A lovely little chanson – and how modest of Ronsard to feel himself only a demi-god…! Blanchemain’s earlier version has a small variant in the first verse (“Car, en voyant tes yeux … ” in line 6 – ‘For, seeing your eyes …’), and more substantial alterations in the second: although in the last two lines it is mainly adjustment of the word-order to avoid some of the (relative) clumsiness of the version below (the adjacent rhyming “pieds es…” and the run of short syllables at the end).Ma langue s’engourdist, un petit feu me court Fretillant sous la peau : je suis muet et sourd, Et une obscure nuit dessus mes yeux demeure : Mon sang devient glacé, l’esprit fuit de mon corps, Je tremble tout de crainte, et peu s’en faut alors Qu’à tes pieds estendu sans ame je ne meure. My tongue is numbed, a little fire runs Frisking under my skin, I am dumb and deaf, Dark night rests over my eyes, My blood runs cold, my spirit flees my body, I tremble all over in fear, and oh I am so close To lying stretched out at your feet senseless, and dying. Belleau’s commentary tells us that this is a translation of one of Sappho’s odes, also imitated by Catullus. The Catullus version (perhaps more likely to be Ronsard’s immediate model?) is below: Ille mi par esse deo videtur, ille, si fas est, superare divos, qui sedens adversus identidem te spectat et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnes eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te, Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi < —- (missing line?) —-> lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus flamma demanat, sonitu suopte tintinant aures, gemina teguntur lumina nocte. otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est: otio exsultas nimiumque gestis: otium et reges prius et beatas perdidit urbes. He seems to me to be the equal of a god, He seems, if it is no blasphemy, to be greater than the gods Who, sitting opposite you again and again Watches and hears you Laughing sweetly, which snatches away from me Wretched as I am, all my senses: for immediately I Saw you, Lesbia, there was nothing else for me. < ———- > My tongue grew slow, a weak flame Ran down my limbs, my ears rang With their own sound, my twin eyes Were enclosed in night. Free-time is a problem for you, Catullus, You frolic around in free-time, and enjoy it too much. Free-time has destroyed kings before And fair cities. Sappho’s incomplete poem ends inconclusively: is this a poem of jealousy or not? Scholars argue about it (though the fact that Catullus obviously based his own poem on it might lead one to suspect it ended similarly, there is always the possibility that Catullus subverted expectation!) I’ve been lazy here and borrowed the translation from Lauren Hunter. φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θέοισιν ἔμμεν’ ὤνηρ, ὄττις ἐνάντιός τοι ἰσδάνει καὶ πλάσιον ἆδυ φωνεί- σας ὐπακούει καὶ γελαίσας ἰμέροεν, τό μ’ ἦ μὰν καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόαισεν, ὠς γὰρ ἔς σ’ ἴδω βρόχε’ ὤς με φώνας οὔδεν ἔτ’ εἴκει, ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα +ἔαγε, λέπτον δ’ αὔτικα χρῶι πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμακεν, ὀππάτεσσι δ’ οὐδ’ ἒν ὄρημμ’, ἐπιρρόμ- βεισι δ’ ἄκουαι, κὰδ’ δέ ἴδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δὲ παῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ’ ὀλίγω ‘πιδεύης φαίνομ’ ἔμ’ αὔτᾳ. ἀλλὰ πᾶν τόλματον, ἐπεὶ καὶ πένητα … to me he seems to be equal to the gods, that man who sits near you, facing you and hears you speaking sweetly laughing delightfully, and this actually makes my heart tremble within my breast; for whenever I look at you – even a glance! – no words come to me, but my tongue is snapped and fine flames run through my body instantly and I see nothing with my eyes and my ears ring and sweat pours down me, and all of me is trembling, and I am paler green than grass and I seem to lack but little of dying. but all should be risked! since even a poor person –
Je suis un demi-Dieu quand assis vis-à-vis De toy mon cher souci j’escoute les devis, Devis entre-rompus d’un gracieux sou-rire, Sou-ris qui me retient le cœur emprisonnée : En contemplant tes yeux je me pasme estonné, Et de mes pauvres flancs un seul vent je ne tire. Ma langue s’engourdist, un petit feu me court Fretillant sous la peau : je suis muet et sourd, Un voile sommeillant dessus mes yeux demeure : Mon sang devient glacé, le courage me faut, Mon esprit s’evapore, et alors peu s’en faut Que sans ame à tes pieds estendu je ne meure. I am a demi-god when seated face to face With you, my dear love, I hear your gossip, Gossip mingled with that gracious smile, A smile which holds me with heart imprisoned; Contemplating your eyes, I faint away astonished And cannot heave a single breath from my poor breast. My tongue is numbed, a little fire runs Frisking under my skin, I am dumb and deaf, A veil rests sleeping over my eyes, My blood runs cold, courage fails me, My spirit dissolves, and I am oh so close To lying senseless, stretched out at your feet, and dying.