Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sonnet 19

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Tant de fois s’appointer, tant de fois se fascher,
Tant de fois rompre ensemble et puis se renoüer,
Tantost blasmer Amour et tantost le loüer,
Tant de fois se fuyr, tant de fois se chercher,
 
Tant de fois se monstrer, tant de fois se cacher,
Tantost se mettre au joug, tantost le secouer,
Advouer sa promesse et la desadvouer,
Sont signes que l’Amour de pres nous vient toucher.
 
L’inconstance amoureuse est marque d’amitié.
Si donc tout à la fois avoir haine et pitié,
Jurer, se parjurer, sermens faicts et desfaicts,
 
Esperer sans espoir, confort sans reconfort,
Sont vrais signes d’Amour, nous entr’aimons bien fort :
Car nous avons tousjours ou la guerre, ou la paix.
 
 
 
                                                                              So many times caring for each other, so many times irritated with each other;
                                                                              So many times breaking up, then getting back together;
                                                                              So often condemning Love, an so often praising him;
                                                                              So often walking away from each other, so often seeking each other;
 
                                                                              So many times seeing each other, so many times hiding from each other;
                                                                              So often submitting to the yoke, so often shaking it off;
                                                                              Avowing our love then disavowing it;
                                                                              These are signs that Love has come close and struck us.
 
                                                                              A lover’s inconstancy is the mark of being in love.
                                                                              If then hating and having compassion at the same time,
                                                                              Making and breaking promises, oaths sworn and unsworn,
 
                                                                              Hoping without hope, comfort without return,
                                                                              [If these] are true signs of Love, then we are deeply in love!
                                                                              For we are always at war or at peace.
 
 
Blanchemain’s text is identical; here was a poem that satisfied the older Ronsard as well as the younger!  And indeed, it has a lovely balance: the first half in pairs of contrasting half-lines, the second half taking the idea further, again with contrasting pairs – or rather, incompatible pairs! – but in a freer form. Lovely – one of my favourites.
 
 
 
 
 
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Sonnet 18

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Blanchemain cheats a bit here: the next 9 poems didn’t appear until; the 1578 edition, nearly 2 decades after his chosen version. But he prefers not nto leave them out. In including them, he offers a number of textual variants for us to savour 🙂

 

Cruelle, il suffisoit de m’avoir pouldroyé,
Outragé terrassé sans m’oster l’esperance,
Tousjours du malheureux l’espoir est l’asseurance :
L’amant sans esperance est du tout fouldroyé.
 
L’espoir va soulageant l’homme demy-noyé :
L’espoir au prisonnier annonce delivrance :
Le pauvre par l’espoir allege sa souffrance :
A l’homme un plus beau don les Dieux n’ont octroyé.
 
Ny d’yeux ny de semblant vous ne m’estes cruelle :
Mais par l’art cauteleux d’une voix qui me gelle,
Vous m’ostez l’esperance, et desrobez mon jour.
 
O belle cruauté, des beautez la premiere,
Qu’est-ce parler d’amour sans point faire l’amour,
Sinon voir le Soleil sans aimer sa lumiere ?

 

 
 
 
                                                                                Cruel one, it would have been enough to have crushed me to dust,
                                                                                Insulted and beaten me, without taking away my expectation;
                                                                                Hope is always the confidence of the unfortunate;
                                                                                A lover without hope is overwhelmed by everything.
 
                                                                                Hope calms the man half-drowned;
                                                                                Hope promises the prisoner freedom;
                                                                                With hope the poor man relieves his suffering;
                                                                                The gods have not granted Man a fairer gift.
 
                                                                                Neither with your glances nor your manner are you cruel to me;
                                                                                But through the sly art of your icy words
                                                                                You take away my hope, and steal my light.
 
                                                                                O fair cruelty, first among beauties,
                                                                                Speaking of love but never making love – what is it
                                                                                But seeing the Sun yet not loving its light?

 

 
 
Blanchemain’s version of the text offers a cornucopia of variants – but mostly in footnotes!  That is, his basic text is very similar. Here’s the whole poem:
 
 
Cruelle, il suffisoit de m’avoir pouldroyé,
Outragé terrassé sans m’oster l’esperance,
Tousjours du malheureux l’espoir et l’asseurance :
L’amant sans esperance est un corps fouldroyé.
 
