Monthly Archives: December 2014

Mascarades 12

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This is another of Ronsard’s poems to be recited by two singers, alternately; or rather, as he specifies, two ‘players of the lyre’.

I
Le Soleil et nostre Roy
Sont semblables de puissance,
L’un gouverne dessous soy
Le Ciel et l’autre la France.
 
II
L’un du Ciel tient le milieu,
Des Astres clairté premiere ;
Et l’autre comme un grand Dieu
Aux terres donne lumiere.
 
I
L’un n’est jamais offensé
D’orages ny de tempeste :
L’obscur est tousjours percé
Des beaux rayons de sa teste.
 
II
L’autre a tousjours combatu
Les guerres et les envies
Et fait sentir sa vertu
Aux puissances ennemies.
 
I
L’un est autheur de la paix
Chassant le discord du monde,
Illustrant de ses beaux rais
La terre, le ciel et l’onde.
 
II
Et l’autre ayant du discord
La puissance rencontrée,
A mis les guerres à mort,
Et la paix en sa contrée.
 
I
Tout Astre prend du Soleil
Sa lumiere tant soit haute :
Car c’est l’Astre nompareil
Liberal sans avoir faute.
 
II
Du Roy vient force et vigueur
Honneur et grandeur royale,
Et tout homme de bon cœur
Cognoist sa main liberale.
 
I
Le Soleil est couronné
De feux qu’en terre il nous darde :
Et tout Astre bien tourné
Nostre bon Prince regarde
 
II
 De nostre Roy la grandeur
Pareil au Soleil ressemble,
Qui jette plus de splendeur
Que les estoiles ensemble.
 
I
Bref le Soleil esclairant
Par tout, qui point ne repose,
De Charles n’est differant
Seulement que d’une chose.
 
II
C’est que le Soleil mourra
Apres quelque temps d’espace,
Et Charles au Ciel ira
Du Soleil prendre la place.
 
The Sun and our King
Are similar in power,
The one governs beneath himself
The Heavens, and the other France.
 
 
The one has the midst of heaven,
The brightest of the stars,
And the other like a great god
Gives light to the earth.
 
 
The one is never struck
By storms or tempests,
The darkness is always pierced
By the fair rays of his head;
 
 
The other has always fought
War and Envy
And made his virtue known
To hostile powers.
 
 
The one is author of peace,
Chasing discord from the world,
Brightening with his fair rays
Earth, heaven and sea;
 
 
And the other, having encountered
The power of discord,
Has put wars to death
And peace in his country.
 
 
Every star takes from the Sun
His light, however bright it is,
For he is the unequalled Star,
Liberal without fault;
 
 
From the King comes force and strength,
Honour and royal grandeur,
And every man with a good heart
Knows his liberal hand.
 
 
The Sun is crowned
With fires which he darts at us on earth,
And every finely-turned Star
Watches our good Prince;
 
 
The greatness of our King
Seems equal to the Sun
Who casts more splendour
Than the stars together
 
 
In short, the Sun shining its light
Everywhere, and never resting,
Is no different from Charles
Except only in one thing:
 
 
Which is, that the Sun will die
After some time of space,
And Charles will go to Heaven
To take the Sun’s place.
 
Oddly, the sun dies ‘after some time of space’ rather than ‘after some space of time’ – for Ronsard, it’s driven by the scansion, but I’ve left the odd form in the English version as well; if French readers (perhaps) trip over their version, why shouldn’t English readers too? 🙂
 
Blanchemain’s version has some changes in the penultimate pair of stanzas:
 
 
I
… Et tout astre bien-tourné
Pour son guide le regarde
 
II
De notre Roy la bonté
Mille grand seigneurs assemble,
Qui jettent plus de clarté
Que les estoiles ensemble.
 
 
                                                              … And every finely-turned Star
                                                              Watches him as its guide;
 
 
                                                              The goodness of our King
                                                              Assembles a thousand great Lords
                                                              Who cast more light
                                                              Than the stars together.
 
 
 
 
 

Chanson (Amours 2:49b)

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Je suis si ardent amoureux,
Que fol souvenir ne me puis,
Ny où je suis ne qui je suis,
Ny combien je suis malheureux.
 
J’ay pour mes hostes nuict et jour
En mon cœur la rage et l’esmoy
Qui vont pratiquant dessus moy
Toutes les cruautez d’Amour.
 
Et toutesfois je n’ose armer
Ma raison pour vaincre le tort :
Car plus on me donne la mort,
Et plus je suis content d’aimer.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            I am so ardently in love
                                                                            That, mad, I cannot remember
                                                                            Where I am, or who I am,
                                                                            Or how unhappy I am.
 
