Chanson (18b)

Si le ciel est ton pays et ton pere,
Si le Nectar est ton vin savoureux,
Si Venus est ta delicate mere,
Si l’Ambrosie est ton pain bien-heureux :
Pourquoy viens-tu loger en nostre terre ?
Pourquoy viens-tu te cacher en mon sein ?
Pourquoy fais-tu contre mes os la guerre ?
Pourquoy bois-tu mon pauvre sang humain ?
Pourquoy prens-tu de mon coeur nourriture ?
O fils d’un Tygre !  ô cruel animal !
Tu es un  Dieu de mechante nature !
Je suis à toy, pourquoy me fais-tu mal ?
                                                                      If heaven is your home and your father,
                                                                      If nectar is your rich wine,
                                                                      If Venus is your sensitive mother,
                                                                      If ambrosia is your blessed food;
                                                                      Why then have you come to live in our world?
                                                                      Why have you come to hide yourself in my heart?
                                                                      Why do you make war on my body?
                                                                      Why do you drink my poor human blood?
                                                                      Why do you take the sustenance from my heart?
                                                                      O daughter of a tiger! O cruel beast!
                                                                      You are divine, but with a wicked nature!
                                                                      I am yours, why do you do me wrong?
A delicate and attractive little poem; not surprisingly, perhaps, variants are minor. Blanchemain offers only a small change in the way he builds the first line of the second stanza:  “Pourquoy viens-tu te loger en la terre ?” (‘Why then have you come to live in the world?’)
This poem is based on one of Marullus’s most famous poems, and Ronsard follows it quite closely. What I enjoy is the way he is able to remain close to the original, but at the same time produce a lovely piece of French poetry with only minor adjustments to Marullus’s thought – for instance specifying the tiger rather than just ‘a beast’.
Si caelum patria est, puer, beatum,
si vere peperit Venus benigna,
si nectar tibi Massicum ministrat,
si sancta ambrosia est cibus petitus,
quid noctes habitas diesque mecum ?
Quid victum face supplicemque aduris ?
Quid longam lacrimis sitim repellis ?
Quid nostrae dape pasceris medullae ?
O vere rabidum genus ferarum !
O domo Styge patriaque digne !
Jam levis sumus umbra : quid lacessis ?
                                                                      If blessed heaven is your birthplace, my boy,
                                                                      If kindly Venus truly bore you,
                                                                      If she feeds you Massic nectar,
                                                                      If holy ambrosia is the food you seek,
                                                                      Then why do you spend your days and nights with me?
                                                                      Why do you burn me with your fire, though I’m a beaten man and a suppliant?
                                                                      Why do you quench your long thirst with my tears?
                                                                      Why do you make a feast of the marrow in my bones?
                                                                      Truly you are a rabid kind of wild beast!
                                                                      You are worthy of the Styx as your home and birthplace!
                                                                      I am now a thin shadow; why do you torture me?

(What Marullus means by ‘Massic nectar’ is open to interpretation: Fantuzzi in his translation makes this ‘Massic wine’, which was known to be excellent. I think Marullus is suggesting that Cupid fed, not on the best wine Earth could provide, but on a superior kind of nectar than that generally available to the gods – the best nectar the Heavens could provide.)

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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  1. Pingback: Ronsard as translator: the Epigrams of Marullus « Oeuvres de Ronsard

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