Tag Archives: Boreas (North wind)

Amours 1.210

Avec les fleurs et les boutons esclos
Le beau Printemps fait printaner ma peine,
En chaque nerf, en chaque artere et veine
Soufflant un feu qui m’ard jusques à l’os.
Le marinier ne conte tant de flos,
Quand plus Borée horrible son haleine,
Ny de sablons l’Afrique n’est si pleine,
Que de tourmens dans mon cueur sont enclos.
J’ay tant de mal, qu’il me prendroit envie
Cent fois le jour de me trancher la vie,
Minant le Fort où loge ma langueur :
Si ce n’estoit que je tremble de creinte,
Qu’apres la mort ne fust la playe esteinte
Du coup mortel qui m’est si doux au cueur.  
                                                                            With the flowers and buds blossoming
                                                                            Spring makes my pain spring anew
                                                                            Into every nerve, into every artery and vein
                                                                            Blowing a fire which burns me to the very bone.
                                                                            The sailor does not count so many waves
                                                                            When Boreas makes his breath more horrid,
                                                                            Nor is Africa so full of sands
                                                                            As there are torments shut up in my heart.
                                                                            I have so much trouble, that the desire takes me
                                                                            A hundred times a day to cut off my life,
                                                                            Undermining the fort in which my pining lives :
                                                                            If it were not that I tremble with fear,
                                                                            That after death the wound would not be wiped out
                                                                            By the mortal blow which is so sweet to my heart.
In the second quatrain, Africa is (in classical & Ronsardian terms) essentially desertified north Africa.  Boreas, the north wind, of course brings storms when he blow: note that Ronsard converts the adjective ‘horrible’ into a verb ‘[make] horrible’ – literally, ‘when Boreas horribles his breath more’.
In the earlier version Blanchemain offers some minor variants: line 3 is “Dans chaque nerf et dedans chaque veine” (‘In every nerve and within every vein’), a repetitive form he improved considerably in the later version; and in the penultimate line he has “apres ma mort” (‘after my death’) – later exchanging the alliteration of “ma mort” for (in my view) the less attractive, though also less insistent, alliteration of ‘la … la’.

Sonnet 206

Fier Aquilon horreur de la Scythie,
Le chasse-nue, et l’esbranle-rocher,
L’irrite-mer, et qui fais approcher
Aux enfers l’une, aux cieux l’autre partie:
S’il te souvient de la belle Orithye,
Toy de l’Hiver le ministre et l’archer,
Fais à mon Loir ses mines relascher,
Tant que ma Dame à rive soit sortie.
Ainsi ton front ne soit jamais moiteux,
Et ton gosier horriblement venteux
Mugle tousjours dans les cavernes basses :
Ainsi les bras des chesnes les plus vieux,
Ainsi la terre et la mer et les cieux
Tremblent d’effroy, quelque part où tu passes.
                                                                              Noble north wind, horror of Scythia,
                                                                              Pursuer of the naked, shaker of rocks,
                                                                              Stirrer of the seas, you who bring close
                                                                              On one side hell, on the other heaven;
                                                                              If you remember the fair Orithyia,
                                                                              O agent and archer of Winter,
                                                                              Make my Loir relax her complexion
                                                                              As my Lady goes out upon her bank.
                                                                              Then, may your brow never be damp,
                                                                              May your terribly windy throat
                                                                              Bellow still within deep caverns;
                                                                              Then may the arms of the ancient oaks,
                                                                              Then may the earth and sea and sky
                                                                              Tremble in fear, wherever you pass.
By contrast with several recent posts, here we have a poem which remains unchanged between early and late editions!  Blanchemain offers us a footnote explaining the reference to Orithyia:  this “is the name of a daughter of king Erechtheus, with whom the North Wind Boreas was in love and whom he ravished”. To which we might add that their sons were Calaïs and Zetes, the winged heroes who joined the expedition of the Argonauts.

Sonnet 15

Ha, qu’à bon droit les Charites d’Homere
Un faict soudain comparent au penser,
Qui parmi l’air peut de loin devancer
Le Chevalier qui tua la Chimere :
Si tost que luy une nef passagere
De mer en mer ne pourroit s’élancer,
Ny par les champs ne le sçauroit lasser,
Du faux et vray la prompte messagere.
Le vent Borée ignorant le repos,
Conceut le mien de nature dispos,
Qui dans le Ciel et par la mer encore
Et sur les champs animé de vigueur,
Comme un Zethés, s’envole apres mon cueur,
Qu’un Harpye en se jouant devore.
                                                                       Ah, how rightly the Graces of Homer
                                                                       Would compare a sudden deed to thought
                                                                       Which can far outrun through the air
                                                                       That Knight who killed the Chimaera :
                                                                       So quick, that a ship in its passage
                                                                       From sea to sea could not forge ahead of it
                                                                       Nor over land could the swift messenger
                                                                       Of truth and falsehood outrun it.
                                                                       The North Wind which never rests
                                                                       Conceived my [thoughts], by nature alert,
                                                                       Which in the heavens and by sea too
                                                                       And over land, vigorous and active
                                                                       Like Zetes, fly off after my heart
                                                                       Which a Harpy is playfully devouring.
Another of those complicated classical allusions which struggles to come to life. Homer does indeed compare swift deeds to the speed of thought; the Knight is Bellerophon whose flight on Pegasus to defeat the Chimaera is here recalled; the ‘swift messenger of truth and falsehood’ is Rumour, subject of a famous passge in Virgil’s Aeneid; Zetes is one of the sons of the North Wind; and the Harpies were the winged demons who came and stole all the food from Phineus’s table in the story of Jason and the Argonauts – – as featured in the Ray Harryhausen epic film !