Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sonnet 143

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Ce ris plus doux que l’oeuvre d’une abeille,
Ces dents, ainçois deux rempars argentez,
Ces diamans à double ranc plantez
Dans le coral de sa bouche vermeille :
 
Ce doux parler qui les ames resveille,
Ce chant qui tient mes soucis enchantez,
Et ces deux cieulx sur deux astres antez,
De ma Deesse annoncent la merveille.
 
Du beau jardin de son jeune printemps,
Naist un parfum, qui le ciel en tous temps
Embasmeroit de ses doulces aleines.
 
Et de là sort le charme d’une voix,
Qui touts ravis fait sauteler les bois,
Planer les montz, et montaigner les plaines.

 

 
 
                                                                                             This smile, sweeter than bees’ honey
                                                                                             These teeth like two silvery ramparts,
                                                                                             These diamonds planted in double rows
                                                                                             In the coral of her crimson lips,
 
                                                                                             This sweet speech which re-awakens souls
                                                                                             This song which holds my fears enchanted
                                                                                             And these two heavens above two stars
                                                                                             Announce the miracle which is my Goddess.
 
                                                                                             From the beautiful garden of her youthful springtime
                                                                                             Is born a perfume, which heaven at all times
                                                                                             Would perfume with its sweet breath.
 
                                                                                             And from thence issues the magic of a voice
                                                                                             Which makes the woods, completely charmed, jump for joy,
                                                                                             Makes mountains plains, and plains mountains.

 

 
 
 
 Though the metaphors seem plain enough, one of Ronsard’s early editors felt the need to explain that (for instance) that in line 7 he means ‘the eyebrows which are vaulted like the sky, and hence two heavens’; and also to explain the way Ronsard verbalizes nouns in the last line so that “planer” means ‘to make a plain’ and “montaigner” means ‘to make mountains’. It’s a reminder that French has never been a language comfortable with new words or new uses of old words!
 
Blanchemain has a number of small variants; it’s probably easiest to see them in the context of the whole:
 
 
Ce ris plus doux que l’œuvre d’une abeille,
Ces doubles lys doublement argentez,
Ces diamans à double rang plantez
Dans le corail de sa bouche vermeille ;
 
Ce doux parler qui les mourans esveille,
Ce chant qui tient mes soucis enchantez,
Et ces deux cieux sur deux astres entez,
De ma Deesse annoncent la merveille.
 
Du beau jardin de son printemps riant,
Sort un parfum, qui mesme l’Orient
Embasmeroit de ses doulces haleines ;
 
Et de là sort le charme d’une voix,
Qui tout ravis fait sauteler les bois,
Planer les monts, et montaigner les plaines.
 
 
 
                                                                                             This smile, sweeter than bees’ honey
                                                                                             These double lilies doubly silvered,
                                                                                             These diamonds planted in double rows
                                                                                             In the coral of her crimson lips,
 
                                                                                             This sweet speech which would awaken the dying
                                                                                             This song which holds my fears enchanted
                                                                                             And these two heavens above two stars
                                                                                             Announce the miracle which is my Goddess.
 
                                                                                             From the beautiful garden of her smiling springtime
                                                                                             Comes a scent, which would even perfume
                                                                                             The Orient with its sweet breath.
 
                                                                                             And from thence issues the magic of a voice
                                                                                             Which makes the woods, completely charmed, jump for joy,
                                                                                             Makes mountains plains, and plains mountains.
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 199

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Page suy moy : par l’herbe plus espesse
Fausche l’esmail de la verte saison,
Puis à plein poing en-jonche la maison
Des fleurs qu’Avril enfante en sa jeunesse.
 
Despen du croc ma lyre chanteresse,
Je veux charmer si je puis la poison,
Dont un bel œil enchanta ma raison
Par la vertu d’une œillade maistresse.
 
Donne moy l’encre et le papier aussi :
En cent papiers tesmoins de mon souci
Je veux tracer la peine que j’endure ;
 
En cent papiers plus durs que Diamant,
A fin qu’un jour nostre race future
Juge du mal que je souffre en aimant.
 
 
 
                                                                                             Page, follow me: throughout the thickest grass
                                                                                             Scythe down the jewels of the fresh season,
                                                                                             Then scatter in the house fistfuls
                                                                                             Of the flowers that April has borne in her youth.
 
                                                                                             Take down from its hook my singing lyre;
                                                                                             I want to charm away, if I can, the poison
                                                                                             With which a fair eye has enchanted my reason
                                                                                             Through the power of a masterful glance.
 
                                                                                             Give me ink and paper too:
                                                                                             On a hundred sheets, witnesses of my cares,
                                                                                             I want to set out the trouble I’m enduring;
 
                                                                                             On a hundred sheets harder than diamond,
                                                                                             So that one day in the future our countrymen
                                                                                             Can judge the harm I suffer from being in love.
 
