Tag Archives: Vendôme

Elégie à Marie (Amours 2:68a )

Standard

 

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

 

 
 

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.
 
 
 
 

Odes 3.21

Standard

 

A GASPAR D’AUVERGNE
 
Gaspar, qui, loin de Pegase,
As les filles de Parnase
Conduites en ta maison,
Ne sçais-tu que moy, poête,
De mon Phoebus je souhéte
Quand je fais une oraison ?
 
Les moissons je ne quiers pas
Que le faux arrange à bas
Sur la Beauce fructueuse ;
Ny tous les cornus troupeaux
Qui sautent sur les coupeaux
De l’Auvergne montueuse ;
 
Ny l’or sans forme qu’ameine
La mine pour nostre peine ;
Ny celuy qui est formé
Portant d’un roy la figure
Ou la fiere pourtraiture
De quelque empereur armé ;
 
Ny l’ivoire marqueté
En l’Orient acheté
Pour parade d’une sale ;
Ny les cousteux diamans
Magnifiques ornemens
D’une majesté royale ;
 
Ny tous les champs que le fleuve
Du Loir lentement abreuve ;
Ny tous les prez emmurez
Des plis de Braye argentine ;
Ny tous les bois dont Gastine
Void ses bras en-verdurez ;
 
Ny le riche accoustrement
D’une laine qui dément
Sa teinture naturelle
Ez chaudrons du Gobelin,
S’yvrant d’un rouge venin
Pour se disguiser plus belle
 
Que celuy dans une coupe
Toute d’or boive à la troupe
De son vin de Prepatour,
A qui la vigne succede,
Et près Vendôme en possede
Deux cents arpens en un tour.
 
Que celuy qui aime Mars
S’enrolle entre les soldars,
Et face sa peau vermeille
D’un beau sang pour son devoir,
Et que la trompette, au soir,
D’un son luy raze l’aureille.
 
Le marchant hardiment vire
Par le mer de sa navire
La proue et la poupe encor ;
Ce n’est moy, bruslé d’envie,
A tels despens de ma vie,
Rapporter des lingots d’or.
 
Tous ces biens je ne quiers point,
Et mon courage n’est poingt
De telle gloire excessive.
Manger o mon compagnon
Ou la figue d’Avignon,
Ou la provençale olive,
 
L’artichôt et la salade,
L’asperge et le pastenade,
Et les pompons tourangeaux,
Me sont herbes plus friandes
Que les royales viandes
Qui se servent à monceaux.
 
Puis qu’il faut si tost mourir,
Que me vaudroit d’acquerir
Un bien qui ne dure guere,
Qu’un heritier qui viendroit
Après mon trespas vendroit
Et en feroit bonne chere ?
 
Tant seulement je desire
Une santé qui n’empire ;
Je desire un beau sejour,
Une raison saine et bonne
Et une lyre qui sonne
Tousjours le vin et l’amour.
TO GASPAR OF AUVERGNE
 
Gaspar, who – without Pegasus –
Has brought the daughters of Parnassus
Into your home,
Do you not know what I, a poet,
Ask of my Apollo
When I make him a prayer ?
 
Crops I don’t request,
Those which the scythe cuts down
Upon the fruitful Beauce ;
Nor do I ask for all the horned troop
Which leap upon the scarps
Of the mountainous Auvergne ;
 
Nor shapeless gold which the mine
Provides for our trouble ;
Nor do I ask to be one made
To bear a king’s figure
Or the proud appearance
Of some armed emperor ;
 
Nor inlaid ivory
Bought in the East
For some dishonest woman’s display ;
Nor costly diamonds,
Magnificent ornaments
Of royal majesty ;
 
Nor all the fields which the river
Loir slowly waters ;
Nor all the meadows walled in
By the bends of the silvery Braye ;
Nor all the woods with which Gastine
Sees his arms greened ;
 
Nor the rich clothing
Of wool which gives the lie to
Its natural colour
In Gobelin’s cauldrons,
Drinking in the red poison
To disguise itself, more beautiful
 
Than his wine of Prepatour,
Which he himself, in a cup
Made all of gold, drinks to his troop –
The vines to which he succeded
And possesses near Vendome
Two hundred acres of them.
 
Let he who loves Mars [war]
Enrol among his soldiers,
And print his pink skin
With bright blood for his work,
And let the evening trumpet
With its call crash on his ear.
 
Let the merchant boldly steer
Over the sea his ship’s
Prow and poop too ;
It’s not for me, burning with desire
At such cost to my life,
To bring back golden ingots.
 
All these good things I seek not at all,
And my courage is not pricked
To such excessive glory.
Eating with my friend
Figs from Avignon
Or olives from Provence,
 
Artichokes and salad,
Asparagus and parsnip
And melons from Tours,
These are tastier foods
Than the king’s meat
Which is served in mountains.
 
