Poem 7, Balade [A Petition to Jupiter]

THE POEMS OF "CH": NOTES


Abbreviations: A: Neuchâtel; B: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 3343; C: Barcelona text; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; LGW: Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women; P: University of Pennsylvania MS French 15.

[Ch I; MS #235] Chançon Royal

12ff Many of the personifications that appear in the “Ch” poems, such as Franchise, Esperance, Dangier, and Doulz Regart here, are closely associated with the allegory of the Roman de la Rose, which Chaucer says he translated (LGW F.329).

Textual Notes

16 conforte. P: confort a.

42 entrer. P: en tron.

48 or 49 Line missing.

52 clamerai. P: clamera.





[Ch II; MS #237] Balade

10 The burning lover is a familiar figure. Thus Damian in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, at the sight of May, almost “swelte and swowned,” so is he burnt by Venus’ torch (CT IV[E]1776–77).





[Ch III; MS #239] Balade

There are no notes for this poem.





[Ch IV; MS #240] Chançon Royal

32 sejour. P: ce jour.





[Ch V; MS #241] Balade

1 The story of the false judge Apius is found in Livy’s History III; Roman de la Rose, lines 5559–5628; Gower’s Confessio Amantis 7.5131–5306; and Chaucer’s Physician’s Tale. Ovid tells the story of how the impious Lycaon prepares a meal of human flesh for Jupiter in Metamorphoses I.198–243.

3 Herod the Great is perhaps best remembered for the Massacre of the Innocents episode related in Matthew 2:16–18. His son, another Herod, reluctantly had John the Baptist beheaded to fulfill a promise made to his wife’s daughter, Salome (Matthew 14:1–11, Mark 6:17–28). The former reference makes more sense in this context, although remarks by the Pardoner (CT VI[C]488–90) and the Prioress (CT VII[B2]574–75) indicate Chaucer’s familiarity with both stories. Nero’s brutal acts were familiar to medieval wordsmiths and audiences alike. Chaucer’s Monk tells the story of Nero’s death in his tale (CT VII[B2]3369–73).

4–5 For Dido’s vain pleas to Aeneas compare Aeneid IV.305–92.

19 la fontaine Helie. For the mountain Helicon, where Pegasus’ hoof created the fountain of the Muses (the Hypocrene), see Ovid, Metamorphoses V.250–63.

25–28 Medea’s story is a favorite of medieval writers. Jason’s infidelity to her is the subject of many medieval retellings, including Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, where Medea’s revenge is omitted as in Ovid’s Heroides, to make her a martyr to love. Gower’s Confessio Amantis, the longest of the English retellings, presents her as a sympathetic victim of Jason’s perjury (5.3247–4222).

Textual Notes

3 d’Erode. P: de Rode.

18–19 Lines reversed in P.

31 ne fu. P: me fu.

33 fis. P: fus.





[Ch VI; MS #242] Balade

1–2 The daughters of Apollo and Clymene are the Heliades, sisters of Phaeton, but they are five in number. There may be a confusion here with the three Graces, who were the daughters of Jupiter and Eurynome; Eurynome’s daughter Leucothoë was also loved by Phoebus. The character of the Graces, attendants of Venus, might help the sense of the poem, but the uncertainty of the husband’s identity (line 8) leaves the final meaning a puzzle.

4 In Greek mythology Damia is equated with Demeter, the Roman Ceres, goddess of the fields.

11 Palinurus was the helmsman of one of Aeneas’ ships who is sacrificed to Neptune by Aeneas’ mother, Venus (Aeneid V.814–71). In the underworld, Palinurus tells Aeneas how he died (Aeneid VI.337–83). This final meeting is depicted in Chaucer’s House of Fame (line 443).

23 Eolus was the ruler of the winds who is frequently represented as blowing two horns. Compare Chaucer’s House of Fame, lines 1571–83.

Textual Notes

11 Palanurus. P: Palamirus.

13 creée. P: cree.

24 fondera. P: forgera.

28 qui. P: que.





[Ch VII; MS #244] Balade

2 King Acrisius of Argos locked his childless daughter, Danaë, in a bronze tower or cave after hearing he would be killed by her son. Zeus, however, comes to her variously as a sunbeam, rain, or a shower of gold and impregnates her with Perseus.

5–6 Argus. Juno appointed the hundred-eyed Argus to guard Io, Jupiter’s mistress whom he had turned into a cow to protect her from Juno’s anger. References to a guard with a hundred eyes were proverbial. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath prides herself on her ability to fool even the hundred-eyed Argus (CT III[D]358–61). See also Gower’s Confessio Amantis 4.3317–61; and Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale (CT I[A]1390), Merchant’s Tale (CT IV[E]2111), and Troilus and Crisyede 4.1459.