 
 
 Blanchemain offers an alternative, for the first line and a half: 
 
Fauche, garcon, d’une main pilleresse,
Le bel esmail …
 
                                                                                             Scythe, my boy, with a robber’s hand
                                                                                             The fair jewels …
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 164

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Certes mon œil fut trop avantureux
De regarder une chose si belle,
Une vertu digne d’une immortelle,
Et dont amour est mesmes amoureux.
 
Depuis ce jour je devins langoureux
Pour aimer trop ceste beauté cruelle :
Cruelle, non, mais doucement rebelle
A ce desir qui me rend malheureux :
 
Malheureux, non, heureux je le confesse,
Tant vaut l’amour d’une telle maistresse,
Pour qui je vy, à qui seule je suis.
 
En luy plaisant je cerche à me desplaire :
Je l’aime tant qu’aimer je ne me puis,
Bien que pour elle Amour me desespere.

 

 
 
                                                                                             Indeed my eye was too adventurous
                                                                                             In looking at a thing so beautiful
                                                                                             Virtue worthy of a goddess
                                                                                             With whom even love is in love.
 
                                                                                             Since that day I’ve become lethargic
                                                                                             From loving too much this cruel beauty –
                                                                                             Cruel, no, but sweetly rejecting
                                                                                             My desire, which makes me unhappy –
 
                                                                                             Unhappy, no, happy I confess it
                                                                                             So much the love of such a mistress is worth,
                                                                                             For her I live, whose alone I am.
 
                                                                                             In pleasing her, I aim to displease myself;
                                                                                             I love her so much that I can’t love myself,
                                                                                             Although love for her makes me desperate.

 

 
 
 Blanchemain has in line 11 “Pour qui je vis…” (‘For her I live…’); I have assumed that the spelling chosen by M-L above has the same meaning, though it could perhaps mean ‘For whom I watch’?
 
More significantly, the last tercet is substantially different in the earlier (Blanchemain) version:
 
 
Je l’aime tant, qu’aimer je ne me puis,
Je suis tant sien, que plus mien je ne suis,
Bien que pour elle Amour me desespere.
 
                                                                                             I love her so much that I can’t love myself,
                                                                                             I am so much hers that I’m no longer mine,
                                                                                             Although love for her makes me desperate.
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 93

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Le premier jour du mois de May, Madame,
Dedans le cueur je senti vos beaux yeux
Bruns, doux, courtois, rians, delicieux,
Qui d’un glaçon feroyent naistre une flame.
 
De leur beau jour le souvenir m’enflame,
Et par penser j’en deviens amoureux.
O de mon cœur les meurtriers bien-heureux !
Vostre vertu je sens jusques en l’ame :
 
Yeux qui tenez la clef de mon penser,
Maistres de moy, qui peustes offenser
D’un seul regard ma raison toute esmeüe :
 
Si fort au cœur vostre beauté me poingt,
Que je devois jouïr de vostre veüe
Plus longuement ou bien ne vous voir point.

 

 
 
                                                                                             On the first day of May, my lady,
                                                                                             Within my heart I felt your lovely eyes,
                                                                                             Brown, sweet, courteous, laughing, delicious,
                                                                                             Which with a glance started a fire.
 
                                                                                             The memory of their lovely light burns me
                                                                                             And in thinking of it I’ve fallen in love with them,
                                                                                             Those sweet murderers of my heart!
                                                                                             I feel your worth down in my soul;
 
                                                                                             Those eyes which hold the key to my thoughts,
                                                                                             My masters, who can with a single look
                                                                                             Overwhelm my deeply-affected reason.
 
                                                                                             So strongly your beauty wounds me in the heart
                                                                                             That I must enjoy the sight of you
                                                                                             For longer, or else see you no more.
 
 
 
 Blanchemain offers a variation of the final tercet – or rather, the first half of the tercet:
 
 
Ha ! que je suis de vostre amour époingt,
Las ! je devois jouïr de vostre veüe
Plus longuement ou bien ne vous voir point.
 
                                                                                             Oh how I am stabbed by love for you
                                                                                             Alas, I must enjoy the sight of you
                                                                                             For longer, or else see you no more.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 82

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Je meurs, Paschal, quand je la voy si belle ,
Le front si beau, et la bouche et les yeux,
Yeux le logis d’Amour victorieux,
Qui m’a blessé d’une fleche nouvelle.
 
Je n’ay ny sang, ny veine, ny moüelle,
Qui ne se change :  et me semble qu’aux cieux
Je suis ravy, assis entre les Dieux,
Quand le bon-heur me conduit aupres d’elle.
 
Ha ! que ne suis-je en ce monde un grand Roy ?
Elle seroit ma Royne aupres de moy :
Mais n’estant rien il faut que je m’absente
 
De sa beauté dont je n’ose approcher,
Que d’un regard transformer je ne sente
Mes yeux en fleuve, et mon cœur en rocher.

