple aux yeux ne se propose
Tes escrits et ton stile, et pour exerciter
Sa main, il ne travaille à te contre-imiter.
 
On dit que Geryon, qui tripla les conquestes
De la masse d’Hercule, avoit au chef trois testes :
Tu en as plus de mille, aumoins mille cerveaux
Que tu empesches tous à mille faits nouveaux.
Car soit que le Soleil abandonne la source
De son hoste Ocean, et appreste à la course
Son char à qui l’Aurore a de sa belle main
Attellé les chevaux, et rangez sous le frain :
Ou soit qu’en plein midy ses rayons il nous darde,
Et à plomb dessous luy toutes choses regarde :
Ou soit qu’en devalant plein de soif et d’ahan
Il s’aille rebaigner és flots de l’Ocean,
Et que son char en garde aux Dieux marins il baille,
Ton esprit n’a repos qui sans cesse travaille
Et ta langue, et ta main : l’esprit en inventant,
La main en escrivant, et la langue en dictant
Quelque lettre à tes clercs, ou tout seul tu dechiffres
Dedans ta chambre à part les enigmes des chiffres
Que te baille un courrier nouvellement venu,
A fin que le secret du Roy ne soit cognu.
 
Icy un Alleman des nouvelles t’apporte,
Icy un Espagnol se tient devant ta porte ;
L’Anglois, l’Italien, et l’Ecossois aussi
Font la presse à ton huis et te donnent souci :
L’un cecy, l’un cela diversement demande :
Puis il te faut signer ce que le Roy commande,
Qui selon les effets de divers argumens
Te baille en moins d’un jour mille commandemens,
De petits, de moyens et de grand importance.
 
Encor’ as-tu le soing des grands tresors de France :
Tailles, tributs, empruns, decimes et impos,
Ne laissent ton esprit un quart d’heure en repos,
Qui se plaist d’achever mille choses contraires,
Et plus est vigoureux, tant plus il a d’affaires.
Or ainsi qu’un poisson se nourrist en son eau,
Et une Salemandre au brasier d’un fourneau,
Tu te plais en ta peine, et ta verde vieillesse
Se nourrist du travail qui jamais ne te laisse.
 
Quand tu vas au matin aux affaires du Roy,
Une tourbe de gens fremist toute apres toy,
Qui deçà qui delà tes costez environnent,
Et tous divers propos à tes oreilles sonnent :
L’un te baille un placet, l’un te va conduisant
Pour luy faire donner au Roy quelque present,
L’autre (qui a de prés ton oreille approchée)
Demande si sa letter a esté despeschée :
L’un est fasché d’attendre, et n’a repos aucun
Que tousjours ne te suive et te soit importun :
L’autre plus gracieux te fait la reverence,
Et l’autre te requiert l’avoir en souvenance :
Bref la foulle te presse, et demeine un grand bruit
Tout à l’entour de toy, comme un torrent qui fuit
Bouillonnant par le fond des pierreuses valées,
Quand dessous le Printemps les neiges sont coulées.
 
Tu n’as si tost disné, qu’il ne te faille aller
Au Conseil, pour ouyr des affaires parler :
Puis au coucher du Roy, puis selon ta coustume
Presque toute la nuict veiller avec la plume.
Et pource nostre Roy d’un favorable accueil
Te prise et te cherist, et te porte bon œil,
Comme à celuy qui prend en France plus de peine :
Si fait Montmorency, et Charles de Lorraine :
Non seuls, mais tout le peuple, et ceux qui ont l’esprit
De sçavoir discerner combien vaut ton escrit :
Et moy par-dessus tous, qui de plus pres admire
Ta vertu qui me fait ceste lettre t’escrire.
Quand un homme s’esleve aupres de ces grands Dieux,
Mesprisant les petits, devient audacieux,
Et s’enflant tout le cœur d’arrogance et de gloire,
Se mocque de chacun, et si ne veut plus croire
Qu’il soit homme sujet à supporter l’assault
De Fortune qui doit luy doner un beau sault :
Mais certes à la fin une horrible tempeste
De la fureur d’un Roy luy saccage la teste :
Et plus il se vouloit aux Princes égaler,
Et plus avec risée on le fait devaler,
Par la tourbe incognuë, à fin qu’il soit exemple
D’un orgueil foudroyé, à l’œil qui le contemple.
 
Mais toy, qui as l’esprit net d’envie et d’orgueil,
Qui fais aux vertueux un honneste recueil,
Qui te sçais moderer en la fortune bonne,
Qui es homme de bien, qui n’offenses personne,
De jour en jour tu vois augmenter ton bon-heur,
Tu vois continuer ta gloire et ton honneur,
Loin de l’ambition, de fraude et de feintise :
Et c’est l’occasion pour laquelle te prise
Le peuple qui tousjours ne cesse d’espier
Les vices des Seigneurs, et de les descrier,
« Et se plaist en cela ; car de la chose faite
« Par les grands, bien ou mal, le peuple est la trompette ;
Et toutefois il t’aime, et dit que nostre Roy
N’a point de serviteur plus diligent que toy.
 
