Tag Archives: Pluto

Odes 4:5



Guy, nos meilleurs ans coulent
Comme les eaux qui roulent
D’un cours sempiternel ;
La mort pour sa sequelle
Nous ameine avec elle
Un exil éternel.
Nulle humaine priere
Ne repousse en arriere
Le bateau de Charon,
Quand l’ame nue arrive
Vagabonde en la rive
De Styx et d’Acheron.
Toutes choses mondaines
Qui vestent nerfs et veines
La mort égale prend,
Soient pauvres ou soient princes ;
Car sur toutes provinces
Sa main large s’estend.
La puissance tant forte
Du grand Achille est morte,
Et Thersite, odieux
Aux Grecs, est mort encores ;
Et Minos qui est ores
Le conseiller des dieux.
Jupiter ne demande
Que des bœufs pour offrande ;
Mais son frere Pluton
Nous demande, nous hommes,
Qui la victime sommes
De son enfer glouton.
Celuy dont le Pau baigne
Le tombeau nous enseigne
N’esperer rien de haut,
Et celuy que Pegase
(Qui fit soucer Parnase)
Culbuta d’un grand saut.
Las ! on ne peut cognaistre
Le destin qui doit naistre,
Et l’homme en vain poursuit
Conjecturer la chose
Que Dieu sage tient close
Sous une obscure nuit.
Je pensois que la trope
Que guide Calliope,
Troupe mon seul confort,
Soustiendroit ma querelle,
Et qu’indonté par elle
Je donterois la mort.
Mais une fiévre grosse
Creuse déjà ma fosse
Pour me banir là bas,
Et sa flame cruelle
Se paist de ma mouelle,
Miserable repas.
Que peu s’en faut, ma vie,
Que tu ne m’es ravie
Close sous le tombeau,
Et que mort je ne voye
Où Mercure convoye
Le debile troupeau !
[Et ce Grec qui les peines
Dont les guerres sont pleines
Va là bas racontant,
Poëte qu’une presse
Des épaules espaisse
Admire en l’écoutant.]
A bon droit Prométhée
Pour sa fraude inventée
Endure un tourment tel,
Qu’un aigle sur la roche
Luy ronge d’un bec croche
Son poumon immortel.
Depuis qu’il eut robée
La flame prohibée,
Pour les dieux despiter,
Les bandes incogneues
Des fiévres sont venues
Parmi nous habiter.
Et la mort despiteuse,
Auparavant boiteuse,
Fut légère d’aller ;
D’ailes mal-ordonnées
Aux hommes non données
Dedale coupa l’air.
L’exécrable Pandore
Fut forgée, et encore
Astrée s’en-vola,
Et la boîte féconde
Peupla le pauvre monde
De tant de maux qu’il a.
Ah ! le meschant courage
Des hommes de nostre âge
N’endure pas ses faits ;
Que Jupiter estuye
Sa foudre, qui s’ennuye
Venger tant de mesfaits !
Guy, our best years rush by
Like streams flowing
In their everlasting race ;
Death, as the sequel,
Brings us with it
Eternal exile.
No human prayer
Can push back
Charon’s boat
When the naked soul arrives
A wanderer at the river
Styx and Acheron.
All wordly things
Equipped with nerves and veins
Death takes equally,
Be they poor men or princes ;
For over all the empires
Its wide hand extends.
The strength, though great,
Of mighty Achilles is dead ;
And Thersites, hated
By the Greeks, is dead too ;
And Minos too, who was once
Advisor to the gods.
Jupiter requires only
Cattle as an offering ;
But his brother Pluto
Requires us, us men,
Who are the victims
Of his greedy hell.
He, whose tomb the Pau [Po]
Bathes, teaches us
To hope for nothing from on high,
And he too, whom Pegasus
(Who disquieted Parnassus)
Knocked down with his great leap.
Alas ! we cannot know
The fate which must come to us,
And man in vain seeks
To conjecture what thing
Our wise God keeps hidden
Beneath dark night.
I thought that the troop
Whom Calliope leads,
The troop which is my sole comfort,
Would support my complaint
And that, untamed by them,
I would tame death.
But a great fever
Is already digging my grave
To banish me down there,
And its cruel flame
Is feeding on my marrow,
A wretched repast.
How little is needed, mt life,
For you to be taken from me,
Shut in beneath my tomb,
And for me to see death
Where Mercury brings
The feeble troop !
[And that Greek who
Continually recounts down there
The pains with which war is filled,
The poet whom a crowd
Of wide shoulders
Admires as they listen.]
Rightly does Prometheus
For that trick he contrived
Endure such torment,
As, on his rock, an eagle
With its crooked beak gnaws
His immortal guts.
Since he stole away
The forbidden fire
To spite the gods,
The unknown bonds
Of fevers have come
To live among us ;
And resentful death,
Before that limping slowly,
Has become light on his feet.
With clumsy wings
Not granted to man
Daedalus cut through the air.
Cursed Pandora
Was forged and, still
A star, flew off
While the fruitful box
Peopled this poor world
With all the evils it had.
Ah, the paltry courage
Of the men of our age
Cannot endure their deeds ;
May Jupiter hold back
His thunderbolts, bored with
Avenging so many misdeeds !


