Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sonnet 25

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Cache pour ceste nuit ta corne, bonne Lune :
Ainsin Endymion soit tousjours ton amy,
Ainsi soit-il tousjours en ton sein endormy,
Ainsi nul enchanteur jamais ne t’importune.
 
Le jour m’est odieux, la nuit m’est opportune,
Je crains de jour l’aguet d’un voisin ennemy :
De nuit plus courageux je traverse parmy
Les espions, couvert de ta courtine brune.
 
Tu sçais, Lune, que peut l’amoureuse poison :
Le Dieu Pan pour le prix d’une blanche toison
Peut bien flechir ton cœur. Et vous Astres insignes,
 
Favorisez au feu qui me tient allumé :
Car s’il vous en souvient, la plus part de vous, Signes,
N’a place dans le ciel que pour avoir aimé.
 
 
                                                                                            Hide your horns for tonight, kind Moon;

                                                                                            So may Endymion always be your friend,
                                                                                            So may he always remain asleep in your bosom,
                                                                                            So does no enchanter ever beg of you.
 
                                                                                           Day is hateful to me, night is opportune,
                                                                                           I fear in day the alert of a nearby enemy;
                                                                                           At night, braver, I pass amongst
                                                                                           Spies, concealed beneath your dark curtain.
 
                                                                                           You know, Moon, what a lover’s poison can do;
                                                                                           The god Pan, for the price of a white fleece,
                                                                                           Can easily influence your heart. And you bright Stars,
 
                                                                                           Show your favour to the fire which burns in me;
                                                                                           For if you remember, the greater part of you, o Signs,
                                                                                           Have your place in the heavens only for having loved.
 
 
Blanchemain offers minor variants in the quatrains. In line 3, he asks for Endymion that he remain “Et sans se réveiller en ton sein endormy” (‘And without waking stay asleep in your bosom’).  Line 8, at the end of the next quatrain, is changed so that the quatrain now ends:
 
De nuit plus courageux je traverse parmy
Le camp des espions, defendu de ta brune.
 
                                                                                             At night, braver, I pass through
                                                                                             The spies’ encampment, protected by your darkness.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Sonnet 24

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Escumiere Venus, Royne en Cypre puissante,
Mere des doux amours, à qui tousjours se joint
Le plaisir et le jeu, qui tout animal point
A tousjours reparer sa race perissante :
 
Sans toy Nymphe aime-ris la vie est languissante,
Sans toy rien n’est de beau de vaillant ny de coint,
Sans toy la Volupté joyeuse ne vient point,
Et des Graces sans toy la grace est desplaisante.
 
Ores qu’en ce printemps on ne sçauroit rien voir,
Qui fiché dans le cœur ne sente ton pouvoir,
Sans plus une pucelle en sera-t’elle exente ?
 
Si tu ne veux du tout la traiter de rigueur,
Au moins que sa froideur en ce mois d’Avril sente
Quelque peu du brasier qui m’enflame le cœur.
 
 
                                                                                            Venus of the foam, powerful Queen in Cyprus,
                                                                                            Mother of sweet love, with whom always
                                                                                            Pleasure and fun are joined, which every beast relies on
                                                                                            To restore its dying breed forever:
 
                                                                                            Without you, Nymph who loves to smile, life is tedious,
                                                                                            Without you there is nothing fine, brave or pleasing,
                                                                                            Without you happy pleasure never arrives,
                                                                                            And without you the grace of the Graces itself is displeasing.
 
                                                                                            There is nothing in this springtime one would expect to see
                                                                                            Which does not feel, driven into its heart, your power;
                                                                                            Will even a maiden be exempt from it?
 
                                                                                            If you do not want at all to treat it harshly,
                                                                                            At least may its coldness in this month of April feel
                                                                                            Some part of the furnace which burns in my heart.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 23

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Morfée, si en songe il te plaist presenter
Ceste nuit ma maistresse aussi belle et gentille,
Que je la vy le soir que sa vive scintille
Par un poignant regard vint mes yeux enchanter :
 
Et s’il te plaist ô Dieu, tant soit peu d’alenter
(Miserable souhait) de la Feinte inutile
Le feu, qu’Amour me vient de son aile futile
Tout alentour du cœur sans repos esventer :
 
J’apendray sur mon lit ta peinture plumeuse
En la mesme façon que je t’auray conceu
La nuict par le plaisir de ta forme douteuse :
 
Et comme Jupiter à Troye fut deceu
Du Somme et de Junon, apres avoir receu
De la simple Venus la ceinture amoureuse.

