John Payne.

Flowers of France: the renaissance period, from Ronsard to Saint-Amant, representative poems of the sixteenth century; online

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Press thou my neck more close and give me back my soul,

Using a kiss for balm.


Grant me this only boon and by thine eyes I swear,

That oath so dear to me,
From thy beloved arms that any other fair

Shall never do me free;

But 'neath thy yoke to bend, how rigorous soe'er

It be, I'll never rue •

And to the Elysian Fields one hour our souls shall bear.

One bark transport us two.

There, dead of too much love, beneath the myrtle shade,

Forever shall our eyes
The olden heroes see, each with his hero-maid,

Of nought but love devise.

Anon, among the flowers a-dancing will we go,

By meadow and by mere;
Anon, dance-weary, seek where groves their shadow throw

Of myrtles never sere.

Where the soft Zephyr shakes the perfumed sighs of May

Out on the fluttering breeze.
Anon the orange-boughs caressing in its play.

Anon the citron-trees.

There, without change, unto the pleasant time of Spring

Th'immortal season cleaves.
And without toil, earth there from her fat womb doth bring

Forth all things, fruits and sheaves.

The holy band, whilom that lovers were, shall wait

O'er all to honour us.
Shall welcome us, themselves esteeming fortunate

To consort with us thus.


There, in the midst of all, enforcing us to sit

Upon the grass in bloom,
No one of them shall grudge, withdrawing, any whit

To yield to us her room;

Not she *, who of a bull, by treachery, whilere.

Was carried off to sea,
Nor she ^, whom Phoebus saw, a virgin in despair,

Become a laurel-tree;

Not that fair twain, who there together sadly go,

Dido and Artemise, *
Nor that fair Greek, * to whom thy charms alike do show,

Yea, and, thy name as these.


Let us go see, dear, if the rose.
Which but this morning did unclose
Her crown of crimson in the sun,
Have not this eventide laid down
The glories of her purple gown
And colour peered (save thine) of none.

Alack, love, in how short a space
See, now, she hath on the earth's face
Her beauties scattered, wellaway !
Ah Nature, true stepmother thou,
That such a flower dost but allow.
To live and dure for one poor day !

' Europa. 2 Daphne.

' Artemisia, widow of King Mausolus, tiic renowned model of
wifely constancy in grief.
* I Iclcn of Troy.


So, if you will believe me, dear,
Whilst Spring yet flowers and life's year
Is in its rathest green for you,
Cull, cull the roses of your youth ;
For eld your beauties, without ruth.
Away, as from the rose, will do.


Shall any poet dare deny
Thee praise in verse, dear lark? Not I.
For me, thy warble I will well
O'er all the birds to celebrate
That prisoned are in cages strait
And all that in the greenwood dwell.

How goodly thee it is to hear,
Whenas the fields the ploughers ear,
When the earth smells of coming Spring
And blither is for thy sweet air
Than angered for the wound the share
Delves in its bosom, furrowing!

As soon as by the morning-dew,
At break of day, thou'rt sprent anew.
With babblings of a thousand kinds
The air thou fillest, wagg'st on high
Thy wings and hanging in the sky.
Thy loves thou tellest to the winds.

Then, dropping down from heaven's height.
In some green furrow thou dost light.
Whether to lay thine eggs, God wot,
Or sit and hatch or seek for food.
For bringing to thy fledgeling brood.
Worms, emmets, maggots or what not.


And I, upon the sward recline,
With one ear, to that tune of thine
I hearken, and with t'other one,
I list the youngling shepherd-maid,
Beneath some fern's concealing shade.
Who trills her ditty in the sun.

And "Happy art thou over men,
"Thou lovesome skylark," say I then,
"That fear of nothing hast nor care
"Nor aye to others' good wast fain
"Nor ever heartache for disdain
"Hast suffered of a cruel fair.

"Indeed, if any care thee fret,
"It is to sleep, when sun hath set,
"And with thy songs, the morning-mirk
"When Eos' hands begin to break,
"The hinds and shepherds to awake
"And cheer them to their daily work.

"But I, in sorrow still I bide,
"For a fair cruel lady's pride,
"My faith with falsehood who repays
"And who, to lengthen evermo'
"The sorry fabric of my woe,
"New labours still upon me lays."


Or e'er the pieasant season pass,
Dear, let us go upon the grass,
Nor let time idly slip away;
For lapsing life is still in flight
And Time, that mells our locks with white,
Goes fleeting, even as the May.


So, whilst our age and heav'n above
To love invite us, let us love.
Come, let us reap our ripe desires
And Love from vein to vein let fare;
For death incontinent will bear
Our pleasures off, like passing fires.