This Ode is dedicated to Guy Pacate, prior of Sougé – a small village in the Loir region. Even today it consists of little more than one street and a church. Pacate had been one of the little group around Daurat in the 1540s, including Ronsard, du Bellay and Denisot, from which sprang the Pléiade. Among them he was apparently known for his learning and his gift for Latin poetry; though beyond their circle he seems obscure.  Perhaps it is relevant that, in the posthumous editions of Ronsard the dedication was to Jean Daurat himself, rather than this little-known satellite of his.
It’s certainly relevant that Pacate knew his classics: there is an array of classical references here rarely seen in such number in Ronsard’s poems! But at the same time Ronsard contrives an inward-looking reflection on death rather than a grand, public poem, suitable to the relative obscurity of the dedicatee.
Stanza 2 refers to the journey to the afterlife: souls would come down to the river Styx where they awaited Charon’s boat to ferry them over to Hades. (Mercury guided souls to the underworld – stanza 10.)
Stanza 4 contrasts Achilles with Thersites, the former the hero of the Iliad, the latter an annoying, cowardly tell-tale also on the Greek side; and adds Minos, once a king on earth, but tricked and killed in his bath by his daughters.
In stanza 6, Pau is famous as the birthplace of “noste Enric” (‘our Henry’), Henry IV of France; and earlier was the base of Gaston Fébus, whose Renaissance court paralleled that of Italian city-states. But this Pau is in fact the Po in north Italy, reputed to be where Phaethon fell when struck down by Jupiter’s thunderbolt. The second half of the stanza is about Perseus; other editions have “sourcer” rather than the (unique?) “soucer” which I have treated as if it were “soucier”: “Qui fit sourcer Parnase” would mean something like “who made a spring come from Parnassus”, the spring being the Hippocrene spring which was created when Pegasus stamped his foot, and which became sacred to the Muses.
The troop of Calliope in stanza 8 is the Muses – Calliope is the muse of epic poetry. In stanza 11, the poet is no doubt Homer; we have met Prometheus (stanzas 12-13), punished by the gods for bringing fire to man, regularly. In stanza 14 I have to admit the presence of Daedalus confuses me: there is no link to Pandora, nor did his flight lead to his own death. I assume that Ronsard is offering a simile – like Daedalus taking wing, death too became swifter.
Finally, in the penultimate stanza, Pandora is ‘forged’ because she the first woman, was made by Vulcan on Jupiter’s instructions. The story of the evils contained in Pandora’s box is well-known.

Sonnets diverses 1 – to King Henri II


Au Roy Henry II de ce nom    (To King Henry, second of that name)