                                                                            I have as guest night and day
                                                                            In my heart rage and agitation
                                                                            Which practice on me
                                                                            All the cruelties of love.
 
                                                                            And yet all the time I dare not arm
                                                                            My reason to overcome wrong;
                                                                            For the more it pains me to death
                                                                            The more I’m happy to be in love.
 
 
 
A lovely, neatly-wrought poem. Who’d have thought it had been so revised?!  Here’s Blancheamin’s earlier version, sharing just over half its text with the later one!
 
Je suis tellement amoureux,
Qu’au vray raconter je ne puis,
Ny où je suis, ne qui je suis,
Ny combien je suis malheureux. 
 
J’ay pour mon hoste nuict et jour
Comme un tigre, un cruel esmoy
Qui va pratiquant dessus moy
Toutes les cruautez d’Amour. 
 
Et si mon cœur ne peut s’armer
Contre l’œil qui le navre à tort :
Car, plus il me donne la mort,
Plus je suis contraint de l’aimer.

 
 
 
                                                                            I am so in love
                                                                           That truly I cannot tell
                                                                           Where I am, or who I am,
                                                                           Or how unhappy I am. 
 
                                                                           I have as guest night and day
                                                                           Like a tiger a cruel agitation
                                                                           Which practices on me
                                                                           All the cruelties of love. 
 
                                                                           And yet my heart cannot arm itself
                                                                           Against the eyes which wrongly rend it;
                                                                           For the more they pain me to death
                                                                           The more I’m forced to love them.
 
 
 
The poem is another of Ronsard’s responses to Marullus, this time an epigram “De suo amore” (‘On his love’):
 
Jactor, dispereo, crucior, trahor huc miser atque huc,
ipse ego jam quis sim nescio aut ubi sim :
tot simul insidiis premor undique : proh dolor !  In me
saevitiae Cypris dat documenta suae.
Saevitiae documenta suae dat, ego hanc tamen unam
depereo, utque nocet, sic libet usque sequi.
Qua siquis miserum solam me liberet horam,
Hic mihi sit Phoebo doctior et melior.
 
 
                                                 I am cast down, I despair, I’m tortured, I drag myself here and there wretchedly,
                                                 I don’t now know who I am, or where I am;
                                                 I am caught in so many plots, at the same time, on all sides; o wretchedness, against me
                                                 Cypris [Venus] has given evidence of her savagery.
                                                 She has given evidence of her savagery, but I perish
                                                 For this one lady, and as she harms me so I am pleased to follow her further.
                                                 If anyone could free me in my wretchedness from her for just one hour,
                                                 He would be to me wiser and better than Apollo.

 

 
 
 

To Cassandre – Ode 2:5

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La Lune est coustumiere
Renaistre tous les mois ;
Mais, quand nostre lumiere
Sera morte une fois,
Longtemps sans réveiller
Nous faudra sommeiller.
 
Tandis que vivons ores,
Un baiser donne moy ;
Donne-m’en mille encores :
Amour n’a point de loy ;
A sa grand’ deité
Convient l’infinité.
 
Ah ! vous m’avez, maistresse
De la dent entamé
La langue chanteresse
De vostre nom aimé.
Quoi ! est-ce là le prix
Du labeur qu’elle a pris,
 
Elle qui voz louanges
Dessus le luth vantoit,
Et aux peuples estranges
Vos mérites chantoit,
Ne faisant l’air si non
Bruire de votre nom.
 
De vos tetins d’yvoire
(Joyaux de l’Orient)
Elle chantoit la gloire,
Et de votre œil friant,
Pour la récompenser
La faut-il offenser ?
 
Las ! de petite chose
Je me plains durement :
La playe en l’ame enclose
Me cuit bien autrement,
Que ton œil m’y laissa
Le jour qu’il me blessa.
The moon is accustomed
To being reborn every month;
But when our light
Is once dead,
For long without waking
We’ll have to sleep.
 
While we live, though,
Give me a kiss,
Give me a thousand more;
Love has no rules,
Infinity suits
His great godhood.
 
Ah, mistress, you have
Overcome me with your teeth,
Your enchantress’s tongue,
Your beloved name;
What? Is that the prize
For the task she undertook,
 
She, who extolled
Your praises on the lute,
And sang to unknown peoples
Your merits
Making the air
Resound with your name.
 
She sang of the glory
Of your ivory breasts,
The jewels of the Orient,
And of your dainty eyes;
So to recompense her
Should we offend her?
 
Alas, of little things
I complain harshly;
The wound hidden in my soul
Burns me very differently
Than when your eyes left me it
On the day when they wounded me.

 

Who is the ‘she’ of the middle of the poem? Grammatically, it can only refer back to “sa grand’ deité”, the ‘great godhood’ of Love; so I could have used the male pronoun and had Love singing, praising etc.
 
