Chanson (6c)

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In his second book of Amours, Ronsard allowed himself to break up the sequence of sonnets with verse in different forms – madrigals, chansons, …  These are inserted (unnumbered) into the sequence – see the collection listing for the order – but for convenience I have given them a number too, showing which sonnet they come after, so that (e.g.) 6a comes after sonnet 6; and 6c is the third poem inserted between sonnets 6 and 7.
I’m also experimenting with how to present a long poem with a translation. As with the sonnets, Ronsard does not leave gaps between each stanza’ of 4 lines, but he does notate the poem in sections of 4 lines.

 
 
Je veux chanter en ces vers ma tristesse :
Car sans pleurer chanter je ne pourrois,
Veu que je suis absent de ma maistresse :
Si je chantois autrement je mourrois.
                                                                                       I want to sing in these verses of my sadness
                                                                                       For I could not sing without weeping
                                                                                       Seeing that I am away from my mistress.
                                                                                       If I sang of other things I would die.
Pour ne mourir il faut donc que je chante
En chants piteux ma plaintive langueur,
Pour le départ de ma maistresse absente,
Qui de mon sein m’a desrobé le coeur.
                                                                                       So as not to die, I must therefore sing
                                                                                       In pitiful songs of my woeful weakness
                                                                                       On the departure of my absent mistress
                                                                                       Who has stolen the heart from my bosom.
Desja l’Esté, et Ceres la blétiere,
Ayant le front orné de son present,
Ont ramené la moisson nourriciere
Depuis le temps que d’elle suis absent,
                                                                                       Already Summer, and Ceres the corn goddess,
                                                                                       Her brow adorned with her gifts,
                                                                                       Have brought in the nourishing harvest
                                                                                       Since the time that I have been away from her
Loin de ses yeux, dont la lumiere belle
Seule pourroit guarison me donner :
Et si j’estois là bas en la nacelle,
Me pourroit faire au monde retourner.
                                                                                       Far from her eyes whose lovely light
                                                                                       Alone could give me healing
                                                                                       And even if I were in the beyond, in my coffin,
                                                                                       That light could make me return to the world.
Mais ma raison est si bien corrompue
Par une fausse et vaine illusion,
Que nuict et jour je la porte en la veuë,
Et sans la voir j’en ay la vision.
                                                                                       But my reason is so completely corrupted
                                                                                       By a false and empty illusion
                                                                                       That night and day I carry her before my eyes
                                                                                       And without seeing her I have her in my sight.
Comme celuy qui contemple les nues,
Fantastiquant mille monstres bossus,
Hommes, oiseaux, et Chimeres cornues,
Tant par les yeux nos esprits sont deceus.
                                                                                       Like one who contemplates the clouds
                                                                                       Inventing a thousand hunchback beasts
                                                                                       Men, birds and horned chimaera
                                                                                       So by our eyes our spirits are deceived.
Et comme ceux, qui d’une haleine forte,
En haute mer, à puissance de bras
Tirent la rame, ils l’imaginent torte,
Et toutesfois la rame ne l’est pas :
                                                                                       And like those who with deep breaths
                                                                                       In high seas by the power of their arms
                                                                                       Pull the oars, they make some mistake
                                                                                       And suddenly the oar is not there,
Ainsi je voy d’une oeillade trompee
Cette beauté, dont je suis depravé,
Qui par les yeux dedans l’ame frapée,
M’a vivement son portrait engravé.
                                                                                       So I see through a trick of my sight
                                                                                       This beauty of which I am deprived
                                                                                       Which striking my soul through my eyes
                                                                                       Has vividly engraved her portrait within me.
Et soit que j’erre au plus haut des montaignes
Ou dans un bois, loing de gens et de bruit,
Ou sur le Loir, ou parmy les campaignes,
Tousjours au coeur ce beau portrait me suit.
                                                                                       And if I wandered over the highest mountains
                                                                                       Or in a wood far from people and noise
                                                                                       Or on the Loir, or in the countryside,
                                                                                       Always this lovely portrait is there in my heart.
Si j’apperçoy quelque champ qui blondoye
D’espics frisez au travers des sillons,
Je pense voir ses beaux cheveux de soye
Espars au vent en mille crespillons.
                                                                                       If I see some field yellowing
