Chanson (2:61b)

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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.
 
 
 

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 –
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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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