Tu ne rouilles ton cœur de l’execrable vice
De ceste orde furie et harpie Avarice,
Qui les tresors du monde attire dans sa main :
Car puis qu’il faut mourir ou ce soir ou demain,
Que sert d’amonceller tant d’escus en un coffre ?
Las ! puis que la Nature ingrate ne nous offre
Que l’usufruict du bien, que sert de desirer
Tant de possessions, que sert de deschirer
Le ventre de la terre, et hautement construire
Un Palais orgueilleux de marbre et de porfire ?
Où peut estre (ô folie !) il ne logera pas
Par la mort prevenu : où apres le trespas
Quelque prodigue enfant de cest avare pere,
Jeune, fol, desbauché, en fera bonne chere,
Vendra, jou’ra, perdra, et despendra le bien
Par son pere amassé, qui ne luy couste rien ?
« Car tout l’avoir mondain, quelque chose qu’on face
« Jamais ferme n’arreste à la troisiesme race :
« Ains fuit comme la bale, alors qu’au mois d’Esté
« Le grain bien loin du van parmy l’aire est jetté.
Mais sur tout, mon du Thier, jaloux je porte envie
A ceste liberté nourrice de ta vie,
Aux bons mots que tu dis, à ton esprit naïf,
Si prompt et si gentil, si gaillard et si vif,
Qui doctement adonne aux vers sa fantaisie,
Te faisant amoureux de nostre Poësie.
 
Tu n’es pas seulement Poëte tresparfait,
Mais si en nostre langue un gentil esprit fait
Epigramme ou Sonet, Epistre ou Elegie,
Tu luy as tout soudain ta faveur eslargie,
Et sans le decevoir tu le mets en honneur
Aupres d’un Cardinal, d’un Prince, ou d’un Seigneur,
Cela ne peut sortir que d’un noble courage,
Et d’un homme bien nay ; j’en ay pour tesmoignage
Et Salel, et tous ceux qui par les ans passez
Se sont pres du feu Roy par la Muse avancez.
 
Or je ne veux souffrir que les vistes carrieres
Des ans, perdent le bien que tu me fis n’agueres :
Et si ne veux souffrir qu’un acte grand et beau
Que tu fis à deux Grecs, aille sous le tombeau,
Deux pauvres estrangers, qui bannis de la Grece,
Avoient prins à la Cour de France leur addresse,
Incognus, sans appuy, pleins de soin et d’esmoy,
Pensans avoir support ou d’un Prince, ou d’un Roy.
Mais ce fut au contraire. Ô Princes, quelle honte
D’un peuple si sacré (helas !) ne faire conte !
Ils estoyent delaissez presque à mourir de fain,
Honteux de mendier le miserable pain,
Quand à l’extrémité portant un tresor rare,
S’addresserent à toy : c’estoit du vieil Pindare
Un livret incognu, et un livre nouveau
Du gentil Simonide esveillé du tombeau.
Toy lors, comme courtois, benin et debonnaire,
Ne fis tant seulement depescher leur affaire,
Mais tu recompensas avec beaucoup d’escus
Ces livres, qui avoyent tant de siecles veincus,
Et qui portoyent au front de la marge pour guide
Ce grand nom de Pindare et du grand Simonide,
Desquels tu as orné le sumptueux chasteau
De Beau-regard, ton œuvre, et l’en as fait plus beau
Que si des Asiens les terres despouillées
En don t’eussent baillé leurs medailles rouillées.
 
Pourquoy vay-je contant, moy François, les bienfaits
Qu’à ces Grecs estrangers, liberal, tu as faits,
Et je ne conte pas ceste faveur honneste
Que je receu du Roy n’aguere à ta requeste ?
Si je la celebrois, le vulgaire menteur,
Babillard et causeur m’appelleroit flateur,
Et diroit que tousjours ma Muse est favorable
Vers ceux qui m’ont receu d’un visage amiable,
Comme toy, mon du Thier, à qui certes je suis
Deteur de tant de bien que payer ne te puis,
Si pour estre payé tu ne prens ceste Muse
Que j’envoye chez toy pour faire mon excuse.
Tu ne la mettras pas (s’il te plaist) à mespris :
La Muse fut jadis vers les Rois en grand pris :
Des peuples elle fut autre-fois adorée,
Et de toy par sus tous maintenant honorée.
 
Elle avecques Phœbus hardiment ose entrer
Dedans ton cabinet, à fin de te montrer
Ces vers mal-façonnez qu’humblement je te donne,
Et (avecques les vers) le cœur et la personne.
 
 
 
 
He who pays honour to Kings, pays honour to God.
Princes and Kings hold the highest place
After the deity; and he who reveres also
The servants of a King, honours the King himself.
It is true my dear du Thier, that a man like you
Is harder to celebrate than a King;
For the glory of Kings is a fertile subject,
And barely troubles a noble pen
Or a lively hope, if it has received such good fortune,
To make any effort if it is to sing their greatness.
 
On so fertile a theme, in abundance comes
Idea upon idea, which the Muse takes up
As in winter the streams which flow from a mountain
Rush on, running into the sea endlessly;
But to praise a lesser man, you need skill
Lest his virtue appear to be vice.
 
 
So it is, my dear du Thier, that the greatest honours
Which are shared in France by our greatest Lords,
Are also shared by you, and if I dared say it
To you alone ought we rightly ascribe them,
As in-born in yourself; but these gods of the Court
Clutch at my throat and quickly make me shut up!
 
