John Payne.

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

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Online LibraryJohn PayneFlowers of France: the renaissance period, from Ronsard to Saint-Amant, representative poems of the sixteenth century; → online text (page 8 of 9)
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He hath again his sheen:

But this our day.
When once 't hath lost its bloom,
Descendeth to the tomb
Nor thence returneth aye.


Yea, and the shadows blest,
That fill the realms below.
But counterfeit, at best,
Love's sports in empty show:

Among these sprights,
He hath no puissance more;
The taste the dead ignore
Of Venus 's delights.

Nay, lying sad and prone,
Among the myrtles pale,
Their sweet days they bemoan,
Forspent without avail,

Lamenting shrill
That, though they're quit of life.
The wish thereof to strife
And sorrow stirs them still.

In vain and still in vain
To quit their stead they sigh;
In vain they yearn, again
To see the day on high :
The dead ne'ermore,
Once past the river's brink,
Whereof the shadows drink,
Set eyes upon Life's shore.

Then let us kiss and share
Our fill of love and mirth.
There is no kissing, fair.
Beneath the graveyard earth.

Do we not feel
How Time, with hurrying feet,
That thief of pleasance sweet,
Our youth from us doth steal?


Come, then, coquettish maid,
Let's steal a march on Fate,
That doth our day o'ershade,
Oft ere the morn wax late.

On the sward sooth
Come let us take our fill
Of ease, whilst dureth still
The Springtide of our youth.




Here fain am I to sing the beauties of the rose,
That of all flowers in it the fairness doth enclose.
If aught of fair there be within a garden-ring,
It is the rose newblown in the sweet time of Spring.
The fingers of the dawn are rosy; rosy-red
Is lovely Venus' mouth and roses are her bed;
And eke in Paphos isle, her immemorial bower
Of the sweet rose's scent is full, Love's proper flower.
The heads of noble dames with roses are arrayed;
The rose the jewel is of every simplest maid:
The Graces' bosoms still with roses are besprent;
The heav'ns are all fulfilled with their divinest scent.
Bacchus the worship-worth, the deity twice-born.
With blossomed roses doth his well-decked board adorn;
Yea, he without surcease by wine doth roses pour
And wine, to boot, in turn, by roses sheds galore.
The lovelorn maid withal enbalsameth the chest,
Wherein she stores the weed of him she loveth best.
Whenas my last desires to paper I commend.
By testament I will, appointed to that end,
A thousand rose-trees have about my grave-place set,
So I thereof may have an ample coverlet;
And on my funeral stone, for all men to behold.
These verses shall they grave in capitals of gold;
"She, who hereunder sleeps, beneath this marble stone,
Of all flowers all her life best loved the rose newblown


And loved it on such wise that, after Death's cold hand
Her spirit had despatched unto the shadow-land,
Her bier with roses set, about it and above.
She willed to have, as what she over all did love."



Our hue of red and white, our goodliness and grace,
Wane with the waxing years, are lost and pass away;
Strength, in due time, its lord no longer doth obey
And age, that bringeth all, doth stir us from our place.
Virtue alone it is that Time may not efface;
Unto the happy stars its own it doth convey
And still to raise them up ensueth night and day;
No robber may it steal, whatever be his case.
Ensue it, then, my son; since that, with learned writ,
The certainest of goods that man can have is it:
Ne'er doth it us forget, but still on us doth wait.
The stable to the frail and earthly to postpone
And follow on the false, for good assured and known,
The folly of the fool it were to imitate.




Ill we remember that, alas !
Throned in men's hearts unthank doth sit;
Wrongs ever graven were on brass
And benefits in water writ.

This Love approveth to his own,
He who pains blendeth with delights;
Those who his favours most have known
Still only celebrate his sleights.

And if of his effects malign
The fruits are from our sowing bred,
We overpass his gifts benign
And lay our sins upon his head.

He bears a flambeau in his hand,
Our souls to lighten to their aim;
And we, like moths about the brand,
Do run to burn us at its flame.

To us his pinions lendeth he,
Wherewith to wing it to the skies;
But we, with mortal vanity
We lime and clog them, idiot-wise.


So of the pinions which he had
Did Icarus the use pervert;
He for his weal withal was clad
And did employ them to his hurt.

Love, child though figured of our whim,
The sire is of this world-all great;
But our soul, as regarding him,
Is as the viper to her mate.

With amorous impatience, she
Seeketh his couplings and her fill
Of him once taken, thanklessly
Him with her venom straight doth kill.

But he, ■ reviving from his death,
Wardeth from slumber wit and heart;
For still the spirit slumbereth.
That is not wakened by Love's dart.

