Monthly Archives: August 2012

Odes 3, 23

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Quand je dors je ne sens rien,
Je ne sens ne mal ne bien,
Plus je ne me puis cognoistre,
Je ne sçay ce que je suis,
Ce que je fus, et ne puis
Sçavoir ce que je dois estre.
 
J’ay perdu le souvenir
Du passé, de l’advenir ;
Je ne suis que vaine masse
De bronze en homme gravé,
Ou quelque terme eslevé
Pour parade en une place.
 
Toutesfois je suis vivant,
Repoussant mes flancs de vent,
Et si pers toute mémoire ;
Voyez donc que je seray
Quand mort je reposeray
Au fonds de la tombe noire !
 
L’âme, volant d’un plain saut,
A Dieu s’en ira là haut
Avecque luy se ressoudre,
Mais ce mien corps enterré,
Sillé d’un somme ferré,
Ne sera plus rien que poudre.
 
 
                                                                                               When I sleep I feel nothing,
                                                                                               I feel neither good nor bad;
                                                                                               Further, I cannot understand,
                                                                                               I do not know who I am,
                                                                                               What I was, and cannot
                                                                                               Comprehend what I must be.
 
                                                                                               I have lost my recall
                                                                                               Of the past, of the future,
                                                                                               I am just an empty mass
                                                                                               Of bronze carved as a man,
                                                                                               Or some statue raised
                                                                                               For display in a square.
 
                                                                                               All the while I’m alive,
                                                                                               Expanding my chest as I breathe,
                                                                                               Yet have lost all memory completely;
                                                                                               See then what I will be
                                                                                               When I lie dead
                                                                                               In the depths of the black tomb !
 
                                                                                               My spirit will depart with a great leap,
                                                                                               Flying to God on high
                                                                                               To settle itself with Him;
                                                                                               But this my body buried
                                                                                               Overcome by an iron sleep,
                                                                                               Will be no more than dust.
 
 
 
 Blanchemain marks the last stanza with [parentheses], but doesn’t explain why. While true the poem could have ended after the third stanza, the fourth is not markedly different or worse than the rest!
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 34

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Las ! je me plains de mile et mile et mile
Soupirs, qu’en vain des flancs je vais tirant,
En ma chaleur doucement respirant
Trempée en l’eau qui de mes pleurs distile.
 
Puis je me plain d’un portrait inutile,
Ombre du vray que je suis adorant,
Et de ces yeulx qui me vont devorant,
Le coeur bruslé d’une flamme fertile.
 
Mais par sus tout je me plain d’un penser,
Qui trop souvent dans mon coeur fait passer
Le souvenir d’une beaulté cruelle,
 
Et d’un regret qui me pallist si blanc,
Que je n’ay plus en mes veines de sang,
Aux nerfz de force, en mes os de mouëlle.
 
 
 
 
                                                                      Alas, I weep with thousand upon thousand upon thousand
                                                                      Sighs, drawing them from my breast in vain,
                                                                      Breathing lightly, hot and
                                                                      Soaked in water, the distillation of my tears.
 
                                                                      Then I weep over this useless portrait,
                                                                      A mere shadow of the true lady I’m in love with
                                                                      And of those eyes which devour me,
                                                                      While my heart burns with a fertile flame.
 
                                                                      But above all I weep for a thought
                                                                      Which too often makes pass through my heart
                                                                      The memory of her cruel beauty
 
                                                                      And of the regret which leaves me white as a sheet
                                                                      As if I had no blood left in my veins,
                                                                      No strength in my nerves, no marrow in by bones.
 
 
 Another sonnet partly re-written by Ronsard: in this case the end of the first quatrain (though he also changed ‘gentle’ to ‘fertile’ at the end of the 2nd quatrain):
 
 
Las ! je me plains de mile et mile et mile
Soupirs, qu’en vain des flancs je vais tirant,
Heureusement mon plaisir martirant
Au fond d’une eau qui de mes pleurs distille.
 
 
                                                                      Alas, I weep with thousand upon thousand upon thousand
                                                                      Sighs, drawing them from my breast in vain
                                                                      Torturing my pleasure pleasantly
                                                                      At the bottom of a pool made of my own tears.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 29

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Si mille oeillets, si mille liz j’embrasse,
Entortillant mes bras tout à l’entour,
Plus fort qu’un cep, qui d’un amoureux tour
La branche aimée, en mille plis enlasse :
 
Si le soucy ne jaunist plus ma face,
Si le plaisir fait en moy son sejour,
Si j’aime mieux les ombres que le jour,
Songe divin, ce bien vient de ta grace.
 