 
 
As you often see in mines under ground,
Whether silver or iron mines, great pillars of stone
Which you can see hold up the mine with their arms
And labour hard, yet do not labour;
And there are other pillars which, far from the light, stand
Within corners far off, which hold up the whole mass of stone;
So great Lords, whether in war or peace,
High in worth, seem to carry the mass
Of France’s affairs on their wide shoulders,
And yet it is you who bears the burden of them.
 
 
 
 
If there arrives a packet from Italy, or further afield,
Maybe Corsica or Greece, or the ends of the Levant,
They will neatly open it, but you will have to take it
To your study afterwards to reply to the letter.
For just as the heavens maintain only one Sun,
France has only one du Thier who has no equal,
Whether for wisely dealing with foreigners
Or for cunningly replying to their packets;
For both in the low style and the high,
The grace of good French flows from your hand.
 
No man boasts of being happy in prose
Who does not set before his eyes as a clear example
Your writings and your style, and while exercising
His handwriting, does not work to imitate you.
 
They say that Geryon, who tripled the conquests
Of Hercules with his massive [body], was topped by three heads;
You have more than a thousand, or at least a thousand brains
All of which you engage in a thousand novel acts.
For whether the sun is leaving the origin
Of his home the Ocean, and hastening to its course
His chariot to which Aurora with her own fair hand
Harnessed the horses, drawn up beneath the reins;
Or whether at midday he is firing his rays upon us
And seeing everything [lying] directly beneath him;
Or whether stooping to drink, thirsty and worn out,
He is off to bathe again in the waves of the Ocean,
And handing his chariot to the care of the sea-gods,
Your mind has no rest, working ceaselessly,
Like your tongue, and your hand; the mind in inventing,
The hand in writing, the tongue in dictating
Some letter to your clerks; or you decipher, alone
And apart in your room, the riddles of the codes
Which some new-come messenger has handed over,
That the secrets of the King may not be known.
 
Here a German brings you news,
Here a Spaniard stands before your door;
English, Italian and Scots also
Crowd at your door and give you trouble;
One here, one there makes various requests;
Then you must sign what the King commands,
He who, weighing the effects of various arguments,
Hands you in under a day a thousand commandments
Of small, middling and great importance.
 
As well, you have charge of the great treasures of France:
Duties, tributes, loans, tithes and taxes
Do not leave a quarter-hour of rest for your mind
Which delights in completing a thousand different things,
And the more vigorous it is the more business it has.
Indeed. just as a fish is fed by the water it swims in,
And a salamander by the heat of a furnace,
You are happy in your work, and your youthful old age
Is fed on the work which never leaves you.
 
When you go in the morning to the King’s business
A mob of people bustle along after you
Hemming you in on this side and that
And calling into your ears all sorts of plans;
One hands you a petition, another tries to get you
To let him make some present to the King,
Another, approaching close to your ear,
Asks if his letter has been hurried forward;
One is angry at waiting, and never rests from
Always following you and making demands;
Another more graciously makes his bow to you,
And another begs you to keep him in mind;
In brief, the crowd presses on you and makes a great noise
All around you, like a torrent rushing
Bubbling through the bottom of stony valleys
When in Spring the snows have melted.
 
You have barely dined when you must go
To the Council, to hear them talk about business;
Then to the King’s bed-time, then as is your custom
You stay awake almost all night with your pen.
And so our King gives you a favourable
Greeting and cherishes you, and looks well on you,
As on he who makes the greatest efforts in France;
So does Montmorency, and Charles of Lorraine;
Nor them alone, but all the people, and those who have minds
Which can understand how much your writing is worth;
And myself above all, who from close by admire
Your virtue, which makes me write you this letter.
When a man raises himself up to these great gods,
Despising the little folk, becoming over-bold,
His heart puffed up with arrogance and glory,
He scorns everyone yet cannot believe
That he is a man, subject to the attacks
Of Fortune which may yet give him a nasty surprise;
In the end, for sure, a terrible storm
Of the King’s anger will ravage his head;
And the more he considers himself the equal of princes,
The more he’ll be made to swallow the laughter
Of the nameless throng, that he might be an example
Of pride struck down, to any eye that considers him.
 
 
 
But you, who have a mind free of envy and pride,
Who make a noble object of contemplation for the virtuous,
Who know how to act moderately when fortune is good,
Who are a noble man, who attacks no-one,
From day to day you find your happiness increased,
Your glory and honour prolonged,
Far from ambition, fraud and deception;
And that’s the reason why the people
Prize you, the people who never cease spying out
The vices of Lords, and identifying them,
And enjoy that: for “Of the things done
By the great, good or bad, the people is the clarion”;
And still they love you, and say that our King
Has no servant more diligent than you.
 
 
Your heart is not blighted by execrable vice
Of that filthy, mad and rapacious Avarice
Which draws the treasures of the whole world into its hand;
For since one must die, maybe tonight or tomorrow,
What’s the use of piling up so much cash in a chest?
Ah, since ungrateful Nature offers us only
The use while we live of her goods, why desire
So many possessions, why tear open
The earth’s belly, and loftily build
A proud Palace of marble and porphyry,
In which perhaps (o folly!) you will not live,
Taken first by death, and in which after your death
Some spendthrift child of the miserly father –
Young, foolish, debauched – will drink well,
Will spend, play, lose and fritter away the goods
Heaped up by his father, which cost him nothing?
For “all worldly goods, whatever you make,
Never remains to the third generation;
It slips away like chaff, when in summer months
The grain is thrown through the air, far from the winnowing basket.”
But above all, my dear du Thier, I jealously desire
That freedom, the nursemaid of your life,
The fine words you speak, your uncomplicated spirit
So quick and noble, so jolly and lively,
Which learnedly gifts your verse with its imagination
Making you like that Poetry of ours.
 