God keep you. messengers of Spring,
You, faithful swallows of swift wing,
Doves, cuckoos, lapwings, nightingales,
And all you other warblers wild,
That, with an hundred carols mild
Enliven all the leafing dales!

God keep you, daisies, roses fair.
And you, bright blossoms, whom to bear
And by your wonted names to call.
Must Ajax * and Narcissus bleed.
Balm-gentle, thyme and aniseed,
Fair welcome to you, one and all !

God keep you, many-coloured crew
Of butterflies, the honey-dew
That gather from the grasses sweet,
And you, bright swarm of bees new-bred,
That kiss the blossoms gold and red,
As o'er the meadows still you fleet!

> Ajax Telamonius, from whose blood (v. Ovid's Metamorphoses,
XIII, 397 etc.) the hyacinth is said to have sprung.


An hundred times and more I greet
Your happy advent, fair and sweet.
Ah, how I love this time of year.
This babble sweet of mead and rill,
Instead of wind and storm, that still
At home late held me prisoner!


Hail, bright blossoming hawthorn-tree,

This fair lea
Filling thus with leaves a-throng !
Foot and crownal, stem and bough,

Clad art thou
With a wild vine's tendrils long.

Lo ! two camps of emmets red

Have their stead
Taken up thy roots below:
In the fissures of thy stem,

Over them,
Bees are bedded evenso.

The new songster nightingale,

Of Love's ail
Him to solace and allay,
Suing to his mistress dear,

Year by year,
In thy branches makes his stay.

In thy top he builds his nest.

All to-pressed.
Made with down and mosses fine,
Where his younglings pleasant prey

Shall one day
Be unto these hands of mine.


Live, then, pleasant plant of May,

Live for aye !
Axe nor levin, hail nor snow,
Wind nor rigour of the rime,

Nay, nor Time,
With its ravin, lay thee low!


Caverns and you, cascades,
From yonder steep arcades
That downward, valeward, fleet.
With gliding feet;

And forests you and hills,
Runnels and wandering rills.
That through these meadows stray,
Hark what I say !

Whenever death to me
Heaven and my hour decree,
Bidding me take my flight
From kindly light,

I do forbid them hew
Out marble, so to view
My tomb may statelier show
And fairer. No;

No, I will have a tree,
For marble, shadow me,
A tree that shall be seen
Still full of green.


Yea, let an ivy birth
Have from my mouldering earth
And clip me, as I lie,
With many a ply;

And let the trellised vine
About my tomb entwine,
Shedding, on every side,
Its shadow wide.

So, on my festal day,
Each year, the shepherds gay
Shall to this grave of mine
Come with their kine;

And having offered there
Their due of praise and prayer,
To th' eyot ' on this wise
Shall they devise;

"How art thou high-renowned,
Being his burial-ground, ♦■

Of whom the universe
Chanteth the verse!

Who in his lifetime ne'er
Consumed was with the care
Of honours nor chagrin
Worship to win,

Who ne'er professed t'impart
The necromantic art
Nor eke the philtres sold
Of usance old;

' He expresses a wish elsewhere to be buried on one of the
cyots of the Loire.



But to our lands, in fine,
He showed the Sisters Nine,
Following his tuneful song,
The meads along:

For from his lyre he drew
Such sweet accords and true,
Us and our fields elect

With songs he decked.

Be heaven's manna shed
For ever on his head
And those sweet dews that still
May-nights distil!

Green grasses wall him round
And waters' murmuring sound,
These ever fresh and sweet.
Those live and fleet!

Whilst we, still holding dear
His glory, every year,
To him, as Pan unto.
Will honour do."

Thus shall the pastoral band
Discourse, with lavish hand.
Lambs' blood and milk, withal,
Outpouring all

Upon my grave, who, then.
Beyond the abodes of men.
Shall be where spirits blest
Forever rest.


There neither hail nor snow
The happy regions know,
Nor ever on them broke
The thunderstroke;

But still on fields and woods
Immortal verdure broods
And constant ever there
Is Springtide fair.

The care, that harries kings,
These happy never stings.
For empire's sake, to work
Their neighbours' irk.

They dwell in brotherhood
And that which they ensued.
Whilst life on earth they led.
Still follow, dead.

Alcseus' angry lyre
Shall greet me in that choir
And Sappho's, that o'er all
Doth sweetliest fall.

How those, whose ears partake
The music that they make.
Must joy with glad amaze
To hear their lays!

Since Sisyphus his toil
Their sweetness doth assoil
And Tantalus forgets
His torment's frets.


The dulcet Lyre's sole air
Doth purge the heart of care
And healeth of despite

The heark'ner's spright.


