Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sonnet 3

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Alors que plus amour nourrissoit mon ardeur,
M’asseurant de jouyr de ma longue esperance :
A l’heure que j’avois en luy plus d’asseurance,
La Mort a moissonné mon bien en sa verdeur.
 
J’esperois par souspirs, par peine, et par langueur
Adoucir son orgueil : las ! je meurs quand j’y pense,
Mais en lieu d’en jouyr, pour toute recompense
Un cercueil tient enclos mon espoir et mon cœur.
 
Je suis bien malheureux, puis qu’elle vive et morte
Ne me donne repos, et que de jour en jour
Je sens par son trespas une douleur plus forte.
 
Comme elle je devrois reposer à mon tour :
Toutesfois je ne voy par quel chemin je sorte,
Tant la mort me rempestre au labyrinth d’amour.
 
 
                                                                                            Love fed my ardour more and more,
                                                                                            Strengthening me to rejoice in my long hoping;
                                                                                            But at the moment when I had most confidence in him,
                                                                                            Death harvested my treasure in her prime.
 
                                                                                            I was hoping through sighs, distress and pining
                                                                                            To soften her pride;  alas, I die when I think of it,
                                                                                            But instead of enjoying her, all my recompense
                                                                                            Is a coffin, holding my hope and my heart shut in it.
 
                                                                                            I am most unfortunate, since she living and dead
                                                                                            Gives me no rest, and since day by day
                                                                                            I feel in her death a grief that’s stronger.
 
                                                                                            Like her, I ought to rest [in the tomb] in my turn;
                                                                                            Yet I do not see the road by which I can part,
                                                                                            Love re-entangles me so in the maze of love.
 
 
 
 
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Sonnet 2

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Terre ouvre moy ton sein, et me laisse reprendre
Mon thresor, que la Parque a caché dessous toy :
Ou bien si tu ne peux, ô terre cache moy
Sous mesme sepulture avec sa belle cendre.
 
Le traict qui la tua, devoit faire descendre
Mon corps aupres du sien pour finir mon esmoy :
Aussi bien, veu le mal qu’en sa mort je reçoy,
Je ne sçaurois plus vivre, et me fasche d’attendre.
 
Quand ses yeux m’esclairoient, et qu’en terre j’avois
Le bon-heur de les voir, à l’heure je vivois,
Ayant de leurs rayons mon ame gouvernee.
 
Maintenant je suis mort : la Mort qui s’en-alla
Loger dedans ses yeux, en partant m’appella,
Et me fit de son soir accomplir ma journée.
 
 
 
                                                                                            Earth, open your breast for me, and let me take back
                                                                                            My treasure, which Fate has hidden beneath you;
                                                                                            Or if you cannot, then Earth hide me
                                                                                            Beneath the same tomb with her fair ashes.
 
                                                                                            The stroke which killed her ought to have brought down
                                                                                            My body alongside hers, to end my pain:
                                                                                            As well it might since, given the hurt I receive from her death,
                                                                                            I could not live longer, and am impatient with waiting.
 
                                                                                            When her eyes shone on me, and on earth I had
                                                                                            The happiness of seeing them, at that time I lived,
                                                                                            My soul governed by their rays.
 
                                                                                            Now I am dead:  Death which went
                                                                                            To live in her eyes, called me as it left
                                                                                            And made me finish my day in its night.
 
 
Blanchemain retains the same text, but footnotes the altered last line of the 1578 edition:  “Et me feit de ses pieds accomplir ma journée” (‘And made me complete my day’s journey in its footsteps‘).
 
 
 
 

Stances (Stanzas) – part 3

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The concluding stanzas of the poem.

Hà ! belle ame tu es là hault
Aupres du bien qui point ne fault,
De rien du monde desireuse,
En liberté, moy en prison :
Encore n’est-ce pas raison
Que seule tu sois bien-heureuse.
 
« Le sort doit tousjours estre égal,
Si j’ay pour toy souffert du mal,
Tu me dois part de ta lumiere.
Mais franche du mortel lien,
Tu as seule emporté le bien,
Ne me laissant que la misere.
 
En ton âge le plus gaillard
Tu as seul laissé ton Ronsard,
Dans le ciel trop tost retournee,
Perdant beauté grace et couleur,
Tout ainsi qu’une belle fleur
Qui ne vit qu’une matinee.
 
