Amours 1.171

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Tousjours des bois la cyme n’est chargée
Du faix negeux d’un hyver eternel :
Tousjours des Dieux le foudre criminel
Ne darde en bas sa menace enragée.
 
Tousjours les vents, tousjours la mer Egée
Ne gronde pas d’un orage cruel :
Mais de la dent d’un soin continuel
Ma pauvre vie est tousjours outragée.
 
Plus je me force à le vouloir tuer,
Plus il renaist pour mieux s’évertuer
De feconder une guerre en moy-mesme.
 
O fort Thebain, si ta serve vertu
Avoit encor ce monstre combatu,
Ce seroit bien de tes faits le treiziesme.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Now at last the tops of the trees are not laden
                                                                           With the snowy burden of an eternal winter;
                                                                           Now the vicious lightning of the gods
                                                                           No longer fires down here its angry threats;
 
                                                                           Now the winds and now the Aegean sea
                                                                           No longer groan under a cruel storm;
                                                                           But by the bite of continual grief
                                                                           My poor life is still attacked.
 
                                                                           The more I force myself to try to kill it
                                                                           The more it is re-born, to strive even harder
                                                                           To nourish a war within me.
 
                                                                           O brave Theban, if your enslaved strength
                                                                           Had yet defeated this monster,
                                                                           That would truly have been the thirteenth of your deeds.
 
 
 
As I sit here in the first really warm spell of spring, I feel I might have missed the moment for poisting this poem! Never mind: here it is anyway, to remind us we’re moving fast out of winter.  Of course, this isn’t really a poem about the weather, but (again) about love: why the ‘Theban’ – Hercules – in the final tercet? Though we remember Hercules for his 12 Labours, in fact there are heaps of stories about his loves. He married 4 times(!), one of them in heaven, and could thus hardly be said to have withstood love’s assaults very effectively. (He was also killed by his wife Deianeira as a result of his affections wandering again, which may have something to do with the picture Ronsard is painting…)
 
Blanchemain’s version differs in detail only, but here’s the whole poem for reference:
 
 
Tousjours des bois la cyme n’est chargée
Sous les toisons d’un Hyver eternel ;
Toujours des Dieux le foudre criminel
Ne darde en bas sa menace enragée ;
 
Tousjours les vents, tousjours la mer Egée
Ne gronde pas d’un orage cruel ;
Mais de la dent d’un soin continuel
Tousjours, toujours, ma vie est outragée.
 
Plus je me force à le vouloir tuer,
Plus il renaist pour mieux s’évertuer
De feconder une guerre à moy-mesme.
 
O fort Thebain, si ta serve vertu
Avoit encor ce monstre combatu,
Ce seroit bien de tes faits le treziesme.
 
 
 
                                                                           Now at last the tops of the trees are not laden
                                                                           With the fleeces of an eternal winter;
                                                                           Now the vicious lightning of the gods
                                                                           No longer fires down here its angry threats;
 
                                                                           Now the winds and now the Aegean sea
                                                                           No longer groan under a cruel storm;
                                                                           But by the bite of continual grief
                                                                           My life is each and every day attacked.
 
                                                                           The more I force myself to try to kill it
                                                                           The more it is re-born, to strive even harder
                                                                           To nourish a war against myself.
 
                                                                           O brave Theban, if your enslaved strength
                                                                           Had yet defeated this monster,
                                                                           That would truly have been the thirteenth of your deeds. 
 
 
Personally I think line 2 works better in this less finicky version, though ‘laden/Under the fleeces’ (a literal rendering) is awkward in French as in English. Note the small difference in line 11 which shifts the meaning; and the doubled, but differently spelled, “tou(s)jours” in line 8. I have assumed the different spellings are more than an affectation (or error) of Blanchemain’s, and therefore not translated it simply as ‘Always, always…’
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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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