Monthly Archives: October 2014

Odes retranch. 36

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Venus est par cent mille noms,
Et par cent mille autres surnoms,
Des pauvres amans outragée :
L’un la dit plus dure que fer,
L’autre la surnomme un enfer
Et l’autre la nomme enragée ;
 
L’un appelle soucis et pleurs,
L’autre tristesses et douleurs,
Et l’autre la desesperée.
Mais moy, pour ce qu’elle a tousjours
Esté propice à mes amours,
Je la surnomme la sucrée.
 
 
 
                                                                        Venus is insulted by a hundred thousand names,
                                                                        And a hundred thousand other epithets
                                                                        By poor lovers:
                                                                        One says she is harder than iron,
                                                                        Another describes her as hell,
                                                                        Another calls her enraged.
 
                                                                        One calls her trouble and tears,
                                                                        Another sadness and pain,
                                                                        Another the despair-bringer.
                                                                        But I, since she has always
                                                                        Been favourable to my affairs,
                                                                        I call her the sugar-sweet.

 

 

 

Amours retranch. 32

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Hé ! Dieu du Ciel, je n’eusse pas pensé
Qu’un seul depart eust causé tant de peine !
Je n’ay sur moy nerf, ny tendon, ny veine,
Faïe, ny cœur qui n’en soit offensé.
 
Helas ! je suis à demy trespassé,
Ains du tout mort : las ! ma douce inhumaine,
Avecques elle, en s’en allant, emmeine
Mon pauvre cœur de ses beaux yeux blessé.
 
Que pleust à Dieu ne l’avoir jamais veuë !
Son œil si beau ne m’eust la flamme esmeuë,
Par qui me faut un tourment recevoir,
 
Tel, que ma main m’occiroit à cette heure,
Sans un penser que j’ay de la revoir,
Et ce penser garde que je ne meure.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Oh God of Heaven, I would not have thought
                                                                            That one departure could cause so much pain.
                                                                            There is not in me a nerve nor tendon, a vein,
                                                                            Liver nor heart, which has not been hurt.
 
                                                                            Alas, I am half-dead,
                                                                            Indeed entirely dead, alas! My sweet inhuman lady,
                                                                            Going away, has taken with her
                                                                            My poor heart, wounded by her fair eyes.
 
                                                                            Would to God I had never seen her!
                                                                            Her eyes so fair would not have fuelled the fire
                                                                            Through which I must accept this torture;
 
                                                                            To such an extent that my hand could kill me right now,
                                                                            Except for the thought I have of seeing her again,
                                                                            And this thought keeps me from dying.

 

 

 

No variants, no commentary, just a lovely poem!

 

 
 
 

Amours 1:218

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Cet œil qui fait qu’au monde je me plais,
Qui fait rocher celuy qui s’en approuche,
Ore d’un ris, or’ d’un regard farouche
Nourrit mon cœur en querelle et en pais.
 
Par vous, bel œil, en souffrant je me tais :
Mais aussi tost que la douleur me touche,
Toy belle sainte et angelique bouche,
De tes douceurs re-vivre tu me fais.
 
Bouche, pourquoy me viens-tu secourir
De tes propos lors que je veux mourir ?
Pourquoy veux-tu que vif je redevienne ?
 
Fertile au soing je revis en langueur,
Un vray Prothee, afin que le soing vienne
Plus longuement se paistre de mon cœur.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Those eyes which make me pleased with the world,
                                                                            Which turn to stone whoever approaches them,
                                                                            Now with a smile, now with a wild glance,
                                                                            Feed my heart in argument or in peace.
 
                                                                            Through you, fair eyes, I remain silent though I suffer;
                                                                            But as soon as sadness affects me
                                                                            You, o fair, holy and angelic lips,
                                                                            With your sweetness you make me live again.
 
                                                                            O lips, why do you come to my aid
                                                                            With your advice just when I want to die?
                                                                            Why do you wish me to return to life?
 
                                                                            Rich in troubles I live again, but listlessly
                                                                            A true Proteus, whenever cares come,
                                                                            Can feed at more length on my heart.
 