 

 
 
 
                                                                                            Morpheus, would you please present in a dream
                                                                                            Tonight my mistress, as beautiful and noble
                                                                                            As I saw her on the evening when her lively brilliance
                                                                                            In one heart-stopping glance began to enchant my eyes:
 
                                                                                            And would you please, o god, lessen, even just a little
                                                                                            (A pitiful wish), the fire of that useless sham
                                                                                            Which Love with his trifling wing has begun
                                                                                            Ceaselessly to fan all around my heart.
 
                                                                                            I shall hang over my bed your winged picture
                                                                                            In the same manner in which I perceive you
                                                                                            At night, from the pleasure of your uncertain form;
 
                                                                                            And looking as when Jupiter was deceived at Troy
                                                                                            By Sleep and Juno, after receiving
                                                                                            From simple Venus the belt of love.
 
 
Belleau rather unnecessarily offers us the following note on line 9 – “Morpheus is a god bearing wings and feathers like Rumour, Love and others.” (!)  Rather more usefully, he also outlines the tale alluded to in the final tercet:  “Jupiter was deceived on Mount Ida by Juno and Sleep, Juno having borrowed the belt of Venus to put herself in her husband’s good graces and to make him sleep, so that he would not aid the Trojans. This tale is in Homer’s Iliad.
 
Blanchemain offers a number of variants including an almost-completely different first tercet. As seems quite common, he opts for a text which more clearly states its meaning, but in a less interesting way. For simplicity here is his text with changes marked:
 
 
Morfée, s’il te plaist de me représenter
Ceste nuit ma maistresse aussi belle et gentille,
Que je la vy le soir que sa vive scintille
Par ne sçais quel regard vint mes yeux enchanter :
 
Et s’il te plaist ô Dieu, tant soit peu d’alenter
(Miserable souhait) de la Feinte inutile
Le feu, qu’Amour me vient de son aile subtile
Tout alentour du cœur sans repos esventer :
 
Sur le haut de mon lit en vœu je t’appendray,
Devot, un saint tableau sur lequel je peindrai
L’heur que j’auray receu de ta forme douteuse 
 
Et comme Jupiter à Troye fut deceu
Du Somme et de Junon, apres avoir receu
De la simple Venus la ceinture amoureuse.

 

 
 
                                                                                             Morpheus, would you please represent to me
                                                                                             Tonight my mistress, as beautiful and noble
                                                                                             As I saw her on the evening when her lively brilliance
                                                                                             In some special glance began to enchant my eyes:
 
                                                                                             And would you please, o god, lessen, even just a little
                                                                                             (A pitiful wish), the fire of that useless sham
                                                                                             Which Love with his subtle wing has begun
                                                                                             Ceaselessly to fan all around my heart.
 
                                                                                             High above my bed I shall hang for you, like a votive offering
                                                                                             From your follower, a holy picture on which I shall paint
                                                                                             The hour when I received your uncertain form,
 
                                                                                             And looking as when Jupiter was deceived at Troy
                                                                                             By Sleep and Juno, after receiving
                                                                                             From simple Venus the belt of love.     

 

 
 
 

Sonnet 22

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Que ne suis-je insensible ? ou que n’est mon visage
De rides labouré ? ou que ne puis-je espandre
Sans trespasser le sang, qui chaud subtil et tendre
Bouillonnant dans mon cœur me trouble le courage ?
 
Ou bien, en mon erreur que ne suis-je plus sage ?
Ou, pourquoy la raison qui me devroit reprendre,
Ne commande à ma chair sans paresseuse attendre
Qu’un tel commandement me soit enjoint par l’âge ?
 
