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Pierre de Ronsard

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Élégie
(Contre les bûcherons de la forêt de Gastine)
Jacqueline loves it

Quiconque aura premier la main embesongnée
A te couper, forest, d’une dure congnée,
Qu’il puisse s’enferrer de son propre baston,
Et sente en l’estomac la faim d’Erisichthon,
Qui coupa de Cerés le chesne venerable,
Et qui, gourmand de tout, de tout insatiable,
Les bœufs et les moutons de sa mère esgorgea,
Puis, pressé de la faim, soy-mesme se mangea.
Ainsi puisse engloutir ses rentes et sa terre,
Et se devore apres par les dents de la guerre.
Qu’il puisse pour vanger le sang de nos forests,
Tousjours nouveaux emprunts sur nouveaux interests
Devoir à l’usurier, et qu’en fin il consomme
Tout son bien à payer la principale somme.
Que, tousjours sans repos, ne face en son cerveau
Que tramer pour-neant quelque dessein nouveau,
Porté d’impatience et de fureur diverse,
Et de mauvais conseil qui les hommes renverse.
Escoute, bucheron, arreste un peu le bras,
Ce ne sont pas des bois que tu jettes à bas,
Ne vois-tu pas le sang, lequel degoute à force
Des Nymphes qui vivoyent dessous la dure escorce ?
Sacrilege meurdrier, si on pend un voleur
Pour piller un butin de bien peu de valeur,
Combien de feux, de fers, de morts et de destresses
Merites-tu, meschant, pour tuer des Deesses ?
Forest, haute maison des oiseaux bocagers,
Plus le cerf solitaire et les chevreuls legers
Ne paistront sous ton ombre, et ta verte criniere
Plus du soleil d’esté ne rompra la lumiere.
Plus l’amoureux pasteur sur un tronq adossé,
Enflant son flageolet à quatre trous persé,
Son mastin à ses pieds, à son flanc la houlette,
Ne dira plus l’ardeur de sa belle Janette ;
Tout deviendra muet, Echo sera sans voix,
Tu deviendras campagne, et, en lieu de tes bois,
Dont l’ombrage incertain lentement se remue,
Tu sentiras le soc, le coutre et la charrue.
Tu perdras ton silence, et haletans d’effroy,
Ny Satyres ny Pans ne viendront plus chez toy.

Adieu, vieille forest, le jouët de Zephyre,
Où premier j’accorday les langues de ma lyre,
Où premier j’entendi les fleches resonner
D’Apollon, qui me vint tout le cœur estonner ;
Où premier, admirant ma belle Calliope,
Je devins amoureux de sa neuvaine trope,
Quand sa main sur le front cent roses me jetta,
Et de son propre laict Euterpe m’allaita.

Adieu, vieille forest, adieu, testes sacrées,
De tableaux et de fleurs autrefois honorées,
Maintenant le desdain des passans alterez,
Qui bruslez en esté des rayons etherez,
Sans plus trouver le frais de tes douces verdures,
Accusent vos meurtriers et leur disent injures.
Adieu, chesnes, couronne aux vaillans citoyens,
Arbres de Jupiter, germes Dodonéens,
Qui premiers aux humains donnastes à repaistre,
Peuples vrayment ingrats, qui n’ont sceu recognoistre
Les biens receus de vous, peuples vraiment grossiers,
De massacrer ainsi leurs peres nourriciers.
Que l’homme est malheureux qui au monde se fie !
O Dieux, que veritable est la philosophie,
Qui dit que toute chose à la fin perira,
Et qu’en changeant de forme une autre vestira.
De Tempé la vallée un jour sera montagne,
Et la cyme d’Athos une large campagne,
Neptune quelquefois de blé sera couvert :
La matiere demeure, et la forme se perd.

Birdie

Elegy
Against the woodcutters of the Gastine forest

To anyone willing to have his hand busy
Cutting you down, forest, with the blow of his axe,
Let him fall to his death on his treacherous baton,
And feel in his stomach Erisichthon’s hunger,
He who dared to cut down Ceres’ marvellous oak,
Who, insatiable and gourmand of everything,
Ferociously slaughtered his mother’s ox and sheep,
And, still pressed by hunger, finally ate himself.

Likewise, let him swallow all his money and lands,
And with the teeth of war, let him devour himself.
To avenge our forest, let him beg for new loans
On renewed interests, and the highest of all;
And to repay his depts, let him always consume
All of his possessions to pay back the premium.

With no respite, let his dangerous mind vainly
Devise lucrative but impossible projects
May they bring him distress, fury, and impatience,
And all the bad advice that may shatter men’s life.

Hearken woodcutter, hold your arm a brief instant;
It is not just wood that you are falling down here;
Don’t you see the blood of our nymphs pouring out
From the hard and thick bark of the trees, their dwellings.
Murderous sacrilege! If we do hang a thief
For stealing a booty of very small value,
How many flames, fetters, deaths, and distresses
You deserve, O villain, for killing our goddesses?

Dear forest, lofty abode of the boscage birds!
No more the lonely stag and the agile roe deer
Will graze freely under your shade, and your green mane
Will no longer shield us from the harsh summer light.
No more the shepherd in love leaning on a trunk
Will tenderly inflate his four-holed flageolet.
His mastiff at his feet, his long crook near his flank,
No more will he comment his Janette’s sweet ardour.

Everything will be quiet; Echo will lose her voice;
You will become grassland and in place of your groves
Whose uncertain shadows slowly move to and fro,
You will feel the sharp spade, the coulter, and the plough
You will lose your silence, and panting with horror
No Satyrs no Pans will visit you again.

Adieu, dear old forest, Zephyr’s marvellous toy,
Where as a young man, I tuned the tongues of my lyre;
Where as a young man, I heard Apollo's vibrant arrows
Which came with the wind and enchanted my heart;
Where as a young man, admiring fair Calliope,
I fell madly in love with the nine forest-muses;
When Euterpe blew roses on my face in wonder,
And when she nourished me lovingly with her milk.

Adieu, dear old forest, adieu sacred green heads,
Honoured so long ago with paintings and flowers.
Now, it is with contempt that thirsty passers-by
Accuse your murderers and insult them fiercely
Unable to find the freshness of your greens,
And burnt by summer’s hot and treacherous sunbeams.

Adieu, proud oaks, rich crown of valiant citizens,
Jupiter’s trees, beautiful Dodonean seeds
Who were the first to nourish our brave ancestors;
O ungrateful people, who did not recognise 
The goodness you gave them; O ignorant people
Who shamelessly murder their fostering fathers!

Unhappy is the man who naively trusts the world!
O gods, so accurate is the philosophy
Saying that everything at the end will perish,
Leaving its present form just to wear another!
One day, Tempe’s valley will become a mountain,
And Athos’s summit an immense grazing land;
Sometimes, even Neptune will be flooded with wheat:
Matter always remains and the form disappears.


Mythological character whose appetite became insatiable. This was his punishment for having decimated Ceres’s oldest oak.

The nymphs or dryads

The forest’s nymph who spurn by Narcissus

Gentle breeze

The Muse of epic poetry who has a beautiful voice

The Muse of lyric poetry who has charming power

A crown made of oak’s leaves given to Roman soldiers who saved one of their fellow companions.

The prophetic oak forest of Dodona consecrated to Jupiter.

Demeter, the goddess of agriculture and fertility, who gave wheat to humans; acorns were said to be the food of primitive men.

The Penee Valley in Thessaly, well known by the Greek poets for its freshness.

Greek mountain


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