Tag Archives: carnatian

Amours 2:43

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Marie, que je sers en trop cruel destin,
Quand d’un baiser d’amour vostre bouche me baise
Je suis tout esperdu, tant le cœur me bat d’aise :
Entre vos doux baisers puissé-je prendre fin.
 
Il sort de vostre bouche un doux flair qui le thin
Le josmin et l’œillet la framboise et la fraise
Surpasse de douceur, tant une douce braise
Vient de la bouche au cœur par un nouveau chemin.
 
Il sort de vostre sein une odoreuse haleine
(Je meurs en y pensant) de parfum toute pleine,
Digne d’aller au ciel embasmer Jupiter.
 
Mais quand toute mon ame en plaisir se consomme
Mourant dessus vos yeux, lors pour me despiter
Vous fuyez de mon col pour baiser un jeune homme.
 
 
                                                                            Marie, whom I serve under too cruel a fate,
                                                                            When with a loving kiss your lips kiss me
                                                                            I am totally overcome, so happily does my hart beat ;
                                                                            Oh that could die among your sweet kisses!
 
                                                                            From your mouth comes a sweet scent which surpasses
                                                                            The sweetness of thyme, jasmine and pink,
                                                                            Raspberry and strawberry, such a gentle warmth
                                                                            Comes from your mouth to my heart by this new route.
 
                                                                            There rises from your breast a sweet-smelling breath
                                                                            (I die to think of it) full of perfume,
                                                                            Worthy to to anoint Jupiter in heaven.
 
                                                                            But when all my soul is consumed in pleasure,
                                                                            Dying beneath your gaze, then to spite me
                                                                            You rush from my embrace to kiss some young man.
 
 

Another of the Marie/Sinope poems, this time focusing on her sweet-smelling breath rather than her eye-problems! Much more gallant …

 
Blanchemain’s version again keeps Sinope’s name not Marie’s at the beginning (“Sinope, que je sers en trop cruel destin”); otherwise the only change is at the start of the sestet, where Ronsard replaced his first thoughts, the more vivid “vos tetins“, with the less tactile and perhaps less titillating “vostre sein” (above).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.193

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Ces flots jumeaux de laict bien espoissi
Vont et revont par leur blanche valée,
Comme à son bord la marine salée,
Qui lente va, lente revient aussi.
 
Une distance entre eux se fait, ainsi
Qu’entre deux monts une sente égalée,
Blanche par tout de neige devalée,
Quand en hyver le vent s’est adouci.
 
Là deux rubis haut eslevez rougissent,
Dont les rayons cet yvoire finissent
De toutes parts uniment arondis :
 
Là tout honneur, là toute grace abonde :
Et la beauté, si quelqu’une est au monde,
Vole au sejour de ce beau paradis.
 
 
 
                                                                            Those twin swellings of creamy milk
                                                                            Flow back and forth over their white valley
                                                                            Like the salty sea at its edge
                                                                            Which slowly flows in, and slowly returns again;
 
                                                                            A gap there is between them, as
                                                                            Between two hills a path runs down the midst,
                                                                            White all over with fallen snow,
                                                                            When in winter the wind has abated.
 
                                                                            There two rubies redden, standing tall,
                                                                            Whose shining finishes that ivory,
                                                                            Rounded on all sides equally;
 
                                                                            There all honour, all grace abound;
                                                                            And beauty, if there is any in the world,
                                                                            Flies to lodge in this fair paradise. 
 
 
 
Technically, the breasts in line 1 are like ‘milk that’s been well-clotted’: in English that sounds pretty awful, we think of cream as good, clots as bad [though clotted cream is perhaps an exception], so I’ve translated for meaning rather than literally.
 