 
 
You’ll remember Proteus from elsewhere – the shape-shifter, constantly changing colour and appearance. Blanchemain’s version offers a number of variants, including in the opening line which I imagine) was removed when Ronsard in his old age tidied up a lot of ‘lower class’ words and replaced them. ‘La goulue’ was famously the nickname of Yvette Guilbert in the bars of fin de siècle Paris, famous for being rather on the large side, as well as for her …
 
 
Cet œil besson dont goulu je me pais,
Qui fait rocher celuy qui s’en approuche,
Ore d’un ris, or’ d’un regard farouche
Nourrit mon cœur en querelle et en paix.
 
Par vous, bel œil, en souffrant je me tais ;
Mais, aussitost que la douleur me touche,
Toy, belle, saincte, et angelique bouche,
De tes douceurs re-vivre tu me fais.
 
Bouche, pourquoy me viens-tu secourir,
Quand ce bel œil me force de mourir ?
Pourquoy veux-tu que vif je redevienne ?
 
Las ! bouche, las ! je revis en langueur,
Pour plus de soin, afin que le soin vienne,
Plus longuement se paistre de mon cœur.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Those twin eyes on which, a glutton, I feast,
                                                                            Which turn to stone whoever approaches them,
                                                                            Now with a smile, now with a wild glance,
                                                                            Feed my heart in argument or in peace.
 
                                                                            Through you, fair eyes, I remain silent though I suffer;
                                                                            But as soon as sadness affects me
                                                                            You, o fair, holy and angelic lips,
                                                                            With your sweetness you make me live again.
 
                                                                            O lips, why do you come to my aid
                                                                            When those fair eyes are forcing me to die?
                                                                            Why do you wish me to return to life?
 
                                                                            Alas, lips, alas – I live again but listlessly
                                                                            So that more cares, whenever cares come,
                                                                            Can feed at more length on my heart.
 

 

 

 
 
 

Amours retranch. 29

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Dictes, Maistresse, hé que vous ay-je fait !
Hé pourquoy las ! m’estes vous si cruelle ?
Ay-je failly de vous estre fidelle,
Ay-je envers vous commis quelque forfait ?
 
Dictes, Maistresse, hé que vous ay-je fait !
Hé pourquoy las ! m’estes vous si cruelle ?
Ay-je failly de vous estre fidelle,
Ay-je envers vous commis quelque forfait ?
 
Certes nenny, car plustost que de faire
Chose qui deust, tant soit peu, vous desplaire,
J’aimerois mieux le trespas encourir.
 
Mais je voy bien que vous bruslez d’envie
De me tuer : faictes moy donc mourir
Puis qu’il vous plaist ; car à vous est ma vie.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Say mistress, eh? what have I done to you?
                                                                            And why, alas, are you so cruel to me?
                                                                            Have I failed to be true to you,
                                                                            Have I committed some wrong towards you?
 
                                                                            Say mistress, eh? what have I done to you?
                                                                            And why, alas, are you so cruel to me?
                                                                            Have I failed to be true to you,
                                                                            Have I committed some wrong towards you?
 
                                                                            Certainly not, for rather than do
                                                                            Anything which would, in however small a way, displease you,
                                                                            I would prefer to incur death.
 
                                                                            But I can see very well that you are burning with the desire
                                                                            To kill me; make me die, then,
                                                                            Since it pleases you, for my life is yours.

 

 

 Today, the oddest of Ronsard’s sonnets (as far as I know!) – one in which he wrote only one quatrain, but then simply repeated it to complete the sonnet scheme … I don’t think there’s a ‘rule-book’ for sonnets which outlaws such an approach, but it is distinctly unusual!

 

 
 
 

« La Trophée d’Amour » (from Mascarades)

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« La Trophée d’Amour », the Trophy (or monument) of Love, is dedicated “à la Comedie de Fontaine-bleau” (‘to the Comedy [Theatre] at Fontainebleau’). It’s a light-hearted portrait of Cupid.

