Monthly Archives: November 2012

Sonnet 17

Standard

(the 100th post – apparently! – though not the 100th poem; and it’s good to have a poem in which Ronsard really throws himself into the emotions of the blighted lover, with which to celebrate it)

 
Fuyon, mon coeur, fuyon, que mon pied ne s’arreste
Un quart d’heure à Bourgueil, où par l’ire des Dieux
Sur mon vingt et un an, le feu de deux beaux yeux
(Souvenir trop amer) me foudroya la teste.
 
Le Grec qui a senty la meurdriere tempeste
Des rochers Cafarés, abomine tels lieux,
Et s’il les apperçoit, ils luy sont odieux,
Et pour n’y aborder tient sa navire preste.
 
Adieu donc ville adieu, puis qu’en toy je ne fais
Que re-semer le mal dont tousjours je me pais,
Et tousjours refraischir mon ancienne playe.
 
Vivon, mon coeur, vivon sans desirer la mort :
Je ne cours plus fortune, il est temps que j’essaye
Apres tant de rochers de rencontrer le port.
 
 
                                                                      Flee, flee, my heart! May my foot not pause
                                                                      In Bourgueil even for a quarter-hour, or by the anger of the gods
                                                                      On my twenty-one years, the fire of two fair eyes
                                                                      (Too bitter a memory) will strike my head.
 
                                                                      The Greek who felt the murderous tempest
                                                                      At the rocks of Caphareus, abominates such places,
                                                                      And if he ever sees them they are hateful to him
                                                                      And he hastily steers his ship so as not to approach them.
 
                                                                      Farewell then my town, since in you I shall only
                                                                      Re-seed the ills on which I’m always feeding,
                                                                      And always refreshing my old wound.
 
                                                                      Live, live, my heart, without wishing for death;
                                                                      I no longer pursue fortune, it is time to try
                                                                      After so many rocks to reach port.
 
 
The “rochers Cafarés” (“Capharez” in Blanchemain) are the rocks of Caphareus, a cape on the SE coast of the island of Euboea (Greece) where the fleet returning from the Trojan War was shipwrecked; they are thus a symbol of mortal dangers [note by Roland Guillot, to “Oeuvres poetiques de Clovis Hesteau de Nuysement” (1994) ]  ‘The Greek’ in this case is therefore general – any Greek helmsman – though perhaps Ronsard is thinking specifically of Ulysses who avoided shipwreck here but ended up travelling widely before getting home, in the Odyssey.
 
Blanchemain has a different line 2 – see below – which prompts him to add the note “the latest editions mention Bourgueil, this is because the sonnet was written in Blois and originally addressed to Cassandre; it was only later applied to Marie.”  
 
Once again, with variations throughout, it is perhaps easiest to give the whole sonnet again, with the differences highlighted – except where Blanchemain simply re-spells or re-punctuates:
 
 
Fuyons, mon coeur, fuyons ; que mon pied ne s’arreste
Une heure en cette ville, où, par l’ire des Dieux,
Sur mes vingt et un ans le feu de deux beaux yeux
(Souvenir trop amer ! ) me foudroya la teste.
 
Le Grec qui a senty la meurdriere tempeste
Des rochers Capharez abomine tels lieux,
Et, s’il les voit de loin, ils luy sont odieux,
Et pour les eviter tient sa navire preste.
 
Adieu donc, ville, adieu, puis qu’en toy je ne fais
Que tousjours re-semer le mal dont je me pais,
Et tousjours refraischir mon ancienne playe.
 
Vivons, mon coeur, vivons sans desirer la mort ;
C‘est trop souffert de peine, il est temps que j’essaye
Apres mille perils de rencontrer le port.
 
 
                                                                      Flee, flee, my heart! May my foot not pause
                                                                      In this town even for an hour, or by the anger of the gods
                                                                      On my twenty-one years, the fire of two fair eyes
                                                                      (Too bitter a memory!) will strike my head.
 
                                                                      The Greek who felt the murderous tempest
                                                                      At the rocks of Caphareus, abominates such places,
                                                                      And if he sees them far off they are hateful to him
                                                                      And he hastily steers his ship to avoid them.
 
