Amours 1.194

Quelle langueur ce beau front des-honore ?
Quel voile obscur embrunist ce flambeau ?
Quelle palleur dépourpre ce sein beau,
Qui per à per combat avec l’Aurore?
Dieu medecin, si en toy vit encore
L’antique feu du Thessale arbrisseau,
Vien au secours de ce teint damoiseau,
Et son liz palle en œillets recolore.
Et toy Barbu, fidele gardien
Des Rhagusins, peuple Epidaurien,
Fais amortir le tison de ma vie :
S’il vit je vy, s’il meurt je ne suis riens :
Car tant son ame à la mienne est unie,
Que ses destins seront suivis des miens.
                                                                            What langour dishonours that fair brow?
                                                                            What shadowy veil darkens that torch?
                                                                            What pallor un-reddens that fair breast,
                                                                            Which competes on equal terms with the Dawn?
                                                                            O doctor-god, if in you still lives
                                                                            The antique fire of the Thessalian bush,
                                                                            Come to the aid of this maiden tint
                                                                            And re-colour her pale lilies as pinks.
                                                                            And you, Bearded God, faithful guardian
                                                                            Of the Rhagusians, a people of Epidaurum,
                                                                            Un-deaden the fire-brand of my life;
                                                                            If she lives, I live; if she dies, I am nothing;
                                                                            For her soul is so united to mine
                                                                            That her fate will be followed by mine.
Some neologisms from Ronsard in this lovely ‘get well soon’ message:  ‘un-redden’ in line 3, ‘un-deaden’ in line 11 – “amortir” usually means to reduce, but here it is “a-mort-ir”.  Ragusa is Dubrovnik, founded by Illyrians from Epidaurum (or Epidaurus, but not the one where the famous theatre is). Epidaurum was some 15km south of Dubrovnik, both on the Dalmatian coast. Its patron god was Asclepius/Aesculapius, the ‘bearded god’ of line 9 whose image can be found carved into a column in the portico of the Rector’s Palace in Dubrovnik today. Asclepius is also associated with Thessaly (it was there he was supposedly born), and in particular with Epidaurus (the one with the theatre!) where there is a temple to him.  So in lines 5-6 Ronsard may be referring to another aspect of the same deity, as well as making a link between the two Epidauruses. Alternatively, he may mean Apollo (father of Asclepius) whose association with the ‘Thesalian bush’ recalls Daphne, turned into a bush to escape his lustful pursuit.
Note that in line 12, Ronsard actually writes ‘if it [the torch or fire-brand] lives…’; I have personalised his simile to make it clearer.
Blanchemain’s text offers us another neologism in line 11 – “Déflamme aussi le tizon de ma vie” (‘Un-flame too the fire-brand…’); no doubt Ronsard adjusted this image as it is confusing to imagine the flames of a torch being put out but the torch still living… In line 7, Blanchemain’s text has “Las ! prends pitié de ce teint damoiseau”, adjusted in the later version to eliminate the weak exclamation.

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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