When twenty, thirty months, since last
Vendome I visited, have past,
My fancy to my native hills
Goes wandering \vith remorseful pain
And to their rocks I thus complain.
Their woods, their caverns and their rills;

"Rocks, though three thousand years, God wot,
Of age you be, you alter not
In form or fashion to behold:
But I, my youth doth ever flee
And age, that follows after me,
Transformeth me from young to old.

Woods, though you yearly, for the shocks
Of Winter, shed your leafy locks.
The year, that cometh after, still
Renews the honours of your head;
But mine, its tresses once forshed.
May ne'er regain them, will or nill.

Caves, when I know you first, my knees
Were supple; ay, and limber these
My members, and ray hand was stout;
But stiffer now my body all,
Yea, and my limbs are than the wall
That rings you coldly round about.


Ye rills, you ripple without end
And back and forth you bring and send
Your waters from unwearying urns:
But I, without a long-made stay,
That place I fare to night and day,
Whence never any man returns.

Yet would I not, for all chagrin
Of age, be wood and rock, a skin
To have more tough and by this sign
The assault of winged Time defy :
For, being thus, not loved had I
Thee that hast aged me. Lady mine."


(to the seigneur DE VILLEROV.)

The coming Winter's storms already I forebode.
Now six and fifty years my head have oversnowed.
Time is it, Villeroy, both loves to leave and lays,
To bid the best adieu, the fairest of my days.
Yet have I lived so well that cark nor anydele
Regret for Life's delights, at parting, do I feel. \

I've tasted of them all and used them so as wit
And sense for friends, not foes, did them to me permit,
Playing my part conform upon the worldly stage.
In garb and fashion apt unto my time and age.
I've seen the morning rise, I've seen the evening set.
All manner weather in, hail, thunder, dry and wet;
Kings, peoples, come and go I've seen and years a score
France well nigh at her last I've seen, for dint of war.
Strife, battle, have I seen, by truce and peace ensued,
Treaties accorded now, now broken, now renewed.


Unmade and made again : I've seen that, 'neath the sky,
All nothing is but chance and hangeth Fortune by.
The human race their steps by Prudence guide in vain;
Fate ineluctable her hands * doth still enchain,
Holding her prisoner strait; and all that men propose,
Sage-fashion, Fortune still doth otherwise dispose.

Sated, I leave the world, even as a wedding guest,
Aweary of the feast, betaketh him to rest
Or some king's banquet-hall departeth with good grace
Nor recks if after him another take his place.
I've run my torch, unmoved, content, if Fate decree,
To render it to him who follows after me. ^
'Tis Nature's law: thereat to rail is nothing worth;
Each mortal to this lot still bounden is by birth.


My pleasant youth is passed away;
Spent is the strength in me to-day;
Black are my teeth and white my head;
My nerves are slack and in my veins,
So cold my body is, remains.
In lieu of blood, but water red.

Adieu, my lyre and lasses fair.
That were my winsome loves whilere !
Adieu ! I feel mine end draw nigh.
No pastime of that youth of mine.
Save only bed and fire and wine.
To comfort me in age, have I.

' i. e. those of Prudence.

2 Life likened to a race, in which the competitors carry torches.


All with infirmities and weight
Of years astonied is my pate :
Cares from all quarters bite on me;
And still, where'er I go or stand,
I fearful look on every hand,
Lest Death upon my track I see,

Death, anytide which may, God wot,
Bear me where harbours I know not
WTiat manner Pluto, who an inn
For all keeps open, high and low.
Whereas one enters eath enow,
Bnt whence none ever out might win.





How happy, friend, is he who all his days is fain
To live amongst his like and who, without pretence,
Ambition, envy, fear, to hold him in suspense.
His humble household doth in (juiet overreign!
The miserable care of unavailing gain
Usurpeth not his free and undesireful sense;
And his supreme desire, desire without offence,
O'erpasseth not his own inherited domain.
Of other folk's affairs he recketh not nor pelf;
The chiefest of his hope dependeth on himself;
His proper court and king, patron and lord is he.
The man consumeth not his good on foreign shores
Nor yet adventureth his life in others' wars;
And richer than he is he would not wish to be.

2. and 3. THE RUINS of ROME.

Newcomer, thou that Rome in Rome dost seek
And nothing dost of Rome in Rome discern.
These ruined walls, yon arch, yon broken urn
And tombs it is whereof as Rome men speak.
What pride, what ruin, see, what wealth, what wreak !
Behold her, her who 'neath her bondage stern
The world subdued, herself subdued in turn,
A prey to Time, that whelmeth strong and weak!


