Tag Archives: Venus

Interlude (5)

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

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

 

Interlude (4)

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

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

Elégie à Marie (Amours 2:68a )

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

 

 
 

Amours 2:60

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

 

 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:54

Standard
Quiconque voudra suivre Amour ainsi que moy,
Celuy se delibere en penible tristesse
Vivre comme je vy, il pleust à la Déesse
Qui tient Cypre en ses mains, d’ordonner telle loy.
 
Apres avoir souffert les maux que je reçoy,
Il mourra de langueur, et sa fiere maistresse,
Le voyant trespassé sautera de liesse,
Se moquant du tombeau du mort et de sa foy.
 
Allez donc Amoureux faire service aux Dames,
Offrez leur pour present et vos corps et vos ames,
Vous en receverez un salaire bien doux.
 
« Je croy que Dieu les feit à fin de nuire à l’homme :
« Il les feit (Pardaillan) pour nostre malheur, comme
« Les Tygres les Lions les Serpens et les Loups.
 
 
 
                                                                            Whoever would like to follow Love as I do,
                                                                            Let him plan to live like I live,
                                                                            In vexed sadness ; for it pleases the goddess
                                                                            Who holds Cyprus in her hands to ordain this law.
 
                                                                            Having suffered the ills which I receive
                                                                            He will die of weakness and his proud mistress,
                                                                            Seeing him dead, will leap with happiness
                                                                            Mocking the dead man’s tomb and his faithfulness.
 
                                                                            So go on, lovers, do service to your ladies,
                                                                            Offer them your souls and bodies as a gift,
                                                                            You will receive a sweet payment :
 
                                                                            “I believe God made them to destroy man,
                                                                            He made them, Pardaillan, for our misfortune, like
                                                                            Tigers, lions, serpents and wolves.”

 
 
Ronsard in frustrated mood again, finding yet another way of complaining about a lover’s ills – and particularly, of course, about how he (Ronsard) is the most ill-served of all!  (The goddess of Cyprus is Venus.)
 
The Pardaillan family was an ancient one even in Ronsard’s time; though its most famous representative was still to make his mark – Antoine-Arnaud de Pardaillan de Gondrin, who commanded the king’s armies in Picardy, Savoy and Spain at the end of the century and raised the family to the marquisate, was son of Hector de Pardaillan, who is Ronsard’s addressee.
 
Blanchemain’s earlier version is considerably different in detail, though none of Ronsard’s later amendments really change the content. Note however how line 8’s older version switches the ‘faithfulness’/’loyalty’ under consideration – hers not his; and how in line 11, by adjusting the spelling of the future tense “recev(e)rez”, Ronsard re-balances the motion of the entire line!
 
 
Quiconque voudra suivre Amour ainsi que moy,
Celuy se delibere en penible tristesse
Mourir ainsy que moy : il pleut à la déesse
Qui tient Cypre en ses mains, d’ordonner telle loy.
 
Apres avoir souffert maint deuil et maint emoy,
Il lui faudra mourir, et sa fiere maistresse,
Le voyant au tombeau, sautera de liesse,
Sur le corps trespassé pour luy garder sa foy.
 
Allez donc maintenant faire service aux dames,
Offrez-leur pour present et vos corps et vos ames,
Et vous en recevrez un salaire bien doux !
 
Je croy que Dieu les feit à fin de nuire à l’homme :
Il les feit, Pardaillan, pour nostre malheur comme
Les tigers, les lions, les serpens et les lous.
 
 

 
                                                                            Whoever would like to follow Love as I do,
                                                                            Let him plan to die like I do,
                                                                            In vexed sadness ; for it pleases the goddess
                                                                            Who holds Cyprus in her hands to ordain this law.
 
                                                                            Having suffered much grief and much distress
                                                                            He will have to die, and his proud mistress,
                                                                            Seeing him in the tomb, will leap with happiness
                                                                            On the corpse which died to preserve her loyalty.
 
                                                                            So go on now, do service to your ladies,
                                                                            Offer them your souls and bodies as a gift,
                                                                            And you will receive a sweet payment :
 
                                                                            I believe God made them to destroy man,
                                                                            He made them, Pardaillan, for our misfortune, like
                                                                            Tigers, lions, serpents and wolves.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:45 (madrigal)

Standard
Comme d’un ennemy je veux en toute place
M’eslongner de vos yeux, qui m’ont le cœur deceu,
Petits yeux de Venus, par lesquels j’ay receu
Le coup mortel au sang qui d’outre en outre passe.
 
