Monthly Archives: April 2015

Amours 1.186

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Je m’asseuroy qu’au changement des cieux,
Cet an nouveau romproit ma destinée,
Et que sa trace en serpent retournée
Adouciroit mon travail soucieux :
 
Mais puis qu’il est neigeux et pluvieux,
Baignant son front d’une humide journee,
Cela me dit qu’au cours de cette annee
J’escouleray ma vie par les yeux.
 
O toy qui es de moy la quinte essence,
De qui l’humeur sur la mienne a puissance,
Ou de tes yeux serene mes douleurs,
 
Ou bien les miens alambique en fontaine,
Pour estoufer mon amour et ma peine
Dans le ruisseau qui naistra de mes pleurs.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            I am certain, when the skies change,
                                                                            That this new year will cut short my misfortune
                                                                            And its track, twisting like a serpent,
                                                                            Will soften my care-filled troubles;
 
                                                                            But while it is snowy and raining,
                                                                            Bathing its brow with wet days,
                                                                            That tells me that in the course of the year
                                                                            I shall give away my life through my eyes.
 
                                                                            You who are my very being,
                                                                            Whose mood has power over mine,
                                                                            Either soothe away my grief with your eyes
 
                                                                            Or distil my [eyes] into a spring,
                                                                            To drown my love and my pain
                                                                            In the stream which is born from my tears.
 
 
 
Another turning of the seasons poem, nicely capturing the way the weather sways our convictions! I like the simplicity of ‘when the skies change’ in line 1; though the word is the same as the poetic ‘heavens’, nothing changes about heaven from year to year – I think here Ronsard is looking at the simple meaning not the poetic image. I’ve adapted the mediaeval medicine of the first tercet: she is literally his ‘quintessence’, the mystical fifth essence (beyond earth, air, fire and water), and her ‘humour’ controls his own; while we might translate ‘humour’ as ‘temperament (traditionally there were four temperaments – choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic) more precisely it means one of the four body fluids blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile.
 
I should also draw attention to the verbs in lines 11-12 – “serene” and “alambique”. ‘Serene’ is of course an adjective, ‘alembic‘ a noun (a flask or bottle used in distilling), but Ronsard craftily converts them to verb-forms which have exactly the same orthography as the adjective/noun forms.  A strict translation might be
 
                Either serene away my grief with your eyes
                Or ‘still my [eyes] into a spring ….     (with ‘still pretending to be a shortening of ‘distil’ )
 
Blanchemain offers a couple of minor variants. At the beginning of the second quatrain he has
 
Mais, puis qu’il tourne en un rond pluvieux
Ses fronts lavés d’une humide journée …
 
                                                                            But while it turns in its rainy round
                                                                            Its brow soaked by wet days, …
 
and in  line 9 varying the ‘filler’ syllable at the beginning of the line: Blanchemain has “Las!” (‘Ah!’) instead of “O”…
 
 
 
 
 
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Amours 1.182

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Seul je me deuls, et nul ne peut sçavoir,
Si ce n’est moy, la peine que je porte :
Amour trop fin comme un larron emporte
Mon cœur d’emblée, et ne le puis r’avoir.
 
Je ne devois donner tant de pouvoir
A l’ennemy qui a la main si forte,
Mais au premier le retenir de sorte
Qu’à la raison obeist le devoir.
 
Or c’en est fait ! il a pris la carriere :
Plus je ne puis le tirer en arriere :
Opiniastre, il est maistre du frein.
 
Je cognois bien qu’il entraine ma vie :
Je voy ma faulte, et si ne m’en soucie,
« Tant le mourir est beau de vostre main !
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Alone I grieve, and none can know
                                                                            But I myself the pain I bear;
                                                                            Love, cunning like a thief, carried off
                                                                            My heart directly , and I cannot get it back.
 
                                                                            I ought not to give such great power
                                                                            To an enemy who has so strong a hand,
                                                                            But from the first to hold him back, so
                                                                            That duty obeys reason.
 