You’d think this didn’t need much tweaking. But in fact you can see it was improved: Blanchemain’s opening is the less involving “Les flots jumeaux …”, and in the second quatrain he has
 
Qu’entre deux monts une sente égalée,
En tous endroits de neige devalée,
Sous un hiver doucement adouci
 
                                                                            Between two hills a path runs down the midst,
                                                                            In every part covered in snow,
                                                                            In a winter gently softened.
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.179

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En me bruslant il faut que je me taise :
Car d’autant plus qu’esteindre je me veux,
Plus le desir me r’allume les feux
Qui languissoient sous une morte braise.
 
Si suis-je heureux (et cela me r’apaise)
De plus souffrir que souffrir je ne peux,
Et d’endurer le mal dont je me deulx.
Je me deulx ? non, mais dont je suis bien aise.
 
Par ce doux mal j’adoroy la beauté
Qui me liant d’une humble cruauté,
Me desnoüa les liens d’ignorance.
 
Par luy j’appris les mysteres d’Amour,
Par luy j’appris que pouvoit l’esperance,
Par luy mon ame au ciel fit son retour.
 
 
 
                                                                            As I burn I must be silent ;
                                                                            For as much as I want to extinguish them
                                                                            So much more desire re-lights those fires
                                                                            Which lie beneath a dying flame.
 
                                                                            So happy am I (and that soothes me)
                                                                            To suffer more than I can suffer
                                                                            And to endure the pain which grieves me;
                                                                            Grieves? No: which pleases me.
 
                                                                            Through this sweet pain I adore the beauty
                                                                            Who, binding me with meek cruelty,
                                                                            Looses me from the bonds of ignorance.
 
                                                                            Through her I learn the mysteries of love,
                                                                            Through her I learn what hope can do,
                                                                            Through her my soul returns to heaven.
 
 
 
What a lovely poem: a simple, single image, and a fantastic last tercet.  (I think I need to have another go at lines 3-4 sometime: not sure this translation really holds together as an image!) Blanchemain’s version has a number of differences, including the end! The later version is so much better…
 
 
Las ! force m’est qu’en bruslant je me taise,
Car d’autant plus qu’esteindre je me veux,
Plus le desir me r’allume les feux
Qui languissoient sous la morte braise.
 
Si suis-je heureux (et cela me r’appaise)
De plus souffrir que souffrir je ne peux,
Et d’endurer le mal dont je me deulx ;
Je me deulx, non, mais dont je suis bien aise.
 
Par ce doux mal j’adoroy la beauté
Qui, me liant d’une humble cruauté,
Me desnoua les liens d’ignorance.
 
Par luy me vint ce vertueux penser
Qui jusqu’au ciel fit mon cœur elancer,
Ailé de foy, d’amour et d’esperance.
 
 
                                                                            Alas, I am forced as I burn to be silent
                                                                            For the more I try to extinguish them
                                                                            The more desire re-lights those fires
                                                                            Which lie beneath the dying flame.
 
                                                                            So happy am I (and that soothes me)
                                                                            To suffer more than I can suffer
                                                                            And to endure the pain which grieves me;
                                                                            Grieves? No: which pleases me.
 
                                                                            Through this sweet pain I adore the beauty
                                                                            Who, binding me with meek cruelty,
                                                                            Looses me from the bonds of ignorance.
 
                                                                            Through her comes to me that virtuous thought
                                                                            Which makes my heart leap to heaven,
                                                                            Winged with faith, love and hope. 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.177

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Au mesme lict où pensif je repose,
Presque ma Dame en langueur trespassa
Devant-hier, quand la fiévre effaça
Son teint d’œillets, et la lévre de rose.
 
Une vapeur avec sa fiévre esclose,
Dedans le lict son venin me laissa,
Qui par destin, diverse m’offensa
D’une autre fiévre en mes veines enclose.
 
L’un apres l’autre elle avoit froid et chaud :
Ne l’un ne l’autre à mon mal ne default :
Et quand l’un croist, l’autre ne diminue.
 
