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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [N8v p208]

In statuam Amoris.[1]

A statue of love

XCVII.

Quis sit Amor plures olim cecinere Poëtae,
Eius qui vario nomine gesta ferunt.
Convenit hoc, quòd veste caret, quòd corpore parvus,
Tela alasque ferens, lumina nulla tenet.
Haec ora, hic habitusque dei est: sed dicere tantos
Si licet in vates, falsa subesse reor.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O1v p210] Eccur nudus agat? divo quasi pallia desint,
Qui cunctas domiti possidet orbis opes.
Aut quî quaeso nives Boreamque evadere nudus
Alpinum potuit, strictaque prata gelu?[2]
Si puer est, puerúm ne vocas qui Nestora[3] vincit,
An nosti Ascraei carmina docta senis?[4]
Inconstans puer, hic pervicax, pectora quae iam
Trans adiit, nunquam linquere sponte potest.
At pharetras & tela gerit, quid inutile pondus?
An curvare infans cornua dura valet?
Alas cúrve tenet, quas nescit in aethera ferre?
Inscius in volucrum flectere tela iecur.[5]
Serpit humi semperque virûm mortalia corda
Laedit,[6] & haud alas saxeus inde movet.
Si caecus vitamque gerit, quid taenia caeco
Utilis est? ideo num minùs ille videt?
Quís ne sagittiferum credat, qui lumine captus:
Hic certa, ast caeci spicula vana movet [=movent] .
Igneus est aiunt, versatque in pectore flammas,
Cur age vivit adhuc? omnia flamma vorat.
Quin etiam tumidis cur non extinguitur undis,
Naiadum quoties mollia corda subit?[7]
At tu ne tantis capiare erroribis audi,
Verus quid sit Amor carmina nostra ferent.
Iucundus labor est, lasciva per ocia, signum
Illius est, nigro punica glans[8] clypeo.

Many poets in the past have told us who Love is, recording his deeds under many a name. This they agree on - he has no clothes and is small in stature, carries arrows, wears wings, but has no eyes. This is the appearance, the bearing of the god. But if one may contradict such mighty bards, there is falsehood lurking here, I think. Why ever should he be naked? As if garments would be lacking for a god who possesses all the resources of a conquered world. Or how could he, if naked, survive the snows and North wind blowing from the Alps, the fields stiff with frost? - If he is a boy, do you call a boy one who is older than Nestor? Maybe you know the learned poem of the old man of Ascra? A child is changeable, but he is stubborn - the hearts he has once pierced he can never leave of his own volition. He bears quivers and arrows - why this useless burden? Has an infant strength to flex the stiff bow? - Or why does he have wings, when he does not know how to take to the air with them? He has no skill to direct his arrows at the liver of birds, but steals along the ground and always hurts the mortal hearts of men. Hard as stone, he never stirs his wings from there. - If he is blind and also wears a bandage, what does a blindfold do for a blind person? Surely he doesn’t see any less because of it? Or who would believe that anyone carries arrows when he is deprived of sight Love shoots straight, the blind shoot arrows at a venture. - He is fiery, they say, and has flames leaping in his breast. Then why is he still in existence? Flame consumes everything. Indeed, why is he not quenched by the swelling waves whenever he steals into the tender hearts of the Water Nymphs? In order not to be deceived by such great errors, do you listen and our poem will tell what Love truly is. It is a work of delight, the frivolous occupation of leisure hours. Its sign is a Punic fruit on a black shield.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O1r p209]

A la statue d’Amour.

Plusieurs escripvains ont pris peine,
De faire escripture certaine,
Du dieu d’amours, & sa facon.
Et dient que c’est ung garcon,
Qui n’est point homme devenu,
Et va volant par l’air tout nud,
Avec ung arc, dont flesches tire:
Rendant a plusieurs gros martyre:
Et ayant maint cueur moult grevé,
Jacoit quil soit de veue privé.
Vela ce qui en est narré,
En quoy je dis qu’on a erré:
S’il apartient que ause reprandre
Les vieulx, qui nous ont sceu aprandre.
Premier vecy ou je me fonde:
Cil qui regne par tout le monde,
Est il dieu si debilement,
Qu’il n’ayt point ung habilement?
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O2r p211]Ou comme se pourroit il faire,
Que allant es lieux ou il repaire,
Le froit d’hyver que faict la bise,
Ne tuast l’enfant sans chemise.
Et si a ce ay ung respondant,
Disant qu’il porte feu ardant,
Je demande, comme il peult vivre,
Veu que le feu a tout mort livre?
Et ou sa vie tel feu rendroit?
Si scait t’on [=on] bien qu’il l’estaindroit,
Quand il va devers les Naiades,
Nymphes, Seraines, Seriades,
Et aultres Deesses benignes,
Procedans des maisons Marines.
De rechief l’on l’appelle enfant,
Qui neantmoins fut triumphant
Sur Nestor, homme de grand aage.
Et qu’on tenoit tresmeur & sage.
Dont n’est vray semblable sentence.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O2v p212]Car l’enfant est plain de inconstance,
Et cestuy cy est invincible,
Au moins a vaincre peu possible.
Et dez que ung cueur tient en surprise,
A peine en rompt l’on l’entreprise.
Apres l’on dit, que ung arc il porte,
Et l’enfant a main si peu forte,
Que ja n’en pourroit ung arc tendre,
Pas pour en scavoir grand cop rendre.
Consequemment l’on dit qu’il vole,
Et le vraye nye telle parolle:
Car tousjours veult vers l’homme aller,
Et ne va pas fort hault en l’air.
Aussi nous congnoissons assez,
Qu’il n’a gueres d’oyseaux blessez.
Puis contraire apparence notte
Ceulx, qui dient, qu’il ne voit goute,
Pource que l’oeil sert a l’archier,
A veoir ce, ou il veult lascher.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O3r p213]Et puis l’aveugle ne commande,
Que de drapeau ses yeulx on bande.
A ces moyens fais contredit,
A tout ce qu’on a de luy dit.
Et quant a moy, scavoir te fais,
Que amour est ung tresplaisant faiz:
Ung labeur, ou l’on prand repos,
Maladie en corps bien dispos,
Travaillant en oysivité,
Gay en yver comme en esté.
Et puis qu’il rend joyeuses l’armes [=larmes] ,
On luy faict avoir en ces armes
La grenade, qui joye raporte:
En champ de sable qui dueil porte.

Notes:

1.  Before the 1536 Wechel edition, the figure had wings which were subsequently removed, such that the pictura fits the revised image of love discussed in the text rather than the conventional one.

2.  ‘snows and North wind...fields stiff with frost’. These are traditional hardships endured by the hopeful lover who finds the door shut against him. See e.g. Horace, Odes 3.10.

3.  Nestor, king of Pylos, who had outlived three generations of men, was a proverbial example of extreme old age.

4.  ‘the old man of Ascra’, i.e. the poet Hesiod who, at Theogony 120, describes Love as a primeval cosmic force.

5.  The liver was held to be the seat of the affections.

6.  ‘hurts the mortal hearts of men’. Cf. Anthologia graeca 5.10, where Love attacks men, not animals.

7.  ‘the...hearts of the Water Nymphs’: a reference to the many legends of water nymphs and other water spirits succumbing to love.

8.  ‘Punic fruit’, i.e. the pomegranate. Possibly the connection here is the rough aftertaste it leaves and the likelihood of it being bad under its smooth skin. The pomegranate is a symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.


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