Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sonnet 213

Standard
Je suis plus aise en mon cœur que les Dieux,
Quand chaudement tu me baises, Maistresse :
De ton baiser la douceur larronnesse
Tout esperdu m’en-vole jusqu’aux Cieux.
 
Baise moy donc, mon cœur : car j’aime mieux
Ton seul baiser, que si quelque Deesse
Au jeu d’amour d’une accollade espesse
M’embrassoit nud d’un bras delicieux.
 
Mais ton orgueil a tousjours de coustume
D’accompagner ton baiser d’amertume,
Froid sans saveur : aussi je ne pourrois
 
Souffrir tant d’heur : car mon ame, qui touche
Mille beautez, s’enfuiroit par ma bouche,
Et de trop d’aise en ton sein je mourrois.

 

 
 
                                                                                             I am more at ease in my heart than the Gods
                                                                                             When warmly you kiss me, my mistress;
                                                                                             The stolen sweetness of your kiss
                                                                                             Lifts me up, totally overcome, to the heavens.
 
                                                                                             Kiss me then, my heart; for I prefer
                                                                                             A single kiss from you, than if some goddess
                                                                                             In the game of love should, with a particular embrace,
                                                                                             Kiss me naked in her lovely arms.
 
                                                                                             But your pride has always customarily
                                                                                             Accompanied your kiss with bitterness,
                                                                                             Cold and tasteless: nor could I
 
                                                                                             Suffer such fortune: for my soul which touches
                                                                                             A thousand beauties, would rush out of my mouth
                                                                                             And from being too at ease in your bosom I would die.

 

 
 
A happy Ronsard?!   Happiness obviously worried him; there are major changes between Blanchemain’s version and the one above! The two are not quite separate poems on the same theme, but they’re getting there.
 

 

Je suis plus aise en mon cœur que les Dieux,
Quand maugré toi tu me baises, Maistresse :
De ton baiser la douceur larronnesse
Tout esperdu m’en-vole jusqu’aux Cieux.
 
Quant est de moy, j’estime beaucoup mieux
Ton seul baiser que si quelque deesse,
En cent façons doucement tenteresse,
M’accoloit nud d’un bras delicieux.
 
Il est bien vrai que tu as de coustume
D’entremesler tes baisers d’amertume,
Les donnants courts. Mais quoi ? Je ne pourrois
 
Vivre autrement : car mon ame, qui touche
Tant de beautes, s’enfuyroit par ma bouche,
Et de trop d’aise en ton sein je mourrois.
 
 
 
                                                                                             I am more at ease in my heart than the Gods
                                                                                             When despite yourself you kiss me, my mistress;
                                                                                             The stolen sweetness of your kiss
                                                                                             Lifts me up, totally overcome, to the heavens.
 
                                                                                             As for me, I put far more value
                                                                                             On a single kiss from you, than if some goddess
                                                                                             Tempting me sweetly a hundred different ways
                                                                                             Should embrace me naked in her lovely arms.
 
                                                                                             It is indeed true that you have customarily
                                                                                             Mixed your kisses with bitterness,
                                                                                             Giving short ones only. So what? I could not
 
                                                                                             Live otherwise: for my soul which touches
                                                                                             So many beauties, would rush out of my mouth
                                                                                             And from being too at ease in your bosom I would die.

 

 
 
 
 

Sonnet 134

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Je parangonne à ta jeune beauté,
Qui tousjours dure en son printemps nouvelle,
Ce mois d’Avril qui ses fleurs renouvelle
En sa plus gaye et verte nouveauté.
 
Loin devant toy fuira la cruauté :
Devant luy fuit la saison plus cruelle.
Il est tout beau, ta face est toute belle :
Ferme est son cours, ferme est ta loyauté.
 
Il peint les bords les forests et les plaines,
Tu peins mes vers d’un bel émail de fleurs :
Des laboureurs il arrose les peines,
 
D’un vain espoir tu laves mes douleurs :
Du Ciel sur l’herbe il fait tomber les pleurs,
Tu fais sortir de mes yeux deux fontaines.

 

 
 
                                                                                             I propose as rival to your young beauty
                                                                                             Which lasts forever in its own new spring
                                                                                             This month of April which renews the flowers
                                                                                             In their gayest and greenest newness.
 
                                                                                             Cruelty will flee far from you
                                                                                             Before him [i.e. April] flees the cruellest season;
                                                                                             He is all handsomeness, your face all beauty;
                                                                                             Firm is his course, firm is your loyalty;
 
                                                                                             He paints the riverbanks, forests and plains,
                                                                                             With a beautiful sprinkling of flowers; you paint my verse with them.
                                                                                             He refreshes the hard work of labourers,
 
                                                                                             With an empty hope you refresh my sadness;
                                                                                             He makes the tears of Heaven fall on the grass,
                                                                                             You make two springs flow from my eyes.
 