 

Je suis Amour le grand maistre des Dieux,
Je suis celuy qui fait mouvoir les Cieux,
Je suis celuy qui gouverne le monde,
Qui le premier hors de la masse esclos
Donnay lumiere et fendis le Chaos
Dont fut basti ceste machine ronde.
 
Rien ne sçauroit à mon arc resister,
Rien ne pourroit mes fleches eviter,
Et enfant nud je fais toujours la guerre :
Tout m’obeyst, les oiseaux esmaillez,
Et de la mer les poissons escaillez,
Et les mortels heritiers sur la terre.
 
La paix, la tréve, et la guerre me plaist,
Du sang humain mon appetit se paist,
Et volontiers je m’abreuve de larmes :
Les plus hautains sont pris à mon lien,
Le corselet au soldart ne sert rien
Et le harnois ne defend les gend’armes.
 
Je tourne et change et renverse et desfais
Ce que je veux, et puis je le refais,
Et de mon feu toute ame est eschaufée :
Je suis de tous le Seigneur et le Roy :
Rois et Seigneurs vont captifs devant moy,
Et de leurs cœurs j’enrichis mon trofée.
 
De Jupiter le Sçeptre j’ay donté,
Jusqu’aux enfers j’ai Pluton surmonté,
Et de Neptune ay blessé la poitrine :
De rien ne sert aux ondes la froideur,
Que les Tritons ne sentent mon ardeur,
Et que mon feu n’embrase la marine.
 
La Volupté, la Jeunesse me suit,
L’oisiveté en pompe me conduit,
Je suis aveugle, et si ay bonne veuë,
Je suis enfant et suis pere des Dieux,
Foible, puissant, superbe, gracieux,
Et sans viser je frappe à l’imporveüe.
 
L’homme est de plomb, de rocher et de bois
Qui n’a senti les traits de mon carquois :
Seul je le fais et courtois et adestre :
Les cœurs sans moi languissent refroidis,
Je les rends chauds, animez et hardis,
Et bref je suis de toute chose maistre.
 
Qui ne me voit, au monde ne voit rien :
Je suis du mondeet le mal et le bien,
Je suis le doux et l’amer tout ensemble,
Je n’ay patron ny exemple que moy,
Je suis mon tout, ma puissance et ma loy,
Et seulement à moi seul je ressemble.
I am Love, great master of the gods,
I am he who makes the heavens move,
I am he who rules the world,
Who first, blossoming from the masses,
Gave light and split Chaos apart,
By whom this round engine [the world] was built.
 
None can resist my bow,
None can avoid my arrows,
And always as a naked child I make war;
Everyone obeys me – the glittering birds,
The scaly fish in the sea,
And the mortals who’ve inherited the earth.
 
Peace, truce and war please me,
With human blood is my appetite satisfied,
And I happily drink my fill of tears;
The haughtiest are caught in my bonds,
A breastplate is no use to the soldier
Nor can armour defend the man-at-arms.
 
I twist and change, reverse and undo
Whatever I want, and then re-do it;
With my fire every soul is warmed.
I am the lord and king of all men,
Kings and lords go captive before me
And with their hearts I enrich my monument.
 
I have subdued Jupiter’s sceptre,
I’ve overcome Pluto in Hades,
I’ve wounded Neptune’s breast,
The cold of the waves is no use
To keep the Tritons from feeling my warmth,
And my fire from burning the sea.
 
Pleasure and Youth follow me;
Idleness escorts me in procession;
I am blind yet I see well,
I am a child yet I am the father of the gods,
Weak and powerful, proud and gracious,
Without aiming I strike unexpectedly
 
The man is made of lead, stone, or wood
Who has not felt wounds from my quiver,
I alone make them, both courteous and skilful;
Without me, hearts languish, frozen;
I make them hot, excited and bold,
And in brief I am master of all.
 
He who cannot see me in the world, sees nothing;
I am the good and bad in the world,
The sweet and the bitter together;
I have no boss, no example but myself;
I am all I need, my own power and my own law,
And I resemble only myself.
 