You are not only a most perfect Poet,
But if in our tongue a noble spirit writes
An epigram or sonnet, epistle or elegy,
You immediately extend your favour to him
And without deceiving him put him in a position of honour
Close to a Cardinal, a Prince or a Lord;
That cannot come from anything but a noble courage,
And a well-born man; as witness of this I have
Salel, and all those who in past years
Were close to the late King, advanced by their Muse.
 
 
I do not want to allow the brief passage
Of a few years to forget the good that you’ve done me lately;
But also I do not want to allow a great and beautiful act
To pass into the grave, which you did for two Greeks,
Two poor strangers who, banished from Greece,
Brought to the French Court their plea,
Unknown and without influence, full of care and concern,
Hoping to gain support from a Prince or a King.
But they got the opposite. O princes, what shame
For a people so blessed, alas, to pay no attention!
They were left practically to die of hunger,
Shamefully to beg for their wretched bread,
When in their extremity bringing a rare treasure
They addressed themselves to you: it was an unknown book
Of old Pindar, and a new book
Of noble Simonides awoken from the tomb.
You then, like a courteous, benign and good-natured man,
Not only made sure to hasten on their business
But also repaid them with plenty of money
For those books, which had outlasted so many centuries
And which bore on their front edge as guide
The great name of Pindar and great Simonides,
With which you have adorned the sumptuous house
At Beau-Regard, your own work, and with them made it more beautiful
Than if the despoiled lands of the Asians
Had given you as a gift their blighted decorations.
 
Why am I pleased, me a Frenchman, at the good deeds
Which you did for these Greek visitors liberally,
And yet don’t value that generous favour
Which I received from the King lately at your request?
If I celebrated that, the vulgar liar,
Gossiper and chatterer would call me a flatterer
And say that my Muse is always favourable
To those who have received me with friendly face
Like you, my dear du Thier, to whom I am certainly
A debtor for so many benefits I cannot repay you –
Unless to be paid you accept this Muse
Whom I am sending you to make my excuses.
You will not scorn her, please;
That Muse was previously greatly prized by Kings,
And by nations she was in past times adored,
And is by you above all honoured now.
 
She with Phoebus bravely dares enter
Your study, in order to show you
These poorly-formed verses which humbly I give you,
And, with the verses, my heart and person.
 
 
A huge panegyric today. Though the sentiments are as fawning as usual in this genre of poetry, the poetry itself is wonderfully muscular and flexible.
 
Inevitably there are a few classical references, but Ronsard carefully explains them as he goes.  I could add that Geryon was a three-headed monster slain by Hercules, but Ronsard has already made that clear. (Blanchemain adds that this stanza was suppressed, but only in posthumous editions.) Pindar and Simonides? No-one seems to be able to identify the ‘poor Greeks’ bringing gifts, nor therefore the gifts they brought. Pindar and Simonides were both highly-regarded in Hellenistic Greece as lyric poets, though their works survive in fragments so to some extent we need to accept their judgement: new manuscripts of theirs would indeed be highly-prized by scholars.
 
In the stanza before the Greeks bearing gifts, Ronsard calls to witness ‘Salel’: this is Hugues Salel, abbé de Saint-Cheron. He is known for undertaking the first translation of the Iliad into French – sadly incomplete, but finished by Amadis Jamyn – at the request of François I (who is the ‘late king’ referred to a line or two later).
 
Inevitably there are a few variants between editions. Here are Blanchemain’s, which are (as you can see) minor:
 
In the first stanza,
 
Il est vray, mon Du Thier, qu’un seigneur comme toy
Donne plus de travail à celebrer qu’un Roy;
Car la gloire des Roys en sujet est fertille,
Et ne travaille guère une plume gentille,
Ny un esprit gaillard, s’il a reçeu tant d’heur
Que de ne s’effrayer de chanter leur grandeur
 
 
                                                                                         It is true my dear du Thier, that a lord like you
                                                                                         Is harder to celebrate than a King;
                                                                                         For the glory of Kings is a fertile subject,
                                                                                         And barely troubles a noble pen
                                                                                         Or a lively mind, if it has received such good fortune,
                                                                                         To have any fear if it is to sing their greatness.
 