                                                                      Farewell then my town, since in you I shall only
                                                                      Re-seed the ills on which I’m always feeding,
                                                                      And always refreshing my old wound.
 
                                                                      Live, live, my heart, without wishing for death;
                                                                      Too much pain has been suffered, it is time to try
                                                                      After a thousand dangers to reach port.
 
 
 
Advertisements

Sonnet 16

Standard
Amour, qui dés jeunesse en ton camp m’as tenu,
Qui premier desbauchas ma liberté nouvelle,
S’il te plaist d’adoucir la fierté de ma belle,
Et si par ton moyen mon mal est recognu :

Sur un pilier d’airain je t’apendray tout nu,
En l’air un pied levé, à chaque flanc une aile,
L’arc courbé dans la main, le carquois sous l’aisselle,
Le corps gras et douilet, le poil crespe et menu.

Tu vois (un Dieu voit tout) combien j’ay de tristesse :
Tu vois de quel orgueil me brave ma maistresse :
Ton soldat en ton camp te doit accompagner.

Mais tu le dois defendre : et si tu le desdaignes
Seul tu voirras aux champs sans hommes tes enseignes.
Un Roy qui perd les siens, n’est digne de regner.

 
 
                                                                      Love, who have had me on your side since my youth,
                                                                      And who first corrupted my new freedom,
                                                                      If you please to soften the pride of my fair one
                                                                      And if by your means my ills are recognised;

                                                                      On a bronze pillar I shall set you up, naked,
                                                                      One leg raised in the air, a wing on each side,
                                                                      A bow curved in your hand, the quiver under your arm,
                                                                      Your body plump and soft, your hair curled and short.

                                                                      You can see (a god sees everything) how sad I am;
                                                                      You can see with what disdain my mistress defies me;
                                                                      You should go with your soldier who is on your side.

                                                                      You should defend him; and if you scorn him
                                                                      You will march into battle alone, without men as your flag-bearers.
                                                                      A King who abandons his own people, is not worthy of reigning.

 
 
 
Blanchemain’s version has a number of changes in the first half, in part upgrading the pillar on which Cupid’s staue will stand to a golden one!  He then has a completely different second half, which goes off in a completely different direction, criticising Marie rather than Cupid.  It’s easiest to present the whole sonnet again (with the differences highlighted):
 
 
Amour, qui si longtemps en peine m’as tenu,
Qui premier desbauchas ma liberté nouvelle,
S’il te plaist d’adoucir la fierté de ma belle,
Tant que par ton moyen mon travail soit cognu,

Sur un pilier doré je te peindray tout nu,
En l’air un pied levé, à chaque flanc une aile,
L’arc courbé dans la main, le carquois sous l’aisselle,
Le corps gras et douilet, le poil crespe et menu.

Tu sais, Amour, combien mon coeur souffre de peine ;
Mais tant plus il est doux, plus d’audace elle est pleine,
Et mesprise tes dards, comme si tout son coeur

Estoit environné de quelque roche dure ;
Fais luy cognoistre au moins que tu es le vainqueur,
Et qu’un mortel ne doit aux Dieux faire d’injure.

 
 
                                                                      Love, who have kept me in pain for so long,
                                                                      And who first corrupted my new freedom,
                                                                      If you please to soften the pride of my fair one
                                                                      So that by your means my trouble may be recognised;

                                                                      On a golden pillar I shall set you up, naked,
                                                                      One leg raised in the air, a wing on each side,
                                                                      A bow curved in your hand, the quiver under your arm,
                                                                      Your body plump and soft, your hair curled and short.

                                                                      You know, Love, how much pain my heart suffers;
                                                                      But the sweeter that is, the fuller she is of daring
                                                                      And despises your darts as if her heart were entirely

                                                                      Surrounded by some hard stone;
                                                                      Make her understand at least that you are the conqueror,
                                                                      And no mortal should offer insult to the gods.