L’accés fiévreux tousjours ne la tentoit,
De deux jours l’un sa chaleur s’alentoit :
Je sens tousjours la mienne continue.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            In the same bed where I lie thoughtfully
                                                                            My Lady nearly drooped and died
                                                                            The day before yesterday, when fever wiped away
                                                                            Her carnation-pink tint and the rose from her lips.
 
                                                                            A vapour wrapped up in her fever
                                                                            Left me its poison in the bed
                                                                            Which, by fate, assaulted me in various ways
                                                                            With another fever shut within my veins.
 
                                                                            One after another, she was hot and cold;
                                                                            Neither one nor the other took away my pain;
                                                                            And when one grew, the other did not lessen.
 
                                                                            The feverish bout is not still attacking her;
                                                                            Of the two days one was when the heat went down;
                                                                            But I still feel my own continuing.
 
 
 
(No commentary needed; and no variants as I haven’t found this one in Blanchemain so far!)
 
 
 
 
 

Odes 5.11

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Sur toute fleurette déclose
J’aime la senteur de la rose
Et l’odeur de la belle fleur
Qui de la premiere couleur
Pare la terre, quand la glace
Et l’hyver au soleil font place
 
Les autres boutons vermeillets,
La giroflée et les œillets,
Et le bel esmail qui varie
L’honneur gemmé d’une prairie
En mille lustres s’esclatant ;
Ensemble ne me plaisent tant
Que fait la rose pourperette,
Et de Mars la blanche fleurette,
 
Que puis-je, pour le passetemps
Que vous me donnez le printemps
Prier pour vous deux autre chose,
Sinon que toy, pourprine rose,
Puisses toujours avoir le sein
En mai de rosée tout plein,
Et que jamais le chaut qui dure
En juin ne te fasse laidure ?
 
Ny à toy, fleurette de mars,
Jamais l’hyver, lorsque tu pars
Hors de la terre, ne te face
Pancher morte dessus la place ;
Ains toujours, maugré la froideur
Puisses-tu de ta soefve odeur
Nous annoncer que l’an se vire
Plus doux vers nous, et que Zephyre
Après le tour du fascheux temps
Nous ramene le beau printemps.
Above all the flowers that bloom
I love the scent of the rose,
And the perfume of the fair flower
Which with its initial colour
Adorns the earth when ice
And winter take the sun’s place.
 
The other crimson buds,
The wallflower, the carnation,
The beautiful carpet which variously spreads
The bejewelled glory of a meadow
With a thousand glowing colours bursting out,
Together do not please me as much
As does the purple rose
And the white flower of Mars.
 
How can I, for the pleasant times
Which you give me in spring,
Beg anything else for the two of you
Unless that you, crimsoned rose,
Might always be able to keep your breast
All filled with pink in May ;
And may the heat which lasts so long
In June never make you ugly.
 
And for you, flower of Mars,
In winter as you emerge
From the earth may it never make you
Wilt dead upon the ground;
So may you always, despite the cold,
Be able with your pleasing odour
To announce to us that the year is veering
More gently towards us, and that Zephyr [West wind]
After the turn of the dreary weather
Is bringing us back the fine springtime.
 
Once again a beautiful little lyric. And once again the elusive ‘flower of Mars’ appears!
 
Blanchemain offers us a variant of the third stanza’s second half (“Puisses tousjours…” onwards), from 1587:
 
 
Du teint de honte accompagné
Sois toujours en may rebaigné
De la rosée qui doux glisse,
Et jamais juin ne te fanisse ?
 
 
                                                              Accompanied by the tint of shame
                                                              Might always be re-bathed in May
                                                              With the rosy pink which softly slips away,
                                                              And that June might never fade you.

 

 
 

Chanson – Amours 2:66a

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At the end of Amours 2 (Marie) Ronsard places a cluster of chansons and other lyrics. Time to have a look at them!

Quand j’estois libre, ains qu’une amour nouvelle
Ne se fut prise en ma tendre moëlle,  
   Je vivois bien-heureux,
Comme à l’envy les plus accortes filles
Se travailloyent par leurs flammes gentilles,  
   De me rendre amoureux. 
 
