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Helen 2:17

Si de voz doux regars je ne vais me repaistre
A toute heure, et tousjours en tous lieux vous chercher,
Helas ! pardonnez-moy : j’ay peur de vous fascher,
Comme un serviteur craint de desplaire à son maistre,
Puis je crains tant vos yeux, que je ne sçaurois estre
Une heure en les voyant sans le cœur m’arracher,
Sans me troubler le sang : pource il faut me cacher,
A fin de ne mourir pour tant de fois renaistre.
J’avois cent fois juré de ne les voir jamais,
Me parjurant autant qu’autant je le promets :
Car soudain je retourne à r’engluer mon aile.
Ne m’appellez donq plus dissimulé ne feint.
Aimer ce qui fait mal, et revoir ce qu’on craint,
Est le gage certain d’un service fidele.
                                                                           Yes, I am not going to nourish myself on your glances
                                                                           At every moment, and always everywhere pursue you.
                                                                           Alas, pardon me: I fear to anger you,
                                                                           As a servant fears to displease his master.
                                                                           But then I fear your eyes so much that I could not
                                                                           Watch them for just one hour without my heart stopping,
                                                                           My blood being troubled: so, I must hide myself
                                                                           That I do not die to be reborn so many times.
                                                                           I’d sworn a hundred times never to see them,
                                                                           Forswearing myself as often as I promised it;
                                                                           For suddenly I’d return and glue my wings again.
                                                                           So don’t again accuse me of deception or pretence.
                                                                           Loving what harms us, and returning to what we fear,
                                                                           Is the certain token of faithful service.
This is a much more straightforward poem than the last we looked at! Textually it still offers a few interpretative decisions (though textually there are no variants to report). The opening, for instance, could as easily read “If I am not going to nourish myself … [then] alas, pardon me”. But I prefer to treat the opening ‘si’ as an assertive, contradictory ‘yes!’ rather than an uncertain ‘if’. At the other end of the poem, the ‘gage’ in the final line could be a ‘guarantee’ rather than a token: your choice.
The reference to glued wings is to the practice catching birds on sticky limed twigs: Ronsard here is the bird, once caught, who willingly comes back and is caught again.
After ta reference to Petrarch in þhe last poem, here is a poem which springs from imitation of Petrarch. Canzoniere no.39 is the following, closely-related to Ronsard’s poem though Ronsard re-orders and re-imagines Petrarch’s original, like a true ‘Petrarchist’. (Note that ‘pegno’ in the last line has just the same dual meaning as ‘gage’ in Ronsard’s.)
Io temo sí de’ begli occhi l’assalto
ne’ quali Amore et la mia morte alberga,
ch’i’ fuggo lor come fanciul la verga,
et gran tempo è ch’i’ presi il primier salto.
Da ora inanzi faticoso od alto
loco non fia, dove ‘l voler non s’erga
per no scontrar chî miei sensi disperga
lassando come suol me freddo smalto.
Dunque s’a veder voi tardo mi volsi
per non ravvicinarmi a chi mi strugge,
fallir forse non fu di scusa indegno.
Piú dico, che ‘l tornare a quel ch’uom fugge,
e ‘l cor che di paura tanta sciolsi,
fur de la mia fede non leggier pegno.
                                                                           I fear so much the assault of those lovely eyes
                                                                           In which Love and my death lodge,
                                                                           That I flee them like a child flees the rod,
                                                                           And it’s a long time since I took the first step.
                                                                           From now on, no awkward or high
                                                                           Place exists where my will would not strive [to reach]
                                                                           So as not to encounter what scatters my senses
                                                                           Leaving me frozen like enamel.
                                                                           So if to see you I have turned only slowly
                                                                           That I might not come nearer to what consumes me,
                                                                           Perhaps I am not unworthy of excuse for my failing.
                                                                           Further I say that returning to what a man flees
                                                                           And a heart which is melted by such great fear
                                                                           Is no light token to my faithfulness.

600 posts!


Apparently that was my 600th post!

Well, those 600 posts, spread erratically over the last four years, have covered all of Amours 1 (Cassandre) and most of Amours 2 (Marie); and all of the first book of Helen’s sonnets. There are also a variety of other longer and shorter poems on the blog, and a growing number of song-settings which feature Ronsard’s poetry. As my son would say, “Are we nearly there yet?”  Not really: I reckon I might have worked through about 10% of Ronsard’s output, and about 25% of the songs. So there’s plenty more to take us to 1,000 posts and beyond …

Poetry or music…?


A quick apology to those who would like to see more of Ronsard, and less of his musicians!  I’ve been concentrating on the latter for a while and have quite a lot of music to upload. At the same time I am getting a bit bogged down with some of the long poems that finish off Ronsard’s first book of Amours… I will get back to the poetry, but I’m afraid there’ll be more music than poetry for a little while…

Baif’s copy of the Works


In a comment on another post, I was pointed to this edition of the Oeuvres (Buon, 1584). It’s worth taking a look, it’s a beautiful book & beautifully reproduced – I wish I could own one, but copies seem to sell for upwards of 20, 000 euros and I don’t think my family would be happy swapping all their holidays for the next few years for one book…! 🙂  However, scan back up to the top of the book – and there’s an ownership inscription. This was Baif’s own copy, and judging from the inscription (in Latin – “Jean Antoine de Baif received/accepted [this book] with a very grateful heart) given to him by Ronsard!!!!  Lovely things found on Google Books no.1…


music – playable scores


Just before returning to the poetry …  I’ve added links for both songs to ‘playable scores’. What do I mean by that? They are on Score Exchange, which lets you both see the score & page through it more effectively than a series of images on this blog; and also (click on the Scorch plug-in tab) lets you play through them with a free browser plug-in and hear them while reading the score. Neat technology!