Consider this poem as almost the antithesis of the poem I posted yesterday by Christina Rossetti, in which she expressed an indifference to death and a knowledge that it would absolutely no difference to her if she was mourned, remembered or forgotten after death. By contrast, here is Pierre de Ronsard, writing some 400 years earlier, and fiercely defending and proclaiming his deserving of posthumous fame and eternal admiration because of his poetry. Addressed to the poet’s muse, the piece is a cry of victory over death and obscurity.
A sa muse
Plus dur que fer, j’ai fini mon ouvrage,
Que l’an, dispos à démener les pas,
Ni l’eau rongearde ou des Frères la rage,
Qui rompent tout, ne rueront point à bas.
Quand ce viendra que mon dernier trépas
M’assoupira d’un somme dur, à l’heure
Sous le tombeau tout Ronsard n’ira pas
Restant de lui la part qui est meilleure.
Toujours, toujours, sans que jamais je meure,
Je volerai, cygne, par l’univers.
Éternisant les champs où je demeure
De mes lauriers et de mon nom couverts,
Pour avoir joint les deux harpeurs divers
Au doux babil de ma lyre d’ivoire,
Que j’ai rendus vendômois par mes vers.
Sus doncques, Muse, emporte au ciel la gloire
Que j’ai gagnée, annonçant la victoire
Dont à bon droit je me vois jouissant,
Et de ton fils consacre la mémoire
Serrant mon front d’un laurier verdissant.
The first four lines confidently pronounce that the poet’s work is solid, robust, harder than iron, and will survive the ravages of time and the proscriptions of religion. Here is a poet confident of his art and his place in the literary pantheon.
The next several lines tell of Ronsard’s death, but says the best part of him will not go into the tomb but will fly through the universe, never dying. This is of course, his poetry, which tell of the country where he lived.
So he finally addresses his Muse, asking it to bring his glory to heaven and crown him with the victor’s laurel wreath which he has richly deserved.
And of course, in those terms, the poet was right – his work has survived, and is still regarded as top-rate poetry and hence his name lives on.
As does Christina Rossetti’s…
The Poetry Dude