Monthly Archives: June 2012

Sonnet 40

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Que de Beautez, que de Graces écloses
Voy-je au jardin de ce sein verdelet,
Enfler son rond de deus gazons de lait,
Où des Amours les fleches sont encloses !
 
Je me transforme en cent metamorfoses,
Quand je te voy, petit mont jumelet,
Ains du printemps un rosier nouvelet,
Qui le matin caresse de ses roses.
 
S’Europe avoit l’estomac aussi beau,
Sage tu pris le masque d’un toreau,
Bon Jupiter pour traverser les ondes.
 
Le Ciel n’est dit parfait pour sa grandeur.
Luy et ce sein le sont pour leur rondeur:
Car le parfait consiste en choses rondes.
 
 
 
                                                                       What beauty, what grace do I see
                                                                       Blossom in the garden of this ripe breast
                                                                       Swelling its roundness with two milky lawns
                                                                       Where the arrows of Love are enclosed!
 
                                                                       I change myself into a hundred different forms
                                                                       When I see you, small twin mounds,
                                                                       Like a young rose-bush in spring
                                                                       Which the morning caresses with its own rose-pink.
 
                                                                       If Europa had so fine a breast
                                                                       It was wise of you to put on the mask of a bull
                                                                       Great Jupiter, to cross the waves.
 
                                                                       Heaven is not called perfect for its size.
                                                                       It and this breast are perfect because they’re curved;
                                                                       for perfection consists in curves.
 
 
 
Another sonnet which Ronsard changed substantially in different versions. Blanchemain: has a radically changed ending, and minor changes in the first quatrain. Though the second quatrain is unchanged, it’s probably simplest to give the whole poem again in this version:
 
 
Ah !   seigneur Dieu !  que de graces écloses
Dans le jardin de ce sein verdelet,
Enflent le rond de deux gazons de lait,
Où des Amours les flesches sont encloses !
 
Je me transforme en cent metamorfoses,
Quand je te voy, petit mont jumelet,
Ains du printans un rosier nouvelet,
Qui le matin caresse de ses roses.
 
S’Europe avoit l’estomach aussi beau,
De t’estre fait, Jupiter, un taureau,
Je te pardonne.  Eh! que ne sui-je puce ?
 
La baisottant, tous les jours je mordroi
Ses beaus tetins ;  mais la nuit je voudrois
Que rechanger en homme je me pusse.
 
 
 
                                                                       Oh Lord God, how many graces blossoming
                                                                       In the garden of this ripe breast
                                                                       Swell the roundness of the two milky lawns
                                                                       Where the arrows of Love are enclosed!
 
                                                                       I change myself into a hundred different forms
                                                                       When I see you, small twin mounds,
                                                                       Like a young rose-bush in spring
                                                                       Which the morning caresses with its own rose-pink.
 
                                                                       If Europa had so fine a breast
                                                                       Then for making yourself, Jupiter, into a bull
                                                                       I pardon you. Oh, why can’t I be a flea?
 
                                                                       Giving her little kisses, all day long I would nibble
                                                                       Her beautiful breasts; but at night I’d wish
                                                                       That I could change back into a man.
 
 
 Blanchemain also footnotes a version of the ending corresponding to Marty-Laveaux’s text above, except that he begins line 10 with “Rusé” instead of “Sage” (‘It was cunning of you…’).  I should note that I have also seen a version with ‘bienveigne’ (‘welcomes’) instead of “caresses’ in line 8, but I don’t know if that is authentic Ronsard.
 
 
 
 
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Sonnet 39

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Contre mon gré l’attrait de tes beaux yeux
Force mon ame, et quand je te veuxs dire
Quell’est ma mort, tu ne t’en fais que rire,
Et de mon mal tu as le cœur joyeux.
 
Puis qu’en t’aimant je ne puis avoir mieux,
Permets au moins, qu’en mourant je souspire :
De trop d’orgueil ton bel oeil me martyre,
Sans te mocquer de mon mal soucieux.
 
Mocquer mon mal, rire de ma douleur,
Par un desdain redoubler mon malheur,
Haïr qui t’aime et vivre de ses pleintes,
 
Rompre ta foy, manquer de ton devoir,
Cela, cruelle, hé n’est-ce pas avoir
Les mains de sang et d’homicide teintes ?
 
 
 
                                                                       Against my wish, the attraction of your lovely eyes
                                                                       Forces my soul, and when I want to say to you
                                                                       That it is my death too, you do nothing but laugh
                                                                       And in my pain your heart rejoices.
 
                                                                       As in loving you I can have no better
                                                                       At least let me yearn for you as I die
                                                                       From too much pride your lovely eye torments me
                                                                       Without you laughing at the pain of my yearning.
 
