John Payne.

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

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Vouchsafed hath been of good I've foundof gain and grace.


A love, that lapseth in thy flood, forgetfulness,
And passeth not beyond the unremembering shore,
May not be titled Love; nay, rather, it is more
A semblant false, that Love to be doth but profess.
The doves, which, where the house is white, themselves

To sojourn, still, when past its whiteness is and hoar
The dwelling, build their nests above another door:


But I, I set no store by such inconstantness.

I like the ivy am, that clippeth constantly,

Admitting nought of change, its well-beloved tree

And still, as 'twere alive, in death doth it embrace.

Nay, seest thou not yon trunk, all withered up and dead.

Yet by the ivy's arms that is encompassed?

My love o'er very death hath conquered a like place.


Th'inhabitants of Crete and denizens of Thrace
With a black stone were wont to mark a luckless day
And those that brought them luck, before they passed away,
They with that colour marked which blackness doth efface.
If with a sable stone, in every divers place,
I'd marked the various ills that compassed have my way.
Since that to love o'erwell the heav'ns did me foresay.
Alack ! the pebbles white would hold but little space.
Now fortunate I've been and now unfortunate,
According as the shifts have willed of fickle Fate
And as our life ordained is of the heavenly host :
But, over all the days, which happiness whilere
Have brought me, this to-day of all the bell shall bear,
If greatest be that bliss which one desireth most.




How cometh it, Peletier, pray,
That poets, in their proper day,
AccompHshed howsoe'er they be,
Themselves ennobled never see.
Nay, rarely find their verses read,
Fair though they be, till they are dead,
And men prefer, in every tongue.
The older writers to the young,
Albe the younger writers' writ
More polish hath and finer wit
And that the elder stream of song
More troubled waters rolls along?
Peletier, is't that jealousy
Doth human life accompany
And straight its rage extinguisheth
When life hath found its end in death?
Abandon we not with regret
That which since youth we've loved nor yet
To quick oblivion can consign
And put away our first incline?
His age at Homer scoffed; long dead
Old Daddy Ennius folk read.
When Rome had Virgil, live, sublime.
Ne'er hath one seen the present time

^ 8

114 J. A. BE BAIF.

As that which follows after do
And worship and advantage due
To him, as much, while he did live,
Who as the dead deserved it, give.
But, little book, * be't as it may,
Haste not to live for me, I pray:
I'm in no haste to have a name.
Since such a price one pays for fame.


Mother of Love, Venus the fair.
Why hast thou underneath thy care
May's lusty month not taken, say?
If April took thy tender heart.
At least thy son, for his own part.
Should take the lovesome time of May.

May, that not only dost outdo
April in grace and scent and hue.
But of thyself alone art worth,
For pleasantness and lovesome cheer,
All other seasons of the year,
That waste with heat and cold the earth;

May, sweetest month of the year's round,
Show thy fair head, with chaplets bound,
A fragrant Spring of blossoms gay.
Along the meads thy blithesome rout.
Laughter and Sport and Youth, lead out
And drive chagrin and care away.

' This poem was written as the prelude to a book of vei'se.

J. A. DE BAIF. 115

Though April Venus vaunt to dame,
Who doth avouch it with her name,
Of thee it is as much outdone
As the shut flowerbud of the rose
Less glorious is than that which shows
Its full-blown blossom in the sun,

As much as lesser hope the frail
Is than enjoyment of avail
Betwixt a lover and his lass.
As much as doth my lady fair,
In every grace, beyond compare,
The brightest beauties overpass.



So, then, to town thou back dost fare,
Estienne, my friend, and dost forswear
The lovesome sojourn of the fields:
So the repose our country yields,
'Twould seem, no longer pleasures thee
And Paris noises suit thy gree.
Well, as thou meritest, at will.
Of the town's pleasures take thy fill.
So may the cooper, at his tun
Hamm'ring, thine ears forever stun;
Still let the mason come to hew
His stone and wake thee, ere 'tis due,
At mom, and some dull bell at eve
With clashing peals thy hearing deave.
The waggoner the livelong day
Shall never, bawling, give thee stay,
Importunate, thy window-sill

ii6 J. A. DE BAIF.

Before, and most when thou wouldst still

And quiet be, without annoy,

The Muses' favours to enjoy.

Yea, when about the streets thou go'st,

Mayst thou be hampered with a host

Of men manure for sale that cry;

And may the suitor, hurrying by.

Thee on thy belly deal a buff

To make thee bend in twain enough !