                                                                                       With corn waving across the furrows
                                                                                       I think I see her lovely silken her
                                                                                       Spread in the wind in thousands of little curls.
Si le Croissant au premier mois j’avise,
Je pense voir son sourcil ressemblant
A l’arc d’un Turc qui la sagette a mise
Dedans la coche, et menace le blanc.
                                                                                       If I see the crescent moon at the start of the month
                                                                                       I think I see her eyebrows, like
                                                                                       A Turk’s bow when he’s nocked an arrow
                                                                                       And threatens the white man.
Quand à mes yeux les estoiles drillantes
Viennent la nuict en temps calme s’offrir,
Je pense voir ses prunelles ardantes,
Que je ne puis ny fuyr, ny souffrir.
                                                                                       When the twinkling stars come and offer themselves to my eyes
                                                                                       At night in calm weather
                                                                                       I think I am seeing her burning pupils
                                                                                       Which I can neither flee nor endure.
Quand j’apperçoy la rose sur l’espine,
Je pense voir de ses lèvres le teint :
La rose au soir de sa couleur decline,
L’autre couleur jamais ne se desteint.
                                                                                       When I spy the rose on its thorn
                                                                                       I think I see the colour of her lips
                                                                                       But the rose’s colour wanes at evening,
                                                                                       The other colour never fades.
Quand j’apperçoy les fleurs en quelque prée
Ouvrir leur robe au lever du Soleil,
Je pense voir de sa face pourprée
S’espanouyr le beau lustre vermeil.
                                                                                       When I see flowers in some meadow
                                                                                       Opening their frock at the sun’s rising
                                                                                       I think I’m seeing her flushed face
                                                                                       Blooming with its charming crimson tint.
Si j’apperçoy quelque chesne sauvage,
Qui jusqu’au ciel éleve ses rameaux,
Je pense voir sa taille et son corsage,
Ses pieds sa grève et ses coudes jumeaux.
                                                                                       If I see some wild oak
                                                                                       Lifting its branches to the sky
                                                                                       I think I’m seeing her waist and blouse
                                                                                       Her feet, her legs, her twin arms.
Si j’entens bruire une fontaine claire,
Je pense ouir sa voix dessus le bord,
Qui se plaignant de ma triste misere,
M’appelle à soy pour me donner confort.
                                                                                       If I hear the sound of a clear spring
                                                                                       I think I’m hearing her voice over the bank
                                                                                       Which, pitying my sad distress,
                                                                                       Calls me to itself to give me comfort.
Voilà comment pour estre fantastique,
En cent façons ses beautez j’apperçoy,
Et m’esjouïs d’estre melancholique,
Pour recevoir tant de formes en moy.
                                                                                       That’s how fantastical I am
                                                                                       In a hundred ways I see her beauty
                                                                                       And rejoice to be unhappy
                                                                                       Since I perceive her in so many shapes.
Aimer vrayment est une maladie,
Les medecins la sçavent bien juger,
Nommant ce mal fureur de fantaisie,
Qui ne se peut par herbes soulager.
                                                                                       To love is truly an illness
                                                                                       Doctors know well how to diagnose it
                                                                                       Defining this illness as a madness of fantasy
                                                                                       Which cannot be cured with medicine.
J’aimerois mieux la fièvre dans mes veines,
Ou quelque peste, ou quelque autre douleur
Que de souffrir tant d’amoureuses peines,
Dont le bon-heur n’est sinon que malheur.
                                                                                       I’d prefer fever in my veins
                                                                                       Or some kind of plague or other illness
                                                                                       Than to suffer so many pains for love
                                                                                       Whose good-feeling is nothing but feeling-bad.
Or va, Chanson, dans le sein de Marie,
Pour l’asseurer, que ce n’est tromperie
Des visions que je raconte icy,
Qui me font vivre et mourir en soucy.
                                                                                       So, my song, go to Marie’s breast
                                                                                       To assure her that they’re no lie,
                                                                                       These visions that I speak of here
                                                                                       Which make me live and die in pain.
 
