Tag Archives: Zephyr

Elégie à Janet, Peintre du Roy – Elegy, to Janet the King’s artist (Am. 1:228b)

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Today, nearly 200 lines of charming verse – twice!

Pein-moy, Janet, pein-moy je te supplie
Sur ce tableau les beautez de m’amie
De la façon que je te les diray.
Comme importun je ne te suppliray
D’un art menteur quelque faveur luy faire.
Il suffit bien si tu la sçais portraire
Telle qu’elle est, sans vouloir desguiser
Son naturel pour la favoriser :
Car la faveur n’est bonne que pour celles
Qui se font peindre, et qui ne sont pas belles.
 
Fay-luy premier les cheveux ondelez,
Serrez, retors, recrespez, annelez,
Qui de couleur le cedre representent :
Ou les allonge, et que libres ils sentent
Dans le tableau, si par art tu le peux,
La mesme odeur de ses propres cheveux :
Car ses cheveux comme fleurettes sentent,
Quand les Zephyrs au printemps les éventent.
 
Que son beau front ne soit entre-fendu
De nul sillon en profond estendu,
Mais qu’il soit tel qu’est l’eau de la marine,
Quand tant soit peu le vent ne la mutine,
Et que gisante en son lict elle dort,
Calmant ses flots sillez d’un somne mort.
 
Tout au milieu par la gréve descende
Un beau ruby, de qui l’esclat s’espande
Par le tableau, ainsi qu’on voit de nuit
Briller les raiz de la Lune, qui luit
Dessus la neige au fond d’un val coulée,
De trace d’homme encore non foulée.
 
Apres fay luy son beau sourcy voutis
D’Ebene noir, et que son ply tortis
Semble un Croissant, qui monstre par la nuë
Au premier mois sa vouture cornuë :
Ou si jamais tu as veu l’arc d’Amour,
Pren le portrait dessus le demy-tour
De sa courbure à demy-cercle close :
Car l’arc d’Amour et luy n’est qu’une chose.
 
Mais las! Janet, helas je ne sçay pas
Par quel moyen, ny comment tu peindras
(Voire eusses-tu l’artifice d’Apelle)
De ses beaux yeux la grace naturelle,
Qui font vergongne aux estoilles des Cieux.
Que l’un soit doux, l’autre soit furieux,
Que l’un de Mars, l’autre de Venus tienne :
Que du benin toute esperance vienne,
Et du cruel vienne tout desespoir :
L’un soit piteux et larmoyant à voir,
Comme celuy d’Ariadne laissée
Aux bords de Die, alors que l’insensee
Pres de la mer, de pleurs se consommoit,
Et son Thesée en vain elle nommoit :
L’autre soit gay, comme il est bien croyable
Que l’eut jadis Penelope louable
Quand elle vit son mary retourné,
Ayant vingt ans loing d’elle sejourné.
 
Apres fay luy sa rondelette oreille
Petite, unie, entre blanche et vermeille,
Qui sous le voile apparoisse à l’egal
Que fait un lis enclos dans un crystal,
Ou tout ainsi qu’apparoist une rose
Tout fraischement dedans un verre enclose.
 
Mais pour neant tu aurois fait si beau
Tout l’ornement de ton riche tableau,
Si tu n’avois de la lineature
De son beau nez bien portrait la peinture.
Pein-le moy donc ny court, ny aquilin,
Poli, traitis, où l’envieux malin
Quand il voudroit n’y sçauroit que reprendre,
Tant proprement tu le feras descendre
Parmi la face, ainsi comme descend
Dans une plaine un petit mont qui pend.
 
Apres au vif pein moy sa belle joüe
Pareille au teint de la rose qui noüe
Dessus du laict, ou au teint blanchissant
Du lis qui baise un œillet rougissant.
 
Dans le milieu portrais une fossette,
Fossette, non, mais d’Amour la cachette,
D’où ce garçon de sa petite main
Lasche cent traits et jamais un en vain,
Que par les yeux droit au cœur il ne touche.
 
Helas ! Janet, pour bien peindre sa bouche,
A peine Homere en ses vers te diroit
Quel vermillon egaler la pourroit :
Car pour la peindre ainsi qu’elle merite,
Peindre il faudroit celle d’une Charite.
Pein-la moy doncq, qu’elle semble parler,
Ores sou-rire, ores embasmer l’air
De ne sçay quelle ambrosienne haleine :
Mais par sur tout fay qu’elle semble pleine
De la douceur de persuasion.
Tout à l’entour attache un milion
De ris, d’attraits, de jeux, de courtoisies,
Et que deux rangs de perlettes choisies
D’un ordre egal en la place des dents
Bien poliment soyent arrangez dedans.
 
Pein tout autour une lévre bessonne,
Qui d’elle-mesme en s’elevant semonne
D’estre baisée, ayant le teint pareil
Ou de la rose, ou du coural vermeil :
Elle flambante au Printemps sur l’espine,
Luy rougissant au fond de la marine.
 
Pein son menton au milieu fosselu,
Et que le bout en rondeur pommelu
Soit tout ainsi que lon voit apparoistre
Le bout d’un coin qui ja commence à croistre.
 
Plus blanc que laict caillé dessus le jonc
Pein luy le col, mais pein-le un petit long,
Gresle et charnu, et sa gorge doüillette
Comme le col soit un petit longuette.
 
Apres fay luy par un juste compas,
Et de Junon les coudes et les bras,
Et les beaux doigts de Minerve, et encore
La main egale à celle de l’Aurore.
 
Je ne sçay plus, mon Janet, où j’en suis :
Je suis confus et muet : je ne puis
Comme j’ay fait, te declarer le reste
De ses beautez qui ne m’est manifeste :
Las ! car jamais tant de faveurs je n’u,
Que d’avoir veu ses beaux tetins à nu.
Mais si lon peut juger par conjecture,
Persuadé de raisons je m’asseure
Que la beauté qui ne s’apparoit, doit
Estre semblable à celle que lon voit.
Donque pein-la, et qu’elle me soit faite
Parfaite autant comme l’autre est parfaite.
 
Ainsi qu’en bosse esleve moy son sein
Net, blanc, poli, large, entre-ouvert et plein,
Dedans lequel mille rameuses veines
De rouge sang tressaillent toutes pleines.
 
Puis, quand au vif tu auras descouvers
Dessous la peau les muscles et les ners,
Enfle au dessus deux pommes nouvelettes,
Comme l’on void deux pommes verdelettes
D’un orenger, qui encores du tout
Ne font qu’à l’heure à se rougir au bout.
 
Tout au plus haut des espaules marbrines,
Pein le sejour des Charites divines,
Et que l’Amour sans cesse voletant
Tousjours les couve et les aille esventant,
Pensant voler avec le Jeu son frere
De branche en branche és vergers de Cythere.
 
Un peu plus bas en miroir arrondi,
Tout potelé, grasselet, rebondi,
Comme celuy de Venus, pein son ventre :
Pein son nombril ainsi qu’un petit centre,
Le fond duquel paroisse plus vermeil
Qu’un bel œillet favoris du Soleil.
 
Qu’atten’s-tu plus ? portray moy l’autre chose
Qui est si belle, et que dire je n’ose,
Et dont l’espoir impatient me poind :
Mais je te pry, ne me l’ombrage point,
Si ce n’estoit d’un voile fait de soye
Clair et subtil, à fin qu’on l’entre-voye.
 
Ses cuisses soyent comme faites au Tour
A pleine chair, rondes tout à l’entour,
Ainsi qu’un Terme arrondi d’artifice
Qui soustient ferme un royal edifice.
 
Comme deux monts enleve ses genous,
Douillets, charnus, ronds, delicats et mous,
Dessous lesquels fay luy la gréve pleine,
Telle que l’ont les vierges de Lacene,
Quand pres d’Eurote en s’accrochant des bras
Luttent ensemble et se jettent à bas :
Ou bien chassant à meutes decouplees
Quelque vieil cerf és forests Amyclees.
 
Puis pour la fin portray-luy de Thetis
Les pieds estroits, et les talons petis.
 
Ha, je la voy ! elle est presque portraite :
Encore un trait, encore un, elle est faite.
Leve tes mains, hà mon Dieu, je la voy !
Bien peu s’en faut qu’elle ne parle à moy.
Paint me, Janet, paint me I pray
In this picture the beauties of my beloved
In the manner I’ll tell you them.
I shall not ask as a beggar
That you do her any favours with lying art.
It will be enough if you can portray her
Just as she is, without trying to disguise
Her natural looks to favour her :
For favour is no good but for those
Who have themselves painted but are not fair.
 