13 Tantalus offered the gods a stew made from the body of his son, Pelops, to test their divinity. His punishment involved standing in shallow water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for a piece of fruit, the branches withdrew and whenever he went to drink, the water receded. In Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess, the Man in Black asserts that he has “more sorowe than Tantale” (line 709).





[Ch VIII; MS #245] Balade

1–14 Thisbe, Ariadne, Dido, and Phyllis are all subjects of individual tales in Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women. Many of the other women named here appear as references in other Chaucerian works.

Textual Notes

17 jours. P: tours.

24 Fisses. P: Eusses.





[Ch IX; MS #249] Chanson Royal

31 This line is a syllable short and does not make sense as it stands. The translation represents a guess as to the intended meaning.

Textual Notes

17 flenchist. P: flechist.





[Ch X; MS #260] Rondel

There are no notes for this poem.





[Ch XI; MS #263] Chançon Royal

1–9 This list of seven nonpareils includes two from the Old Testament (Esther and Judith) and five from Greek myth.

Textual Notes

40 Mon. P: A mon.

43 avient. P: venant.

59 que. P: qua.





[Ch XII; P #273] Balade

1 si. P: se.

12 Bel . . . bon. P: bonne.

13 que onques. P: conques.





[Ch XIII; P #274] Balade

16 fors que. P: forques.





[Ch XIV; MS #275] Balade

1–24 In each stanza the endings of the first six lines are echoed at the end of the following hemistich (confort/ressort). This is “rime batellée.”

Textual Notes

11 Mais. P: Et.
et fort. P: effort.

12 Et. P: De.

15 je. P: ou.





[Ch XV; P #276] Balade

19 qu’a souhait. P: quassouhait.
 
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Poem 7, Balade [A Petition to Jupiter]

[Ch VII; MS #244]



Ch





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7. Balade



Plus a destroit, et en plus forte tour
Qu’Acrisiüs n’enclost Dane jadis,
Est enclose la belle que j’aour
Comme mon dieu ou mondain paradis.
Car Argus est sus haulte roche assis
Ou nul des yeulx ne clot, et s’en a cent.
Se ne puis veir ma dame vraiement,
Ne ne verray, ce sçay je sans doubter,
Se Jupiter, a cui mon cuer s’atent,
Ne me fait brief en pluie d’or muer;

Et ce seroit certes le meilleur tour
Considerer, que la garde a tousdiz
Cuer Tantalus, et ara chascun jour,
Car de ce cas l’a Juno tout espris.
Or est il vray qu’a la tresbelle pris
Me sui rendu comme sien liegement,
Mais je sçay bien que jamais nullement
N’en aray rien qui me puist conforter
Se Jupiter, a cui mon cuer s’atent,
Ne me fait, etc.,

Comme il fist soy pour acquerir l’amour
De la gente Dane au tresriant vis,
Par qui Juno fu longtemps en doulour,
Et pour Yo et mainte autre a devis.
Si qu’en ce point je languiray, mendis
Des drois d’Amours, en angoisseux tourment.     
Mes biens seront divers gemissement,
Et mes joies tourneront en amer,
Se Jupiter, a cui mon cuer s’atent,
Ne me fait brief en pluie d’or muer.

7. [A Petition to Jupiter]



Shut in a narrower cell and in a stronger tower
Than Acrisius shut Danäe in of old
Is the beautiful lady that I adore
As my god of the earthly paradise.
Argus is seated on a high rock
Where he closes none of his eyes, and he has a hundred.   
Truly I cannot see my lady,
Nor will I see her, I know this without doubt,
Unless Jupiter, to whom my heart inclines,
Soon turns me into a shower of gold;

And this surely would be the best plan
To devise, since the guard has ever,
And ever will have, the heart of Tantalus,
Because in this affair Juno has fully roused him.
Now it is sure that I have given myself
To the most beautiful one as her liege,
But I know well that never in any way
Will I have anything that can comfort me
Unless Jupiter, to whom my heart inclines,
Soon turns me into a shower of gold,

As he did himself to acquire the love
Of the noble Danäe of the smiling face,
Because of whom Juno was long in sorrow,
As well as for Io and a great many others.
Thus in this state I will languish, deprived
Of the rights of Love, in anguished torment;
My pleasures will be varied sighs,
And my joys will turn to bitterness,
Unless Jupiter, to whom my heart inclines,
Soon turns me into a shower of gold.






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