Tag Archives: Remy Belleau

Amours 2:56

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Ne me suy point, Belleau, allant à la maison
De celle qui me tient en douleur nompareille :
Ignores-tu les vers chantez par la Corneille
A Mopse qui suivoit la trace de Jason ?
 
Prophete, dist l’oiseau, tu n’as point de raison
De suivre cest amant qui tout seul s’appareille
« D’aller voir ses amours : malheureux qui conseille,
« Et qui suit un amant quand il n’en est saison.
 
Pour ton profit, Belleau, que ton regard ne voye
Celle qui par les yeux la playe au cœur m’envoye,
De peur qu’il ne reçoive un mal au mien pareil.
 
Il suffist que sans toy je sois seul miserable :
Reste sain je te pri’ pour estre secourable
A ma douleur extreme, et m’y donner conseil.
 
 
 
                                                                            Don’t follow me, Belleau, as I go to the home
                                                                            Of the lady who keeps me in unequalled sadness.
                                                                            Do you not know the song sung by the crow
                                                                            To Mopsus, as he was following Jason’s footsteps ?
 
                                                                            “Prophet,” said the bird, “you are completely wrong
                                                                            To follow this lover who is sailing alone
                                                                            To visit his beloved : ‘misfortune to him who advises
                                                                            And who follows a lover at the wrong times’.”
 
                                                                            For your profit, Belleau, may your eyes not see
                                                                            Her who through her eyes sent this wound into my heart,
                                                                            For fear that yours may receive troubles equal to mine.
 
                                                                            Enough that I alone, and not you, am wretched:
                                                                            Stay healthy, I beg, to be a help
                                                                            In my extreme sadness, and to give me advice.
 
 
Although Ronsard claimed he was being less sophisticated in his classical allusions when writing the Marie poems, it seems he could not stop himself! Fortunately Belleau comes to the rescue, telling us in his commentary what we are supposed to understand from the allusion: “In the third book of the Argonauts [Argonautica], Apollonius Rhodius tells how Jason, having planned one day to see Medea, took with him Mopsus the great seer. However Juno, who favoured Jason, knowing he would get no courtesy from Medea if she found he was accompanied, made a crow and taught it to sing Greek verse, so that Mopsus had to retire.” 
 
Blanchemain also notes that Ronsard uses this same story in the Franciade, when Francus is setting off to meet Hyante. (I must add, it amuses me that France’s greatest classical playwright, another master of the language, was named after so un-lyrical a bird as the crow… )
 
Blanchemain offers a few stylistic variants but essentially the same poem:
 
 
Ne me suy point, Belleau, allant à la maison
De celle qui me tient en douleur nompareille :
Ignores-tu les vers chantez par la corneille
A Mopse qui suivoit la trace de Jason ?
 
« Prophete, dit l’oiseau, tu n’as point de raison
De suivre cest amant qui tout seul s’appareille
D’aller voir ses amours : peu sage est qui conseille,
Et qui suit un amant quand il n’en est saison. »
 
Pour ton profit, Belleau, je ne veuil que tu voye
Celle qui par les yeux la playe au cœur m’envoye,
De peur que tu ne prenne un mal au mien pareil.
 
Il suffist que sans toy je sois seul miserable :
Reste sain je te pri’ pour estre secourable
A ma douleur extreme, et m’y donner conseil.
 
 

 
 
                                                                            Don’t follow me, Belleau, as I go to the home
                                                                            Of the lady who keeps me in unequalled sadness.
                                                                            Do you not know the song sung by the crow
                                                                            To Mopsus, as he was following Jason’s footsteps ?
 
                                                                            “Prophet,” said the bird, “you are completely wrong
                                                                            To follow this lover who is sailing alone
                                                                            To visit his beloved : ‘little wisdom has he who advises
                                                                            And who follows a lover at the wrong times’.”
 
                                                                            For your profit, Belleau, I do not wish you to see
                                                                            Her who through her eyes sent this wound into my heart,
                                                                            For fear that you may win troubles equal to mine.
 
                                                                            Enough that I alone, and not you, am wretched:
                                                                            Stay healthy, I beg, to be a help
                                                                            In my extreme sadness, and to give me advice.
 
 
 
 
 
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Amours 2:47

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Vos yeux estoient moiteux d’une humeur enflammee,
Qui m’ont gasté les miens d’une semblable humeur,
Et pource que vos yeux aux miens ont fait douleur,
Je vous ay d’un nom Grec Sinope surnommee :
 
Mais cest’ humeur mauvaise au cœur est devallee,
Et là comme maistresse a pris force et vigueur,
Gastant mon pauvre sang d’une blesme langueur,
Qui ja par tout le corps lente s’est escoulee.
 
Mon cœur environné de ce mortel danger,
En voulant resister au malheur estranger,
A mon sang converty en larmes et en pluye :
 
Afin que par les yeux autheurs de mon souci
Mon malheur fust noyé, ou que par eux aussi
Fuyant devant le feu j’espuisasse ma vie.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Your eyes were weeping with an inflammation
                                                                            And they have spoiled mine with a similar infection,
                                                                            And since your eyes have made mine ill
                                                                            I’ve surnamed you with the Greek name Sinope.
 
                                                                            But this illness has hurtled down to my heart,
                                                                            And there like its mistress gained strength and vigour,
                                                                            Spoiling my poor blood with a pallid inertia
                                                                            Which has now slowly flowed through all my body.
 
                                                                            My heart, besieged by this mortal danger
                                                                            And wanting to resist the foreign illness,
                                                                            Has converted my blood into tears and weeping;
 
                                                                            So that through my eyes, the creators of my trouble,
                                                                            My illness might be drowned, or through them too,
                                                                            Fleeing before the fire, I might extinguish my life.
 
 
 
 

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Marie’s eye condition: this is the poem which Belleau annotates, as I mentioned there, with an explanation of the name ‘Sinope’; and also the one in which Ronsard offers the most explicit of links between Marie and Sinope – unless of course you believe that the Sinope poems were addressed to another lady, and then simply transferred to the Marie set. He does not, after all, explicitly name Marie…  Belleau’s footnote in full:  ‘Marie had trouble with her eyes, and as the poet watched her intently the illness in those afflicted eyes entering his own made them ill too. And so he called Marie Sinope, which is to say ‘losing the eyes’.’

 
Like the last poem I posted, Blanchemain’s earlier version varies only in two places, and one of them is the first line!  In his version, Marie/Sinope’s eyes have been ‘struck’ with illness rather than the more precise ‘weeping’ in the later version: “Vos yeux estoient blessez d’une humeur enflammée“. The other change, in line 11, is mostly about sound and rhythm, inverting some of the words:  “A couvert mon sang en larmes et en pluye” (‘Has covered my blood with tears and weeping’); but the change from a rather odd ‘covering’ image to the sharper ‘converted’ may have been Ronsard’s initial spur to change.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Le Voyage de Tours (part 3)

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And, finally, the last third of the poem…

Bateau qui par les flots ma chere vie emportes,
Des vents en ta faveur les haleines soient mortes.
Et le Ban perilleux qui se trouve parmy
Les eaux, ne t’envelope en son sable endormy :
Que l’air, le vent, et l’eau favorisent ma dame,
Et que nul flot bossu ne destourbe sa rame.
En guise d’un estang sans vague paresseux
Aille le cours de Loire, et son limon crasseux
Pour ce jourd’huy se change en gravelle menüe,
Pleine de meint ruby et meinte perle esleüe.
 
Que les bords soient semez de mille belles fleurs
Representant sur l’eau mille belles couleurs,
Et le tropeau Nymphal des gentilles Naïades
Alentour du vaisseau face mille gambades :
Les unes balloyant des paumes de leurs mains
Les flots devant la barque, et les autres leurs seins
Descouvrent à fleur d’eau, et d’une main ouvriere
Conduisent le bateau du long de la riviere.
 
L’azuré Martinet puisse voler davant
Avecques la Mouette, et le Plongeon suivant
Son malheureux destin pour le jourd’huy ne songe
En sa belle Hesperie, et dans l’eau ne se plonge :
Et le Heron criard, qui la tempeste fuit,
Haut pendu dedans l’air ne face point de bruit :
Ains tout gentil oiseau qui va cherchant sa proye
Par les flots poissonneux, bien-heureux te convoye,
Pour seurement venir evecq’ ta charge au port,
Où Marion verra, peut-estre, sur le bort
Un orme des longs bras d’une vigne enlassée,
Et la voyant ainsi doucement embrassée,
De son pauvre Perrot se pourra souvenir,
Et voudra sur le bord embrassé le tenir.
 
On dit au temps passé que quelques uns changerent
En riviere leur forme, et eux-mesmes nagerent
Au flot qui de leur sang goutte à goutte sailloit,
Quand leur corps transformé en eau se distilloit.
 
Que ne puis-je muer ma ressemblance humaine,
En la forme de l’eau qui ceste barque emmeine ?
J’irois en murmurant sous le fond du vaisseau,
J’irois tout alentour, et mon amoureuse eau
Baiseroit or’ sa main, ore sa bouche franche,
La suivant jusqu’au port de la Chappelle blanche :
Puis laissant mon canal pour jouyr de mon vueil,
Par le trac de ses pas j’irois jusqu’à Bourgueil,
Et là dessous un pin, couché sur la verdure,
Je voudrois revestir ma premiere figure.
 
