I 1 A SLOPING FLAME
1555 Lyon Bonhomme
Estant assis de nuit secret estude,
Seul repousé sus la selle d’aerain,
Flambe exigue sortant/fortant de solitude,
Fait proferer/proserer qui n’est à croire vain.
Line 1, ‘estant’ is OF ‘étant’ meaning either the adjective for standing upright or else a capacity or presence (linking with the aetheric verb ‘ester’). OF ‘étude’ is study or a room for study.
Line 2, OF ‘seul’ means on its own, without assistance. OF ‘repousé means pushed back. OF ‘sus’ means on. OF ‘selle’ is to do with riding horses (a ‘seller’ was a horserider) so a saddle (on a stool or tripod). OF ‘aerain’ is brass, any alloy of copper. (L’âge d’airain = the Bronze Age.)
Line 3, OF ‘flambe’ is flame, flame-shaped, heat, ardour. OF ‘exigue’ is small. OF ‘sortant’ from ‘sortir’ can mean drawing lots to randomize fortune or else to go out from a place or to show something. OF ‘fortant’ is perhaps from the verb ‘forcir’ to get bigger or else it is from ‘frotter’ meaning to put pressure on something solid or stirring and turning a non-solid.
Line 4. Whereas OF ‘proférer’ is to speak out loud, to be knowing or to push or expose something, OF ‘proserer’ could be from ‘proser’, to write in prose. OF ‘croire’ is to admit the existence of something or to have faith or to make an admission of truth. OF ‘vain’ is unavailing, without effect, exhausted or without moral force.
(A presence) seated upright at secret night-time study,
On the wrought alloy saddle pushing back unaided/sloping without assistance,
The faint failing flame,
Makes vouchsafed what is not to be vainly believed.
Line 1 sets this somewhat spooky scene. It would not be uncharacteristic if this were a deliberately ambiguous opening statement that resolves equally well to Nostredame ‘seated upright’ as to ‘a presence seated’ with its reinforcement of something supernatural taking place. In freed-up prose we would naturally reverse the order of Lines 2 and 3. They describe the flame’s strange attitude and its inherent function. This description is an important echo of a definitive paragraph in the Presage to Cesar that ends
“…with the aid of the small flame in that on making the future cases appear it will have suddenly sloped”
whilst Line 2 is a forerunner of the statement
“All in accordance with presagings by the one of the wrought alloy saddle”
to be found in the Epistle to the King.
The Sixteenth Century typeface does not clearly distinguish lower-case letters ‘f’ and ‘s’ and so I’ve mentioned alternative readings, although the main thrust stays the same: a rather occult method of validation for his revelatory visions practiced at night in Nostredame’s study which is uncovered for us here, bang at the beginning of the Centuries in Century I Quatrain 1.
(Also see Nostradamus Quatrain I 2 ALL SYSTEMS GO)
Nigel Raymond Offord © 2011