En mourant tu n’as sçeu fermer
Si bien tout argument d’aimer,
Et toute nouvelle entreprise,
Que rien à mon gré je ne voy,
Et tout cela qui n’est pas toy
Me desplaist et je le mesprise.
 
Si tu veux, Amour, que je sois
Encore un coup dessous tes lois,
M’ordonnant un nouveau service,
Il te fault sous la terre aller
Flatter Pluton, et r’appeler
En lumiere mon Eurydice.
 
Ou bien va-t’en là hault crier
A la Nature, et la prier
D’en faire une aussi admirable :
Mais j’ay grand’peur qu’elle rompit
Le moule, alors qu’elle la fit,
Pour n’en tracer plus de semblable.
 
Refay moy voir deux yeux pareils
Aux siens qui m’estoient deux soleils,
Et m’ardoient d’une flame extrème,
Où je soulois tendre tes laqs,
Tes hameçons, et tes apas,
Où s’engluoit la raison mesme.
 
Ren moy ce voir et cest ouir,
De ce parler fay moy jouyr,
Si douteux à rendre responce.
Ren moy l’objet de mes ennuis :
Si faire cela tu ne puis,
Va-t’en ailleurs je te renonce.
 
A la Mort j’auray mon recours :
La Mort me sera mon secours,
Comme le but que je desire.
Dessus la Mort tu ne peux rien
Puis qu’elle a desrobé ton bien,
Qui fut l’honneur de ton empire.
 
Soit que tu vives pres de Dieu,
Ou aux champs Elisez, adieu,
Adieu cent fois, adieu Marie :
Jamais Ronsard ne t’oublira,
Jamais la Mort ne deslira
Le nœud dont ta beauté me lie.
Ah, lovely soul, you are up there
Next to the good which never fails,
Desiring nothing in the world,
In freedom, while I am in prison;
Still it is not reasonable
That you alone are fortunate.
 
“Fate ought always to be fair;
If I have suffered ill for you
You owe me part of your light.
But free of mortal ties
You alone have gained the good
Leaving me only misery.
 
While you were alive, he was the gayest,
But you have left your Ronsard alone,
Too soon returned to heaven,
Losing beauty grace and colour
Just like a lovely flower
Which lives but for a morning.
 
Dying, you could not have concluded
So well all arguments for loving
And all new undertakings,
Since I see nothing to my taste,
And all that is not you
Displeases me and I despise it.
 
If you wish, Love, for me to be
Once more under your laws,
Ordaining me a new service,
You must go beneath the earth
To flatter Pluto, and to call back
Into the light my Eurydice.
 
Or else, go up there and call
On Nature, and beg her
To make another one just as loveable:
But I greatly fear that she broke
The mould when she made her,
So as not to design another.
 
Make me see again two eyes equal
To hers, which were twin suns to me
And burned me with extreme passion,
Where I was accustomed to fall into your traps,
Your bait, your attractions,
On which even my reason got ensnared.
 
Give me back that way of looking, of hearing,
Make me enjoy that way of speaking,
So uncertain of gaining a reply.
Give me back the object of my troubles:
If you cannot do that,
go away, go somewhere else: I renounce you.
 
To Death I shall have my resort:
Death will be my help,
Will be like the goal I wish for.
Over Death you have no power
Since she has stolen your greatest good,
Which was the ornament of your reign.
 
Whether you live near to God
Or in the Elysian Fields, farewell,
Farewell a hundred times, farewell Marie:
Never shalll Ronsard forget you,
Never shall Death untie
The knot with which your beauty binds me.
 
 
 Again, there is only one variant in Blanchemain.  In the middle of the 4th stanza from the end, he changes the preposition “tu soulois tendre tes laqs / Tes hameçons, et tes apas” (‘In which you used to set your traps…’). Frankly, this seems to me (a non-native speaker) to be what Marty-Laveaux’s text should say too, since I have in my view ‘fudged’ the translation of that version, not having seen ‘tendre’ used elsewhere in the sense I’ve given it of ‘falling into’ a trap rather than ‘setting’ one.
 
For those who’d like the poem all in one place, here is a Word doc containing both versions complete.
 
 
 

Stances (Stanzas) – part 2

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Here are the middle stanzas of the poem.

Helas ! où est ce doux parler,
Ce voir, cest ouyr, cest aller,
Ce ris qui me faisoit apprendre
Que c’est qu’aimer ? hà, doux refus !
Ha ! doux desdains, vous n’estes plus,
Vous n’estes plus qu’un peu de cendre.
 