Je voy, les regardant, Amour qui me menasse,
Aumoins voyant son arc je l’ay bien apperceu :
Mais remparer mon cœur contre luy je n’ay sceu,
Dont le trait fausseroit une forte cuirasse.
 
Or pour ne les voir plus, je veux aller bien loing
Vivre desur le bord d’une mer solitaire :
Encore j’ay grand’peur de ne perdre le soing,
Qui m’est par habitude un mal hereditaire,
 
Tant il a pris en moy de force et de sejour.
« On peut outre la mer un long voyage faire,
« Mais on ne peut changer ny de cœur ny d’amour.
 
 
                                                                            Like an enemy I want at every point
                                                                            To distance myself from your eyes, which have deceived my heart,
                                                                            Those little Venus-eyes through which I received
                                                                            The mortal wound in my blood which runs me through and through.
 
                                                                            I see as I look at them Love menacing me,
                                                                            And I well know his bow having seen it ;
                                                                            But how to fortify my heart against him I have never known,
                                                                            Whose blow can defeat a strong breastplate.
 
                                                                            So, too see them no more, I shall go far off
                                                                            To live on the edge of some lonely sea;
                                                                            Yet still I’m afraid it will be wasted effort,
                                                                            A thing which is for me a common, inherited flaw,
 
                                                                            So strong his hold and for so long over me.
                                                                            “You can make a long voyage beyond the sea
                                                                            But you can’t change your heart or your love.”
 
 
For Marty-Laveaux, this is a madrigal; for Blanchemain, whose version has not yet been amplified with line 12 above, it is a sonnet. I find myself unable to see why Ronsard added that line: it doesn’t seem to be there to add to or amplify the sense of the piece. Even though the change links to further modifications of  the tercet at the end, it is – even in that context – just an extra line, an extra thought. (And, in my view, the more complex thought of the later evrsion isn’t even an improvement.)
 

Well, so much for literary criticism:  here’s Blanchemain’s earlier version complete, despite the small number of differences, to encourage you to read it complete and see what you think about the ‘missing’ line …

 
 
Comme d’un ennemy je veux en toute place
M’eslongner de vos yeux, qui m’ont le cœur deceu,
Petits yeux de Venus, par lesquels j’ay receu
Le coup mortel au sang qui d’outre en outre passe.
 
Je voy toujours dans eux Amour qui me menasse,
Aumoins voyant son arc je l’ay bien apperceu :
Mais remparer mon cœur contre luy je n’ay sceu,
Dont le trait fausseroit une forte cuirasse.
 
Or pour ne les voir plus, je veux aller bien loing
Vivre desur le bord d’une mer solitaire :
Encore j’ay grand’peur de ne perdre le soing,
 
Qui, hoste de mon cœur, y loge nuict et jour.
On peut bien sur la mer un long voyage faire,
Mais on ne peut changer ny de cœur ny d’amour.
 
 
 
                                                                            Like an enemy I want at every point
                                                                            To distance myself from your eyes, which have deceived my heart,
                                                                            Those little Venus-eyes through which I received
                                                                            The mortal wound in my blood which runs me through and through.
 
                                                                            I see always in them Love menacing me,
                                                                            And I well know his bow having seen it ;
                                                                            But how to fortify my heart against him I have never known,
                                                                            Whose blow can defeat a strong breastplate.
 
                                                                            So, too see them no more, I shall go far off
                                                                            To live on the edge of some lonely sea;
                                                                            Yet still I’m afraid it will be wasted effort,
 
                                                                           That guest in my heart stays there night and day;
                                                                            You might well make a long voyage on the sea
                                                                            But you can’t change your heart or your love.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Élégie à Muret (Amours 1:227c)

Standard

 

Non Muret, non ce n’est pas du jourd’huy,
Que l’Archerot qui cause nostre ennuy,
Cause l’erreur qui retrompe les hommes :
Non Muret, non, les premiers nous ne sommes,
A qui son arc d’un petit trait veinqueur,
Si grande playe a caché sous le cœur :
Tous animaux, ou soient ceux des campagnes,
Soient ceux des bois, ou soient ceux des montagnes
Sentent sa force, et son feu doux-amer
Brusle sous l’eau les Monstres de la mer.
 