The tumbril and the dustman's car

With dust and filth thy mantle mar

And carrion cross thy thoroughfare,

That to the laystall off they bear;

Or plague-struck wretches pass thee by,

Who on the litter moan and cry!

Brief, all the thousand ills sustain,

That to the city appertain;

With all th'annoys thy stomach sate,

Therein that harbour ear and late:

Whilst, in our pleasant country life,

Dorat and I, from all the strife

And vice, that in the cities are.

By holy horror forced afar,

Our pleasance take, nought pleasing us

So much the rabble frivolous

As to misplease, that scorn the true

And after vanities ensue.

We joy to seek the mountain-side

And thence to view the landscape wide.

Then, to the meadows down again.

We view the mountains from the plain.

Anon, about the pastures green,

With pallid willows all beseen,

We go a-stroUing, where the kine

Crop with slow teeth the grasses fine.

What while the shepherds, for mirth's sake.

With pipes and shalmeys music make.

/. A. DE BAIF. 117

The shepherdesses to the sound

Join hands and dancing in a round,

The newly sprouted grasses beat

And overpass with frolic feet.

To list their laughter, oft we see

The kine their muzzles from the lea

Lift up, upon their mirth to gaze,

Forgetting, for the nonce, to graze.

The hours the better to beguile.

Our usance 'tis to read the while

The verses Ovid sang of yore

Or Horace wrought by Tibur shore;

Ay, or some wanton canzonet,

Of those the Syracusan ' set,

And his the Mantuan's lays, as well,

The labours of the field that tell. *

Anon, snug nested in some brake

Or by the shore of some cool lake,

Upon the willow-shadowed brink.

Some well-wrought verse we overthink,

That shall the lapse of Time defy,

The days, the months, the years that fly.

So of the Sisters Nine one maid

At least vouchsafe us of her aid.

If thou repent thee, my Estienne,

Come to the country back again

And leave the city, with its pelf

And cares and travails, to itself.


Winter's chill and slothful cheer
Now at last hath had its time;
See, the merry season's here
Of the fair and frolic Prime.

' Theocritus. 2 The Georgics of Virgil.

ii8 /. A. DE BAIF.

Grass-enamelled is the earth;
Jewelled is the grass with flowers
And the little leaves' new birth
Shadows all the forest bowers.

Now the maids at early morn,
Ere the tyrant sun wax hot,
Haste to cull the rose new-born,
From the fragrant garden-plot,

So the blooms more sweet may show,
Whether grace they serve to lend
To the damsels' breasts or go
Given to some favoured friend.

Who the flower, love-token-wise.
Having from his love's hand, it
Kisseth oft and from his eyes
Will not let it any whit.

Hearken to the piping shrill
Of the shepherd in the vale.
Vying with the dulcet trill
Of the woodland nightingale.

See the waters pure and sheen
Ripple in the running brooks,
Mirroring the flickering green
Of the neighbouring wooded nooks.

Calm and cloudless is the sky
And the sea serene and kind;
Ships toward the Indies hiei
Driven of the favouring wind.

/. A. BE BAJF. 119

All the murmuring air is full
Of the traffic of the bees,
Hovering o'er the flowers, to cull
Honey from the blossomed leas.

Now of every kind of bird
Sounds the song on every side :
In the fields the larks are heard
And the cygnets on the tide.

Round the eaves the swallows croon:
In the woods the nightingales
Unto many a glad new tune
Tell their dulcet amorous tales.

So Love's easance and its dole,
At my pleasure, will I sing,
As its ardours to my soul
Whether joy or sorrow bring.

And if singing me rejoice,
Have I not the right of rhyme,
Now that all things with one voice
Carol in the pleasant Prime?



Nor length of time whate'er nor distance from thy sight,
Nor lovesomeness nor grace of other fair than thou,
Can cause me thee forget: my love shall still as now
Abide, what while in hold my body have my spright.
And since thou hast to me like constancy behight.
The sole debate 'twixt us henceforward shall be how

I20 /. A. BE BA'JF.

We each with each may vie, in furth'rance of our vow,
Which of us twain shall love the other with more might.
Behoveth us, by bond of troth-plight 'twixt us two,
That loyal I to thee and thou to me be true.
That our two hearts by one sole shaft transpierced be.
I shall not vary, dear: but, so from flaw or blot
Our friendship perfect be, I change thee vary not;
For I, I cannot love except who loveth me.


In this season fair and fain
Of the new renascent Spring,
When all things are born again,
Full of life and loveliking.
Neither in the meadows pied
Nor the flowered hedgerows' side
Nor in gardens fair and fine.
Flower or blossom do I see,
That so lovesome is to me
As the rose of scent divine.