Je vous donne le Ciel pour vos estrenes, SIRE.
Je ferois à la France, et à vous un grand tort,
A vous, sain et dispos, jeune, gaillard et fort ;
A la France qui seul pour son Roy vous desire ;
De vous donner la Mer : que vous vaudroit l’Empire
Des vagues et des vents ? De vous donner le sort
Qui survint à Pluton, que vous vaudroit le port
De l’Enfer odieux, des trois Mondes le pire ?
La France vous suffit, vous estes estrené :
Vos fils puisnez sont Ducs, Roy vostre fils aisné :
Et vos filles bien tost vous feront le grand-père
D’enfans, qui porteront le Sceptre en divers lieux,
Ainsi doresnavant vous serez dit le Père
Des Rois dont la grandeur vaut bien celle des Dieux
                                                                            If I give you the heavens as your new-year’s gift, Sire,
                                                                            I would do France and you a great wrong:
                                                                            You, as you are healthy and fit, young, merry and strong;
                                                                            France, as it wants you alone for its King.
                                                                            If I gave you the sea, what use to you would be the rule
                                                                            Of its waves and winds? If I gave you the lot
                                                                            Which fell to Pluto, what use to you would be the harbour
                                                                            Of hateful Hell, the worst of the three worlds?
                                                                            France is enough for you; there, that is your gift:
                                                                            Your younger children are Dukes, your eldest a King;
                                                                            And your daughters will soon make you the grandfather
                                                                            Of children who will bear the Sceptre in various places;
                                                                            And hereafter you will be called the Father
                                                                            Of Kings, whose greatness is like that of the gods.



A couple of notes:  Pluto was alloted Hades, while Jupiter got the heavens and Neptune the seas to rule.  Ronsard alludes to all three in the opening stanzas. In line 10, the ‘eldest child’ is Francis, later Francis II of France briefly, who at the time was King Consort of Scotland through his marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots (there is a beautiful double-portrait in Catherine de Medici’s book of hours.) . His death at the end of 1560 left her (briefly Queen Consort of France) a widow still in her teens, and free to pursue the chaotic course of her Scottish career with Darnley and Bothwell.
There is one small but significant difference in Blanchemain’s version, at the very beginning:  “De vous donner le ciel …”. He obviously changed it to avoid beginning the 2 quatrains with the same words. But the change was not a great one otherwise: while the original opening (“De vous donner le ciel …”) clearly means ‘If I gave you the heavens…’, I have been a little naughty in translating the revised version (“Je vous donne…”) the same way. In fact, it seems to me that grammatically the new version should be saying something like:  ‘I give you the heavens, Sire. I would be doing you & France wrong to give you the sea.’ But that upsets the balance of the quatrains as well as making lines 5-6 mostly repetition. So I think we have to read Ronsard’s new version as saying ‘I give you the heavens. (But no – ) I would be doing you & France a great wrong…”
I have put this in the Sonnets diverses – which is where Blanchemain prints it – though Marty-Laveaux includes it among the various “sonnets retranchées” in his final volume.




« La Trophée d’Amour » (from Mascarades)


« La Trophée d’Amour », the Trophy (or monument) of Love, is dedicated “à la Comedie de Fontaine-bleau” (‘to the Comedy [Theatre] at Fontainebleau’). It’s a light-hearted portrait of Cupid.