Hé ! qu’est-il rien que ce garçon ne brûle ?
Ce porte-ciel, ce tu’-geant Hercule
Le sentit bien : je dy ce fort Thebain
Qui le sangler estrangla de sa main,
Qui tua Nesse, et qui de sa massue
Morts abbatit les enfans de la Nue :
Qui de son arc toute Lerne estonna,
Qui des enfers le chien emprisonna,
Qui sur le bord de l’eau Thermodontee
Prit le baudrier de la vierge dontee :
Qui tua l’Ourque, et qui par plusieurs fois
Se remocqua des feintes d’Achelois :
Qui fit mourir la pucelle de Phorce,
Qui le Lion desmachoira par force,
Qui dans ses bras Anthee acravanta,
Qui deux piliers pour ses marques planta.
 
Bref, cest Herôs correcteur de la terre,
Ce cœur sans peur, ce foudre de la guerre,
Sentit ce Dieu, et l’amoureuse ardeur
Le matta plus que son Roy commandeur.
Non pas espris comme on nous voit esprendre,
Toy de ta Janne ou moy de ma Cassandre :
Mais de tel Tan amour l’aiguillonnoit,
Que tout son cœur sans raison bouiilonnoit
Au souffre ardent qui luy cuisoit les veines :
Du feu d’amour elles fumoient si pleines,
Si pleins ses os, ses muscles et ses ners,
Que dans Hercul’ qui purgea l’univers,
Ne resta rien sinon une amour fole,
Que Iuy versoient les deux beaux yeux d’Iole.
 
Tousjours d’Iole il aimoit les beaux yeux,
Fust que le char qui donne jour aux cieux
Sortist de l’eau, ou fust que devalee
Tournast sa rouë en la plaine salee,
De tous humains accoisant les travaux,
Mais non d’Hercul’ les miserables maux.
 
Tant seulement il n’avoit de sa dame
Les yeux fichez au plus profond de l’ame :
Mais son parler, sa grace, et sa douceur
Tousjours colez s’attachoient à son cœur.
 
D’autre que d’elle en son ame ne pense :
Tousjours absente il la voit en presence.
Et de fortune, Alcid’, si tu la vois,
Dans ton gosier begue reste ta voix,
Glacé de peur voyant la face aimee :
Ore une fiévre amoureuse allumee
Ronge ton ame, et ores un glaçon
Te fait trembler d’amoureuse frisson.
 
Bas à tes pieds ta meurdriere massue
Gist sans honneur, et bas la peau velue,
Qui sur ton doz roide se herissoit,
Quand ta grand’main les Monstres punissoit.
 
Plus ton sourcil contre eux ne se renfrongne :
O vertu vaine, ô bastarde vergongne,
O vilain blasme, Hercule estant donté
(Apres avoir le monde surmonté)
Non d’Eurysthée, ou de Junon cruelle,
Mais de la main d’une simple pucelle.
 
Voyez pour Dieu, quelle force a l’Amour,
Quand une fois elle a gaigné la tour
De la raison, ne nous laissant partie
Qui ne soit toute en fureur convertie.
 
Ce n’est pas tout : seulement pour aimer,
Il n’oublia la façon de s’armer,
Ou d’empoigner sa masse hazardeuse,
Ou d’achever quelque emprinse douteuse :
Mais lent et vain anonchalant son cœur,
Qui des Tyrans l’avoit rendu veinqueur,
Terreur du monde (ô plus lasche diffame)
Il s’habilla des habits d’une femme,
Et d’un Heros devenu damoiseau,
Guidoit l’esguille, et tournoit le fuseau,
Et vers le soir, comme une chambriere,
Rendoit sa tasche à sa douce joliere,
Qui le tenoit en ses fers plus serré
Qu’un prisonnier dans les ceps enferré.
 
Grande Junon, tu es assez vengee
De voir sa vie en paresse changee,
De voir ainsi devenu filandier
Ce grand Alcid’ des Monstres le meurdrier,
Sans adjouster à ton ire indomtee
Les mandemens de son frere Eurysthee.
 