Since we must die so soon,
What use to me is gaining
Some good thing which hardly lasts,
Which my inheritor will come
After my death and sell
And make a great deal from ?
 
I simply desire
Health which doesn’t worsen ;
I desire a fine time here,
My reason unimpaired,
And a lyre which sings
Always of wine and love.
 
 
Blanchemain reprints several footnotes from Richelet’s commentary.In the 4th stanza, he notes that “tous les champs” are ‘the fields of his Vendome region’ (as we’d have guessed from the references to the Braye & Gastine); in the following stanza he tells us that Gobelin was  ‘formerly the famous & rich dyer of Paris’, though we now think of his Belgin tapestry factory; and explains that the “rouge venin” (‘red poison’) is scarlet dye in which the wool is soaked for a long time. A stanza later, he epxlains that Prepatour is ‘an excellent wine, whose vine belongs to the king & is in his domain in the Vendome’.
 
The stanzas 3rd & 4th from last also deserve a note or two: Ronsard says “Manger o mon compagnon”, which I guess to be Provençal dialect (“o” for “au”?), suited to the Avignon/Provencal food mentioned in the following lines, and or the Auvergne form which Gaspar hails. “Pastenade” is also Provençal, and there is even today a special variety of melon (“pompon”) grown around Tours: see here.
 
And what of Gaspar himself? Ronsard’s friend Gaspar (or Gaspard) was another of that learned circle of humanists, known among other things for translating Machiavelli into French – particularly ‘Le Prince’ and “Les discours de l’estat de paix et de guerre”, the former apparently undertaken between 1547 and 1553 but not published till the 1560s, one of three roughly contemporary translations of the notorious work.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Gayetez et Epigrammes (39)

Standard

While wandering through some of the more obscure poems, how about this one…

SUR UN LIVRE TRAICTANT DE LA FOY CATHOLIQUE,
TRADUIT PAR JEAN DE LAVARDIN.
 
DIALOGUE DU PASSANT ET DU LIBRAIRE
 
 
Qui est ce livre ? – Estranger. – Qui l’a faict ?
– Le grand Osie en sçavoir tout parfaict.
– Qui l’a conduit des terres poulonoises,
Et fait sonner nos parolles françoises ?
– C’est Lavardin, ce sçavant translateur,
Et docte autant que le premier autheur.
– De quoy discourt ce livre magnifique ?
– De nostre loy, de la foy catholique ;
Tout ce qu’il faut retenir ou laisser,
Et qu’un chrestien doit à Dieu confesser,
Pour estre net du fard de l’heresie,
Croyant l’Eglise, et non la fantaisi
De ces cerveaux éventez, esgarez,
Qui par orgueil sont de nous separez.
Et bref, Passant, si le zele t’allume
Des peres vieux, achepte ce volume,
Pour vivre seur en la ferme union.
Mais si tu es de l’autre opinion,
Et si tu veux les mensonges ensuivre
Des nouveaux fols, n’achepte pas ce livre
Pour t’en mocquer ; tu porterois en vain
En lieu d’un livre un fardeau dans la main.
On a book concerning the Catholic faith,
translated by Jean de Lavardin
 
Dialogue between a passer-by and a bookseller
 
 
What is this book ? – A foreign one. – Who wrote it ?
– The great Hosius, perfect in learning.
– Who has brought it from Polish lands,
And made it shout out with our French words ?
– It is Lavardin, that scholarly translator,
As learned as its first author.
– Of what does this magnificent book tell ?
– Of our law, the Catholic faith ;
All that must be retained or let go,
And that a Christian should confess to God,
To be clear of the burden of heresy,
Believing in the Church and not the fantasy
Of those airy, bewildered minds
Who are separated from us by their pride.
In brief, traveller, if zeal for the ancient Fathers
Has fired you, accept this volume
In order to live surely, in firm union.
But if you are of the other opinion
And if you want to follow the lies
Of new madmen, do not take this book
To laugh at it ; you’ll be taking in vain,
Instead of a book, a burden in your hands.
 
This is a poem included among Ronsard’s posthumous pieces, i.e. not one he published within his collected editions in his lifetime.  Ronsard makes clear his own position is with the Catholic church.  But, given our image of the Wars of Religion in France (the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre etc), he is perhaps surprisingly relaxed in his address to any protestant/Huguenot reading it. OK, he uses words like ‘lies’ and ‘madmen’, but he warns only of the eternal rather than earthly consequences of that religious choice.
 