Helas, où est ceste beauté,
Ce Printemps, ceste nouveauté
Qui n’aura jamais de seconde ?
Du ciel tous les dons elle avoit :
Aussi parfaite ne devoit
Long temps demeurer en ce monde.
 
Je n’ay regret en son trespas,
Comme prest de suivre ses pas.
Du chef les astres elle touche :
Et je vy ! et je n’ay sinon
Pour reconfort que son beau nom,
Qui si doux me sonne en la bouche.
 
Amour, qui pleures avec moy,
Tu sçais que vray est mon esmoy,
Et que mes larmes ne sont feintes :
S’il te plaist renforce ma vois,
Et de pitié rochers et bois
Je feray rompre sous mes plaintes.
 
Mon feu s’accroist plus vehement,
Quand plus luy manque l’argument
Et la matiere de se paistre :
Car son œil qui m’estoit fatal,
La seule cause de mon mal,
Est terre qui ne peult renaistre.
 
Toutesfois en moy je la sens
Encore l’objet de mes sens,
Comme à l’heure qu’elle estoit vive :
Ny mort ne me peult retarder,
Ny tombeau ne me peult garder
Que par penser je ne la suive.
 
Si je n’eusse eu l’esprit chargé
De vaine erreur, prenant congé
De sa belle et vive figure,
Oyant sa voix, qui sonnoit mieux
Que de coustume, et ses beaux yeux
Qui reluisoient outre mesure,
 
Et son souspir qui m’embrasoit,
J’eusse bien veu qu’elle me disoit :
Or’ soule toy de mon visage,
Si jamais tu en euz souci :
Tu ne me voirras plus ici,
Je m’en vay faire un long voyage.
 
J’eusse amassé de ses regars
Un magazin de toutes pars,
Pour nourrir mon ame estonnee,
Et paistre long temps ma douleur :
Mais onques mon cruel malheur
Ne sçeut prevoir ma destinee.
 
Depuis j’ay vescu de souci,
Et de regret qui m’a transi,
Comblé de passions estranges.
Je ne desguise mes ennuis :
Tu vois l’estat auquel je suis,
Du ciel assise entre les anges.
Alas, where is that sweet way of speaking,
Of looking, of hearing, of walking,
That smile which taught me
What it is to love? Ah, sweet denial !
Ah, sweet disdain,  you are no more
You are no more than a handful of ashes.
 
Alas, where is that beauty,
That Spring, that freshness
Which will never have a second?
She had all the gifts of heaven:
Something so perfect should not
Remain for long in this world.
 
I do not regret her death,
Since I am ready to follow her steps.
With her head she touches the stars;
Yet I live! And I have nothing
For my comfort but her fair name,
Which sounds so sweet in my mouth.
 
Love, who weep with me,
You know that my dismay is real
And that my tears are not pretend;
If it please you, strengthen my voice
And I shall make rocks and woods
Split with pity beneath my laments.
 
My fire grows more violent
The more it lacks the substance
And material to feed itself:
For her eye which dealt death to me,
The sole cause of my woes,
Is dust which can never be reborn.
 
Always I sense her within me,
Still the object of all my senses
As at the time when she lived:
Death cannot hold me back
Nor the tomb prevent me
From following her in my thoughts.
 
If my spirit were not filled
With vain error, taking leave
Of her fair lively form,
Hearing her voice which sounded better
Than usual, and her fair eyes
Which lit up beyond measure,
 
And her sigh which set me afire,
I would have seen that she was saying to me:
“Well, surfeit yourself on my appearance,
If ever you cared for it;
You will not see me again here,
I am going away to make a long journey.”
 
I would have heaped up from her looks
Everywhere a storehouse
To nourish my stunned spirit
And for long to feed my grief;
But indeed my cruel misfortune
Could not foresee my fate.
 
Since then, I have lived with care
And regret which have pierced me,
Filled with uncommon emotions.
I do not conceal my pain:
You see the state I am in
From heaven where you sit amongst the angels.
 
 
Only one tiny variant in Blanchemain: in the 3rd stanza from the end of this section, he deletes the ‘”me” in the line, which thus becomes “J’eusse bien veu qu’elle disoit…” (‘I would have seen that she was saying…‘).
 