 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 14

Standard
Amour, quiconque ait dit que le ciel fut ton pere,
Et que la Cyprienne en ses flancs te porta,
Il trompa les humains, un Dieu ne t’enfanta :
Tu n’es pas fils du ciel, Venus n’est pas ta mere.

Des champs Massyliens la plus cruelle Fere
Entre ses lionneaux dans un roc t’alaitta,
Et t’ouvrant ses tetins par son laict te jetta
Tout à l’entour  du coeur sa rage la plus fiere.

Rien ne te plaist, cruel, que sanglots et que pleurs,
Que deschirer nos coeurs d’espineuses douleurs,
Que tirer tout d’un coup mille morts de ta trousse.

Un si meschant que toy du ciel n’est point venu :
Si Venus t’eust conceu tu eusses retenu
Quelque peu de douceur d’une mere si douce.

 
 
                                                                      Love, whoever said that heaven was your father,
                                                                      And that the Cyprian bore you in her womb,
                                                                      He deceived the human race: a God did not give you birth,
                                                                      You are not a child of heaven, Venus is not your mother.

                                                                      The cruellest wild beast from the plains of Massilia [Marseilles]
                                                                      Gave you milk in a rocky den amidst her cubs,
                                                                      And offering her nipples to you, through her milk injected you
                                                                      All around the heart with her proudest passion.

                                                                      Nothing pleases you, cruel one, but sobs and tears,
                                                                      But tearing our hearts with grief’s thorns,
                                                                      But shooting from your quiver a thousand death-blows all at once.

                                                                      None so wicked as you ever came from heaven;
                                                                      If Venus had conceived you, you would have retained
                                                                      Some small part of the sweetness of so sweet a mother.

 
 
 
Again Ronsard has found his sincere lover’s voice, and rejected his earlier archness – even if this is complicated by his classical allusions  The ‘Cyprian’ is Venus – as should be obvious from the poem! I’ve no idea why Marseilles is particularly accused of having the most savage wild beasts…
 
Blanchemain’s version has only some modifications in the middle lines of the first quatrain, making little difference to the sens or to the quality of the poetry:
 
 
Amour, quiconque ait dit que le ciel fut ton pere,
Et que Venus la douce en ses flancs te porta,
Il mentit lachement ; un Dieu ne t’enfanta :
Tu n’es pas fils du ciel, Venus n’est pas ta mere.

 
                                                                      Love, whoever said that heaven was your father,
                                                                      And that sweet Venus bore you in her womb,
                                                                      He lied shamelessly: a God did not give you birth,
                                                                      You are not a child of heaven, Venus is not your mother.
 
 
 

Sonnet 13

Standard
Ma plume sinon vous ne sçait autre sujet,
Mon pied qu’à vous chercher ne sçait autre voyage,
Ma langue sinon vous ne sçait autre langage,
Et mon oeil ne cognoist que vous pour son objet.

Si je souhaitte rien, vous estes mon souhait,
Vous estes le doux gain de mon plaisant dommage,
Vous estes le seul but où vise mon courage,
Et seulement en vous tout mon rond se parfait.

Je ne suis point de ceux qui changent de fortune.
Puis que je n’ay qu’un coeur, je n’en puis aimer qu’une :
Une m’est un milier, la nature y consent.

Il faudroit pour vestir toute amour rencontree,
Estre nay Gerion, ou Typhe, ou Briaree.
Qui n’en peult servir une, il n’en peult servir cent.

 
 
 
                                                                      My pen knows no other subject but you,
                                                                      My foot knows no other path than seeking you,
                                                                      My tongue knows no other language than you,
                                                                      My eye recognises no other object than you.

                                                                      Yet I desire nothing, you are my desire,
                                                                      You are the sweet payment fro my pleasing troubles,
                                                                      You are the only goal my courage aims at,
                                                                      And only in you is my world perfected.

                                                                      I am by no means one of those who change their good fortune.
                                                                      Since I have but one heart, I cannot love with it more than one lady;
                                                                      One is a thousand to me, and nature approves.