Jean de Lavardin is not the Marquis de Lavardin who rose to be Marshal France under Henry IV (after a career on both sides of the religious divide in the Wars of Religion!); he is, rather, the abbot of the Premonstratensian monastery of the Étoile (the Star — “l’Abbaye Sainte-Trinité et Saint-Sauveur de l’Étoile” in full) at Authon next to Vendôme. and thus very much part of Ronsard’s world in the Loir region. He was known principally as a translator of the Letters of St Jerome, but also – relevant to this poem – of the “Confession catholique de la foy chrestienne” (‘Catholic confession of the Christian faith’) of Bishop Hosius, published in 1579. Its attractive title page – see it here – states “Faite Françoise du Latin de Stanislaus HOSIVS, Cardinal Polonois, Euesque de Vvarme, & President au Concile de TRENTE, PAR Iean de LAVARDIN, Vandomois, Abbé de l’Estoille.” (‘Done into French from the Latin of Stanisław Hozjusz, Polish Cardinal, Bishop of Warmia, and President of the Council of Trent….’), which explains the reference to Poland in the third line.
 
It also makes clear that the reference to ‘Osius’ in line 2 is not to Bishop Hosius (or Osius) who led the Council of Nicaea in the 300s AD in creating the Nicene Creed we still use today; but to Stanislaus Hosius, the Latinized version of Stanisław Hozjusz.
 
It was a chunky book – nearly 1700 pages! – which suggests that Ronsard is gently joking about its size in the final line when he refers to it as a ‘burden’ 🙂
 

 

 
 
 
 

Sonnet 165

Standard

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

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

 

 
 
 

Sonnet 126

Standard
Je te hay, peuple, et j’en prens à tesmoin
Le Loir, Gastine, et les rives de Braye,
Et la Neuffaune, et la verte saulaye
Que Sabut voit aboutir à son coin.
 
Là quand tout seul je m’esgare bien loin,
Amour qui parle avecque moy s’essaye
Non de guarir, mais rengreger ma playe
Par les deserts, qui augmentent mon soin.
 
Là pas-à-pas, Dame, je rememore
Ton front, ta bouche, et les graces encore
De tes beaux yeux trop fideles archers :
 
Puis figurant ta belle idole feinte
Au clair d’une eau, je sanglote une pleinte,
Qui fait gemir le plus dur des rochers.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            I hate you, people, and I call to witness
                                                                            The Loir, Gastine and the banks of Braye,
                                                                            And the Neuffaune, and the green willow
                                                                            Which Sabut sees adjoining its own edge.
 
                                                                            There, when all alone I wander afar,
                                                                            Love as he talks with me attempts
                                                                            Not to cure but to deepen my wound
                                                                            In these deserts which increase my cares.
 
                                                                            There, step by step, my Lady, I recall
                                                                            Your brow, your lips, the grace too
                                                                            Of your fair eyes, too trusty archers!
 
                                                                            Then imagining your fair image drawn
                                                                            In the clear water of a spring, I sob my complaint
                                                                            Which makes the hardest rocks wail.

 

 

 

Ronsard likes a dramatic opening , and this is a pretty fine one! But what is really typical is his determined projection of himself as a local man of the Vendôme, with the list of minor rivers which would be unknown to most of his readers (as to us) but which create a counterweight to the reality of the man about town and Court.
 
Blanchemain gallantly footnotes the various names. “Loir : river which passes through Vendome; Gastine: name of a forest; Braye: another small river; Neuffaune: a copse belonging to the author’s house; Sabut: a fertile hill with good vines, whose base is entirely covered in willows”.  I’m not sure that Ronsard meant his readers to gather more than local colour from the list, though Loir and the forest of Gastine do come back repeatedly in his poetry and are closely associated with his own family estate.
 
Blanchemain’s text has a number of variants, and particularly a rather different second quatrain. To avoid a cumbersome list, here’s the whole poem again in the earlier version:
 
 
Je te hay, peuple, et m’en sert de tesmoin
Le Loir, Gastine et les rives de Braye,
Et la Neuffaune et la verte saulaye
Que de Sabut borne l’extreme coin.
 
Quand je me perds entre deux monts bien loin,
M’arraissonnant, seul, à l’heure j’esssaye
De soulager la douleur de ma playe
Qu’amour encharne au plus vif de mon soin.
 
Là, pas-à-pas, Dame, je rememore
Ton front, ta bouche, et les graces encore
De tes beaux yeux, trop fideles archers ;
 
Puis, figurant ta belle idole feinte
Dedans quelque eau, je sanglote une pleinte,
Qui fait gemir le plus dur des rochers.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            I hate you, people, and my witnesses are
                                                                            The Loir, Gastine and the banks of Braye,
                                                                            And the Neuffaune, and the green willow
                                                                            Which marks the farthest part of the Sabut.
 
