Monday, August 27, 2018

Pierre de Ronsard

Pierre de Ronsard (1524—1585) is a Catholic poet, chief among those in the French Renaissance school known as La Pléiade. Their goal was to produce French poetry which could stand along side that of Greek antiquity. He seemed destined for a diplomatic career, until a case of incurable deafness overtook him. Ronsard took minor orders within the Catholic church, and began a comprehensive study of all known Greek and Latin poetry.

Although he admitted that the Catholic church needed reform, he did not see Protestantism as the answer — despairing of division. His ideal was one king, one law, one faith, although his stand may have had more to do with an earlier Protestant portrayal of him as a pagan and a mediocre poet. Ronsard was an extremely popular poet in his day, enjoying the patronage of the French court — particularly of Charles IX.

The following was translated by Nicholas Kilmer

[You Are The God Of Hosts]

You are the God of hosts;
And you once gave your aid
To Israel’s escape.
You cleft into two parts
The course of red salt water;
Like valley stretched it out
Between two distant knolls
That walled it on both sides.
And in the midst of that
You made trustworthy road,
Through which, their feet dry, moved
The people whom you loved.
And then you flooded in
Your own obedient wave
Over the headstrong king,
Exterminating him
And all his drowning race.
Cast up safe from this sea
Your people wandered then
In deserts back and forth;
Adored the casted calf.
But even for that sin
Heaven did not refrain
From sending food like rain:
Which they had in that place
Forty years by your grace.
Oh Master, turn again
Your eyes, and look on us,
Your people sickening,
Your people perishing;
Because this foreign death
Pale famine, kills us all.

This post was suggested by my friend Burl Horniachek.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.