Minor variants only in Blanchemain:  at the end of the fourth stanza, he has
 
 
Je suis de tout le Seigneur et le Roy :
Rois et Seigneurs vont captifs devant moy,
Et de leurs cœurs je bastis mon trofée.
 
                                                                                           I am the lord and king of all things,
                                                                                           Kings and lords go captive before me
                                                                                           And from their hearts I build my monument.

 

and a couple of stanzas from the end he has the line “Foible et puissant, superbe et gracieux”, which has a subtly different weight.
 
 

Amours 2:67f

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Douce Maistresse touche
Pour soulager mon mal,
Ma bouche de ta bouche
Plus rouge que Coral :
Que mon col soit pressé
De ton bras enlassé.
 
Puis face dessus face
Regarde moy les yeux,
Afin que ton trait passe
En mon cœur soucieux,
Cœur qui ne vit sinon
D’Amour et de ton nom.
 
Je l’ay veu fier et brave,
Avant que ta beauté
Pour estre son esclave
Du sein me l’eust osté :
Mais son mal lui plaist bien,
Pourveu qu’il meure tien.
 
Belle, par qui je donne
A mes yeux tant d’esmoy,
Baise moy ma mignonne,
Cent fois rebaise moy :
Et quoy ? faut-il en vain
Languir dessus ton sein ?
 
Maistresse je n’ay garde
De vouloir t’esveiller.
Heureux quand je regarde
Tes beaux yeux sommeiller :
Heureux quand je les voy
Endormis dessus moy.
 
Veux-tu que je les baise
Afin de les ouvrir ?
Hà, tu fais la mauvaise
Pour me faire mourir :
Je meurs entre tes bras,
Et s’il ne t’en chaut pas !
 
Hà ! ma chere ennemie,
Si tu veux m’appaiser,
Redonne moy la vie
Par l’esprit d’un baiser.
Hà ! j’en sens la douceur
Couler jusques au cœur.
 
J’aime la douce rage
D’amour continuel,
Quand d’un mesme courage
Le soing est mutuel.
Heureux sera le jour
Que je mourray d’amour.
Sweet mistress, touch –
To soothe my ills –
My mouth with your mouth,
Redder than coral;
That my neck might be held
Within your twined arms.
 
Then, your face pressed to mine,
Look into my eyes
That the wound you gave me might pass
Into my careworn heart,
A heart which lives only
On love and on your name.
 
I saw it proud and brave
Before your beauty
Took it from my breast
To be your slave,
But its pain makes it very happy
As long as it dies your own.
 
Fair one through whom I give
My eyes such trouble,
Kiss me, my darling,
Kiss me again a hundred times;
What? Must I lie in vain
Upon your breast?
 
Mistress, I have no charge
To seek to wake you,
Happy when I watch
Your fair eyes sleeping,
And happy when I see them
Asleep beneath me.
 
Would you like me to kiss them
To open them?
Ah, you are being mischievous
To make me die;
I am dying in your arms
And yet you do not care!
 
Ah, my dear enemy,
If you want to calm me
Give me back my life
Through the spirit of a kiss.
Oh, I feel its sweetness
Flow right to my heart.
 
I love the sweet madness
Of continual love,
When with shared courage
Our pain is shared.
Happy will be the day
When I shall die of love!
 
Today, a lyric from book 2 of the Amours (the book for Marie). Just because it’s a lovely poem!
 
 Blanchemain contains the usual few variants scattered through the poem, so here is his version with the changes marked.
 
Douce maîtresse, touche,
Pour soulager mon mal,
Mes levres de ta bouche
Plus rouge que coral ;
Que mon col soit pressé
De ton bras enlassé.
 
Puis, face dessus face,
Regarde-moy les yeux,
Afin que ton trait passe
En mon cœur soucieux,
Cœur qui ne vit sinon
D’amour et de ton nom.
 
Je l’ay veu fier et brave,
Avant que ta beauté
Pour estre son esclave
Doucement l’eust domté ;
Mais son mal lui plait bien
Pourveu qu’il meure tien.
 