 
 
 Another attractive poem, with the parallel images thoroughly and delightfully worked through.
 
It is good to see that the earlier version is little different: for once this is not a poem Ronsard had to wrestle with to reach this state of perfection. There are only a couple of changes in Blanchemain.  In line 4 cruelty ‘flees before’ Cassandre (“Loin devant toy s’enfuit la cruauté”) – present rather than future tense, it actually flees now rather than potentially doing so in future. ( I wonder why he changed this? The later version is more awkward! )  Then in line 7, it’s the ‘woods, forests and plains’ rather than the ‘riverbanks, forests and plains’ which April paints with flowers (“Il peint les bois, les forests et les plaines”). Here at least the later version is smarter in identifying three completely different places rather than asking us to consider woods and forests as distinct…
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 147

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Un voile obscur par l’horizon espars
Troubloit le Ciel d’une humeur survenue,
Et l’air crevé, d’une gresle menue
Frappoit à bonds les champs de toutes pars :
 
Desja Vulcan de ses borgnes soudars
Hastoit les mains à la forge cognüe,
Et Jupiter dans le creux d’une nüe
Armoit sa main de l’esclair de ses dars :
 
Quand ma Nymphette, en simple verdugade
Cueillant les fleurs, des raiz de son œillade
Essuya l’air gresleux et pluvieux ;
 
Des vents sortis remprisonna les tropes,
Et fit cesser les marteaux des Cyclopes,
Et de Jupin rasserena les yeux.
 
 
                                                                                             A dark gloom, spread along the horizon,
                                                                                             Troubled the sky with its unexpected damps,
                                                                                             And the bursting air suddenly struck
                                                                                             The fields on every side with thin drizzle;
 
                                                                                             Already Vulcan with his disreputable troop
                                                                                             Was hastily setting to work at his well-known forge,
                                                                                             And Jupiter, in the hollow of a cloud,
                                                                                             Was arming himself with the lightning of his bolts;
 
                                                                                             When my little nymph, in just her petticoat,
                                                                                             Picking flowers, with a look of her eyes
                                                                                             Swept away the drizzling and rainy air,
 
                                                                                             Re-imprisoned the whirling of the escaped winds,
                                                                                             Stopped the hammers of the Cyclopes,
                                                                                             And calmed the eyes of Jove again.
 
 
 
Another charming image from Ronsard, a witty modern adaptation of various classical tropes: we also have Jupiter and his lightning-bolts, and Vulcan at his forge making them with his Cyclopean helpers.  Blanchemain offers Ronsard’s earlier thoughts, where in the second stanza we see that an older Ronsard seems to have felt “les bras”‘ (arms) rather too common to be mentioned in such august company as the gods, and replaced them:
 
 
Desja Vulcan les bras de ses soudars
Hastoit, depit, à la forge cognüe …
 
                                                                                             Already Vulcan was speeding his troop’s arms
                                                                                             Spitefully to the well-known forge …
 
 
In the penultimate line he perhaps felt that his earlier thoughts (slowing down the hammers) were not decisive enough, and instead brought them to a halt:  Blanchemain’s early version is “Et ralenta les marteaux des Cyclopes” (‘Slowed the hammers of the Cyclopes’).
 
 
 
POSTSCRIPT:  I just found this lovely translation of the final sestet at Goodreads:
 
                                                                                    When my nymphet, in just her underwear,
                                                                                    goes picking flowers, her flirtatious stare
                                                                                    clears the rain and hail from above –
                                                                                    she returns the loosed wind’s moan to peace
                                                                                    and makes the Cyclops’ hammers cease,
                                                                                    and calms the eyes of Jove.
 
 Fabulous! For me that catches much of the style of Ronsard – easily flowing, a virtuoso mix of high-flown and ordinary language, the art that conceals art.
 

Sonnet 169

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Ha, Belacueil, que ta douce parolle
Vint traistrement ma jeunesse offenser,
Quand au verger tu la menas danser
Sur mes vingts ans, l’amoureuse carolle !
 
Amour a donc me mit à son escolle,
Ayant pour maistre un peu-sage penser,
Qui sans raison me mena commencer
Le chapelet de la danse plus folle.
 
Depuis cinq ans hoste de ce verger,
Je vay balant avecque faux-danger,
Tenant la main d’une dame trop caute.
 