Que veux-tu plus ? Iôle le contraint
D’estre une femme : il la doute, il la craint.
Il craint ses mains plus qu’un valet esclave
Ne craint les coups de quelque maistre brave.
 
Et ce-pendant qu’il ne fait que penser
A s’atiffer, à s’oindre, à s’agencer,
A dorloter sa barbe bien rongnee,
A mignoter sa teste bien pignée,
Impuniment les Monstres ont loisir
D’assujettir la terre à leur plaisir,
Sans plus cuider qu’Hercule soit au monde :
Aussi n’est-il : car la poison profonde,
Qui dans son cœur s’alloit trop derivant,
L’avoit tué dedans un corps vivant.
 
Nous doncq, Muret, à qui la mesme rage
Peu cautement affole le courage,
S’il est possible, evitons le lien
Que nous ourdist l’enfant Cytherien :
Et rabaisson la chair qui nous domine,
Dessous le joug de la raison divine,
Raison qui deust au vray bien nous guider,
Et de nos sens maistresse presider.
 
Mais si l’amour de son traict indomtable
A desja fait nostre playe incurable,
Tant que le mal peu subject au conseil
De la raison desdaigne l’appareil,
Vaincuz par luy, faisons place à l’envie,
Et sur Alcid’ desguisons nostre vie :
En ce-pendant que les rides ne font
Cresper encor l’aire de nostre front,
Et que la neige en vieillesse venue
Encor ne fait nostre teste chenue,
Qu’un jour ne coule entre nous pour neant
Sans suivre Amour : il n’est pas mal-seant,
Mais grand honneur au simple populaire,
Des grands seigneurs imiter l’exemplaire.
No Muret, no : it is not in our days
That the little Archer who causes our pain
Has created the delusion which still fools men ;
No Muret, no : we are not the first
In whom his bow with its little conquering dart
Has concealed so great a wound beneath the heart :
All creatures, whether those of the fields
Or of the woods, or of the mountains
Feel his power, and his bitter-sweet fire
Burns the monsters of the sea below the waters.
 
Ah, is there none this child does not burn ?
Hercules, sky-bearer and giant-slayer,
Felt him strongly ; I tell you, that strong Theban
Who strangled the boar with his hands,
Who killed Nessus, and with his club
Struck dead the children of the Cloud;
Who with his bow amazed all of Lerna,
Who imprisoned the dog from Hell,
Who on the banks of the Thermodontian waters
Seized the belt of the defeated maiden ;
Who killed the sea-monster, and time and again
Mockingly overcame the tricks of Achelous;
Who put to death the maid of Phorcis,
Who ripped the jaws off the Lion with his strength,
Who crushed in his arms Antaeus,
Who planted two pillars as his mark.
 
In short, this hero, amender of the world,
This heart without fear, this thunderclap of war,
Felt that God, and love’s passion
Flattened him more than his King and commander.
Not in love as people see we are,
You with your Janne and me with my Cassandre,
Rather Love pricked him with such a blow
That his whole heart boiled, his reason failed,
At the ardent suffering which burned his veins ;
They steamed, so full of the fire of love,
His bones, muscles and nerves so full too
That in Hercules, who had cleaned up the world,
Remained nothing but the crazed love
Which the two fair eyes of Iole had poured into him.
 
Still he loved the fair eyes of Iole
Whether the chariot which gives day to the heavens
Left the seas, or whether rushing down
It turned its wheels back to the salty plain
Giving rest to the labours of all men
But not to the wretched troubles of Hercules.
 
He did not have only his lady’s
Gaze fixed in the deeps of his soul;
But her speech, her grace, her sweetness
Were always attached, stuck to his heart.
 
He thought of no other than her in his soul;
Always when she was away he saw her present.
And if you saw her by chance, Alcides,
Your voice remained dumb in your throat
Frozen with fear at seeing the beloved face;
Now love’s fever, aflame,
Clawed your soul; and now an icicle
Made you tremble with a shiver of love.
 
Down at your feet your murderous club
Stands without honour, and the shaggy skin
Which bristled stiffly on your back
When your mighty hand punished monsters.
 
