Monthly Archives: October 2016

Chanson (Am. 2.61a)

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Si je t’assauls, Amour, Dieu qui m’es trop cognu,
Pour neant en ton camp je feray des allarmes :
Tu es un vieil routier et bien appris aux armes,
Et moy jeune guerrier mal appris et tout nu.
 
Si je fuy devant toy, je ne sçaurois aller
En lieu que je ne sois devancé de ton aile :
Si je veux me cacher, l’amoureuse etincelle
Qui reluist en mon cœur me viendra deceler.
 
Si je veux m’embarquer tu es fils de la mer,
Si je men-vole au Ciel ton pouvoir y commande,
Si je tombe aux enfers ta puissance y est grande :
Ainsi maistre de tout, force m’est de t’aimer.
 
Or je t’aimeray donq, bien qu’envis de mon cœur,
Si c’est quelque amitié que d’aimer par contrainte :
« Toutefois (comme on dit) on voit souvent la crainte
« S’accompagner d’amour et l’amour de la peur.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            If I assault you, o god of Love so well-known to me,
                                                                            To no purpose shall I raise alarms in your camp :
                                                                            You are a real veteran, well-used to alarms,
                                                                            And I’m a young warrior, poorly-taught and completely unarmed.
 
                                                                            If I flee before you, I won’t be able to go
                                                                            Anywhere your wings won’t reach first;
                                                                            If I try to hide myself, the spark of love
                                                                            Which shines in my heart will expose me.
 
                                                                            If I decide to take ship, you are the son of the sea;
                                                                            If I fly to heaven, your power rules there;
                                                                            If I fall into hell, your might is great there:
                                                                            As you are master of all, I must love you.
 
                                                                            So, I shall love you, though against my heart’s desire,
                                                                            If it is a form of love to be forced to love:
                                                                            “You often,” as they say, “see anxiety
                                                                            Accompanied by love, and love by fear.”
 
 
 
Here is a chanson built on 4 quatrains – not quite a madrigal, but the differences are slight 🙂  Structurally, though, we have a three-part design (1-8, 9-12. 13-16), hence a more significant contrast with the sonnet-form Ronsard uses.
 
The version printed by Blanchemain only differs slightly: line 2 reads “En vain je te feray dans ton camp des allarmes“, word order rather than meaning changing; and in line 10, “Si je m’enleve au Ciel …” (‘If I lift myself to heaven…’).
  
 
 
 
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Amours 2:55

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J’avois cent fois juré de jamais ne revoir
(O serment d’amoureux !) l’angelique visage
Qui depuis quinze mois en peine et en servage
Emprisonne mon cœur, et je ne puis r’avoir.
 
J’en avois fait serment : mais je n’ay le pouvoir
D’estre seigneur de moy : tant mon traistre courage
Violenté d’amour et conduit par usage,
Y reconduit mes pieds abusé d’un espoir.
 
Le destin, Pardaillan, est une forte chose :
« L’homme dedans son cœur ses affaires dispose,
« Le ciel faisant tourner ses desseins au rebours.
 
Je sçay bien que je fais ce que je ne doy faire,
Je sçay bien que je suy de trop folles amours :
Mais quoy, puis que le Ciel delibere au contraire ?
 
 
 
 
                                                                            I had a hundred times sworn never to see again
                                                                            (O, the vows of lovers!) the angelic face
                                                                            Which for fifteen months of pain and servitude
                                                                            Has imprisoned my heart, and I cannot have her again :
 
                                                                            I’ve made an oath. But I do not have the strength
                                                                            To master myself, so much does my traitorous courage,
                                                                            Assaulted by love and led by usage,
                                                                            Lead my feet back there, misled by hope.
 
                                                                            Fate, Pardaillan, is a powerful thing :
                                                                            “Man disposes his affairs within his heart,
                                                                            Heaven [goes] turning his plans upside down.”
 