 
 

Stances (Stanzas) – part 1

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After the opening sonnet, Ronsard writes a long poem of about 180 lines, in many ‘stanzas’. It’s interesting to compare the regularity of these stanzas with those in the elegy near the end: in that later poem, the initially regular stanzas become more erratic in length, ‘unbalancing’ the reader, and go hand in hand with sudden and seemingly-erratic changes of theme to convey the distress in the poet’s mind. In these ‘stances‘ at the beginning of the book, the regularity of the form instead contrasts with similar sudden changes in the train of thought, providing a contrasting instead of complementary framework for Ronsard’s elegy.  (Though, remember too that it is 15 years since Ronsard was actually in love with Marie, and that the poems are partly a presentation for the king, so that this is as much (or more) about art than it is about loss…)

Since the poem is so long, I have decided to ‘publish’ in several parts!

Je lamente sans reconfort,
Me souvenant de ceste mort
Qui desroba ma douce vie :
Pensant en ces yeux qui souloient
Faire de moy ce qu’ils vouloient,
De vivre je n’ay plus d’envie.
 
Amour tu n’as point de pouvoir :
A mon dam tu m’as fait sçavoir
Que ton arc par tout ne commande.
Si tu avois quelque vertu,
La Mort ne t’eust pas devestu
De ta richesse la plus grande.
 
Tout seul tu n’as perdu ton bien :
Comme toy j’ay perdu le mien,
Ceste beauté que je desire,
Qui fut mon thresor le plus cher :
Tous deux contre un mesme rocher
Avons froissé nostre navire.
 
Souspirs, eschaufez son tombeau :
Larmes, lavez-le de vostre eau :
Ma voix, si doucement lamente,
Qu’à la Mort vous faciez pitíé,
Ou qu’elle rende ma moitié,
Ou bien que je la suive absente.
 
Fol qui au monde met son cœur,
Fol qui croit en l’espoir mocqueur,
Et en la beauté tromperesse !
Je me suis tout seul offensé,
Comme celuy qui n’eust pensé
Que morte fust une Deesse.
 
Quand son ame au corps s’attachoit,
Rien, tant fust dur, ne me faschoit,
Ny destin ny rude influance :
Menaces, embusches, dangers,
Villes et peuples estrangers
M’estoient doux pour sa souvenance.
 
En quelque part que je vivois,
Tousjours en mes yeux je l’avois,
Transformé du tout en la belle :
Et si bien Amour de son trait
Au cœur m’engrava son portrait,
Que mon tout n’estoit sinon qu’elle.
 
Esperant luy conter un jour
L’impatience de l’Amour
Qui m’a fait des peines sans nombre,
La mort soudaine m’a deceu :
Pour le vray le faux j’ay receu,
Et pour le corps seulement l’ombre.
 
Ciel, que tu es malicieux !
Qui eust pensé que ces beaux yeux
Qui me faisoient si douce guerre,
Ces mains, ceste bouche et ce front
Qui prindrent mon cœur, et qui l’ont,
Ne fussent maintenant que terre ?
I lament with no comfort,
Recalling that death
Which stole away my sweet life:
Thinking on those eyes which used
To do with me whatever they wanted,
For life I have no more desire.
 
Love, you have no power at all:
To my displeasure you have made me realise
That your bow is not all-powerful.
If you had some power
Death would not have stripped you
Of your greatest riches.
 
It’s not you alone who have lost your property:
Like you I have lost mine,
That beauty which I love,
Which was my dearest treasure:
Both of us, against one and the same rock,
Have smashed our vessel.
 
Sighs, warm her tomb;
Tears, wash her with your water:
My voice, lament so sweetly:
So that you will make Death have pity
Either so that it will return my other half,
Or indeed so that I will follow she who’s gone.
 
Foolish is he who places his faith in the world,
Foolish he who believes in mocking hope
And deceitful beauty!
I alone have injured myself
Like one who had not believed
That death was a goddess.
 
When her soul was fixed in her body,
Nothing however harsh would have upset me,
Neither fate nor rough authority;
Threats, ambushes, dangers,
Foreign towns and peoples
Were kind to me, remembering her.
 
In whatever place I lived,
Always I had her before my eyes
Transformed entirely to beauty;
And so well had Love with his dart
Engraved her portrait in my heart
That my all was only her.
 