Mais que pourroy-je faire, et puis que ma maistresse,
Mes sens, mes ans, Amour, et ma raison traistresse
Ont juré contre moy ? las ! quand mon chef seroit
 
Aussi blanc que celuy de la vieille Cumee,
En la tombe jamais mon mal ne cesseroit,
Tant l’Astre eut contre moy son influence armee.
 
 
 
                                                                                             Why am I not insensible? Or why is my face not
                                                                                             Furrowed with lines? Or why can I not scatter
                                                                                             My blood without dying, the blood which bubbling
                                                                                             Hot and delicate in my heart makes my courage falter?
 
                                                                                             Or rather, why in my error am I not wiser?
                                                                                             Or why does reason, which should hold me back,
                                                                                             Not give orders to my flesh instead of waiting, lazily,
                                                                                             Until a similar order is forced on me by age?
 
                                                                                             But what can I do, since my mistress,
                                                                                             My senses, my age, Love and my treacherous reason
                                                                                             Have taken oath against me? Alas, when my head is
 
                                                                                             As white as that of the old Cumaean [Sybil],
                                                                                             Even in the tomb my troubles will not cease,
                                                                                             So strongly-armed is the influence my Evil Star has over me.
 
 
Blanchemain offers 2 variants of the final tercet. One is in a footnote, where he offers Marty-Laveaux’s version above but with “Encor dans le tombeau mon mal ne cesseroit” as the penultimate line – the meaning is essentially unchanged.
The other is a substantive replacement of the whole tercet, and he also re-punctuates the preceding tercet so that the meaning is slightly modified:
 
 
Mais que pourroy-je faire ?  et puis que ma maistresse,
Mes sens, mes ans, Amour, et ma raison traistresse
Ont juré contre moy,  las !  quand mon chef seroit
 
De vieillesse aussi blanc que la vieille Cumée,
Si est-ce que jamais le temps effaceroit
Ceste beauté que j’ay dans le cœur imprimée.
 
 
                                                                                             But what can I do?  Since my mistress,
                                                                                             My senses, my age, Love and my treacherous reason
                                                                                             Have taken oath against me, alas, when my head is
 
                                                                                             As white with age as the old Cumaean [Sybil],
                                                                                             So is it that time will never wipe away
                                                                                             This beauty which I have imprinted in my heart.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 4

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I’m feeling rather bereft tonight;  and there are plenty of things in the news to remind us that life is all too fragile. So, here’s a beautiful poem about its fragility. I’m afraid my translation is far from beautiful: but Ronsard’s poem is great art.

Comme on voit sur la branche au mois de May la rose
En sa belle jeunesse, en sa premiere fleur
Rendre le ciel jaloux de sa vive couleur,
Quand l’Aube de ses pleurs au poinct du jour l’arrose :
 
La grace dans sa fueille, et l’amour se repose,
Embasmant les jardins et les arbres d’odeur :
Mais batue ou de pluye, ou d’excessive ardeur,
Languissante elle meurt fueille à fueille déclose.
 
Ainsi en ta premiere et jeune nouveauté,
Quand la terre et le ciel honoroient ta beauté,
La Parque t’a tuee, et cendre tu reposes.
 
Pour obseques reçoy mes larmes et mes pleurs,
Ce vase plein de laict, ce panier plein de fleurs,
Afin que vif et mort ton corps ne soit que roses.
 
 
 
                                                                      As you see the rose on the branch in May
                                                                      In her lovely youth, with her first flower
                                                                      Making the sky jealous of her bright colour
                                                                      When the Dawn with her tears makes the sky pink at start of day:
 
                                                                      Grace and love rest in her blooms
                                                                      Perfuming gardens and trees with her scent
                                                                      But then, battered by the rain or too much heat,
                                                                      Fading she dies, stripped of petal after petal.
 
                                                                      Just so in your first new youthfulness
                                                                      When earth and heaven honoured your beauty,
                                                                      Fate killed you, and now you are just ashes.
 
                                                                      As funeral rites, receive my tears and weeping,
                                                                      This vase full of milk, this basket full of flowers
                                                                      So that living or dead your body should be only roses.
 