                                                                            I know I’m doing exactly what I shouldn’t,
                                                                            I know I’m following too mad a love ;
                                                                            So what, since heaven has made different plans ?
 
 
 
Apart from telling us that he has been in love with Marie for 15 months, this poem adds little to our knowledge of the affair: and if we note (with Belleau) that it is based on a Greek original (an incomplete poem by Callimachus) that need not mean that even that detail is invented.
 
We’ve met Pardaillan before, in the previous poem of the set.
 
Blanchemain offers a number of variants, which are set out below. Note that in the second quatrain Ronsard re-wrote much of the text while retaining not just the rhyme-scheme but the rhyme words! The change in line 3 is (probably) one of those Ronsard made to eliminate novel or unusual words in favour of plainer French. The little proverb in lines 10-11 has, in this earlier version, a clearer grammar which the later version (above), with its participle, loses – but the later version clearly sounds better as poetry. (I cheated in my translation, introducing a verb in the present tense to match that in the first half!)
 
 
J’avois cent fois juré de jamais ne revoir
(O serment d’amoureux !) l’angelique visage
Qui depuis quinze mois en penible servage
Emprisonne mon cœur, et je ne puis r’avoir.
 
J’en avois fait serment : mais je n’ay le pouvoir
D’estre seigneur de moy : car mon forcé courage,
Bien que soit maugré moy, surmonté de l’usage
D’Amour, tousjours m’y mène, abusé d’un espoir.
 
Le destin, Pardaillan, est une forte chose :
L’homme dedans son cœur ses affaires dispose,
Mais le Ciel fait tourner ses desseins au rebours.
 
Je sçay bien que je fais ce que je ne doy faire,
Je sçay bien que je suy de trop folles amours :
Mais quoy, puis que le Ciel delibere au contraire ?
 
 
 
 
                                                                            I had a hundred times sworn never to see again
                                                                            (O, the vows of lovers!) the angelic face
                                                                            Which for fifteen months of painful servitude
                                                                            Has imprisoned my heart, and I cannot have her again :
 
                                                                            I’ve made an oath. But I do not have the strength
                                                                            To master myself; because my forced courage,
                                                                            Although it is unlike me, overcome by the usages
                                                                            Of Love, always leads me back there, misled by hope.
 
                                                                            Fate, Pardaillan, is a powerful thing :
                                                                            Man disposes his affairs within his heart,
                                                                            But heaven turns his plans upside down.
                                                                           
                                                                            I know I’m doing exactly what I shouldn’t,
                                                                            I know I’m following too mad a love ;
                                                                            So what, since heaven has made different plans ?
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:49

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Chacun qui voit ma couleur triste et noire,
Me dit, Ronsard, vous estes amoureux :
Mais ce bel œil qui me fait langoreux,
Le sçait, le voit, et si ne le veut croire.
 
Dequoy me sert que mon mal soit notoire
Quand à mon dam son œil trop rigoureux,
Par ne sçay quel desastre malheureux
Voit bien ma playe, et si la prend à gloire ?
 
J’ay beau pleurer protester et jurer,
J’ay beau promettre et cent fois asseurer
Qu’autre jamais n’aura sus moy puissance,
 
Qu’elle s’esbat de me voir en langueur :
Et plus de moy je luy donne asseurance,
Moins me veut croire, et m’appelle un moqueur.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Everyone who sees my sad, dark colour
                                                                            Tells me, “Ronsard, you are in love !”
                                                                            But that fair eye which makes me pine
                                                                            Knows it, sees it, yet won’t believe it.
 
                                                                            What use to me that my misfortune is well-known
                                                                            When to my hurt her eyes, so harsh,
                                                                            See clearly the wound I got through
                                                                            Whatever unhappy disaster, yet glory in it?
 
                                                                            In vain I’ve wept, protested, sworn,
                                                                            In vain I’ve promised and assured her a hundred times
                                                                            That no other will ever have power over me,
 
                                                                            But she rejoices to see me pining;
                                                                            And the more I give her assurances about myself
                                                                            The less she believes me, and calls me a mocker.
 