The fire of Godhead sheer is his;
All things are quickened by his nod;
For perfect unity he is
And perfect unity is God.

The soul, whereon his power doth take,
Is changed to what it loves thereby;
Love, making us love God, doth make
Us Gods ourselves beneath the sky.

The dances of the stars he leads
And Nature fecundates at will;
So, if he be an evil, needs
He is a necessary ill.

' \. e. Love.


The soul he purgeth with his light
And fear by him is put to nought;
He chasteneth the lover's spright
Of every base and sorry thought.

Vice, quelled and daunted in his cause,
Loseth for us its parlous charms;
He makes us virtue love, the laws
Of honour, eloquence and arms.

He fills us with the generous wine
Of wish to win enduring name,
And amorous rendering us, in fine.
To make us loveworthy doth aim.

Impossible from him is flight.
So soft his spells are and so mild;
Whoso hath never felt his might
May well insensible be styled.

Why, therefore, him who swayeth all
With gibing mockery brave and blame ?
He who his conqueror doth miscall
Augmenteth but his proper shame.

The scorn that stirs in us and ire.
After enjoyment consummate.
From this arise that our desire
For better knowledge will not wait.

Behoveth judge and after love:
But we the contrary have wrought;
So Love, that is all else above,
Is not to blame, but our rash thought.


For, after all, in Love, the fault
Of loving what's not fair and well
And loving not what is, how call't
y^ You will, 's alone condemnable.

But this sole point may give to know
If Love our troubles cause or not,
That most of our chagrin and woe
By lack of loving is begot.


Th'inexorable skies
So rigorous to me are.
The sorriest wight that sighs,
Comparing him with me, might boast his lucky star.

Nought do I night and day
But early call and late
On Death, whose long delay
Prolongeth upon me the insolence of Fate,

All-nightly do I steep
My pillow with my tears;
Nor, even when I sleep.
Can slumber's spells belull my sorrows and my fears.

Nay, if I dream a dream,
It greateneth my distress;
For this, which doth but seem,
Doth of my waking woes the sorry truth express;

Truth inconceivable.
Except of his sad soul.
Who hath, on fashion fell,
Learned from his own chagrin to pity other's dole.


All peace, all joy away
Have hastened to depart,
Leaving my soul a prey
To many a thousand cares, that batten on my heart.

All justice, faith and ruth,
Mildness and constancy,
To malice and untruth
Yielding, in human hearts extinguished are for me.

Ingratitude repays
My friendship and my truth,
And calumny essays
My torments and my woes to make unworthy ruth.

At the storm's cruel beck,
To perish they me leave.
And running upon wreck,
Pity from all, but help from no one, I receive.

Brief, there in land or sea
No woe is, old or new,
But wageth war on me
And causeth me assay what pain and care can do.

And what makes harder yet
My present misery,
Remembrance and regret
It is of past delight, that Heav'n hath reft from me.

Oh, happiness gone by.
That ne'er again may be.
Why should I not, ah why.
In losing thee, have lost rememorance of thee?


Alack! of my delights
But memory doth abide,
Sad memory, that blights
And turns the thought thereof to torment every tide !

Inequitable Fate
This relic having made
To me a torment great,
Could I but more have lost, I were the less dismayed.


Alas, if I must love and be not loved in turn,
Deceived by idle hope, what profit I by it?
I'm like the taper, that, upon the table lit.
Still, other folk to serve, itself away doth burn.

Fair eye, soft conqueror thou of mortals high and low,
That favours promisest and torments giv'st and pain
Give that, which, with a smile, thou promisest in vain,
Or promise, at the least, but what thou dost bestow.

Ah, softness pitiless, that, feigning and untrue.
Didst, in an hour unblest, such bliss to me allot,
Since it your promise was that love in me begot,
I'll e'en to love be false, as to your promise you.

Would that, my fevered heat beginning to wax less
And heart endeavouring to rebecome its own.
Without deceit or feint, I had desired and known
My error to correct, as it I can confess!


But with eternal chains myself constrained I feel,
Whose links might I avail to sunder or undo,
It never might betide that, to my vows untrue,
Another's lack of faith should render me less leal.

Nay, all the cruel strokes of amorous repine
So little to affect my fortitude can do
That still in love to be too constant and too true
May of good sooth be said to be a vice of mine.

My hope was that the fire, whose ardent flaming might
Is of my reason seen to triumph still anew,
Should either with its heat in turn enkindle you
Or, falling weak, become extinguished in my spright.