                                                                       Mocking my pain, laughing at my sadness,
                                                                       Doubling my misfortune by your disdain,
                                                                       Hating whoever I like, and living for my groans
 
                                                                       Breaking your word, failing to do what you should –
                                                                       All this, cruel one, isn’t it like having
                                                                       Blood on your hands, stained by murder?
 
 
 
Blanchemain has a few variants: in the 2nd line, he has “Donte mon coeur” (‘tames my heart’) in place of “”Force mon ame”; and then a number of changes in the middle of the next quatrain – which I give in full in his version here:
 
 
Puis qu’en t’aimant je ne puis avoir mieux,
Souffre du moins que pour toy je souspire ;
Assez et trop ton bel oeil me martyre,
Sans te mocquer de mon mal soucieux.
 
 
                                                                      As in loving you I can have no better
                                                                      At least allow me to sigh for you:
                                                                      Your lovely eye torments me more than enough,
                                                                      Without you laughing at the pain of my yearning.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 5

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Je parangonne au soleil que j’adore
L’autre soleil. Cestuy là de ses yeulx
Enlustre, enflamme, enlumine les cieulx
Et cestuy ci nostre France honore.
 
Tous les presens du coffre de Pandore
Les Elements, les Astres et les Dieux
Et tout cela que Nature a de mieux,
Ont embelli le sujet que j’honore.
 
Ha, trop heureux si le cruel Destin
N’eust emmuré d’un fort diamantin
Si chaste coeur dessous si belle face:
 
Et si mon coeur de mon sein arraché
Ne m’eust trahy, pour se voir attaché
De clous de feu sur le froid de sa glace.

.

 
 
                                                                       I rival to the sun which I adore
                                                                       With that other sun. The one’s eyes
                                                                       Makes the heavens shine, blaze, bright,
                                                                       The other one honours our France.
 
                                                                       All the presents in Pandora’s box,
                                                                       The elements, the stars and the gods
                                                                       And all that which is best in Nature
                                                                       Have beautified the lady I adore.
 
                                                                       Only too happy if cruel fate
                                                                       Had not built a wall, hard as diamond,
                                                                       Around that heart so chaste beneath face so fair:
 
                                                                       And if my heart from my breast torn out
                                                                       Had not betrayed me, to see itself fixed
                                                                       With fiery bolts to her icy coldness.
 
 
In the opening quatrain, Ronsard’s ‘this – that’ is open to different interpretations.  Most likely the sun illumines the heavens (with his eyes), while Cassandre illumines France. But t coul be read the other way round, with Cassandre illuminating the heavens (with her eyes). My version is intended to allow you to read it either way!
 
This was one of those poems that Ronsard re-wrote substantially. In that other version, the ‘correct’ reading is perhaps the other way round – that is, the sun illumines the whole earth, Cassandre illumines the heavens. But it could (of course) be simply an extension of Cassandre’s earthly illumination, beyond France to illumine the whole world.  Here, as there is substantial re-writing, is that other version complete:
 
 
Pareil j’egalle au soleil que j’adore
L’autre soleil. Cestuy là de ses yeulx
Enlustre, enflamme, enlumine les cieulx
Et cestuy ci toute la terre honore.
 
L’art, la Nature et les Astres encore
Les Elements, les Graces et les Dieux
Ont prodigué le parfaict de leur mieux,
Dans son beau jour qui le nostre décore.
 
Heureux, cent foys heureux, si le destin
N’eust emmuré d’un fort diamantin
Si chaste cuoeur dessoubz si belle face:
 
Et plus heureux si je n’eusse arraché
Mon cuoeur de moy, pour l’avoyr attaché
De cloudz de feu sur le froid de sa glace.
 
 
 
                                                                       I consider equal to the sun which I adore
                                                                       That other sun. The one’s eyes
                                                                       Makes the heavens shine, blaze, bright,
                                                                       The other one honours the whole earth.
 
                                                                       Art, nature and the stars too,
                                                                       The elements, the Graces and the gods
                                                                       Have generously given of their best, perfection itself,
                                                                       In her fine day which ornaments our own.
 
                                                                       I’d be blessed, a hundred times blessed, if fate
                                                                       Had not built a wall, hard as diamond,
                                                                       Around that heart so chaste beneath face so fair:
 
                                                                       And still more blessed if I had not torn out
                                                                       My own heart, so that I could fix it
                                                                       With fiery bolts to her icy coldness.
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 4

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Je ne suis point, ma guerriere Cassandre,
ny Myrmidon, ny Dolope soudart,
ny cet Archer, dont l’homicide dard
tua ton frere et mist ta ville  en cendre.
 
Un camp armé pour esclave te rendre
du port d’Aulide en ma faveur ne part,
et tu ne vois au pied de ton rempart
pour t’enlever mille barques descendre.
 
