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The Early French Poets. REMY BELLEAU, AND JAN ANTOINE DE BAÏF. The Painter of Nature was the ap- making copies of copies; but that he pellation which distinguished Remy drew from the life, whenever he had Belleau among the poets of his time; such objects to describe as the visible and it is enough to obtain for him no world could supply him with. Nor ordinary share of regard from those is this the whole of his praise; for who know how much is implied in he bas also some fancy, and a flow that title, and how rare that merit is of numbers unusually melodious. of which it may be considered as a In the above collection, the first pledge I have not yet had the good poem, on the Loves and Transformafortune to meet with an edition con- tions of the Precious Stones, deditaining the whole of his works: That cated to Henry III., is on a plan not which I have seen was printed during much more happy than that of Darhis life-time, with the following title: win's Loves of the Plants. Several Les Amours et nouveaux Eschanges of them are supposed to have been des Pierres precieuses; Vertus et youths or maidens, who, in conse Proprietez d'icelles. Discours de la quence of adventures similar to those Vanité, Pris de l'Ecclesiaste. E- invented by the poet of the Metaelogues Sacrees, Prises du Cantique morphoses, were changed into their des Cantiques. Par Remy Belleau. A present shape. Thus, in the first of Paris par Mamert Patisson, au logis de these tales, the nymph Amethyste; Rob. Estienne, 1576, avec privilege du of whom Bacchus is enamoured, Roy. “ The Loves and new Trans- prays to Diana for succour, and by formations of the Precious Stones; her is transformed into a stone which their Virtues and Properties. Discourse the god dyes purple with the juice on Vanity, taken from Ecclesiastes. of the grape. A description, which Sacred Eclogues, taken from the Song he has here introduced of the jolly of Songs, &c.' There is in these god with the Bacchantes in different sufficient to prove that Belleau was attitudes about his chariot, is exe not in the habit of looking at nature cuted with a luxuriance of pencil through the eyes of other men; that that reminds one of Rubens. be did not content himself with
D'un pié prompt et legier, ces folles Bassarides
On agence leur queüe en tortillons menus. (F. 4.)
As a companion to this, I would place the fine picture of Cybele's chariot drawn by lions, as Keats has painted it.
Forth from a rugged arch, in the dusk below,
Cowering their tawny brushes. (Endymion, p. 83.)
-“ on the pearl'd sands an anonymous poem of extraordinary Of tawny Indus with the crisped merit, which, I believe, appeared locks.” first in the New Monthly Magazine. It is called the Indian Circian. The De l'Indois basané sous ses crespes che
sur le sable perleux writer of it, whoever he may be, may
veux ; well aspire to the title of the Painter of Nature,
where they are changed into onyxTo return to Belleau. Another of stones. these little stories is built on the fable To these fanciful Tales, are apof Hyacinthus, whose blood, when pended directions for distinguishing he is killed by Apollo, forms the ja- artificial stones from the true, togecinth ; at the same time, that the ther with some remarks on their menymph Chrysolithe, who had requited dical properties, and their uses ahis offered love with scorn, poisons gainst incantations and sorceries. It herself, and is changed into the stone scarcely need be told how bad an bearing her name. The spot, in effect so incongruous a mixture prowhich the boy meets his fate, when duces. When Belleau made this adhe is playing at quoits with Phobus, dition, it is probable that the Greek is a piece of landscape-painting, poem on Precious Stones, which goes sweetly touched.
under the name of Orpheus, was in Iris being sent on one of her mis- his view. tress's errands, stays to refresh her- In addressing the twelve chapters self by the river Indus, where she of his Discourse on Vanity, taken sees and becomes enamoured of 0- from Ecclesiastes, to Monseigneur palle ;
(the Duke d'Alençon), he tells that Opalle, grand Berger des troupeaux de prince that his brother (the late King, Neptune. (F. 27.)
Charles IX.), being at Fontainebleau, “ Great Shepherd that on Neptune's had made him read over the first
was so much pleased with it, that he flocks did tend."
four chapters several times; that the He is dazzled and overpowered by King's death, and a grievous malady the advances of the wind-footed under which he had himself labourgoddess, and falls into a swoon; but ed, had interrupted his design; “ but is recovered out of it. Juno, mean- now being recovered," says he, “I time, being, enraged at the delay of present this work to you.” This was her handmaid, goes in search of her, in July, 1576. Having tuned the and discovers them together. He is verses well, he has done nearly all changed into a stone, of which Iris that could be expected of him in this makes the opal.
