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L'extension de la langue vernaculaire en Angleterre à la fin du moyen âge

Deschamps’ Ballade Praising Chaucer and Its Impact

Laura Kendrick
p. 215-233

Résumés

La ballade 285 d’Eustache Deschamps surprend par la générosité de sa reconnaissance et de sa glorification de Chaucer comme traducteur pionnier qui a « transplanté » l’érudition latine et française en anglais et qui a « enluminé » l’Angleterre par sa science. Cette louange, loin d’irriter par son excès, a inspiré les émulateurs anglais de Chaucer, qui s’en font l’écho dans leur promotion de Chaucer comme premier enjoliveur ou « enlumineur » de la langue anglaise.

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  • 1 In the manuscript compilation of Deschamps’works (Paris, BnF ms. fr. 840), this ballade appears on (...)

1Recent postcolonial interpretations of Eustache Deschamps’famous ballade 285 (II, 138-140)1, to the refrain of “Grant translateur, noble Geffroy Chaucier”, have argued that Deschamps’praise is condescension in disguise:

  • 2 J. Bowers, “Chaucer after Retters: The Wartime Origins of English Literature”, Inscribing the Hundr (...)

All of these gestures seem to form an exercise in hyperbole quite routine for this French poet. But what has been less fully appreciated is its subtle effort at demeaning Chaucer’s enterprise as the mere importation of the French Rose for an English garden. Extravagant praise belies condescension in assuming that England would be poetically barren without such imports…. It is a telling fact, therefore, that only the Prologue to the Legend of Good Women shows the faintest signs of indebtedness to Deschamps. This suggests that the English poet sensitively registered the condescension implicit in the French poet’s lofty but contrived praise2.

  • 3 In Premodern Places: Calais to Surinam, Chaucer to Aphra Behn, Oxford, Blackwell, 2004, D. Wallace (...)

2At the risk of further irritating the patriotism that seems implicit in such interpretations3, I would like to propose here a different reading of Deschamps’ballade 285, one that understands it – within the context of the predominantly French ideologies of translatio studii et imperii – as a surprisingly generous recognition and glorification of Chaucer as a pioneering translator or transplanter of learning from French and Latin into English.

  • 4 On Jean de Le Mote at the English court and his poetic exchange with Philippe de Vitry, see A. Butt (...)
  • 5 For a critical edition and English translation of Philippe de Vitry’s ballade attacking Jean de Le (...)

3To make this praise even sweeter in Chaucer’s ears and that of his compatriots, Deschamps deliberately echoes epithets and comparisons from two poems exchanged between the French poet Philippe de Vitry, friend of Petrarch, and Jean de Le Mote, who served Edward III and Queen Philippa by writing French verse crammed with classical allusions4.In an irritating ballade to the refrain of “En Albion de Dieu maldicte” (“In Albion cursed by God”), Philippe de Vitry had reproached Jean de le Mote for his miserable failure to “make Pegasus fly”, that is, for failing as a poet. This ballade exchange, which James Wimsatt dates between 1346 and 1356 (in any event, before Vitry’s death in 1361), seems to have been a poetic cause célèbre5. Chaucer suggests his knowledge of it by referring to both Helicon and Cirrha in the same line in his unfinished Anelida and Arcite, which he claims to be translating from Latin into English poetry (v. 9-10) following Statius and “Corynne” (v. 1). In the opening invocation of this early work, probably from the mid-1370s, Chaucer asks for the guidance, first of Mars and Pallas Athene, then of Polyhymnia, who sings with her sister muses on Parnassus, near Helicon and Cirrha:

  • 6 All quotations from Chaucer will be taken from The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson et al., Bost (...)

Be favorable, eke, thou Polymya,
On Parnaso that with thy sustres glade,
By Elycon, not fer from Cirrea,
Singest with vois memorial in the shade,
Under the laurer which that may not fade. (v. 15-19)6

  • 7 After placating Philippe de Vitry, Jean de Le Mote took on another French challenger, Jean Campion, (...)

4That he was a total stranger to the fountain of Cirrha and Calliope’s haunts was one of Philippe de Vitry’s accusations against Jean de Le Mote: “Certes, Jehan, la fons Cirree/Ne te congnoit, ne li lieux vers/Ou maint la vois Caliopee”. Chaucer also seems to have been challenged by this accusation; in preface to a work presented as an English translation from classical authors, the English poet claims to know both Helicon and Cirrha and also Polyhymnia, the muse of sacred verse, whom he invokes7.

  • 8 Deschamps may be so “thirsty” for verse at this point because Philippe de Vitry died in 1361 and Gu (...)
  • 9 In ballade 1144 (VI, 87-88), which is entirely devoted to the sequence of England’s different names (...)

5By addressing Chaucer, in ballade 285, as controller of the conduits from the fountain of Helicon and begging a drink to quell his thirst in “Gaule”8, Deschamps acquiesces to Chaucer’s claim and does so by praising Chaucer in the very terms that Jean de Le Mote had used to flatter and placate or to protest the harshness of his French critic. Whereas Jean de Le Mote had complained that Vitry’s criticism was a drink with too many dregs (“T’a fait brasser buvrage a trop de lie”), Deschamps flatters Chaucer by soliciting from him a “buvraige autentique” (a genuine drink of his poetry). Whereas Le Mote accused Vitry of listening to Eolus’s rumors igniting envy (“enluminans envie”), Deschamps praises Chaucer because he illuminates (“enlumines”) the realm of Aeneas. Vitry’s cursed Albion (“Albion de Dieu maldite”), named after a river (“de flun nommee”), Deschamps replaces with an angelic-sounding origin for the name of Angleterre, “terre Angelique”, after the name of the Saxon lady Angela9.

  • 10 Deschamps’ballade 285 does not have to be a response to his reading or hearing read in English the (...)
  • 11 For analysis of the construction of this myth by Chaucer’s followers through repetition of specific (...)
  • 12 This is the case, for example, with the study by Cannon just cited, although earlier anthologies of (...)

6Rather than taking its extravagant praise ironically as condescension or mockery in disguise, we might better understand Deschamps’ballade celebrating Chaucer as a clever diplomatic move10. Ballade 285 is explicitly addressed to English ears. Even if extravagant, Deschamps’praise and its significance were not lost on Chaucer or his followers. Curiously, what modern scholars have failed to consider is the influence of the ballade itself, as if it could not possibly have made a ripple on the English scene. Yet it is clear, from their insistent reuse of Deschamps’laudatory terms for Chaucer, that Chaucer’s immediate followers both knew Deschamps’ballade and took it straight, understanding that it positioned Chaucer favorably in the tradition of translatio studii. Certain of the terms that Deschamps selected from the earlier poetic cause célèbre and transformed into praise of Chaucer were, as we shall see, repeated again and again by Chaucer’s followers to weave the myth of Chaucer as the original “illuminator” or embellisher of English11. In this respect alone, the influence of Deschamps’ballade praising Chaucer is important (even though it has been left out of accounts of the construction of the myth of Chaucer as father of English poetry)12.