First, make her hair in waves,
Tied up, swept back, curled in ringlets,
Which have the colour of cedar ;
Or make it long and free, scented
In the picture, if you can do it with art,
With the same scent her own hair has ;
For her hair smells like flowers
When the spring Zephyrs fan them.
 
Make sure her fair brow is not lined
By any furrow long-extended,
But that it looks like the waters of the sea
When the wind does not disturb them in the slightest,
And when it sleeps, lying on its bed,
Calming its waves sunk in deepest sleep.
 
Down the middle of this strand make descend
A fair ruby, whose brightness should spread
Throughout the picture, as at night you see
Shining the rays of the moon, spreading light
Over the snow in the deeps of a sunken valley
Still untrodden by the foot of man.
 
Then make her fair arched eyebrow
Of black ebony, so that its curve
Resembles a crescent moon, showing through cloud
Its horned arc at the beginning of the month ;
Or, if you have ever seen Love’s bow,
Use its image above, the half-turn
Of its curve makig a half-circle ;
For Love’s bow and herself are but one thing.
 
But ah, Janet, ah ! I do not know
In what way or how you will paint
(Even if you had the skill of Apelles)
The natural grace of her lovely eyes
Which make the stars of Heaven ashamed.
Make one sweet, the other furious,
One having something of Mars, the other of Venus :
That from the kind one, every hope should come,
And from the cruel one, every despair ;
Let one be pitiful to see, in tears,
Like that of Ariadne abandoned
On the shores of Dia, while maddened
She was consumed in tears beside the sea
And called on her Theseus in vain ;
Let the other be happy, as we can believe
The praiseworthy Penelope was formerly
When she saw her husband returned
After staying for twenty years far from her.
 
Next, make her rounded ear,
Small, elegant, between white and pink,
Which should appear beneath its veil exactly
As a lily does, enclosed in crystal,
Or just a a rose would appear,
Completely fresh, enclosed in a vase.
 
But you would have painted so well
Every ornament of your rich picture, for nothing
If you had not well-depicted the line
Of her fair nose.
Paint me it, then, not short nor aquiline,
Elegant and well-made, so the wicked or envious
Even if he wanted could not reprove,
So exactly you’ll have made it descend
In the midst of her face, just as descends
Over a plain a little raised mound.
 
Then as in life paint me her fair cheek,
Equal to the tint of a rose which swims
Upon milk, or to the white tint
Of the lily kissing a blushing pink.
 
In the middle,portray a small dimple –
No not a dimple, but the hiding-place of Love
From which that boy with his little hand
Launches a hundred arrows and never one in vain
Which does not through the eyes go straight to the heart.
 
Ah, Janet ! to paint her mouth well
Homer himself in his verse could barely say
What crimson could equal it ;
For to paint it as it deserves
You would need to paint a Grace’s.
So, paint me it as she seems to be talking,
Now smiling, now perfuming the air
With some kind of ambrosial breath ;
But above all make her appear full
Of the sweetness of persuasion.
All around, attach a million
Smiles, attractiveness, jokes, courtesies ;
And let there be two rows of choice little pearls
In a neat line, in place of teeth,
Elegantly arrayed within.
 
Paint all round them those twin lips
Which, rising up, themselves invite
Being kissed, their colour equal
To a rose’s or crimson coral’s ;
The one flaming in spring on its thorn,
The other reddening at the bottom of the sea.
 
Paint her chin dimpled in the middle
And make the tip bud into roundness
Just as if we were seeing appear
The tip of a quince just beginning to grow.
 
Whiter than clotted cream on rushes
Paint her neck, but paint it a little long,
Slender but plump, and her soft throat
Like her neck should be a little long.
 
Then make her, accurately drawn,
The arms and elbows of Juno
And the lovely fingers of Minerva, and too
Hands equal to the Dawn’s.
 
I no longer know, Janet, where I am :
I am confused, dumb : I cannot
As I have done tell you the rest
Of her beauties which have not been shown me.
Ah, I have never had the good favour
To have seen her fair breasts naked,
But if we may judge by conjecture
With good reason I am convinced
That the beauty which is unseen should
Be like that we see.
So paint her, and let her be made
Perfect just as the lady herself is perfect.
 
As if embossed, raise up her breast
Clear, white, elegant, wide, half-uncovered, full,
Within which a thousand branchy veins
Filled with red blood quiver.
 
Then when as in life you have revealed
Beneath the skin the muscles and nerves,
Make swell on top two fresh apples,
Just as you night see two green apples
In an orchard, which still and all
Just grow redder by the moment at the tip.
 
Right above her marble shoulders
Paint the divine Graces resting,
And let Love ceaselessly flying around
Gaze on them always and keep fanning them,
Thinking he’s flying with Jest, his brother,
From branch to branch in the orchards of Cythera.
 
A little below, rounded like a mirror,
All rounded, plump and shapely,
Like that of Venus, paint her belly ;
Paint its button like a little target
The depths of which should appear more crimson
Than the lovely carnation, the Sun’s favourite.
 
What are you waiting for ? Paint me that other part
Which is so lovely, and which I dare not mention,
And impatient hope for which pricks me :
But I beg you, do not cover it over
Unless it be with a veil made of silk,
Clear and fine, that you can party see through.
 
Her thighs should be made like towers
Full-fleshed, rounded all about,
Just as a column artfully rounded
Which firmly holds up a royal building.
 
Like two hills raise up her knees
Downy, plump, round, delicate and soft ;
Beneath them make her calves full
As were those of the maids of Laconia
When near Eurotas, gripping their arms
They fought together and threw one another down ;
Or indeed hunting with unleashed hounds
Some old stag in the forests of Amyclae.
 
Then, finally, portray her with Thetis’
Narrow feet and small toes.
 
Ha, I see her ! she is almost portayed :
But one stroke more, justl one and she is done.
Raise your hands, ah my god, I see her !
She all but speaks to me.
 
We’ve met the painter Janet – a.k.a. François Clouet, known as Janet (‘Johnny’) as his father had been – before.
 
At the end of book 1, in two long Elegies, Ronsard puts on a firework display of classical names and references. But the two are done very differently: the Elegy to Muret (learned classicist and poet) is full of very obscure and learned references to Achilles; this poem (to Clouet) is full of readily-accessible classical references which point to well-known representations in art and (sometimes) literature, appropriate to a non-specialist like Clouet – and us! Let’s skim through them:
 – Zephyrs, that is to say just ‘gentle breezes’
 – Apelles is the ‘type’ of a great painter
 – Mars and Venus simply personify war and love
 – Ariadne & Theseus on Dia, another well-known image of the lady abandoned as her lover sails into the rising sun
 – Penelope and her husband Odysseus, famously separated for 20 years by his involvement in the Trojan War (Iliad) and then his adventures on the way home (Odyssey)
 – Homer, the ‘type’ of a great poet for his Iliad and Odyssey
 – the Graces, simply personifying ‘grace’ here
 – Juno and Minerva, ‘types’ for beauty because of their competition with Venus for the title of most beautiful in the ‘Judgement of Paris’
 – Dawn’s hands, because Homer always refers to ‘rosy-fingered Dawn’
 – Venus was born (and sometimes lived in) Cythera, with her son Cupid or Love; his brother is usually Anteros, the go of requited (as opposed to unrequited) love – not a god of games or jokes, as Ronsard seems to imply here. But clearly games and happiness in love are what is really going on here
 – the ‘maids of Laconia’ are those hardy Spartan lasses who used to do fighting and hunting like the Spartan boys. The city of Amyclae and the river Eurotas are in Sparta (the Peloponnese)
 – Thetis, a sea-goddess, leading Nereid and mother of Achilles, was surnamed ‘Silver-footed’ in classical times, and her feet are regularly used as a ‘type’ of beauty.
 
Overall, a lovely easy-going poem: Ronsard of course uses the form of the body to create expectation through the poem – we know he’s leading up to the breasts, and later the ‘part he dares not mention’, and that in itself gives the poem a certain sense of rise and fall.
 
The earlier version of course differs in detail, but also includes a whole extra ‘paragraph’ early in the description, later removed:
 
Pein-moy, Janet, pein-moy je te supplie
Sur ce tableau les beautez de m’amie
De la façon que je te les diray.
Comme importun je ne te suppliray
D’un art menteur quelque faveur luy faire.
Il suffit bien si tu la sçais portraire
Telle qu’elle est, sans vouloir desguiser
Son naturel pour la favoriser :
Car la faveur n’est bonne que pour celles
Qui se font peindre, et qui ne sont pas belles.
 