                                                                      To address every love encountered, you’d have
                                                                      To be born Geryon, or Typheus, or Briareus.
                                                                      The heart which cannot serve one lady, cannot serve a hundred.

 
 
 
At last – a straightforward love-poem for Marie!
 
The classical references in line 13 are to monsters with many bodies and/or heads…  Geryon had 3 heads (and perhaps 3 bodies as well), and was killed by Hercules in completing one of his 12 Labours;  Typheus (or Typhon) was one of the primeval monsters sired by Earth and Sky (Uranus and Gaia), with a hundred dragon-heads and as many snake-coils in place of legs; and Briareus was another of those children of Gaia, with 100 arms and 50 heads. Typhon and/or Briareus were said to be buried by Jupiter under Mount Etna, and the cause of its constant eruptions and earth tremors.
 
Blanchemain’s version replaces the last four lines with a completely different version, losing all of these monsters as wellas introducing lots of enjambement.  It’s arguable that such hideous creatures have no place in a poem otherwise as light as this; unfortunately the alternative appears to be a set of platitudes, even if the tensi0n between the units of rhyme and the units of sense creates some interest.
 
Here is the final sestet in Blanchemain’s version (line 9-10 unchanged compared with above):
 
 
Je ne suis point de ceux qui changent de fortune.
Puis que je n’ay qu’un coeur, je n’en puis aimer qu’une :
Cette une m’en vaut cent. Las ! je vous aime mieux

Que mon coeur ni que moy, et plustost que de faire
Chose qui peust en rien nostre amitié defaire,
J‘aimerois mieux mourir, tant j‘aime vos beaux yeux !

 
                                                                      I am by no means one of those whose luck changes.
                                                                      Since I have but one heart, I cannot love with it more than one lady;
                                                                      That one is worth a hundred to me. Ah, I love you more

                                                                      Than my heart or myself, and rather than do
                                                                      Anything which could in any way damage our love,
                                                                      I’d much rather die, so much do I love your fair eyes!

 
Note that Blanchemain’s edition also has a weaker version of line 2, where the variety achieved above is reduced to:
 
Ma plume sinon vous ne sçait autre sujet,
Mon pied sinon vers vous ne sçait autre voyage
 

                                                                      (‘My foot knows no other path but to you’). 

 
 
 

Sonnet 12

Standard
Je veux me souvenant de ma gentille Amie,
Boire ce soir d’autant, et pource, Corydon,
Fay remplir mes flacons, et verse à l’abandon
Du vin pour resjouir toute la compaignie.
 
Soit que m’amie ait nom ou Cassandre ou Marie,
Neuf fois je m’en vois boire aux lettres de son nom,
Et toy si de ta belle et jeune Madelon,
Belleau, l’amour te poind, je te pri’ ne l’oublie.
 
Apporte ces bouquets que tu m’avois cueillis,
Ces roses, ces oeillets, ce josmin et ces lis :
Attache une couronne à l’entour de ma teste.
 
Gaignon ce jour icy, trompon nostre trespas :
Peult estre que demain nous ne reboirons pas.
S’attendre au lendemain n’est pas chose trop preste.
 
 
 
                                                                      Thinking of my noble Beloved, I want
                                                                      To drink so much tonight; so, Corydon,
                                                                      Fill my flagons, and pour wine with abandon
                                                                      To delight the whole company.
 
                                                                      Whether my beloved is named Cassandre or Marie,
                                                                      I want to drink nine times to the letters of her name,
                                                                      And you too, Belleau – if love for your fair
                                                                      Young Maddy pricks you, I beg you don’t forget her!
 
                                                                      Bring those bouquets you’ve cut for me,
                                                                      Those roses, carnations, jasmine and lilies;
                                                                      Fix a crown around my head.
 
                                                                      Let’s seize the day, let’s cheat death:
                                                                      Perhaps tomorrow we shall not drink again.
                                                                      Waiting for tomorrow is not a smart thing.
 