Helas!  je suis ce Corébe insensé,
dont le cueur vit mortellement blessé,
non de la main du Gregeois Penelée:
 
Mais de cent trais qu’un Archerot vainqueur
par une voye en mes yeux recelée,
sans y penser me tira dans le cueur.
 
 
 
                                                                       I am not at all, my warlike Cassandra,
                                                                       a Myrmidon or a sweaty Aetolian,
                                                                       nor that Archer [Philoctetes] whose murderous dart
                                                                       killed your brother [Paris] and burned your town [Troy] to ashes.
 
                                                                       An armed force to deliver you as a slave
                                                                       is not leaving Aulis to suit me
                                                                       and you won’t see at the foot of your walls
                                                                       a thousand ships descending to steal you away.
 
                                                                       Alas!  I am that maddened Coroebus [Cassandra’s lover]
                                                                       whose heart lives with a mortal wound,
                                                                       not from the hand of Peneleos
 
                                                                       but from a hundred wounds which the little Archer [Cupid],
                                                                       overcoming me through a glance received by my eyes,
                                                                       without a thought has shot into my heart.
 
 
 An extended reference to Homer’s Iliad, as the Greeks (Myrmidons and Aetolians among them) sailed from Aulis to Troy, to recover Helen who had been taken by Paris. The Trojan Cassandra was a daughter of King Priam; her lover Coroebus was killed by Peneleos; the modern lover of Cassandre (Ronsard himself) is of course being killed by love…
 

Sonnet 3

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Entre les rais de sa jumelle flamme
Je vis Amour, qui son arc desbandoit,
Et sus mon cueur le brandon éspandoit,
Qui des plus froids les moëlles enflamme.
 
Puis çà puis là pres les yeulx de ma dame
Entre cent fleurs un retz d’or me tendoit,
Qui tout crespu blondement descendoit
A flotz ondez pour enlasser mon ame.
 
Qu’eussay-je faict l’Archer estoit si doulx,
Si doulx son feu, si doulx l’or de ses noudz,
Qu’en leurs filetz encore je m’oublie:
 
Mais cest oubli ne me tourmente point,
Tant doulcement le doulx Archer me poingt,
Le feu me brusle, et l’or crespe me lie.
 
 
                                                                       Among the rays of her twin flashing eyes
                                                                       I see Love, who has set aside his bow
                                                                       And over my heart waved a fire brand
                                                                       Which would warm the marrow of the coldest.
 
                                                                       On one side then the other, near my lady’s eyes,
                                                                       Among many flowers he spreads for me a net of gold
                                                                       Which descends blond and curling
                                                                       In flowing waves to bind my soul.
 
                                                                       What could I have done, the Archer was so gentle
                                                                       So gentle his fire, so gentle the gold of his knots,
                                                                       That, though still in their net, I forget myself.
 
                                                                       But this forgetfulness doesn’t trouble me at all,
                                                                       So gently does the gentle Archer strike me,
                                                                       The fire burn me and the curling gold bind me.
 
 
 

Sonnet 2

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Nature ornant la dame qui devoyt
De sa douceur forcer les plus rebelles,
Luy fit present des beautez les plus belles,
Que des mille ans en espargne elle avoyt
 
Tout ce qu’Amour avarement couvoyt,
De beau, de chaste, et d’honneur soubz ses ailles,
Emmiella les graces immortelles
De son bel oeil qui les dieux emouvoyt.
 
Du ciel à peine elle estoyt descendue,
Quand je la vi, quand mon ame ésperdue
En devint folle: et d’un si poignant trait,
 
Le fier destin l’engrava dans mon ame,
Que vif ne mort, jamais d’une aultre dame
Empraint au cuoeur je n’auray le portraict.  
 
 
                                                                       Nature, adorning the lady who ought

                                                                      By her sweetness to compel the most mutinous,
                                                                      Made her a gift of the most lovely of beautiful features
                                                                      Which she had been keeping in her closet for a thousand years.
 
                                                                      Everything which Cupid avariciously brewed
                                                                      Of beauty, chastity and honour beneath his wings
                                                                      Sweetened the immortal grace
                                                                      Of her beautiful eyes, which moved the gods themselves.
 
                                                                      Scarcely had she come down from heaven
                                                                      When I saw her, when my soul was lost
                                                                      And became crazy for her: and with such a sharp wound
 
                                                                      Did proud Fate engrave her on my soul
                                                                      That living or dead, I shall never have the portrait
                                                                      Of any other lady imprinted on my heart.
 
