As usual a poem from Marot both surprises and amuses us. He must have been such fun to be around, in the court of sixteenth century France. What a catching beginning to the poem – let’s change the subject we have had too many love songs, so now let us sing of the scythe, and he does indeed mean that sharp, curved horticultural instrument used to cut grass, trim hedges and multiple other uses of which the main one celebrated here by Marot is its use to prune vines and thus contribute to the production of fine wine.
Changeons propos, c’est trop chanté…
Changeons propos, c’est trop chanté d’amours,
Ce sont clamours, chantons de la serpette:
Tous vignerons ont à elle recours,
C’est leur secours pour tailler la vignette;
Ô serpillette, ô la serpillonnette,
La vignollette est par toy mise sus,
Dont les bons vins tous les ans sont yssus!
Le dieu Vulcain, forgeron des haultz dieux,
Forgea aux cieulx la serpe bien taillante,
De fin acier trempé en bon vin vieulx,
Pour tailler mieulx et estre plus vaillante.
Bacchus la vante, et dit qu’elle est seante
Et convenante à Noé le bon hom
Pour en tailler la vigne en la saison.
Bacchus alors chappeau de treille avoit,
Et arrivoit pour benistre la vigne;
Avec flascons Silenus le suyvoit,
Lequel beuvoit aussi droict qu’une ligne;
Puis il trepigne, et se faict une bigne;
Comme une guigne estoit rouge son nez;
Beaucoup de gens de sa race sont nez.
And it is the will of the Gods that the scythe should be used by the vine-growers since Vulcan forged its blade, Bacchus blessed it while wearing his straw hat and pronounced it fit for Noah to use to trim his vines (who knew Noah had time to grow vines as well as building hs Ark and rounding up animals?) Silenus followed after Bacchus with his cup, getting it filled and refilled until he fell over flat on his face. He was the first of many to have a red nose induced by drinking wine. So long-live the scythe.
If Marot had lived in the 20th century he would surely have enjoyed and perhaps included a reference to the adventures of Asterix the Gaul in which the druid makes plentiful use of his scythe to harvest the ingredients of his magic potion, so much sough after by Asterix, Obelix and the other villagers to help them resist the Romans.
The Poetry Dude