Fay-luy premier les cheveux ondelez,
Nouez, retors, recrespez, annelez,
Qui de couleur le cedre representent :
Ou les allonge, et que libres ils sentent
Dans le tableau, si par art tu le peux,
La mesme odeur de ses propres cheveux :
Car ses cheveux comme fleurettes sentent,
Quand les Zephyrs au printemps les éventent.
 
[Fais-lui le front en bosse revoûté,
Sur lequel soient d’un et d’autre côté
Peints gravement, sur trois sièges d’ivoire
A majesté, la vergogne at la gloire.]
 
Que son beau front ne soit entre-fendu
De nul sillon en profond estendu,
Mais qu’il soit tel qu’est la calme marine,
Quand tant soit peu le vent ne la mutine,
Et que gisante en son lict elle dort,
Calmant ses flots sillez d’un somne mort.
 
Tout au milieu par la gréve descende
Un beau ruby, de qui l’esclat s’espande
Par le tableau, ainsi qu’on voit de nuit
Briller les raiz de la Lune, qui luit
Dessus la neige au fond d’un val coulée,
De trace d’homme encore non foulée.
 
Apres fay luy son beau sourcy voutis
D’Ebene noir, et que son ply tortis
Semble un Croissant, qui monstre par la nuë
Au premier mois sa vouture cornuë :
Ou si jamais tu as veu l’arc d’Amour,
Pren le portrait dessus le demy-tour
De sa courbure à demy-cercle close :
Car l’arc d’Amour et luy n’est qu’une chose.
 
Mais las! mon Dieu, mon Dieu, je ne sçay pas
Par quel moyen, ny comment tu peindras
(Voire eusses-tu l’artifice d’Apelle)
De ses beaux yeux la grace naturelle,
Qui font vergongne aux estoilles des Cieux.
Que l’un soit doux, l’autre soit furieux,
Que l’un de Mars, l’autre de Venus tienne :
Que du benin toute esperance vienne,
Et du cruel vienne tout desespoir :
Ou que l’un soit pitoyable a le voir,
Comme celuy d’Ariadne laissée
Aux bords de Die, alors que l’insensee
Voyant la mer, de pleurs se consommoit,
Et son Thesée en vain elle nommoit :
L’autre soit gay, comme il est bien croyable
Que l’eut jadis Penelope louable
Quand elle vit son mary retourné,
Ayant vingt ans loing d’elle sejourné.
 
Apres fay luy sa rondelette oreille
Petite, unie, entre blanche et vermeille,
Qui sous le voile apparoisse à l’egal
Que fait un lis enclos dans un crystal,
Ou tout ainsi qu’apparoist une rose
Tout fraischement dedans un verre enclose.
 
Mais pour neant tu aurois fait si beau
Tout l’ornement de ton riche tableau,
Si tu n’avois de la lineature
De son beau nez bien portrait la peinture.
Pein-le moy donc gresle, long, aquilin,
Poli, traitis, où l’envieux malin
Quand il voudroit n’y sçauroit que reprendre,
Tant proprement tu le feras descendre
Parmi la face, ainsi comme descend
Dans une plaine un petit mont qui pend.
 
Apres au vif pein moy sa belle joüe
Pareille au teint de la rose qui noüe
Dessus du laict, ou au teint blanchissant
Du lis qui baise un œillet rougissant.
 
Dans le milieu portrais une fossette,
Fossette, non, mais d’Amour la cachette,
D’où ce garçon de sa petite main
Lasche cent traits et jamais un en vain,
Que par les yeux droit au cœur il ne touche.
 
Helas ! Janet, pour bien peindre sa bouche,
A peine Homere en ses vers te diroit
Quel vermillon egaler la pourroit :
Car pour la peindre ainsi qu’elle merite,
Peindre il faudroit celle d’une Charite.
Pein-la moy doncq, qu’elle semble parler,
Ores sou-rire, ores embasmer l’air
De ne sçay quelle ambrosienne haleine :
Mais par sur tout fay qu’elle semble pleine
De la douceur de persuasion.
Tout à l’entour attache un milion
De ris, d’attraits, de jeux, de courtoisies,
Et que deux rangs de perlettes choisies
D’un ordre egal en la place des dents
Bien poliment soyent arrangez dedans.
 
Pein tout autour une lévre bessonne,
Qui d’elle-mesme en s’elevant semonne
D’estre baisée, ayant le teint pareil
Ou de la rose, ou du coural vermeil :
Elle flambante au Printemps sur l’espine,
Luy rougissant au fond de la marine.
 
Pein son menton au milieu fosselu,
Et que le bout en rondeur pommelu
Soit tout ainsi que lon voit apparoistre
Le bout d’un coin qui ja commence à croistre.
 
Plus blanc que laict caillé dessus le jonc
Pein luy le col, mais pein-le un petit long,
Gresle et charnu, et sa gorge doüillette
Comme le col soit un petit longuette.
 
Apres fay luy par un juste compas,
Et de Junon les coudes et les bras,
Et les beaux doigts de Minerve, et encore
La main pareille à celle de l’Aurore.
 
Je ne sçay plus, mon Janet, où j’en suis :
Je suis confus et muet : je ne puis
Comme j’ay fait, te declarer le reste
De ses beautez qui ne m’est manifeste :
Las ! car jamais tant de faveurs je n’eu,
Que d’avoir veu ses beaux tetins à nu.
Mais si l’on peut juger par conjecture,
Persuadé de raisons je m’asseure
Que la beauté qui ne s’apparoit, doit
Estre semblable à celle que lon voit.
Donque pein-la, et qu’elle me soit faite
Parfaite autant comme l’autre est parfaite.
 
Ainsi qu’en bosse esleve moy son sein
Net, blanc, poli, large, profond et plein,
Dedans lequel mille rameuses veines
De rouge sang tressaillent toutes pleines.
 
Puis, quand au vif tu auras descouvers
Dessous la peau les muscles et les ners,
Enfle au dessus deux pommes nouvelettes,
Comme l’on void deux pommes verdelettes
D’un orenger, qui encores du tout
Ne font alors que se rougir au bout.
 
Tout au plus haut des espaules marbrines,
Pein le sejour des Charites divines,
Et que l’Amour sans cesse voletant
Tousjours les couve et les aille esventant,
Pensant voler avec le Jeu son frere
De branche en branche és vergers de Cythere.
 
Un peu plus bas en miroir arrondi,
Tout potelé, grasselet, rebondi,
Comme celuy de Venus, pein son ventre :
Pein son nombril ainsi qu’un petit centre,
Le fond duquel paroisse plus vermeil
Qu’un bel œillet entr’ouvert au Soleil.
 
Qu’atten’s-tu plus ? portray moy l’autre chose
Qui est si belle, et que dire je n’ose,
Et dont l’espoir impatient me poind :
Mais je te pry, ne me l’ombrage point,
Si ce n’estoit d’un voile fait de soye
Clair et subtil, à fin qu’on l’entre-voye.
 
Ses cuisses soyent comme faites au Tour
En grelissant, rondes tout à l’entour,
Ainsi qu’un Terme arrondi d’artifice
Qui soustient ferme un royal edifice.
 
Comme deux monts enleve ses genous,
Douillets, charnus, ronds, delicats et mous,
Dessous lesquels fay luy la gréve pleine,
Telle que l’ont les vierges de Lacene,
Quand pres d’Eurote en s’accrochant des bras
Luttent ensemble et se jettent à bas :
Ou bien chassant à meutes decouplees
Quelque vieil cerf és forests Amyclees.
 
Puis pour la fin portray-luy de Thetis
Les pieds estroits, et les talons petis.
 
Ha, je la voy ! elle est presque portraite :
Encore un trait, encore un, elle est faite.
Leve tes mains, hà mon Dieu, je la voy !
Bien peu s’en faut qu’elle ne parle à moy.
Paint me, Janet, paint me I pray
In this picture the beauties of my beloved
In the manner I’ll tell you them.
I shall not ask as a beggar
That you do her any favours with lying art.
It will be enough if you can portray her
Just as she is, without trying to disguise
Her natural looks to favour her :
For favour is no good but for those
Who have themselves painted but are not fair.
 
First, make her hair in waves,
Knotted up, swept back, curled in ringlets,
Which have the colour of cedar ;
Or make it long and free, scented
In the picture, if you can do it with art,
With the same scent her own hair has ;
For her hair smells like flowers
When the spring Zephyrs fan them.
 