Se trouve point quelque herbe en ce rivage icy
Qui ait le goust si fort, qu’elle me puisse ainsi
Muer comme fut Glauque, en aquatique monstre,
Qui homme ne poisson, homme et poisson se monstre ?
Je voudrois estre Glauque, et avoir dans mon sein
Les pommes qu’ Hippomane eslançoit de sa main
Pour gaigner Atalante : à fin de te surprendre,
Je les ru’rois sur l’eau, et te ferois apprendre
Que l’or n’a seulement sur la terre pouvoir
Mais qu’il peult desur l’eau les femmes decevoir.
Or cela ne peult estre, et ce qui se peult faire,
Je le veux achever afin de te complaire :
Je veux soigneusement ce coudrier arroser,
Et des chapeaux de fleurs sur ses fueilles poser :
Et avecq’un poinçon je veux desur l’escorce
Engraver de ton nom les six lettres à force,
Afin que les passans en lisant Marion,
Facent honneur à l’arbre entaillé de ton nom.
 
Je veux faire un beau lict d’une verte jonchee,
De Parvanche fueillue encontre-bas couchee,
De Thym qui fleure bon, et d’Aspic porte-epy,
D’odorant Poliot contre terre tapy,
De Neufard tousjours verd, qui la froideur incite,
Et de Jonc qui les bords des rivieres habite.
 
Je veux jusques au coude avoir l’herbe, et je veux
De roses et de lys couronner mes cheveux.
Je veux qu’on me défonce une pipe Angevine,
Et en me souvenant de ma toute divine,
De toy mon doux soucy, espuiser jusqu’au fond
Mille fois ce jourd’huy mon gobelet profond,
Et ne partir d’icy jusqu’à tant qu’à la lie
De ce bon vin d’ Anjou la liqueur soit faillie.
 
Melchior Champenois, et Guillaume Manceau,
L’un d’un petit rebec, l’autre d’un chalumeau,
Me chanteront comment j’eu l’ame despourveüe
De sens et de raison si tost que je t’eu veüe,
Puis chanteront comment pour flechir ta rigueur
Je t’appellay ma vie, et te nommay mon cœur,
Mon œil, mon sang, mon tout : mais ta haute pensée
N’a voulu regarder chose tant abaissee,
Ains en me dedaignant tu aimas autre part
Un qui son amitié chichement te depart.
Voila comme il te prend pour mespriser ma peine,
Et le rustique son de mon tuyau d’aveine.
 
Ils diront que mon teint vermeil au paravant,
Se perd comme une fleur qui se fanist au vent :
Que mon poil devient blanc, et que la jeune grace
De mon nouveau printemps de jour en jour s’efface :
Et que depuis le mois que l’amour me fit tien,
De jour en jour plus triste et plus vieil je devien.
 
Puis ils diront comment les garçons du village
Disent que ta beauté tire desja sur l’age,
Et qu’au matin le Coq dés la poincte du jour
N’oyra plus à ton huis ceux qui te font l’amour.
« Bien fol est qui se fie en sa belle jeunesse,
« Qui si tost se derobe, et si tost nous delaisse.
« La rose à la parfin devient un gratecu,
« Et tout avecq’ le temps par le temps est vaincu. »
 
Quel passetemps prens-tu d’habiter la valee
De Bourgueil où jamais la Muse n’est allee ?
Quitte moy ton Anjou, et vien en Vandomois :
Là s’eslevent au ciel les sommets de nos bois,
Là sont mille taillis et mille belles plaines,
Là gargouillent les eaux de cent mille fontaines,
Là sont mille rochers, où Echon alentour
En resonnant mes vers ne parle que d’ Amour.
 
Ou bien si tu ne veux, il me plaist de me rendre
Angevin pour te voir, et ton langage apprendre :
Et pour mieux te flechir, les hauts vers que j’avois
En ma langue traduit du Pindare Gregeois,
Humble, je veux redire en un chant plus facile
Sur le doux chalumeau du pasteur de Sicile.
 
Là parmy tes sablons Angevin devenu,
Je veux vivre sans nom comme un pauvre incognu,
Et dés l’Aube du jour avecq’ toy mener paistre
Aupres du port Guiet nostre troupeau champestre :
Puis sur le chaud du jour je veux en ton giron
Me coucher sous un chesne, où l’herbe à l’environ
Un beau lict nous fera de mainte fleur diverse,
Pour nous coucher tous deux sous l’ombre à la renverse :
Puis au Soleil penchant nous conduirons noz bœufs
Boire le haut sommet des ruisselets herbeux,
Et les reconduirons au son de la musette,
Puis nous endormirons dessus l’herbe mollette.
 
Là sans ambition de plus grands biens avoir,
Contenté seulement de t’aimer et te voir,
Je passerois mon âge, et sur ma sepulture
Les Angevins mettroient ceste breve escriture.
 
Celuy qui gist icy, touché de l’aiguillon
Qu’ amour nous laisse au cœur, garda comme Apollon
Les tropeaux de sa dame, et en ceste prairie
Mourut en bien aimant une belle Marie,
Et elle apres sa mort mourut aussi d’ennuy,
Et sous ce verd tombeau repose avecques luy.
 
A peine avois je dit, quand Thoinet se dépâme,
Et à soy revenu alloit apres sa dame :
Mais je le retiray le menant d’autre part
Pour chercher à loger, car il estoit bien tard.
 
Nous avions ja passé la sablonneuse rive,
Et le flot qui bruyant contre le pont arrive,
Et ja dessus le pont nous estions parvenus,
Et nous apparoissoit le tumbeau de Turnus,
Quand le pasteur Janot tout gaillard nous emmeine
Dedans son toict couvert de javelles d’aveine.
“O boat who carry my dear life through the waves,
May the breath of the winds favourable to you be dead,
And may the perilous bank which is found
In the waters not wrap you in his sleeping sands;
May air, wind and water favour my lady
And no bumpy wave disturb her oars.
May the course of the Loire flow with the appearance
Of a pool, without any lazy waves, and may its dirty lime
For today change into fine gravel
Full of many a ruby and many a choice pearl.
 
May the banks be sown with a thousand beautiful flowers
Reflecting their thousand beautiful colours on the water;
And may the nymphly troop of gentle Naiads
Make around the vessel a thousand gambols,
Some making the waves before the bark dance
With the palms of their hands, others reveal
Their breasts in the water’s foam, and with workers’ hands
Lead the boat along the river.
 
Let the sky-blue martin fly before
With the gull, and let the loon pursuing
His wretched fate not dream for today
Of his fair Hesperia, and not throw himself under the water;
And let the noisy Heron, who flees the storm,
Hanging high in the air make no sound;
So, let every gentle bird which seeks its prey
Among the fishy waves bring you with good fortune
To come safely with your charge to port,
Where Marion shall see perhaps on the bank
An elm with long boughs, bound by a vine,
And seeing it embraced so gently
Shall maybe recall her poor Pete
And wish to have him in her embrace on the bank.
 
“They used to say in past time that some people could change
Their form into a river, and themselves swam
In the waves which mounted drop by drop with their blood
As their bodies, transformed into water, melted away.
 
“Why cannot I change my human appearance
Into the form of the water which draws that bark?
I would go murmuring under the bottom of the vessel,
I would go all around it, and my loving water
Would kiss now her hand, now her open lips,
Following her right up to the White Chapel;
Then, leaving the stream to enjoy my wish,
I would follow the traces of her feet right to Bourgueil
And there, lying beneath a pine on the green grass,
I would want to re-assume my previous shape.
 
“Is there any plant on this bank here
Which has so strong a taste that it might thus
Change me as Glaucus was changed, into an aquatic beast,
With the form of neither man nor fish, yet of both man and fish?
I would like to be Glaucus and keep in my lap
The apples which Hippomenes threw from his hand
To win Atalanta; to surprise you
I would hurl them on the water and make you realise
That gold has power not only upon the earth,
But that it can deceive women upon water also.
Well, that won’t happen; but what can be done
I want to achieve, to please you.
I want to water this hazel-tree carefully
And place chaplets of flowers upon its leaves;
And with an awl upon its bark I want
To engrave the six letters of your name strongly
So that passers-by, reading ‘Marion’,
May do honour to the tree cut with your name.
 
“I want to make a fair bed of green reeds,
Laid upon leafy periwinkle
And thyme which flowers well, and tufted spikenard,
And fragrant mint carpeting the earth,
And ever-green water-lilies, which bring on the cold,
And reeds which live on the river-banks.
 
“I want to have grass up to my elbows, and I want
With roses and lilies to crown my hair.
I want someone to break me open an Angevin cask
And, as I recall my completely divine one,
You, my sweet care, to empty right to the bottom
My deep cup, a thousand times this very day,
And not to leave here until to the lees
Of this fine wine of Anjou the liquor is drained.
 
Melchior of Champagne and William of Mance,
One on his little fiddle, the other on pipes,
Will sing of me, how my soul was destitute
Of sense and reason as soon as I saw you.
Then they’ll sing how, to turn aside your harshness,
I called you my life, and named you my heart,
My eyes, my blood, my everything: but your haughty thoughts
Did not wish to look on a thing so abased,
Even as – while you disdained me – you loved elsewhere
Someone who stingily took away from you his love.
See how he led you to despise my pain,
And the rustic sound of my oat-stalk pipe.
 
They’ll sing how my previously-pink colour
Was lost like a flower which withers in the wind:
How my skin became pale, and how the youthful grace
Of my fresh springtime has faded day by day:
And how since the month when love made me yours
From day to day I’ve become sadder and older.
 
Then they’ll sing how the boys in the village
Say that your beauty is already lessening with age,
And how in the morning the cock at break of day
Won’t hear any more at your door those who make love to you.
“The true fool is he who trusts in his fair youth,
Which so soon fades, and so soon leaves us.
The rose in the end becomes a rose-hip,
And everything in time by time is overcome.”
 