  • 13 See, for example, J. L. Lowes, “The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women as Related to the French M (...)
  • 14 Clifford first came into the sights of Chaucer scholars with a brief survey of his activities (but (...)
  • 15 Wimsatt judges that a date in the late 1380s is “most likely” (Chaucer and His French Contemporarie (...)

7The immediate impact of Deschamps’ballade of praise upon Chaucer himself and on the ambitious program of English translation Deschamps attributes to him is hard to determine due to the uncertain date of ballade 285 and of many of Chaucer’s early works. Indeed, scholars tried at first to answer a different question: what was in the packet of “schoolboy works” Deschamps gave Clifford for Chaucer and what particular borrowings from Deschamps could be detected in Chaucer’s writings and used to date the latter13? Ballade 285 has generally been accepted as a work of no earlier than 1385 or 1386, but possibly from the early 1390s, on the grounds that Deschamps had occasions to be in close proximity with Lewis Clifford then14. A relatively late date also supported an unspoken assumption of earlier Chaucer scholarship: that a young Deschamps would not praise so extravagantly – “Lofty poet, glory of squires”– another young squire whose reputation as a poet was not yet thoroughly established. Nor was this assumption revised after Wimsatt’s demonstration that Jean de Le Mote’s and Philippe de Vitry’s ballades provided Deschamps with well-known hyperbolic models for ballade 28515.

  • 16 For a much more cautious assessment of Chaucer’s use of Deschamps’works, see Wimsatt, Chaucer and H (...)
  • 17 W. Calin, “Deschamps’s ‘Ballade to Chaucer’Again, or the Dangers of Intertextual Medieval Comparati (...)
  • 18 In an essay that seems to have had little impact on anglophone scholars, J. Kooijman suggested that (...)

8These relatively late dates (1385 to 1393) have resulted in the inclusion of nearly the whole of Deschamps’corpus in the “schoolboy works” potentially received by Chaucer via Clifford, and the entire Chaucer corpus (with the exception of his translation of the Roman de la Rose) has been combed for traces of Deschamps’wordings16. Although there are very many resonances, no faithful translations have been found. As a clue for dating or discovering sources for Chaucer’s texts, ballade 285 has proven inconclusive. A late date for the ballade has also prompted scholars to suggest that Deschamps might be subtly alluding to works later than Chaucer’s translation of the Roman de la Rose, works such as his House of Fame and Troilus and Criseyde. In 1998, William Calin dampened this enthusiasm by insisting that any knowledge Deschamps had of Chaucer’s works in English could only be second-hand and superficial. Subtle allusions by a French poet to works in English were figments of modern scholarly imagination, simply out of the question17. Leaving aside the old chase after sources, and allowing the possibility of a date earlier than 1385 or 1386 for its sending to Chaucer, a date as early as the summer of 1377 (following Machaut’s death that spring)18, we might more profitably focus on the sense of Deschamps’ballade 285 itself, and then ask what evidence there may be of English reactions to it.

  • 19 This passage from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History (19.183) continues to point out that transplant (...)

9We need, first, to look more carefully at the ballade’s highly figurative language. In an original fashion, the entire poem plays learnedly upon and tries to carry over into French different senses of Latin translatio (from the verb transfero). As well as the literal sense of “carrying from one place to another”, the Latin word was used concretely to designate “transplanting” or “ingrafting” with respect to plants, for example, by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History: omnia translata meliora grandioraque fiunt (“All plants, when transplanted, grow better and larger for it”)19. The translation of speech or writing into another language was a figurative, abstract sense of translatio. So was the invention of tropes or metaphors (“flowers” or “colors” of rhetoric) to the extent that these involved transfer, uprooting of a word from its native ground or conventional context to place it in a new one that renders its sense figurative. In praising Chaucer’s work of translation as a kind of gardening that embellishes English and England by sowing flowers and planting the rose there, Deschamps is paying tribute to Chaucer’s skills as a rhetorician and poet.

  • 20 According to Brunetto Latini in his Li Livres dou Tresor, written during his exile in France in the (...)
  • 21 See my annex, number two, for the text and my translation of Deschamps’ballade 1484 (V, 229-230).
  • 22 In calling his poetic compilation a “chapel” (chaplet or garland for the head), Deschamps may be im (...)

10Deschamps uses the same tropes, the same allegory, to describe his own work as a poet and translator. With a show of humility in the envoy of ballade 285, he calls his own “plant”, the sample of his own “schoolboy works”, a mere weed, a nettle, compared to Chaucer’s. Elsewhere, Deschamps represents the “fruit” of his poetic labors more attractively. In the second strophe of ballade 1484, Deschamps figures himself as a gardener who has been occupied for the past twenty years sowing flowers in a garden where Ovid planted the morals of Socrates and Seneca, Virgil composed many beautiful sayings, and Orpheus set his sweet songs to music, a garden ringed by poetry, rounded by rhetoric20, and where the names of the greatest are inscribed in letters21. According to the first strophe of this ballade, the flower garden surrounds the fountain of “Cireus” cultivated by Calliope (muse of eloquence and epic poetry), who made a precious chapelet of its flowers, the loss of which Deschamps laments. In the third strophe we learn that this chaplet of flowers – suddenly whisked away by Zephyrus – represents a manuscript compilation of Deschamps’own poetry, flowers of eloquence achieved through his cultivation of the classics and transplanting of them into his French poetry22. In ballade 285, Deschamps flatters Chaucer by figuring him as a fellow gardener. Just as Chaucer has a “vergier” (an anthology or compilation) into which he transplants (translates) slips (pieces of poetry) from others poets, a garden watered by the fountain of the muses, so Deschamps, in ballade 1484, claims to have been cultivating flowers and forming a chaplet of them (an anthology of poetry) in a similar garden watered by a fountain dear to the muses.

  • 23 See L. Kendrick, “Medieval Vernacular Versions of Ancient Comedy: Geoffrey Chaucer, Eustache Descha (...)

11Deschamps was himself a translator who not only transplanted slips of “sentence” from the Latin classics into his fixed-form poetry, especially his “moral” ballades, but who may have developed his talents, like many another vernacular poet of the time, by translating from Latin to French verse. Deschamps’ Double lay de la fragilité humaine (I, 237-305) is a free French verse translation of selected sections of Innocent III’s De contemptu mundi, with the Latin prose in smaller script beside the French poetry. According to the explicit of this illustrated, bilingual manuscript (Paris, BnF ms. fr. 20029), it was presented to the king in 1383. We do not know when Deschamps produced his Geta et Amphitrion (VIII, 211-246), a 1106-line French verse translation of Vitalis of Blois’twelfthcentuy Latin adaptation of Plautus’s play, Amphitryon, but Deschamps’lively play in verse may well qualify as a “schoolboy work”, an exercise in translation that would have amused medieval students, or former students, with its mockery of kitchen sophistry23.

  • 24 In a prologue to his translation of Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, Nicole Oresme justified the ki (...)
  • 25 Christine de Pizan, Le Livre des Fais et bonnes meurs du sage roy Charles V, ed. S. Solente, Paris, (...)
  • 26 On the theory of translatio studii et imperii in medieval France, see S. Lusignan, Parler vulgairem (...)