As I was hoping to tell her one day
Of the impatience of Love
Which had given me troubles without number,
Sudden death disappointed me:
In place of the real thing, I received a fake,
And in place of her body, just her shade.
 
Heaven, how malicious you are!
Who would have thought that those fair eyes
Which made such sweet war on me,
Those hands, those lips, that face
Which stole my heart, and which have it still,
Would now be nothing but dust?
 
 
 Fortunately this is also a poem which Ronsard did not change too much; Blanchemain’s variants are minor. For simplicity entire stanzas from his edition are re-printed below with changes marked:
 

stanza 4

Souspirs, eschaufez son tombeau :
Larmes, lavez-le de vostre eau :
Ma voix si doucement se plaigne
Qu’à la Mort vous faciez pitíé,
Ou qu’elle rende ma moitié,
Ou que ma moitié j’accompaigne.
 
 
                                                                              Sighs, warm her tomb;
                                                                              Tears, wash her with your water:
                                                                              My voice so sweetly protests
                                                                              That you should make Death have pity
                                                                              Either so that it will return my other half,
                                                                              Or that my other half I can accompany.

 stanza 7

En quelque part que je vivois,
Tousjours en mes yeux je l’avois,
Transformé du tout en la belle :
Si bien Amour à coups de trait
Au cœur m’engrava son portrait,
Que mon tout n’estoit sinon qu’elle.
 
 
                                                                              In whatever place I lived,
                                                                              Always I had her before my eyes
                                                                              Transformed entirely to beauty;
                                                                              So well had Love with his arrow-shots
                                                                              Engraved her portrait in my heart
                                                                              That my all was only her.
 
 
 

Sonnet 1

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Je songeois sous l’obscur de la nuict endormie,
Qu’un sepulcre entre-ouvert s’apparoissoit à moy :
La Mort gisoit dedans toute palle d’effroy,
Dessus estoit escrit Le tombeau de Marie.
 
Espouvanté du songe en sursault je m’escrie,
Amour est donc sujet à nostre humaine loy !
Il a perdu son regne, et le meilleur de soy,
Puis que par une mort sa puissance est perie.
 
Je n’avois achevé, qu’au poinct du jour voicy
Un Passant à ma porte adeulé de soucy,
Qui de la triste mort m’annonça la nouvelle.
 
Pren courage mon ame, il faut suivre sa fin,
Je l’entens dans le ciel comme elle nous appelle :
Mes pieds avec les siens ont fait mesme chemin.
 
 
                                                                                            I dreamed, asleep in the dark of the night,
                                                                                            That a half-open tomb appeared to me;
                                                                                            Death lay within, all pale with terror,
                                                                                            And above was written: The tomb of Marie.
 
                                                                                            Overwhelmed by the dream I leapt up and cried
                                                                                            “Love then is subject to our human law!
                                                                                            He has lost his kingdom, and the best of himself,
                                                                                            Since through a death his power has perished.”
 
                                                                                            I’d just said this when at daybreak, see,
                                                                                            A passer-by at my door, grief-stricken,
                                                                                            Who told me the news of this sad death.
 
                                                                                            Take courage, my soul, I must follow her end;
                                                                                            I hear her in heaven as she calls us;
                                                                                            My feet with hers must make the same journey.
 
The beginning of the second part of ‘Marie’, added by Ronsard in the 1470s following her death.  Ronsard sets the tone promptly, and effectively, with this dramatic vision.
 
 
 
 

Ronsard as translator: the Epigrams of Marullus

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Ronsard translated a number of poems by Michael Tarchaniota Marullus, a favourite Neo-Latin poet of the late 15th century. Today, sadly, Marullus is nearly forgotten. If you are like me, when you see a footnote in an edition claiming that a poem is a translation of another one in another language, or an adaptation/response to one in the same language, you want more than the footnote – you want to see the original poem to appreciate the correspondences, the re-imaginings, the way in which the poet has adapted the original to make it a true poem in his own terms.

Apart from a few songs at the opening of Amours 2, the chansons in that book represent a ‘run’ of translations of Marullus dotted through the book. A set of links that show the Epigrammata of Marullus corresponding to Ronsard chansons – or the Ronsard chansons corresponding to the Marullus epigram – is here. In each case the Latin epigram & its translation appear with the entry for the corresponding chanson.

 

Edit:  the tables of correspondences between poems etc have now moved to a page you can access under the ‘What? Why?’ tab, or via the link above.