task. Much the same may be said of While Venus lies asleep, Love, the Sacred Eclogues, into which he fluttering about her, sees his own has formed the Song of Songs. Proimage reflected on the polished sur- faner love employed his muse at anface of her nails. He sets himself to other time; for he translated the carve out these mirrors with the poems attributed to Anacreon, which point of one of his darts, while she were then newly discovered, into continues in her slumber; and then French verse. flying off with them, he lets them Among his other poems, is the fall
following Song on April: having seen it much commended in the ac- · Avril, la grace, et le ris counts given of this poet by French De Cypris, writers of the present day, I have
Le fair et la douce haleine: obtained a transcript of it from'a
Avril, le parfum des Dieux, public library in this country. If we
Qui des Cieux
Sentent l'odeur de la plaine. compare it with Spenser's Song in the Shepherd's Calendar, April, we C'est toy courtois et gentil, shall find some slight resemblance in
Qui d'exil the measure, which would induce one
Retires ces passageres, to imagine that Colin, though he
Ces arondelles qui vont, calls it a lay,
Et qui sont
Du printemps les messageres. Which once he made as by a spring he lay,
L'aubespine et l'aiglantin, And tuned it unto the water's fall,
Et le thym, had yet some snatches of this me- L'æillet, le lis, et les roses lody floating in his ear, which min- En ceste belle saison, gled themselves with the wilder A foison, music.
Monstrent leurs robes écloses.
Le gentil rossignolet
Decoupe dessous l'ombrage,
Mille fredons babillars,
Au doux chant de son ramage.
C'est à ton heureux retour
Souffle à doucettes haleines,
Un feu croupi et couvert,
Receloit dedans nos veines.
Tu vois en ce temps nouveau
De ces pillardes avettes
Volleter de fleur en fleur,
Qu'ils mussent en leurs cuissettes. Avril, c'est ta douce main,
May vantera ses fraischeurs,
Ses fruicts meurs,
Et sa feconde rosee,
La manne et le sucre doux,
Le miel roux,
Dont sa grace est arrosee.
Mais moy je donne ma voix
A ce mois,
Qui prend le surnom de celle
Qui de l'escumeuse mer
Sa naissance maternelle. (Les Oeuvres Poetiques de Remy Belleau, 2 Tomes.
Paris, 1585, La Premiere Journce de la Bergerie, p. 126.)
Fair thee befal :
There closely lapt,
All round thee strew,
Whose colours quaint
April, at whose glad coming Zephyrs rise
With whisper'd sighs,
From plain and rock,
So richly blest,
April, thy blooms, amid the tresses laid
Of my sweet maid,
Her shining hair
That in the face
'Tis thou that dost with summons blythe and soft,
High up aloft,
Scud swift, and bear
Where thou art treading,
The little nightingale sits singing aye
On leafy spray,
With voice that ranges
That love is fain
Through many a day,
Of the spring-time,
With laden thigh,
May shall with pomp his wavy wealth unfold,
His fruits of gold,
And, like a gem,
Sweet month, for thee ;
Swell and divide,
Whence forth to life and light she came. Remy Belleau was born at No- bove-mentioned, that he was resolved gent-le-Rotrou, in le Perche, 1528. to construct himself a monument of René de Lorraine, Marquis of El- precious stones. beuf, and General of the French Besides the editions of his works Gallies, committed to him the edu- which I have referred to, there is cation of his son. He died in Paris, said to be one priuted at Rouen, 1577. Some one said of him, in al- 1604. 2 Vols. 8vo. lusion to the first of his poems 2
JAN ANTOINE DE BAÏF. Both those, of whom I have last There is what appears to be the spoken, Bellay and Belleau, belong- game edition with his Passetems ed to that cluster of poets, to which added. was given the name of the French In the prefatory address to the Pleiad. lodelle, Thyard, Dorat, and Duke of Anjou, afterwards Henry Ronsard, were four others in this con- III. he speaks of the French poets stellation; and Jan Antoine de Baïf who have sung of love. They are made the seventh, whose lustre, if Bellay, Thyard, Ronsard, Belleau, it were proportioned to the number to whom he says, of verses he has left, would outshine Belleau gentil, qui d'esquise peinture most of them. But as it is rather Soigneusement imites la nature, by the virtue than the bulk of such Tu consacras de tes vers la plus part luminaries that we appreciate their De Cytheree au petit fils mignard. excellence, he must be satisfied with "Gentle Belleau, who dost diligentan inferior place. The chief thing ly copy nature with exquisite paintthat can be said of him, I think, is ing, thou hast consecrated the greatthat there is much ease in his man- er part of thy verses to the darling ner. But this is not enough to carry child of Venus.' To these he adds us through so many books as I have Desportes. to record the titles of under his name. Of the four books of his Francine It is said that no one has had the (the name of his mistress), and of courage to read them all since his his three other books, Des Diverses death.
Amours, there is very little by which Les Amours de Jan Antoine de I could hope to please my readers. Baïf. Paris. Pour Lucas Breyer, They will,' I doubt not, think the 1572. 2 vols. 8vo.
following sonnet enough.
S'attedist, faisant place au printemps gracieux,
Peignent de belles fleurs leur riante verdure :
Un doux somme ferma d'un doux tien mes yeux,