Rome is of Rome alone the monument,
Rome only Rome to vanquish competent.
The Tiber sole, that fleeteth to the sea,
Abides of Rome. — O world's unstableness !
That which stands fast of Time destroyed must be
And that which fleets withstandeth Time's impress.

Inhuman stars and you, Gods pitiless,
Despiteous heav'ns and Nature stepmother,
Whether by order or at hazard err
This course mundane of constant changefulness.
Why have your hands erst wroughten with such stress
To shape this world, that dureth year by year?
Or why was not of stuff as hard to stir
The lordly fount of old Rome's palaces?
I utter not the oft-repeated saw,
That all beneath the moon by Nature's law
Is doomed to death and subject to decay,
But this to say (and let it not displease
Whoso the case on other fashion sees)
That this Great Whole will perish, too, some day.


For those who are in love, let them their loves go sing
And those who honour Love His name with praises greet;
Let those who're near the prince proclaim his foes' defeat
And those who're courtiers boast the favours of their king.
Those who affect the arts shall praise to science bring;
The virtuous to men their virtues shall repeat;
Those who love wine of wine and drunkenness shall treat
And those shall fables write who've leisure for the thing.
Those who in speaking ill take pleasure shall missay
And kindlier folk with jests the time shall pass away;


The valorous upon their valorousness glose;

Those who vainglorious are themselves for theme shall take

And flatterers no less of devils angels make :

But I, who woeful am, I'll plain me of my woes.


At last, after long years of wandering on the strand,
Where we the sorry sort of courtiers see complain,
The goal all seek it hath been given thee to attain.
From poortith's tristful thrall delivered and unbanned.
We others, left behind on shore, meanwhile, from land
Unto the boatman deaf our hands stretch out in vain,
Who chases us afar; for nought but a quatrain.
The ferryage to pay, alack! we have in hand.
So, where, among the shades, the dwellings of the blest.
The lovers of old time enjoy th 'eternal rest,
Thou with thy lady walk'st, like them, th'Elysian shore.
Oblivion's long-drawn draught thou drink'st of travails past,
Heedless of those whom thou hast in life's chains left fast,
Yet bawling on the quays and tugging at the oar.


How blest, Baif, art thou, yea, blest and more than blest
In that thou followest not, deceived, that Goddess blind.
Whose restless wheel us men now up, now down, doth wind,
But that blind lad who fills with love the lover's breast!
Thou undergoes! not a master's stern behest
And his harsh frown, but art the dulcet thrall resigned
Of a fair mistress still to suffer, gent and kind,
By whom thy languishment is lovesomely opprest.
I, in a foreign land, meantime, unhappy wight.
Grown miserably old, far from my prince's sight.
Avoiding poverty, indeed, but not, alack!
Avoiding travail, toils, regrets, annoy and pain.
Repent me, when too late, of hoi)es still hoped in vain
And care importunate, that follows in my track.



Happy who, having made of travel fair an end,
Ulysses like or him who gat the Golden Fleece,
Hath turned him back, fulfilled of usance * and increase
Of wit, his latter days among his kin to spend!
When shall I see the smoke rise from the gable-end
Of my poor hamlet? When, oh when shall I in peace
My lowly dwelling view, whose narrow paddock- piece
A province, — nay, for me, an empire doth transcend?
More than th'audacious fronts of Roman palaces
The homestead, of my sires erected, doth me please.
Better than marble hard the smooth slate ^ liketh me;
Than Latin Tiber more I love yon Loire of mine,
My little Lyre ^ more than the Mount Palatine
And Anjou's kindly clime than the air of the sea. *


To you, spirits of air.
That hither, thither fare.
With pinions still unstayed,
And in your whispering flight.
With breathings soft and light.
Flutter the leafy shade,

1 Usage^ i. e., experience.

2 As used in his native Anjou.

' Lyre^ (Lire,) the poet's native village.

* A writer in the Morning Post of Nov. 8, 1906, in the course
of a review of Mr. Wyndham's "Ronsard and the Pleiad", com-
mits himself to the amazing statement that the original {^Heureiix
qui comnie Ulysse etc^) of the above, a respectable, but in no
way remarkable, example of Du Bellay's verse, "is perhaps the
greatest sonnet written and among the greatest of all the written
things of the world."


These violets of Spring,
These HHes, pinks, I bring
And vermeil roses, eke,
These roses nesh and new.
Yet wet with morning dew,
Your favour to bespeak;

So you, to wit, this plain.
This homestead, may be fain
To fan with breath of balm,
Whilst in the noontide heat
I weary me, my wheat
To winnow, grain from halm.