 
 
It will be no surprise that there are quite a number of adjustments in different versions.  Although the changes do not affect the meaning much, Blanchemain’s version has different choices of words, different phrases, all the way through,  as he presents a different stage of Ronsard’s re-working of the poem. 
 
That makes it hard to present the changes in a way that doesn’t leave you constantly referring back and forth between versions. I’ve opted for being prolix and setting out the whole poem (again!) in Blanchemain’s version, this time with the changes marked in colour. There’s an additional verse he marks with parentheses [ ] but he doesn’t offer an explanation for including it – it is clearly inferior to the surrounding verses.
 
 
Je veux chanter en ces vers ma tristesse:
Car autrement chanter je ne pourrois,
Veu que je suis absent de ma maistresse ;
Si je chantois autrement je mourrois.
 
Pour ne mourir il faut donc que je chante
En chants piteux ma plaintive langueur,
Pour le départ de ma maistresse absente,
Qui de mon sein m’a desrobé le coeur.
 
Desja l’esté et Ceres la blétiere,
Ayant le front orné de son present,
Ont ramené la moisson nourriciere
Depuis le temps que mort je suis absent,
 
De ses beaux yeux, dont la lumiere belle
Seule pourroit guerison me donner,
Et, si j’estois là bas en la nacelle,
Me pourroit faire au monde retourner.
 
Mais ma raison est si bien corrompue
Par une fausse et vaine illusion,
Que nuict et jour je la porte en la veue,
Et sans la voir j’en ay la vision.
 
Comme celuy qui contemple les nues,
Pense aviser mille formes là-sus,
D’hommes, d’oiseaux, de Chimeres cornues,
Et ne voit rien, car ses yeux sont deceus.
 
Et comme cil qui, d’une haleine forte,
En haute mer, à puissance de bras
Tire la rame, il l’imagine torte,
Rompue en l’eau, toutesfois ne l’est pas,
 
Ainsi je voy d’une veue trompée
Celle qui m’a tout le sens depravé,
Qui, par les yeux dedans l’ame frapée,
M’a vivement son pourtrait engravé.
 
Et soit que j’erre au plus haut des montagnes
Ou dans un bois, loin de gens et de bruit,
Ou dans les prés, ou parmy les campaignes,
Toujours à l’oeil ce beau pourtrait me suit.
 
Si j’aperçoy quelque champ qui blondoye
D’espics frisez au travers des sillons,
Je pense voir ses beaux cheveux de soye,
Refrisottés en mille crespillons.
 
[Si j’aperçoi quelque table carrée
D’ivoire ou jaspe aplani proprement,
Je pense veoir la voûte mesurée
De son beau front égallé pleinement.]
 
Si le croissant au premier mois j’avise,
Je pense voir son sourcil ressemblant
A l’arc d’un Turc qui la sagette a mise
Dedans la coche, et menace le blanc.
 
Quand à mes yeux les estoilles drillantes
Viennent la nuict en temps calme s’offrir,
Je pense voir ses prunelles ardantes,
Que je ne puis ny fuire ny souffrir.
 
Quand j’apperçoy la rose sur l’espine,
Je pense voir de ses lèvres le teint ;
Mais la beauté de l’une au soir decline,
L’autre beauté jamais ne se desteint.
 
Quand j’apperçoy les fleurs dans une prée
S’espanouir au lever du soleil,
Je pense voir de sa face pourprée
Et de son sein le beau lustre vermeil.
 
Si j’apperçoy quelque chesne sauvage,
Qui jusqu’au ciel éleve ses rameaux,
Je pense en luy contempler son corsage,
Ses pieds, sa grève, et ses coudes jumeaux.
 
Si j’enten bruire une fontaine claire,
Je pense ouyr sa voix dessus le bord,
Qui, se plaignant de ma triste misere,
M’appelle à soy pour me donner confort.
 
Voilà comment, pour estre fantastique,
En cent façons ses beautez j’apperçoy,
Et m’esjouy d’estre melancholique,
Pour recevoir tant de formes en moy.
 