12Deschamps was one of many royal officers and clerics who contributed to Charles V’s policy of encouraging and rewarding French translations of authoritative Latin texts, a policy intended to promote the transfer of learning and science from classical languages to the French vernacular and from church to state24. Christine de Pizan devoted a chapter of her biography of King Charles V to his love of books and the “beautiful translations he had made”. She credits him with “appealing to the most authoritative and competent masters in all sciences and arts to translate from Latin to French all the most important books” for the purpose of “transmitting to future generations the teachings and knowledge necessary to the practice of virtue”. The implication is that, if left untranslated, this knowledge would be lost. Christine lists a number of the most authoritative translations Charles V commissioned and remarks that there were many more, for learned men “worked incessantly on translations and were rewarded handsomely for them”25. Cultural and military dominance – studii and imperii – were believed to go together, having passed from Greece to Rome to France. Like engagement in military campaigns, translation of learning into the native language could be understood as patriotic action. If the French monarchical policy of promoting French translation of Latin texts was a form of cultural imperialism26, then Deschamps might more aptly be accused of dis loyalty (to France) than condescension (to Chaucer) for suggesting that the process of transfer would not end in France. In praising Chaucer’s initiative to translate the French Rose into “good English” (“bon anglès”), Deschamps points the future direction of learning’s movement (along the already defined axis from Southeast to Northwest). He presents Chaucer as another Socrates, Seneca, Aulus Gellius, Ovid, a resplendent, lofty eagle imperially leading the way, enlightening and beautifying the island kingdom settled by descendants of Aeneas.

  • 27 Following Cicero, Brunetto Latini argued that persuasiveness lies partly in the “adornment” of word (...)
  • 28 See these senses in the Dictionnaire du Moyen Français (1330-1500), online at the ATILF website. In (...)
  • 29 Because of this echo, Chaucer’s praise of Petrarch is even more “self-authorizing” than C. Cannon h (...)
  • 30 Hoccleve’s Works, vol. 3, ed. F. J. Furnivall, London, EETS, 1879.
  • 31 The Serpent of Division, by John Lydgate, ed. H. N. MacCracken, London, Froude, 1911. See Cannon, “ (...)

13Whereas Jean de Le Mote, in the first line of the second strophe of his ballade of self-defense, had used the term “enluminans” to mean “ignite” (with respect to envy), Deschamps used the word differently to describe Chaucer as “illuminating” England with his “theory” (that is, his abstract knowledge or “science”). In this context, Deschamps is praising Chaucer for casting light figuratively: enlightening, instructing, glorifying. Another figurative sense of the verb enluminer comes to the fore in this context dealing with poetry, rhetoric and flowers, and that is to “embellish or adorn,” to “ornament or decorate”. These terms were often used to describe language itself (adorned through colors of rhetoric, figurative expressions, aesthetically persuasive artifices)27, but they were also used to describe representations of language in writing on manuscript pages (adorned by the painting of brightly colored, gold-highlighted initials and illustrations of texts and of leafy, flowering borders around them)28. According to the Middle English Dictionary, Chaucer himself was the first to use “enluminen” in English in this richly figurative sense: he put the word into the Clerk’s mouth in his Canterbury Tales to praise Petrarch: “Fraunceys Petrak, the lauriat poete/Highte this clerk, whos rethorike sweete/Enlumyned al Ytaille of poetrie” (IV 31-33). That Chaucer echoed the compliment to himself in praising Petrarch29 suggests that the English poet appreciated being praised by Deschamps as an “illuminator” of his ancient homeland (“qui par ta theorique/Enlumines le regne d’Eneas/L’Isle aux Geans, ceuls de Bruth”). John Lydgate and Thomas Hoccleve did not allow the Gallic compliment to their “master” to be forgotten, but repeated and sharpened its focus. Hoccleve designated “this land” as the beneficiary of Chaucer’s glorification and embellishment through his “ornate versifying”: “With bookes of his ornat endytyng,/That is to al this land enlumynyng” (Regement of Princes, v. 1973-1974)30. Lydgate substituted English for England, making “owre langage” or “our Rude speche” (our rough speech) the beneficiary of Chaucer’s improvements through his “finding” (or invention or “transplanting”) of so many “flowers of rhetoric”: “flowre of poetis in owre englisshe tonge & the firste that ever enluminede owre langage with flowres of Rethorike and of elloquence” (Serpent of Division, 65.13)31.

  • 32 The illuminated pages of many of these manuscripts can be browsed on the website of the Roman de la (...)
  • 33 Le Livre des Fais, vol. 2, p. 42.
  • 34 K. L. Scott, “An Hours and Psalter by Two Ellesmere Illuminators”, The Ellesmere Chaucer: Essays in (...)

14The illumination of vernacular texts – especially, at first, those written in verse – is an index of the rising prestige of the vernacular. The Roman de la rose, if we judge from the many surviving illuminated copies of it, was the most highly illuminated of vernacular French manuscripts32. Christine de Pizan tells us that Charles V had all the books made for his library, vernacular texts and translations included, written very neatly by the best scribes and expensively adorned (“moult bien escrips et richement aournés et tout temps les meilleurs escripvains que on peust trouver”)33.Although there are many examples of richly illuminated Latin Books of Hours, Psalters, Missals, and Breviaries of English provenance surviving from the late-fourteenth century, there are few richly illuminated texts written in English, certainly far fewer than in French. That Chaucer’s English was illuminated in early fifteenth-century manuscripts such as the Ellesmere Canterbury Tales is a mark of distinction. It is precisely because he was considered to have “illuminated” English that his English is illuminated in the Ellesmere manuscript with 71 flowering borders that feature sparkling gold balls among the leaves and buds34.John Lydgate seems to have understood these little golden balls beside leaves and flowers as signifiers of aureate language, “golden dew drops of speech and eloquence.” He suggests this in the passage from The Life of Our Lady where he praises Chaucer for being the first to make English illustrious:

  • 35 John Lydgate, The Life of Our Lady, ed. J. A. Lauritis et al., Pittsburgh, Duquesne Studies, 1961, (...)

And eke my maister Chauser is ygrave
The noble Rethor, poete of Brytayne
That worthy was the laurer to haue
Of poetrye and the palme atteyne,
That made firste to distille and rayne
The golde dewe dropes of speche and eloquence
Into our tunge thurgh his excellence
And fonde the floures firste of Retoryke,
Our Rude speche only to enlumyne. (2.1628-1636)35

  • 36 Huntington Library, San Marino, California, MS EL 26 C9. See The New Ellesmere Chaucer Facsimile, S (...)

15Lydgate could almost be describing an illuminated page of the Ellesmere Chaucer manuscript, with golden dew drops distilled into the flower garden of Chaucer’s English36.

  • 37 J. Fyler, Riverside Chaucer, p. 347. Some scholars have supposed that the “love tidings” that “Geof (...)
  • 38 Deschamps’epithet for Chaucer, “aigles treshaulz”, may have been suggested by Jean de Le Mote’s que (...)
  • 39 I have argued elsewhere that there is a French architectural model for the row of statues on pillar (...)
  • 40 The false reports of Eolus also figure at the beginning of the second stanza of Jean de Le Mote’s b (...)
  • 41 It may even be that Chaucer is giving a humorously literal example of how he “enlightens the kingdo (...)