[Make her brow projecting in an arc
On which should be, on each side,
Painted gravely modesty and glory
In majesty on three ivory thrones.
 
Make sure her fair brow is not lined
By any furrow long-extended,
But that it looks like the calm sea
When the wind does not disturb them in the slightest,
And when it sleeps, lying on its bed,
Calming its waves sunk in deepest sleep.
 
Down the middle of this strand make descend
A fair ruby, whose brightness should spread
Throughout the picture, as at night you see
Shining the rays of the moon, spreading light
Over the snow in the deeps of a sunken valley
Still untrodden by the foot of man.
 
Then make her fair arched eyebrow
Of black ebony, so that its curve
Resembles a crescent moon, showing through cloud
Its horned arc at the beginning of the month ;
Or, if you have ever seen Love’s bow,
Use its image above, the half-turn
Of its curve makig a half-circle ;
For Love’s bow and herself are but one thing.
 
But ah, my God, my God, I do not know
In what way or how you will paint
(Even if you had the skill of Apelles)
The natural grace of her lovely eyes
Which make the stars of Heaven ashamed.
Make one sweet, the other furious,
One having something of Mars, the other of Venus :
That from the kind one, every hope should come,
And from the cruel one, every despair ;
Or, let one be pitiful to see,
Like that of Ariadne abandoned
On the shores of Dia, while maddened
She was consumed in tears watching the sea
And called on her Theseus in vain ;
Let the other be happy, as we can believe
The praiseworthy Penelope was formerly
When she saw her husband returned
After staying for twenty years far from her.
 
Next, make her rounded ear,
Small, elegant, between white and pink,
Which should appear beneath its veil exactly
As a lily does, enclosed in crystal,
Or just a a rose would appear,
Completely fresh, enclosed in a vase.
 
But you would have painted so well
Every ornament of your rich picture, for nothing
If you had not well-depicted the line
Of her fair nose.
Paint me it, then, slender, long, aquiline,
Elegant and well-made, so the wicked or envious
Even if he wanted could not reprove,
So exactly you’ll have made it descend
In the midst of her face, just as descends
Over a plain a little raised mound.
 
Then as in life paint me her fair cheek,
Equal to the tint of a rose which swims
Upon milk, or to the white tint
Of the lily kissing a blushing pink.
 
In the middle,portray a small dimple –
No not a dimple, but the hiding-place of Love
From which that boy with his little hand
Launches a hundred arrows and never one in vain
Which does not through the eyes go straight to the heart.
 
Ah, Janet ! to paint her mouth well
Homer himself in his vere could barely say
What crimson could equal it ;
For to paint it as it deserves
You would need to paint a Grace’s.
So, paint me it as she seems to be talking,
Now smiling, now perfuming the air
With some kind of ambrosial breath ;
But above all make her appear full
Of the sweetness of persuasion.
All around, attach a million
Smiles, attractiveness, jokes, courtesies ;
And let there be two rows of choice little pearls
In a neat line, in place of teeth,
Elegantly arrayed within.
 
Paint all round them those twin lips
Which, rising up, themselves invite
Being kissed, their colour equal
To a rose’s or crimson coral’s ;
The one flaming in spring on its thorn,
The other reddening at the bottom of the sea.
 
Paint her chin dimpled in the middle
And make the tip bud into roundness
Just as if we were seeing appear
The tip of a quince just beginning to grow.
 
Whiter than clotted cream on rushes
Paint her neck, but paint it a little long,
Slender but plump, and her soft throat
Like her neck should be a little long.
 
Then make her, accurately drawn,
The arms and elbows of Juno
And the lovely fingers of Minerva, and too
Hands like the Dawn’s.
 
I no longer know, Janet, where I am :
I am confused, dumb : I cannot
As I have done tell you the rest
Of her beauties which have not been shown me.
Ah, I have never had the good favour
To have seen her fair breasts naked,
But if we may judge by conjecture
With good reason I am convinced
That the beauty which is unseen should
Be like that we see.
So paint her, and let her be made
Perfect just as the lady herself is perfect.
 
As if embossed, raise up her breast
Clear, white, elegant, wide, deep, full,
Within which a thousand branchy veins
Filled with red blood quiver.
 
Then when as in life you have revealed
Beneath the skin the muscles and nerves,
Make swell on top two fresh apples,
Just as you night see two green apples
In an orchard, which still and all
Just grow redder at the tip.
 
Right above her marble shoulders
Paint the divine Graces resting,
And let Love ceaselessly flying around
Gaze on them always and keep fanning them,
Thinking he’s flying with Jest, his brother,
From branch to branch in the orchards of Cythera.
 
A little below, rounded like a mirror,
All rounded, plump and shapely,
Like that of Venus, paint her belly ;
Paint its button like a little target
The depths of which should appear more crimson
Than the lovely carnation, half-open to the Sun.
 
What are you waiting for ? Paint me that other part
Which is so lovely, and which I dare not mention,
And impatient hope for which pricks me :
But I beg you, do not cover it over
Unless it be with a veil made of silk,
Clear and fine, that you can party see through.
 
Her thighs should be made like towers
Becoming slenderer, rounded all about,
Just as a column artfully rounded
Which firmly holds up a royal building.
 
Like two hills raise up her knees
Downy, plump, round, delicate and soft ;
Beneath them make her calves full
As were those of the maids of Laconia
When near Eurotas, gripping their arms
They fought together and threw one another down ;
Or indeed hunting with unleashed hounds
Some old stag in the forests of Amyclae.
 
Then, finally, portray her with Thetis’
Narrow feet and small toes.
 
Ha, I see her ! she is almost portayed :
But one stroke more, justl one and she is done.
Raise your hands, ah my god, I see her !
She all but speaks to me.
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.227

Standard
Le Jeu, la Grace, et les Freres jumeaux,
Suivent ma Dame, et quelque part qu’elle erre,
Dessous ses pieds fait esmailler la terre,
Et des hyvers fait des printemps nouveaux.
 
En sa faveur jargonnent les oiseaux,
Ses vents Eole en sa caverne enserre,
Le doux Zephyre un doux souspir desserre,
Et tous muets s’accoisent les ruisseaux.
 
Les Elemens se remirent en elle,
Nature rit de voir chose si belle :
Je tremble tout, que qulequ’un de ces Dieux
 
Ne passionne apres son beau visage,
Et qu‘en pillant le tresor de nostre âge,
Ne la ravisse et ne l’emporte aux cieux.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Playfulness, Grace, and the twin brothers
                                                                            Follow my Lady, and wherever she wanders
                                                                            Beneath her feet be-spangle the earth,
                                                                            And make from winter a new spring.
 
                                                                            For her the birds chatter,
                                                                            Aeolus binds the winds in his cavern,
                                                                            Soft Zephyr looses a soft sigh,
                                                                            And quietly the streams rise.
 
                                                                            The Elements behold themselves in her,
                                                                            Nature smiles to see something so fair ;
                                                                            I tremble all over, lest one of these gods
 
                                                                            Should become passionate for her fair face
                                                                            And, looting the treasure of our age,
                                                                            Steal her away and carry her to the heavens.
 
 
Once more Cassandre is accompanied by a cluster of classical virtues. Today we have the Dioscuri – Castor & Pollux, the twins – who here must be invoked in their capacity for bringing favourable weather (though that’s usually for sailors). Aeolus is god of the winds, and Zephyr one of his charges. Characteristically, Ronsard injects himself, and a humorous perspective, into the poem – the earthly lover terrified lest these deified virtues make off with his beloved.
 
The only difference in Blanchemain’s edition is the beginning of line 11 – “Mais, las ! je crain que qulequ’un … ” (‘But oh! I fear lest one …’), which is clearly improved in the later version.
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Poems 1.18 – The Marigold / Worries

Standard

Although the poem is about the marigold, the French word also means ‘cares’ or ‘worries’ – particularly in Ronsard, the troubles of a lover. Here there is a subtext throughout, a message to his lady about the pain she causes him. The title in Blanchemain’s version, ‘the marigold in the garden’, sets the expectation of a rather less ambiguous poem, perhaps.

Le Souci
 
Je veux chanter, Cherouvrier, le Souci
Qui te plaist tant et qui me plaist aussi :
Non les soucis dont Amour me fait guerre,
Mais les Soucis estoiles de la terre :
Ains les Soleils des jardins, tant ils sont
Jaunes, luisans et dorez sur le front.
 
La rose emporte (empourprant son espine)
Le premier lieu à cause d’Erycine,
Et du beau sang d’Adon qui la peingnit :
L’Oeillet apres qu’Apollon contraingnit
Joüer au disque, et qui le fist occire
Sans y penser à l’amoureux Zephire,
Et fut depuis aux Spartes un grand Dieu.
 