 
 
There’s not much to coment on in the text; though I am intrigued that here Ronsard is ‘dark’ with illness not pale as usual! (Nothing to do with the rhyme of course…)  Blanchemain offers a number of variants, which I’ll put in context below:
 
 
Chacun qui voit ma couleur triste et noire,
Me dit, Ronsard, vous estes amoureux :
Mais ce bel œil qui me fait langoreux,
Le sçait, le voit, et si ne le veut croire.
 
Hé ! que me sert que mon mal soit notoire
A un chacun, quand son trait rigoureux,
Par ne sçay quel desastre malheureux
Me fait la playe, et si la prend à gloire ?
 
J’ay beau pleurer protester et jurer,
J’ay beau promettre et cent fois asseurer
Qu’autre jamais n’aura sus moy puissance,
 
Elle s’esbat de me voir en langueur :
Et plus de moy je luy donne asseurance,
Moins me veut croire, et m’appelle un moqueur.
 
 
                                                                            Everyone who sees my sad, dark colour
                                                                            Tells me, “Ronsard, you are in love !”
                                                                            But that fair eye which makes me pine
                                                                            Knows it, sees it, yet won’t believe it.
 
                                                                            What use to me that my misfortune is well-known
                                                                            To each and every one, when her harsh blow,
                                                                            Through whatever unhappy disaster,
                                                                            Gave me this wound, yet glories in it?
 
                                                                            In vain I’ve wept, protested, sworn,
                                                                            In vain I’ve promised and assured her a hundred times
                                                                            That no other will ever have power over me;
 
                                                                            She rejoices to see me pining;
                                                                            And the more I give her assurances about myself
                                                                            The less she believes me, and calls me a mocker.
 
 
In line 5 Ronsard has as usual swapped out an exclamation, and found a neat way or replacing it. I rather like the earlier version of the rest of the stanza! And he tidies up the grammar in lines 9-12, another late-Ronsard feature.
 
His commentators tell us this derives from a Petrarchan original; but as so often it takes ideas from the original without really ‘translating’ it. In fact Ronsard’s poem corresponds to the first half of Petrarch’s: apologies for the slightly loose translation, I’m not sure I have really understood all of Petrarch’s Italian!
 
 
Lasso, ch’i’ ardo, et altri non me ‘l crede;
sí crede ogni uom, se non sola colei
che sovr’ogni altra, et ch’i’ sola, vorrei:
ella non par che ‘l creda, et sí sel vede.
 
Infinita bellezza et poca fede,
non vedete voi ‘l cor nelli occhi mei?
Se non fusse mia stella, i’ pur devrei
al fonte di pietà trovar mercede.
 
Quest’arder mio, di che vi cal sí poco,
e i vostri honori, in mie rime diffusi,
ne porian infiammar fors’anchor mille:
 
ch’i’ veggio nel penser, dolce mio foco,
fredda una lingua et duo belli occhi chiusi
rimaner, dopo noi, pien’ di faville.
 
 
 
                                                                            Alas, how I burn, yet others won’t believe me;
                                                                            And if every man believed, yet still she alone does not
                                                                            Who is above all others, and whom alone I wish to.
                                                                            She seems not to believe it, and yet she sees…
 
                                                                            Infinite beauty and little faith,
                                                                            Don’t you see my heart in my eyes?
                                                                            If it were not my destiny, surely I ought
                                                                            At the fountain of pity to find my reward [mercy?].
 
                                                                            This burning passion of mine, about which you care so little,
                                                                            And your praises spread throughout my verse
                                                                            Might yet, perhaps, inflame a thousand others;
 
                                                                            What I see in my thoughts, o sweet flame,
                                                                            Is one cold tongue and two fair closed eyes
                                                                            Remaining after us, full of sparks.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:48

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Ha ! que je porte et de haine et d’envie
Au medecin qui vient soir et matin
Sans nul propos tastonner le tetin,
Le sein le ventre et les flancs de m’amie.
 
