Romance à la Renaissance

Also known as the best pickup line ever, this little ditty is a prince among partsongs, composed by a regent of the Renaissance as far as poetry is concerned, Pierre de Ronsard.   I read it first when I was 14 and haven’t forgotten it since, as it turns the simple act of saying hello into art.

Bonjour mon coeur, bonjour ma douce vie.
Bonjour mon oeil, bonjour ma chère amie,
Hé ! bonjour ma toute belle,
Ma mignardise, bonjour,
Mes délices, mon amour,
Mon doux printemps, ma douce fleur nouvelle,
Mon doux plaisir, ma douce colombelle,
Mon passereau, ma gente tourterelle,
Bonjour, ma douce rebelle.


English: (not nearly as pretty, I realize)

Hello my heart, hello my sweet life.
Hello my eye, hello my dear friend. Hey! Hello my lovely,
My daintiness, hello,
My delights, my love, 
My gentle spring, my soft new blossom,
My sweet pleasure, my tender dove,
My swallow, my gentle turtledove,
Hello, my sweet rebel.

De Ronsard is a notable figure in French literature as he perfected the alexandrine, a 12-syllable line of verse; rubbed elbows with nobles and notables including King Charles IX, Joachim du Bellay, and Mary, Queen of Scots; and wrote sensuous, romantic, and musical pieces.  The dude was not the lookiest of lookers, but he certainly got up to some classy wooing.  

Arranged in madrigal form, I can imagine the ladies of the court (Catherine de’ Medici‘s, for example, for which de Ronsard wrote pageant pieces) sighing heavily into their handkerchiefs at such an expression of courtly love.


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