Your brow no longer frowns upon them:
O empty virtue, o impure shame,
O sordid blame, Hercules being overcome
(After overcoming the world)
Not by Eurystheus or cruel Juno,
But by the hand of just a maiden.
 
See, by heaven, what power Love has
When she has once won the tower
Of reason, not leaving us any part
Which cannot be changed entirely into madness.
 
That’s not all: simply from love
He did not forget how to arm himself
Or to grip his dangerous club in his fist
Or to achieve some uncertain task;
But slowly and vainly making listless his heart
Which had made him conqueror of tyrants,
The terror of the world – so unmanly a tale –
Dressed himself in the garments of a woman
And, from hero become a maid,
Plied his needle and twisted the spindle
And towards evening, like a chambermaid,
Handed his work to his pretty jailer
Who held him tighter in her chains
Than a prisoner chained in the stocks.
 
Great Juno, you have taken revenge enough
In seeing his life changed to laziness,
In seeing thus the great Alcides
Become weaver, after being murderer of monsters,
Without adding on to your unconquered anger
The commands of his brother Eurystheus.
 
What more do you want? Iole forced him
To be a woman; he doubted her, he feared her,
He feared her hands more than a slave-servant
Fears the blows of his good master.
 
And while he thought of nothing but
Dressing up, anointing and arranging himself,
Of pampering his nicely-trimmed beard,
Of cosseting his well-oiled hair,
Those monsters had leisure with immunity
To subject the earth at their pleasure,
No longer believing that Hercules was alive;
Nor was he, for the deep poison
Which coursed in his heart, overflowing,
Had killed him though his body still lived.
 
So we, Muret, in whom the same madness
So casually makes courage foolish,
If possible let us avoid the bonds
Which the child of Cythera prepares for us:
And let’s put the flesh which masters us
Beneath the yoke of divine reason,
Reason which ought indeed to guide us
And rule as mistress of our senses.
 
But love with his unbeatable wound
Has already made our wound incurable,
Since the illness, hardly subject to Reason’s
Counsel, scorns the medicine:
So, conquered by him, let’s make room for desire
And on Alcides’ example model our lives:
As long as wrinkles no longer make
Our brows look furrowed,
And the snow which comes with age
Has not yet made hoary our hair,
Let’s aim that no day should pass for nothing
Without following love: it is not improper
But a great honour for us simple folk
To copy the example of great lords.
 
Ronsard rounds off his first book with poems to several friends; the last of them I’ve got to, but not the last int he book, is this one to Marc-Antoine Muret. It is of course Muret who provided the first commentary on book 1 – he is quite restrained in his comments about this poem’s dedication! Despite its learned references (below), this is a true ode to love in keeping with the book it rounds off. And as usual Ronsard is careful to be consistent : here it is Cupid, the ‘child of the Cytherian’ Venus, who is the villain both at the beginning and at the end of the poem.
 
Ronsard appeals to classical exempla, as so often: in this case, he focuses on Hercules, the hero whose great deeds are complemented, if not overshadowed, by the furious moments of madness associated with his various loves. First come the heroic deeds:
 – Hercules is introduced as “sky-bearer and giant-slayer” (both references return later): among his 12 Labours, he had to retrieve the Golden aApples of the Hesperides, which he did by holding up the sky while Atlas fetched the apples (see also the ‘variant’ Blanchemain prints further down the poem in the earlier version below); he also killed the three-headed Geryon in order to bring back his cattle, but I think ‘giant-slayer’ refers instead to his defeat of Antaeus, who was undefeatable so long as he was in contact with the earth and whom Hercules therefore had to lift off the ground to beat;
 – then we have a number of the other Labours:  the Erymanthean boar, the ‘children of the cloud’ which I assume to mean the Stymphalian birds, the Lernaean Hydra, the three-headed hell-dog Cerberus, the magical belt of Hippolyta (queen of the Amazons, who were supposed to live by the river Terme – the ‘Thermodontian waters’), the ‘maid of Phorcis’ (apparently a reference to the dragon guarding the golden apples of the Hesperides, Ladon, which was Phorcys’s child but which is usually male), and the Nemean lion;
 – intermixed with this list are Nessus the centaur, killed by Hercules after he stole away Deianeira, Hercules’ wife; the sea-monster which was threatening Hesione, the daughter of Laomedon of Troy (Laomedon had persuaded Apollo and Poseidon to build Troy’s walls, but then refused their reward; Poseidon sent the sea-monster to take revenge; Hercules later abducted Hesione when Laomedon also refused him his promised reward!); Achelous, whom Hercules defeated to claim Deianeira as his wife; and last Antaeus again, and the Pillars of Hercules.