L’espoir va soulageant l’homme demy-noyé :
L’espoir au prisonnier annonce delivrance :
Le pauvre par l’espoir allege sa souffrance :
Rien meilleur que l’espoir du ciel n’est envoyé.
 
Ny d’yeux ny de semblant vous ne m’estes cruelle :
Mais par l’art cauteleux d’une voix qui me gelle,
Vous m’ostez l’esperance, et desrobez mon jour.
 
O belle cruauté, des beautez la premiere,
Qu’est-ce parler d’amour sans point faire l’amour,
Sinon voir le Soleil sans aimer sa lumiere ?
 
 
 
                                                                               Cruel one, it would have been enough to have crushed me to dust,
                                                                               Insulted and beaten me, without taking away my expectation,
                                                                               Which is always the hope and confidence of the unfortunate;
                                                                               A lover without hope is like a body that’s been struck down.
 
                                                                               Hope calms the man half-drowned;
                                                                               Hope promises the prisoner freedom;
                                                                               With hope the poor man relieves his suffering;
                                                                               Nothing better than hope has been sent [us] from heaven.

                                                                               Neither with your glances nor your manner are you cruel to me;
                                                                               But through the sly art of your icy words
                                                                               You take away my hope, and steal my light.
 
                                                                               O fair cruelty, first among beauties,
                                                                               Speaking of love but never making love – what is it
                                                                               But seeing the Sun yet not loving its light?
 
 
 
But in his footnotes there are further variants at the end of the octet, and the beginning of the last tercet:
 
Le pauvre par l’espoir allege sa souffrance :

Pandore au genre humain a ce bien octroyé

                                                                               With hope the poor man relieves his suffering;
                                                                               Pandora granted this benefit to mankind.
 
O douce tromperie aux dames coustumiere !
Qu’est-ce parler d’amour sans point faire l’amour
                                                                               O sweet deception, customary among women!
                                                                               Speaking of love but never making love – what is it …

 

 
 
Clearly Ronsard was struggling a little to achieve the line he wanted at the end of the octet; yet I cannot help feeling his earlier efforts are better than his last – the Pandora version (though gaining the least support from my 2 editors!) perhaps working best in my view.
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 17

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De toy ma belle Grecque, ainçois belle Espagnole,
Qui tires tes ayeuls du sang Iberien,
Je suis tant serviteur que je ne voy plus rien
Qui me plaise, sinon tes yeux et ta parole.
 
Comme un mirouer ardent, ton visage m’affole
Me perçant de ses raiz, et tant je sens de bien
En t’oyant deviser, que je ne suis plus mien,
Et mon ame fuitive à la tienne s’en-vole.
 
Puis contemplant ton œil du mien victorieux,
Je voy tant de vertus, que je n’en sçay le conte,
Esparses sur ton front comme estoiles aux Cieux.
 
Je voudrois estre Argus ; mais je rougis de honte
Pour voir tant de beautez que je n’ay que deux yeux,
Et que tousjours le fort le plus foible surmonte.
 
 
 
                                                                                Yours, my fair Greek, or rather my fair Spaniard
                                                                                Whose ancestors come from Iberian blood,
                                                                                I am yours, in servitude such that I no longer see anything
                                                                                Which pleases me but your eyes and words.
 
                                                                                Like a burning mirror, your face terrifies me,
                                                                                Piercing me with its rays; yet I feel so good
                                                                                Watching you chatter that I am no longer my own,
                                                                                And my fleeing soul flies to yours.
 
                                                                                Then, considering your eyes which have conquered mine,
                                                                                I see so many virtues that I cannot count them
                                                                                Scattered on your brow like stars on the heavens.
 
                                                                                I’d like to be Argus; for I blush with shame
                                                                                At seeing so many beauties with just my two eyes,
                                                                                And because the strong is always overcome by the weaker.
 
 
If you thought line 3 seemed a bit awkward – the scansion opposed slightly by the words – then you’ll be irritated to know that the older Ronsard changed a rather better line which he’d written first time around!  In Blanchemain’s text we read “Je suis tant serviteur, qu’icy je ne voy rien / Qui me plaise” (‘I am yours, in servitude such that I see nothing here / Which pleases me’) – which to me seems infinitely preferable.
 
