Marot, voici (si tu le veux savoir)

Today’s wonderful poem, from sixteenth century French court poet Clement Marot, is in the form of a note to himself, listing the sources of happiness, a kind of check-list of what he needs for contentment in life. If you like, it is an earlier version of that 1980s song by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, “Reasons to be cheerful, part3”.

There is more than a hint in a couple of places that the poet is apt to forget all this and not count his blessings – in the first and the next to last line, where the qualifier, “if you want to know” is added in, clearly meaning that there are times when Marot perhaps dwells too much on misfortune and life’s setbacks.

De soi-même

[Epigr IV,4]

Clement Marot

 

Marot, voici (si tu le veux savoir)

Qui fait à l’homme heureuse vie avoir:

Successions, non biens acquis à peine,

Feu en tout temps, maison plaisante, et saine,

Jamais procès, les membres bien dispos,

Et au dedans, un esprit à repos,

[Contraire à nul, n’avoir aucuns contraires,

Peu se mêler des publiques affaires,]

Sage simplesse, amis à soi pareils,

Table ordinaire, et sans grands appareils,

Facilement avec toutes gens vivre,

Nuit sans nul soin, n’être pas pourtant ivre,

Femme joyeuse, et chaste néanmoins,

Dormir, qui fait que la nuit dure moins,

Plus haut qu’on n’est ne vouloir point atteindre,

Ne désirer la Mort, ni ne la craindre:

Voilà, MAROT, si tu le veux savoir,

Qui fait à l’homme heureuse vie avoir.

 

From <http://clementmarot.com/epigrams.htm#De_soi-même_>

My top three of these sources of happiness?

  • ‘Sage simplesse, amis a soi pareils”
  • “Facilement avec toutes gens vivre”
  • “Femme joyeuse”

The Poetry Dude

Mauldicte soit la mondaine richesse

That inveterate jester and womaniser Clement Marot gets his wake-up call to reality in this poem as he finds out that sometimes women do prefer money and status to just being with someone who is good company. He curses this eternal truth, but I bet if had as much money as he had charm he would use it to his advantage…

Clement Marot
(Avant 1529)

Mauldicte soit la mondaine richesse,
Qui m’as osté m’Amye et ma Maistresse,
Las, par verty j’ay son amytié quise,
Mais par richesse ung aultre l’a conquise;
Vertu n’a pas en amour grand prouesse.

Dieu gard de mal la Nymphe et la Deesse;
Mauldict soit l’Or, où elle a sa liesse;
Mauldicte soit la fine Soye exquise,
Le Dyamant et la Perle requise,
Puis que par eulx il fault qu’elle me laisse.

 

The first stanza sets the scene – the poet curses money and riches and then we find out that he has conquered the heart of a young lady only to see her turn her favours to another who has more money. The final line of the stanza laments that virtue (on its own) is not much use in the pursuit of love.

The second stanza curses in turn the gold, fine silk, diamonds and pearls which the poet’s rival has offered to turn the girl’s head. I think gifts like this would still be pretty effective today, just as they were 500 years ago when Marot wrote this poem. Romantic love by itself does not have much staying power. It is refreshing to see these realities so well expressed in a poem.

The Poetry Dude

Changeons propos, c’est trop chanté d’amours,

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.

From <http://www.lieder.net/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=10834&gt;

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

Adieu la cour, adieu les dames,

In this poem, Clement Marot, the court jester, the life and soul of the party, the incorrigible ladies man, goes off to war and so says goodbye to the fun and frivolity, the courting and joking of his life at court. It is a bit poignant for sure, but it also celebrates the poet’s vitality and life-force. It’s a nice balance…

 
Clément MAROT   (1497-1544)

Adieu aux Dames de la Cour

 
Adieu la cour, adieu les dames,
Adieu les filles et les femmes,
Adieu vous dis pour quelques temps,
Adieu vos plaisants passetemps ;
Adieu le bal, adieu la danse,
Adieu mesure, adieu cadence,
Tambourin, haubois et violons,
Puisqu’à la guerre nous allons.
Adieu les regards gracieux,
Messagers des coeurs soucieux ;
Adieu les profondes pensées,
Satisfaites ou offensées ;
Adieu les harmonieux sons
De rondeaux, dizains et chansons ;
Adieu piteux département,
Adieu regrets, adieu tourment,
Adieu la lettre, adieu le page,
Adieu la cour et l’équipage,
Adieu l’amitié si loyale,
Qu’on la pourrait dire royale,
Etant gardée en ferme foi
Par ferme coeur digne de roi.
Adieu ma mie la dernière,
En vertus et beauté première ;
Je vous prie me rendre à présent
Le coeur dont je vous fis présent,
Pour, en la guerre où il faut être,
En faire service à mon maître.
Or quand de vous se souviendra,
L’aiguillon d’honneur l’époindra
Aux armes et vertueux faits :
Et s’il en sortait quelque effet
Digne d’une louange entière,
Vous en seriez seule héritière.
De votre coeur donc se souvienne,
Car si dieu veut que je revienne,
Je le rendrai en ce beau lieu.

Or je fais fin à mon adieu.

From <http://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/clement_marot/adieu_aux_dames_de_la_cour.html&gt;

It is clearly the women, the music, the dancing and the gallantry which the poet will miss the most as he leaves the court to go to war. And in particular, as we learn just past the halfway point in the poem, there is a particular lover to whome the poet is attached, and who he asks to remember him and to wait for him if he comes back.