 

Then we move on to the lover’s madness: Ronsard focuses on his love for Iole (though, as we have seen, he had other wives too!), which was more powerful than the commands of King Eurystheus (the ‘king and commander’ for whom Hercules undertook the Labours, and also his cousin – not ‘brother’ as Ronsard terms him). Juno appears, because in her jealousy she had driven Hercules (or ‘Alcides’) mad so that he killed his earlier wife Megara: it was to atone for this that he was tasked with the Twelve Labours. Ronsard however melds the story of Iole with that of Omphale, for it was her he served (as yet another penance) dressed as woman, while she wore his lion-skin.
 
 
========
 
As usual the earlier version, printed by Blanchemain, has plenty of minor variants; but there’s nothing substantial. So, as usual, the best way to show them is to re-print the full text, rather than scatter dozens of line references here. They are mostly ‘corrections’ for euphony – e.g. in the 3rd stanza where “ce heros” is replaced by “cest heros” (which runs on more easily) – though “Sentit ce dieu” (in place of “Sentit Amour” – removing the ‘t’ sound) raplces it with a rather insistent ‘s’ repetition instead.

 

Non Muret, non ce n’est pas du jourd’huy,
Que l’Archerot qui cause nostre ennuy,
Cause l’erreur qui retrompe les hommes :
Non Muret, non, les premiers nous ne sommes,
A qui son arc d’un petit trait veinqueur,
Si grande playe a caché sous le cœur :
Tous animaux, ou soient ceux des campagnes,
Soient ceux des bois, ou soient ceux des montagnes
Sentent sa force, et son feu doux-amer
Brusle sous l’eau les Monstres de la mer.
 
Hé ! qu’est-il rien que ce garçon ne brûle ?
Ce porte-ciel, ce tu’-geant Hercule
Le sentit bien : je dy ce fort Thebain
Qui le sanglier estrangla de sa main,
Qui tua Nesse, et qui de sa massue
Morts abbatit les enfans de la Nue :
Qui de son arc toute Lerne estonna,
Qui des enfers le chien emprisonna,
Qui sur le bord de l’eau Thermodontee
Print le baudrier de la vierge dontee :
Qui tua l’Ourque, et qui par plusieurs fois
Se remocqua des feintes d’Achelois :
Qui fit mourir la pucelle de Phorce,
Qui le Lion desmachoira par force,
Qui dans ses bras Anthee acravanta,
Et qui deux mons pour ses marques planta.
 
Bref, ce héros correcteur de la terre,
Ce cœur sans peur, ce foudre de la guerre,
Sentit Amour, et l’amoureuse ardeur
Le matta plus que son Roy commandeur.
Non pas espris comme on nous voit esprendre,
Toy de ta Janne ou moy de ma Cassandre :
Mais de tel Tan amour l’aiguillonnoit,
Que tout son cœur sans raison bouiilonnoit
Au souffre ardent qui luy cuisoit les veines :
Du feu d’amour elles fumoient si pleines,
Si pleins ses os, ses muscles et ses ners,
Que dans Hercul’ qui dompta l’univers,
Ne resta rien sinon une amour fole,
Que Iuy versoient les deux beaux yeux d’Iole.
 
Tousjours d’Iole il aimoit les beaux yeux,
Fust que le char qui donne jour aux cieux
Sortist de l’eau, ou fust que devalee
Tournast sa rouë en la plaine salee,
De tous humains accoisant les travaux,
Mais non d’Hercul’ les miserables maux.
 
Tant seulement il n’avoit de sa dame
Les yeux fichez au plus profond de l’ame :
Mais son parler, sa grace, et sa douceur
Tousjours colez s’attachoient à son cœur.
 
