ÉLÉGIEELEGY
Pierre de Ronsardtr. James Kirkup (tanka)
(Contre les bûcherons de la forest de Gastine.)


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'Erisichton,
Qui coupa de Cerés le Chesne venerable,
Et qui gourmand de tout, de tout insatiable,
Les boeufs et les moutons de sa mere 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 prend 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 Déesses?
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 Jariette:
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 jouŽt 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 coeur estonner:
Où premier admirant la 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 nos peres nourriciers.
Que l'homme est malheureux qui au monde se fie!
‘ Dieux, que véritable 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.
(against the woodcutters in the Forest of Gastine)


Whoever was the first to labour with his hands
Cutting you down, Forest, with harsh blows of his axe,
May he chop himself down using his own sharp blade
And feel in his vitals Erisichton's hungers -
He who did slaughter Ceresí venerable oak
And who, greedy for all things, insatiable,
Murdered his own motherís cattle and all her sheep;
Then, driven by famine, started to eat himself:
Even so let his house and lands be swallowed up
And devour themselves with the bloody fangs of war.

Then, that he may, to avenge our forests' shed blood,
Ever be begging new loans on new interests
To repay the usuror, and he at last expend
All his worldly goods to repay the principal.
May he forever sleepless reckon in his brain
Whatever he can devise for some new design,
Driven by impatience and all kinds of furies,
And by the evil counsels that shatter men's lives!

Hearken, woodcutter, (let your axe blade cool awhile),
These are not woods alone that you are laying low;
See you not all that blood that comes pouring out
From those Nymphs who resided under the rough bark?
Murder and sacrilege - if one judges a thief
For stealing a thing of very little value,
How many hells of fire and mortal sufferings
You deserve, villain, for violating Goddesses?
You, Forest, lofty abode of the woodland birds,
Neither the lonesome stag nor the light-footed roe
Shall graze now within your shade, nor your manes of green
Shield from the burning light of a torrid summer.

No more the love-lorn shepherd leaning on a trunk
Shall breathe life into his four-holed flageolet,
His mastiff at his feet, his crook against his hip.
Nor shall he sing his passion for lovely Janette:
All will be stricken dumb: Echo will lose her voice:
You will be levelled land, and instead of your groves
Whose tremulous shadows kept on gently rustling,
You shall know the ploughshare, the sickle and the spade:
You shall lose your silences; panting with terror,
Neither Satyrs nor Fauns shall visit you again!

Adieu, old forest, plaything of all the Zephyrs,
Where first I learned to tune the chords upon my lyre,
Where first I gazed upon beauteous Calliope.
I became enamoured of her ninefold Muses
When her hand cast a hundred roses round my head;
And with her own milk did Euterpe suckle me.



Adieu, old forest, and adieu, you sacred brows
That in paintings and in flowers once were honoured.
Now disdained by passers-by athirst, and by those
Who in Summer are scorched by ethereal rays
And find vanished the cool of your soft verdant shade -
Adieu, Oaks, you crowns of valiant citizens,
Trees of Jupiter, Dodoneam ancestors
Who were the first to offer food to humankind,
That race whose sheer ingratitude has blinded them
To the good you offered all, creatures truly gross,
Who massacre in this way our founding fathers.

How wretched now is man, who treats your world with scorn!
O, you Gods, you whose Philosophies hold all truths,
Who predict that every thing must have an end,
And that some other thing will rise from changing forms:
The vale of Tempe shall one day become mountain,
And the summit of Athos turn to one vast plain;
The realms of Neptune may at times be sown with corn.
Only matter still endures, while all Form is lost.

Trans. Copyright © James Kirkup 2003


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