 
In the Geryon stanza:
 
Il s’aille rebaigner aux flots de l’océan
Et que son char en garde aux Dieux marins il baille,
Ton esprit n’a repos, qui sans cesse travaille
Et ta langue et ta main : l’esprit en inventant,
La main en escrivant, et la langue en dictant
Quelque lettre à tes clercs ; ou secret tu dechiffres
Dedans ta chambre à part les enigmes de chiffres …
 
 
                                                                                         He is off to bathe again in the waves of the Ocean,
                                                                                         And handing his chariot to the care of the sea-gods,
                                                                                         Your mind has no rest, working ceaselessly,
                                                                                         Like your tongue, and your hand; the mind in inventing,
                                                                                         The hand in writing, the tongue in dictating
                                                                                         Some letter to your clerks; or you decipher, hidden
                                                                                         And apart in your room, the riddles of codes …
 
A couple of stanzas later,
 
Ainsi comme un poisson se nourrit en son eau,
Et une salemandre au brasier d’un fourneau,
Tu te plais en ta peine …
 
                                                                                         So as a fish is fed by the water it swims in,
                                                                                         And a salamander by the heat of a furnace,
                                                                                         You are happy in your work …
 
 
A couple of stanzas further on, in the stanza about Council meetings after dinner,
 
Quand un homme s’éléve auprés de ces grands Dieux,
Il devient bien souvent superbe, audacieux, …
 
                                                                                         When a man raises himself up to these great gods,
                                                                                         He very often becomes proud, over-bold, …
 
 
Then, at the end of the stanza about the Greeks bringing Pindar and Simonides,
 
Toy lors comme Courtois, benin et debonnaire,
Tu ne fis seulement dépescher leur affaire ;
Mais tu recompensas avec beaucoup d’escus
Ces livres qui avoient tant de siecles vaincus,
Et qui portoient au front de la marge pour guide
Ce grand nom de Pindare, et du grand Simonide,
Desquels tu as orné le somptueux chasteau
De Beauregard, ton œuvre, et l’en as fait plus beau
Que si Rome fouillant ses terres despouillées
En don t’eust envoyé ses medailles rouillées.
 
 
                                                                                        You then, like a courteous, benign and good-natured man,
                                                                                        Not only made sure to hasten on their business
                                                                                        But also repaid them with plenty of money
                                                                                        For those books, which had outlasted so many centuries
                                                                                        And which bore on their front edge as guide
                                                                                        The great name of Pindar and great Simonides,
                                                                                        With which you have adorned the sumptuous house
                                                                                        At Beau-Regard, your own work, and with them made it more beautiful
                                                                                        Than if Rome, ransacking its despoiled lands
                                                                                        Had sent you as a gift their blighted decorations.
 
 
And then finally in the penultimate stanza,
 
Debteur de tant de bien que payer ne le puis …
 
                                                                                        A debtor for so many benefits I cannot repay them …
 
 
 
 [ PS  my 500th post! ]
 
 
 

Poems 1.20 – the Nightingale

Standard

 

LE ROSSIGNOL
chantant et faisant son nid dedans un genèvre
 
Gay Rossignol honneur de la ramée,
Qui jour et nuit courtise ton aimée
Par mon jardin hoste de sa verdeur,
Quarante jours desgoisant ton ardeur
Et t’esclatant d’une voix qui gringote
Ores en haute ores en basse note,
A bec ouvert d’un siffletis trenchant,
Hachant coupant entrerompant ton chant
De cent fredons, tu donnes à ta femme
Un doux martel, amoureux de ma Dame.
 
Tu n’aurois point tant de faveur sinon
Que les vieux Grecs t’ont nommé d’un beau nom :
Mais bien de deux, t’appellent ce me semble,
D’un mesme mot, Chantre et Poëte ensemble.
 
Et je dirois, si j’estois un bragard,
Que Rossignol vient du nom de Ronsard.
 
Mais ce n’est moy qui ma Musique vante :
Soit bien soit mal, Rossignolet, je chante
Ainsi que toy pour me donner plaisir,
Quand j’ay Madame argent et le loisir.
Quoy ? qui t’esmeut de courtiser sans cesse
Et d’enchanter Genévre ma Maistresse ?
 
En ce Genévre où tu chantes de nuit,
Dessous l’escorce une pucelle vit,
A qui l’amour la peur et l’avanture
Ont fait changer de face et de nature.
 
Un jour ce Dieu tout bouquin par le front
La poursuivoit d’un pied de chévre pront.
Elle courant d’une fuite legere
Ainsi pria Diane bocagere :
Ou me transforme, ou bien fay moy mourir :
La seule mort me pourra secourir
Ains que l’ardeur de ce Bouquin je sente.
 
A-peine eut dit, qu’elle fut une plante :
Ses doigts longuets, ses bras veneux et beaux,
Comme ils estoyent, se changent en rameaux.
Son pied devint une morne racine,
Et une escorce entourna sa poitrine.
Puis ses cheveux de crainte reboursez
Espars se sont en fueilles herissez,
Et la palleur qu’elle avoit en sa fuite,
Vit sur l’escorce et tousjours y habite.
 
Un jour lassé de la chasse des loups,
Seul à l’escart je m’endormi dessous
L’ombre fatal de ce Genévre, et elle
En corps humain m’apparut toute telle
Qu’elle fut lors que le Bouc amoureux
La poursuivoit par un taillis ombreux,
Tant il avoit de flames dedans l’ame
Pour la beauté d’une si jeune Dame.
Depuis ce jour jamais je n’ay cessé
D’avoir le cœur de son amour blessé,
Et de languir pour un si beau visage.
 
Et toutefois brave de ton ramage
Chantant sifflant et faisant mille tours,
Tu veux tout seul jouyr de mes amours,
Que de bon cœur, Rossignol, je te laisse :
Car tu vaux mieux que ne fait ma Maistresse.
 
