Amours 1.208

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L’or crespelu que d’autant plus j’honore,
Que mes douleurs s’augmentent de son beau,
Laschant un jour le noud de son bandeau,
S’esparpilloit sur le sein que j’adore.
 
Mon cueur helas ! qu’en vain je r’appelle ore,
Vola dedans ainsi au’un jeune oiseau,
Qui s’en-volant dedans un arbrisseau,
De branche en branche à son plaisir s’essore.
 
Lors que dix doigts dix rameaux yvoirins
En ramassant de ce beau chef les brins,
Prindrent mon cueur en leurs rets qui m’affolle :
 
Je le vy bien, mais je ne peus crier,
Tant un effroy ma langue vint lier,
Glaçant d’un coup mon cueur et ma parolle.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            The curling gold, which I honour more and more
                                                                            As my sadness is increased by its beauty,
                                                                            Escaping one day the knot of its scarf
                                                                            Scattered over the breast which I adore.
 
                                                                            Oh, my heart! In vain I tried to recall it,
                                                                            As it flew among it just like a little bird
                                                                            Which flutters inside a bush
                                                                            Winging from branch to branch at its pleasure.
 
                                                                            Then ten fingers, ten ivory boughs,
                                                                            Gathering up the strands from her fair head
                                                                            Seized my heart in their maddening net:
 
                                                                            I saw it clearly but could not cry out
                                                                            Such fear bound my tongue
                                                                            Freezing at one blow my heart and my speech.
 
 
 
 
The image of the net, and the escaping heart caught in it, is neatly done: pulling us further and further into a metaphor as we go. Easy to imagine golden hair acting as a net, but the leap from there to catching an escaping heart in it moves us beyond the visual allusion disconcertingly. I enjoy how Ronsard throws us slightly off balance by extending the metaphor in this way.
 
The second half of the poem is virtually written anew, though still within the same metaphor he’d employed in the first version (below):
 
 
L’or crespelu que d’autant plus j’honore,
Que mes douleurs s’augmentent de son beau,
Laschant un jour le noud de son bandeau,
S’esparpilloit sur le sein que j’adore.
 
Mon cœur, helas ! qu’en vain je r’appelle ore,
Vola dedans ainsi au’un jeune oiseau,
Qui s’en-feuillant dedans un arbrisseau,
De branche en branche à son plaisir s’essore.
 
Lorsque voici dix beaux doigts yvoirins
Qui, ramassant ses blonds filets orins,
Pris en leurs rets esclave le lièrent.
 
J’eusse crié, mais la peur que j’avois
Gela mes sens, mes poumons et ma voix ;
Et cependant le cœur ils me pillèrent.
 
 
 
                                                                            The curling gold,which I honour more and more

                                                                            As my sadness is increased by its beauty

                                                                            Escaping one day the knot of its scarf

                                                                            Scattered over the breast which I adore.
 
                                                                            Oh, my heart! In vain I tried to recall it,
                                                                            As it flew among it just like a little bird
                                                                            Which enwraps itself in leaves inside a bush
                                                                            Winging from branch to branch at its pleasure.
 
                                                                            Then, look, ten fair ivory fingers
                                                                            Gathering up the golden blond strands
                                                                            Bound it in their nets, a captive slave.
 
                                                                            I would have cried out, but the fear I had
                                                                            Froze my senses, my lungs and my voice ;
                                                                            And yet they stole my heart from me.
 
 
Note however the change in line 7: “S’en feuillant” is a marvellous Ronsardian coinage – ‘enwrapping in leaves’ – which he replaces with the more mundane “S’en volant” in old age only because he has by then rejected such showy enthusiasms of his youth. 
 
This is one of Ronsard’s translations from the Italian: as Muret says in his edition, “the fiction of this sonnet is taken from Bembo’s sonnet … “. Yet, to be truthful, Ronsard does much more than take ‘the fiction’ (the imagery) of this sonnet from Bembo, it is in fact a genuine translation, very closely following the original – and yet at the same time very much a poem by Ronsard. This is the true art of translation – and it is a job for true poets.
 
(If I, once again, emphasise that my only aim in providing an English version of Ronsard is to make his meaning accessible, losing much of the poetry and feel of the original, I’d also like to point out that here Ronsard’s close translation of Bembo also results in a different ‘feel’.  The new poem is a French poem, not a translation of an Italian one:  the two have a different feel, because of the different languages and different objectives of the writers. Bembo’s is a little stiff, almost ‘mannerist’ rather than ‘humanist’ in its careful use of poetical topoi and the way it seems to encourage the reader to stand back and admire the workmanship. Ronsard does this too at one level, but his great achievement is to write poetry that operates within such closely-defined images and forms, yet is at the same time more immediate and engaging and ‘real’.)
 
 
Bembo – ‘Rime’ 9
 
Di que’ bei crin, che tanto più sempre amo,
Quanto maggior mio mal nasce da loro,
Sciolto era il nodo, che del bel tesoro
M’asconde quel, ch’io più di mirar bramo ;
 
E ‘l cor, che ‘ndarno or, lasso, a me richiamo,
Volò subitamente in quel dolce oro,
E fe’ come augellin tra verde alloro,
Ch’a suo diletto va di ramo in ramo.
 
Quando ecco due man belle oltre misura,
Raccogliendo le treccie al collo sparse,
Strinservi dentro lui, che v’era involto.
 
Gridai ben io, ma le voci fe’ scarse
Il sangue, che gelò per la paura :
Intanto il cor mi fu legato e tolto.
 
 
 
                                                                            Of those fair tresses that ever I love more and more,
                                                                            (How much greater from them grows my pain!)
                                                                            The knot was loosed, which hid from me the part
                                                                            Of that fair treasure, which I desire more than sight;
 
                                                                            And my heart, which indeed in vain – alas – I recall
                                                                            Flew suddenly into that sweet gold
                                                                            And behaved like a little bird in a green bay-tree
                                                                            Which hops at its pleasure from branch to branch.
 
                                                                            Then, behold! Two hands, fair beyond measure,
                                                                            Gathering the braids scattered on her neck
                                                                            Bundled it up what was mine within them.
 
                                                                            I groaned indeed, but my voice was feeble –
                                                                            My blood, which froze in fear, made it so.
                                                                            Meanwhile, my heart was tied up and taken.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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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