A Claude Bectone, Dauphinoise.
Si Amour n'était tant volage
Si Amour avait connaissance
Si Amour découvrait sa vue
Si Amour ne portait les flèches
Si Amour n'avait l'étincelle,
Si Amour, de toute coutume,
Si chose aimée est toujours belle,
Si le coeur humain qui désire
Si l'estimer naît de prudence,
Si le bien est chose plaisante,
Bref, puisque la bonté bénigne
To Claude Bectone, the Dauphine.
If Love were not so fickle
If Love understood
If Love uncovered his eyes
If Love didn't carry arrows
If Love didn't have the spark,
If Love, in all his habits,
If the beloved thing is always beautiful,
If the human heart which desires
If the estimation is born of prudence,
If the good is a pleasant thing,
In short, since the benign goodness
Literal translation by J. Friedman
If Love were not a fickle god,
A little boy in man's façade,
Who cares not for his victims' stress,
We'd surely love without distress.
If Love could only know the power
If Love would open his closed eyes
If Love would drop his quiver fair,
If Love's dark fire could cease to burn,
If Love, whenever he appears,
If the one you love is beautiful,
If the human heart's perception
If you see your loved one clearly
If goodness is your lifelong goal,
In short, since God is Lord of all,
Poetic translation by J. Friedman
Bonaventure des Periers was better known for his collection of witty and varied stories, Nouvelles récréations et joyeux devis, or Novel pastimes and merry tales, published in 1558 after his death, and for a set of four dialogues called Cymbalum Mundi. He was the secretary and valet-de-chambre of Marguerite de Navarre, the sister of François I of France, the writer of the celebrated Heptameron, a collection of courtly stories after the model of Bocaccio's Decameron. He was not actually involved with Claude de Bectone; they merely carried on a literary flirtation, which was a popular diversion of the times. It is assumed that she wrote the Response section.
Basically, this piece is a conversation between a man who has been cruelly disappointed in love, to the point where he blames Love (Cupid, the naked god of love, complete with love arrows to shoot unwitting humans in the eye) for his pain. The response is from a woman who is pious and believes that God, rather than Cupid, is in charge of love. She asserts that if the lovers are humble and worthy of each other, their love can't help but succeed.
A note on the first two lines of the Response: I know I am twisting the meter somewhat. This is what came to me, and I actually think it sets off the beginning of the Reponse by stopping the listener in his tracks and emphasizing "beautiful" and "dutiful", then leads back into the original cadence of the rest of the poem. My poetic adviser assures me this is a period practice.