Et qui plus est, comme on voit un mary
Plein de finesse entre Dames nourri,
Faire secret l’amour à sa voisine :
Quand il n’a pas une femme trop fine,
La persuade avec un beau parler,
De la hanter, visiter et d’aller
Boire et manger souvent avecques elle,
A fin d’avoir (par une ruse telle)
Plus de moyen d’œillader les beaux yeux
Qui de son cœur se font victorieux.
 
Ainsi rival ta femme tu ameines
Dedans cest arbre, où d’un nid fait de laines
Mousses, duvets, ses petits elle pond,
Esclost, escouve, et qui apres se font
Ainsi que toy au retour des fueillages
Quarante jours Sereines des bocages.
 
Quoy ? Rossignol, la voix ne te defaut !
Et par despit tu t’efforces plus haut !
 
Puis qu’autrement ma verve poëtique
Ne peut gaigner ton ramage rustique,
Va, Rossignol, je laisse seul pour toy
L’arbre amoureux qui n’a souci de moy,
L’arbre gentil, et toutefois farouche,
Qui fait saigner aussi tost qu’on le touche.
 
Tandis, Girard, que la fiévre me tient
Reins, teste, flanc, la Muse m’entretient,
Et de venir à mon lit n’a point honte.
 
Or des propos que sa bouche me conte
Je t’en fais part, à fin qu’à l’advenir
De ton Ronsard te puisses souvenir.
The Nightingale
singing and making its nest in a juniper-bush
 
Happy nightingale, the branch’s pride,
Who court your beloved day and night
In my garden, the guest of its greenery,
For forty days singing of your passion
And crying out with a voice which chirps
Now with a high, now with a low note,
Your beak open in a piercing whistle,
Chopping, cutting off and interrupting your song
With a hundred twitterings, you give your wife
A sweet jealousy, beloved of my Lady.
 
You’d not have such favour if
The ancient Greeks had not given you a fine name ;
Indeed with two, it seems to me, thay named you
In a single word, Singer and Poet together.
 
And I would say – if I were a braggart –
That ‘Rossignol’ [Nightingale] comes from the name ‘Ronsard’.
 
But it’s not myself my poems boast of :
For good or bad, nightingale, I sing
Like you to give myself pleasure,
Since I have my Lady, money and leisure-time.
What or who [ moved ] you to court unceasingly
And to enchant my mistress, the Juniper ?
 
In that juniper where you sing at night,
Beneath the bark there lives a maiden
Whose form and nature have been changed
By love, fear and mischance.
 
One day that god with horns on his brow
Was pursuing her on his swift stag’s-foot.
As she ran with light fleeing steps,
She prayed thus to Diana, goddess of the woods :
« Transform me, or let me die :
Death alone can help me
Such is this Horned God’s passion I feel. »
 
She had barely spoken when she became a plant :
Her fingers long and thin, her arms veined and fair
As they were, changed into branches.
Her feet became a sad root,
And bark encircled her breast.
Then her hair, standing up in fear,
Was spread out in bristling leaves
And the pallor she had in her flight
Lived on in the bark, and still remains there.
 
One day, tired from hunting wolves,
Alone and apart i fell asleep beneath
The fatal shade of this juniper, and she
Appeared to me in human form just as
She had been when the amorous Horned God
Pursued her through a shady copse,
Such a fire had he in his soul
Because of so young a lady’s beauty.
Since that day i have never ceased
To bear a wound in my heart for her love,
And to pine for so pretty a face.
 
And yet bold in your plumage,
Singing, whistling and turning a thousand times,
You want to be the only one enjoying that love of mine
Which I happily resign to you, nightingale ;
For you are worth more than my mistress !
 
And what is more, as one sees a married man
Full of cunning, fostered among the ladies,
Making secret love to his neighbour ;
if he has a wife who is not too clever,
He persuades her with fine words
To visit and see her frequently, to go
To eat and drink often with her,
So that hem ay have (by such a ruse)
More means of looking into the fair eyes
Which have conquered his heart ;
 
Just so you are bringing your own wife as a rival
To this tree, where in a nest made of wool,
Moss, feathers she lays her little ones,
Hatches, broods them, and after that becomes
Like you, when the leaves come back,
For forty days the Sirens of the woods.
 
May your voice not fail you, nightingale !
In envious competition, force yourself higher !
 
As otherwise my poetic inspiration
Cannot beat your rustic plumage,
Go on, nightingale – I leave for you alone
The tree I love which has no care for me,
The noble tree yet still timid
Which bleeds as soon as it is touched.
 
Yet, Girard, while the fever grips my
Guts, head, body, my Muse converses with me
And is not ashamed to come to my bed.
So, the words which her mouth relates
I share with you, that in the future
You may remember your Ronsard.
 
It’s the story of Daphne, pursued by Apollo, and turned into a laurel tree, which inspires this tale of a nymph turned into a juniper tree. As far as I know there isn’t a classical myth regarding the juniper, just Ronsardian invention.
 
As a footnote, it is possible there was a real lady Genèvre, with whom Ronsard flirted – though probably some time earlier than the late 1560s when he wrote this. There are two Elegies to her (though neither is especially ‘elegiac’ in tone); and she may have been the wife of Blaise de Vigenère, diplomat, scholar, alchemist and the “perfect incarnation of erudite genius in the Renaissance”.  His name may be familiar as the inventor (or rather improver) of the Vigenère cypher, which is an excellent simple cypher still useable today. But in his time he was known as translator of a range of Roman and Greek works, and author of works on alchemy (or perhaps chemistry) and comets, among others. Perhaps it would be appropriate for Ronsard to disguise his wife under a ‘cipher’, in the form of an anagram: Vigenère –> Genièvre.
 