                                                                            But it is done! He has taken up his career;
                                                                            I can no longer keep him behind me;
                                                                            He is stubborn and controls the reins.
 
                                                                            I know well that he is leading my life,
                                                                            I see my fault, yet do not care,
                                                                            “So beautiful is dying at your hand!” 
 
 
Another poem built on a single image maintained throughout: I like this one. The conflict between love and reason is well-caught. Blanchemain offers us a few changes: in the opening line “Seul je m’avise, …” (‘Alone, I reflect, …’); and then in the final tercet
 
Je cognois bien qu’il entraine ma vie
Contre mon gré ; mais je ne m’en soucie …
 
 
                                                                            I know well that he is leading my life
                                                                            Against my will; but I do not care …
 
 
 
[ Here’s a piece of trivia: yesterday’s poem and today’s are the only two poems by Ronsard which I’ve blogged, beginning with a word starting ‘Se…’ (second, seul). How odd, when there are so many words to open a poem with… ]
 
 

Amours 1.187

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Mechante Aglaure, ame pleine d’envie,
Langue confitte en caquet indiscret,
D’avoir osé publier le secret
Que je tenois aussi cher que ma vie.
 
Fiere à ton col Tisiphone se lie,
Qui d’un remors, d’un soin, et d’un regret,
D’un feu, d’un foet, d’un serpent, et d’un trait,
Sans se lasser punisse ta folie.
 
Pour me venger, ce vers injurieux
Suive l’horreur du despit furieux
Dont Archiloch aiguisa son Jambe :
 
Mon fier courroux t’ourdisse le licol
Du fil meurtrier, que l’envieux Lycambe,
Pour se sauver, estraignit à son col.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            You wicked Aglauros, you soul full of jealousy,
                                                                            You tongue steeped in indiscreet chatter,
                                                                            To have dared to make public the secret
                                                                            Which I kept as dear as my life.
 
                                                                            May proud Tisiphone bind herself around your neck,
                                                                            And with remorse, care, regret,
                                                                            With fire, whips, snakes and wounds
                                                                            May she tirelessly punish your folly!
 
                                                                            To avenge me, may this injurious verse
                                                                            Copy the fearful, furious spite
                                                                            With which Archilochus sharpened his iambics;
 
                                                                            May my proud wrath wind you in the halter
                                                                            Of the murderous cord which jealous Lycambes
                                                                            Tightened round his throat to save himself.
 
 
 
Let’s begin with the classical allusions:
 – Aglauros:  when Erechthonius was born (accidentally) from the union of Vulcan & Gaia (the Earth), Minerva hid him away. Aglauros was one of the inquisitive keepers of the hidden Erechthonius, who could not keep herself from looking to see what they were guarding, and was sent mad as a result. So here, she is a model for Cassandre recklessly and indiscreetly revealing Ronsard’s secret;
 – Tisiphone is one of the Furies, who pursue wrong-doers;
 – Archilochus was a Greek poet. Lycambes betrothed his daughter to Archilochus. but then broke the engagement; in response, Archilochus wrote a lot of angry verse about it, and Lycambes and his daughter – and perhaps others in the family – committed suicide as a result of the publicity.
 
The poem itself is a very good one, in my view. As usual, it took a while to reach this form; here is Blanchemain’s earlier version, in line 4 of which we have a characteristic new verb-from-adjective coinage by Ronsard which (also characteristically) he eliminated in later years. Note that the opening quatrain works completely differently, now a series of invocations of punishment rather than a statement of guilt. Why would a heart ‘rust’? It would be made of cold, hard iron – or at least that is the insult which I imagine Ronsard is implying.
 
 
Seconde Aglaure, avienne que l’envie
Rouille ton cœur traitrement indiscret,
D’avoir osé publier le secret
Qui bienheuroit le plaisir de ma vie.
 
Fiere à ton col Tisiphone se lie,
Qui d’un remors, d’un soin et d’un regret,
Et d’un foüet, d’un serpent et d’un trait,
Sans se lasser punisse ta folie.
 
