Amours 2:40

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Quand ravy je me pais de vostre belle face,
Je voy dedans vos yeux je ne sçay quoy de blanc,
Je ne sçay quoy de noir, qui m’esmeut tout le sang,
Et qui jusques au cœur de veine en veine passe.
 
Je voy dedans Amour qui va changeant de place,
Ores bas ores haut tousjours me regardant,
Et son arc contre moy coup sur coup desbandant.
Si je faux, ma raison, que veux-tu que je face ?
 
Tant s’en faut que je sois alors maistre de moy
Que je ni’rois les Dieux et trahirois mon Roy,
Je vendrois mon pays, je meurtrirois mon pere :
 
Telle rage me tient apres que j’ay tasté
A longs traits amoureux de la poison amere,
Qui sort de ces beaux yeux dont je suis enchanté.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            When exalted I nourish myself with your beautiful face,
                                                                            I see within your eyes something white,
                                                                            Something black which affects all my blood
                                                                            And which passes from vein to vein right to my heart.
 
                                                                            I see within them Love, continually changing place,
                                                                            Now low now high, always watching me
                                                                            And his bow loosing shot after shot against me.
                                                                            If I am wrong what, my rightness, do you want me to do?
 
                                                                            I am so far from master of myself
                                                                            That I would deny the gods and betray my king,
                                                                            Sell my country and murder my father;
 
                                                                            Such passion seizes me after I have sampled,
                                                                            In long loving draughts, the bitter poison
                                                                            Which flows from your eyes by which I am bewitched.
 
 
 
I ought to have done better with the opening line:  I tried “I could eat your beautiful face” but that’s not really what Ronsard means, it’s the wrong image. He’s saying, just the sight of your face is all I need to live on, it is my food, my nourishment.  The right words haven’t (yet) come to me!
 
Line 8 is another tricky one to translate. Picking up the white/black opposites of the previous lines, Ronsard opposes “faux” and “raison”, wrong and right; but “raison” is also reason, the faculty of reasoning. So he is simultaneously setting Marie up as his standard of rightness, his model of reason, and also appealing to his own reason. Blanchemain’s version simplifies things with one minor change, offering only one of those meanings as Ronsard appeals to Reason.
 
There are also a number of changes in the ‘betrayal’ section in the first tercet; and a different, simpler image in line 1. (Also, yet another simple ‘when I…’ opening, instead of the more unusual ‘when, exalted…’ opening of the revised version – check the index of first lines to see how many “Quand …” poems use the simple “Quand je” + verb!)  Here’s Blanchemain’s text:
 
 
Quand je suis tout baissé sur vostre belle face,
Je voy dedans vos yeux je ne sçay quoy de blanc,
Je ne sçay quoy de noir, qui m’esmeut tout le sang,
Et qui jusques au cœur de veine en veine passe.
 
Je voy dedans Amour qui va changeant de place,
Ores bas, ores haut, tousjours me regardant,
Et son arc contre moy coup sur coup desbandant.
Las ! si je faux, Raison, que veux-tu que j’y face ?
 
Tant s’en faut que je sois alors maistre de moy
Que je vendrois mon père et trahirois mon roy,
Mon païs et ma sœur, mes frères et ma mère ;
 
Tant je suis hors du sens après que j’ay tasté
A longs traits amoureux de la poison amere,
Qui sort de ces beaux yeux dont je suis enchanté.
 
 
 
                                                                            When I am bowed over your beautiful face,
                                                                            I see within your eyes something white,
                                                                            Something black which affects all my blood
                                                                            And which passes from vein to vein right to my heart.
 
                                                                            I see within them Love, continually changing place,
                                                                            Now low now high, always watching me
                                                                            And his bow loosing shot after shot against me.
                                                                            Alas, if I am wrong what, Reason, do you want me to do there?
 
                                                                            I am so far from master of myself
                                                                            That I would sell my father and betray my king,
                                                                            My country, my sister, brothers and mother;
 
                                                                            I am so senseless after I have sampled,
                                                                            In long loving draughts, the bitter poison
                                                                            Which flows from your eyes by which I am bewitched.
 
 
 
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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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