Amours 1.178

O traits fichez jusqu’au fond de mon ame,
O folle emprise, ô pensers repensez,
O vainement mes jeunes ans passez,
O miel, ô fiel, dont me repaist ma Dame :
O chaud, ô froid, qui m’englace et m’enflame,
O prompts desirs d’esperance cassez,
O douce erreur, ô pas en vain trassez,
O monts, ô rocs, que ma douleur entame !
O terre, ô mer, chaos, destins et cieux,
O nuict, ô jour, ô Manes stygieux,
O fiere ardeur, ô passion trop forte :
O vous Daimons, ô vous divins esprits,
Si quelque amour quelquefois vous a pris,
Voyez, pour Dieu, quelle peine je porte !
                                                                           O wounds fixed right in the bottom of my soul,
                                                                           O foolish influence, o thoughts re-thought,
                                                                           O my years of youth passed in vain,
                                                                           O the sweetness, the bitterness, which my Lady feeds me;
                                                                           O heat, o cold, which freeze and inflame me,
                                                                           O swift wishes for hope, now broken,
                                                                           O sweet error, o paths taken in vain,
                                                                           O hills and rocks, the beginnings of my sadness!
                                                                           O earth, sea, chaos, fate and heavens,
                                                                           O night and day, o Stygian shades,
                                                                           O proud ardour, o passion too strong;
                                                                           O fates, o divine spirits,
                                                                           If any love ever seized you,
                                                                           See, for God’s sake, the pain I bear!
A few days ago we had Ronsard’s ijitation of Gesualdo, “Ny… ny… ny…”; today, another one, this time “O… o… o…”! The bravura technical challenge is the same, and the result is too. Charming, brilliant, and yet at the same time a little tongue-in-cheek…
In line 12 I’ve translated “Daimons” as ‘fates’, since the reference seems to be more to the Greek ‘daimon’ than to the more medieval ‘demon’. But in Blanchemain’s version, the only variant is the spelling here: “O vous démons !” which translates more obviously as ‘O demons’…
Ronsard’s immediate source, as before, was Giovanni Andrea Gesualdo. To show his sophistication, Ronsard places another unrelated poem between his two imitations; going one better than Gesualdo, whose two poems follow each other directly in the Rime diverse.  Here’s the Italian original:
O viva fiamma, o miei sospiri ardenti
O miserabil duol, o spirti lassi,
O pensier d’ogni speme ignudi & cassi,
O strali nel mio cuor fieri & pungenti;
O bei desir de l’honorate menti,
O vane imprese, o dolorosi passi,
O selve, o piaggie, o fonti, o fiume, o sassi
O spietata cagion de miei tormenti:
O gloriosi allori, o verdi mirti,
O luogo un tempo à me dolce, & giocondo,
Ove io gia sparsi dilettoso canto;
O voi leggiadri, et amorosi spirti,
S’alcun vive qua giu nel basso mondo
Pietà vi prenda del mio acerbo pianto.
                                                                            O living flame, o my ardent sighs,
                                                                            O wretched grief, o fading spirits,
                                                                            O thoughts of every hope denuded and demolished,
                                                                            O proud and stinging shafts in my heart,
                                                                            O beautiful desires of honoured minds,
                                                                            O vain undertakings, o steps illed with sadness,
                                                                            O woods, o shores, o founts, o rivers, o rocks,
                                                                            O ruthless cause of my torments,
                                                                            O glorious laurels, o green myrtles,
                                                                            O place once sweet to me and happy
                                                                            Where I once scattered delightful songs,
                                                                            O you graceful and loving spirits,
                                                                            If any [of you] live down here in the base world,
                                                                            Take pity on my bitter weeping.
Notice how, in line 11, Gesualdo adapts his theme slightly by opening the line not with “O” but with “Ove” –  a neat and clever touch!
This time, both Ronsard and Gesualdo are basing their poems on a Petrarchan original (Canzoniere 161), though typically the “O” motif is used more, and more brilliantly, by the two refined, showy and definitely more sophisticated followers in the late renaissance.
O passi sparsi, o pensier’ vaghi et pronti,
O tenace memoria, o fero ardore,
O possente desire, o debil core,
O i occhi miei, occhi non già, ma fonti!
O fronde, honor de le famose fronti,
O sola insegna al gemino valore!
O faticosa vita, o dolce errore,
Che mi fate ir cercando piagge et monti!
O bel viso ove Amor inseme pose
Gli sproni e ‘l fren ond’el mi punge et volve,
Come a lui piace, et calcitrar non vale!
O anime gentili et amorose,
S’alcuna à ‘l mondo, et voi nude ombre et polve,
Deh ristate a veder quale è ‘l mio male.
                                                                            O wandering steps! O vague and busy dreams!
                                                                            O changeless memory! O fierce desire!
                                                                            O passion strong! heart weak with its own fire;
                                                                            O eyes of mine! not eyes, but living streams;
                                                                            O laurel boughs! whose lovely garland seems
                                                                            The sole reward that glory’s deeds require;
                                                                            O haunted life! delusion sweet and dire,
                                                                            That all my days from slothful rest redeems;
                                                                            O beauteous face! where Love has treasured well
                                                                            His whip and spur, the sluggish heart to move
                                                                            At his least will; nor can it find relief.
                                                                            O souls of love and passion! if ye dwell
                                                                            Yet on this earth, and ye, great Shades of Love!
                                                                            Linger, and see my passion and my grief.
                                                                            (Translation by Thomas Wentworth Higginson)

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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