But the white rose likes me not,
Pale with pallor of the dead.
No, nor that of crimson hot,
Of a sanguine-coloured red,
This one's pallor sick and spent
And the other's sickly scent
Pleasing neither eye nor nose.
She all others doth outdo
That herself from yonder two
Doth a vermeil tint compose.

'Tis the rose incarnate, me
Most that pleasureth, forby.

/. A. BE BAJF. 121

Nothwithstanding such it be,
Yet to choose it well will I,
For this, taken in one hour,
That, in other, as in our
Season's choice is, better were.
All is born and dies, in fine,
All things wax and all decline.
Each in season, foul and fair.

I, I will not force the rose,
That the brightness of its bloom
Doth on hidden wise enclose
In the bud's unopened room.
Let th'impatient gather it.
Ere the blossom full and fit
Open show its vermeil sheen:
My desire transports me not.
So that I should ravish what
Smells of nothing but the green.




The stranger flame and hot,
That Love in me hath lit,
New ardour takes from what
Should rather deaden it.

My over-longsome pain,
My hope too long in vain,
My reason causes arms
Against my poison seek;
But my charmed fire becharms
My reason's effort weak.

My wits for succour call
Unceasingly on all
That's like to render less
My tyrannous unease;
But apprehension's stress
Still grows by contraries.

Such as it is, I see
The love that masters me;
So its effects disguise
I cannot from my mind ;
But this blind lord mine eyes
To all his acts doth blind.


Discoursing of Love's birth,
His puissance and his worth,
Albe I hold him not
Or God or Heaven's son.
Such power o'er me, God wot.
No God hath, no, not one.

I know whereof he's bred
And that whereby he's fed:
He's gendered of our wit
And nourished by our heart;
So to its tyrant it
Alone doth force impart.

My true discoursements him
On other fashion limn
Than rhymes or paintings, sure,
Or fables false and sweet;
But I of him endure
That which they counterfeit.

No flighty child is he;
For in the heart of me
He doth for ever dwell.
With pinions or with flight
His sloth hath nought to mell
Nor childhood with his sleight.

If he were God, the band
Of Gods, that us command,
So long would his unrights
Not suffer sway and mar
The noblest, sagest sprights,
That their true children are.


Or yet, if one might deem
Him God of Gods supreme, x

Who did from chaos make
This world of joys and woes,
My discord he would break
And change it to repose.

Ne'er might injustice, spleen,
Pleasure the Gods nor e'en
This ardency to do
The innocent unright:
They can, I feel, unto
Him ' only yield delight.

The stranger flame and hot,
That Love in me hath lit,
New ardour takes from what
Should rather deaden it.

1 i. e. Love.




Come, slumber let us leave and bed

This Mayday mom;
The Dawn for us with brows of red

Already's born.
Now that the heavens most are gay,
In this delightsome month of May,

Let's love, sweetheart;
Let's take our fill of jubilee;
For pleasure only here hath he

Who takes his part.

Come, sweetest, walk and take thine ease

In this green brake
And hear the songbirds in the trees

Their music make.
Nay, hearken how, above all things.
The nightingale most sweetly sings

Nor wearies aye.
All dole forget we, all annoy,
And life, as he' doth, let's enjoy:

Time slips away.

i. e. the nightingale.


This churl, to lovers contrary,

E'en wings doth wear
And our best years, a-flying, he

Afar doth bear:
When thou shalt wrinkled be one day,
"I," melancholy, shalt thou say,

"Was little wise,
"In that I used the beauty not,
"Which Time hath made such haste to blot

"From cheeks and eyes."

Leave this regret, then, and these tears

To elders dull;
Youth's flowerage, in one's youthful years,

Behoveth cull.
Now that the heavens most are gay,
In this delightsome month of May,

Let's love, sweetheart;
Let's take our fill of jubilee;
For pleasure only here hath he

Who takes his part.


I have lost my turtle-doo.
Is't not she I hear hard by?
After her I'd fain ensue.

Thou thy mate regrettest too.
Wellaway! And so do I.
I have lost my turtle-doo.

If thy love, indeed, is true,
So my faith is firm and high;
After her I'd fain ensue.


Thy complaint is ever new;
I too still must weep and sigh;
I have lost my turtle-doo.

Since I bade my fair adieu,
Nought of pleasance I espy ;
After her I'd fain ensue.

Death, to whom so oft I sue,
Take thine own and let me die.
I have lost my turtle-doo;
After her I'd fain ensue.


