Friday, October 3, 2014

Pierre de Ronsard

There is a rose that is ubiquitous in images of european style country gardens, especially French country.  Pierre de Ronsard, or Eden rose, is achingly romantic, full petalled, blush pink rose, demurely nodding while spilling voluptuously over arching, lush arbors in images all over the internet.

Introduced by Meilland in 1987, Helpmefind describes the rose as:
Climber, Large-Flowered Climber.  
Cream, carmine-pink edges.  Moderate fragrance.  55 to 60 petals.  Average diameter 3".  Large, very full (41+ petals), borne mostly solitary, cupped, globular bloom form.  Prolific, continuous (perpetual) bloom throughout the season.  
Tall, climbing.  Medium, semi-glossy, dark green foliage.
Height of 39" to 12' (100 to 365 cm).  
USDA zone 5b through 9b.  Can be used for cut flower, garden, landscape or pillar.  Vigorous.  heat tolerant.  rain tolerant.  Disease susceptibility: very disease resistant.  

But I didn´t really know who Pierre de Ronsard actually was until I read a piece on the always interesting art blog The Blue Lantern, Ronsard: A Romance Of The Rose.  It includes this lovely translation of his 16th century poem Derniers vers pour Cassandre (Last Poem for Cassandra).

"Mignonne, allons voir si la rose
Qui ce matin avoit desclose
Sa robe de pourpre au Soleil,
A point perdu ceste vesprée
Les plis de sa robe pourprée,
Et son teint au vostre pareil.

Las ! voyez comme en peu d'espace,
Mignonne, elle a dessus la place
Las ! las ses beautez laissé cheoir !
Ô vrayment marastre Nature,
Puis qu'une telle fleur ne dure
Que du matin jusques au soir !

Donc, si vous me croyez, mignonne,
Tandis que vostre âge fleuronne
En sa plus verte nouveauté,
Cueillez, cueillez vostre jeunesse :
Comme à ceste fleur la vieillesse
Fera ternir vostre beauté." - A Cassandre by Pierre de Ronsar, 1545

"Mignonne, let us go see if the rose
that this morning did disclose
her purple robe to the Sun,
lost just before the day was dead
Her color as bright as yours?
Ah, See how quickly,
Mignonne, she loses them (her petals)
Ah, how her beauties drift down!
Ôh, truly monstrous Nature,
that such a flower only lasts
from morning just to night!
Therefore, if you believe me, Mignonne
While your youthful bloom
Is in its green freshness
pick, pick the flowers of your youth:
Before, like a flower, old age
will tarnish your  beauty." - translation mine, J.A.L.

How beautiful is that?

According to Wikipedia:
In general, Ronsard is best in his amatory verse (the long series of sonnets and odes to Cassandre, Pikles, Marie, Genévre, Héléne—Héléne de Surgeres, a later and mainly "literary" love—etc.), and in his descriptions of the country (the famous "Ode à Cassandre[1]," the "Fontaine Bellerie," the "Forêt de Gastine," and so forth), which are graceful and fresh. He used the graceful diminutives which his school set in fashion. He knew well too how to manage the gorgeous adjectives ("marbrine," "cinabrine," "ivoirine" and the like) which were another fancy of the Pléiade. In short, Ronsard shows eminently the two great attractions of French 16th-century poetry as compared with that of the two following ages - magnificence of language and imagery and graceful variety of metre.

I´ll have to look for translations, since I speak no French.  But whomever named the rose after the Poet certainly seems to have captured that fresh, graceful romanticism.

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