 

 
 
                                                                                             I die Paschal when I see her looking so lovely
                                                                                             Her brow so fine, her lips and eyes,
                                                                                             Her eyes the home of conquering love
                                                                                             Who has wounded me with a new arrow.
 
                                                                                             I have neither blood nor vein nor marrow
                                                                                             Which is not changed, and it seems that to heaven
                                                                                             I’ve been swept up, sat between the gods,
                                                                                             When good fortune brings me near to her.
 
                                                                                             O, how am I not a great king in this world?
                                                                                             She should be my queen beside me –
                                                                                             But being nothing I have to take myself away
 
                                                                                             From her beauty which I dare not approach,
                                                                                             Which with a glance I feel change
                                                                                             My eyes into rivers, my heart into stone.

 

 
 
 Blanchemain acknowledges here that (as with several other poems in his edition) he is cheating! His version comes from 1564 – after the 1560 edition he uses – because it wasn’t yet written in 1560; yet he prefers to include it than to stay strictly with the contents of that ‘first edition’. Nevertheless he preserves ‘first thoughts’ which Marty-Laveaux replaces with later thoughts…
 
In this case, though, the differences are minor:  in line 3, her eyes are “le sejour d’Amour” (‘the resting place of Love’); and in line 10 “Elle seroit toujours aupres de moy” – ‘She should be always beside me’ (implicitly, rather than explicitly, as queen).
 
Another variant sometimes encountered does away with the troublesome ‘Paschal’ of line one:  “Je meurs helas…” (‘I die, alas, …’). Paschal is (perhaps) Pierre de Paschal, royal historian, (1522-1565).
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 121

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Le Ciel ne veut, Dame, que je jouïsse
De ce doux bien que dessert mon devoir :
Aussi ne veux-je, et ne me plaist d’avoir
Sinon du mal en vous faisant service.
 
Puisqu’il vous plaist que pour vous je languisse,
Je suis heureux, et ne puis recevoir
Plus grand honneur, qu’en vous servant pouvoir
Faire à vos yeux de mon cœur sacrifice.
 
Donc si ma main, maugré-moy, quelquefois
De l’amour chaste outrepasse les loix,
Dans vostre sein cherchant ce qui m’embraise,
 
Punissez-la du foudre de vos yeux,
Et la brulez : car j’aime beaucoup mieux
Vivre sans mains, que ma main vous desplaise.

 

 
 
                                                                                             Heaven does not wish me, Lady, to enjoy
                                                                                             This sweet goodness to which my efforts minister;
                                                                                             I too do not wish it, and I am only pleased to have
                                                                                             Instead some ill in doing you service.
 
                                                                                             Since it pleases you that I pine for you
                                                                                             I am glad, and cannot receive
                                                                                             Any greater honour than in serving you to be able
                                                                                             To make sacrifice of my heart to your eyes.
 
                                                                                             So if my hand despite myself sometimes
                                                                                             Goes further than the chaste laws of love allow
                                                                                             Seeking in your breast that which enflames me,
 
                                                                                             Punish it with the lightning of your eyes
                                                                                             And burn it; for I far prefer
                                                                                             To live without hands, than that my hand should displease.

 

 
 
 
 Blanchemain offers only minor variants: in line 7, “qu’en mourant, de pouvoir” (‘than in dying to be able’); and in the final line he makes “main” singular both times – ‘To live without a hand, than …’
 
 
 
 

Baiser (A kiss)

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Ronsard closes his book of poems to Cassandre with a kiss:

Quand hors de tes lèvres décloses
(Comme entre deux fleuris sentiers)
Je sens ton haleine de roses,
Les miennes les avant portiers
Du baiser, se rougissent d’aise,
Et de mes souhaits tous entiers
Me font jouyr, quand je te baise.
Car l’humeur du baiser appaise,
S’escoulant au cœur peu à peu,
Ceste chaude amoureuse braise,
Dont tes yeux allumoient le feu.
 
 
                                                                               When from your unclosed lips
                                                                              (As between two flowery paths)
                                                                              I feel your rose-scented breath,
                                                                              My own lips, the door-keepers
                                                                              Of the kiss, redden easily,
                                                                              And all my longing
                                                                              Makes me happy when I kiss you.
                                                                              For the mood for kissing calms me,
                                                                              Flowing little by little to my heart,
                                                                              In whose warm and loving embers
                                                                              Your eyes could light a fire.
 
 
Though prominently placed, this poem post-dates the first collected edition – in fact it dates from 1572.  Blanchemain nevertheless includes it in his text; as so often with poems prominently placed, Ronsard came back and re-worked them in later editions, so Blanchemain’s early version begins rather differently:
 
 
Quand de ta lèvre à demi close,
(Comme entre deux fleuris sentiers)
Je sens ton haleine de rose,
Mes lèvres, les avant-portiers…
 
                                                                              When from your lips, half-closed,
                                                                              (As between two flowery paths)
                                                                              I feel your rose-scented breath,
                                                                              My lips, the door-keepers…