Since, far away from towns and from the human race,
I've wandered here to this sad, solitary place.
Where, grasshoppers, I hear nought but your songs, that make
The bushes and the grass with their shrill music quake,
And since your life with mine doth much in common share,
Let us, I pray, our woes and our defaults compare.
You have but voice; and I, alike to you therein,
But slow and feeble speech possess, for that chagrin
Doth waste and wither me and on such wise bejade
That I am well nigh nought except a walking shade.
The pilgrim knows for sure that hotter weather's nigh.
When you, among the meads, your voices raise on high;
And 'tis a certain sign that ardent is my flame.
My lady's cruelties when I aloud proclaim.
Right plaintively I've sung a thousand times in vain;
But she respondeth not to her tormented swain;
And 'tis the like with you; your females all and some
Do never answer you, for all of them are dumb.
You live upon the dews, that, bead on pearly bead.
The flowers and grasses store, and I, on tears I feed:


These are the meat and drink I feed on day and night.

Fate hath foreordered you to have a feeble sight.

Would God that never looked had I upon the skies!

Then had I never drunk Love's poison from her eyes.

The folk, that dwell beneath Aurora's bed, the sea,

Inhuman, feed on you; and Love devoureth me.

My flesh and nerves and bones, my sinews and my skin,

He still in pieces rends, that cruel mannikin !

You have no tongue; and me right treacherously mine

Abandons in my need, as oft as I incline

To tell my fair my case and prove if love and truth.

Long, constant and unflecked, will in her sight find ruth.

These boughs' and bushes' shade, though little, you defends

Against the burning rays that Phoebus hither sends.

Poor I, alack! within I burn for wandesire

And eke, for the noon-heat, without I'm all afire.

Nay, will or nill, to town my steps I must retrace.

So, grasshoppers, farewell! Farewell, ye lovesome race

Of great Laomedon ! ' The herald of the sun.

Your bride, ^ with vermeil hands that cleaves the darkness dun,

Weeping her Memnon slain * and cursing arms and war,

With her most dulcet tears bedew you evermore!



The empty plains and wolds, from winter now set free,
By the tempestuous blasts no more are overblown;
The dulcet Zephyrs now, the air more fluid grown,

1 Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king of Troy, was changed into
a grasshopper.

2 Eos, the Dawn.

3 Memnon, son of Eos and Tithonus, was slain by Achilles
during the siege of Troy,


The winter-exiled birds recall from oversea.
The greedy trader now, the perils, erst which he
Hath 'scaped, forgotten all, into the seas unknown
Launcheth, the bridle bold upon his ship's neck thrown,
In stranger lands to seek for riches at his gree.
Mother of the dual Loves, o Cytherean queen,
Since, in this season, thou dost, with thy smiling mien.
The fur}^ of the heav'ns and of the seas abase,
Appease, o Goddess mild, appease the tempest dire
That rageth day and night in this my heart afire,
For having rashly dared to love in too high place.


O fair eye of the night, Jove's daughter silver-mailed.
Sweet sister of the Sun and mother of the year,
Queen of the hills and woods and Ocean's changing sphere,
Goddess, whose triple might in every place is hailed,
Since thou the lowest steeps of nether heaven hast scaled.
Whence to the piteous sighs of lovers thou giv'st ear.
Tell me, o horned moon, didst ever see or hear
Of any soul so sore of Love as mine assailed?
If, then, my plaint avail to move thee, in thy hand
It is to succour me, who hast at thy command
The rainbow-plumaged host of dreams, that solace care.
Choose out the aptest one to mimic, in the deep
Of night, a lover's woes and send it, in her sleep.
To represent my case unto my cruel fair.


If, with his proper hands, one strangled have his sire.
Have cut his mother's throat and drowned his sister sweet,
Have to his brother's self his nephews giv'n to eat
And like the Titan brood, have set the stars on fire;
Whoso his greatest friend hath, in his need most dire,
For money sold or giv'n for favour to defeat;
Whoso his ancient host, imploring at his feet,


Hath stricken to the heart, unpitying in his ire,
Hath broken every law, both human and divine,
Betrayed his country, king, rehgion, all, in fine.
And lit the flames of war within the Commonweal;
Whoever he may be, if he himself would get
Remission of his sins by due atonement, let
Him dine at Arthenay and sup at Angervile. '


If the stern hand of unrelenting Fate,
Which ruleth all, hath chosen me to abase,
Wilt thou, my heart, then, leave me in misgrace?
To have goods is a common enough trait.
The Indian Ocean let him navigate.
Who in his store would treasure heap apace;
I care not, I, to leave my native place.
And Heaven contenteth me with my estate.
Enough rich he, who, in his poverty.
Sleeps without fear and wakes without repine,
Paying his court unto the Sisters Nine:
But I, provided but thou be with me.
Shall happier dwell than he of Scotland's kings.
To fly made by his subjects without wings. *


Thou, lonely turtledove, and thou, o nightingale.
King of the woods, and you, finch, linnet, siskin, wren,
Ye lovesome minstrels all of field and dell and glen,
Who of the ill complain, which I too must bewail,

• Arthenay and Angervile (Angerville), two small towns between
Orleans and Etampes.