Blanchemain offers us also a variant text, replacing stanza 4 (‘she who extolled your praises on the lute’) with two stanzas as follows:
 
 
Elle par qui vous estes
Déesse entre les dieux,
Qui vos beautez parfaites
Celebroit jusqu’aux cieux,
Ne faisant l’air sinon
Bruire de vostre nom,
 
De vostre belle face,
Le beau logis d’amour,
Où Venus et la Grace
Ont choisi leur sejour,
Et de vostre œil, qui fait
Le soleil moins parfait.
 
 
                                                                 She through whom you are
                                                                 A goddess among the gods,
                                                                 Who laud your perfect
                                                                 Beauty to the skies,
                                                                 Making the air simply
                                                                 Resound with your name,
 
                                                                 With your fair face:
                                                                 The fair home of love,
                                                                 Where Venus and Grace
                                                                 Have chosen to stay,
                                                                 And with your eyes, which make
                                                                 The sun less perfect.
 
 
 
 
 

Amours retranch. 20

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Las ! pour vous trop aymer je ne vous puis aimer :
Car il faut en aimant avoir discretion,
Helas ! je ne l’ay pas : car trop d’affection
Me vient trop follement tout le cœur enflammer.
 
D’un feu desesperé vous faites consommer
Mon cœur que vous bruslez sans intermission,
Et si bien la fureur nourrit ma passion
Que la raison me faut, dont je me deusse armer.
 
Ah ! guarissez-moy donc de ma fureur extreme,
Afin qu’avec raison honorer je vous puisse,
Ou pardonnez au moins mes fautes à vous-mesme,
 
Et le peché commis en tastant vostre cuisse :
Car je n’eusse touché en lieu si deffendu,
Si pour trop vous aimer mon sens ne fust perdu.

 
 
 
 
                                                                            Alas, I cannot love you for loving you too much
                                                                            For in love we must be discreet,
                                                                            But alas, I’m not, for too much affection
                                                                            Comes and inflames my heart too foolishly.
 
                                                                            You make a desperate flame consume
                                                                            My heart, which you burn without pause
                                                                            And so much does madness feed my passion
                                                                            That reason fails me, which ought to arm me.
 
                                                                            Ah cure me then of my utter madness
                                                                            So that I can honour you with reason;
                                                                            Or at least pardon my faults towards you
 
                                                                            And the sin committed by touching your thigh;
                                                                            For I’d not have touched a place so well-defended,
                                                                            If my mind had not been lost for loving you too much.
 
 
 
A fairly straightforward love lyric, though Ronsard clearly had fun with the opening stanzas multiple self-contradictions!  A modern reader (and no doubt Ronsard’s contemporaries) will surely see Ronsard mis-directing us slightly in line 12; his touch was perhaps a little more intimate?  No text variants to report;  though I particularly like the opening line’s lack of concern for standardised spelling!
 
 
 

Helen 2: 13

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Quand je pense à ce jour, où pres d’une fonteine
Dans le jardin royal ravy de ta douceur,
Amour te descouvrit les secrets de mon cœur,
Et de combien de maux j’avois mon ame pleine :
 
Je me pasme de joye, et sens de veine en veine
Couler ce souvenir, qui me donne vigueur,
M’aguise le penser, me chasse la langueur,
Pour esperer un jour une fin à ma peine.
 
Mes sens de toutes parts se trouverent contens,
Mes yeux en regardant la fleur de ton Printemps,
L’oreille en t’escoutant : et sans ceste compagne,
 
Qui tousjours nos propos tranchoit par le milieu,
D’aise au Ciel je volois, et me faisois un Dieu :
Mais tousjours le plaisir de douleur s’accompagne.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            When I think of that day, when near a fountain
                                                                            In the royal garden, enamoured with your sweetness,
                                                                            Love disclosed to you the secrets of my heart
                                                                            And how many ills filled my soul;
 
                                                                            Then I swoon with joy, and feel this memory
                                                                            Running from vein to vein, giving me strength,
                                                                            Sharpening my thinking, chasing away my indolence,
                                                                            In hoping one day for an end to my troubles.
 
                                                                            My senses are content in every way,
                                                                            My eyes in looking at the flower of your Springtime,
                                                                            And my ears in hearing you; and without this company
 
                                                                            Which always breaks off our conversation right in the middle,
                                                                            Happily I would fly to heaven and make myself a god;
                                                                            But my pleasure is always accompanied by pain.
 