 
 After seeing Ronsard change sonnet 1 so much over his lifetime, is it any surprise that sonnet 2 should also have substantial variants? Though Blanchemain’s main text is the same, he offers two substantial variants in footnotes:
 
 
 
Nature ornant la dame qui devoyt
De sa douceur forcer les plus rebelles,
Luy fit present des beautez les plus belles,
Que des mille ans en espargne elle avoyt
 
De tous les biens qu’Amour au ciel couvoit,
Comme un tresor cherement sous ses ailles,
Elle enrichit les graces immortelles
De son bel oeil qui les dieux emouvoyt.
 
Du ciel à peine elle estoyt descendue,
Quand je la vi, quand mon ame ésperdue
En devint folle: et d’un si poignant trait,
 
Amour coula ses beautez en mes veines,
Qu’autres plaisirs je ne sens que mes peines,
Ny autre bien qu’adorer son portrait.  
 
 
 
                                                                       Nature, adorning the lady who ought
                                                                       by her sweetness to compel the most mutinous,
                                                                       made her a gift of the most lovely of beautiful features
                                                                       which she had been keeping in her closet for ages.
 
                                                                       With all the good things which Cupid in heaven brewed
                                                                       like a treasure dear to him under his wings
                                                                       she enriched the immortal grace
                                                                       of her beautiful eyes which moved the gods themselves.
 
                                                                       Scarcely had she come down from heaven
                                                                       when I saw her, when my soul was lost
                                                                       and became crazy for her: and with such a sharp wound
 
                                                                       did Love pour her beauty into my veins
                                                                       that other pleasures than my pains I feel not,
                                                                       nor any good but worshipping her portrait.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Les Amours de Cassandre: Sonnet 1

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Qui voudra voir comme un dieu me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
A suivre en vain l’objet de son malheur,
Me vienne lire: il verra ma douleur
Dont ma déesse et mon dieu ne font compte.
 
Il connaîtra qu’amour est sans raison,
Un doux abus, une belle prison,
Un vain espoir qui de vent nous vient paître.
 
Et connaîtra que l’homme se décoit
Quand plein d’erreur un aveugle il reçoit
Pour sa conduite, un enfant pour son maître.
 
 
                                                                        Whoever wants to see how a god is overcoming me,
                                                                        how he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
                                                                        how he is burning then freezing my heart,
                                                                        how he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
                                                                        Whoever wants to see youth quick
                                                                        to pursue in vain the object of his misfortune,
                                                                        let him come and read me: he will see my misfortune,
                                                                        of which my goddess [Cassandre] and my God take no account.
 
                                                                        He will understand that love is without reason,
                                                                        a sweet illusion, a good-looking prison,
                                                                        an empty hope which tries to feed us with a breeze.
 
                                                                        And he will understand that man deceives himself
                                                                        when utterly mistakenly he takes blind Love
                                                                        as his guide, the child Cupid as his master.
 
 
 
 Blanchemain offers a range of texts! The second half of his main text is, essentially, a completely different poem:
 
 
Qui voudra voir comme un dieu me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
A suivre en vain l’objet de son malheur,
Me vienne voir: il verra ma douleur
Et la rigueur de l’archer qui me dompte.
 
Il cognoistra combien la raison peut,
Contre son arc, quand une fois il veut
Que nostre cueur son esclave demeure,
 
Et si verra que je suis trop heureux
D’avoir au flanc l’aiguillon amoureux,
Plein du venin dont il faut que je meure.
 
 
                                                                        Whoever wants to see how a god is overcoming me,
                                                                        how he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
                                                                        how he is burning then freezing my heart,
                                                                        how he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
                                                                        Whoever wants to see youth quick
                                                                        to pursue in vain the object of his misfortune,
                                                                        let him come and see me: he will see my misfortune,
                                                                        And the harshness of the archer who overwhelms me.
 
                                                                        He will understand what love can do
                                                                        against his bow, when once he wishes
                                                                        our hearts to remain his slave,
 
                                                                        And, too, will see that I am too happy
                                                                        to have love’s spur in my side,
                                                                        full of the poison which must kill me.
 
 
Whatever we may think of such a complete re-write of the opening poem of the collection, let’s recognise however that the chanegs we see here are only part of the story! Blanchemain offers this 1567 version of the sestet too! (Variants marked vs Blanchemain’s version above):
 
 
Il cognoistra combien peut la raison,
Contre son trait, quand sa douce poison
Tourmente un cueur que la jeunesse enchante;
 

Et cognoistra que je suis trop heureux

D’estre, en mourant, nouveau cygne amoureux,
Qui plus languit, et plus doucement chante.
 
 
 
                                                                        He will understand what love can do
                                                                        against his blow, when its sweet poison
                                                                        torments a heart which youth enchants;
 
                                                                        And he will know that I am too happy
                                                                        to be, as I die, another swan in love
                                                                        who, as he fades, sings sweeter still.