 
 
Interesting that Ronsard uses Corydon as a servant’s name; it’s of course a perfectly good name in classical, pastoral poetry, but it’s usually a shepherd-lover rather than the boy bringing the drinks around.  I’m sure line 12 is a reference to Horace’s famous ‘seize the day’ (Carpe diem). And not for the first or last time in Amours II, he couples Marie’s name with Cassandre’s: elsewhere this usually is Marie accusing him of still thinking of Cassandre; yet here he gives us some evidence that it was not just her jealous nature that brought such accusations on him!
 
I’ve translated Belleau’s girl’s name as Maddy, though perhaps it could be Magda; Madelon (or Magdelon, in Blanchemain) is a pet-name, though it is believed Belleau’s girl was invented. She is Madelon in the 1555 Amours, but in Belleau’s 1560 (and 1565) edition he amends it to ‘Catelon’ (Cathy), before it changes back to ‘Madelon’ in 1572. A 1559 wedding-hymn (Chant pastoral sur les Noces de Mgr Charles duc de Lorraine et de Madame Claude) by Ronsard has the lines,
        “Belin me l’a donné, houpé tout à l’entour
         Des couleurs qu’il gaigna de Caton l’autre jour”
Assuming Belin is a pet-name for Belleau, this suggests that the real girl – if there was one – may have been Cathy not Maddy, and ‘Madelon’ may have been a disguise!   [ Info from Google Books which unfortunately won’t tell me whose work I am quoting here! ]
 
The second half of Blanchemain’s version is completely re-written; as well as a minor change in line 6 “je m’en vais boire” for “je m’en vois boire” (I’m going to drink, instead of I want to drink). Here are the final 6 lines in his edition; I have to say this is one case where as far as I’m concerned the chnages in M-L’s late version are a significant improvement, especially the last tercet…
 
 
Qu‘on m‘ombrage le chef de vigne et de lierre,
Les coudes et le col ; qu‘on enfleure la terre
De roses et de lys, de lavands et de jonc.
 
Sus ! verse dans ma coupe et boivon à notre aise.
Quoi ! n’est-ce pas bien fait ? Or sus ! commençons donc,
Et chassons loing de nous tout soin et tour malaise.
 
 
                                                                      Shade my head with vines and ivy,
                                                                      My shoulders and neck too; cover the ground in flowers,
                                                                      Roses and lilies, lavender and rushes.
 
                                                                      Up! Pour wine in my cup, let‘s drink at ease.
                                                                      What – wasn‘t it done properly? Come on! Let‘s start,
                                                                      And chase far from us all care and unease.
 
 
 

Sonnet 11

Standard
Amour estant marry qu’il avoit ses sagettes
Tiré contre Marie, et ne l’avoit blessée,
Par despit dans un bois sa trousse avoit laissée
Tant que pleine elle fust d’un bel essain d’Avettes.

Ja de leurs piquerons ces captives mouchettes
Pour avoir liberté la trousse avoient persée,
Et s’enfuyoient alors qu’Amour l’a renversée
Sur la face à Marie, et sur ses mammelettes.

Soudain apres qu’il eut son carquois deschargé,
Tout riant sautela, pensant s’estre vangé
De celle à qui son arc n’avoit sceu faire outrage.

Mais il rioit en vain : car ces filles du ciel
En lieu de la picquer, baisans son beau visage,
En amassoient les fleurs et en faisoient du miel.

 
                                                                      Love, fed up that he had shot his arrows
                                                                      At Marie, but not marked her,
                                                                      In vexation abandoned his kit in a wood
                                                                      Though it was filled with a fine swarm of bees.

                                                                      Already the captive insects had pierced the bag
                                                                      With their stings, to gain their liberty,
                                                                      And out they flew as Love tipped it over
                                                                      Onto the face and breast of Marie.

                                                                      After he’d suddenly emptied his quiver thus
                                                                      He danced around laughing, thinking he’d got revenge
                                                                      On her whom his bow had not been able to injure.

                                                                      But he laughed in vain; for these daughters of heaven,
                                                                      Instead of stinging her, kissed her pretty face,
                                                                      Gathered its flowers and from them made honey.

