X 75  Who goes there?

1568 Lyon Benoist Rigaud

-ant attendu ne reuiendra iamais
Dedans l’Europe, en Asie apparoistra
Vn de la ligue yssu du grand Hermes,
Et sur tous roys des orientz croistra.

Save for the description in Line 3, this quatrain lacks any article (which is not the only instance of this in the Centuries.

Line 1. The text starts with a torn first word. The first letters of the other three lines were filled-in by hand, long ago. Somebody should have a better copy, I feel, but until that surfaces we must guess the very first word. Perhaps ‘devant’, ahead, or ‘durant’, during, or ‘OF ‘quant’ being quand, when. OF ‘attendu’ = expected. In the commonest translation, ‘long-awaited’, it should really be sat together with ‘depuis longtemps’. With poetic licence, a shortened version of ‘tant et tant’ (so many) might do it better. On its own, ‘tant’ = ‘as’ whilst ‘courant’ = current and OF ‘curant’ = ‘curer’ which had a secondary meaning ‘to purify’. I think I’ll just bear all of these in mind and go ahead with the translation.

Line 2, ‘apparoistra’ = OF apparaître/aparoir, a double-edged word for an apparent phenomenon, something most unusual or else supernatural.

The OF word ‘croistra’ was progressive in meaning, well translated today as ‘assuredly will grow’ (perhaps in the same way as OE ‘crescive’ describes the smallest sliver of new Moon expanding inexorably to its fullness).

The first couplet:

A high guru, a mass purifier, a messiah or similar, whose return is expected everyday by Europeans will not arrive, although in Asia …

The second couplet:

… a spiritually developed person (by definition not at all political, neither successful nor wealthy in worldly matters nor a sex-symbol) will grow over all the top-dogs of the East, inexorably.

What is the implied link, the missing article, between the two that makes this a full and meaningful quatrain? He, she or it appears in Line 3 and I have moved them to my second line to make the quatrain easier to read.

Expected ever will never return
In Europe, One of the league issued from the great Hermes,
In Asia will become apparent
And over all the Kings of the East will assuredly grow.

II 29  Who comes here?

1555 Lyon Bonhomme

L’oriental sortira de son siege,
Passer les monts Apennins, voir la Gaule:
Transpercera du ciel les eaux & neige:
Et un chascun frapera de sa gaule.

Line 3, OF ‘transpercera’, will penetrate through the sky. (But thesimilar OF ‘transpassera’, would mean will go beyond, exceed, or wander through like a nomad.)

The Oriental will leave his seat,
To pass the Apennine mountains, to turn his attention upon Gaul:
He will penetrate through the sky, the waters and snow,
And his rod shall strike every person.

An advance by one from the East and the somewhat painful impositions or inexorable changes that will ensue. He flies above the clouds and lands at France. His rod is his weapon, perhaps his wand or his words being broadcast or by a subtle influence emanating from his heart. A strange thing about ancient texts is the repetitive references to flying craft. In Nostredame’s day, nobody flew or claimed to fly. I suppose the nearest Medieval experiences would be horse-riding at the gallop or, more remotely, directing birds of prey. Is this a rearview reference to Attila the Hun, Tamerlaine or Genghis Khan and their horseback hordes? Attila laid waste to Gaul and the North of Italy. The Apennines are the backbone of Italy. Several barbarian tribes successfully weakened Rome’s various territories.

A military plane and a parachute is swifter still. The major European airline Air France (known by some English passengers as ‘Air Chance’) operate a hub and wheel system whereby all flights to Europe disembark at Paris and shuttle services feed other destinations. Anyway, today it’s eminently possible to fly the first three lines and then strike body or soul in perspicacious ways.