D’autre que d’elle en son cœur il ne pense :
Tousjours absente il la voit en presence.
Et de fortune, Alcid’, si tu la vois,
Dans ton gosier begue reste ta voix,
Glacé de peur voyant la face aimee :
Ore une fiévre ardamment allumee
Ronge ton ame, et ores un glaçon
Te fait trembler d’amoureuse frisson.
 
Bas à tes pieds ta meurdriere massue
Gist sans honneur, et bas la peau velue,
Qui sur ton doz roide se herissoit,
Quand ta grand’main les Monstres punissoit.
 
Plus ton sourcil contre eux ne se renfrongne :
O vertu vaine, ô honteuse vergongne,
O deshonneur, Hercule estant donté
(Apres avoir le monde surmonté)
    [var :
     Après avoir le ciel courbe porté.]
Non d’Eurysthée, ou de Junon cruelle,
Mais de la main d’une simple pucelle.
 
Voyez pour Dieu, quelle force a l’Amour,
Quand une fois elle a gaigné la tour
De la raison, ne nous laissant partie
Qui ne soit toute en fureur convertie.
 
Ce n’est pas tout : seulement pour aimer,
Il n’oublia la façon de s’armer,
Ou d’empoigner sa masse hazardeuse,
Ou d’achever quelque emprise douteuse :
Mais lent et vain abatardant son cœur,
Et son esprit, qui l’avoit fait vainqueur
De tout le monde (ô plus lasche diffame)
Il s’habilla des habits d’une femme,
Et d’un Heros devenu damoiseau,
Guidoit l’aiguille ou tournoit le fuseau,
Et vers le soir, comme une chambriere,
Rendoit sa tasche à sa douce geolière,
Qui le tenoit en ses lacs plus serré
Qu’un prisonnier dans les ceps enferré.
 
Vraiment, Junon, tu es assez vengee
De voir ainsi sa vie estre changée,
De voir ainsi devenu filandier
Ce grand Alcid’ des Monstres le meurdrier,
Sans adjouster à ton ire indomtee
Les mandemens de son frere Eurysthee.
 
Que veux-tu plus ? Iôle le contraint
D’estre une femme : il la doute, il la craint.
Il craint ses mains plus qu’un valet esclave
Ne craint les coups de quelque maistre brave.
 
Et ce-pendant qu’il ne fait que penser
A s’atiffer, à s’oindre, à s’agencer,
A dorloter sa barbe bien rongnee,
A mignoter sa teste bien pignee,
Impuniment les Monstres ont plaisir
D’assujettir la terre à leur loisir,
Sans plus cuider qu’Hercule soit au monde :
Aussi n’est-il : car la poison profonde,
Qui dans son cœur s’alloit trop derivant,
L’avoit tué dedans un corps vivant.
 
Nous doncq, Muret, à qui la mesme rage
Peu cautement affole le courage,
S’il est possible, evitons le lien
Que nous ourdist l’enfant Cytherien :
Et rabaisson la chair qui nous domine,
Dessous le joug de la raison divine,
Raison qui deust au vray bien nous guider,
Et de nos sens maistresse presider.
 
Mais si l’Amour, las ! las ! trop misérable !
A desja fait nostre playe incurable,
Tant que le mal peu subject au conseil
De la raison desdaigne l’appareil,
Vaincuz par luy, faisons place à l’envie,
Et sur Alcid’ desguisons nostre vie :
En ce-pendant que les rides ne font
Cresper encor le champ de nostre front,
Et que la neige avant l’age venue
Ne fait encor nostre teste chenue,
Qu’un jour ne coule entre nous pour neant
Sans suivre Amour : car il n’est mal-seant,
Pour quelquefois, au simple populaire,
Des grands seigneurs imiter l’exemplaire.
No Muret, no : it is not in our days
That the little Archer who causes our pain
Has created the delusion which still fools men ;
No Muret, no : we are not the first
In whom his bow with its little conquering dart
Has concealed so great a wound beneath the heart :
All creatures, whether those of the fields
Or of the woods, or of the mountains
Feel his power, and his bitter-sweet fire
Burns the monsters of the sea below the waters.
 