Why do you pass your time living in the valley
Of Bourgueil, where the Muse has never visited?
Leave your Anjou for me, and come to the Vendôme:
There the tops of our trees rise to the skies,
There are a thousand copses and a thousand lovely plains,
There the waters of millions of springs gurgle,
There are a thousand rocks where Echo all around
Re-sounding my verses speaks only of Love.
 
Or again, if you don’t want to, I’m happy to become
Angevin, to see you, and to learn your language;
And, to sway you further, the high-flown verse which I have
Translated into my tongue from Greek Pindar
I am willing humbly to re-write into an easier song
Played on the sweet pipes of the Sicilian shepherd.
 
There among your sands, become an Angevin,
I want to live nameless like a poor unknown,
And from the dawn of day to lead with you to pasture
Near the Guiet gate our country herd;
Then, in the heat of the day, I want to lie
In your lap beneath an oak, where the grass around
Will make a lovely bed for us of many varied flowers
So we can sleep, both of us, backwards beneath the shade;
Then as the sun sets, we will lead our cattle
To drink from the high origins of grassy streams,
And lead them back, to the sound of the pipe,
Then we’ll sleep upon the softest grass.
 
There, with no ambition to have greater goods,
Contented only with loving you and seeing you,
I shall live out my years, and on my grave
The Angevins will place this brief inscription:
 
“He who lies here, wounded by the arrow
Which love plants in our hearts, watched like Apollo
His lady’s herds, and on this plain
He died, loving well his fair Marie,
And she after his death died too, of grief,
And lies beneath this green tomb with him.”
 
I had barely spoken, when Tony came around,
And, recovered, was going after his lady;
But I drew him back, leading him elsewhere
To find lodging, for it was very late.
 
We had already passed the sandy bank,
And the waves which crash noisily against the bridge,
And we’d already arrived on the bridge,
And the tomb of Turnus had already appeared before us,
When Johnny the shepherd gaily led us
Into his home, covered with armful of oat-straw.
 
I love the way, a stanza before the end, Ronsard leads us to expect yet more extended lovers’ complaints, the instead brings things to a swift conclusion: “he was going to carry on, but instead we looked for a place to stay the night…”
 
As usual, plenty of classical references, and even a joke about re-writing his poem to be simpler and less learned! Note also the line about ‘learning her language’, a reminder that dialects could be extraordinarily unlike one another – consider the southern-French ‘langue d’oc’ which contains a considerable admixture of Spanish.
 – the Naiads, like mermaids, inhabit the waters, but these are river-spirits;
 – when his beloved Hesperia died, Aesacus leapt from a cliff and was transformed into a bird, as Bellay tells us in his note – not specifically a sand-martin but the image of these birds sweeping in and out of their riverside holes fits very well;
 – Bellay tells us that the people who “could change /Their form into a river” is a reference to the satyr Marsyas – Ovid links him with the river Marsyas, whose source was in Phrygia near that of the Maeander;
 – there’s no link between the legends of Hippomenes, throwing apples to delay Atalanta in her race with him, and Glaucus, the fisherman transformed into a mer-man or sea-god; Ronsard’s link is purely the translation of the land-based story of Hippomenes to an appropriate water-based figure;
 – Pindar was one of the ‘classic’ Greek poets, famed for the beauty of his images and the complexity of his writing; Daphnis the ‘Sicilian shepherd’, on the other hand, stands as ‘father’ of pastoral poetry;
 – Apollo, though he did act as a herdsman, is generally held to have done so as a punishment, and to have watched the herds of Admetus, not of a lady. However, while serving Admetus, Apollo did help him to win the hand of Alcestis, so perhaps Ronsard is simply conflating a couple of related myths here;
 – Bellay tells us, “they say that Turnus, who founded Tours, is buried under the town’s castle [or château], washed by the waters of the Loire, near the bridge in the wall of that castle”  He is probably referring to the Château des Sablons now a hotel with rooms available! Since Ronsard, no-one seems to have placed Turnus at Bourgueil, and indeed the guide-books tell us that Tours for a long time claimed (and displayed) the ‘tomb of Turnus’.
 
I should probably have translated the ‘White Chapel’ as ‘Whitechapel’, since it refers to a small village near Bourgueil rather than to a building. There was however a chapel (of St Nicholas) at the Guiet gate (le Port-Guyet) which you can see here. In his edition, Blanchemain identified the house as Marie’s. The name Melchior of Champagne is probably not a joke, but we might note that these days a giant, 24-bottle-sized bottle of champagne is called a ‘melchior’: was it when Ronsard wrote? Mance is another village in the area; I don’t imagine these two are supposed to recall ‘real’ musicians.
 
Bellay tells us that what Ronsard calls ‘Aspic’ or ‘spikenard’ is what is commonly called lavender. What he calls ‘Neufard’ is also called ‘neneufard’, from the same Arabic root as our own ‘ninufar’, a water-lily with very wide leaves, which can be used to cool the skin. (Here is one change in the later version which is certainly an improvement on the earlier version below, where the large leaves are ‘like tables’!)
 
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The earlier version given by Blanchemain of course differs in detail. The only substantial change is the  his pale skin: the earlier version offers an extended and perhaps over-done simile featuring the snow-capped mountains of southern France, the later version replaces it with a safer series of more conventional similes. Your preference probably depends on whether you prefer the bold rashness of the earlier approach, risking going too far in the search for originality, or whether you prefer the similes not to be so extreme!
 
Bateau qui par les flots ma chere vie emportes,
Des vents en ta faveur les haleines soient mortes.
Et le banc perilleux qui se trouve parmy
Les eaux, ne t’envelope en son sable endormy :
Que l’air, le vent, et l’eau ]favorisent ma dame,
Et que nul flot bossu ne destourbe sa rame.
En guise d’un estang sans vague paresseux
Aille le cours de Loire, et son limon crasseux
Pour ce jourd’huy se change en gravelle menüe,
Pleine de meint ruby et meinte perle esleüe.
 
Que les bords soient semez de mille belles fleurs
Representant sur l’eau mille belles couleurs,
Et le tropeau Nymphal des gentilles Naïades
Alentour du vaisseau face mille gambades :
Les unes balloyant des paumes de leurs mains
Les flots devant la barque, et les autres leurs seins
Descouvrent à fleur d’eau, et d’une main ouvriere
Conduisent le bateau du long de la riviere.
 
L’azuré Martinet puisse voler davant
Avecques la Mouette, et le Plongeon suivant
Son malheureux destin pour le jourd’huy ne songe
En sa belle Hesperie, et dans l’eau ne se plonge :
Et le Heron criard, qui la tempeste fuit,
Haut pendu dedans l’air ne face point de bruit :
Ains tout gentil oiseau qui va cherchant sa proye
Par les flots poissonneux, bien-heureux te convoye,
Pour seurement venir avec ta charge au port,
Où Marion verra, peut-estre, sur le bort
Une orme des longs bras d’une vigne enlassée,
Et la voyant ainsi doucement embrassée,
De son pauvre Perrot se pourra souvenir,
Et voudra sur le bord embrassé le tenir.
 
On dit au temps passé que quelques uns changerent
En riviere leur forme, et eux-mesmes nagerent
Au flot qui de leur sang et de leurs yeux sailloit,
Quand leur corps ondoyant peu à peu defailloit.
 
Que ne puis-je muer ma ressemblance humaine,
En la forme de l’eau qui ceste barque emmeine ?
J’irois en murmurant sous le fond du vaisseau,
J’irois tout alentour, et mon amoureuse eau
Baiseroit or’ sa main, ore sa bouche franche,
La suivant jusqu’au port de la Chappelle blanche :
Puis forçant mon canal pour ensuivre mon vueil,
Par le trac de ses pas j’irois jusqu’à Bourgueil,
Et là dessous un pin, couché sur la verdure,
Je voudrois revestir ma premiere figure.
 
N’y a-t-il point quelque herbe en ce rivage icy
Qui ait le goust si fort, qu’elle me puisse ainsi
Muer comme fut Glauque, en aquatique monstre,
Qui homme ne poisson, homme et poisson se monstre ?
Je voudrois estre Glauque, et avoir dans mon sein
Les pommes qu’ Hippomane eslançoit de sa main
Pour gaigner Atalante : à fin de te surprendre,
Je les ru’rois sur l’eau, et te ferois apprendre
Que l’or n’a seulement sur la terre pouvoir
Mais qu’il peult desur l’eau les femmes decevoir.
Or cela ne peult estre, et ce qui se peult faire,
Je le veux achever afin de te complaire :
Je veux soigneusement ce coudrier arroser,
Et des chapeaux de fleurs sur ses fueilles poser :
Et avecq’un poinçon je veux dessus l’escorce
Engraver de ton nom les six lettres à force,
Afin que les passans en lisant Marion,
Facent honneur à l’arbre entaillé de ton nom.
 
Je veux faire un beau lict d’une verte jonchee,
De Parvanche fueillue encontre-bas couchee,
De Thym qui fleure bon, et d’Aspic porte-epy,
D’odorant Poliot contre terre tapy,
De Neufard tousjours verd, qui les tables imitent,
Et de Jonc qui les bords des rivieres habite.
 
Je veux jusques au coude avoir l’herbe, et si veux
De roses et de lys couronner mes cheveux.
Je veux qu’on me défonce une pipe Angevine,
Et en me souvenant de ma toute divine,
De toy mon doux soucy, espuiser jusqu’au fond
Mille fois ce jourd’huy mon gobelet profond,
Et ne partir d’icy jusqu’à tant qu’à la lie
De ce bon vin d’ Anjou la liqueur soit faillie.
 