Ces deux, Souci, ont eu le premier lieu,
Toy le troisiesme, et s’il n’y a fleurette
Ny giroflée, ou double violette,
Genest, josmin plus odorant que toy :
Au moins, Souci, s’il n’est vray, je le croy.
 
Soit que ma Dame autrefois m’ait donnée
Ta couleur jaune, ou que l’ame inclinée
A voir, sentir et contempler ta fleur,
Sur tous parfums j’estime ton odeur :
Jamais repas ne me fut agreable,
Si ton bouton n’enfleurit une table,
Salade, pain, et toute la maison
Aux plus beaux mois de la prime saison :
Car de couleur ta couleur je ressemble,
Tu es, Souci, mon frere ce me semble.
 
Tu es tout jaune, et tout jaune je suis
Pour trop d’amour qu’effacer je ne puis.
 
Printemps, Hyver, tu gardes ta verdure :
Printemps, Hyver, le soin d’amour me dure.
 
Double est ta fleur, ta fleur est simple aussi,
Mon cœur est simple, et vit tousjours ainsi :
Mais mes pensers et mes ennuis sont doubles
Selon les yeux et farouches et troubles
De ma Maistresse, et mon soin est doublé
Si son œil est ou farouche ou troublé.
 
Quand le Soleil ton amoureux s’abaisse
Dedans le sein de Tethys son hostesse,
Allant revoir le pere de la mer,
On voit ton chef se clorre et se fermer
Palle, desfait : mais quand sa tresse blonde
De longs cheveux s’esparpille sur l’onde
Se resveillant, tu t’esveilles joyeux,
Et pour le voir tu dessilles tes yeux,
Et sa clarté est seule ton envie,
Un seul Soleil te donnant mort et vie.
 
Quand je ne voy mon beau Soleil levé,
De toutes parts un sommeil agravé
Dessus le front des tenebres me donne,
Si qu’esblouy je ne cognois personne.
 
Mais aussi tost que ses rais dessus moy
Me font un jour, des yeux du cœur je voy
Mille beautez, tant sa gentille flame
En m’esclairant me reluist dedans l’ame,
Et loin du corps dont je suis empesché,
Tient mon esprit aux Astres attaché.
 
On dit, Souci, quand au bras on te lie,
Que tu guaris de la melancholie.
Or en cela nous sommes differens :
Ce que je voy, tout triste je le rens
Ainsi que moy, tant il sort de tristesse
Hors de mes yeux pour ma rude Maistresse,
Qui froide et lente et morne en amitié
Mon pauvre cœur ne veut prendre à pitié,
Me consommant d’amour, tant elle est belle :
Et je veux bien me consommer pour elle.
 
Adieu Souci, si Cherouvrier passant
Par son jardin voit ton chef florissant,
Qui toute fleur au temps d’Hyver surpasse,
Que l’Aube engendre et qu’une nuict efface,
Te voyant naistre aussi tost que fanir :
Soir et matin fay le moy souvenir
Que nostre vie aux fleurettes resemble,
Qui presque vit et presque meurt ensemble :
Et ce-pendant qu’il est en son printemps,
Vive amoureux et n’espargne le temps.
 
Si en naissant ce grand Maistre qui donne
Heur et malheur à chacune personne,
M’avoit donné, mon Cherouvrier, ta vois
Dont tu flechis les peuples et les Rois,
Comme estant seul de France la merveille
Pour attirer une ame par l’oreille :
Je chasserois la fiévre de mon corps
Par la douceur de tant de beaux accords.
 
En lieu d’avoir ta nombreuse Musique
J’ay l’autre ardeur, la vérve poëtique,
Qui rompt ma fiévre et charme mon souci,
Ou s’il n’est vray, je me console ainsi.
 
Donq si j’avois ceste voix si divine,
Present du ciel qui sort de ta poitrine,
Je chanterois : mais ne pouvant chanter,
De l’autre ardeur il me faut contenter.
The Marigold
 
I shall sing, Cherouvrier, of the marigold
Which pleases you so, and pleases me too ;
Not the cares with which Love makes war on me
But the flowery stars of the earth,
Like suns in the garden, so yellow
Are they, shining gold on their brows.
 
The rose (em-purpling its thorns) takes
First place, because of Erycine [Venus of Mt Eryx]
And the fair blood of Adonis which colours it ;
The carnation next, which Apollo made
Play at the discus and whom Zephyr made him kill
Without considering his lover,
And was afterward a great god to the Spartans.
 
These two, marigold, have first place,
You the third, and indeed there is no flower,
Not the wallflower nor double-violet,
Broom nor jasmine more sweet-smelling than you ;
At least, marigold, that’s what I believe, true or not.
 
Whether my Lady had once given me
Your yellow tint, or whether my soul was inclined
To look at, smell and consider your flower,
Above all perfumes I esteem your odour ;
Never was a meal pleasing to me
Unless your bud flowered on the table,
Salad, bread and all the house
In the fairest months of the best season ;
Because in my colour your colour I resemble
You are, marigold, my brother, it seems.
 
You are all yellow, and I am all yellow
From too much love, nor can I wipe it away.
 
In Spring and Winter, you keep your freshness ;
In Spring and Winter, love’s cares linger in me.
 
Double is your flower, but single too ;
My heart is single, and lives always thus ;
But my thoughts and cares are doubled
Because of the timid, troubled eyes
Of my mistress, and my care is doubled
If her eyes are either timid or troubled.
 
When the sun, your lover, sets
Within the breast of Tethys his hostess,
Going to see again the father of the sea,
We see your bloom close, lock itself away
Pale and undone ; but when his yellow locks
Scatter their long hair over the waves
As he awakes again, then you wake joyfully
And open your eyes to see him
And his brightness is your only desire,
The Sun alone bringing you death and life.
 
When I do not see my own Sun arise,
From every side a painful sleep
Gives me shadows on my brow,
So that, dazzled, I recognise no-one.
 
But as soon as her rays shine daylight
Upon me, with my heart’s eyes I see
A thousand beauties, so much does her noble flame
Shining on me lighten again my soul,
And, far from the body with which I am weighted down,
Keeps my spirit bound to the stars.
 
They say, marigold, that when we tie you to our arm
You will cure melancholy.
Well, in that we are different :
Whatever I see, I make unhappy
Like I am myself, so much sadness flows
From my eyes for my harsh mistress,
Who – cold, slow and sad in loving –
Does not want to take pity on my poor heart,
Consuming me with love, so beautiful she is ;
And I’d willingly consume myself for her.
 
Farewell, marigold : if Cherouvrier passes
By your garden and sees your flowering head
Which surpasses all flowers in winter-time,
Which Dawn brings to birth and a single night extinguishes,
Seeing you born as quick as fading ;
Night and day remind him for me
That our life is like that of the flowers
Who virtually live and die at the same moment ;
And yet while he is in his springtime
Let him live, love, and not spare of his time.
 
If at birth that great Master who gives
Fortune and misfortune to each person
Had given me, my Cherouvrier, your voice
With which you sway peoples and Kings,
As if the sole wonder in France
Able to draw out the soul through the ears,
I would drive away the fever from my body
Through the sweetness of so many fine harmonies.
 
Instead of having your many-faceted Music
I have that other passion, poetic inspiration,
Which breaks my fever and charms away my cares –
Or so I console myself, even if it is not true.
 
So, if I had your god-like voice,
Which emerges from your breast like a gift from heaven,
I would sing : but being unable to sing,
With that other passion I must content myself.
 
We met Guillaume Cherouvrier a while back in one of Ronsard’s more cynical poems, so it is good to find him here as the recipient of something far less cynical!  You may recall he was a member of the Royal Chapel, hence the reference to ‘his music’ near the end of the poem.
 
Tethys in the middle of the poem is the sun’s ‘hostess’ because she is a sea-nymph, and of course the sun spends his nights in the sea. Adonis, near the beginning, is more usually associated with the blood-red anemone, though it’s obvious why the rose could also fit; he links closely to Venus (who loved him) but not especially to her cult on Mt Eryx in Sicily.  The three lines about the carnation are confusing, not least because you need to know the story to be able to work out who is doing what to whom! The carnation here replaces the hyacinth: Hyacinth was loved by Apollo, but also by Zephyr who, while Apollo and Hyacinth were throwing the discus, blew it off course so that Apollo’s throw killed Hyacinth. So here the meaning is that Apollo made Hyacinth play, Zephyr made Apollo kill him, sacrificing his own love to spite Apollo. (Apollo transformed the blood of Hyacinth into a flower, marked with his tears or the blood depending on the version of the myth and the flower it represents!)
 