But, whereas common fire itself is, at one stroke,
Of water quenched and doth o'er cold the victory win.
Mine, burning in my tears, freezeth your heart and in
Its contrary doth live, its contrary provoke.

My reason so in vain opposeth this my flame;
My love celestial is and may not death aby;
Or, at the least, it but with me myself may die :
For me, indeed, to live and love you are the same.

The fire that was of old Chimaera's breath of bale
By earth extinguished was and eke by water fed:
Mine is alike to hers; the earth above my head
Alone may put it out, 'f aught t'lereto avail.


Let not your mind be stirred, soul of my soul, to ire,
If more than of behoof I dare in loving you,
O'er-high, indeed, 's the flight; but, I being all a-fire.
If I tow'rd heav'n ascend, God wot, 'tis nothing new.



Like as one seeth flame tend upward to the sky,
Toward your beauties' heav'n I on like wise tend still:
But it by nature doth and by intendment I,
It of necessity and I of my free will.

Nay, knowing this my flame celestial and divine,
Nought, saving to the Gods it's equal, can I love.
A noble daring let this ruin grace of mine;
And if I needs must fall, I'll fall from heaven above.

Away, desires, that crawl and huddle in earth's lap !
Far rather would I be, in noble joys and woes.
An eagle smitten down by a great thunderclap
Than a swan growing old within a garden-close.

No; in so high a flight the storm I do not fear;
Affright of danger holds me not from my emprise ;
That which for bridle serves to spirits without cheer
To mine is but a spur that pricks it tow'rd the skies.

It pleaseth me that Fate should my designs rebuff;
The sweets of victory won are doubled by the stress;
And that a thing's to gain with easance is enough
My mind of the desire thereof to dispossess.


'Tis not for me thou liftst thy head.
Great sun, from out the middle main ;
For thou, thou shin'st not for the dead
And I am dead to all but pain;
Dead unto all the joys of life
And living but for care and strife.


"Wherefore thy cresset's light I flee,
Since voluntary exile here,
As in a tomb, hath buried me,
In this deserted place and drear,
Where many a sorrow and regret
Me, worm-like, day and night long, fret.

Now feel I what a bitter bane
Are pleasures to the memory,
Whereof desire while we retain.
Enjoyment lost of them have we,
And how to have not had of yore
Is better than to have no more.

My pleasures all away are fled,
Done by my whelming woes to nought;
My happy days are past and sped,
As waters by a tempest brought,
And nought have left me, at the last,
But the regret of pleasance past.

Alack! Regret, that dost torment
My soul, in sorrow's bier entombed.
Thy malice leave on me to vent.
Seeing my life is all consumed.
Nor trouble with thy bite of dread
The sorry peace of the poor dead.

Enough, whilst yet I was on life,
I of thy harsh assaults have known ;
Enough, then, of thy rigours rife
To heaven above I've made my moan.
Why, then, with dole for ever new
Me in the tomb dost thou pursue?


Why wilt thou ever thus apply
Unto my wretched thought to bring
The days when this my heart beat high
With glory, joy and triumphing,
That now is filled with griefs and woes
And sighs that hinder all repose?

Seest not that, in these seas of dole,
My constancy that battle down.
The more remembrance stirs my soul,
The more, for languishment, I drown
And being no more, am fretted e'en
With memories of having been?

Since, 'neath the storms of angry Fate,
My every hope must needs succumb.
All my contentments past and late
Are present agonies become
And woeful now it is to me
My happy days to oversee.

O my sole glory and my good,
That now but dust and ashes art,
Sans whom I'm but a trunk of wood,
Down-stricken by the lightning's dart,
From what a high felicity
Thy death precipitated me !

Alas ! Thou living, no annoy
Its head upon my path upreared.
Such fortune following me and joy
That all I hoped and nothing feared.
Now, down to dole and sorrow brought,
All things I fear and hope for nought.


Yet how can heart henceforward fear
The ills with which this world is rife,
That, dead for ever to all cheer,
Hath nothing more to lose in life
And in despair surviving still.
Accoutred is for every ill?

No, no; deliverance in me
From hope and fear thy loss hath bred.
Mine all I've lost in losing thee;
Now nought but life itself I dread:
To live on yet 's the sole mischance,
My sufferings that can enhance.

For, groaning underneath the stress
Of an inexorable woe,
Having survived my happiness.
My all and eke myself e'enso,
Life is a punishment for wrong
To me, for having lived so long.