Belle par qui je donne
A mes yeux tant d’esmoy,
Baise-moy, ma mignonne,
Cent fois rebaise-moy :
Et quoy ! faut-il en vain
Languir dessus ton sein.
 
Maistresse, je n’ay garde
De vouloir t’éveiller,
Heureux quand je regarde
Tes beaux yeux sommeiller,
Heureux quand je les voy
Endormis dessous moy.
 
Veux-tu que je les baise
Afin de les ouvrir ?
Ha ! tu fais la mauvaise
Pour me faire mourir.
Je meurs entre tes bras
Et s’il ne t’en chaut pas !
 
Hà ! ma chere ennemie,
Si tu veux m’appaiser,
Redonne-moy la vie
Par l’esprit d’un baiser.
Hà ! j’en ay la douceur
Senti jusques au cœur.
 
C’est une douce rage
Qui nous poinct doucement
Quand d’un mesme courage
On s’aime incessament.
Heureux sera le jour
Que je mourray d’amour.
Sweet mistress, touch –
To soothe my ills –
My lips with your mouth,
Redder than coral;
That my neck might be held
Within your twined arms.
 
Then, your face pressed to mine,
Look into my eyes
That the wound you gave me might pass
Into my careworn heart,
A heart which lives only
On love and on your name.
 
I saw it proud and b rave
Before your beauty
Sweetly conquered it
To be your slave,
But its pain makes it very happy
As long as it dies your own.
 
Fair one through whom I give
My eyes such trouble,
Kiss me, my darling,
Kiss me again a hundred times;
What? Must I lie in vain
Upon your breast?
 
Mistress, I have no charge
To seek to wake you,
Happy when I watch
Your fair eyes sleeping,
And happy when I see them
Asleep beneath me.
 
Would you like me to kiss them
To open them?
Ah, you are being mischievous
To make me die;
I am dying in your arms
And yet you do not care!
 
Ah, my dear enemy,
If you want to calm me
Give me back my life
Through the spirit of a kiss.
Oh, I have felt its sweetness
Right in my heart.
 
It’s a sweet madness
Which sweetly stabs us,
When with shared courage
We make love continuously;
Happy will be the day
When I shall die of love!
 
 
 

Stances lyriques (Lyric stanzas) – from the Poèmes retranchées

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This one comes with variant subtitles:  in Marty-Laveaux it is simply “pour un banquet” (‘for a banquet’); but the Blanchemain version is helpfully headed “Stances promptement faites pour jouer sur la lyre, un joueur respondant à l’autre, au baptesme du fils de Monsieur de Villeroy, en faveur de Monsieur de l’Aubespine à présent” (‘Stanzas written to be played on the lyre, one player responding to the other, at the baptism of the son of M. de Villeroy …’).  Here then is a prime example of Ronsard’s concern to make his poetry adaptable to music. Many of his ‘withdrawn’ items were withdrawn simply because their rhyme-schemes no longer fitted the more advanced ideas he developed – principally, about metrical regularity in the use of masculine & feminine endings (broadly, alternating 10-syllable and 11-syllable lines, which clearly has an impact on the way a composer sets the text).

I Joueur
Autant qu’au Ciel on voit de flames
Dorer la nuict de leur clartez,
Autant voit-on icy de Dames
Orner ce soir de leurs beautez.
 
II Joueur
Autant que l’on voit une prée
Fleurir en jeunes nouveautez
Autant ceste troupe sacrée
S’enrichit de mille beautez.
 
I
La Cyprine et les Graces nuës,
Se desrobant de leur sejour,
Sont au festin icy venuës,
Pour de la nuict faire un beau jour.
 
II
Ce ne sont pas femmes mortelles
Qui vous esclairent de leurs yeux,
Ce sont Déesses eternelles,
Qui pour un soir quittent les Cieux.
 
I
Quand Amour perdroit ses flaméches
Et ses dards trempez de soucy,
Il trouveroit assez de fléches
Aux yeux de ces Dames icy.
 
II
Amour qui cause nos detresses
Par la cruauté de ses dards,
Fait son arc de leurs blondes tresses,
Et ses fléches de leurs regards.
 