Je suis Amour le grand maistre des Dieux,
Je suis celuy qui fait mouvoir les Cieux,
Je suis celuy qui gouverne le monde,
Qui le premier hors de la masse esclos
Donnay lumiere et fendis le Chaos
Dont fut basti ceste machine ronde.
Rien ne sçauroit à mon arc resister,
Rien ne pourroit mes fleches eviter,
Et enfant nud je fais toujours la guerre :
Tout m’obeyst, les oiseaux esmaillez,
Et de la mer les poissons escaillez,
Et les mortels heritiers sur la terre.
La paix, la tréve, et la guerre me plaist,
Du sang humain mon appetit se paist,
Et volontiers je m’abreuve de larmes :
Les plus hautains sont pris à mon lien,
Le corselet au soldart ne sert rien
Et le harnois ne defend les gend’armes.
Je tourne et change et renverse et desfais
Ce que je veux, et puis je le refais,
Et de mon feu toute ame est eschaufée :
Je suis de tous le Seigneur et le Roy :
Rois et Seigneurs vont captifs devant moy,
Et de leurs cœurs j’enrichis mon trofée.
De Jupiter le Sçeptre j’ay donté,
Jusqu’aux enfers j’ai Pluton surmonté,
Et de Neptune ay blessé la poitrine :
De rien ne sert aux ondes la froideur,
Que les Tritons ne sentent mon ardeur,
Et que mon feu n’embrase la marine.
La Volupté, la Jeunesse me suit,
L’oisiveté en pompe me conduit,
Je suis aveugle, et si ay bonne veuë,
Je suis enfant et suis pere des Dieux,
Foible, puissant, superbe, gracieux,
Et sans viser je frappe à l’imporveüe.
L’homme est de plomb, de rocher et de bois
Qui n’a senti les traits de mon carquois :
Seul je le fais et courtois et adestre :
Les cœurs sans moi languissent refroidis,
Je les rends chauds, animez et hardis,
Et bref je suis de toute chose maistre.
Qui ne me voit, au monde ne voit rien :
Je suis du mondeet le mal et le bien,
Je suis le doux et l’amer tout ensemble,
Je n’ay patron ny exemple que moy,
Je suis mon tout, ma puissance et ma loy,
Et seulement à moi seul je ressemble.
I am Love, great master of the gods,
I am he who makes the heavens move,
I am he who rules the world,
Who first, blossoming from the masses,
Gave light and split Chaos apart,
By whom this round engine [the world] was built.
None can resist my bow,
None can avoid my arrows,
And always as a naked child I make war;
Everyone obeys me – the glittering birds,
The scaly fish in the sea,
And the mortals who’ve inherited the earth.
Peace, truce and war please me,
With human blood is my appetite satisfied,
And I happily drink my fill of tears;
The haughtiest are caught in my bonds,
A breastplate is no use to the soldier
Nor can armour defend the man-at-arms.
I twist and change, reverse and undo
Whatever I want, and then re-do it;
With my fire every soul is warmed.
I am the lord and king of all men,
Kings and lords go captive before me
And with their hearts I enrich my monument.
I have subdued Jupiter’s sceptre,
I’ve overcome Pluto in Hades,
I’ve wounded Neptune’s breast,
The cold of the waves is no use
To keep the Tritons from feeling my warmth,
And my fire from burning the sea.
Pleasure and Youth follow me;
Idleness escorts me in procession;
I am blind yet I see well,
I am a child yet I am the father of the gods,
Weak and powerful, proud and gracious,
Without aiming I strike unexpectedly
The man is made of lead, stone, or wood
Who has not felt wounds from my quiver,
I alone make them, both courteous and skilful;
Without me, hearts languish, frozen;
I make them hot, excited and bold,
And in brief I am master of all.
He who cannot see me in the world, sees nothing;
I am the good and bad in the world,
The sweet and the bitter together;
I have no boss, no example but myself;
I am all I need, my own power and my own law,
And I resemble only myself.
Minor variants only in Blanchemain:  at the end of the fourth stanza, he has
Je suis de tout le Seigneur et le Roy :
Rois et Seigneurs vont captifs devant moy,
Et de leurs cœurs je bastis mon trofée.
                                                                                           I am the lord and king of all things,
                                                                                           Kings and lords go captive before me
                                                                                           And from their hearts I build my monument.


and a couple of stanzas from the end he has the line “Foible et puissant, superbe et gracieux”, which has a subtly different weight.

Sonnet 135


Sonnet 134 is already on the blog (here); so here’s no.135.


Douce beauté, meurdriere de ma vie,
En lieu d’un cœur tu portes un rocher :
Tu me fais vif languir et desecher
Passionné d’une amoureuse envie.
Le jeune sang qui d’aimer te convie,
N’a peu de toy la froideur arracher,
Farouche fiere, et qui n’as rien plus cher
Que languir froide, et n’estre point servie.
Appren à vivre, ô fiere en cruauté :
Ne garde point à Pluton ta beauté,
Quelque peu d’aise en aimant il faut prendre.
Il faut tromper doucement le trespas :
Car aussi bien sous la terre là-bas
Sans rien sentir le corps n’est plus que cendre.
                                                                            Sweet beauty, murderer of my life,
                                                                            In place of a heart you have a stone;
                                                                            You make me, though alive, fade away and shrivel up
                                                                            Impassioned with love’s desire.
                                                                            The youthful blood which urges you to love
                                                                            Has not been able to draw off your coldness from you,
                                                                            Wild and proud one, who hold nothing dearer
                                                                            Than sitting listlessly and coldly, accepting no service.
                                                                            Learn to live, proud in your cruelty;
                                                                            Don’t keep your beauty for Pluto,
                                                                            You must relax a little in love.
                                                                            You must sweetly defeat death,
                                                                            For, too, down there below the earth,
                                                                            Feeling nothing, the body is nothing but dust.