16If ballade 285 dates from the late 1370s, it becomes possible to understand Chaucer’s House of Fame, usually dated about 1379-138037, as a humorously self-mocking reaction to Deschamps’high praise: “Aigles treshaulz, qui par ta theorique/Enlumines le regne d’Eneas”. Why else would Chaucer project “Geoffrey” into the heavens in the talons of a theory-spouting eagle38 for delivery to the House of Fame? In effect, ballade 285 elevates the “great translator” sky-high by dubbing him a new Socrates, Seneca, Aulus Gellius and Ovid, all in one. Chaucer goes along for the trip, so to speak, but with tongue in cheek, no doubt enjoying such high praise, but also clowning around with it. If Deschamps meant to celebrate Chaucer for elevating England through the process of translatio studii, Chaucer got the point, but declined the honor, at least explicitly, through Geoffrey’s visit to the Great Hall of Fame39, where he observes the lineup of famous classical authors squabbling on their pillars (3.1419-1516), witnesses Eolus at work giving arbitrary rewards to various supplicants to Fame (3.1520-1867)40, and humbly denies any ambition for fame himself (3.1873-1882)41.Chaucer’s friends must have circulated Deschamps’ballade 285 and magnified its ripples into the myth of Chaucer as first “illuminator” and embellisher of the English language. Chaucer’s own response to his sudden stellification, as expressed in the House of Fame, is ambivalent, both prolonging the distinction and refusing it. Addressed to “every maner man/That Englissh understonde kan” (2.1-2), Chaucer intended his House of Fame for a “home” audience. One hopes that Deschamps got wind of it.

Annexe

1. Eustache Deschamps, ballade 285 (with my translation)

O Socrates plains de philosophie,

O Socrates, full of philosophy,

Seneque en meurs et Anglux en pratique,

Seneca for morality, Aulus Gellius in practice,

Ovides grans en ta poeterie,

great Ovid in your poetry,

Bries en parler, saiges en rethorique,

brief in speech, wise in rhetoric,

5

Aigles treshaulz, qui par ta theorique

lofty eagle, you who, with your knowledge,

Enlumines le regne d’Eneas,

enlighten the kingdom of Aeneas,

L’Isle aux Geans, ceuls de Bruth, et qui as

the island of Giants, of Brutus, and who have

Semé les fleurs et planté le rosier,

sown the flowers and planted the rosebush there

Aux ignorans de la langue [es] pandras,*

and will spread them to those ignorant of the language

10

Grant translateur, noble Geffroy Chaucier.

Great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer.

Tu es d’amours mondains Dieux en Albie:

You are the god of worldly love in Albion,

Et de la Rose, en la terre Angelique

and of the Rose in the Angelic land

Qui d’Angela saxonne, est puis flourie

which, from the Saxon Angela, has since flowered

Angleterre, d’elle ce nom s’applique

into England (from her this name is derived,

15

Le derrenier en l’ethimologique;

the last in the etymology);

En bon anglès le livre translatas;

you translated the book into good English

Et un vergier ou du plant demandas

and a garden, for which you requested plants

De ceuls qui font pour eulx auctorisier

from makers of verse in order to authorize them,

A ja longtemps que tu edifias

You have been shaping for a long time,

Grant translateur, noble Geffroy Chaucier

great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer

A toy pour ce de la fontaine Helye

From you, therefore, from the fountain of Helicon,

Requier avoir un buvraige autentique,

I ask to have an authentic drink,

Dont la doys est du tout en ta baillie,

for the conduit is entirely under your control,

Pour rafrener d’elle ma soif ethique,

to quench with it my feverish thirst,

25

Qui en Gaule seray paralitique

being paralyzed in Gaul

Jusques a ce que tu m’abuveras.

until you give me drink.

Eustaces sui, qui de mon plant aras:

I am Eustache; you will have some of my plants,

Mais pran en gré les euvres d’escolier

but freely accept the schoolboy works

Que par Clifford de moy avoir pourras,

that you may have from me by way of Clifford,

30

Grant translateur, noble Gieffroy Chaucier.

great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer.

L’envoy

The envoy

Poete hault, loenge destruye,

Lofty poet, glory of squires,

En ton jardin ne seroie qu’ortie :

in your garden I would be only a nettle;

Considere ce que j’ay dit premier,

Consider what I said earlier about

Ton noble plant, ta douce mélodie.

your noble plant, your sweet music.

35

Mais pour sçavoir, de rescripre te prie,

To know your will, I beg you to write back,

Grant translateur, noble Geffroy Chaucier.

great translator, noble Geoffrey Chaucer.

2. Eustache Deschamps, ballade 1484 (with my translation)

Doulz Zephirus, qui faiz naistre les flours,

Sweet Zephyr, who makes the flowers grow,

Printemps, Esté, Autompne, et Aurora,

Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Dawn,

Plourez o moy mes dolentes dolours

lament with me my painful losses

Et le jardin que jadis laboura

and the garden that the fountain of Cirrha

5

Fons Cireus, ou Galiope ouvra,

fertilized, where Calliope worked,

Qui de ses fleurs avoit fait un chapel

and had made from its flowers a chaplet

Si odorant, si precieus, si bel

so fragrant, so precious, so beautiful

Que de l’odour pouoit guarir touz maulx,

that the perfume could heal every hurt,

Quant un fort vent le print par cas isnel:

when a strong wind suddenly whipped it away.

10

S’ainsi le pers, c’est trespovres consaulx.

If I lose it this way, it’s cold comfort.

Continuelz fut vint ans mes labours

Continually for twenty years I labored

Aux fleurs semer ou Ovides planta

sowing flowers where Ovid planted

De Socrates et Seneque les mours,

the morals of Socrates and Seneca,

Et Virgiles mains beaus mos y dicta

and Virgil wrote many beautiful sayings,

15

Et Orpheus ses doulz chans y nota.

and Orpheus composed his sweet songs.

Poeterie fut autour*du sercel,

Poetry was all around its circle;

Rethorique le fist ront comme annel,

rhetoric made it round as a ring,

Lettres y mist et les noms des plus haulx

set letters there and the names of the loftiest

Si plaisamment que maleureus m’appel:

so delightfully that I consider myself wretched.

20

S’ainsi le pers, c’est trespovres consaulx.

If I lose it this way, it’s cold comfort.

Si pri Juno la deesse d’amours

Thus I beseech Juno, Goddess of Love,

Et a ce vent qui mon fruit ravi a,

and the wind that ravished my fruit,

Aux dieux de l’air qu’ilz me facent secours,

and the gods of the air to come to my aid,

Ou autrement tout mon fait perira;

or otherwise everything of my making will perish,

25

Car mon las cuer jamès rien n’escripra

for my weary heart will never write anything again

Et ne vouldra riens faire de nouvel.

and will not want to make anything new.

Conseilliez vous a Eustace Morel,

Take Eustache Morel’s advice,

Si me rendez mes choses principaulx,

and give me back my most important things,

Ou me bailliez copie du jouel;

or provide me with a copy of the treasure.

