Nonsense love poetry (a dozen elephants playing the violin in a plum stone)

One of the great things about working on a project like this is to find in a library in Paris a nonsense love poem that has been lying around for a few centuries and which turns out to be a rather lovely thing from the past. Here is a sample:

Mais quand douze Elephans dans un noyau de prune

Joueront du Violon aux rayons de la Lune

On verra dans vos beaux yeux reluire Cupidon

Car si vostre merite avoit pris ses lunettes

Tous les quatre Elemens danseroient les sonnettes

Et se feroient la barbe avec un Espadon.


But when twelve elephants in a plum stone

Will play the violin in the moonbeams

Cupid will be seen shining in your beautiful eyes

Because if your merit had worn its glasses

All four elements would dance like little bells

And would shave with a short sword.

The last stanza rhymes liberty with fantasy, true freedom found in the imagination…:

Depuis que la vertu habite en l’Univers

L’Enclume a regardé le Marteau de travers

A cause que les Dieux boivent de l’Ambrosie

On a tant recherché dans l’antiquité

Qu’en fin on a treuvé que nostre liberté

Gist en la fantaisie.


Since virtue has lived in the universe

The anvil has looked askance at the hammer

Because the gods drink ambrosia

We have searched so much in antiquity

That in the end we have found that our liberty

Lies in fantasy.