Las ! il n’est pas si songneux de sa vie
Comme elle pense, il est mechant et fin :
Cent fois le jour il la visite, afin
De voir son sein qui d’aimer le convie.
 
Vous qui avez de sa fiévre le soin,
Parens, chasser ce medecin bien loin,
Ce medecin amoureux de Marie,
 
Qui fait semblant de la venir penser.
Que pleust à Dieu pour l’en recompenser,
Qu’il eust mon mal, et qu’elle fust guarie !
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Oh what hatred and envy I bear
                                                                            Towards the doctor who comes morning and night
                                                                            With no excuse to touch my love’s
                                                                            Breast, chest, stomach and sides.
 
                                                                            Ah, he’s not so worried for her life
                                                                            As she thinks, he is wicked and cunning;
                                                                            A hundred times a day he visits her, to
                                                                            Look at her breasts, eager to make love to them.
 
                                                                            You who have the care of her fever,
                                                                            Her parents, chase this doctor far away,
                                                                            This doctor who’s in love with Marie,
 
                                                                            Who pretends to come and put a dressing on her.
                                                                            May God please to pay him back
                                                                            With my illness, while she is cured!
 
 
 
 It seems that Marie did not just have an eye condition: here a doctor is visiting to check on a chest complaint. This time, though, the malady may be fictional, because the poem is based on one by Ovid – one of the Heroides, a series of invented letters between famous mythological characters.
 
Blanchemain offers some minor variants. In lines 7-8 he has

 
Cent fois le jour ne la vient voir qu’afin
De voir son sein qui d’aimer le convie.
 
                                                                            A hundred times a day he comes to see her only to
                                                                            Look at her breasts, eager to make love to them.
 

 

The later change (above) removes the clumsy “voir … voir” (which I’ve hidden by using two different words in the translation!). Then in line 10 the early version has “Je vous supply de me chasser bien loin” (‘ I beg you to chase this doctor far away for [or ‘from’] me’).  Blanchemain helpfully re-spells the word “panser/penser” in line 12: no change in meaning, simply one of orthography. Clearly there was no (or very little) difference in pronunciation, though the meaning is conveyed more clearly when the word is not spelled the same as “penser”=’to think’!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:57

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Si j’avois un haineux qui machinast ma mort,
Pour me contre-venger d’un si fier adversaire,
Je voudrois qu’il aimast les yeux de ma contraire,
Qui si fiers contre moy me font si doux effort.
 
Ceste punition, tant son regard est fort,
Luy seroit un enfer et se voudroit desfaire :
Ny le mesme plaisir ne luy sçauroit plus plaire,
Seulement au trespas seroit son reconfort.
 
Le regard monstrueux de la Meduse antique
N’est rien au pris du sien que fable Poëtique :
Meduse seulement tournoit l’homme en rocher :
 
Mais ceste-ci en-roche, en-eauë, en-fouë, en-glace
Ceux qui de ses regars osent bien approcher.
De quel monstre, Lecteur, at-elle pris sa race ?
 
 
 
                                                                             If I had someone who hated me and plotted my death,
                                                                             To avenge myself on so bold an adversary
                                                                             I would like him to fall in love with my contrary lady’s eyes
                                                                             Which, so bold against me, make on me so sweet an effect.
 
                                                                             This punishment, so powerful is her gaze,
                                                                             Would be hell for him and he would want to release himself ;
                                                                             Nor could the same pleasures please him any more,
                                                                             Only in death would there be comfort for him.
 
                                                                             The monstrous gaze of ancient Medusa
                                                                             Is nothing compared to hers but a poetic fable:
                                                                             Medusa only turned men into rocks,
 
                                                                             But this lady turns to rock, to water, to fire, to ice
                                                                             Those who dare to come near her glance.
                                                                             From which monster, o Reader, is she descended?
 