Je ne suis seul par Amour abusé :
A ma jeunesse il faut donner la faulte :
En cheveux gris je seray plus rusé.
 
 
 
                                                                                             Oh, Bel-Accueil [=Fair-Welcome], how your soft words
                                                                                             Came treacherously to assault my youth
                                                                                             When you led it to dance in the orchard
                                                                                             A lover’s dance for my twentieth birthday!
 
                                                                                             So Love has placed me in his school
                                                                                             With an unwise thought as teacher
                                                                                             Which, without reason, leads me to begin
                                                                                             The steps of a really foolish dance.
 
                                                                                             For five years a visitor to this orchard
                                                                                             I went dancing with False-Captivity,
                                                                                             Holding the hand of a too-wily lady.
 
                                                                                             I am not the only one abused by love;
                                                                                             You must blame my youth.
                                                                                             When my hair is white, I shall be more crafty.
 
 
 
 Bel-Accueil & Faux-Danger are well-known characters in the Romance of the Rose.   They are joined, in Blanchemain’s version, by a supplementary cast of characters: Fol-Plaisir, Erreur, Vain-Desir, Perte-de-mon-âme!  The chanson “Allegez-moi” (‘Relieve me’) is a well-known racy song of the time – there is a famous version by Josquin des Prez, for instance.
 
 
Ha ! Bel-Acueil, que ta douce parole
Vint traistrement ma jeunesse offenser,
Quand au premier tu la menas danser
Dans le verger l’amoureuse carolle !
 
Amour adonc, me mit à son escolle,
Ayant pour maistre un peu-sage penser,
Qui dès le jour me mena commencer
Le chapelet de la danse plus folle.
 
Depuis cinq ans dedans ce beau verger,
Je vay balant avecque Faux-Danger,
Sous la chanson d’Allégez-moi, Madame:
 
Le tabourin se nomme Fol-Plaisir,
La flute, Erreur ; le rebec, Vain-Desir,
Et les cinq pas, la Perte de mon âme.
 
 
 
                                                                                             Ah, fair welcome, how your sweet words
                                                                                             Came treacherously to assault my youth
                                                                                             When at first you led it to dance
                                                                                             An amorous round-dance in the orchard.
 
                                                                                             Oh Love, place me in your school,
                                                                                             Let me have for a little while wise thought as a teacher
                                                                                             Who will lead me without delay to begin making
                                                                                             A circlet for the maddest kind of dance.
 
                                                                                             For five years I have gone dancing
                                                                                             In this fine orchard with False-Captivity,
                                                                                             To the tune ‘Oh relieve me’, my Lady.
 
                                                                                             The drummer is called Mad Pleasure
                                                                                             The flute Error, the fiddle Empty Desire
                                                                                             And their short dance the loss of my soul.
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 163

Standard
Voicy le bois, que ma sainte Angelette
Sur le printemps resjouist de son chant :
Voicy les fleurs où son pied va marchant,
Quand à soy-mesme elle pense seulette :
 
Voicy la prée et la rive mollette,
Qui prend vigueur de sa main la touchant,
Quand pas à pas en son sein va cachant
Le bel émail de l’herbe nouvelette.
 
Icy chanter, là pleurer je la vy,
Icy sourire, et là je fu ravy
De ses discours par lesquels je des-vie :
 
Icy s’asseoir, là je la vy danser :
Sur le mestier d’un si vague penser
Amour ourdit les trames de ma vie.
 
 
 
                                                                                             Here is the wood which my holy angel
                                                                                             Makes happy during the spring with her singing;
                                                                                             Here are the flowers where her feet pass
                                                                                             When she is thinking to herself, on her own.
 
                                                                                             Here is the meadow and the languid riverbank
                                                                                             Which gain vigour from her hand as they touch it,
                                                                                             As step by step she walks, hiding in her bosom
                                                                                             The lovely jewels of the new-grown grass.
 
                                                                                             Here I see her singing, there weeping,
                                                                                             Here smiling, and there I was delighted
                                                                                             By her conversation which diverts me;
 
                                                                                             Here I see her sitting, there dancing;
                                                                                             On the loom of such wandering thoughts
                                                                                             Love weaves the threads of my life.
 
 
A beautiful poem: I love this one. Among his finest sonnets in my view, perhaps even more so in the earlier version.
 
For yes, there is (of course!) an earlier version in Blanchemain.  There are no really structural changes, just Ronsard in his age tweaking the poem. In fact, as in some other cases, I rather feel the earlier version is the better (except perhaps for line 5) and that the later changes rob it of some of its spontaneity and charm.
 