30

S’ainsis le pers, c’est trespovres consaulx.

If I lose it this way, it’s cold comfort.

L’envoye

The envoy

Prince, avisez mes piteuses clamours

Prince, take heed to my pitiful outcry

Et faictes tant que mes chapeaulx soit saulx,

and see to it that my chaplet is safe,

Car moult y a de diverses coulours:

because there are many different colors in it.

S’ainsis le pers, c’est trespovres consaulx.

If I lose it this way, it’s cold comfort.

Haut de page

Notes

1 In the manuscript compilation of Deschamps’works (Paris, BnF ms. fr. 840), this ballade appears on fol. 62r-v, near the end of a first group of 303 poems labelled “Balades de moralites”. The manuscript order is reproduced in the critical edition: Eustache Deschamps, Œuvres complètes, ed. A. H. E. de Queux de Saint-Hilaire and G. Raynaud, 11 vols., Paris, SATF, 1878-1903. All citations of Deschamps will refer to the text number and to the volume and page numbers of this edition. See my annex, number one, for the text of ballade 285 and my translation of it.

2 J. Bowers, “Chaucer after Retters: The Wartime Origins of English Literature”, Inscribing the Hundred Years’War in French and English Cultures, ed. D. N. Baker, New York, SUNY Press, 2000, p. 100. Bowers understands Chaucer’s translations from the French competitively, as “acts of textual aggression designed to seize and bring home the spoils of a conquered culture” (p. 98), “looting foreign cultures for the enrichment of his own”, “linguistic imperialism” (p. 101). A. Butterfield, The Familiar Enemy: Chaucer, Language, and Nation in the Hundred Years War, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009, p. 153, suggests that Deschamps’ballade 285 has an aggressive “edge” and that “under his language of gift exchange lurks the accusation of theft”, for Deschamps “saw Chaucer as both a laughably divergent and threateningly rival source of eloquence”.

3 In Premodern Places: Calais to Surinam, Chaucer to Aphra Behn, Oxford, Blackwell, 2004, D. Wallace also takes a skeptical view of Deschamps’praise for Chaucer: “the ballade might be considered as a spirited act of reverse or returned colonization. The first stanza acclaims Chaucer as a Socrates, a Seneca, an Aulus Gellius, and an Ovid in the island kingdom of Aeneas, the Giants, and ‘ Bruth’; but the only actual poetic work going on is that of planting ‘ the rose-tree for those who are ignorant of French’, namely Chaucer’s translating of Le Roman de la Rose ”. Concerning Deschamps’request for a “drink from Chaucer’s Helicon”, Wallace remarks, “Such a stream, of course, is likely to refresh or reassure a Gallic poet, for Chaucer’s verse will be either in French, or in an English springing from the transplanted Rose” (p. 57).

4 On Jean de Le Mote at the English court and his poetic exchange with Philippe de Vitry, see A. Butterfield, The Familiar Enemy, p. 114-130, and J. I. Wimsatt, Chaucer and His French Contemporaries: Natural Music in the Fourteenth Century, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1991, p. 43-76. See also the forthcoming monograph devoted to Le Mote by Silvère Menegaldo: Le dernier ménestrel? Jean de Le Mote, une poétique en transition (autour de 1340).

5 For a critical edition and English translation of Philippe de Vitry’s ballade attacking Jean de Le Mote and the latter’s riposte, see F. N. M. Diekstra, “The Poetic Exchange between Philippe de Vitry and Jean de le Mote: A New Edition,” Neophilologus, 70, 1986, p. 504-519. See also the editions of J. I. Wimsatt, Chaucer and the Poems of “Ch” in University of Pennsylvania MS French 15, Cambridge, Brewer, 1982, p. 52-55, and E. Pognon, “Ballades mythologiques de Jean de le Mote, Philippe de Vitri, Jean Campion”, Humanisme et Renaissance, 5, 1938, p. 385-417. Whereas Vitry criticized Le Mote for being a stranger to the muses, Petrarch created a more general international incident in 1366 with a letter to Pope Urban V in which he claimed, among other things, that there were no (Latin) poets and orators to be found outside of Italy. His oratores et poete extra Italiam non querantur (Seniles 9.1) seems to have been taken as a challenge even by vernacular poets.

6 All quotations from Chaucer will be taken from The Riverside Chaucer, ed. L. D. Benson et al., Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1987.

7 After placating Philippe de Vitry, Jean de Le Mote took on another French challenger, Jean Campion, who had elaborated Philippe de Vitry’s critique in a ballade with a list of the nine Muses as its refrain, ending with the name of “Polimnie” (Polyhymnia). See Wimsatt, cited above, for editions and translations of the ballade exchange between Jean Campion and Jean de Le Mote. Although he does not evoke the echoes in Anelida and Arcite, Wimsatt judges that Chaucer had to know the four ballades of this exchange: “From the striking correspondences one may infer that the balade exchange was well known in Deschamps’literary world two or three decades later, and that Deschamps expected the audience of his ballades of praise – including Chaucer – to hear the echoes of the earlier work. The poems, it seems, had become part of a standard corpus of lyrics which most court poets writing in French were familiar with. Because of Jean’s connection with England, Deschamps probably knew that Chaucer in particular was acquainted with the exchange” (Chaucer and the Poems of “Ch”, p. 57).

8 Deschamps may be so “thirsty” for verse at this point because Philippe de Vitry died in 1361 and Guillaume de Machaut in April of 1377. Deschamps wrote two ballades of lament for Machaut (numbers 123 & 124; I, 243-246); the terms of his praise for Machaut in number 124 are not only echoed in ballade 285 praising Chaucer, but they also echo the earlier ballade exchange between Philippe de Vitry and Jean de Le Mote. For example, Deschamps calls Machaut earthly god (“mondains dieux”) of harmony and the very stream and conduits of the fountains of Cirrha and Helicon (“La fons Ciree et la fonteine Helie/Dont vous estiez le ruissel et les dois”). I have corrected the misreading “Circé” to “Ciree” in Deschamps’ballade lamenting Machaut (no. 124, v. 9), in accordance with the suggestion of J. Cerquiglini-Toulet, La Couleur de la mélancolie: La fréquentation des livres au XIVe siècle, 1300-1415, Paris, Hatier, 1993, p. 151.

9 In ballade 1144 (VI, 87-88), which is entirely devoted to the sequence of England’s different names, Deschamps explains that Angela was the daughter of a powerful Saxon leader (“un puissant duc de Saxoine”) who conquered the Britons and settled the land, giving it his daughter’s name. Deschamps seems not to know the venerable pun on Angli and Angeli reported by Bede, as A. Crépin notes in “Chaucer et Deschamps”, Autour d’Eustache Deschamps, ed. D. Buschinger, Amiens, Université de Picardie, 1999, p. 40.