 
From one Greek image to another, much more familiar one. Our commentators tell us that each of the verbs in line 12 is a Ronsardian innovation – though perhaps only the third (‘turn into fire’) is unusual. In the last line of the Marty-Laveux version above, “a-t-elle” (as we would spell it today) is apparently also an innovation by Ronsard, to avoid the hiatus in “a-elle”: it’s so much a part of the language now, it’s hard to realise someone invented it – and yet here is it’s first appearance.
 
Blanchemain’s version is rather different in detail throughout: you can see why he would (for instance) have re-worked “du sien n’est rien” in line 10; the reference to hell in line 6 is (perhaps) a rare moment of the later Ronsard being more vivid than the younger; and the later last line is much more effective!
 
 
Si j’avois un haineux qui me voulust la mort,
Pour me venger de luy je ne voudrois luy faire
Que regarder les yeux de ma douce contraire,
Qui, si fiers contre moy, me font si doux effort.
 
Ceste punition, tant son regard est fort,
Luy seroit une horreur, et se voudroit défaire ;
Ny le mesme plaisir ne luy sçauroit plus plaire,
Seulement au trespas seroit son reconfort.
 
Le regard monstrueux de la Meduse antique
Au prix du sien n’est rien que fable poëtique :
Meduse seulement tournoit l’homme en rocher :
 
Mais ceste-cy en-roche, en-eauë, en-glace, en-foue,
Ceux qui de ses regards osent bien approcher,
Et si en les tuant la mignonne se joue.
 
 
 
                                                                             If I had someone who hated me, who wanted me dead,
                                                                             To avenge myself on him I’d only want to make him
                                                                             Gaze upon my sweet, contrary lady’s eyes
                                                                             Which, so bold against me, make on me so sweet an effect.
 
                                                                             This punishment, so powerful is her gaze,
                                                                             Would be a horror for him and he would want to release himself ;
                                                                             Nor could the same pleasures please him any more,
                                                                             Only in death would there be comfort for him.
 
                                                                             The monstrous gaze of ancient Medusa
                                                                             Compared with hers is nothing but a poetic fable:
                                                                             Medusa only turned men into rocks,
 
                                                                             But this lady turns to rock, to water, to ice, to fire
                                                                             Those who dare to come near her glance,
                                                                             And yet, as she kills them, the darling enjoys herself.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:47

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Vos yeux estoient moiteux d’une humeur enflammee,
Qui m’ont gasté les miens d’une semblable humeur,
Et pource que vos yeux aux miens ont fait douleur,
Je vous ay d’un nom Grec Sinope surnommee :
 
Mais cest’ humeur mauvaise au cœur est devallee,
Et là comme maistresse a pris force et vigueur,
Gastant mon pauvre sang d’une blesme langueur,
Qui ja par tout le corps lente s’est escoulee.
 
Mon cœur environné de ce mortel danger,
En voulant resister au malheur estranger,
A mon sang converty en larmes et en pluye :
 
Afin que par les yeux autheurs de mon souci
Mon malheur fust noyé, ou que par eux aussi
Fuyant devant le feu j’espuisasse ma vie.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Your eyes were weeping with an inflammation
                                                                            And they have spoiled mine with a similar infection,
                                                                            And since your eyes have made mine ill
                                                                            I’ve surnamed you with the Greek name Sinope.
 
                                                                            But this illness has hurtled down to my heart,
                                                                            And there like its mistress gained strength and vigour,
                                                                            Spoiling my poor blood with a pallid inertia
                                                                            Which has now slowly flowed through all my body.
 
                                                                            My heart, besieged by this mortal danger
                                                                            And wanting to resist the foreign illness,
                                                                            Has converted my blood into tears and weeping;
 
                                                                            So that through my eyes, the creators of my trouble,
                                                                            My illness might be drowned, or through them too,
                                                                            Fleeing before the fire, I might extinguish my life.
 