Melchior Champenois, et Guillaume Manceau,
L’un d’un petit rebec, l’autre d’un chalumeau,
Me chanteront comment j’eu l’ame despourveüe
De sens et de raison si tost que je t’eu veüe,
Puis chanteront comment pour flechir ta rigueur
Je t’appellay ma vie, et te nommay mon cœur,
Mon œil, mon sang, mon tout : mais ta haute pensée
N’a voulu regarder chose tant abaissee,
Ains en me dedaignant tu aimas autre part
Un qui son amitié chichement te depart.
Voila comme il te prend pour mespriser ma peine,
Et le rustique son de mon tuyau d’aveine.
 
Ils diront que mon teint, auparavant vermeil,
De crainte en te voyant se blanchit tout pareil
A la neige ou d’Auvergne ou des monts Pyrénées,
Qui se conserve blanche en despit des années,
Et que depuis le mois que l’amour me fit tien,
De jour en jour plus triste et plus vieil je devien.
 
Puis ils diront comment les garçons du village
Disent que ta beauté touche desja sur l’age,
Et qu’au matin le Coq dés la poincte du jour
Ne voirra plus sortir ceux qui te font l’amour.
« Bien fol est qui se fie en sa belle jeunesse,
« Qui si tost se derobe, et si tost nous delaisse.
« La rose à la parfin devient un gratecu,
« Et tout avecq’ le temps par le temps est vaincu. »
 
Quel passetemps prens-tu d’habiter la valee
De Bourgueil où jamais la Muse n’est allee ?
Quitte moy ton Anjou, et vien en Vandomois :
Là s’eslevent au ciel les sommets de nos bois,
Là sont mille taillis et mille belles plaines,
Là gargouillent les eaux de cent mille fontaines,
Là sont mille rochers, où Echon alentour
En resonnant mes vers ne parle que d’ Amour.
 
Ou bien si tu ne veux, il me plaist de me rendre
Angevin pour te voir, et ton langage apprendre :
Et là pour te flechir, les hauts vers que j’avois
En ma langue traduit du Pindare Gregeois,
Humble je redirai en un chant plus facile
Sur le doux chalumeau du pasteur de Sicile.
 
Là parmy tes sablons Angevin devenu,
Je veux vivre sans nom comme un pauvre incognu,
Et dés l’Aube du jour avecq’ toy mener paistre
Aupres du port Guiet nostre troupeau champestre :
Puis sur le chaud du jour je veux en ton giron
Me coucher sous un chesne, où l’herbe à l’environ
Un beau lict nous fera de mainte fleur diverse,
Où nous serons tournés tous deux à la renverse :
Puis au Soleil couchant nous mènerons noz bœufs
Boire sur le sommet des ruisselets herbeux,
Et les remènerons au son de la musette,
Puis nous endormirons dessus l’herbe mollette.
 
Là sans ambition de plus grands biens avoir,
Contenté seulement de t’aimer et de voir,
Je passerois mon âge, et sur ma sepulture
Les Angevins mettroient ceste breve escriture.
 
Celuy qui gist icy, touché de l’aiguillon
Qu’ amour nous laisse au cœur, garda comme Apollon
Les tropeaux de sa dame, et en ceste prairie
Mourut en bien aimant une belle Marie,
Et elle apres sa mort mourut aussi d’ennuy,
Et sous ce verd tombeau repose avecques luy.
 
A peine avois je dit, quand Thoinet se dépâme,
Et à soy revenu alloit apres sa dame :
Mais je le retiray le menant d’autre part
Pour chercher à loger, car il estoit bien tard.
 
Nous avions ja passé la sablonneuse rive,
Et le flot qui bruyant contre le pont arrive,
Et ja dessus le pont nous estions parvenus,
Et nous apparoissoit le tumbeau de Turnus,
Quand le pasteur Janot tout gaillard nous emmeine
Dedans son toict couvert de javelles d’aveine.
“O boat who carry my dear life through the waves,
May the breath of the winds favourable to you be dead,
And may the perilous bank which is found
In the waters not wrap you in his sleeping sands;
May air, wind and water favour my lady
And no bumpy wave disturb her oars.
May the course of the Loire flow with the appearance
Of a pool, without any lazy waves, and may its dirty lime
For today change into fine gravel
Full of many a ruby and many a choice pearl.
 
May the banks be sown with a thousand beautiful flowers
Reflecting their thousand beautiful colours on the water;
And may the nymphly troop of gentle Naiads
Make around the vessel a thousand gambols,
Some making the waves before the bark dance
With the palms of their hands, others reveal
Their breasts in the water’s foam, and with workers’ hands
Lead the boat along the river.
 
Let the sky-blue martin fly before
With the gull, and let the loon pursuing
His wretched fate not dream for today
Of his fair [ Hesperia ], and not throw himself under the water;
And let the noisy Heron, who flees the storm,
Hanging high in the air make no sound;
So, let every gentle bird which seeks its prey
Among the fishy waves bring you with good fortune
To come safely with your charge to port,
Where Marion shall see perhaps on the bank
An elm with long boughs, bound by a vine,
And seeing it embraced so gently
Shall maybe recall her poor Pete
And wish to have him in her embrace on the bank.
 
“They used to say in past time that some people could change
Their form into a river, and themselves swam
In the waves which mounted with their blood and tears
As their bodies, wavering, little by little faded away.
 
“Why cannot I change my human appearance
Into the form of the water which draws that bark?
I would go murmuring under the bottom of the vessel,
I would go all around it, and my loving water
Would kiss now her hand, now her open lips,
Following her right up to the White Chapel;
Then, forcing a passage to follow my wish,
I would follow the traces of her feet right to Bourgueil
And there, lying beneath a pine on the green grass,
I would want to re-assume my previous shape.
 
“Is there no plant on this bank here
Which has so strong a taste that it might thus
Change me as Glaucus was changed, into an aquatic beast,
With the form of neither man nor fish, yet of both man and fish?
I would like to be Glaucus and keep in my lap
The apples which Hippomanes threw from his hand
To win Atalanta; to surprise you
I would hurl them on the water and make you realise
That gold has power not only upon the earth,
But that it can deceive women upon water also.
Well, that won’t happen; but what can be done
I want to achieve, to please you.
I want to water this hazel-tree carefully
And place chaplets of flowers upon its leaves;
And with an awl upon its bark I want
To engrave the six letters of your name strongly
So that passers-by, reading ‘Marion’,
May do honour to the tree cut with your name.
 
“I want to make a fair bed of green reeds,
Laid upon leafy periwinkle
And thyme which flowers well, and tufted aspic,
And fragrant mint carpeting the earth,
And ever-green water-lilies, which imitate tables,
And reeds which live on the river-banks.
 
“I want to have grass up to my elbows, and I want
With roses and lilies to crown my hair.
I want someone to break me open an Angevin cask
And, as I recall my completely divine one,
You, my sweet care, to empty right to the bottom
My deep cup, a thousand times this very day,
And not to leave here until to the lees
Of this fine wine of Anjou the liquor is drained.
 
Melchior of Champagne and William of [ Mance ],
One on his little fiddle, the other on pipes,
Will sing of me, how my soul was destitute
Of sense and reason as soon as I saw you.
Then they’ll sing how, to turn aside your harshness,
I called you my life, and named you my heart,
My eyes, my blood, my everything: but your haughty thoughts
Did not wish to look on a thing so abased,
Even as – while you disdained me – you loved elsewhere
Someone who stingily took away from you his love.
See how he led you to despise my pain,
And the rustic sound of my oat-stalk pipe.
 
They’ll sing how my previously-pink colour
For fear on seeing you paled just like
The snow in the Auvergne or the Pyrenean mountains,
Which remains white despite the passing year,
And how since the month when love made me yours
From day to day I’ve become sadder and older.
 
Then they’ll sing how the boys in the village
Say that your beauty is already beginning to age,
And how in the morning the cock at break of day
Won’t any longer see leaving those who make love to you.
“The true fool is he who trusts in his fair youth,
Which so soon fades, and so soon leaves us.
The rose in the end becomes a rose-hip,
And everything in time by time is overcome.”
 
Why do you pass your time living in the valley
Of Bourgueil, where the Muse has never visited?
Leave your Anjou for me, and come to the Vendôme:
There the tops of our trees rise to the skies,
There are a thousand copses and a thousand lovely plains,
There the waters of millions of springs gurgle,
There are a thousand rocks where Echo all around
Re-sounding my verses speaks only of Love.
 
Or even, if you don’t want to, I’m happy to become
Angevin, to see you, and to learn your language;
And there, to sway you, the high-flown verse which I have
Translated into my tongue from Greek Pindar
I shall humbly re-write into an easier song
Played on the sweet pipes of the Sicilian shepherd.
 
There among your sands, become an Angevin,
I want to live nameless like a poor unknown,
And from the dawn of day to lead with you to pasture
Near the Guiet gate our country herd;
Then, in the heat of the day, I want to lie
In your lap beneath an oak, where the grass around
Will make a lovely bed for us of many varied flowers
Where we shall both turn backwards;
Then as the sun sets, we will lead our cattle
To drink from the high origins of grassy streams,
And we’ll lead them back, to the sound of the pipe,
Then we’ll sleep upon the softest grass.
 
There, with no ambition to have greater goods,
Contented only with loving you and looking,
I shall live out my years, and on my grave
The Angevins will place this brief inscription:
 
“He who lies here, wounded by the arrow
Which love plants in our hearts, watched like Apollo
His lady’s herds, and on this plain
He died, loving well his fair Marie,
And she after his death died too, of grief,
And lies beneath this green tomb with him.”
 
I had barely spoken, when Tony came around,
And, recovered, was going after his lady;
But I drew him back, leading him elsewhere
To find lodging, for it was very late.
 