I should just mention the ‘double / single’ antithesis in the middle of the poem. Ronsard’s words are “double / simple”, so that each time something is ‘single’ it is also ‘simple’. I have reluctantly chosen ‘single’, so that the antithesis works, but I feel that the other meaning, of simplicity, is really the one that should come through!
 
Let’s have a look at the variant texts offered by Blanchemain: 
 
Le Souci du Jardin
 
Au Sieur Cherouvrier
Excellent musicien
 
Je veux chanter, Cherouvrier, le Souci
Qui te plaist tant, et qui me plaist aussi ;
Non les soucys qui tout le cœur nous serre,
Mais les Soucis, estoilles d’un parterre,
Ains les soleils des jardins, tant ils sont
Jaunes, luisans, et dorez sur le front.
 
La rose emporte (empourprant son espine)
Le premier lieu à cause d’Erycine,
Et du beau sang d’Adon qui la peingnit ;
L’œillet après qu’Apollon contraingnit
Jouer au disque, et qui le fit occire
Sans y penser à l’amoureux Zephyre,
Et fut depuis aux Spartes un grand Dieu.
 
Ces deux, Soucy, ont eu le premier lieu,
Toy le troisiesme, et s’il n’y a fleurette,
Ny giroflée, ou double violette,
Genest, josmin plus odorant que toy ;
Au moins, Souci, s’il n’est vray, je le croy.
 
Soit que ma dame autresfois m’ait donnée
Ta couleur jaune, ou que l’âme inclinée
A voir, sentir, et contempler ta fleur,
Sur tous parfums j’estime ton odeur ;
Jamais repas ne me fut agreable,
Si ton bouton n’enfleurit une table,
Salade, pain, et toute la maison
Aux plus beaux mois de la prime saison ;
Car de couleur, Soucy, je te ressemble,
Tu es, Soucy, mon frere, ce me semble.
 
Tu es tout jaune, et tout jaune je suis
Pour trop d’amour qu’effacer je ne puis.
 
Printemps, hyver, tu gardes ta verdure ;
Printemps, hyver, le soin d’amour me dure.
 
Double tu es et simple. Quant à moy
J’ay simple cœur et j’ay simple la foy ;
Mais mes pensers et mes ennuis sont doubles
Selon les yeux et farouches et troubles
De ma maistresse, et mon soin est doublé
Si son œil est ou farouche ou troublé.
 
Quand le soleil, ton amoureux, s’abaisse
Dedans le sein de Tethys son hostesse,
Allant revoir le pere de la mer,
On voit ton chef se clorre et se fermer
Palle, défait ; mais quand sa tresse blonde
De longs cheveux s’esparpille sur l’onde
Se réveillant, tu t’éveilles joyeux,
Et pour le voir tu dessiles tes yeux,
Et sa clarté est seule ton envie,
Un seul soleil te donnant mort et vie.
 
Quand je ne voy les yeux de mon soleil,
De toutes parts un aggravé sommeil
Dessus le front des tenebres me donne,
Si qu’esblouy je ne cognois personne.
 
Mais aussi tost que ses rais dessus moy
Me font un jour, d’yeux et de cœur je voy
Mille beautez, tant sa gentille flame
En m’éclairant me reluit dans l’ame,
Et loin du corps dont je suis empesché,
Tient mon esprit aux astres attaché.
 
On dit, Souci, quand au bras on te lie,
Que tu guaris de la melancholie.
Or en cela nous sommes differens ;
Ce que je voy, tout triste je le rens
Ainsi que moy, tant il sort de tristesse
Hors de mes yeux pour ma rude maistresse,
Qui froide et lente, et morne en amitié
Mon pauvre cœur ne veut prendre à pitié,
Me consommant d’amour, tant elle est belle ;
Et je veux bien me consommer pour elle.
 
Adieu, Souci ! si Cherouvrier, passant
Par son jardin, voit ton chef florissant,
Qui toute fleur au temps d’hyver surpasse,
Que l’aube engendre et qu’une nuict efface,
Te voyant naistre aussi tost que fanir ;
Soir et matin fay-le-moy souvenir
Que nostre vie aux fleurettes ressemble,
Qui presque vit, et presque meurt ensemble ;
Et ce-pendant qu’il est en son printemps,
Vive amoureux et n’espargne le temps.
 
Si en naissant ce grand maistre qui donne
Heur et mal-heur à chacune personne,
M’avoit donné, mon Cherouvrier, ta vois
Dont tu flechis les peuples et les Rois,
Comme estant seul de France la merveille
Pour attirer une âme par l’aureille ;
Je chasserois la fiévre de mon corps
Par la douceur de mes divers accords.
 
En lieu d’avoir ta nombreuse musique,
J’ay l’autre ardeur, la verve poëtique,
Qui rompt ma fiévre et charme ma langueur,
Me fait gaillard et me tient en vigueur.
 
Doncq’ si j’avois ceste voix si divine,
Present du ciel, qui sort de ta poitrine,
Je chanterois ; mais ne pouvant chanter,
D’escrire en vers il me faut contenter.
The garden Marigold
 
To my lord Cherouvrier
An excellent musician
 
I shall sing, Cherouvrier, of the marigold
Which pleases you so, and pleases me too ;
Not the cares which grip our whole heart
But the flowery stars of a lawn,
Like suns in the garden, so yellow
Are they, shining gold on their brows.
 
The rose (em-purpling its thorns) takes
First place, because of Erycine
And the fair blood of Adonis which colours it ;
The carnation next, which forced Apollo
Play at the discus and made him kill
Without considering it the amorous Zephyr,
And was afterward a great god to the Spartans.
 
These two, marigold, have first place,
You the third, and indeed there is no flower,
Not the wallflower nor double-violet,
Broom nor jasmine more sweet-smelling than you ;
At least, marigold, that’s what I believe, true or not.
 
Whether my Lady had once given me
Your yellow tint, or whether my soul was inclined
To look at, smell and consider your flower,
Above all perfumes I esteem your odour ;
Never was a meal pleasing to me
Unless your bud flowered on the table,
Salad, bread and all the house
In the fairest months of the best season ;
Because my colour resembles yours, marigold,
You are, marigold, my brother, it seems.
 
You are all yellow, and I am all yellow
From too much love, nor can I wipe it away.
 
In Spring and Winter, you keep your freshness ;
In Spring and Winter, love’s cares linger in me.
 
Double you are and single too ; as for me,
I have a single heart and my faithfulness is single too ;
But my thoughts and cares are doubled
Because of the timid, troubled eyes
Of my mistress, and my care is doubled
If her eyes are either timid or troubled.
 
When the sun, your lover, sets
Within the breast of Tethys his hostess,
Going to see again the father of the sea,
We see your bloom close, lock itself away
Pale and undone ; but when his yellow locks
Scatter their long hair over the waves
As he awakes again, then you wake joyfully
And open your eyes to see him
And his brightness is your only desire,
The Sun alone bringing you death and life.
 
When I do not see the eyes of my own sun,
From every side a painful sleep
Gives me shadows on my brow,
So that, dazzled, I recognise no-one.
 
But as soon as her rays shine daylight
Upon me, with my eyes and heart I see
A thousand beauties, so much does her noble flame
Shining on me lighten again my soul,
And, far from the body with which I am weighted down,
Keeps my spirit bound to the stars.
 
They say, marigold, that when we tie you to our arm
You will cure melancholy.
Well, in that we are different :
Whatever I see, I make unhappy
Like I am myself, so much sadness flows
From my eyes for my harsh mistress,
Who – cold, slow and sad in loving –
Does not want to take pity on my poor heart,
Consuming me with love, so beautiful she is ;
And I’d willingly consume myself for her.
 
Farewell, marigold : if Cherouvrier passes
By your garden and sees your flowering head
Which surpasses all flowers in winter-time,
Which Dawn brings to birth and a single night extinguishes,
Seeing you born as quick as fading ;
Night and day remind him for me
That our life is like that of the flowers
Who virtually live and die at the same moment ;
And yet while he is in his springtime
Let him live, love, and not spare of his time.
 
If at birth that great Master who gives
Fortune and misfortune to each person
Had given me, my Cherouvrier, your voice
With which you sway peoples and Kings,
As if the sole wonder in France
Able to draw out the soul through the ears,
I would drive away the fever from my body
Through the sweetness of my varied harmonies.
 