The poem is dedicated to Jehan Girard, a friend of Robert Garnier (the tragedian, whom we’ve met before) and a councillor in Le Mans – not the Jehan Girard who  was printing protestant books in Geneva a decade or two earlier!
 
Back to the poetry. It’s odd that something which looks so much like an oocasional poem should have attracted so much revision by Ronsard. But let’s remember that what appears a little playful address to a bird, is in fact closely modelled on episodes in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and aspires to similar heights. Blanchemain’s (early) version is set out below in full, so much variation is there. Note that this version carries a dedication to Claude Binet, poet and Ronsard’s first biographer.  But this is not the first time we’ve seen Ronsard adapt an earlier dedication to another subject later in life, reflecting the changing patterns or networks of influence and patronage over time.
 
 
LE ROSSIGNOL
chantant et faisant son nid dedans un genévre de son jardin
 
A Claude Binet
 
 
Gay Rossignol honneur de la ramée,
Qui jour et nuict courtises ton aimée
Dans mon jardin desgoisant tes amours
Au mois d’avril le père des beaux jours,
Et t’esclatant d’une voix qui gringote
Ores en haute, ores en basse note,
A gorge ouverte, à pleins poulmons trenchant,
Hachant coupant entre-rompant ton chant
De cent fredons, tu donnes à ta femme
Un doux martel. Amoureux de ma Dame,
Tu m’es rival, d’où vient cela ? sinon
Que les vieux Grecs t’ont nommé d’un beau nom :
Mais bien de deux, t’appellant ce me semble,
D’un mesme mot, Chantre et Poëte ensemble.
Et je dirois, si j’estois un bragard,
Que Rossignol vient du nom de Ronsard.
 
Mais ce n’est moy dont ma Muse se vante :
Soit bien soit mal, Rossignolet, je chante
Ainsi que toy pour me donner plaisir,
Quand j’ay maistresse, argent et le loisir.
Quoy ? qui t’esmeut de caresser sans cesse
De tes fredons Genévre ma Maistresse ?
 
En ce Genévre où tu chantes de nuit,
Dessous l’escorce une pucelle vit,
A qui l’amour la peur et l’avanture
Ont fait changer de face et de nature.
 
Un jour ce Dieu, qui a cornes au front
La poursuivoit d’un pied de chévre pront.
Elle courant, ayant recours aux larmes,
Ainsi pria : « Diane, par tes charmes
Ou me transforme, ou bien fay moy mourir :
La seule mort me pourra secourir
Ains que l’ardeur de ce Bouquin je sente. »
 
A-peine eut dit, qu’elle fut une plante :
Ses doigts longuets, ses bras veineux et beaux,
A longs fourchons se fendent en rameaux ;
Son pied devint une morne racine,
Et une escorce entourna sa poitrine.
Ses longs cheveux de crainte rebroussez,
Espars se sont en fueilles herissez,
Et la palleur qu’elle avoit en sa fuite,
Vit sur l’escorce et tousjours y habite.
 
Un jour lassé de la chasse des loups,
Seul à l’escart je m’endormi dessous
L’ombre fatal de ce Genévre, et elle
En corps humain m’apparut toute telle
Qu’elle fut lors que le Bouc amoureux
La poursuivoit par un taillis ombreux,
Tant il avoit de flames dedans l’ame
Pour la beauté d’une si jeune Dame.
Depuis ce jour jamais je n’ay cessé
D’avoir le cœur de son amour blessé,
Et de languir pour un si beau visage.
 
Et toutefois hautain de ton ramage
Chantant sifflant et faisant mille tours,
Tu veux tout seul jouyr de mes amours,
Que de bon cœur, Rossignol, je te laisse :
Car ton fredon merite ma Maistresse.
 
Et qui plus est, comme on voit un mary
Plein de finesse entre Dames nourri,
Faire secret l’amour à sa voisine :
Quand il n’a pas une femme trop fine,
La persuade avec un beau parler,
De la hanter, visiter et d’aller
Boire et manger souvent avecques elle,
A fin d’avoir (par une ruse telle)
Plus de moyen d’œillader les beaux yeux
Qui de son cœur se font victorieux.
 
Ainsi rival ta femme tu ameines
Dedans cest arbre, où d’un nid fait de laines
Mousses, duvet, ses petits elle pond,
Esclost, escouve, et abeche, qui sont
Un an après, au retour des fueillages
Quarante jours Sereines des bocages.
 
Quoy ? Rossignol, la voix ne te defaut !
Et par despit tu t’efforces plus haut !
 
Puis qu’autrement ma verve poëtique
Ne peut gaigner ton ramage rustique,
Va, Rossignol, tu auras seul pour toy
L’arbre amoureux qui n’a souci de moy,
L’arbre gentil, et toutefois farouche,
Qui fait saigner aussi tost qu’on le touche.
 
Tandis, Binet, que la fiévre me tient
Reins, teste, flanc, la Muse m’entretient,
Et de venir à mon lit n’a point honte.
 