 
Voicy le bois, que ma sainte Angelette
Sur le printemps anima de son chant :
Voicy les fleurs où son pied va marchant,
Lorsque, pensive, elle s’ébat seulette :
 
Io, voicy la prée verdelette,
Qui prend vigueur de sa main la touchant,
Quand pas à pas, pillarde, va cherchant
Le bel émail de l’herbe nouvelette.
 
Icy chanter, là pleurer je la vy,
Icy sourire, et là je fu ravy
De ses beaux yeux par lesquels je des-vie :
 
Icy s’asseoir, là je la vy danser :
Sur le mestier d’un si vague penser
Amour ourdit les trames de ma vie.
 
 
                                                                                             Here is the wood which my holy angel
                                                                                             Enlivens during the spring with her singing;
                                                                                             Here are the flowers where her feet pass
                                                                                             When pensively she frolics alone.
 
                                                                                             See, here is the green meadow
                                                                                             Which gains vigour from her hand as they touch it,
                                                                                             As step by step she walks, a thief, seeking
                                                                                             The lovely jewels of the new-grown grass.
 
                                                                                             Here I see her singing, there weeping,
                                                                                             Here smiling, and there I was delighted
                                                                                             By her fair eyes which divert me;
 
                                                                                             Here I see her sitting, there dancing;
                                                                                             On the loom of such wandering thoughts
                                                                                             Love weaves the threads of my life.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 137

Standard
Oeil dont l’esclair mes tempestes essuye,
Sourcil, mais ciel de mon cœur gouverneur,
Front estoilé, Trofee à mon Seigneur,
Où son carquois et son arc il estuye :
 
Gorge de marbre, où la beauté s’appuye,
Menton d’albastre, enrichy de bon heur,
Tetin d’ivoire où se loge l’honneur,
Sein dont l’espoir mes travaux desennuye :
 
Vous avez tant apasté mon desir,
Que pour souler la faim et mon plaisir,
Cent fois le jour il faut que je vous voye :
 
Comme un oiseau, qui ne peut sejourner,
Sans sur les bords poissonneux retourner,
Et revoler pour y trouver sa proye.

 

 
 
                                                                                             Eye whose flash wipes away my outbursts,
                                                                                             Eyebrow, the heaven which directs my heart,
                                                                                             Starry brow, trophy for my Lord
                                                                                             Where he hides his quiver and his bow;
 
                                                                                             Throat of marble where beauty rests,
                                                                                             Alabaster chin enriched with happiness,
                                                                                             Bust of ivory where honour lives,
                                                                                             Breast the hope for which makes light my labours;
 
                                                                                             You have fed my desire so
                                                                                             As to satisfy my hunger and my pleasure,
                                                                                             And a hundred times a day I have to see you;
 
                                                                                             Like a bird which cannot rest
                                                                                             Without returning to the fishy banks
                                                                                             And flying again to find there its prey.
 
 
 
 For me, this is one of those poems which is better in conception than execution: somehow it fails to ‘lift off’.  Ronsard clearly had some difficulties with it; Blanchemain’s version has variant readings all over the place – yet this earlier version too doesn’t quite work.
 
 
Oeil, qui mes pleurs de tes rayons essuye,
Sourcil, mais ciel des autres le greigneur,
Front estoilé, trophée à mon seigneur,
Où son carquois et son arc il estuye :
 
Gorge de marbre, où la beauté s’appuye,
Col albastrin emperlé de bonheur,
Tetin d’yvoire où se niche l’honneur,
Sein dont l’espoir mes travaux desennuye:
 
Vous avez tant apasté mon desir,
Que pour saouler ma faim et mon plaisir,
Et nuit et jour il faut que je vous voye,
 
Comme un oiseau, qui ne peut sejourner,
Sans revoler, tourner, et retourner,
Aux bords connus pour y trouver sa proye.
 
 
                                                                                             Eye, which with your glance wipes away my tears
                                                                                             Eyebrow, by heaven the greatest of all
                                                                                             Starry brow, trophy for my Lord
                                                                                             Where he hides his quiver and his bow;
 
                                                                                             Throat of marble where beauty rests
                                                                                             Neck of alabaster pearled with happiness
                                                                                             Bust of ivory where honour is stationed
                                                                                             Breast the hope for which makes light my labours
 
                                                                                             You have fed my desire so
                                                                                             As to satisfy my hunger and my pleasure,
                                                                                             And night and day I have to see you again
 
                                                                                             Like a bird which cannot rest
                                                                                             Without flying again, turning and turning about
                                                                                             Over well-known territory to find there its prey.