No man, till he die,
Doth happy aby:
The shifts of blind chance
Anon in earth's slough
Abase him and now
To heav'n him advance.

The cold sombre night
With darkness doth dight
The earth and the skies;
And yet from heav'n's seat
It sleep honey-sweet
Lets fall for the eyes.

The day, breaking blue,
To labour light due
Affordeth; and morn,
With colour galore,
The world, sea and shore.
Doth hang and adorn.


When Winter the stern
The waters doth turn
To mirror-Hke stone,
Unchaining the dole
Of the winds of the Pole,
For anguish that moan.

The earth, with its glad
Green robe that was clad.
Grows tristful and bare;
The Vulturnine blast,
With breath fierce and fast,
Strips woods everywhere.

Then Springtime the gay
To earth doth essay
Its green to restore,
Which may not, alack!
Endure; for soon back
Comes Winter the frore.

So, even as Night
Day follows and light
Dark follows anew.
The seasons etern
Each other, in turn.
By like law ensue.

The season of youth,
Light, fickle, in sooth,
Is like to the Prime;
But Summer anon
And Autumn draw on
And Winter's sad time.


How speedy to pass
Man's life is, alas.
Of woman that's born !
Without seeing day,
From this world away
Too often he's torn.


(to bertrand bergier.)

The double-fronted sire is here,
Janus the Good, in whose good time
The round of the revolving year
Renews the season of the Prime.
Thus, then, to new and fair
Let's change each sad old thought
And put the eating care
Of senseless chance to nought.

Up, then, from sloth! Why tarry thus?
Or ever graybeards grown are we.
Shake off the care that fretteth us,
O'ercurious of the time to be.

Anent to-morrow's hap,

I rede thee, trouble not:

The Gods have in their lap

Thy fortune and my lot.

The coming frosts wilt tarry for
Of Winter, at the door await
That is, its heaping snow to pour
Upon thy chin and on thy pate.
Until thy sinews slack
Grow weak and stiff and old
And all thy limbs and back
A-tremble are with cold?


Enough, enough of fight, my son,
To the stout Greek his mother said:
Why not, then, merry make anon
With this and th'other buxom maid?
Let wine and love unite
To cheer man's sorry soul.
The winged years, in their flight,
Seek Death, which is the goal.

In this dead season of the year,
When Winter in the land is lord.
Three joys and four, thy soul to cheer,
To thee the friendly hours afford.
Good wine, in cellar penned,
Bright fire and care-free night,
A dear, familiar friend
And mistress sweet of sight.

Thy cares who ofttimes with her lute
Shall lull to sleep and with her song.
And with her pretty prate, to boot,
Thy nights anon shall make less long,
As frolicsome abed
As are the goats that go
And browse, with bended head,
Beside the river's flow.


(to jean dorat.)

Already see, June's lightnings chase
The little-during Spring away !
Ripe Autumn treads in Summer's trace
And Winter frore doth Autumn slay.


Natheless, the moons that flit
Heaven's damage every whit
Repair; but men, when Ave
Go down into the deep,
Whereas our forbears sleep,
But dust and ashes be.

Why, then, ensue for ever thus
The care that fretteth heart and brain?
Our life's short term forbiddeth us
Long hope of aught to entertain.

That which of nights and days

Our fate to us purveys,

For profit reckon we.

What knowst thou if the skies

Shall grant unto thine eyes

The morrow's light to see?

Nay, bid thy lyre give birth to rhyme.
Whose breath shall echo so in fame
That thy Vienne, unto all time,
Shall boast her Dorat's deathless name.

The year's relentless might.

In never-resting flight.

Bears days and months away,

But not the learned writs,

The voices of our wits,

That live and last for aye.


(to the LOIRE.)

Let who willeth praise and chant
All the Indian realms can vaunt.

5 2 10 A CHIM D U BELLA V.

All that the Arabian coast,
Fabled Sicily, can boast !
As for me, what while my lyre
Songs to match with my desire,
At my bidding, forth will bring,
My Anjou I fain will sing.

O thou river of my birth,
When the last long sleep on earth
Overcasteth for all time
Him who sendeth thee this rhyme.
When by friendly arms my corse,
By some gushing rillet's source,
Not far distant from thy breast,
Laid is for th'eternal rest,
On my ashes cold and dead
Let at least some tears be shedj
On thy banks the fame of me
Sounded of thy plashings be ;
Nor do thou forget her name.
Who all beauty puts to shame,
Nor the ditties, which for her
I, to boot, have chanted here.


Some men through divers dangers woo
The honours of the conquering sword
And some by sea and flood ensue
Labour, to swell their golden hoard;
This of the palace studieth the report

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