Amours 2:42

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Si j’estois Jupiter, Marie, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois Roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, Roine des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison les ondes vous auriez.
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire sous vos mains, dame des terres rondes,
Et dessus un beau Coche en belles tresses blondes
Par le peuple en honneur Deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Le ciel pour vous servir seulement m’a fait naistre,
De vous seule je prens mon sort avantureux.
 
Vous estes tout mon bien, mon mal, et ma fortune.
S’il vous plaist de m’aimer, je deviendray Neptune,
Tout Jupiter tour Roy tout riche et tout heureux. 
 
 
 
                                                                            If I were Jupiter, Marie, you would be
                                                                            My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
                                                                            You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
                                                                            And would have as your home the waves ;
 
                                                                            If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
                                                                            Power in your hands, lady of the round world,
                                                                            And in a fine coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
                                                                            You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
                                                                            But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
                                                                            Heaven had me born only to serve you,
                                                                            From you alone I receive my venturesome fate.
 
                                                                            You are all my good, my ills, my fortune.
                                                                            If it pleases you to love me, I shall become Neptune,
                                                                            Jupiter entire, and King, and rich, and happy.
 
 
Jupiter and Juno as king and queen of heaven are probably familiar; but you (like me) might have tripped over the reference to Tethys. Here, Ronsard goes back to the ‘old’ gods, the Titans: Tethys was the sister and wife of Oceanus, the personification (and ruler) of the seas before the dynastic wars in which the classical (Olympian) gods defeated the Titans from whom they were descended.  There’s a suggestion in the poem that Ronsard may not have been so specific, since at the end where he reflects back the opening stanza, he uses Neptune’s name as if he – being king of the sea – were the (unnamed) consort of Tethys.As you will see below, he confuses the picture further in his earlier version, since there the Ocean is a home not a husband!
 
Turning then to Blanchemain’s version, we find substantial variants, so much so that it is addressed to a different lady, and 50% of the poem is different! Sinope is the addressee of some 14 (earlier versions of) his poems, later re-addressed in the collected books to Marie. It seems that he had a brief liaison in 1558-9 with ‘Sinope’ (if that was her name). Laumonier explains how Belleau, in his 1560 commentary, makes clear that she and Marie are different people, although after Marie’s death in 1578 Ronsard modified Belleau’s notes to suggest that Sinope was just a nickname for Marie.
 
We can tell it’s an early poem, incidentally, as he refers to his “bonnet rond”, the sign of the priesthood – an odd thing to find in a love poem, and that is no doubt one reason why the older, wiser, and much more conservative Ronsard changed it…  More disappointingly he also removed the wonderfully erotic image of the final stanza below, and replaced it with a considerably more staid and stately ending we see above. 
 
Here is the earlier version complete:
 
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Sinope, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, royne des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison l’Océan vous auriez.
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire de la terre aux mammelles fecondes,
Et, dessus une coche en belles tresses blondes,
Par le peuple en honneur deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Pour telles dignités le ciel ne m’a fait naistre ;
Mais je voudrois avoir changé mon bonnet rond,
 
Et vous avoir chez moi pour ma chère espousée ;
Tout ainsi que la neige au doux soleil se fond,
Je me fondrois en vous d’une douce rousée.
 
 
 
                                                                            If I were Jupiter, Sinope, you would be
                                                                            My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
                                                                            You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
                                                                            And would have as your home the Ocean ;
 
                                                                            If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
                                                                            Power over the earth with its fertile breasts,
                                                                            And in a coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
                                                                            You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
                                                                            But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
                                                                            For such honours heaven did not have me born.
                                                                            But I wish I could have exchanged my round priest’s hat
 
                                                                            And had you in my home as my dear wife ;
                                                                            Just as the snow melts in the soft sunshine,
                                                                            So I would melt into you like the soft dew.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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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