We had already passed the sandy bank,
And the waves which crash noisily against the bridge,
And we’d already arrived on the bridge,
And the tomb of Turnus had already appeared before us,
When Johnny the shepherd gaily led us
Into his home, covered with armful of oat-straw.
 
A complete version of the later text and translation is collected here.
 
 

Le Voyage de Tours: ou, Les amoureux

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The next 120 lines of the Voyage …

Six ans sont ja passez, toutefois dans l’oreille
J’entens encor’ le son de ta voix nompareille,
Qui me gaigna le coeur, et me souvient encor
De ta vermeille bouche et de tes cheveux d’or,
De ta main, de tes yeux, et si le temps qui passe
A depuis desrobé quelque peu de leur grace,
Helas je ne suis moins de leurs graces ravy
Que je fus sur le Clain, le jour que je te vy
Surpasser en beauté toutes les pastourelles,
Que les jeunes pasteurs estimoient les plus belles.
Car je n’ay pas esgard à cela que tu es,
Mais à ce que tu fus, tant les amoureux traits
Te graverent en moy, voire de telle sorte
Que telle que tu fus telle au sang je te porte.
 
Dés l’heure que le cœur de l’œil tu me perças,
Pour en sçavoir la fin je fis tourner le Sas
Par une Janeton, qui au bourg de Crotelles
Soit du bien, soit du mal, disoit toutes nouvelles.
 
Apres qu’elle eut trois fois craché dedans son sein,
Trois fois esternué, elle prist du levain,
Le retaste en ses doigts, et en fist une image
Qui te sembloit de port de taille et de visage :
Puis tournoyant trois fois, et trois fois marmonnant,
De sa gertiere alla tout mon col entournant,
Et me dit, Je ne tiens si fort de ma gertiere
Ton col, que ta vie est de malheur heritiere,
Captive de Francine, et seulement la mort
Desnou’ra le lien qui te serre si fort :
Et n’espere jamais de vouloir entreprendre
D’eschauffer un glaçon qui te doit mettre en cendre.
 
Las! je ne la creu pas, et pour vouloir adonc
En estre plus certain, je fis couper le jonc
La veille de sainct Jean : mais je vy sur la place
Le mien, signe d’ Amour, croistre plus d’une brasse,
Le tien demeurer court, signe que tu n’avois
Soucy de ma langueur, et que tu ne m’aimois,
Et que ton amitié qui n’est point asseurée,
Ainsi que le jonc court, est courte demeurée.
 
Je mis pour t’essayer encores davant-hier
Dans le creux de ma main des fueilles de coudrier :
Mais en tappant dessus, nul son ne me rendirent,
Et flaques sans sonner sur la main me fanirent,
Vray signe que je suis en ton amour moqué,
Puis qu’en frapant dessus elles n’ont point craqué :
Pour monstrer par effet que ton cœur ne craquette
Ainsi que fait le mien d’une flame segrette.
 
O ma belle Francine, ô ma fiere, et pourquoy
En dansant, de tes mains ne me prens-tu le doy ?
Pourquoy lasse du bal entre ces fleurs couchée,
N’ay-je sur ton giron ou la teste panchée,
Ou mes yeux sur les tiens, ou ma bouche dessus
Tes deux tetins de neige et d’yvoire conceus ?
Te semblay-je trop vieil ? encor la barbe tendre
Ne fait que commencer sur ma jouë à s’estendre,
Et ta bouche qui passe en beauté le coural,
S’elle veut me baiser, ne se fera point mal :
Mais ainsi qu’un Lezard se cache sous l’herbette,
Sous ma blonde toison cacheras ta languette :
Puis en la retirant, tu tireras à toy
Mon cœur, pour te baiser, qui sortira de moy.
 
Helas prens donc mon cœur, avecques ceste paire
De ramiers que je t’offre, ils sont venus de l’aire
De ce gentil ramier dont je t’avois parlé :
Margot m’en a tenu plus d’une heure acollé,
Les pensant emporter pour les mettre en sa cage.
Mais ce n’est pas pour elle : et demain davantage
Je t’en rapporteray, avecques un pinson
Qui desja sçait par coeur une belle chanson,
Que je fis l’autre jour dessous une aubespine,
Dont le commencement est Thoinet et Francine.
Hà, cruelle, demeure, et tes yeux amoureux
Ne destourne de moy : hà je suis malheureux !
Car je cognois mon mal, et si cognois encore
La puissance d’ Amour, qui le sang me devore.
Sa puissance est cruelle, et n’a point d’autre jeu,
Sinon de rebrusler nos cœurs à petit feu,
Ou de les englacer, comme ayant pris son estre
D’une glace ou d’un feu ou d’un rocher champestre.
Ha ! que ne suis-je abeille, ou papillon, j’irois
Maugré toy te baiser, et puis je m’assirois
Sur tes tetins, afin de succer de ma bouche
Ceste humeur qui te fait contre moy si farouche.
 
O belle au doux regard, Francine au beau sourcy,
Baise-moy je te prie, et m’embrasses ainsy
Qu’un arbre est embrassé d’une vigne bien forte.
« Souvent un vain baiser quelque plaisir apporte. »
Je meurs ! tu me feras despecer ce bouquet,
Que j’ay cueilly pour joy, de Thym et de Muguet,
Et de la rouge-fleur qu’on nomme Cassandrette,
Et de la blanche-fleur qu’on appelle Olivette,
A qui Bellot donna et la vie et le nom,
Et de celle qui prend de ton nom son surnom.
 
Las ! où fuis tu de moy ? hà ma fiere ennemie,
Je m’en vois despouiller jaquette et souquenie,
Et m’en courray tout nud au haut de ce rocher,
Où tu vois ce garçon à la ligne pescher,
Afin de me lancer à corps perdu dans Loire,
Pour laver mon soucy, ou afin de tant boire
D’escumes et de flots, que la flamme d’aimer,
Par l’eau contraire au feu se puisse consumer.
 
Ainsi disoit Thoinet, qui se pasma sur l’herbe,
Presque transi de voir sa dame si superbe,
Qui rioit de son mal, sans daigner seulement
D’un seul petit clin d’œil appaiser son tourment.
 
J’ouvrois desja la lévre apres Thoinet pour dire
De combien Marion m’estoit encores pire,
Quand j’avise sa mere en haste gagner l’eau,
Et sa fille emmener avec elle au bateau,
Qui se joüant sur l’onde attendoit ceste charge,
Lié contre le tronc d’un saule au feste large.
 
Ja les rames tiroient le bateau bien pansu,
Et la voile en enflant son grand reply bossu
Emportoit le plaisir qui mon cœur tient en peine,
Quand je m’assis au bord de la premiere arene :
Et voyant le bateau qui s’enfuyoit de moy,
Parlant à Marion je chantay ce convoy:
Six years have already passed, and still in my ears
I hear the sound of your matchless voice
Which won my heart, and reminds me still
Of your crimson lips and golden hair,
Of your hand, your eyes, and if passing time
Has stolen away some part of their grace,
Ah, I am no less in love with their gracefulness,
Than I was on the Clain, the day I saw you
Surpass in beauty all the [ poems/shepherdesses ]
Which the young shepherds thought most beautiful.
For I pay no regard to what you are,
But to what you were, so deeply are your lovely features
Graven in me, in such a way
That that which you were, is what I carry in my blood.
 
Since the moment when you pierced my heart with your eye
To figure out the end of it, I had the riddle considered
By an old dame at the town of Crotelles, who
Might tell the whole story, whether good or bad.
 
After she’d hawked three times in her breast,
Three times spat, she took some dough,
Shaped it in her fingers and made from it an image
Which resembled you in its manner and looks,
Turning three times and thrice murmuring
Twining all around my neck with her garter
She said to me: “I do not hold your neck with my garter
As firmly as your life is the inheritor of ill-luck,
Francine’s prisoner, and only death
Will loose the bond which holds you so tight:
Never hope you’ll be able to undertake
To make that icicle warm, which should turn you to cinders.”
 
Alas, I didn’t believe her, and so wishing
To be more certain of it, I tried cutting of straws
On the eve of St John’s day ; but right then I saw
Mine, the sign of Love, grow more than arm’s length
While yours stayed short – a sign that you had
No care for my pain, and that you didn’t love me,
And that your love which is not at all fixed,
Like the short straw, has remained short.
 
Again the day before yesterday, to try you again, I put
In the hollow of my hand some hazel-leaves ;
But tapping on them, no sound did they give me,
And flopping soundlessly on my hand they withered,
A true sign that I am mocked in your love
Since in tapping on them they crackled not a bit:
Showing by this means that your heart does not crackle
As mine does with a secret flame.
 
O my fair Francine, my proud lass, why
As you dance, do you not take my hand in yours?
Why, tired from the dance, lying in these flowers,
Do I not have either my head laid in your lap,
Or my eyes on yours, or my lips upon
Your two breasts born of snow and ivory?
Do I look to you too old? My young beard has still
Only begun to spread across my cheek,
And your lips which surpass the coral’s beauty
Would suffer, if they chose to kiss me, no harm:
But just like a lizard hides itself beneath the grass
You will hide your tongue beneath my blond hair;
Then, withdrawing it, you will take to yourself
My heart, which will leave me to kiss you.
 