En te suivant je volerois aux cieux :
Mais ce portrait qui nage dans mes yeux,
Fraude tousjours ma joye entre-rompue.
 
Puis tu me fuis au milieu de mon bien,
Comme un éclair qui se finist en rien,
Ou comme au vent s’évanouit la nuë.
 
 
 
                                                                      If I embrace a thousand carnations, a thousand lilies,
                                                                      Twisting them all around my arms
                                                                      Tighter than a vine which in amorous style
                                                                      Entwines its beloved branch in a thousand curves;
 
                                                                      If care no longer jaundices my face,
                                                                      If pleasure chooses to stay with me,
                                                                      If I prefer the shadows to the day,
                                                                      My divine dream, this good comes from your favour.
 
                                                                      Following you I could fly to the heavens;
                                                                      But this image which swims in my eyes
                                                                      Always deceives my exhausted joy;
 
                                                                      And then you flee from me in the midst of my happiness,
                                                                      Like a flash of lightning which ends in nothing,
                                                                      Or like a cloud which disappears in the breeze.
 
 Although Ronsard did not make substantial changes in this poem, there are variants in the penultimate tercet. What I have put above is actually a mingling of Marty-Laveaux’s text with Blanchemain’s of that tercet (lines 9-11), because I think Blanchemains version is far better in that section.  
 
For reference, and as your judgement may be different from mine, here is Marty-Laveaux’s version of these lines:
 
 
Suivant ton vol je volerois aux cieux :
Mais son portrait qui me trompe les yeux,
Fraude tousjours ma joye entre-rompue.
 
 
                                                                    Following your flight I could fly to the heavens;
                                                                      But her image which fools my eyes
                                                                      Always deceives my exhausted joy;
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 25

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Ces deux yeux bruns, deux flambeaux de ma vie
Dessus les miens respandans leur clairté,
Ont esclavé ma jeune liberté,
Pour la damner en prison asservie.
 
Par ces yeux bruns ma raison fut ravie,
Et quelque part qu’Amour m’ait arresté,
Je ne sceu voir ailleurs autre beauté,
Tant ils sont seuls mon bien et mon envie.
 
D’un autre espron mon maistre ne me poind,
Autres pensers en moy ne logent point,
D’un autre feu ma Muse ne s’enflame :
 
Ma main ne sçait cultiver autre nom,
Et mon papier ne s’esmaille, sinon
De leurs beautez que je sens dedans l’ame.
 
 
                                                                      Two lovely brown eyes, twin torches of my life,
                                                                      Spreading a light brighter far than mine,
                                                                      Have enslaved my youth’s liberty
                                                                      To condemn it to service in prison.
 
                                                                      By these brown eyes my reason was stolen,
                                                                      And whatever part of me Love had seized;
                                                                      I cannot see other beauty anywhere,
                                                                      So much are these only my good and desire.
 
                                                                      My master allows me no other hope,
                                                                      Other hopes never arise in me,
                                                                      My Muse is fired by no other flame:
 
                                                                      My hand cannot write any other name,
                                                                      And my page is not embellished unless
                                                                      By their beauty which I sense within my soul.
 
 
Ronsard re-wrote parts of this sonnet quite substantially: here is Blanchemain’s version.
 
 
Ces deux yeux bruns, deux flambeaux de ma vie
Dessus les miens respandans leur clairté,
Ont arresté ma jeune liberté,
Pour la damner, en prison asservie.
 
Par ces yeux bruns ma raison fut ravie,
Si qu’esbloui de leur grande beauté,
Opiniastre à garder loyauté
Autres yeux voir depuis je n’eus envie.
 
D’autre esperon mon tyran ne me poind ;
Autres pensers en moy ne logent point,
Ni autre idole en mon coeur je n’adore ;
 
Ma main ne sçait cultiver autre nom,
Et mon papier n’est esmaillé sinon
De ses beautez que ma plume colore.
 
 
 
                                                                      Two lovely brown eyes, twin torches of my life,
                                                                      Spreading a light brighter far than mine,
                                                                      Have seized my youth’s liberty
                                                                      To condemn it to service in prison.
 