Instead of having your many-faceted Music
I have that other passion, poetic inspiration,
Which breaks my fever and charms away my pining,
Makes me jolly and keeps me vigorous.
 
So, if I had your god-like voice,
Which emerges from your breast like a gift from heaven,
I would sing : but being unable to sing,
With writing in verse I must content myself.
 
Note that the variant of line 3 is placed by Blanchemain in a footnote and his ‘preferred’ text retains the same line 3 as in Marty-Laveaux. In mid-poem I find the text “dans l’ame” odd – it scans but only painfully, and the revised version (“dedans l’ame”) works so much more easily!

 
 
 

Chanson – Amours 2:67d

Standard
Quand ce beau Printemps je voy,
     J’apperçois
Rajeunir la terre et l’onde
Et me semble que le jour,
     Et l’amour,
Comme enfans naissent au monde. 
 
Le jour qui plus beau se fait,
     Nous refait
Plus belle et verte la terre :
Et Amour armé de traits
     Et d’attraits,
En nos cœurs nous fait la guerre. 
 
Il respand de toutes parts
     Feux et dards
Et domte sous sa puissance
Hommes Bestes et Oiseaux,
     Et les eaux
Luy rendent obeïssance. 
 
Vénus avec son enfant
     Triomphant
Au haut de son Coche assise,
Laisse ses cygnes voler
     Parmy l’air
Pour aller voir son Anchise.  
 
Quelque part que ses beaux yeux
     Par les cieux
Tournent leurs lumieres belles,
L’air qui se monstre serein,
     Est tout plein
D’amoureuses estincelles. 
 
Puis en descendant à bas
     Sous ses pas
Naissent mille fleurs écloses :
Les beaux liz et les œillets
     Vermeillets
Rougissent entre les roses.  
 
Je sens en ce mois si beau
     Le flambeau
D’Amour qui m’eschauffe l’ame,
Y voyant de tous costez
     Les beautez
Qu’il emprunte de ma Dame. 
 
Quand je voy tant de couleurs
     Et de fleurs
Qui esmaillent un rivage,
Je pense voir le beau teint
     Qui est peint
Si vermeil en son visage. 
 
Quand je voy les grand rameaux
     Des ormeaux
Qui sont lassez de lierre,
Je pense estre pris és laz
     De ses bras,
Et que mon col elle serre.  
 
Quand j’entens la douce vois
     Par les bois
Du gay Rossignol qui chante,
D’elle je pense jouyr
     Et ouyr
Sa douce voix qui m’enchante. 
 
Quand je vois en quelque endroit
     Un Pin droit,
Ou quelque arbre qui s’esleve,
Je me laisse decevoir,
     Pensant voir
Sa belle taille et sa gréve. 
 
Quand je voy dans un jardin,
     Au matin
S’esclorre une fleur nouvelle,
J’accompare le bouton
     Au teton
De son beau sein qui pommelle. 
 
Quand le Soleil tout riant
     D’orient
Nous monstre sa blonde tresse,
Il me semble que je voy
     Davant moy
Lever ma belle maistresse. 
 
Quand je sens parmy les prez
     Diaprez
Les fleurs dont la terre est pleine,
Lors je fais croire à mes sens
     Que je sens  
La douceur de son haleine.
 
Bref je fais comparaison
     Par raison
Du Printemps et de m’amie :
Il donne aux fleurs la vigueur,
     Et mon cœur
D’elle prend vigueur et vie. 
 
Je voudrois au bruit de l’eau
     D’un ruisseau
Desplier ses tresses blondes,
Frizant en autant de nœus
     Ses cheveux
Que je verrois frizer d’ondes. 
 
Je voudrois pour la tenir,
     Devenir
Dieu de ces forests desertes,
La baisant autant de fois
     Qu’en un bois
Il y a de fueilles vertes. 
 
Hà maistresse mon soucy,
     Vien icy,
Vien contempler la verdure :
Les fleurs de mon amitié
     Ont pitié,
Et seule tu n’en as cure. 
 
Au moins leve un peu tes yeux
     Gracieux,
Et voy ces deux colombelles,
Qui font naturellement
     Doucement
L’amour du bec et des ailes : 
 
Et nous sous ombre d’honneur,
     Le bon heur
Trahissons par une crainte :
Les oiseaux sont plus heureux
     Amoureux,
Qui font l’amour sans contrainte. 
 
Toutesfois ne perdons pas
     Nos esbats
Pour ces loix tant rigoureuses :
Mais si tu m’en crois vivons,
     Et suivons
Les colombes amoureuses.
 
Pour effacer mon esmoy,
     Baise moy,
Rebaise moy ma Deesse :
Ne laissons passer en vain
     Si soudain
Les ans de notre jeunesse.
When I see the fair Springtime
I recognise
Earth and sea renewing their youth
And it seems to me that Day
And Love
Like children are born into the world.
 
Day which makes itself lovelier,
Makes the earth again
Lovelier and greener for us,
And Love armed with charms
And harms
Makes war on us in our hearts.
 
He looses in all directions
His fiery darts
And overcomes with his power
Men, beasts and birds,
And even the waters
Give him obedience.
 
Venus with her
Triumphant son
Sitting up high on her couch
Sets her swans flying
Through the air
To go and see her Anchises.
 
Wherever her lovely eyes
Around the heavens
Turn their fair light,
The air, remaining calm,
Is filled
With sparks of love.
 
Then coming down low
Under her feet
A thousand flowers blooming are born;
Fair lilies and bright red
Carnations
Redden among the roses.
 
In this month so lovely, I feel
The flame
Of Love warming my soul,
Seeing there on all sides
The beauties
Which it has borrowed from my Lady.
 
When I see so many colours
And flowers
Studding a riverbank,
I imagine I see the fair colour
Which paints
Her complexion so pink.
 
When I see the great branches
Of the elms
Which are laced with ivy,
I imagine being taken into the lakes
Of her arms
And her supporting my neck.
 
When I hear the soft voice
Of the happy nightingale
Singing in the woods,
I imagine enjoying her
And hearing
Her soft voice which enchants me.
 
When I see in some place
A tall pine
Or some other tree growing tall
I allow myself to be deceived
And imagine I see
Her lovely shape and size.
 
When I see in a garden
In the morning
A new flower opening,
I compare its bud
With the nipple
Of her fair breast, swelling.
 
When the sun, smiling
In the east,
Shows us his golden tresses,
I imagine I see
Before me
My fair mistress arising.
 
When I spy the meadows
Dotted
With the flowers which fill the earth,
Ah then I make my senses believe
That I feel
The softness of her breath.
 
In short, I make the comparison,
With good reason
Of Springtime with my beloved;
One gives the flowers their new strength,
And my heart
Takes from the other its strength and life.
 
I’d like, to the sound of the water
Of some stream
To untie her blonde tresses
Curling her hair into
So many knots
That I’d see waves curling.
 
I’d like, so I could hold her,
To become
God of these empty forests,
Kissing her as many times
As there are
Green leaves in a wood.
 
Ah, my mistress, my desire,
Come here
Come and consider the greensward;
The flowers take pity
On my love
And only you care not.
 
At least lift your gracious eyes
A little
And see these two doves
Who quite naturally
And sweetly
Make love with beak and wings.
 
And we, beneath the shade of honour
Betray
Our happiness through fear:
The birds are luckier
Lovers
Who make love without constraint.
 
Still, let us not give up
Our frolics
For these too restrictive laws;
But if you trust me, let’s live
Let’s copy
The amorous doves.
 
To sweep away my anguish
Kiss me
Kiss me again, my goddess!
Don’t let them go by empty
And quickly,
These years of our youth!
 
 One of Ronsard’s most famous poems – and deservedly so.
 
We met Venus & Anchises recently; also Zephyr the warm west wind.
 
Perhaps surprisingly there are no many variants between versions; though he did remove stanzas here and there as he revised. So in Blanchemain’s version, after the 6th stanza (just before “Je sens en ce mois si beau”) there is an extra stanza:
 
Celuy vrayment est de fer
   Qu’eschaufer
Ne peut sa beauté divine,
Et en lieu d’humaine chair
   Un rocher
Porte au fond de la poitrine
 
 
                                                          He indeed is made of iron
                                                             Whom her divine
                                                          Beauty cannot set afire,
                                                          And in place of human flesh
                                                             A rock
                                                          He carries deep in his breast.
 
 
Then, 4 stanzas later, just before the tall pine:
 
Quand Zephyre meine un bruit
   Qui se suit
Au travers d’une ramée,
Des propos il me souvient
   Que me tient
Seule à seul ma bien aimée.
 