Pour me venger, ce vers injurieux
Suive l’horreur du despit furieux
Dont Archiloch aiguisa son iambe ;
 
Et mon courroux t’ourdisse le licol
Du fil meurtrier que le mechant Lycambe
Pour se sauver estreignit à son col.
 
 
 
                                                                            You second Aglauros, may jealousy come and
                                                                            Rust your treacherously-indiscreet heart,
                                                                            For having dared to make public the secret
                                                                            Which brought good fortune and pleasure to my life.
 
                                                                            May proud Tisiphone bind herself around your neck,
                                                                            And with remorse, care, regret,
                                                                            And with whips, snakes and wounds
                                                                            May she tirelessly punish your folly!
 
                                                                            To avenge me, may this injurious verse
                                                                            Copy the fearful, furious spite
                                                                            With which Archilochus sharpened his iambics;
                                                                             
                                                                            And may my wrath wind you in the halter
                                                                            Of the murderous cord which jealous Lycambes
                                                                            Tightened round his throat to save himself.
 
 
 
 
 

Madrigal (Amours 1.200a)

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Un sot Vulcan ma Cyprine fachoit :
Elle en pleurant qui son courroux ne cele,
L’un de ses yeux arma d’une etincelle,
De l’autre une eau sur sa joüe épanchoit.
 
Tandis Amour, qui petit se cachoit
Comme un oiseau dans le sein de la belle,
En l’œil humide alloit baignant son aile,
Puis en l’ardant ses plumes il sechoit.
 
Ainsi voit-on d’une face diverse
Rire et pleurer tout en un mesme temps
Douteusement le Soleil du printemps,
Quand une nuë à demi le traverse.
 
Quel dueil ensemble et quel plaisir c’estoit
De voir son geste, et les pleurs qu’elle verse
Pleins de regrets que le Ciel escoutoit ?
 
 
 
 
                                                                            A stupid Vulcan annoyed my Cyprian [Venus] :
                                                                            As she cried, not concealing her anger,
                                                                            One of her eyes she armed with a flashing spark,
                                                                            From the other a tear flowed onto her cheek.
 
                                                                            So Love, hiding his tiny self
                                                                            Like a bird within the beauty’s breast,
                                                                            Flew into the wet eye, bathing his wings,
                                                                            Then in the burning one he dried his feathers.
 
                                                                            Thus you might see with a divided appearance,
                                                                            Both laughing and crying at the same time
                                                                            Uncertainly, the Sun in spring
                                                                            When a cloud half-crosses it.
 
                                                                            What grief and what pleasure together it was
                                                                            To see how she acted, and the tears she cried
                                                                            Full of regret, that the Heavens might hear.
 
 
 
For Ronsard, a madrigal is, as you’ll recall, simply a sonnet with a bonus line or two. Here, his opening image is taken from classical myth, the unhappy marriage of Vulcan and Venus; but that is simply scene-setting. Vulcan here is obviously Ronsard who in his clumsy foolishness has upset Cassandre.
 
In Blanchemain, this is a (numbered) sonnet, simply being one line shorter: I’ve marked the spot in line 10 where in the later version above he has simply split the line and inserted 2 extra half-lines.
 
 
Un sot Vulcan ma Cyprine faschoit :
Et elle à part, qui son courroux ne celle,
L’un de ses yeux arma d’une estincelle,
De l’autre un lac sur sa joue épanchoit.
 
Tandis Amour, qui petit se cachoit
Folastrement dans le sein de la belle,
En l’œil humide alloit baignant son aile,
Puis en l’ardant ses plumes il sechoit.
 
Ainsi void-on quelquefois en un temps
Rire et pleurer [ ] le soleil du printemps,
Quand une nue à demi le traverse.
 
L’un dans les miens darda tant de liqueur,
Et l’autre, après, tant de flames au cœur,
Que fleurs et feux depuis l’heure je verse.
 