10 Deschamps’ballade 285 does not have to be a response to his reading or hearing read in English the opening of Chaucer’s work-in-progress, Anelida and Arcite (although this should not be discounted as a possibility). From the mid-1370s on, through mutual friends and amateur poets who served Edward III and his family, such as Oton de Granson, who knew Deschamps well enough to play a practical joke on him when he entered Calais in Granson’s company (V, 79-80), Deschamps could have had knowledge of the poetic ambitions and translation projects of the young Chaucer (the Rose, the Consolation of Philosophy, Anelida and Arcite as a purported translation of Statius). From payment records (reproduced in the Chaucer Life-Records, ed. M. M. Crow and C. C. Olson, Oxford, Clarendon, 1966, p. 44-62), it appears that Chaucer himself travelled to northern France, even to Paris, upon several negotiating missions for Edward III and Richard II between 1377 and 1381. According to Froissart, “Goffrois Cauchiés” participated in lengthy marriage and peace negotiations at Montreuil-sur-Mer (near Calais) in the spring of 1377 (Life-Records, p. 49-51, and Jean Froissart, Chroniques, ed. G. T. Diller, vol. 4, Geneva, Droz, 1993, p. 353). One of Chaucer’s fellow ambassadors on this occasion was Guichard d’Angle, a Gascon knight who passed into the service of the English king after the Treaty of Brétigny in May, 1360, became a Garter Knight in 1372, and was one of the tutors of the future Richard II. At Guichard d’Angle’s death in 1380, Deschamps wrote two laments, a ballade to the refrain of “Plorez, Deduit, en l’isle d’Engleterre!” (III, 320-1), and a rondeau (IV, 120). Enguerrand de Coucy, whom Froissart names as one of the envoys on the French side, had to know Chaucer, for the young Frenchman was a hostage for five years at Edward III’s court, from 1360 to 1365, and won the king’s daughter Isabella in marriage; Coucy also knew Deschamps, who names him in several poems, among them an acrostic rondeau (IV, 114), and laments his death in a chanson royale (VII, 206-8). When Enguerrand de Coucy renounced his English lands and membership in the Order of the Garter in late August of 1377, it was Lewis Clifford who became a Garter Knight in his place. At this time, Deschamps himself was serving Charles V as squire or huissier d’armes (his promotion dates from 1378 or 1379), and at the same time, he was serving as baillif of Senlis for the king’s brother, Philippe d’Orléans. There were surely several opportunities during the late 1370s and the early 1380s when Chaucer and Deschamps, or their mutual friends and acquaintances, might have talked about and shared vernacular poetry.

11 For analysis of the construction of this myth by Chaucer’s followers through repetition of specific terms of praise, see C. Cannon, “The Myth of Origin and the Making of Chaucer’s English”, Speculum, 71, 1996, p. 646-675.

12 This is the case, for example, with the study by Cannon just cited, although earlier anthologies of Chaucer criticism, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, The Critical Heritage, Vol. 1, 1385-1937, ed. D. S. Brewer, London, Routledge, 1995, begin with Deschamps’ballade 285 (dated “circa 1385”).

13 See, for example, J. L. Lowes, “The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women as Related to the French Marguerite Poems and the Filostrato ”, PMLA, 19, 1904, p. 593-693; “The Prologue to the Legend of Good Women Considered in its Chronological Relations”, PMLA, 20, 1905, p. 749-864; “The Chaucerian ‘ Merciles Beaute’and Three Poems of Deschamps”, Modern Philology, 5, 1910, p. 33-39; “Chaucer and the Miroir de mariage”, Modern Philology, 8, 1910-1911, p. 165-168 & p. 305-334. Lowes’claims for the influence of the Miroir de mariage extended to the “Miller’s Prologue” and the “Franklin’s Tale”, and other scholars took up the search where he left off.

14 Clifford first came into the sights of Chaucer scholars with a brief survey of his activities (but no mention of any travel in 1385-1386) by G. L. Kittredge in “Chaucer and Some of His Friends”, Modern Philology, 1, 1903-1904, p. 7-13. In The Chaucer Tradition, Copenhagen, Branner, 1925, A. Brusendorff remarked that J. L. Lowes wanted so much for Clifford, on the basis of ballade 285, to be the sole bearer of all of Deschamps’literary works to Chaucer, that he finally resorted to having Clifford make two trips, one in 1386 with Deschamps’works up until then, and another in 1393 laden chiefly with the Miroir de mariage. Brusendorff himself argued for the later date for ballade 285: “the only known opportunity Deschamps had of meeting Clifford was during the negotiations for peace between France and England at Leulinghem in the early spring of 1393, when Clifford was among the English negotiators, and Deschamps translated one of his prose treatises from Latin into French at the command of one of the French negotiators, the Duke of Bourgogne” (p. 91). Deschamps’“Complainte de l’Eglise ” is a didactic letter of complaint written in prose in the persona of Mother Church to her wayward sons, the rulers, counselors, and governors of Christendom. Dated April 13th, 1393, the Latin letter was, according to its explicit, “made and compiled” by Deschamps at the peace negotiations between the kings of France and England at Leulinghem, where Deschamps also translated his Latin text to French at the command of “Monseigneur de Bourgongne” (number 1397, VII, 293-311). Brusendorff is correct that the spring of 1393 is the best documented occasion when Deschamps and Clifford were in close proximity, but that does not make it the only or most likely one.

15 Wimsatt judges that a date in the late 1380s is “most likely” (Chaucer and His French Contemporaries, p. 248). However, he admits in a note (p. 339, n. 27) that “one might also make an argument for a much earlier time”. An unexplained 1386 is the date assigned to ballade 285 in the introduction to the Riverside Chaucer (p. xxi): “expense accounts… note payment to Chaucer for travel to Paris and Montreuil, 17 February to 25 March, and to ‘ parts of France,’30 April to 26 June 1377. The French poet Eustache Deschamps, who in 1386 was to send Chaucer a well-known ballade in his praise, may have been in Paris at that time”. For a concise list of various dates proposed for Deschamps’ballade 285, see J. Coleman, “The Flower, the Leaf, and Philippa of Lancaster”, The Legend of Good Women: Context and Reception, ed. C. P. Collette, Woodbridge, D. S. Brewer, 2006, p. 53, and n. 87. Coleman concludes, “While we cannot entirely dismiss the possibility of the Flower and Leaf poem (s) arriving from Deschamps via Clifford, therefore, we should recognize that there is no extrinsic evidence to date the mission to 1385-6. Indeed, the fact that Deschamps’praise is focused on Chaucer’s translation of the Roman de la Rose supports the argument for an earlier date” (p. 54). In spite of the entirely hypothetical basis for supposing a “mission” in 1385 or 1386 for Clifford as bearer of Deschamps’ballade 285 and other works to Chaucer, this date has hardened like concrete, and ballade 285 has even been adduced as evidence that Clifford was in France in 1385-1386. In Lancastrian Kings and Lollard Knights, Oxford, Clarendon, 1972, K. B. McFarlane wrote, “Lewis Clifford is not known as a poet, but as a friend of poets. We know from this fact that he had been in France in 1385 until early 1386. For it was then that he brought a poem addressed by the French poet, Eustache Deschamps, to Geoffrey Chaucer. He is himself mentioned in the poem” (p. 182). On McFarlane’s authority, this “evidence” entered the biography of Sir Lewis Clifford in the printed and online versions of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography © 2004-2009: “When he was in France in 1385-6, Clifford met the poet Eustache Deschamps…”.