O thou that weep'st her dead, be not amazed so soon
To see this lovesome day thus ended at its noon:
Thus do the laws prescribe, to Nature which belong;
The fairest weather still is that which is least long.
But virtue's blossoms bloom more than a single Prime
And whoso liveth well hath lived enough of time.



Here, in this narrow room, two great princesses rest,
(Pure spirits now that be, of flesh and blood unclad,)
Whose hearts of goodness' self were evermore possest
And nothing dear in life save only virtue had.

Illustrious fortune both enjoyed beneath the sun.
Though Hymen never shed its lustre on their ways,
The law of holy vows forbidding it to one
And to the other death, in th'April of her days.

One, hoping, after death, for second life, her head
And soul and eyes to God uplifted on such wise
That in this world she lived, as being to it dead,
So she might purchase here the kingdom of the skies.

The other, upon whom mischance long warred erewhen,
Hath by her actions shown how much her heart the care
Of pleasing earthly souls despised and minds of men.
For that to her chaste soul Earth's goods unworthful were

Of that illustrious house, which reigneth on French earth,
'Midst luxury and ease were one and th'other born;
But what to mortal men availeth royal birth
'Gainst Him who reapeth kings and royalties like corn?

Passer devout, that seest how quickly Time's impair
The gifts destroys which men for sovereign good enshrine,
That seest what these are and knowest what they were,
Learn thou from their decease to brace thyself for thine.


Learn from their greatness, which the common law of all
That be availed to show how brief is mortal breath,
That nothing here below against death temporal
Can that which virtue can against eternal death.

Learn from these lines that we, admitting to our spright
The love of greatnesses and wealth, deluded are,
The world and all its pomps nought being, in God's sight,
Even as, in heaven above, this earth is but a star.

Well in their lives their faith in this great certitude
The holy couple showed, who sleep here side by side;
Their greatness folk so saw by humbleness subdued
And their unspotted souls unstained of poisonous pride.

Their humbleness revere and copy, if thou can.
Bethinking thee fore'er, if thou to them wouldst win,
That Heaven's postern-gate is low and strait of span
And that, except one stoop, he may not enter in.




Grasshopper, on the leaf
Thou pipest at thine case;
And I, poor wretch, my grief
Bewail beneath these trees.

Thou feedest upon dew;
Upon these tears I feed,
That all my face bestrew
And witness of my need.

The heats, that owe their name
To summer, harm thee not;
But Passion's fatal flame
In me is ever hot.

Thou flittest at thy will;
But I in prison lie.
Thy ditty's jocund still
And mine is but a sigh.

Thy fever on the breeze,
The dulcet zephyr, dies;
But mine to new unease
Is kindled by my sighs.


Thou vauntest thee too much;
Too much I me abase,
Beneath yon Paphian's chitch,
Who bears me off apace.

On one point, grasshopper,
Alike are thou and I;
Thou diest piping, dear,
And singing still, I die.


O bower of delight,
That echoest still
With the vagabond flight
And the garrulous trill
Of the frolicsome birds.
On wings bright of sheen
That flit through the green,
In nought-fearing herds.

Sweet, sweet is it not,
In the Midsummer sky,
'Neath the canicule hot,
When the dogstar is high.
To have over one
A screen of thick leaves.
Which the ardour relieves
Of the tyrannous sun.

Ne'er, heaven forfend.
May the fires of the sky
Thy hazels offend.
That planted have I !


Nor hail neither wind,
Fierce blowing and fleet,
Nor rain neither heat.
To thee be unkind!

From thee far alway
The fatherless child
Of the light of our days, '
The mole, be exiled.
Nor ever the worm,
The pest of the brake.
Its harbourage make
In thy wood's middle firm !

But, under thy shade,
May the nightingales true
And the brother brigade
Of the song-singing crew
Still flutter, unseen.
And sing the fair face.
The rigour and grace
Of Anna, my queen !


None but myself disconsolate I see ;
Whether in the woods, the river or the lake.
By meadow, moor or marish, for love's sake
I see none miserable save only me.
Love in the meadows butterfly and bee,

' i.e. orphaned of light, as Ijeing blind.


Light-footed deer within the leafy brake,

Fish in the waters, birds in air, all make;

And all but I live happy and care-free.

Even the climbing ivy, at its gree,

The knotted stems of elm and chestnut-tree

With its embracing arms doth straitly ply.

Brief, in the woods, the fields, the lake, the stream,

Where'er I cast mine eyes, I can but deem

That none there is disconsolate but I.