 
 
 

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Marie’s eye condition: this is the poem which Belleau annotates, as I mentioned there, with an explanation of the name ‘Sinope’; and also the one in which Ronsard offers the most explicit of links between Marie and Sinope – unless of course you believe that the Sinope poems were addressed to another lady, and then simply transferred to the Marie set. He does not, after all, explicitly name Marie…  Belleau’s footnote in full:  ‘Marie had trouble with her eyes, and as the poet watched her intently the illness in those afflicted eyes entering his own made them ill too. And so he called Marie Sinope, which is to say ‘losing the eyes’.’

 
Like the last poem I posted, Blanchemain’s earlier version varies only in two places, and one of them is the first line!  In his version, Marie/Sinope’s eyes have been ‘struck’ with illness rather than the more precise ‘weeping’ in the later version: “Vos yeux estoient blessez d’une humeur enflammée“. The other change, in line 11, is mostly about sound and rhythm, inverting some of the words:  “A couvert mon sang en larmes et en pluye” (‘Has covered my blood with tears and weeping’); but the change from a rather odd ‘covering’ image to the sharper ‘converted’ may have been Ronsard’s initial spur to change.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:58

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J’auray toujours en l’ame attachez les rameaux
Du lierre où ma Dame osa premier escrire
L’amour qu’elle n’osoit de sa bouche me dire
Pour crainte d’un seigneur, la cause de mes maux.
 
Sur toy jamais Hyboux Orfrayes ny Corbeaux
Ne se viennent brancher, jamais ne puisse nuire
Le fer à tes rameaux, et à toy soit l’empire,
O lierre amoureux, de tous les arbrisseaux.
 
Non pour autre raison le grand fils de Semelle
Environne de toy sa perruque immortelle,
Que pour recompenser le bien que tu luy fis,
 
Quand sus les bords de Die Ariadne laissée,
Comme sur un papier luy conta ses ennuis,
Escrivant dessus toy s’amour et sa pensée.
 
 
 
                                                                            My soul will always be attached to the branches
                                                                            Of the ivy on which my lady first dared to write
                                                                            The love which she dared not tell me with her mouth
                                                                            For fear of a lord, the cause of my ills.
 
                                                                            May owls, ospreys and crows never
                                                                            Come and live in you, may iron never harm
                                                                            Your branches, and may you have power,
                                                                            O lovers’ ivy, over all trees.
 
                                                                            For no other reason did Semele’s great son
                                                                            Encircle with you his immortal coiffure
                                                                            Than to repay the good that you did him,
 
                                                                            When on the banks of Dia abandoned Ariadne
                                                                            As if on paper related her woes to him,
                                                                            Writing on you her love and her thoughts.
 
 
 
Never seeming to be at a loss for a mythological parallel, Ronsard may sometimes have resorted to inventing what was not explicitly handed down from antiquity…  Is there any version of the story of Ariadne being abandoned by Theseus on Naxos, in which she wrote her complaints on ivy?  I’m not aware of one! Still, it helps Ronsard to have a classical precedent for what his Marie apparently did, and so he produces one.
 
However, Ariadne’s story does include her rescue by Dionysus (the son of Zeus and Semele) though normally he discovers her there by chance. Here, Naxos is ‘Dia’ (a name applied to many small Greek islands – you can see one to the north of Crete from Heraklion/Iraklion and the beaches east of it – and generally assumed to mean either ‘a goddess’s [island]’ or perhaps to refer to Zeus).
 

This was one of the (slighter?) poems Ronsard did not rework much: Blanchemain’s earlier version varies only in two places: in line 1 where his heart, rather than his soul, is attached (“J’auray toujours au cœur attachez les rameaux“); and in the penultimate line where Ariadne ‘writes’, rather than ‘relates’, her troubles (“luy trassa ses ennuis”).