 
                                                          When Zephyr’s sound
                                                             Chases itself
                                                          Through the branches,
                                                          I recall her words
                                                             Which keep me
                                                          Alone with my beloved alone.
 
 
Additionally there are a few minor changes:  in the 3rd stanza Love looses “Feu et dards” (‘His fiery darts’) in the 2nd line; 3 stanzas later, beneath her feet “Croissent mille fleurs écloses” (‘Grow a thousand flowers blooming’); and just before Zephyr (above) he hears the soft voice “Du beau rossignol” (‘Of the fair nightingale’) in the woods.
 
Incidentally, I love the way (in the middle of the poem) he bends the word ‘tetin’ into ‘teton’ to rhyme with ’bouton’, and makes it sound like a form of endearment at the same time!
 
 
 
 
 

Odes 5.11

Standard

 

Sur toute fleurette déclose
J’aime la senteur de la rose
Et l’odeur de la belle fleur
Qui de la premiere couleur
Pare la terre, quand la glace
Et l’hyver au soleil font place
 
Les autres boutons vermeillets,
La giroflée et les œillets,
Et le bel esmail qui varie
L’honneur gemmé d’une prairie
En mille lustres s’esclatant ;
Ensemble ne me plaisent tant
Que fait la rose pourperette,
Et de Mars la blanche fleurette,
 
Que puis-je, pour le passetemps
Que vous me donnez le printemps
Prier pour vous deux autre chose,
Sinon que toy, pourprine rose,
Puisses toujours avoir le sein
En mai de rosée tout plein,
Et que jamais le chaut qui dure
En juin ne te fasse laidure ?
 
Ny à toy, fleurette de mars,
Jamais l’hyver, lorsque tu pars
Hors de la terre, ne te face
Pancher morte dessus la place ;
Ains toujours, maugré la froideur
Puisses-tu de ta soefve odeur
Nous annoncer que l’an se vire
Plus doux vers nous, et que Zephyre
Après le tour du fascheux temps
Nous ramene le beau printemps.
Above all the flowers that bloom
I love the scent of the rose,
And the perfume of the fair flower
Which with its initial colour
Adorns the earth when ice
And winter take the sun’s place.
 
The other crimson buds,
The wallflower, the carnation,
The beautiful carpet which variously spreads
The bejewelled glory of a meadow
With a thousand glowing colours bursting out,
Together do not please me as much
As does the purple rose
And the white flower of Mars.
 
How can I, for the pleasant times
Which you give me in spring,
Beg anything else for the two of you
Unless that you, crimsoned rose,
Might always be able to keep your breast
All filled with pink in May ;
And may the heat which lasts so long
In June never make you ugly.
 
And for you, flower of Mars,
In winter as you emerge
From the earth may it never make you
Wilt dead upon the ground;
So may you always, despite the cold,
Be able with your pleasing odour
To announce to us that the year is veering
More gently towards us, and that Zephyr [West wind]
After the turn of the dreary weather
Is bringing us back the fine springtime.
 
Once again a beautiful little lyric. And once again the elusive ‘flower of Mars’ appears!
 
Blanchemain offers us a variant of the third stanza’s second half (“Puisses tousjours…” onwards), from 1587:
 
 
Du teint de honte accompagné
Sois toujours en may rebaigné
De la rosée qui doux glisse,
Et jamais juin ne te fanisse ?
 
 
                                                              Accompanied by the tint of shame
                                                              Might always be re-bathed in May
                                                              With the rosy pink which softly slips away,
                                                              And that June might never fade you.

 

 
 

Sonnet 124

Standard
Ce petit chien, qui ma maistresse suit,
Et qui jappant ne recognoist personne,
Et cest oiseau, qui ses plaintes resonne,
Au mois d’Avril soupirant toute nuit :
 
Et la barriere où quand le chaud s’enfuit,
Madame seule en pensant s’arraisonne,
Et ce jardin où son pouce moissonne
Toutes les fleurs que Zephyre produit :
 
Et ceste dance où la fleche cruelle
M’outre-perça, et la saison nouvelle
Qui tous les ans rafraichist mes douleurs :
 
Et son œillade, et sa parolle sainte,
Et dans le cœur sa grace que j’ay peinte,
Baignent mes yeux de deux ruisseaux de pleurs.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            That little dog which follows my mistress
                                                                            And yaps, recognising no-one,
                                                                            And that bird which sings its sorrows
                                                                            Sighing all night through April;
 
                                                                            And the fence where, when the day’s heat has gone,
                                                                            My Lady muses, alone with her thoughts,
                                                                            And that garden where her fingers gather
                                                                            All the flowers which Zephyr produces;
 
                                                                            And that dance in which the cruel arrow
                                                                            Pierced me through, and the new season
                                                                            Which every year renews my pains afresh;
 
                                                                            And her glance, and her saint-like speech,
                                                                            And her grace whose image I carry in my heart –
                                                                            These bathe my eyes with two streams of tears.

 

 

 

 Unusually for Ronsard, a sonnet in a 13+1 form: he doesn’t often pursue the same thought all the way to the penultimate line, though that is what here makes the sudden switch to tears instead of joy in the last line a decisive dramatic stroke.
 
I ought to confess to paraphrasing line 13 – literally ‘her grace of which I have made a painting in my heart’. (I was tempted by ‘which I have limned in my heart’, but that’s a bit too old-fashioned for Ronsard’s simple term!)
 
Minor variants in Blanchemain: in line 3, the bird repeats Ronsard’s sorrows instead of singing its own – “qui mes plaintes resonne”; and in the final line his tears run further, bathing his breast – “Baignent mon sein de deux ruisseaux”. Lines 4-5 change a little more, though without shifting the focus much:
 
 
Et cette pierre où, quand le chaud s’enfuit,
Seule à part soi pensive s’arraisonne
 
 
                                                                            And that stone where, when the day’s heat has gone,
                                                                            Alone, outside herself, pensive, she muses
 
 
If you can improve on ‘outside herself’ please do – I am stumped for a decent translation at the moment!

 

 

 
 
 

Sonnet 60

Standard
Ny voir flamber au poinct du jour les roses,
Ny liz plantez sur le bord d’un ruisseau,
Ny son de luth, ny ramage d’oyseau,
Ny dedans l’or les gemmes bien encloses,
 
Ny des Zephyrs les gorgettes décloses,
Ny sur la mer le ronfler d’un vaisseau,
Ny bal de Nymphe au gazouillis de l’eau,
Ny voir fleurir au printems toutes choses,
 
Ny camp armé de lances hérissé,
Ny antre verd de mousse tapissé,
Ny des forests les cymes qui se pressent,
 
Ny des rochers le silence sacré,
Tant de plaisir ne me donnent qu’un Pré,
Où sans espoir mes esperances paissent.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Not seeing roses on fire at the break of day,
                                                                           Nor lilies planted on the bank of a stream,
                                                                           Nor the sound of the lute, the warbling of birds,
                                                                           Nor jewels well-set in gold,
 
                                                                           Nor the open throat of the Zephyr [west wind],
                                                                           Nor the creaking of a ship on the sea,
                                                                           Nor the dance of Nymphs to the babbling of the water,
                                                                           Nor seeing everything blossom in spring,
 
                                                                           Nor an armed camp bristling with spears,
                                                                           Nor a cave carpeted with green moss,
                                                                           Nor the close-packed treetops in the forest,
 
                                                                           Nor the sacred silence of the rocks –
                                                                           None give me as much pleasure as that Meadow
                                                                           Where my hopes feed without expectation.
 
 

 

  
Sometimes a poem looks like it came out fully-formed, and sometimes you look at a poem and think ‘the poet clearly set himself a puzzle to work out here!’.  For me this has the look of a poem in which Ronsard wondered how long he could keep going with “Ny…” lines and ‘random’ images, while still making a satisfying poem. As my own little tribute – after all, starting the line the ame each time is easy enough – I’ve added an extra ‘No…’ in line 13…!
 
Just some small changes from Blanchemain’s early version: in line 3 he has “chants de luth” (‘songs of the lute’), changed above so that the ‘s’ is echoed in the second half of the line – an improvement I’d say; and the last 2 “Ny…” lines (11-12) are “Ny les Sylvains qui les Dryades pressent, /Et jà dejà les domptent à leur gré,” (‘Nor the Wood-folk who pursue the Dryads /And quickly overcome them as they wish’). Note that, in this early version, only 11 (not 12) lines begin with “Ny”!