* In allusion probably to the murder of King James I in 1437,
or perhaps to the letting down of his infant son, James II, from
a window of Edinburgh Castle in the following year.


Come, give your common aid to heal a common ail.
The happier I shall be, the happier you, too, then.
So may the cruel wiles and snares of traitorous men.
Their nets, their traps, no more to work you harm avail.
I pray you, lovelings mine, and conjure one and all,
That if upon a bird among you you befall,
Ycleped Love, ('tis he to whom we owe our smarts,)
With talon and \vith bill you fall on him pellmell.
Drub him to utterance and pluck his wings as well,
So never more he stoop for quarry at our hearts.


Sweetheart, thy beauty's on the wane:
The fruit of lusty youth, we twain
Together, let us cull, my fair:
Or e'er th'occasion pass us by.
Our wishes let us satisfy;
For beauty is no keeping-pear.

Old age, the enemy of ease.
Soon makes us wither, as the breeze,
That sheds abroad the full-blown rose.
Love but with loving is repaid:
Love, then, as thou art loved, sweet maid,
Nor fear discovery to foes.

If thou of scandal frighted art.
None better knows than I, sweetheart,
To hide an amorous emprise;
A huntsman dumb am I and true;
And when I have what I ensue,
I never halloo o'er the prize.



Shepherd, dost thou love me, thou?

Ay, I love thee, God knows how.

As what, elf?


As thyself,




This thine over-subtle say
Doth on no wise me appay.
Shepherd, without mockery, nay.
Dost thou love me? Tell me, pray.
As what, elf?


As thyself,




Better hadst thou on this wise
Said, — "I love thee as mine eyes."



Too much hate to them I bear,
For that they door-openers were
To the sorrows I have known,
Since thou first to me wast shown.

As what, elf?


As thyself.




Shepherd, speak more frankly. Nay,
Tell me roundly, plainly, pray;
Dost thou love me as thy life?


Nay; for it to care and strife
Many a thousand fold is thrall;
So I love it not at all.
Being, for a lover's dole,
But a body without soul.

As what, elf?


As thyself.





Leave me now this "As thyself."
Say, "I love thee as myself."

Nay, myself I cherish not.


An thou love me, say as what,
As what, elf?


As thyself.




Now this dreary time of rain
Saddens even the most sane,
What availeth it to look
Ever, dreaming, on a book?

Come and take it from my hand.
In what stead can it me stand,
This wherein I study still.
Save belike for faUing ill?

What shall Plato me avail
For th'avoiding Pluto's pale,
Whither followed Socrates,
Galian, Hippocrates?


Power from Latin nor from Greek
Over destiny's to seek;
Text availeth nought nor Glose,
Code nor Digest, these nor those.

E'en the darlings of the Gods
Needs must answer, when Fate nods;
Nought avails their Muse Divine,
Nought to soften Proserpine.

Nay, th'infernal ferryman,
Strove he not among his clan
Dear my Ronsard late to write,
Who wellnigh must leave the light?

Him already, orphan-wise,
With the water of mine eyes
Wept I, bathing all his tomb,
Built of rhymes, in marble's room.

But the pitying Gods' decree
Spared the better half of me,
From the bark his foot withdrew,
Bearer of the shadow-crew.

Since of such a heavy grief,
Then, my soul hath had relief
And abideth full of joy
As the Greek who conquered Troy,

Heart of happiness I'll take,
Laugh and sing and merry make,
Sounding on the golden wire
Of the Cytherean lyre.


Nay, and more to boot, I'll drink
Till the sun, above the brink
Peering of the Indian bay,
In my goblet cast its ray.


The waters' course in sullen wintertime

With ice was bridled late;
But now, in many places, free from rime,

One seeth them in spate.

Already fiercelier the torrents flow,

For Winter on the wing;
Already, yonder, owns the melting snow

The presage of the Spring.

Come, let us leave the house and wander, dear,

The flowering fields to view:
The bird of Thrace, ^ at this sweet time of year,

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