                                                                      By these brown eyes my reason was stolen,
                                                                      So dazzled by theirr great beauty
                                                                      Persistently remaining loyal
                                                                      I’ve had no wish to see other eyes since.
 
                                                                      My tyrant allows me no other hope,
                                                                      Other hopes never arise in me,
                                                                      Nor do I worship any other idol in my heart.
 
                                                                      My hand cannot write any other name,
                                                                      And my page is not embellished unless
                                                                      My pen colours it with their beauty.
 
 
 
 

Odes 4, 31 – Odelette (little ode)

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Janne, en te baisant tu me dis
Que j’ay le chef à demy gris,
Et tousjours me baisant tu veux
De l’ongle oster mes blancs cheveux,
Comme s’un cheveu blanc ou noir
Sur le baiser avait pouvoir.
Mais, Janne, tu te trompes fort :
Un cheveu blanc est assez fort
Au seul baiser, pourveu que point
Tu ne veuilles de l’autre poinct.
 
 
                                                                                               Jane, as I kiss you you tell me
                                                                                               That my head is half grey;
                                                                                               Still kissing me, you try
                                                                                               To pull out my white hairs with your fingernails
                                                                                               As if white or dark hair could
                                                                                               Have any effect on a kiss.
                                                                                               But Jane, you are completely mistaken:
                                                                                               White hair is good enough
                                                                                               For kissing alone, provided that
                                                                                               You aren’t after some other point.
 
 
 
 

Odes 4, 26

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Plusieurs, de leurs corps desnuez,
Se sont veus en diverse terre
Miraculeusement muez,
L’un en serpent et l’autre en pierre,
 
L’un en fleur, l’autre en arbrisseau,
L’un en loup, l’autre en colombelle ;
L’un se vid changer en ruisseau,
Et l’autre devint arondelle.
 
Mais je voudrais estre miroir
A fin que tousjours tu me visses ;
Chemise je voudrois me voir,
Afin que souvent tu me prisses.
 
Volontiers eau je deviendrois,
Afin que ton corps je lavasse ;
Estre du parfum je voudrois,
Afin que je te parfumasse.
 
Je voudrois estre le riban
Qui serre ta belle poitrine ;
Je voudrois estre le carquan
qui orne ta gorge yvoirine.
 
Je voudrois estre tout autour
Le coral qui tes lèvres touché,
Afin de baiser nuit et jour
Tes belles lèvres et ta bouche.
 
 
 
                                                                                               Many a lover, stripped of his mortal body,
                                                                                               Has been seen in varied lands
                                                                                               Changed miraculously –
                                                                                               One into a serpent, another into stone,
 
                                                                                               One to a flower, another a bush,
                                                                                               One into a wolf, another a dove;
                                                                                               One is seen to change into a river,
                                                                                               Another becomes a swallow.
 
                                                                                               But I’d rather be a mirror,
                                                                                               So long as you would always look at me;
                                                                                               Or I’d wish to be a blouse,
                                                                                               So long as you often wore me.
 
                                                                                               I’d willingly become water
                                                                                               If I could wash your body;
                                                                                               Or I’d wish to be perfume
                                                                                               If I could perfume your body.
 
                                                                                               I’d wish to be the ribbon
                                                                                               Which is tied round your waist,
                                                                                               I’d wish to be the collar
                                                                                               Which ornaments your ivory throat.
 
                                                                                               I’d wish to be transformed entirely to
                                                                                               The coral which your lips wear,
                                                                                               So that night and day I could kiss
                                                                                               Your fair lips and your mouth.
 
 
 Ronsard plays some lover’s games with the theme of Ovid’s Metamorphoses …
 

Odes 4, 25

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La terre les eaux va buvant,
L’arbre la boit par sa racine
La mer éparse boit le vent,
et le soleil boit la marine ;
Le soleil est beu de la lune ;
Tout boit, soit en haut ou en bas :
Suivant ceste reigle commune,
Pourquoy donc ne boirons-nous pas?
 
 
                                                                                               The earth goes on drinking the rain,
                                                                                               The tree drinks in earth through its roots
                                                                                               The scattered seas drink the wind,
                                                                                               And the sun drinks the ocean;
                                                                                               The sun is drunk by the moon.
                                                                                               All things drink, high or low;
                                                                                               Following this common rule
                                                                                               Why then will we not too?