Helen’s family (de Fonsèque) were of Spanish origin – apparently from Monterey?  She is ‘Greek’ because all classical allusions go back to Greece!  Argus is the 100-eyed, never-sleeping god who acts as watchman in several stories.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 16

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Te regardant assise aupres de ta cousine,
Belle comme une Aurore, et toy comme un Soleil,
Je pensay voir deux fleurs d’un mesme teint pareil,
Croissantes en beauté l’une à l’autre voisine,
 
La chaste saincte belle et unique Angevine,
Viste comme un esclair sur moy jetta son œil :
Toy comme paresseuse et pleine de sommeil,
D’un seul petit regard tu ne m’estimas digne.
 
Tu t’entretenois seule au visage abaissé,
Pensive tout à toy, n’aimant rien que toymesme,
Desdaignant un chascun d’un sourcil ramassé,
 
Comme une qui ne veut qu’on la cherche ou qu’on l’aime.
J’eu peur de ton silence, et m’en allay tout blesme,
Craignant que mon salut n’eust ton œil offensé.
 
 
 
                                                                                Watching you sat next to your cousin,
                                                                                She as beautiful as the Dawn, you as the Sun,
                                                                                I imagined I was seeing two flowers of the same equal hue
                                                                                Growing in beauty one beside the other.
 
                                                                                The pure, holy, fair and unique girl of Anjou,
                                                                                Swiftly cast her glance on me like a thunderbolt;
                                                                                But you, as if dozing and all set for sleep,
                                                                                Did not consider me worthy of a single look.
 
                                                                                You kept yourself to yourself, your face lowered,
                                                                                Entirely caught up in your thoughts, loving none but yourself,
                                                                                Scorning anyone else with a raised eyebrow,
 
                                                                                Like a lady who does not wish to be desired or loved.
                                                                                I was afraid of your silence, and left ashen-faced
                                                                                Terrified that my greeting had offended your glance.
 
 
Blanchemain’s text is identical.  He adds a footnote from Nicolas Richelet’s commentary: “Binet, close friend of the poet, says that this was originally addressed to the countess of Mansfield, eldest daughter of the mareschal de Brissac, and subsequently accommodated here”.  Claude Binet was a lawyer and friend of Ronsard in his last years, and famously wrote the first biography of the poet, his  ‘Life of Ronsard’.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 15

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De voz yeux tout-divins, dont un Dieu se paistroit,
(Si un Dieu se paissoit de quelque chose en terre)
Je me paissois hier, et Amour qui m’enferre,
Ce-pendant sur mon cœur ses fleches racoustroit.

Mon œil dedans le vostre esbahy rencontroit
Cent beautez, qui me font une si douce guerre,
Et la mesme vertu, qui toute se reserre
En vous, d’aller au Ciel le chemin me monstroit.

Je n’avois ny esprit ny penser ny oreille,
Qui ne fussent ravis de crainte et de merveille,
Tant d’aise transportez mes sens estoient contens.

J’estois Dieu, si mon œil vous eust veu davantage :
Mais le soir qui survint, cacha vostre visage,
Jaloux que les mortels le veissent si long temps.

 

 
 
                                                                                Yesterday I was feeding on your divine eyes,
                                                                                On which a god might feed – if a god fed on
                                                                                Something earthly – and Love which has hooked me
                                                                                Meanwhile [ar]ranged his arrows on my heart.
 
                                                                                My astounded eye within yours encountered
                                                                                A hundred beauties, which make [in] me so sweet a war,
                                                                                And virtue itself, which shuts itself up entirely
                                                                                In you, shows me the way to Heaven.
 
                                                                                My spirit, thoughts and hearing were
                                                                                Entirely ravished away by fear and wonder,
                                                                                So happy, transported by joy, were my senses.
 
                                                                                I’d have been a god if my eye could have watched you more;
                                                                                But as evening came on it hid your face,
                                                                                Jealous that mortals should see it for so long.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 14

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Trois ans sont ja passez que ton oeil me tient pris,
Et si ne suis marry de me voir en servage :
Seulement je me deuls des ailes de mon âge,
Qui me laissent le chef semé de cheveux gris.