Eyes have I but to see my lovely foe;
But to desire her, no desires have I,
No sighs, except for her alone to sigh,
Nor thoughts, save thinking upon her to go.
Within my brain she is imprinted so
That I nought else can reckon low or high
Nor talk of any others far or nigh
Nor sorrow but for her nor pleasure know.
I have no feet but in her steps t'ensue,
No hands except for stretching her unto,
No heart but of her beauties full to be.
Brief, I have nothing but is hers nor can
Call myself mine, so much I am her man;
And yet so cruel still she is to me !

An thou wouldst have me love thee not, my fair,
Do out thine eyes, more lucent than the day;
The Graces' seat, thy forehead, hide away;
Put off thy smile, put off thy lovesome air;
Thy dainty smiling mouth go banish, where
Kisses all frolic roundabout and play;
Thy port forswear, so full of pleasance gay;
Do off Love's constant harbourage, thy hair.


Away thy rounded ivory bosom do;

Away thy cheek and all its rosy hue;

Thy voice, thy hands put off and parlance sweet.

For whilst so many beauties yet in thee

Abide, despite myself, behoveth me

That, full of love, I slay me at thy feet.

To give you wreaths, unto the margents of the main
To carry sand it were or azure to the skies,
Lilies upon your breast and radiance on your eyes.
Musk on your lips and pearls upon your hands to rain.
Fulfilled are you of flowers ; the honours, that pertain
To you, the virtues high, that all in you do prize,
Your lilies, roses are, your chaplets, on such wise
That cause all men admire the hortyards of Touraine.
These verses, then, instead of flowers, I profler you
To-day, when one and all beneath the vault of blue
The Holy Maid * revere, from whom you have your name.
Chaplets and wreaths, God wot, will wither all in time;
But age can never blight these blossoms of my rhyme.
No more than it can blast the flowerage of your fame.

Love but immortal is in heaven's immortal air.
The passion to maintain, which I profess with pride
For all the charms one sees in you on every side,
Which make you here below the fairest of the fair.
Love only on his back a double wing doth wear,
Unto the heav'n of your divinities to guide
My vows and sighs, when I no longer may abide
Your rigour's doubled stress, and carry you my prayer.
Except to do me hurt, Love hath no pointed dart

' i. e. the Virgin Mary.


Nor hath he toils except to take therein my heart;
He is not armed except to lord it me above ;
No bow he hath in hand, except to shoot at me,
Nor fires, except my heart to martyrize it be:
Brief, Love is only Love that you I still may love.


Nay, leave me in repose. Is't not enough for thee.
Love, with thy savage stress to whelm me every day,
But thou anights no less must hinder slumber lay
Its dulcet spells upon the careful eye of me?
Leave me to rest; else Death, all things on earth that be
Which wasteth in the end, will ravish me away
Incontinent; for none that's made of mortal clay
May here below live long, excepting rest have he.
Yet, no, Love; suffer not that I should fall on sleep;
Nay, rather, night and day still cause me vigil keep.
Whilst of her charms the thought doth sweetly in me stir.
More good do I receive, whenas I think on these
Than when, in slumber sunk, I lie and am at ease;
Far rather would I die than leave to think of her.

You'd think, indeed, to look upon her lovesome face.
To note her gentle looks, to hear her dulcet speech,
Her mild and winsome ways to mark, that no impeach
Might ever be in her of rigour or misgrace.
And yet, an if the truth one knew but of the case,
All is but guile and fraud, such as might overreach
Laertes' crafty son, * such as might Circe teach
His moly black and him under her thrall t'abase.
Her looks are lovesome but the better to deceive;
Her speech so dulcet is but falsehood's nets to weave,

1 i. e. Ulysses.


Wherein poor lovers' hearts to catch like you and me.
Her mien, her fashions mild are but to do us wrong,
Her eyes but us to slay. In brief, to end the song,
But sweet she is that she to us may bitter be.


This amorous complaint in sadness forth I sighed.
Seated upon the knees of Erato the fair.
What while Megaera and Alecto, dreadful pair,
France with misfortune dire o'erwhelmed on every side;
When French with lawless French with murderous rapier vied
To cut the thread y-spun for them by Clotho's care.
Themselves so casting down to Pluto's nether lair.
O wild-beast cruelty! O war unsanctified !
When Bourbons and Lorrains, our princes, sword in hand,
Each other's throat to cut, ran riot in the land,
Each fain at heart to see the other's race attaint !
To hear not their debates and drown the cannon's din.
Nor see the standards wave divergent, kin from kin,
Down in these lines I set my amorous complaint.



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Online LibraryJohn PayneFlowers of France: the renaissance period, from Ronsard to Saint-Amant, representative poems of the sixteenth century; → online text (page 8 of 9)