 
 
 Another of those little nightmare translation moments here – how do you match the gentle amusement of rhyming ‘marry’ (=fed up) with ‘Marie’? I’m sure Ronsard enjoyed the way that this lets him introduce the idea of Marie being annoying, without saying it…! I’ve settled for switching the near-rhyme onto the second line with ‘Marie/marked’ (instead of ‘injured’), but it’s nowhere near as good.
 
Blanchemain’s version is, for a change, practically identical. The only small difference is that he has “estre vangé” in line 10 instead of “s’estre vangé”. I cannot separate the two in meaning, but no doubt there is some subtle difference there which a native would pick up…
 
 
 

Sonnet 10

Standard
Marie, en me tanceant vous me venez reprendre
Que je suis trop leger, et me dites tousjours,
Quand j’approche de vous que j’aille à ma Cassandre,
Et tousjours m’appellez inconstant en amours.

« L’inconstance me plaist : les hommes sont bien lours
« Qui de nouvelle amour ne se laissent surprendre :
Qui veut opiniastre une seule pretendre
N’est digne que Venus luy face de bons tours.

Celuy qui n’ose faire une amitié nouvelle,
A faute de courage, ou faute de cervelle,
Se défiant de soy que ne peut avoir mieux.

Les hommes maladifs, ou mattez de vieillesse
Doivent estre constans : mais sotte est la jeunesse,
Qui n’est point esveillée et qui n’aime en cent lieux.

 
                                                                      Marie, while scolding me you just reproved me
                                                                      For being too frivolous, and you always say
                                                                      When I come near you that I am coming to my Cassandre,
                                                                      And you always call me inconstant in love.

                                                                      “Inconstancy pleases me; those men are plodders
                                                                      Who don’t let themselves be surprised by a new love;”
                                                                      He who persistently professes faith to a single woman
                                                                      Is not worthy that Venus should do him a good turn.

                                                                      He who dares not seek a new love,
                                                                      Through lack of courage, or lack of brain,
                                                                      Mistrusting himself, ought not to gain anything better.

                                                                      Men who are always ill, or dulled by old age,
                                                                      Should be constant; but absurd is the youthfulness
                                                                      Which has never awoken and which doesn’t love in a hundred places.

 
 
 
Blanchemain’s version has a number of changes of detail, mostly in the first half. Oddly, his small change in line 11 seems to me to convert the first tercet (lines 9-11) into something which isn’t a proper sentence – so I have reflected that in my translation.  Because the changes are scattered throughout, it’s easiest to present the whole sonnet again (with the differences highlighted):
 
 
Marie, à tous les coups vous me venez reprendre
Que je suis trop leger, et me dites tousjours,
Quand je vous veux baiser, que j’aille à ma Cassandre,
Et tousjours m’appellez inconstant en amours.

Je le veux estre. Aussi les hommes sont bien lours
Qui de nouvelle amour ne se laissent surprendre.
Le loyal qui ne veut qu’à une seule entendre
N’est digne que Venus luy face de bons tours.

Celuy qui n’ose faire une amitié nouvelle,
A faute de courage, ou faute de cervelle,
Se défiant de soy qui ne peut avoir mieux.

Les hommes maladifs, ou mattez de vieillesse
Doivent estre constans : mais sotte est la jeunesse,
Qui n’est point esveillée et qui n’aime en cent lieux.

 
 
                                                                      Marie, on all occasions you come and reprove me
                                                                      For being too frivolous, and you always say
                                                                      When I want to kiss you that I am going to my Cassandre,
                                                                      And you always call me inconstant in love.

                                                                      I want to be!  Those men are plodders
                                                                      Who don’t let themselves be surprised by a new love.
                                                                      The honest man who wants to woo only one woman
                                                                      Is not worthy that Venus should do him a good turn.

                                                                      He who dares not seek a new love,
                                                                      Through lack of courage, or lack of brain,
                                                                      Mistrusting himself as one who cannot gain better.

                                                                      Men who are always ill, or dulled by old age,
                                                                      Should be constant; but absurd is the youthfulness
                                                                      Which has never awoken and which doesn’t love in a hundred places.