Sooner will the earth by the many varied stars Be abandoned, sooner the earth and sea, And the Soul of the universe, wandering universally Give life to the open abysses ; Sooner will the Heavens be covered by the sea, Sooner the world become formless and jumbled, Than I be the slave of a blond mistress Or than I love a lady with green eyes. O fair brown eye which was the first to come and extinguish The light from mine, and was able to strike them so well That some other eye could never win me; And when death has taken life from me, Still below I want to be in love with the ideal Of those brown eyes which I have filed away in my heart.
This poem is a companion to the previous one, no. 25, “Ces deux yeux bruns…” So how is Marty-Laveaux’s version weaker? Well, for me, Ronsard has (in the second half at least) tried a little too hard to be the classical lover, and moved away from his natural vocabulary & ease of writing. Just a personal impression maybe; I must admit that the opening quatrain is a bit elaborate in this version, and perhaps works better & more easily in Marty-Laveaux’s version. Still, forced to choose, I would go with Blanchemain. So, here is Marty-Laveaux’s text: I’ve set it out complete, as there are major differences in all but the second quatrain (and half a line changes even in that second quatrain!) Plus tost le bal de tant d’astres divers Sera lassé, plus tost la Mer sans onde, Et du Soleil la fuitte vagabonde Ne courra plus en tournant de travers : Plus tost des Cieux les murs seront ouvers, Plus tost sans forme ira confus le monde, Que je sois serf d’une maistresse blonde, Ou que j’adore une femme aux yeux vers. O bel œil brun, que je sens dedans l’ame, Tu m’as si bien allumé de ta flame, Qu’un autre œil verd n’en peut estre vainqueur ! Voire si fort qu’en peau jaune et ridée, Esprit dissoult, je veux aimer l’idée Des beaux yeux bruns les soleils de mon cueur. Sooner will the earth by the many varied stars Be abandoned, sooner the sea left without waves, And the wandering flight of the Sun Will no more run turning across the sky; Sooner will the walls of Heaven be opened, Sooner the world become formless and jumbled, Than I be the slave of a blond mistress Or than I love a lady with green eyes. O fair brown eye, which I recognise within my soul, You have fired me so with your flame That some other green eye could not win me! So strongly, even, that when my skin is yellow and wrinkled, My spirit dissolved, I still want to be in love with the ideal Of beautiful brown eyes, the suns of my heart.