 
                                                                            A stupid Vulcan annoyed my Cyprian [Venus] :
                                                                            As she standing aside, not concealing her anger,
                                                                            Armed one of her eyes with a flashing spark,
                                                                            From the other a lake flowed onto her cheek.
 
                                                                            So Love, hiding his tiny self
                                                                            Playfully within the beauty’s breast,
                                                                            Flew into the wet eye, bathing his wings,
                                                                            Then in the burning one he dried his feathers.
 
                                                                            Thus you might see occasionally at the same time,
                                                                            Both laughing and crying the Sun in spring
                                                                            When a cloud half-crosses it.
 
                                                                            One of them shot so much water into my own [eyes],
                                                                            The other, afterwards, so many flames into my heart,
                                                                            That I’ve been pouring out flowers and fires since then. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.193

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Ces flots jumeaux de laict bien espoissi
Vont et revont par leur blanche valée,
Comme à son bord la marine salée,
Qui lente va, lente revient aussi.
 
Une distance entre eux se fait, ainsi
Qu’entre deux monts une sente égalée,
Blanche par tout de neige devalée,
Quand en hyver le vent s’est adouci.
 
Là deux rubis haut eslevez rougissent,
Dont les rayons cet yvoire finissent
De toutes parts uniment arondis :
 
Là tout honneur, là toute grace abonde :
Et la beauté, si quelqu’une est au monde,
Vole au sejour de ce beau paradis.
 
 
 
                                                                            Those twin swellings of creamy milk
                                                                            Flow back and forth over their white valley
                                                                            Like the salty sea at its edge
                                                                            Which slowly flows in, and slowly returns again;
 
                                                                            A gap there is between them, as
                                                                            Between two hills a path runs down the midst,
                                                                            White all over with fallen snow,
                                                                            When in winter the wind has abated.
 
                                                                            There two rubies redden, standing tall,
                                                                            Whose shining finishes that ivory,
                                                                            Rounded on all sides equally;
 
                                                                            There all honour, all grace abound;
                                                                            And beauty, if there is any in the world,
                                                                            Flies to lodge in this fair paradise. 
 
 
 
Technically, the breasts in line 1 are like ‘milk that’s been well-clotted’: in English that sounds pretty awful, we think of cream as good, clots as bad [though clotted cream is perhaps an exception], so I’ve translated for meaning rather than literally.
 
You’d think this didn’t need much tweaking. But in fact you can see it was improved: Blanchemain’s opening is the less involving “Les flots jumeaux …”, and in the second quatrain he has
 
Qu’entre deux monts une sente égalée,
En tous endroits de neige devalée,
Sous un hiver doucement adouci
 
                                                                            Between two hills a path runs down the midst,
                                                                            In every part covered in snow,
                                                                            In a winter gently softened.
 
 
 
 
 

Amours retranch. 44

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A pas mornes et lente seulet je me promeine,
Nonchalant de moy-mesme, et quelque part que j’aille
Un penser importun me livre la bataille,
Et ma fiere ennemie au devant me rameine.
 
Penser ! un peu de treve, hé permets que ma peine
Se soulage un petit, et tousjours ne me baille
Argument de pleurer pour une qui travaille
Sans relasche mon cœur, tant elle est inhumaine.
 
Or si tu ne le fais, je te tromperay bien,
Je t’asseure, Penser, que tu perdras ta place
Bien-tost, car je mourray pour abatre ton fort :
 
Puis quand je seray mort, plus ne sentiray rien
(Tu m’auras beau navrer) que ta rigueur me face,
Ma Dame, ny Amour, car rien ne sent un mort.
 
 
 
                                                                            With grieving and slow steps I wander alone,
                                                                            Caring nothing for myself, and wherever I go
                                                                            A nagging thought propels me to battle
                                                                            And my proud foe drags me to the fore.
 
                                                                            O thoughts, a short truce! Allow my pain
                                                                            To find a little relief, do not always open for me
                                                                            Cause for tears, for one who troubles
                                                                            My heart without slackening, so inhuman is she.
 