 I wonder if Ronsard meant “aussi bien” (in the penultimate line) to have the same meaning as “aussi tost” – that is, ‘For as soon as we are under the ground…’? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used this way but it certainly reads more sensibly / logically in English this way…
This is one of those poems in which Ronsard tweaked the sestet to try to get closer to his ideal. Personally I feel his first version was better and the later one (above) more obscure. Here’s that earlier, clearer version from Blanchemain (note that he didn’t modify “aussi bien” between versions!):
Apprens à vivre, ô fiere en cruauté ;
Ne garde point à Pluton ta beauté ;
Tes passetemps en aimant il faut prendre.
Le seul plaisir peut tromper le trespas :
Car, aussi bien, quand nous serons là-bas,
Sans plus aimer, nous ne serons que cendre. 
                                                                            Learn to live, proud in your cruelty;
                                                                            Don’t keep your beauty for Pluto;
                                                                            You must spend your leisure in love.
                                                                            Only pleasure can defeat death,
                                                                            For, too, when we are down below
                                                                            With no more love, we will be only dust.



(The next poem in the book is the “Stances” (stanzas) – the first poem not in sonnet form in the book.  It is already on the blog (here), along with the two following sonnets nos. 136 and 137.  So the next entry will be no. 138!



To Robert Garnier (3)

Quel son masle et hardy, quelle bouche héroique,
Et quel superbe vers enten-je icy sonner ?
Le lierre est trop bas pour ton front couronner,
Et le bouc est trop peu pour ta Muse tragique.
Si Bacchus retournoit au manoir Plutonique,
Il ne voudroit Eschyle au monde redonner,
Il te choisiroit seul, qui seul peux estonner
Le theatre François de ton cothurne antique.
Les premiers trahissoient l’infortune des Rois,
Redoublant leur malheur d’une trop basse voix :
La tienne comme foudre en la France s’écarte.
Heureux en bons esprits ce siecle plantureux :
Auprés toy, mon Garnier, je me sens bien-heureux,
De quoy mon petit Loir est voisin de ta Sarte.
                                                                            What sound, manly and bold, what heroic voice,
                                                                            And what proud verse do I hear ringing out here?
                                                                            The ivy is too poor to crown your brow,
                                                                            And the ram too little for your tragic Muse.
                                                                            If Bacchus returned to Pluto’s domain
                                                                            He would not want to give Aeschylus back to the world,
                                                                            He would choose only you, who alone can astonish
                                                                            French theatre with your antique buskin.
                                                                            Earlier writers betrayed the misfortune of kings,
                                                                            Redoubling their misfortunes with too poor a voice:
                                                                            Yours, like thunder, rolls forth across France.
                                                                            Blessed with great spirits is this bounteous age;
                                                                            Beside you, my Garnier, I feel myself fortunate
                                                                            That my little Loir neighbours your Sarte.


As with the previous poem, Ronsard writes here in his usual Alexandrines. They seem appropriate for a poem proclaiming the voice of thunder with which Garnier speaks, and for comparing him with Aeschylus, perhaps the most noble and high-flown of the three great Greek tragedians and the most natural compaarator (in my view) for the French grand style. (By contrast, Shakespeare is comfortable in Sophoclean or Euripidean style, though he can rise to Aeschylean heights when he wants to:  French tragedy cannot descend to the commonplace of Euripides, and rarely to the middle ground of Sophocles!)  Incidentally this is the first time one of the ancient Greek tragedians has been mentioned in a poem (as opposed to a footnote) on this blog.
Having said which, it is pretty obvious that the compliment is over-blown… and Ronsard’s self-deprecation in the final line doesn’t of course stop him making sure we know exactly who has written this encomium!  I imagine Ronsard with his tongue in his cheek; and I have to say I like his style here!
In the first stanza the ivy wreath or laurel wreath is an ancient tragic prize; the ram is a sacrifice appropriate to the gods of ancient Greece, but as Ronsard says here too small to say thank you for so great a talent as Garnier…

Sonnet 44 (Marie)


For no particular reason other than I was reading something other than Helen, here’s a beautiful sonnet from the Marie set:


Marie, baisez-moy : non, ne me baisez pas,
Mais tirez moy le cœur de vostre douce haleine :
Non, ne le tirez pas, mais hors de chaque veine
Succez-moy toute l’ame esparse entre vos bras :
Non, ne la succez pas : car apres le trespas
Que serois-je sinon une semblance vaine,
Sans corps desur la rive, où l’amour ne demeine
(Pardonne moy Pluton) qu’en feintes ses esbas ?
Pendant que nous vivons, entr’aimons nous, Marie,
Amour ne regne point sur la troupe blesmie
Des morts, qui sont sillez d’un long somme de fer.
C’est abus que Pluton ait aimé Proserpine,
Si doux soing n’entre point en si dure poitrine :
Amour regne en la terre et non point en enfer.