16 For a much more cautious assessment of Chaucer’s use of Deschamps’works, see Wimsatt, Chaucer and His French Contemporaries, p. 241-272.

17 W. Calin, “Deschamps’s ‘Ballade to Chaucer’Again, or the Dangers of Intertextual Medieval Comparatism”, Eustache Deschamps, French Courtier-Poet: His Work and His World, ed. D. M. Sinnreich-Levy, New York, AMS, 1998, p. 73-83. In the final note of his essay, Calin joked with the idea that Deschamps’ballade 285 might allude to works by Chaucer other than the Rose translation: “It is also possible that, in response to the query: ‘ Your friend Chaucer, what did he do in your English?’Clifford said something like this: ‘ Well, he made a dit about a talking eagle, and another dit about Cupid, and short dits with orchards, and a livre about a man named Pandarus….’But not very likely” (p. 82).

18 In an essay that seems to have had little impact on anglophone scholars, J. Kooijman suggested that the most likely date for Deschamps’ballade 285 was between 1377 and 1380. Kooijman paid less attention to the question of Clifford as messenger than to the mood of the poem, noting that in 1385-1386 Deschamps took a bellicose attitude in ballades inciting the French fleet to hurry up and cross the Channel to invade England. See J. Kooijman, “Envoi de fleurs: À propos des échanges littéraires entre la France et l’Angleterre sous la Guerre de Cent Ans”, Études de langue et de littérature françaises offertes à André Lanly, Nancy, Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 1980, p. 173-183, at p. 180-181. In “Chaucer et Deschamps”, p. 39, A. Crépin leans toward Kooijman’s suggested dating of 1377-1380 for the reason that the poem’s “air d’entente cordiale” would be appropriate during negotiations over a possible marriage between Richard II and Marie de France.

19 This passage from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History (19.183) continues to point out that transplanting has a remedial or preservative effect on certain plants. Although he does not use the word translatio – but rather forms of the verb planto, exstirpo, and admoveo – in his De vulgari eloquentia (1.18.1), Dante imagines the illustrious vernacular (the Italian dialect) as a finer garden with more expert gardeners: “Does it [the illustrious vernacular] not daily dig up thorn-bushes growing in the Italian forest? Does it not daily make new grafts or prick out seedlings? What else do its gardeners do, if they are not uprooting or planting?” (English translation by S. Botterill on the website of the Princeton Dante Project).

20 According to Brunetto Latini in his Li Livres dou Tresor, written during his exile in France in the 1260s, rime and meter form a protective enclosure for verbal expressions: “mais li sentiers de risme est plus estrois et plus fors, si comme celui ki est clos et fermés de murs et de palis, c’est a dire de pois et de nombre et de mesure certaine de quoi on ne puet ne ne doit trespasser” (3.10.1); although rhetoric teaches both prose and poetry, prose is a “broad way” (“la voie de prose est large et pleniere”). See Li Livres dou Tresor de Brunetto Latini, ed. F. J. Carmody, Berkeley/Los Angeles, University of California Press, 1947, p. 327. Deschamps seems to be imagining the formal enclosure of poetry differently: not as a narrow, protected path, but as a walled garden, circular like that of the Roman de la Rose.

21 See my annex, number two, for the text and my translation of Deschamps’ballade 1484 (V, 229-230).

22 In calling his poetic compilation a “chapel” (chaplet or garland for the head), Deschamps may be imitating the title of one of Philippe de Vitry’s few surviving French poems, the Chapel des trois fleurs de lis, written for King Philippe VI de Valois.

23 See L. Kendrick, “Medieval Vernacular Versions of Ancient Comedy: Geoffrey Chaucer, Eustache Deschamps, Vitalis of Blois and Plautus’Amphitryon”, Ancient Comedy and Reception: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson, ed. S. D. Olson, Berlin/Boston, De Gruyter, 2014, p. 377-396, at p. 385-396. Deschamps’most festive, joyful works, such as dated mock charters and verse epistles (the earliest written on December 9, 1368), and heavily dialogued texts, like his Geta and Amphitrion, farce of Mestre Trubert et d’Antrognant, and Dit des. IIII. offices, appear late in the manuscript compilation of Paris, BnF ms. 840 (Œuvres complètes, VII, 155-192. 312-362; VIII, 211-246).

24 In a prologue to his translation of Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, Nicole Oresme justified the king’s translation policy on the authority of Cicero and emphasized royal altruism rather than cultural imperialism: “as Tullius says in his book Academics, weighty and authoritative things are delightful and agreeable to people in the language of their own country; and for this reason he says in the above-mentioned book and in several others, against the opinions of some, that it was good to translate the sciences from Greek into Latin and to deliver and analyze them in Latin. And at that time Greek was to Latin for the Romans as now Latin is to French for us. … Thus I may conclude that the prudence and preoccupation of our good king Charles V in having good and excellent books translated into French is commendable”. My translation; for the medieval French, see Maistre Nicole Oresme: Le Livre de Éthiques d’Aristote, published from the Text of MS 2902, Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, ed. A. D. Menut, New York, Stechert, 1940, p. 99-101.

25 Christine de Pizan, Le Livre des Fais et bonnes meurs du sage roy Charles V, ed. S. Solente, Paris, SATF, 1936-1940, vol. 2, p. 42-43, my translation.

26 On the theory of translatio studii et imperii in medieval France, see S. Lusignan, Parler vulgairement: Les intellectuels et la langue française aux XIIIe et XIVe siècles, Paris, Vrin, 1987, p. 129-171; with particular reference to Jean de Meun’s translation of Boethius, see R. Copeland, Rhetoric, Hermeneutics and Translation in the Middle Ages: Academic Traditions and Vernacular Texts, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 134-135; with reference to Charles V’s promotion of French translations, see L. J. Walters, “Christine de Pizan as Translator and Voice of the Body Politic”, Christine de Pizan: A Casebook, ed. B. K. Altmann and D. L. McGrady, New York, Routledge, 2003, p. 25-42. The relative dearth in Chaucer’s time of princely patronage for English translation in England (as compared to France) is treated in my “The Canterbury Tales in the Context of Contemporary Vernacular Translations and Compilations”, in The Ellesmere Chaucer: Essays in Interpretation, ed. M. Stevens and D. Woodward, San Marino and Tokyo, Huntington Library and Yushodo, 1997, p. 281-305, at p. 288-293. See also G. Olson, “Chaucer”, The Cambridge History of Medieval Literature, ed. D. Wallace, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 566-588.

27 Following Cicero, Brunetto Latini argued that persuasiveness lies partly in the “adornment” of words and ideas. In the third book of his Li Livres dou Tresor, which is devoted to rhetoric, Latini calls the “science of rhetoric” (“la science de rectorique”) a manner of “painting” which “puts color in rime and in prose” (“ki mete la coulour en risme et en prose”). He goes on to warn against “painting” too much, for sometimes color is the avoidance of color (“Mais garde toi de trop poindre, car aucunefois est couleur a eschiver couleur”) (3.10.3).