Or des propos que sa bouche me conte
Je t’en fais part, à fin qu’à l’advenir
De ton Ronsard te puisse souvenir.
The Nightingale
singing and making its nest in a juniper-bush in his garden
 
To Claude Binet
 
 
Happy nightingale, the branch’s pride,
Who court your beloved day and night
In my garden, singing of your passion
In the month of April, father of fine days,
And crying out with a voice which chirps
Now with a high, now with a low note,
Your throat open, whistling fit to burst,
Chopping, cutting off and interrupting your song
With a hundred twitterings, you give your wife
A sweet jealousy. Beloved of my Lady,
You are my rival – why is that ? unless because
The ancient Greeks gave you a fine name ;
Indeed two, naming you, it seems to me,
In a single word, Singer and Poet together.
And I would say – if I were a braggart –
That ‘Rossignol’ [Nightingale] comes from the name ‘Ronsard’.
 
But it’s not myself my Muse boasts of :
For good or bad, nightingale, I sing
Like you to give myself pleasure,
Since I have a mistress, money and leisure-time.
What or who inspired you to caress unceasingly
With your chirping my mistress, the Juniper ?
 
In that juniper where you sing at night,
Beneath the bark there lives a maiden
Whose form and nature have been changed
By love, fear and mischance.
 
One day that god who has horns on his brow
Was pursuing her on his swift stag’s-foot.
As she ranhaving recourse to tears,
She prayed thus : « Diana, by your charms
Transform me, or let me die :
Death alone can help me
Such is this Horned God’s passion I feel. »
 
She had barely spoken when she became a plant :
Her fingers long and thin, her arms veined and fair
Split into long-forked branches.
Her feet became a sad root,
And bark encircled her breast.
Her long hair, pulled back in fear,
Was spread out in bristling leaves
And the pallor she had in her flight
Lived on in the bark, and still remains there.
 
One day, tired from hunting wolves,
Alone and apart i fell asleep beneath
The fatal shade of this juniper, and she
Appeared to me in human form just as
She had been when the amorous Horned God
Pursued her through a shady copse,
Such a fire had he in his soul
Because of so young a lady’s beauty.
Since that day i have never ceased
To bear a wound in my heart for her love,
And to pine for so pretty a face.
 
And yet proud of your plumage,
Singing, whistling and turning a thousand times,
You want to be the only one enjoying that love of mine
Which I happily resign to you, nightingale ;
For your chirping is worthy of my mistress.
 
And what is more, as one sees a married man
Full of cunning, fostered among the ladies,
Making secret love to his neighbour ;
if he has a wife who is not too clever,
He persuades her with fine words
To visit and see her frequently, to go
To eat and drink often with her,
So that hem ay have (by such a ruse)
More means of looking into the fair eyes
Which have conquered his heart ;
 
Just so you are bringing your own wife as a rival
To this tree, where in a nest made of wool,
Moss, down, she lays her little ones,
Hatches, broods and cuddles those who are
A year later, when the leaves come back,
For forty days the Sirens of the woods.
 
May your voice not fail you, nightingale !
In envious competition, force yourself higher !
 
As otherwise my poetic inspiration
Cannot beat your rustic plumage,
Go on, nightingale – you shall have for yourself alone
The tree I love which has no care for me,
The noble tree yet still timid
Which bleeds as soon as it is touched.
 
Yet, Binet, while the fever grips my
Guts, head, body, my Muse converses with me
And is not ashamed to come to my bed.
 
So, the words which her mouth relates
I share with you, that in the future
It may remind you of your Ronsard.
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.185

Standard
Puis qu’aujourd’huy pour me donner confort,
De ses cheveux ma maistresse me donne :
D’avoir receu, mon cœur, je te pardonne,
Mes ennemis au dedans de mon Fort :
 
Non pas cheveux, mais un filé bien fort,
Qu’Amour me lasse, et que le ciel m’ordonne,
Où franchement captif je m’abandonne
En si beau poil, le lien de ma mort.
 
De tels cheveux le Dieu que Déle honore,
Son col de laict blondement ne decore,
Ny les flambeaux du chef Egyptien,
 
Quand de leurs feux les astres se couronnent,
Maugré la nuict ne reluisent si bien
Que ces beaux nœuds qui mes bras environnent.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Since today, to give me comfort,
                                                                            My mistress gave me some of her hair
                                                                            I pardon you, my heart, for having allowed
                                                                            My enemies within my fort.
 
                                                                            Hair ? No, it is a very strong cord
                                                                            Which Love ties me with and Heaven ordains
                                                                            And I abandon myself, freely captive
                                                                            To such lovely hair, the bond of death for me.
 
                                                                            With such locks the blonde god whom Delos worships
                                                                            Does not decorate his milky neck ;
                                                                            Nor do the flames of the Egyptian hair
 
                                                                            When the stars crown themselves with its fire
                                                                            So brightly shine, in spite the night,
                                                                            As these lovely knots which encircle my arms.
 
 
 
 
The ‘Delian god’ is Apollo (blonde, because he is the sun-god), and the ‘Egyptian hair’ belonged to Berenice, Queen of Ptolemy III of Egypt, whose hair was supposed to have been transformed into the constellation Coma Berenices (Berenice’s hair).
 
Blanchemain’s version is identical.