Mais tout ainsi qu’un beau Poulain farouche,
Qui n’a masché le frein dedans la bouche,  
   Va seulet escarté,
N’ayant souci sinon d’un pied superbe
A mille bonds fouler les fleurs et l’herbe,  
   Vivant en liberté : 
 
Ores il court le long d’un beau rivage,
Ores il erre en quelque bois sauvage  
   Fuyant de sault en sault :
De toutes parts les Poutres hanissantes
Luy font l’amour pour néant blandissantes,  
   A luy qui ne s’en chaut. 
 
Ainsi j’allois desdaignant les pucelles,
Qu’on estimoit en beauté les plus belles,  
   Sans respondre à leur vueil :
Lors je vivois amoureux de moy-mesme,
Content et gay, sans porter couleur blesme  
   Ny les larmes à l’œil. 
 
J’avois escrit au plus haut de la face
Avec l’honneur une agreable audace  
   Plaine d’un franc desir :
Avec le pied marchoit ma fantaisie
Où je voulois sans peur ne jalousie  
   Seigneur de mon plaisir. 
 
Mais aussi tost que par mauvais desastre
Je vey ton sein blanchissant comme albastre,  
   Et tes yeux deux soleils,
Tes beaux cheveux espanchez par ondées,
Et les beaux lis de tes lévres bordées  
   De cent œillets vermeils : 
 
Incontinent j’appris que c’est service.
La liberté de mon ame nourrice,  
   S’eschappa loin de moy :
Dedans tes rets ma premiere franchise
Pour obeïr à ton bel œil, fut prise  
   Esclave sous ta loy. 
 
Tu mis cruelle en signe de conqueste,
Comme veinqueur tes deux pieds sur ma teste,  
   Et du front m’a osté
L’honneur, la honte, et l’audace première,
Acouhardant mon ame prisonniere,  
   Serve à ta volonté. 
 
Vengeant d’un coup mille fautes commises,
Et les beautez qu’à grand tort j’avois mises  
   Par-avant à mespris,
Qui me prioyent en lieu que je te prie :
Mais d’autant plus que merci je te crie,  
   Tu es sourde à mes cris, 
 
Et ne respons non plus que la fontaine
Qui de Narcis mira la forme vaine,  
   En vengeant à son bord
Mille beautez des Nymphes amoureuses,
Que cest enfant par mines desdaigneuses  
   Avoit mises à mort.
When I was free, and a novel love
Had not been caught in my tender marrow,
   I lived happily;
How the most attractive girls competitively
Worked hard with their gentle flames
   To make me fall in love!
 
But just as a handsome wild colt
Which has not chewed the curb in his mouth
   Wanders far and wide by himself,
Having no care except with his proud foot
To trample with a thousand leaps the flowers and grass,
   Living in liberty;
 
Sometimes he runs along a fair riverbank,
Sometimes he wanders in some wild wood
   Fleeing with leap upon leap;
And on every side whinnying fillies
Make love to him, flattering him for nothing,
   He who cares nothing for it.
 
Just so I used to disdain the maids
That everyone thought fairest of the fair,
   Without responding to their wishes;
Then, I was in love with myself,
Happy and joyful, not wearing this pale colour
   Nor with tears in my eyes.
 
I had written on my forehead,
Together with honour, a pleasant audacity
Filled with frank desire;
My imagination advanced with my feet
Wherever I wanted, without fear or jealousy,
The master of my pleasure.
 
But as soon as through terrible misfortune
I saw your breast white as alabaster
   And your eyes, twin suns,
Your fine hair pouring down in waves,
And the fair lilies of your lips bordered
   With a hundred pink carnations,
 
Straightway I learned what it is to be in service,
And liberty, the nurse of my soul,
   Fled far from me;
Within your nets my earlier freedom
Was caught, so that it obeyed your fair eyes,
   A slave beneath your law.
 