 
 No need for commentary, nor versions: this poem is perfect as it stands. I only wish I could match ‘arroser’ in line 4 – Dawn bedewing the earth, pouring out her tears, and ‘making pink’ (ar-rose-er) all in one word.
 

Another Peletier poem!

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While breaking my rules and putting up another poet’s work, why not add a second? As a Latinist as well, I enjoyed Peletier’s thoughts on the value of the humanist renaissance of Latin poetry-writing!

A un poete qui n’escrivoit qu’en Latin.
 
J’escri en langue maternelle,
Et tasche a la metter en valeur :
Affin de la rendre eternelle,
Comme les vieux ont fait la leur :
Et soutien que c’est grand malheur
Que son propre bien mespriser
Pour l’autruy tant favoriser.
 
Si les Grecz sont si fort fameux,
Si les Latins sont aussi telz,
Pourquoy ne faisons nous come eux,
pour estre comme eux immortelz ?
Toy qui si fort exercé t’es,
Et qui en Latin escriz tant,
Qu’es tu sinon qu’un imitant ?
 
Croiz tu que ton Poeme approche
De ce que Virgile escrivoit ?
Certes non pas (tout sans reproche)
Du moindre qui du temps vivoit.
Mais le François est seul qui voit
Ce que j’escri : et si demeure
En la France, or j’ay peur qu’il meure.
 
Je respons, quoy que tu escrives
Pour l’envoyer en lointains lieux,
Sans ce que les tiens tu en prives,
On pense tousjours que des vieux
Le style vaut encores mieux :
Puis nostre langue n’est si lourde,
Que bien hault elle ne se sourde.
 
 
 
                                                                         To a poet who writes only in Latin
 
                                                                         I write in my mother tongue
                                                                         And try to give it value and power,
                                                                         So as to render it immortal
                                                                         As the ancients did theirs;
                                                                         I think it is a great pity
                                                                         For someone to scorn his own
                                                                         And to favour another’s so much.
 
                                                                         If the Greeks are so extremely well-known,
                                                                         If the Latins are known just as much,
                                                                         Why don’t we do as they did
                                                                         To be like them immortal?
                                                                         You who are so very skilled
                                                                         And who write so much in Latin,
                                                                         What are you, in the end, but an imitator?
 
                                                                         Do you believe that your poetry approaches
                                                                         That which Virgil wrote?
                                                                         Certainly not (I mean it without censure)
                                                                         No less than those who lived in his time.
                                                                         But Frenchmen are the only ones who see
                                                                         What I write: and so it remains
                                                                         In France alone – am I afraid that it might die?
 
                                                                         I reply, whatever you write
                                                                         To send to distant lands,
                                                                         You are depriving your own land of it;
                                                                         People always think that the style
                                                                         Of the ancients has such great value;
                                                                         But our own language is not so heavy
                                                                         That it too cannot rise so high.
 
 
 
 
 

Ode to Ronsard, by Peletier

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As proposed, here is Jacques Peletier’s response to Ronsard’s ode dedicated to him. It replicates Ronsard’s stanzas, rhyme-scheme, etc. I was reading Peletier to find out about his proposed spelling reforms andideas for a new orthography of French, with lots of different diacritical marks differentiating different ‘e’ sounds etc (think of English – ee-normous, en-normous, in-normous, even a-normous). Though I’ve normalised his e’s, I’ve left some of his other idiosyncratic spelling (-z endings for instance) in the text below.

While Ronsard must have had a smile on his face while describing the ideal (and unattainable) mistress, I imagine Peletier had a broad grin on his face as he described her ideal lover – who’s rather unlike Ronsard in many respects!

Response par Peletier,

Des beautez et accomplissemens

d’un Amant.

En contemplant ceste jeune femelle,
Sa grace, sa ronde mammelle,
Elle me semble estre marrie
Si bien tost on ne la marie
A un Amy aussi gentil comme elle.
 
Et en cela si mon esprit ne faut,
Je say bien quel il le luy faut :
Et puis ell’ est si bien apprise,
Qu’impossible est qu’elle ne prise
Un tel present, y eust il du defaut.
 