Ah, take then my heart along with this pair
Of wood-pigeons which I offer you; they came from a nest
In that noble tree of which I’ve spoken to you;
Margot hung around my neck for them for more than an hour,
Thinking to take them to put in her cage.
But they aren’t for her: and tomorrow
I will bring back more for you, with a finch
Which already has learned by heart a fair song
Which I made the other day under a pine-tree,
Whose beginning is “Tony and Francine”.
Oh cruel one, stay, and turn not your loving
Eyes from me: ah, I am unhappy
For I recognise my illness, even recognise
The power of Love who devours my blood.
His power is cruel and has no other pleasure
Than burning our hearts with his little fire
Or icing them over, as if taking his essence
From ice or fire or some rock in the countryside.
Ah, if I were a bee or a butterfly, I would try
Despite you to kiss you, and then would sit
On your breasts, to suck out with my mouth
That humour which makes you so savage towards me.
 
O fair lady with the sweet glance, Francine with the fair brow,
Kiss me I pray, and embrace me as
A tree is embraced by some strong vine.
“A meaningless kiss often brings pleasure.”
I’m dying! you’ll make me shred this bouquet
Which I picked for you, of thyme and lily-of-the-valley
And that red flower we call ‘little Cassandre’,
And the white flower we call ‘little Olive’
To which Bellot gave both life and name,
And that one which takes its name from yours.
 
Oh, where are you running? My proud enemy,
I see myself stripped of jacket and smock,
I’ll run naked to the top of that rock
Where you see that boy fishing with his line
So I can throw my lost body into the Loire
To wash away my pain, or to drink so much
Of the foam and waves that the flame of loving
May, with water opposed to fire, be consumed.
 
So said Tony, as he fainted on the grass
Almost overcome at seeing his lady so proud
Laughing at his pain, without deigning even
With just one wink of the eye to soften his torment.
 
I was just opening my lips after Tony to say
How much worse Marion was to me,
When I spotted her mother hastily getting into the water
And taking away her daughter with her in a boat
Which, bobbing on the waves, was waiting for this task
Tied to the trunk of a wide-crowned willow.
 
The oars were already drawing the wide-bellied boat,
And the sail, filling his great rounded folds
Was carrying off the pleasure which keeps my heart in pain,
As I sat down on the bank at the edge of the sand:
And seeing the boat running away from me
I sang this farewell-song to Marion:
 
Half-a-dozen lines in, Ronsard puns gently on “pastourelles”: the most beautiful of ‘shepherdesses’ of course, but in a poem, why should the lady not surpass all poetry in beauty too – or at least all pastoral poetry?
 
Once again Remy Belleau’s commentary offers helpful notes.  Crotelles is  a village near to Poictiers “where they make a thousand noble things, like painted distaffs, boxes & other similar things”.  In the section towards the end of Thoinet’s complaint, various flowers are listed, several (re-)named after various poetic loves: Belleau says “our author, to give his first mistress [Cassandre] immortal praise, named with her name a beautiful red flower which is generally called “bell-flower”. Du Bellay did something similar, naming a white flower which is usually called “Our Lady’s flower” [a white violet] and which blooms in February, an « olivette » from the name of his beloved Olive. He says he has thus named with Francine’s name a beautiful flower which is now called « francinette », previously called by its Greek name anemone or ground-cherry.”
 
Belleau also informs us that the second half of the complaint, beginning “O ma belle Francine, ô ma fiere”, is imitated from Theocritus eclogue 3′ – though we now call them the Idylls of Theocritus.
 
Finally, ‘the eve of St John’s day’ is Midsummer Day, June 24th.
 
There are as usual several changes in this part of the poem, as Ronsard tidied up and improved his poem. I must say, though, that in at least one case I am astonished at the choice of replacement line: where first her eyes take their freezing or burning effect ‘from ice or fire that we will never comprehend’, the revised version has their freezing and burning coming ‘from ice or fire or some rock in the countryside‘?!?!  I’m also amused by how Ronsard’s later more prudish self removes the line about Thoinet having his hand under Francine’s skirt!
 
Six ans sont ja passez, et si dedans l’oreille
J’entens encor’ le son de ta voix nompareille,
Qui me gaigna le coeur, et me souvient encor
De ta vermeille bouche et de tes cheveux d’or,
De ta main, de tes yeux, et si le temps qui passe
A depuis desrobé quelque peu de leur grace,
Si est-ce que de toi je ne suis moins ravy
Que je fus sur le Clain, le jour que je te vy
Surpasser en beauté toutes les pastourelles,
Que les jeunes pasteurs estimoient les plus belles.
Car je n’ay pas esgard à cela que tu es,
Mais à ce que tu fus, tant les amoureux traits
Te graverent en moy, voire de telle sorte
Que telle que tu fus telle au cœur je te porte.
 
Dés l’heure que le cœur des yeux tu me perças,
Pour en sçavoir la fin je fis tourner le Sas
Par une Janeton, qui au bourg de Crotelles
Soit du bien, soit du mal, disoit toutes nouvelles.
 
Apres qu’elle eut trois fois craché dedans son sein,
Trois fois esternué, elle prist du levain,
Le retaste en ses doigts, et en fist une image
Qui te sembloit de port de taille et de visage :
Puis tournoyant trois fois, et trois fois marmonnant,
De sa gertiere alla tout mon col entournant,
Et me dit, Je ne tiens si fort de ma gertiere
Ton col, que ta vie est tenu prisonniere
Par les mains de Francine, et seulement la mort
Desnou’ra le lien qui te serre si fort :
Et n’espere jamais de vouloir entreprendre
D’eschauffer un glaçon qui te doit mettre en cendre.
 
Las! je ne la creu pas, et pour vouloir adonc
En estre plus certain, je fis couper le jonc
La veille de sainct Jean : mais je vy sur la place
Le mien, signe d’ Amour, croistre plus d’une brasse,
Le tien demeurer court, signe que tu n’avois
Soucy de ma langueur, et que tu ne m’aimois,
Et que ton amitié qui n’est point asseurée,
Ainsi que le jonc court, est courte demeurée.
 
Je mis pour t’essayer encores davant-hier
Dans le creux de ma main des fueilles de coudrier :
Mais en tappant dessus, nul son ne me rendirent,
Et, flasques, sans sonner sur la main me fanirent,
Vray signe que je suis en ton amour moqué,
Puis qu’en frapant dessus elles n’ont point craqué :
Pour monstrer par effet que ton cœur ne craquette
Ainsi que fait le mien d’une flame segrette.
 
O ma belle Francine, ô ma fiere, et pourquoy
En dansant, de tes mains ne me prens-tu le doy ?
Pourquoy lasse du bal entre ces fleurs couchée,
N’ay-je sur ton giron ou la teste panchée,
Ou la main sous ta cotte, ou la levre dessus
Ton tetin, par lequel ton prisonnier je fus ?
Te semble-je trop vieil ? encor la barbe tendre
Ne fait que commencer sur ma jouë à s’estendre,
Et ta bouche qui passe en beauté le coural,
S’elle veut me baiser, ne se fera point mal :
Mais ainsi qu’un Lezard se cache sous l’herbette,
Sous ma blonde toison cacheras ta languette :
Puis en la retirant, tu tireras à toy
Mon cœur, pour te baiser, qui sortira de moy.
 
Helas prens donc mon cœur, avecques ceste paire
De ramiers que je t’offre, ils sont venus de l’aire
De ce gentil ramier dont je t’avois parlé :
Margot m’en a tenu plus d’une heure acollé,
Les pensant emporter pour les mettre en sa cage.
Mais ce n’est pas pour elle : et demain davantage
Je t’en rapporteray, avecques un pinson
Qui desja sçait par cœur une belle chanson,
Que je fis l’autre jour dessous une aubespine,
Dont le commencement est Thoinet et Francine.
Hà, cruelle, demeure, et tes yeux amoureux
Ne destourne de moy : hà je suis malheureux !
Car je cognois mon mal, et si ai cognoissance
D’Amour et de sa mere, et quelle est leur puissance.
Leur puissance est cruelle, et n’ont point d’autre jeu,
Sinon que de brusler nos cœurs à petit feu,
Ou de les englacer, comme ayant pris leur estre
D’une glace ou d’un feu qu’on ne sauroit cognoistre.
Ha ! que ne suis-je abeille, ou papillon, j’irois
Maugré toy te baiser, et puis je m’assirois
Sur tes tetins, afin de succer de ma bouche
Ceste humeur qui te fait contre moy si farouche.
 
O belle au doux regard, Francine au beau sourcy,
Baise-moy je te prie, et m’embrasses ainsy
Qu’un arbre est embrassé d’une vigne bien forte.
« Souvent un vain baiser quelque plaisir apporte. »
Je meurs ! tu me feras despecer ce bouquet,
Que j’ay cueilly pour joy, de Thym et de Muguet,
Et de la rouge-fleur qu’on nomme Cassandrette,
Et de la blanche-fleur qu’on appelle Olivette,
A qui Bellot donna et la vie et le nom,
Et de celle qui prend de ton nom son surnom.
 
Las ! où fuis tu de moy ? hà ma fiere ennemie,
Je m’en vais despouiller jaquette et souquenie,
Et m’en courray tout nud au haut de ce rocher,
Où tu vois ce garçon à la ligne pescher,
Afin de me lancer à corps perdu dans Loire,
Pour laver mon soucy, ou afin de tant boire
D’escumes et de flots, que la flamme d’aimer,
Par l’eau contraire au feu se puisse consumer.
 
Ainsi disoit Thoinet, qui se pasma sur l’herbe,
Presque transi de voir sa dame si superbe,
Qui rioit de son mal, sans daigner seulement
D’un seul petit clin d’œil appaiser son tourment.
 
J’ouvrois desja la lévre apres Thoinet pour dire
De combien Marion m’estoit encores pire,
Quand j’avise sa mere en haste gagner l’eau,
Et sa fille emmener avec elle au bateau,
Qui se joüant sur l’onde attendoit ceste charge,
Lié contre le tronc d’un saule au feste large.
 