Ah, is there none this child does not burn ?
Hercules, sky-bearer and giant-slayer,
Felt him strongly ; I tell you, that strong Theban
Who strangled the boar with his hands,
Who killed Nessus, and with his club
Struck dead the children of the Cloud;
Who with his bow amazed all of Lerna,
Who imprisoned the dog from Hell,
Who on the banks of the Thermodontian waters
Seized the belt of the defeated maiden ;
Who killed the sea-monster, and time and again
Mockingly overcame the tricks of Achelous;
Who put to death the maid of Phorcis,
Who ripped the jaws off the Lion with his strength,
Who crushed in his arms Antaeus,
And who planted two mounds as his mark.
 
In short, this hero, amender of the world,
This heart without fear, this thunderclap of war,
Felt Love, and love’s passion
Flattened him more than his King and commander.
Not in love as people see we are,
You with your Janne and me with my Cassandre,
Rather Love pricked him with such a blow
That his whole heart boiled, his reason failed,
At the ardent suffering which burned his veins ;
They steamed, so full of the fire of love,
His bones, muscles and nerves so full too
That in Hercules, who conquered everything,
Remained nothing but the crazed love
Which the two fair eyes of Iole had poured into him.
 
Still he loved the fair eyes of Iole
Whether the chariot which gives day to the heavens
Left the seas, or whether rushing down
It turned its wheels back to the salty plain
Giving rest to the labours of all men
But not to the wretched troubles of Hercules.
 
He did not have only his lady’s
Gaze fixed in the deeps of his soul;
But her speech, her grace, her sweetness
Were always attached, stuck to his heart.
 
He thought of no other than her in his heart;
Always when she was away he saw her present.
And if you saw her by chance, Alcides,
Your voice remained dumb in your throat
Frozen with fear at seeing the beloved face;
Now a fever, fiercely flaming,
Clawed your soul; and now an icicle
Made you tremble with a shiver of love.
 
Down at your feet your murderous club
Stands without honour, and the shaggy skin
Which bristled stiffly on your back
When your mighty hand punished monsters.
 
Your brow no longer frowns upon them:
O empty virtue, o shameful immodesty,
O dishonour, Hercules being overcome
(After overcoming the world)
    [var:
      After bearing the curved skies]
Not by Eurystheus or cruel Juno,
But by the hand of just a maiden.
 
See, by heaven, what power Love has
When she has once won the tower
Of reason, not leaving us any part
Which cannot be changed entirely into madness.
 
That’s not all: simply from love
He did not forget how to arm himself
Or to grip his dangerous club in his fist
Or to achieve some uncertain task;
But slowly and vainly bastardising his heart
And spirit, which had made him a conqueror
Of all the world – so unmanly a tale –
Dressed himself in the garments of a woman
And, from hero become a maid,
Plied his needle or twisted the spindle
And towards evening, like a chambermaid,
Handed his work to his pretty jailer
Who held him tighter in her snares
Than a prisoner chained in the stocks.
 
Truly, Juno, you have taken revenge enough
In seeing his life so changed,
In seeing thus the great Alcides
Become weaver, after being murderer of monsters,
Without adding on to your unconquered anger
The commands of his brother Eurystheus.
 
What more do you want? Iole forced him
To be a woman; he doubted her, he feared her,
He feared her hands more than a slave-servant
Fears the blows of his good master.
 
And while he thought of nothing but
Dressing up, anointing and arranging himself,
Of pampering his nicely-trimmed beard,
Of cosseting his well-oiled hair,
Those monsters had pleasure with immunity
To subject the earth at their leisure,
No longer believing that Hercules was alive;
Nor was he, for the deep poison
Which coursed in his heart, overflowing,
Had killed him though his body still lived.
 
So we, Muret, in whom the same madness
So casually makes courage foolish,
If possible let us avoid the bonds
Which the child of Cythera prepares for us:
And let’s put the flesh which masters us
Beneath the yoke of divine reason,
Reason which ought indeed to guide us
And rule as mistress of our senses.
 
But love – alas, alas, how wretched! –
Has already made our wound incurable,
Since the illness, hardly subject to Reason’s
Counsel, scorns the medicine:
So, conquered by him, let’s make room for desire
And on Alcides’ example model our lives:
As long as wrinkles no longer make
The plains of our forehea furrowed,
And the snow arriving before its time
Has not yet made hoary our hair,
Let’s aim that no day should pass for nothing
Without following love: for it is not improper
For us simple folk sometimes
To copy the example of great lords.