Celuy qui fist le monde façonné
Sur le compas de son parfait exemple,
Le couronnant des voûtes de son temple,
M’a par destin ton esclave ordonné.
Comme l’esprit qui saintement est né
Pour voir son Dieu, quand sa face il contemple,
Plus heureux bien, recompense plus ample
Que de le voir, ne luy est point donné ;
Ainsi je pers ma peine coustumiere,
Quand à longs traits j’œillade la lumiere
De ton bel œil, chef-d’œuvre nompareil.
Voila pourquoy, quelque part qu’il sejourne,
Tousjours vers luy maugré moy je me tourne,
Comme un Souci aux rayons du Soleil.
He who made the world fashioned
On the measure of his perfect example,
Crowning it with the vaults of his temple,
Has ordained me by fate as your slave.
Like a spirit which is born holy
To see its God, when it contemplates His face
Is given no greater good, no repayment
More ample, than to see Him;
Just so I lose my accustomed pain
When in long draughts I drink in the light
Of your fair eye, an unequalled masterpiece.
That is why, wherever it is,
I always despite myself turn towards it
As a marigold turns to the rays of the sun.
As Muret tells us, this poem is ‘almost a translation of Bembo’s sonnet‘ (below); and, this time, this is more literally true than elsewhere when Ronsard borrows ideas but offers a different poem. Here Ronsard’s poem – while clearly a Ronsard poem, and with ‘in-fill’ which is his own – remains faithfully very close to the original.
Here’s Bembo – rime 38:
L’alta cagion, che da principio diede
A le cose create ordine e stato,
Dispose ch’io v’amassi e dielmi in fato,
Per far di sé col mondo exemplo e fede.
Che sì come virtù da lei procede,
Che ‘l tempra e regge, e come è sol beato
A cui per grazia il contemplarla è dato,
Et essa è d’ogni affanno ampia mercede,
Così ‘l sostegno mio da voi mi vene
Od in atti cortesi od in parole,
E sol felice son, quand’io vi miro.
Né maggior guiderdon de le mie pene
Posso aver di voi stessa, ond’io mi giro
Pur sempre a voi, come elitropio al sole.
The high Cause, who from the beginning gave
To created things their order and station,
Arranged that I should love you and handed me to the fates
To make of this an example of faithfulness for the world.
That, as virtue flows from Him
Who tempers and rules it, and as it is with the blessed sun,
So by Him the gift of looking upon her is given by grace,
And she is the ample reward for all labour;
So, my support comes to me from you
Whether in acts of courtesy or in words,
And I am only happy when I gaze upon you.
No greater reward for my troubles
Could I have from you yourself, hence I turn myself
Always and only toward you, as the heliotrope does the sun.
That did not stop Ronsard improving his version between editions! In Blanchemain’s edition, lines 6- 7 read “quand sa face il contemple, / De tous maux un salaire plus ample …” (‘when it contemplates His face, / For all its troubles no greater payment / Than to see Him is given to it.’)