Chanson (Amours 2:48a)

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Veu que tu es plus blanche que le liz
Qui t’a rougi ta lévre vermeillette ?
Qui est l’ouvrier qui proprement t’a mis
Dessus ton teint ceste couleur rougette ?
 
Qui t’a noircy les arcs de tes sourcis ?
Qui t’a noircy tes yeux brunets, Madame ?
O grand’ beauté sujet de mes soucis,
O grand’ beauté qui me resjouis l’ame !
 
O douce belle honneste cruauté
Qui doucement me contrains de te suivre !
O fiere ingrate et fascheuse beauté
Avecques toy je veux mourir et vivre !
 
 
 
                                                                            Since you are whiter than the lily,
                                                                            Who reddened your crimson lips for you ?
                                                                            Who was the workman who so justly set
                                                                            This delicate blush upon your pale flesh?
 
                                                                            Who darkened the arcs of your eyebrows for you?
                                                                            Who darkened your brown eyes, my Lady?
                                                                            O great beauty, subject of my cares,
                                                                            O great beauty which rejoices my soul!
 
                                                                             O sweet, fair, reasonable cruelty
                                                                            Which gently forces me to follow you;
                                                                            O proud, ungrateful and displeasing beauty,
                                                                            With you I wish to die – and live!
 
 
How could so simple a poem have a complex history?!  Here’s the earlier Blanchemain edition:
 
 
Veu que tu es plus blanche que le lis,
Qui t’a rougi ta lèvre vermeillette ?
Pour l’embellir, qui est-ce qui t’a mis
Dessus ton teint ceste couleur rougette ? 
 
Qui t’a noircy les arcs de tes soucis ?
Qui t’a noircy tes beaux yeux, ma maistresse ?
O grand beauté subjet de mes soucis !
O grand beauté pleine de grand liesse
 
O douce, belle, honneste cruauté,
Qui doucement me contrains de te suivre !
O fiere, ingrate et fascheuse beauté,
Avecques toy je veux mourir et vivre !

 
 
 
                                                                            Since you are whiter than the lily,
                                                                            Who reddened your crimson lips for you ?
                                                                            Who was it who, to make it fairer yet
                                                                            Set this delicate blush upon your pale flesh?
 
                                                                            Who darkened the arcs of your eyebrows for you?
                                                                            Who darkened your beautiful eyes, my mistress?
                                                                            O great beauty, subject of my cares,
                                                                            O great beauty full of great happiness!
 
                                                                             O sweet, fair, reasonable cruelty
                                                                            Which gently forces me to follow you;
                                                                            O proud, ungrateful and displeasing beauty,
                                                                            With you I wish to die – and live!

 

For the interested, Ronsard dipped into his edition of Marullus before writing this. Here’s the Latin poem which he re-thought into French:

 

Epigram 2.44
AD NEAERAM
 
Cum tu candida sis magis ligustro,

quis genas minio, Neaera, tinxit ?
Quis labella tibi notavit ostro ?
Unde sunt capiti aurei capilli ?
Quis supercilii nigravit arcum ?
Quis faces oculis dedit potentes ?
O quies animi laboriosa !
O labor nimium mihi quiete !
O amarities petita votis,
qua mori sine amem volens lubensque !

 
 
                                                                            TO NEAERA
 
                                                                            As you are whiter than the privet-flower,
                                                                            Who painted your cheeks with vermilion, Neaera?
                                                                            Who picked out your lips with rich purple?
                                                                            Whence are you crowned with golden hair?
                                                                            Who darkened the arc of your brow?
                                                                            Who gave such powerful fires to your eyes?
                                                                            O wearisome rest for the soul,
                                                                            O weariness too great for my rest!
                                                                            O bitterness sought in prayers,
                                                                            Without which I’d love to die willingly, happily!
 
 
 
 
 
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About fattoxxon

Who am I? Lover of all sorts of music - classical, medieval, world (anything from Africa), world-classical (Uzbek & Iraqi magam for instance), and virtually anything that won't be on the music charts... Lover of Ronsard's poetry (obviously) and of sonnets in general. Reader of English, French, Latin & other literature. And who is Fattoxxon? An allusion to an Uzbek singer - pronounce it Patahan, with a very plosive 'P' and a throaty 'h', as in 'khan')

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