                                                                                Marie, kiss me ; no, don’t kiss me
                                                                                But draw out my heart with your sweet breath;
                                                                                No, don’t draw it out, but from each vein
                                                                                Suck out my whole soul, spread within your arms;
                                                                                No, don’t suck it out; for after my death
                                                                                What would I be but an empty shade
                                                                                With no body, upon the river where love dances
                                                                                (Pardon me, Pluto) its frolics only in sham.
                                                                                While we live, let us love one another, Marie,
                                                                                Love does not reign at all over the pallid company
                                                                                Of the dead, who are buried in a long, iron-hard sleep.
                                                                                It’s a lie that Pluto loved Proserpina;
                                                                                So sweet a care never entered so harsh a breast;
                                                                                Love reigns with the ladies, never in Hades.
Ronsard’s friend Remy Belleau, in his edition of Ronsard’s Marie (quoted by Blanchemain), said “this sonnet is among the most beautiful to be found, for being full of noble, contrary repetitions”.  The last line I have translated freely: literally it should be something like ‘Love reigns in the world, never in the underworld’, to try (clumsily) to catch that internal half-rhyme on ‘terre/enfer’. But I read that as rather a sly, tongue in cheek, half-rhyme, which is why I’ve gone with a less accurate but livelier rhyme in my text 🙂 
The story of Pluto running away with Proserpina (Persephone), the daughetr of Ceres, is a well-known legend, a trope for the changing seasons: Persephone returns to her mother in Spring, the corn (Ceres) happily re-grows, and then in autumn Pluto takes Persephone back under the ground while winter hardens the ground and nothing grows. It is perhaps strange that Ronsard should be so rude to Pluto in the last tercet, after begging his pardon a few lines earlier. Once again, late tinkering is to blame, for in the earlier version (below) there is no begging of pardon.
Naturally Blanchemain’s text has some other minor changes too, perhaps most surprisingly (given this is in the middle of the Amours de Marie), in addressing the poem to Sinope not Marie! Mythologically, Sinope is a minor legendary figure, ancestor of the race of the Syrians; but in Ronsard she is an older, fading beauty to whom he addresses a short cycle of sonnets.
As the changes in Blanchemain’s version are scattered through the text it will do least violence to your enjoyment of the poem if I print it in full in his version:
Sinope, baisez-moy : non, ne me baisez pas,
Mais tirez moy le cœur de vostre douce haleine :
Non, ne le tirez pas, mais hors de chaque veine
Succez-moy toute l’ame esparse entre vos bras :
Non, ne la succez pas : car apres le trespas
Que serois-je sinon une semblance vaine,
Sans corps desur la rive, où l’amour ne demeine
Comme il fait icy haut, qu’en feintes ses esbas ?
Pendant que nous vivons, entr’aimons nous, Sinope ;
Amour ne regne point sur la debile trope
Des morts, qui sont sillez d’un long somme de fer.
C’est abus que Pluton ait aimé Proserpine,
Si doux soing n’entre point en si dure poitrine :
Amour regne en la terre et non point en enfer.
                                                                               Sinope, kiss me ; no, don’t kiss me
                                                                               But draw out my heart with your sweet breath;
                                                                               No, don’t draw it out, but from each vein
                                                                               Suck out my whole soul, spread within your arms;
                                                                               No, don’t suck it out; for after my death
                                                                               What would I be but an empty shade
                                                                               With no body, upon the river where love dances,
                                                                               As it doesn’t up here, its frolics only in sham.
                                                                               While we live, let us love one another, Sinope,
                                                                               Love does not reign at all over the feeble company
                                                                               Of the dead, who are buried in a long, iron-hard sleep.
                                                                               It’s a lie that Pluto loved Proserpina;
                                                                               So sweet a care never entered so harsh a breast;
                                                                               Love reigns with the ladies, never in Hades.
 [ PS  I’m sure that Ronsard had a wry smile on his face as he re-wrote the opening of line 8 to echo the beginning of this poem in his Cassandre set. The echo is entirely deliberate, I am certain. ]

Stances (Stanzas) – 135a


In book 1, also, Ronsard inserts occasional lyrics which do not conform to sonnet form. This one is a lovely frisky light-hearted one!