Aimer vrayment est une maladie ;
Les medecins la sçavent bien juger,
En la nommant fureur de fantaisie,
Qui ne se peut par herbes soulager.
 
J’aimerois mieux la fièvre dans mes veines,
Ou quelque peste, ou quelque autre douleur,
Que de souffrir tant d’amoureuses peines,
Qui sans tuer nous consomment le coeur.
 
Or-va, Chanson, dans le sein de Marie,
Qui me fait vivre en penible soucy,
Pour l’asseurer que ce n’est tromperie
Des visions que je raconte icy.
I want to sing in these verses of my sadness
For I could not sing of anything else
Seeing that I am away from my mistress.
If I sang of other things I would die.
 
So as not to die, I must therefore sing
In pitiful songs of my woeful weakness
On the departure of my absent mistress
Who has stolen the heart from my bosom.
 
Already Summer, and Ceres the corn goddess,
Her brow adorned with her gifts,
Have brought in the nourishing harvest
Since the time that, dead, I have been away
 
From her fair eyes whose lovely light
Alone could give me healing
And even if I were in the beyond, in my coffin,
That light could make me return to the world.
 
But my reason is so completely corrupted
By false imagination
That night and day I carry her before my eyes
And without seeing her I have her in my sight.
 
Like one who contemplates the clouds
Thinks that he sees a thousand shapes up there
Men, birds and horned chimaera,
Yet sees nothing, for his eyes are deceived.
 
And like he who with deep breaths
In high seas by the power of his arms
Pull the oar, he makes some mistake
And suddenly, broken in the sea, it is not there,
 
So I see through a trick of my sight
She who has deprived me of all sense,
Which striking my soul through my eyes
Has vividly engraved her portrait within me.
 
And if I wandered over the highest mountains
Or in a wood far from people and noise
Or in the meadows, or the countryside,
Always this lovely portrait is there to my eye.
 
If I see some field yellowing
With corn waving across the furrows
I think I see her lovely silken her
Crimped again in thousands of little curls.
 
[If I see some squared-off table
Made of ivory or jasper, finely planed,
I think I see plainly equalled
The finely-proportioned arc of her brow.]
 
If I see the crescent moon at the start of the month
I think I see her eyebrows, like
A Turk’s bow when he’s nocked an arrow
And threatens the white man.
 
When the twinkling stars come and offer themselves
To my eyes at night in calm weather
I think I am seeing her burning pupils
Which I can neither flee nor endure.
 
When I spy the rose on its thorn
I think I see the colour of her lips
But the beauty of the one wanes at evening,
The other beauty never fades.
 
When I see flowers in a meadow
Opening at the sun’s rising
I think I’m seeing the charming crimson tint
Of her flushed face and of her breast.
 
If I see some wild oak
Lifting its branches to the sky
I think in it I see her waist
Her feet, her legs, her twin arms.
 
If I hear the sound of a clear spring
I think I’m hearing her voice over the bank
Which, pitying my sad distress,
Calls me to itself to give me comfort.
 
That’s how fantastical I am
In a hundred ways I see her beauty
And rejoice to be unhappy
Since I perceive her in so many shapes.
 
To love is truly an illness
Doctors know well how to diagnose it
In defining it as a madness of fantasy
Which cannot be cured with medicine.
 
I’d prefer fever in my veins
Or some kind of plague or other illness
Than to suffer so many pains for love
Whose good-feeling is nothing but feeling-bad.
 
So, my song, go to Marie’s breast
Which makes me live in terrible pain.
To assure her that they’re no lie,
These visions that I speak of here.
 
 Note that in this version Ronsard juggles the last three lines – only one is re-written, but the sequence changes.
 
 
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About fattoxxon

Who am I? Lover of all sorts of music - classical, medieval, world (anything from Africa), world-classical (Uzbek & Iraqi magam for instance), and virtually anything that won't be on the music charts... Lover of Ronsard's poetry (obviously) and of sonnets in general. Reader of English, French, Latin & other literature. And who is Fattoxxon? An allusion to an Uzbek singer - pronounce it Patahan, with a very plosive 'P' and a throaty 'h', as in 'khan')

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