Amours 1.217

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L’arc qui commande aux plus braves gendarmes,
Qui n’a soucy de plastron ny d’escu,
D’un si doux trait mon courage a veincu,
Que sus le champ je luy rendy les armes.
 
Comme inconstant je n’ay point fait d’alarmes
Depuis que serf sous Amour j’ay vescu,
N’y n’eusse peu : car pris je n’ay oncq eu
Pour tout secours, que l’ayde de mes larmes.
 
Et toutefois il me fasche beaucoup
D’estre defait, mesme du premier coup,
Sans resister plus long temps à la guerre :
 
Mais ma défaite est digne de grand pris,
Puis que le Roy, ains le Dieu, qui m’a pris,
Combat le Ciel, les Enfers, et la Terre.
 
 
 
                                                                            The bow which commands the bravest men at arms,
                                                                            Which cares not for breastplate or shield,
                                                                            Has overcome my courage with so sweet a wound
                                                                            That immediately, there on the field of battle, I surrendered my arms.
 
                                                                            Like a traitor I have raised no alarms
                                                                            Since I have lived as a servant of Love,
                                                                            Nor could I have; for once captured I have never had
                                                                            Any help but the aid of my tears.
 
                                                                            And yet it deeply frustrates me
                                                                            To have been defeated, and at the first blow,
                                                                            Without resisting longer in the war ;
 
                                                                            But my defeat is worthy of a great prize
                                                                            Since the King, and God too, who has captured me
                                                                            Matches himself against Heaven, Hell and the Earth.
 
 
 
A very neat construction – effectively A-B-A-B – covering defeat & life after twice in sequence, but also pairing & inverting positive-negative-negative-positive viewpoints. I could go on. Suffice it to say, another very neat little gem from our poet.
 
I also like the neat trick in line 4 – “sur le champ” is literally ‘on the field [of battle]’ but it’s also commonly used to mean ‘straight away’. I’ve included both meanings in the translation to try to reflect something of the linguistic trick.
 
His first version follows the same pattern, but the poetry itself (in lines 1 & 9, but also in the hiatus at the start of line 7) is a little clumsier:
 
 
L’arc contre qui des plus braves gendarmes,
Ne vaut l’armet, le plastron ny l’escu,
D’un si doux trait mon courage a vaincu,
Que sur le champ je luy rendy les armes.
 
Comme inconstant je n’ay point fait d’alarmes
Depuis que serf sous Amour j’ay vescu,
Ny eusse peu, car pris je n’ay oncq eu
Pour tout secours, que l’ayde de mes larmes.
 
Il est bien vrai qu’il me fasche beaucoup
D’estre defait, mesme du premier coup,
Sans resister plus long temps à la guerre :
 
Mais ma défaite est digne de grand pris,
Puis que le Roy, ains le Dieu, qui m’a pris,
Combat le Ciel, les Enfers, et la Terre.
 
 
                                                                            The bow against which the bravest men at arms’
                                                                            Weapons, breastplate or shield are no use,
                                                                            Has overcome my courage with so sweet a wound
                                                                            That immediately, there on the field of battle I surrendered my arms.
 
                                                                            Like a traitor I have raised no alarms
                                                                            Since I have lived as a servant of Love,
                                                                            Nor could I have; for once captured I have never had
                                                                            Any help but the aid of my tears.
 
                                                                            True it is that it deeply frustrates me
                                                                            To have been defeated, and at the first blow,
                                                                            Without resisting longer in the war ;
 
                                                                            But my defeat is worthy of a great prize
                                                                            Since the King, and God too, who has captured me
                                                                            Matches himself against Heaven, Hell and the Earth.
 
 
 
 
 
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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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