Quand au temple nous serons
Agenouillez, nous ferons
Les devots selon la guise
De ceux qui pour loüer Dieu
Humbles se courbent au lieu
Le plus secret de l’Eglise.
Mais quand au lict nous serons
Entrelassez, nous ferons
Les lascifs selon les guises
Des Amans qui librement
Pratiquent folastrement
Dans les draps cent mignardises.
Pourquoy donque quand je veux
Ou mordre tes beaux cheveux,
Ou baiser ta bouche aimee,
Ou toucher à ton beau sein,
Contrefais-tu la nonnain
Dedans un cloistre enfermee ?
Pour qui gardes-tu tes yeux
Et ton sein delicieux,
Ton front, ta lèvre jumelle ?
En veux-tu baiser Pluton
Là bas, apres que Charon
T’aura mise en sa nacelle ?
Apres ton dernier trespas,
Gresle, tu n’auras là bas
Qu’une bouchette blesmie :
Et quand mort je te verrois
Aux Ombres je n’avou’rois
Que jadis tu fus m’amie.
Ton test n’aura plus de peau,
Ny ton visage si beau
N’aura veines ny arteres :
Tu n’auras plus que les dents
Telles qu’on les voit dedans
Les testes des cimeteres.
Donque tandis que tu vis,
Change, Maistresse, d’avis,
Et ne m’espargne ta bouche :
Incontinent tu mourras,
Lors tu te repentiras
De m’avoir esté farouche.
Ah je meurs !  Ah baise moy !
Ah, Maistresse, approche toy !
Tu fuis comme un Fan qui tremble :
Au-moins souffre que ma main
S’esbate un peu dans ton sein,
Ou plus bas, si bon te semble.
When we are in the temple [church]
Kneeling, we will look like
The devout, the very image
Of those who, to worship God,
Humbly bow towards the
Most holy part of the church.
But when we are in bed
Entwined, we will look like
The lascivious, the very image
Of lovers who freely
And friskily perform
A hundred little acts of love under the sheets.
So why, when I want
To bite your lovely hair
Or to kiss your beloved lips
Or to brush against your lovely breast,
Do you pretend to be a little nun
In an enclosed convent?
For whom are you keeping your eyes
And your delicious breast,
Your brow, your twin lips?
Do you want to kiss Pluto with them
Down below, after Charon
Has taken you into his little boat?
After your eventual death,
Down there you’ll be spindly, with nothing
But a deathly-pale mouth;
And when I’m dead and see you
In the Shades I will not recognise
That you were formerly my beloved.
Your head will no longer have skin on it
Your face – oh so beautiful ! –
Won’t have its veins and arteries;
You will just have teeth left,
Like those you see inside
The skulls in cemeteries.
So, while you are alive,
Change your mind, my mistress,
And don’t be sparing with your lips;
All at once you will be dead,
And then you will repent
Of having been shy with me.
I’m dying, so kiss me.
Oh Mistress, come near me.
Like a quaking fawn you flee.
At least allow my hand to rest,
All a-tremble, on your breast,
Or farther down still, if may be.
 in Greek myth, Charon’s boat took the dead across the River Styx to Hades, where Pluto ruled.
 Blanchemain varies the middle of the fourth stanza:
Pour qui gardes-tu tes yeux
Et ton sein delicieux,
Ta joue et ta bouche belle ?
                                                                       For whom are you keeping your eyes
                                                                      And your delicious breast,
                                                                      Your cheeks, your lovely mouth? …
And there is one minor change later on, where he deletes the “un” in the 3rd line of the last stanza:  “Tu fuis comme Fan qui tremble”.  It is worth noting that these ‘stanzas’ were imported into ‘Cassandre’ after starting life elsewhere: though Blanchemain includes them there, in his 1560 edition they actually appeared among the Odes!