Amours retranch. 31

Gentil Barbier, enfant de Podalire,
Je te supply, saigne bien ma Maistresse,
Et qu’en ce mois, en saignant, elle laisse
Le sang gelé dont elle me martire.
Encore un peu dans la palette tire
De ce sang froid, ains cette glace espesse,
Afin qu’apres en sa place renaisse
Un sang plus chaud qui de m’aimer l’inspire.
Ha ! comme il sort: c’estoit ce sang si noir
Que je n’ay peu de mon chant émouvoir
En souspirant pour elle mainte année.
Ha ! c’est assez, cesse, gentil Barbier,
Ha je me pasme ! et mon ame estonnée
S’évanoüist, en voyant son meurtrier.
                                                                            Noble barber, child of Podalirius,
                                                                            I beg you bleed my Mistress well,
                                                                            That in this month as she is bled she might lose
                                                                            That frozen blood with which she tortures me.
                                                                            Draw still a little more into your bowl
                                                                            Of that cold blood, or rather that slow-moving ice,
                                                                            So that afterwards in its place may be re-born
                                                                            A hotter blood which will inspire her to love me.
                                                                            Ah, how it flows ; it was that blood so dark
                                                                            Which I could not move with my singing
                                                                            As I sighed for her for so many years.
                                                                            Ah, that’s enough, stop, noble barber,
                                                                            Ah, I swoon ! and my amazed soul
                                                                            Faints as it sees its murderer.
We don’t bleed poeple these days so the image here will be unfamiliar to many. The use of leeches (or simple cutting) to draw off blood was managed by barbers acting as surgeons – the title ‘barber-surgeon’ was common – because doctors didn’t do things like touching and cutting, they left that to the less-qualified surgeons. (Note how the situation has been reversed in modern times, and surgeons get the higher professional ranking. But surgeons are still generally ‘Mr’ while doctors are ‘Dr’.) And it was for many rich people a routine thing, like going to the gym or the physio today. Hence, Ronsard’s muse is having a monthly ‘blood-letting’; it would be going too far to link this with the monthly bleeding she’d be doing anyway.
Podalirius was one of the doctor-sons of Aesculapius (we met his other son Machaon recently).
Blanchemain offers minor variants in line 6 only:  “De son sang froid, ains de sa glace espesse” (‘Of her cold blood, or rather her slow-moving ice’).

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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