I
Il ne faut point que l’on desire
Qu’autre saison puisse arriver,
Voicy un Printemps qui souspire
Ses fleurs au milieu de l’Hyver.
 
II
Ce mois de Janvier qui surmonte
Avril par la vertu des yeux
De ces Damoiselles, fait honte
Au Printemps le plus gracieux.
 
I
Ce grand Dieu, Prince du tonnerre,
Puisse sans moi l’air habiter,
Il me plaist bien de voir en terre
Ce qui peut blesser Jupiter.
 
II
Les Dieux épris comme nous sommes,
Pour l’amour quittent leur sejour :
Mais je ne voy point que les hommes
Aillent là-haut faire l’amour.
 
I
A la couleur des fleurs écloses
Ces Dames ont le teint pareil,
Aux blancs Lys, aux vermeilles roses
Qui naissent comme le Soleil.
 
II
Leur blanche main est un yvoire,
De leurs yeux les astres se font :
Amour a planté sa victoire
Sus la Majesté de leur front.
 
I
Las ! que ne suis-je en ceste trope
Un Dieu caché sous un Toreau ?
Je ravirois encore Europe
Au beau milieu de ce tropeau.
 
II
Que n’ay-je d’un Cygne la plume,
Pour joüir encore à plaisir
De ceste beauté qui m’allume
Le cœur de crainte et de desir ?
 
I
Amour qui tout void et dispense,
Ces Dames vueille contenter :
Et si la rigueur les offense,
Nouvel amy leur presenter.
 
II
Afin qu’au changer de l’année,
Et au retour des jeunes fleurs,
Une meilleure destinée
Puisse commander à leurs cœurs.
 
Just as we see the lights in heaven
Gild the night with their brightness,
So we see here ladies
Adorn the evenings with their beauty.
 
 
Just as we see a meadow
Flower with fresh newness,
So this holy band
Enriches itself with a thousand beauties.
 
 
The Cyprian goddess [Venus] and the naked Graces,
Abandoning their homes,
Have come here to the feast
To make night into fair day.
 
 
These are not mortal women
Who light you with their eyes,
These are eternal goddesses
Who have, for an evening, have left the heavens.
 
 
When love loses his fiery bolts
And his darts drenched in pain,
He will find enough arrows
In the eyes of these ladies here.
 
 
Love who causes our distress
Through the cruelty of his darts
Makes his bow from their blond tresses
And his arrows from their glances.
 
 
We need not wish
That another season might arrive,
Here is spring, breathing out
Its flowers in the midst of winter.
 
 
This month of January, which is better
Than April because of the power in the eyes
Of these maidens, makes ashamed
Even the most graceful spring.
 
 
That great god, prince of thunder,
Can live in the sky without me;
I am quite happy seeing on earth
That beauty which can wound Jupiter.
 
 
The gods, smitten as we are,
Leave their dwelling for love;
But I never see men
Going up there to make love!
 
 
Like the colour of blossoming flowers
Is the hue these Ladies have,
Like white lilies, like crimson roses,
Which grow as the sun.
 
 
Their white hands are ivory,
Of their eyes are the stars made;
Love has founded his victory
On the majesty of their brows.
 
 
Alas, why can’t I be among this troop
A god hidden beneath [the likeness of] a bull?
I would again steal away Europa
From the fair midst of this troop.
 
 
Why can’t I have the feathers of a swan,
To play again at my pleasure
With this beauty which fires my
Heart with fear and longing?
 
 
Love, who sees all and grants all,
Wishes to please these Ladies;
And if my strictness injures them
He will present them a new lover.
 
 
If only, at the turn of the year
And when the young flowers come back,
A better fate
Might control their hearts.
 
 The ‘great god of the thunder’ (i.e. Jupiter) re-appears near the end of the poem as the bull who carried off Europa, and the swan that ravished Leda.
 
(Like most items “retranchées”, there is not much to report concerning variants: in this case, “fleurer” rather than ‘fleurir’ in the second verse (a variant conjugation for the verb) is about the only interest!)