Ja les rames tiroient le bateau bien pansu,
Et la voile en enflant son grand reply bossu
Emportoit le plaisir qui mon cœur tient en peine,
Quand je m’assis au bord de la premiere arene :
Et voyant le bateau qui s’enfuyoit de moy,
Parlant à Marion je chantay ce convoy:
Six years have already passed, and still within my ears
I hear the sound of your matchless voice
Which won my heart, and reminds me still
Of your crimson lips and golden hair,
Of your hand, your eyes, and if passing time
Has stolen away some part of their grace,
Still am I no less in love with you,
Than I was on the Clain, the day I saw you
Surpass in beauty all the [ poems/shepherdesses ]
Which the young shepherds thought most beautiful.
For I pay no regard to what you are,
But to what you were, so deeply are your lovely features
Graven in me, in such a way
That that which you were, is what I carry in my heart.
 
Since the moment when you pierced my heart with your eyes
To figure out the end of it, I had the riddle considered
By an old dame at the town of Crotelles, who
Might tell the whole story, whether good or bad.
 
After she’d hawked three times in her breast,
Three times spat, she took some dough,
Shaped it in her fingers and made from it an image
Which resembled you in its manner and looks,
Turning three times and thrice murmuring
Twining all around my neck with her garter
She said to me: “I do not hold your neck with my garter
As firmly as your life is held prisoner
By the hands of Francine, and only death
Will loose the bond which holds you so tight:
Never hope you’ll be able to undertake
To make that icicle warm, which should turn you to cinders.
 
Alas, I didn’t believe her, and so wishing
To be more certain of it, I tried cutting of straws
On the eve of St John’s day ; but right then I saw
Mine, the sign of Love, grow more than arm’s length
While yours stayed short – a sign that you had
No care for my pain, and that you didn’t love me,
And that your love which is not at all fixed,
Like the short straw, has remained short.
 
Again the day before yesterday, to try you again, I put
In the hollow of my hand some hazel-leaves ;
But tapping on them, no sound did they give me,
And flopping soundlessly on my hand they withered,
A true sign that I am mocked in your love
Since in tapping on them they crackled not a bit:
Showing by this means that your heart does not crackle
As mine does with a secret flame.
 
O my fair Francine, my proud lass, why
As you dance, do you not take my hand in yours?
Why, tired from the dance, lying in these flowers,
Do I not have either my head laid in your lap,
Or my hand beneath your skirt, or my lips upon
Your breast, which made me your prisoner?
Do I look to you too old? My young beard has still
Only begun to spread across my cheek,
And your lips which surpass the coral’s beauty
Would suffer, if they chose to kiss me, no harm:
But just like a lizard hides itself beneath the grass
You will hide your tongue beneath my blond hair;
Then, withdrawing it, you will take to yourself
My heart, which will leave me to kiss you.
 
Ah, take then my heart along with this pair
Of wood-pigeons which I offer you; they came from a nest
In that noble tree of which I’ve spoken to you;
Margot hung around my neck for them for more than an hour,
Thinking to take them to put in her cage.
But they aren’t for her: and tomorrow
I will bring back more for you, with a finch
Which already has learned by heart a fair song
Which I made the other day under a pine-tree,
Whose beginning is “Tony and Francine”.
Oh cruel one, stay, and turn not your loving
Eyes from me: ah, I am unhappy
For I recognise my illness, even have understanding
Of Love and his mother, and what their power is.
Their power is cruel, and they have no other pleasure
Except to burn our hearts with their little fire
Or to ice them over, as if taking their essence
From ice or fire that we will never comprehend.
Ah, if I were a bee or a butterfly, I would try
Despite you to kiss you, and then would sit
On your breasts, to suck out with my mouth
That humour which makes you so savage towards me.
 
O fair lady with the sweet glance, Francine with the fair brow,
Kiss me I pray, and embrace me as
A tree is embraced by some strong vine.
“A meaningless kiss often brings pleasure.”
I’m dying! you’ll make me shred this bouquet
Which I picked for you, of thyme and lily-of-the-valley
And that red flower we call ‘little Cassandre’,
And the white flower we call ‘little Olive’
To which Bellot gave both life and name,
And that one which takes its name from yours.
 
Oh, where are you running? My proud enemy,
I’m going to strip myself of jacket and smock,
I’ll run naked to the top of that rock
Where you see that boy fishing with his line
So I can throw my lost body into the Loire
To wash away my pain, or to drink so much
Of the foam and waves that the flame of loving
May, with water opposed to fire, be consumed.
 
So said Tony, as he fainted on the grass
Almost overcome at seeing his lady so proud
Laughing at his pain, without deigning even
With just one wink of the eye to soften his torment.
 
I was just opening my lips after Tony to say
How much worse Marion was to me,
When I spotted her mother hastily getting into the water
And taking away her daughter with her in a
Which, bobbing on the waves, was waiting for this task
Tied to the trunk of a wide-crowned willow.
 
The oars were already drawing the wide-bellied boat,
And the sail, filling his great rounded folds
Was carrying off the pleasure which keeps my heart in pain,
As I sat down on the bank at the edge of the sand:
And seeing the boat running away from me
I sang this farewell-song to Marion:
 
 
For the enthusiast, here is the Theocritus poem Ronsard adapted: you’ll certainly recognise some considerable overlaps. The translation is by Charles Stuart Calverley (1908).
Κωμάσδω ποτὶ τὰν ᾿Αμαρυλλίδα, ταὶ δέ μοι αἶγες
βόσκονται κατ᾽ ὄρος, καὶ ὁ Τίτυρος αὐτὰς ἐλαύνει.
Τίτυρ᾽ ἐμὶν τὸ καλὸν πεφιλαμένε, βόσκε τὰς αἶγας,
καὶ ποτὶ τὰν κράναν ἄγε Τίτυρε, καὶ τὸν ἐνόρχαν
τὸν Λιβυκὸν κνάκωνα φυλάσσεο, μή τι κορύψῃ.
̂̓Ω χαρίεσσ᾽ ᾿Αμαρυλλί, τί μ᾽ οὐκέτι τοῦτο κατ᾽ ἄντρον
παρκύπτοισα καλεῖς τὸν ἐρωτύλον; ἦ ῥά με μισεῖς;
ἦ ῥά γέ τοι σιμὸς καταφαίνομαι ἐγγύθεν ἦμεν,
νύμφα, καὶ προγένειος; ἀπάγξασθαί με ποησεῖς.
 
ἠνίδε τοι δέκα μᾶλα φέρω: τηνῶθε καθεῖλον,
ὧ μ᾽ ἐκέλευ καθελεῖν τύ: καὶ αὔριον ἄλλά τοι οἰσῶ.
θᾶσαι μὰν θυμαλγὲς ἐμὸν ἄχος: αἴθε γενοίμαν
ἁ βομβεῦσα μέλισσα καὶ ἐς τεὸν ἄντρον ἱκοίμαν
τὸν κισσὸν διαδὺς καὶ τὰν πτέριν, ᾇ τὺ πυκάσδῃ.
νῦν ἔγνων τὸν ῎Ερωτα: βαρὺς θεός: ἦ ῥα λεαίνας
μαζὸν ἐθήλαζε, δρυμῷ τέ νιν ἔτρεφε μάτηρ,
ὅς με κατασμύχων καὶ ἐς ὀστίον ἄχρις ἰάπτει.
ὦ τὸ καλὸν ποθορεῦσα, τὸ πᾶν λίθος: ὦ κυάνοφρυ
νύμφα, πρόσπτυξαί με τὸν αἰπόλον, ὥς τυ φιλάσω.
ἔστι καὶ ἐν κενεοῖσι φιλάμασιν ἁδέα τέρψις.
τὸν στέφανον τῖλαί με κατ᾽ αὐτίκα λεπτὰ ποησεῖς,
τόν τοι ἐγὼν ᾿Αμαρυλλὶ φίλα κισσοῖο φυλάσσω
ἀμπλέξας καλύκεσσι καὶ εὐόδμοισι σελίνοις.–
῎Ωμοι ἐγώ, τί πάθω; τί ὁ δύσσοος; οὐχ ὑπακούεις;–
 
τὰν βαίταν ἀποδὺς ἐς κύματα τηνῶ ἁλεῦμαι,
ὧπερ τὼς θύννως σκοπιάζεται ῎Ολπις ὁ γριπεύς:
καἴκα δἠποθάνω, τό γε μὰν τεὸν ἁδὺ τέτυκται.
ἔγνων πρᾶν, ὅκα μευ μεμναμένω, εἰ φιλέεις με,
οὐδὲ τὸ τηλέφιλον ποτεμάξατο, τὸ πλατάγημα,
ἀλλ᾽ αὔτως ἁπαλῷ ποτὶ πάχεος ἐξεμαράνθη.
εἶπε καὶ ἀγροιῶτις ἀλαθέα κοσκινόμαντις,
ἁ πρᾶν ποιολογεῦσα Παραιβάτις, οὕνεκ᾽ ἐγὼ μὲν
τὶν ὅλος ἔγκειμαι, τὺ δέ μευ λόγον οὐδένα ποιῇ.
ἦ μάν τοι λευκὰν διδυματόκον αἶγα φυλάσσω,
τάν με καὶ ἁ Μέρμνωνος ἐριθακὶς ἁ μελανόχρως
αἰτεῖ, καὶ δωσῶ οἱ, ἐπεὶ τύ μοι ἐνδιαθρύπτῃ.
῞Αλλεται ὀφθαλμός μευ ὁ δεξιός: ἦ ῥά γ᾽ ἰδησῶ
αὐτάν; ᾀσεῦμαι ποτὶ τὰν πίτυν ὧδ᾽ ἀποκλινθείς,
καί κέ μ᾽ ἴσως ποτίδοι, ἐπεὶ οὐκ ἀδαμαντίνα ἐστίν.
 