Je veux qu’au plus de dix ans il la passe,
Stature ny haute ny basse :
Le grand est suget au mocqueur,
Et le petit n’a que le cueur :
Le seul moyen toutes choses compasse.
 
Les deux yeux noirs souz deux arcs noirs assis,
Ny trop felons ny trop lascisz :
Large front, nez de long pourtrait :
Bouche bien close a petit trait :
Membres nerveux, bien charnuz et massifz.
 
Teste et menton de noire chevelure,
La ou n’y ait rien de mellure :
Col musculeux et large dos :
Cuisse de chair remplie et d’os :
Jambe videe, et mesuree allure.
 
Je ne luy veux la chere si jolie,
Qu’il n’ait rien de melancholie :
Une sage simplicité,
Avecques dousse gravité :
Trop grande joye est trop tost abolie.
 
De la beauté je ne puis tout ensemble
Bien declairer ce qu’il m’en semble :
Mais je le veux de telle monstre,
Que de la premiere rencontre
Les cueurs de tous par dousse force il emble :
 
Aux armes soit hardis et bienheuré,
A cheval droit et asseuré :
Soit terrible aux audacieux,
Et aux humbles soit gracieux :
Cueur de mesure en corps bien mesuré.
 
Je veux qu’aussi Nature l’ait fait naistre
A tous exercices addestre :
Car les Dames plus hardiment
Jugent au plaisant maniment
Combien ailleurs habile il pourroit estre.
 
En la Musicque il pregne passetemps,
Pour faire deux espritz contens :
Qu’il sache toucher l’Epinette
Avec le Luc de sa Brunette
D’un bon accord, gardant mesure et temps.
 
Pour son maintien et son parler exquis,
Il soit des plus belles requis :
Affin que par leur grand’ attente
Face sa Dame plus contente
De ce qui est a elle seule acquis.
 
De jalousie oncq’ n’ait esté vaincu,
Tant qu’avec elle aura vescu :
Lors elle sera sans excuse,
Si paraventure on l’accuse
Que quleque fois elle l’ait fait cocu.

Response by Peletier,

On the beauties and accomplishments

of a lover

In contemplating this young lady,
Her grace, her round breast,
It seems to me she’ll be sad
If we don’t marry her very quickly
To a lover as noble as herself.
 
And in that respect, if my mind is not in error,
I know well what he should be like:
And then, she is so well informed
That it’s impossible that she wouldn’t take
Such a man if he were here, even if by default.
 
I’d like him to be more than ten years older than her,
In stature neither tall nor short;
The tall man is subject to mockery,
The small man has only his heart;
Only the man of average height compasses all things.
 
Two black eyes set beneath two black brows,
Neither too tricky nor too lewd;
A broad forehead, a long well-made nose;
A mouth nicely-closed, with small lips;
Lively limbs, well-fleshed and massive.
 
His head and chin covered in black hair
Since nothing looks better there;
A muscular neck, a broad back;
Thighs strong in flesh and bone,
A well-set leg and a measured gait.
 
I don’t wish him to have so pretty a love
That he is never melancholic;
A wise simplicity
With gentle gravity;
Too great a joy is too quickly gone.
 
Concerning beauty, I cannot briefly
Set out exactly what I think it is;
But I wish for it in such a paladin,
Such that at the first encounter
he warms everyone’s hearts with its sweet power.
 
He should be bold and fortunate in arms,
On a horse upright and assured;
He should be terrifying to the bold,
And gracious to the lowly;
A moderate heart in a well-moderated body.
 
I wish Nature also to have given him from birth
Skill in all pursuits;
For ladies judge most boldly
By a pleasing capability
How skilful he might be in other matters…
 
He should spend his leisure time in music
So as to make two spirits content;
He should know how to play the spinet
Accompanying his brown-haired lass’s lute
In good harmony, keeping rhythm and time.
 
For his bearing and his delightful conversation
He should be sought by all the beauties;
So that, through their great desire,
His Lady should appear still happier
With the man that she alone has won.
 
By jealousy, though, he should not be overcome,
Even when he has lived with her;
Then she will be without excuse
If perchance someone should accuse her
Of sometimes making him a cuckold…