 
As often in Helen, no Blanchemain variants; though he helpfully adds a footnote to tell us the ‘royal gardens’ are the Tuileries…
 
 
 

Chanson (Amours 2:49a)

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Quand je te veux raconter mes douleurs,
Et de quel mal en te servant je meurs,
Et quelle fiebvre ard toute ma mouelle,
Ma voix tremblote, et ma langue chancelle,
Mon cœur se pasme, et le sang me tre-saut :
En mesme instant j’endure froid et chaut,
Sur mes genoux descend une gelee,
Jusqu’aux talons une sueur salée
De tout mon corps comme un fleuve se suit,
Et sur mes yeux nage une obscure nuit :
Tant seulement mes larmes abondantes
Sont les tesmoings de mes flames ardantes,
De mes souspirs et de mon long soucy,
Qui sans parler te demandent mercy.
 
 
 
 
                                                                         When I wish to tell you of my sadness,
                                                                         And the ills of which I am dying, serving you,
                                                                         And the fever which burns all my marrow,
                                                                         My voice trembles and my tongue staggers,
                                                                         My heart faints, and my blood leaps;
                                                                         At the same moment I endure both hot and cold,
                                                                         On my knees descends an icy-cold,
                                                                         A salty sweat flows all the way to my heels
                                                                         From my whole body like a river,
                                                                         And over my eyes swims a dark night;
                                                                         So that only my plentiful tears
                                                                         Are the witnesses of my passionate flame,
                                                                         My sighs and my long troubles,
                                                                         Which without speaking beg you for pity.
 
 
 
 
Here’s a novelty – a 14-line poem, but not a sonnet. Being in couplets, it doesn’t follow Ronsard’s ‘rules’ for a sonnet’s rhyme-scheme – but it is noteable that he still alternates couplets with masculine and feminine endings to ensure variety. Blanchemain’s version has only two variants: line 3 becomes “Et quel venin dessèche ma mouelle” (‘And the poison which dries up my marrow’); and in line 7, the icy cold “se fond” (‘melts’) over his knees.
 
No doubt one reason for this being cast in the form of a chanson, is that Ronsard is again developing his ideas from a Latin poem by Marullus, another of his epigrams (2.40) ‘to Neaera’:
 
 
Vesanos quotiens tibi furores
atque ignes paro, quos moves, referre
et quantus deus ossibus pererret,
qui me nocte die necat, Neaera,
et vox et sonus et parata verba
desunt tum mihi linguaque ipsa torpet
et vix sustineor genu labante :
maerent pectora perque membra passim
perque artus fluor it repente salsus
et diem subitae occupant tenebrae,
nec quicquam nisi lacrimae supersunt,
quae mutae quoque opem precantur unae.
 
 
 
                                                                         Whenever I am ready to tell you of the insane
                                                                         Passions and fires which you set in motion,
                                                                         And how great a god courses in my bones
                                                                         Killing me night and day, Neaera;
                                                                         Then, my voice, its sound, the words I prepared
                                                                         They all disappear, and my tongue grows numb
                                                                         And I can scarcely stand on my shaking knees;
                                                                         My breast grieves, and all through my limbs
                                                                         And veins the salty wetness unexpectedly rushes
                                                                         And sudden darkness fills the day;
                                                                         And nothing but tears remain
                                                                         Which mutely too beg for aid from my one lady.
 
 
 
 
 

Amours retranch. 10

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Vous ne le voulez pas? et bien, j’en suis content,
Contre vostre rigueur Dieu me doint patience,
Devant qu’il soit vingt ans j’en auray la vengeance,
Voyant ternir vos yeux qui me travaillent tant.
 
On ne voit amoureux au monde si constant
Qui ne perdist le cœur, perdant sa recompence :
Quant à moy, si ne fust la longue experience
Que j’ay de ma douleur, je mourrois à l’instant.
 
Toutesfois quand je pense un peu en mon courage
Que je ne suis tout seul des femmes abusé,
Et que de plus accorts en ont reçeu dommage ;
 
Je pardonne à moy-mesme, et m’ay pour excusé :
Puis vous qui me trompez, en estes coustumiere
Et qui pis est sur toute en beauté la premiere.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            You don’t want to? Well, I’m content.
                                                                            May God give me patience in the face of your harshness;
                                                                            Before twenty years are up I shall have my revenge
                                                                            Seeing your eyes, which now torment me so, become dull. 
 
                                                                            You won’t see so constant a lover in the world
                                                                            Who doesn’t lose heart, in losing his reward:
                                                                            As for me, if it weren’t for the long experience
                                                                            Which I have of suffering, I would die on the spot. 
 
                                                                            However, when I think a little for my encouragement
                                                                            That I’m not the only one abused by women
                                                                            And that more attractive men have been hurt by them, 
 
                                                                            I pardon myself, I hold myself excused;
                                                                            For you who disappoint me are accustomed to it
                                                                            And, what’s worse, above all others the first in beauty.
 
 
 
Another lovely poem, banished to the ‘forgotten works’ …