                                                                            If you will not, I shall really outwit you;
                                                                            I assure you, my thoughts, that you’ll lose your place
                                                                            Very soon, for I shall die to destroy your fortress;
 
                                                                            Then, when I am dead, I shall feel nothing more
                                                                            That your harshness does to me (you’ll have saddened me in vain)
                                                                            My Lady, nor Love: for a dead man feels nothing.
 
 
 
This isn’t one of Ronsard’s great poems; but still worth a look. The idea is a bit obvious, the metaphors not strong, and the phrase-structure gets a bit tortured by the needs of the metre – especially in the wholesale reorganisation of the sentence in the last tercet, which would in prose terms read ‘when I am dead, I shall feel no more of the harsh things you, my Lady, or Love himself, do to me; you’ll have made me sad in vain; for a dead man feels nothing’.
 
Note that it’s in 12-syllable Alexandrines, one of the rarer forms for Ronsard’s sonnets.
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.179

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En me bruslant il faut que je me taise :
Car d’autant plus qu’esteindre je me veux,
Plus le desir me r’allume les feux
Qui languissoient sous une morte braise.
 
Si suis-je heureux (et cela me r’apaise)
De plus souffrir que souffrir je ne peux,
Et d’endurer le mal dont je me deulx.
Je me deulx ? non, mais dont je suis bien aise.
 
Par ce doux mal j’adoroy la beauté
Qui me liant d’une humble cruauté,
Me desnoüa les liens d’ignorance.
 
Par luy j’appris les mysteres d’Amour,
Par luy j’appris que pouvoit l’esperance,
Par luy mon ame au ciel fit son retour.
 
 
 
                                                                            As I burn I must be silent ;
                                                                            For as much as I want to extinguish them
                                                                            So much more desire re-lights those fires
                                                                            Which lie beneath a dying flame.
 
                                                                            So happy am I (and that soothes me)
                                                                            To suffer more than I can suffer
                                                                            And to endure the pain which grieves me;
                                                                            Grieves? No: which pleases me.
 
                                                                            Through this sweet pain I adore the beauty
                                                                            Who, binding me with meek cruelty,
                                                                            Looses me from the bonds of ignorance.
 
                                                                            Through her I learn the mysteries of love,
                                                                            Through her I learn what hope can do,
                                                                            Through her my soul returns to heaven.
 
 
 
What a lovely poem: a simple, single image, and a fantastic last tercet.  (I think I need to have another go at lines 3-4 sometime: not sure this translation really holds together as an image!) Blanchemain’s version has a number of differences, including the end! The later version is so much better…
 
 
Las ! force m’est qu’en bruslant je me taise,
Car d’autant plus qu’esteindre je me veux,
Plus le desir me r’allume les feux
Qui languissoient sous la morte braise.
 
Si suis-je heureux (et cela me r’appaise)
De plus souffrir que souffrir je ne peux,
Et d’endurer le mal dont je me deulx ;
Je me deulx, non, mais dont je suis bien aise.
 
Par ce doux mal j’adoroy la beauté
Qui, me liant d’une humble cruauté,
Me desnoua les liens d’ignorance.
 
Par luy me vint ce vertueux penser
Qui jusqu’au ciel fit mon cœur elancer,
Ailé de foy, d’amour et d’esperance.
 
 
                                                                            Alas, I am forced as I burn to be silent
                                                                            For the more I try to extinguish them
                                                                            The more desire re-lights those fires
                                                                            Which lie beneath the dying flame.
 
                                                                            So happy am I (and that soothes me)
                                                                            To suffer more than I can suffer
                                                                            And to endure the pain which grieves me;
                                                                            Grieves? No: which pleases me.
 
                                                                            Through this sweet pain I adore the beauty
                                                                            Who, binding me with meek cruelty,
                                                                            Looses me from the bonds of ignorance.
 
                                                                            Through her comes to me that virtuous thought
                                                                            Which makes my heart leap to heaven,
                                                                            Winged with faith, love and hope.