28 See these senses in the Dictionnaire du Moyen Français (1330-1500), online at the ATILF website. In Latin, the verb illumino meant not only “to illuminate”, but also, figuratively, “to embellish or adorn with anything bright” (A Latin Dictionary, ed. C. Lewis and C. Short, Oxford, Clarendon, 1879). In medieval Italian, the verb alluminare had to do with the transmission of light or, figuratively, with teaching, but not with rhetorical embellishment of language, which was expressed by verbs such as adornare. In his Divine Comedy, however, Dante noted that in Paris there existed an art of manuscript illumination called “alluminar” (Purgatorio, canto 11.81).

29 Because of this echo, Chaucer’s praise of Petrarch is even more “self-authorizing” than C. Cannon has suggested (“The Myth of Origin”, p. 650).

30 Hoccleve’s Works, vol. 3, ed. F. J. Furnivall, London, EETS, 1879.

31 The Serpent of Division, by John Lydgate, ed. H. N. MacCracken, London, Froude, 1911. See Cannon, “The Myth of Origin”, p. 672-673, for a list of citations from English texts from 1409 to 1655 that use forms of the verb enluminen to praise Chaucer as the “illuminator” of English (or, in two early cases, of the land rather than of the language). Other examples constructive of the “illustrious” vernacular tradition may be found in the first volume of Brewer’s Geoffrey Chaucer: The Critical Heritage, and in the English prologues anthologized in The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory, 1280-1520, ed. J. Wogan-Browne, N. Watson, A. Taylor, and R. Evans, University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999. In these prologues, the rhetorical adornment of English or other vernaculars is regularly described in terms of manuscript illumination. For example, in his Troy Book, ed. H. Bergen, 4 vols., London, EETS, 1906-1935, Lydgate echoes Deschamps’ballade 285 when he praises Guido delle Colonne for grafting flowers of rhetoric into and painting with fresh colors his translation of the old Troy story: “For he enlumyneth by crafte and cadence/This noble story with many fresche colour/Of rethorik; and many riche flour/Of eloquence, to make it sounde bet,/He in the story hathe ymped in and set.” (v. 192-196). In Illuminator, Makar, Vates: Visions of Poetry in the Fifteenth Century, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1988, L. Ebin points out that the word “enlumyne” is “highly charged” for Lydgate and that it “draws together associations from the art of manuscript illumination and from the religious tradition of spiritual illumination” or enlightenment (p. 20-24). Her subsequent discussion of Lydgate’s use of the terms “adourne” and “enbelissche” also relates to manuscript illumination, poetry, and rhetoric.

32 The illuminated pages of many of these manuscripts can be browsed on the website of the Roman de la Rose Digital Library and on the French National Library’s Gallica website.

33 Le Livre des Fais, vol. 2, p. 42.

34 K. L. Scott, “An Hours and Psalter by Two Ellesmere Illuminators”, The Ellesmere Chaucer: Essays in Interpretation, ed. M. Stevens and D. Woodward, p. 90, notes that the gold balls are much less used in the Ellesmere borders after fol. 133r, perhaps out of economy. From comparative examination of contemporary borders, Scott proposes (p. 106) that the Ellesmere borders were done in a London workshop at a date “just after 1400 and ending no later than 1405” (earlier than the conventional date of around 1410 for the Ellesmere manuscript). The use of gold balls is a motif common to French, Italian, and English limners in the second half of the fourteenth century.

35 John Lydgate, The Life of Our Lady, ed. J. A. Lauritis et al., Pittsburgh, Duquesne Studies, 1961, my punctuation.

36 Huntington Library, San Marino, California, MS EL 26 C9. See The New Ellesmere Chaucer Facsimile, San Marino and Tokyo, Huntington Library and Yushodo, 1995. Lydgate’s poem (circa 1409-1411) is contemporary with the Ellesmere Chaucer manuscript.

37 J. Fyler, Riverside Chaucer, p. 347. Some scholars have supposed that the “love tidings” that “Geoffrey” is propelled by Jupiter’s eagle to learn at first hand allude to a mission to the continent that Chaucer undertook between 1377 and 1380 to negotiate the young king Richard’s marriage.

38 Deschamps’epithet for Chaucer, “aigles treshaulz”, may have been suggested by Jean de Le Mote’s questionable praise of Philippe de Vitry as more clear-sighted and acute than Argus (“plus clers veans et plus agus qu’Argus”), for clear-sightedness and being able to look directly at the sun were thought to be characteristic of eagles. Surely it was more flattering to compare a poet to a lofty and resplendent eagle than to spying Argus.

39 I have argued elsewhere that there is a French architectural model for the row of statues on pillars supporting a Great Hall: the row of statues of French kings on pillars that ran down the center and supported the roof of the Great Hall of the French royal palace in Paris. In Chaucer’s dreamt architecture in the third book of the House of Fame, ancient authors perform the same supportive role as the statues of French kings, perhaps because Chaucer is representing the policy of translatio studii et imperii whereby ancient authors, through translation, are made to uphold the fame of contemporary monarchy. See my “Chaucer’s House of Fame and the French Palais de Justice”, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, 6, 1984, p. 121-125, and “The Canterbury Tales in the Context of Contemporary Translations,” p. 93 (cited above, n. 27).

40 The false reports of Eolus also figure at the beginning of the second stanza of Jean de Le Mote’s ballade of self-defense, where he accuses Philippe de Vitry of defaming him by spreading false rumors with his poetic “drink with too many dregs”.

41 It may even be that Chaucer is giving a humorously literal example of how he “enlightens the kingdom of Aeneas” in the first book of his House of Fame, where he translates the Aeneas legend into English in a greatly abbreviated version, which “Geoffrey” tells in a special way, insisting again and again that he is reading and interpreting it from “graven” (sculpted, painted) images in a dream vision.

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Note de fin

* My examination of the manuscript (Paris, BnF ms. fr. 840, fol. 62r-v) revealed no errors of transcription in the standard edition of ballade 285 (Œuvres complètes, II, 138-140), except that the first word of every refrain is clearly “Grant” (not “Grand” in v. 20 and 30), and v. 32 reads “seroie” (instead of “seroye”). I have also corrected the misnumbering of the lines and added the missing syllable to v. 9 by emending to “[es] pandras”. I have retained the editorial capitalization and punctuation of the standard edition.

* My examination of the manuscript (Paris, BnF ms. fr. 840, fol. 258r-v) revealed no errors of transcription in the standard edition of ballade 1484 in the Œuvres complètes (V, 229-230), the only difference being that “autour” in line 16 is written as one word instead two (“au tour”). I have retained the punctuation and capitalization of the standard edition.

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Laura Kendrick, « Deschamps’ Ballade Praising Chaucer and Its Impact », Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes, 29 | 2015, 215-233.

Référence électronique

Laura Kendrick, « Deschamps’ Ballade Praising Chaucer and Its Impact », Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes [En ligne], 29 | 2015, mis en ligne le 30 avril 2018, consulté le 18 juillet 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/crm/13782 ; DOI : 10.4000/crm.13782

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Auteur

Laura Kendrick

Université de Versailles – St-Quentin-en-Yvelines DYPAC (EA 2449)

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© Cahiers de recherches médiévales et humanistes

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