῾Ιππομένης ὅκα δὴ τὰν παρθένον ἤθελε γᾶμαι,
μᾶλ᾽ ἐν χερσὶν ἑλὼν δρόμον ἄνυεν: ἁ δ᾽ ᾿Αταλάντα
ὡς ἴδεν, ὡς ἐμάνη, ὡς ἐς βαθὺν ἅλατ᾽ ἔρωτα.
τὰν ἀγέλαν χὡ μάντις ἀπ᾽ ῎Οθρυος ἆγε Μελάμπους
ἐς Πύλον: ἁ δὲ Βίαντος ἐν ἀγκοίναισιν ἐκλίνθη,
μάτηρ ἁ χαρίεσσα περίφρονος ᾿Αλφεσιβοίης.
τὰν δὲ καλὰν Κυθέρειαν ἐν ὤρεσι μᾶλα νομεύων
οὐχ οὑτῶς ὥδωνις ἐπὶ πλέον ἄγαγε λύσσας,
ὥστ᾽ οὐδὲ φθίμενόν νιν ἄτερ μαζοῖο τίθητι;
ζαλωτὸς μὲν ἐμὶν ὁ τὸν ἄτροπον ὕπνον ἰαύων
᾿Ενδυμίων, ζαλῶ δὲ φίλα γύναι ᾿Ιασίωνα,
ὃς τοσσῆν᾽ ἐκύρησεν, ὅσ᾽ οὐ πευσεῖσθε βέβαλοι.
᾿Αλγέω τὰν κεφαλάν, τὶν δ᾽ οὐ μέλει. οὐκέτ᾽ ἀείδω,
κεισεῦμαι δὲ πεσών, καὶ τοὶ λύκοι ὧδέ μ᾽ ἔδονται.
ὡς μέλι τοι γλυκὺ τοῦτο κατὰ βρόχθοιο γένοιτο.
 
I pipe to Amaryllis; while my goats,
Tityrus their guardian, browse along the fell.
O Tityrus, as I love thee, feed my goats:
And lead them to the spring, and Tityrus, ’ware
The lifted crest of yon gray Libyan ram.
 
Ah winsome Amaryllis! Why no more
Greet’st thou thy darling, from the caverned rock
Peeping all coyly? Think’st thou scorn of him?
Hath a near view revealed him satyr-shaped
Of chin and nostril? I shall hang me soon.
See here ten apples: from thy favourite tree
1 plucked them: I shall bring ten more anon.
Ah witness my heart-anguish! Oh were I
A booming bee, to waft me to thy lair,
Threading the fern and ivy in whose depths
Thou nestlest! I have learned what Love is now:
Fell god, he drank the lioness’s milk,
In the wild woods his mother cradled him,
Whose fire slow-burns me, smiting to the bone.
O thou whose glance is beauty and whose heart
All marble: O dark-eyebrowed maiden mine!
Cling to thy goatherd, let him kiss thy lips,
For there is sweetness in an empty kiss.
Thou wilt not? Piecemeal I will rend the crown,
The ivy-crown which, dear, I guard for thee,
Inwov’n with scented parsley and with flowers:
Oh I am desperate — what betides me, what? —
Still art thou deaf? I’ll doff my coat of skins
And leap into yon waves, where on the watch
For mackerel Olpis sits: tho’ I ‘scape death,
That I have all but died will pleasure thee.
That learned I when (I murmuring “loves she me?”)
The Love-in-absence, crushed, returned no sound,
But shrank and shrivelled on my smooth young wrist.
I learned it of the sieve-divining crone
Who gleaned behind the reapers yesterday:
“Thou’rt wrapt up all,” Agraia said, “in her;
She makes of none account her worshipper.”
 
Lo! a white goat, and twins, I keep for thee:
Mermnon’s lass covets them: dark she is of skin:
But yet hers be they; thou but foolest me.
 
She cometh, by the quivering of mine eye.
I’ll lean against the pine-tree here and sing.
She may look round: she is not adamant.
 
[he sings] Hippomenes, when he a maid would wed,
Took apples in his hand and on he sped.
Famed Atalanta’s heart was won by this;
She marked, and maddening sank in Love’s abyss.
 
Prom Othrys did the seer Melampus stray
To Pylos with his herd: and lo there lay
In a swain’s arms a maid of beauty rare;
Alphesiboea, wise of heart, she bare.
 
Did not Adonis rouse to such excess
Of frenzy her whose name is Loveliness,
(He a mere lad whose wethers grazed the hill)
That, dead, he’s pillowed on her bosom still?
 
Endymion sleeps the sleep that changeth not:
And, maiden mine, I envy him his lot!
Envy Iasion’s: his it was to gain
Bliss that I dare not breathe in ears profane.
 
My head aches. What reck’st thou? I sing no more:
E’en where I fell I’ll lie, until the wolves
Rend me — may that be honey in thy mouth!
 

Le Voyage de Tours: ou, Les amoureux

Standard

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

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

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

 

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

Amours retranch. 41

Standard
Dame, je meurs pour vous, je meurs pour vous, Madame,
Dame, je meurs pour vous, et si ne vous en chaut:
Je sens pour vous au Coeur un brasier si treschaut,
Que pour le refroidir, je veux bien rendre l’ame.
 
Vous aurez pour jamais un scandaleux diffame
Si vous me meurdrissez sans vous faire un defaut.
Ha que voulez-vous dire? est-ce ainsi comme il faut
Par une cruauté vous honnorer d’un blasme ?
 
Non, vous ne me pouvez reprocher que je sois
Un effronté menteur: car mon teint et ma vois,
Et mon chef ja grison vous servent d’asseurance,
 
Et mes yeux trop enflez, et mon coeur plein d’émoy.
Hé que feray-je plus! puis que nulle creance
Il ne vous plaist donner aux témoins de ma foy.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            My Lady, I am dying for you, I am dying for you my Lady,
                                                                            My Lady I am dying for you, and yet you do not care:
                                                                            I feel for you in my heart a furnace so hot
                                                                            That to cool it down I would happily hand over my soul.
 
                                                                            You will forever have scandalous infamy
                                                                            If you murder me though I’ve done you no wrong.
                                                                            Ah, what are you trying to say? Is it thus as it should be,
                                                                            Honouring you with blame for your cruelty?
 
                                                                            No, you cannot reproach me that I am
                                                                            Some brazen liar: for my colour and my voice,
                                                                            And my already-grey hairs give you assurance,
 
                                                                            As do my eyes all puffy, and my heart full of anguish.
                                                                            Oh, what more can I do? For no trust
                                                                            Are you pleased to place in the testimony of my loyalty.
 
 
 
Not a great (or even a very good) poem today, I’m afraid. A reminder that even the best can sometimes end up falling back on formulas… From the weakness of the repeat in the opening line, via the string of half-line ‘formulas’ in the middle… In some ways it reminds me of that little game Mozart put together: ‘here’s a string of short (musical) phrases, throw a die and put them together in the random sequence it indicates’!  At last: one of the withdrawn poems that fully deserves its fate 🙂
 
 
 

Amours retranch. 33

Standard
D’une belle Marie, en une autre Marie,
Belleau, je suis tombé, et dire ne te puis
De laquelle des deux plus amoureux je suis,
Car j’en aime bien l’une, et l’autre est bien m’amie.
 
Plus mon affection en amour est demie
Et plus ceste moitié me consomme d’ennuis,
Car au lieu d’une à part, deux au coup j’en poursuis,
Et pour en aimer une, une autre je n’oublie.
 
« Or tousjours l’amitié plus est enracinée,
« Plus long-temps elle est ferme et plus est obstinée
« A souffrir de l’amour l’orage vehement.
 
« Hé ! sçais-tu pas, Belleau, que deux ancres jettées,
« Quand les vents ont plus fort les ondes agitées,
« Tiennent mieux une nef, qu’une ancre seulement?
 
 
 
                                                                            From one fair Marie to another Marie,
                                                                            Belleau, have I fallen [in love], and I cannot say
                                                                            With which of the two I am more in love,
                                                                            For I love one of them indeed, and the other is indeed my beloved.
 
                                                                            The more my affection is halved in love
                                                                            The more that half consumes me with pain,
                                                                            For instead of one alone, two at a time I’m chasing,
                                                                            And while making love to one of them I can’t forget the other.
 
                                                                            “Love is always more deeply rooted
                                                                            The longer it is fixed and the more it persists
                                                                            In suffering the violent storm of love.
 
                                                                            Ah, don’t you know, Belleau, that two anchors thrown out
                                                                            When the winds have strongly stirred the waves
                                                                            Hold a ship better than one anchor alone.”
 
 
 
Today, Ronsard in playful mood. And a reminder how common the name ‘Marie’ was in the 16th century!  The opening is a little awkward in the translation: I’m trying to catch the way the meaning shifts subtly after the end of line 1, as the meaning of “de” is influenced not by “en” (‘from … to’) but by “tombé” (“tombé de” = ‘fall in love with‘). It is clear  from lines 3 onwards that Ronsard isn’t saying he’s fallen out of love with one, as the opening line might imply; rather, that he’s in love with both.
 
Marty-Laveaux marks the whole sestet with quote marks – though it’s not obvious how this section is direct speech any more than the octet before it; had he marked only the first tercet that could (just) have been quoting a proverb, but the final tercet clearly isn’t. Blanchemain (as usual) sidesteps the question by not using quote marks at all  …