The poem is very easy on the eyes and ears, simple language, short lines, rhyming couplets, it carries the reader on, with the frequent repetition of “Adieu”, goodbye, being the glue that binds the poem together as a whole, from the first word of the first line, to the last word of the last line.

The genius of Marot is to combine lightness of tone, with very effective poetic technique, as we have also seen in several other of his poems posted on this blog.

The Poetry Dude

Au bon vieux temps un train d’amour régnait 

Here is a jolly poem from Clement Marot harking back to the good old days before he was born when love was simple and straightforward. You could give a girl a bouquet of flowers and she would love you for 20 or 30 years. Not like in Marot’s own day when love is ruled by artifice and deception.

The point being that in Marot’s time, he actually has to make an effort to win the affections of a girl, whereas in the good old days he would just have to snap his fingers and the girls would come running.

Clément MAROT   (1497-1544)

De l’amour du siècle antique

 
Au bon vieux temps un train d’amour régnait
Qui sans grand art et dons se démenait.
Si qu’un bouquet donné d’amour profonde
C’était donner toute la terre ronde ;
Car seulement au coeur on se prenait.

Et si, par cas, à jouir on venait
Savez-vous bien comme on s’entretenait ?
Vingt ans, trente ans, cela durait un monde
Au bon vieux temps.

Or est perdu ce qu’amour ordonnait.
Rien que pleurs feints, rien que changes on oit.
Qui voudra donc qu’à aimer je me fonde,
Il faut premier que l’amour on refonde
Et qu’on le mène ainsi qu’on le menait
Au bon vieux temps.

From <http://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/clement_marot/de_l_amour_du_siecle_antique.html&gt;

Was Marot one of the four Yorkshiremen?

The Poetry Dude

Qui veult avoir lyesse

Clement Marot is in good form here, with a poem about enjoying life and the benefits of looking at his mistress. It is fun to read Marot, because so much of his poetry is good-humoured, setting out to amusing and charming. There is not much lovers angst here or complaining about the vagaries of life and its varios setbacks, or about the deplorable state of the world.

So let’s enjoy this poem…

 
Chanson XI

Qui veult avoir lyesse
Seullement d’ung regard,
Vienne veoir ma Maistresse,
Que Dieu maintienne, et gard:
Elle a si bonne grâce,
Que celluy qui la voit,
Mille douleurs efface,
Et plus, s’il en avoit.
Les vertus de la Belle
Me font esmerveiller.
La souvenance d’elle
Faict mon cueur esveiller.
Sa beaulté tant exquise
Me faict la mort sentir:
Mais sa grâce requise
M’en peult bien garentir.

From <http://www.clementmarot.com/chansons.htm&gt;

The poem is adressed to “Qui veult avoir lysesse” in the first line. Lyesse is a somewhat obscure word, but I interpret it as meaning a good time, or fun, or something like that. So the poem is addressed to anyone who would like to have fun, or perhaps to be cheered up. And what should they do? Well, of course, go and look at and admire the poet’s mistress, so graceful that she can make anybody who looks at her forget all their cares. In fact the poet is so captivated by her in person and by the memory of her when they are not together that he feels he could die. No matter, though, even if he should approach death, the force of her grace will bring him back to life.

I bet Marot was a hit with the ladies of the court in sixteenth century France (and Navarre)…

The Poetry Dude

Volontiers en ce mois ici

Here is a poem from Clement Marot which takes the notion that springtime and the month of May are the time of year most propitious for love and takes it to an unexpected conclusion, particularly when you are familiar with the poet’s many genuine poems of love and courtship. The title leads into this subjects matter, it is to be a song of May and Virtue, not a song of May and Love or May and fecundity. It makes me wonder whether this poem was written tongue-in0cheek or whether Marot meant it as serious expression of an alternative to carnal love.

Clément MAROT   (1497-1544)

Chant de Mai et de Vertu
Volontiers en ce mois ici
La terre mue et renouvelle.
Maints amoureux en font ainsi,
Sujets à faire amour nouvelle
Par légèreté de cervelle,
Ou pour être ailleurs plus contents ;
Ma façon d’aimer n’est pas telle,
Mes amours durent en tout temps.

N’y a si belle dame aussi
De qui la beauté ne chancelle ;
Par temps, maladie ou souci,
Laideur les tire en sa nacelle ;
Mais rien ne peut enlaidir celle
Que servir sans fin je prétends ;
Et pour ce qu’elle est toujours belle
Mes amours durent en tout temps.

Celle dont je dis tout ceci,
C’est Vertu, la nymphe éternelle,
Qui au mont d’honneur éclairci
Tous les vrais amoureux appelle :
” Venez, amants, venez (dit-elle),
Venez à moi, je vous attends ;
Venez (ce dit la jouvencelle).
Mes amours durent en tout temps. ”

From <http://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/clement_marot/chant_de_mai_et_de_vertu.html&gt;

The poem is in three stanza, of eight lines each, with a regular alternating rhyme scheme. Technically, Marot works well in this form, the rhythm is maintained and the rhymes do not seem unduly forced.

The structure of the content also follows the fairly conventional format of thesis in the first stanza, antithesis in the second stanza and synthesis in the final stanza. The argument goes like this; May is the month when loves are revived and lovers renew their vows, but my love is not like this, it is enduring. Beautiful women can inspire love, but then their beauty is degraded by care, illness or age, but my love is not like this, it is enduring. For my love is of Virtue, which calls all lovers to her and makes their love last forever.

The Poetry Dude