                                                                            When I lose myself between two far-off hills,
                                                                            Musing alone, hour by hour I attempt
                                                                            To soothe the pain of my wound
                                                                            Which love embodies in the liveliest of my cares.
 
                                                                            There, step by step, my Lady, I recall
                                                                            Your brow, your lips, the grace too
                                                                            Of your fair eyes, too trusty archers!
 
                                                                            Then imagining your fair image drawn
                                                                            Within some spring, I sob my complaint
                                                                            Which makes the hardest rocks wail.
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 

To Jean Galland

Standard

Because I like it – and because it starts with a ‘G’ 🙂 – here is a « fragment que Ronsard n’a peu achever, prevenu de mort. » (a fragment Ronsard was unable to finish, overtaken by death).

 
Galland, ma seconde ame, Atrebatique race,
Encor que nos ayeux ay’nt emmuré la place
De nos villes bien loin, la tienne prés d’Arras,
La mienne prés Vendosme, où le Loir de ses bras
Arrouse doucement nos collines vineuses,
Et nos champs fromentiers de vagues limoneuses,
Et la Lise des tiens qui baignent ton Artois
S’enfuit au sein du Rhin, la borne des Gaulois :
Pour estre separé de villes et d’espaces,
Cela n’empesche point que les trois belles Graces,
L’honneur et la vertu, n’ourdissent le lien
Qui serre de si prés mon cœur avec le tien.
Heureux qui peut trouver pour passer l’avanture
De ce Monde un amy de gentille nature,
Comme tu es, Galland, en qui les Cieux ont mis
Tout le parfait requis aux plus parfaits amis.
Jà mon soir s’embrunit, et déja ma journée
Fuit vers son Occident à demy retournée,
La Parque ne me veut ny me peut secourir :
Encore ta carriere est bien longue à courir,
Ta vie est en sa course, et d’une forte haleine
Et d’un pied vigoureux tu fais jaillir l’areine
Sous tes pas, aussi fort que quelque bon guerrier
Le sablon Elean pour le prix du Laurier …
 
 
 
 
                                                                             Galland, my second soul, descended from the Atrebates,
                                                                             Although our ancestors had established the walls
                                                                             Of our towns far apart, yours near Arras
                                                                             And mine near Vendôme, where the Loir with its arms
                                                                             Gently waters our vine-bearing hills
                                                                             And our fields of wheat with its muddy waves,
                                                                             While the Lise with its [arms] which bathe your Artois
                                                                             Runs down to the bosom of the Rhine, the edge of Gaul;
                                                                             Though separated by towns and distance,
                                                                             That does not prevent the three fair Graces,
                                                                             Honour and virtue from weaving the bond
                                                                             Which binds my heart so closely with yours.
                                                                             Fortunate he who can find, to share the adventure
                                                                             Of this world, a friend of noble nature
                                                                             Like you, Galland, in whom the Heavens have placed
                                                                             Everything perfect required in the most perfect friends.
                                                                             Now my evening darkens, and my daytime
                                                                             Flees westward, half-passed,
                                                                             And Fate neither can nor will help me;
                                                                             But your career has long to run,
                                                                             Your life is set in its course, and with strong lungs
                                                                             And vigorous feet you make the sand leap
                                                                             Beneath your feet, as strongly as some fine warrior
                                                                             Might the sand of Elis to take the prize, the laurel-wreath …
 
 
 
Ronsard’s trusted friend Jean Galland was principal of the Collège de Boncourt in Paris, and after Ronsard’s death both organised an annual commemoration of the poet in the chapel there, and (together with Claude Binet) edited Ronsard’s late verse and put together the ‘Tombeau de Ronsard’, a (substantial) collection of poems in Ronsard’s honour. The Collège had other links with Ronsard’s circle: tragedies by Jodelle were performed there, and Muret taught Jodelle and Belleau there. In 1688 it was Pierre Galand, then principal, who merged the Collège with the Collège de Navarre.
 
This fragment is (obviously) very classicising, and stuffed with antique references.  The Atrebates were a tribe from the Pas-de-Calais area, who established an offshoot in southern England after Caesar’s conquest. The centre of the region is now Artois, its capital Arras, from which the river (now the Scarpe) heads east towards the Rhine and the border between Gaul and Germania.
 
Elis was a state in the south of ancient Greece: within it was Olympus, seat of the Olympic Games – so running on Elean sands is running in the Olympics.
 
A minor editorial note: Blanchemain has “Pour estre separés de villes et d’espaces” in line 9. The text above in effect says ‘though I am separated from you…’, while Blanchemain’s plural says ‘though we are separated…’ – I leave you to choose which you prefer.