Si tu me vois ou palle, ou de fiévre surpris,
Quelquefois solitaire, ou triste de visage,
Tu devrois d’un regard soulager mon dommage :
L’Aurore ne met point son Thiton à mespris.

Si tu es de mon mal seule cause premiere,
Il faut que de mon mal tu sentes les effets :
C’est une sympathie aux hommes coustumiere.

Je suis (j’en jure Amour) tout tel que tu me fais :
Tu es mon cœur mon sang ma vie et ma lumiere :
Seule je te choisi, seule aussi tu me plais.

 

 
 
 
                                                                                Three years have already passed since your glance took me prisoner
                                                                                And yet I am not sorry to see myself in servitude;
                                                                                I am only saddened by the swift wings of age
                                                                                Which leave my head sprinkled with grey hairs.
 
                                                                                If you see me pale or taken with fever,
                                                                                Sometimes solitary or sad of face,
                                                                                You ought to soothe my hurt with a look;
                                                                                Dawn never scorns [blames] her Tithonus.
 
                                                                                As you are first cause of my troubles,
                                                                                You should feel the effects of my pain;
                                                                                That is the kind of sympathy normal among mankind.
 
                                                                                I am (I call Love to witness) entirely what you make me;
                                                                                You are my heart, my blood, my life, my light,
                                                                                You alone I love, and you alone charm me.

 

 
 
Blanchemain’s text is identical but there is another version which offers “Tu ne dois imputer ta faute à mon dommage” for line 7 – something like ‘You should not blame my ills for your own misdeed’.
 
We’ve met Aurora (Dawn) and her aged lover Tithonus before – Ronsard choosing this pair not from any mythological evidence that Dawn never blamed (or scorned) her lover, but simply because Tithonus is grey-haired and old while his girl is young and beautiful.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 13

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Soit que je sois haï de toy, ma Pasithee,
Soit que j’en sois aimé, je veux suivre mon cours :
J’ay joué comme aux dets mon cœur et mes amours :
Arrive bien ou mal, la chance en est jettee.

Si mon ame et de glace et de feu tormentee
Peut deviner son mal, je voy que sans secours,
Passionné d’amour, je doy finir mes jours,
Et que devant mon soir se clorra ma nuictee.

Je suis du camp d’Amour pratique Chevalier :
Pour avoir trop souffert, le mal m’est familier :
Comme un habillement j’ay vestu le martire.

Donques je te desfie, et toute ta rigueur :
Tu m’as desja tué, tu ne sçaurois m’occire
Pour la seconde fois : car je n’ay plus de cœur.

 

 
 
 
                                                                                Whether I am hated by you, my Pasithea,
                                                                                Or whether I’m loved, I want only to follow my course.
                                                                                I have gambled my heart and my love, as if at dice;
                                                                                Come good or evil, the die is cast.
 
                                                                                If my soul, tortured by ice and by fire,
                                                                                Correctly recognises what is hurting it, I see that
                                                                                I must end my days helpless and unreasoning in love,
                                                                                And that before my evening is over my night will fall.
 
                                                                                I am a knight experienced in Love’s battlefield;
                                                                                From enduring too much, pain is familiar to me;
                                                                                I have put on suffering like my clothes.
 
                                                                                So I defy you and all your harshness;
                                                                                You have already killed me, you cannot cut me down
                                                                                A second time, for I no longer have my heart.

 

 
 
 
The contrast between the chivalric motif of the first tercet and the gambling motif in the opening quatrain is interesting; as is trying to translate line 4. Caesar’s ‘The die is cast’ is an approximation; it might more accurately be ‘my fortune has been rolled with them [the dice]’.  Spelling is also interesting here; between them my two main sources offer 2 variants and varied plurals for ‘dice’ – ‘dets/detz’ and ‘dés’!  Otherwise the versions are identical.
 
Pasithea is, in Homer, a young and beautiful sister of the three Graces, implying the same characteristics in Helen; but she is also associated with hallucinations and dreams, and perhaps Ronsard is hinting that she is misleading him?