As a sign of your conquest you cruelly placed
Your two feet on my head, as conqueror,
   And took from my brow
Honour, shame, and my earlier boldness
Rendering my imprisoned soul a coward,
   Servant to your desires.
 
Avenging with one blow a thousand faults I’d committed
And the beauties whom, greatly in the wrong, I had held
Before this in scorn
Who had begged me, instead now I beg you.
But as often as I beg for mercy from you,
   You are deaf to my cries
 
And respond no more than the fountain
Which showed Narcissus the image of his shape
   Taking revenge on its bank
For the thousand beauteous nymphs in love
Which that boy, with his scornful manner,
   Had put to death.
 
 
As with so many of Ronsard’s lyrics, the fluency and apparent inevitability of his lines is amazing. It seems so easy, so natural – and yet it makes perfect poetry, it rhymes and scans as if by chance. Wonderful.
 
But as we know, that’s the result of hard work & lots of re-working. Some variants in Blanchemain’s version to demonstrate the process.  The opening is different, there is an extra stanza, one of the existing stanzas is largely different, and there are plenty of other minor variants.  Easiest to see the whole thing again:
 
Quand j’estois libre, ains que l’amour cruelle
Ne fust esprise encore en ma mouelle,  
   Je vivois bien-heureux,
Comme à l’envy les plus accortes filles
Se travailloyent par leurs flammes gentilles,  
   De me rendre amoureux. 
 
Mais tout ainsi qu’un beau Poulain farouche,
Qui n’a masché le frein dedans la bouche,  
   Va seulet escarté,
N’ayant souci sinon d’un pied superbe
A mille bonds fouler les fleurs et l’herbe,  
   Vivant en liberté : 
 
Ores il court le long d’un beau rivage,
Ores il erre en quelque bois sauvage  
   Ou sur quelque mont haut ;
De toutes parts les Poutres hanissantes
Luy font l’amour pour néant blandissantes,  
   A luy qui ne s’en chaut. 
 
Ainsi j’allois desdaignant les pucelles,
Qu’on estimoit en beauté les plus belles,  
   Sans respondre à leur vueil :
Lors je vivois amoureux de moy-mesme,
Content et gay, sans porter couleur blesme  
   Ny les larmes à l’œil. 
 
J’avois escrit au plus haut de la face
Avec l’honneur une agreable audace  
   Plaine d’un franc desir :
Avec le pied marchoit ma fantaisie
De ça, de la, sans peur ne jalousie,
   Vivant de mon plaisir.
 
Mais aussi tost que par mauvais desastre
Je vey ton sein blanchissant comme albastre,  
   Et tes yeux deux soleils,
Tes beaux cheveux espanchez par ondées,
Et les beaux lis de tes lévres bordées  
   De cent œillets vermeils : 
 
Incontinent j’appris que c’est service.
La liberté, de ma vie nourrice,  
   Fuit ton œil felon
Comme la nue en temps serein poussée
Fuit à grands pas l’haleine courroucée  
   De l’oursal Aquilon.
 
[Et lors tu mis mes deux mains à la chaisne
Mon col au cep et mon cœur à la gesne,
   N’ayant de moy pitié,
Non plus, helas ! qu’un outrageux corsaire,
(O fier Destin) n’a pitié d’un forcère  
   A la chaisne lié.]
 
Tu mis apres en signe de conqueste,
Comme veinqueur tes deux pieds sur ma teste,  
   Et du front m’a osté
L’honneur, la honte, et l’audace première,
Acouhardant mon ame prisonniere,  
   Serve à ta volonté. 
 
Vengeant d’un coup mille fautes commises,
Et les beautez qu’à grand tort j’avois mises  
   Par-avant à mespris,
Qui me prioyent en lieu que je te prie :
Mais d’autant plus que merci je te crie,  
   Tu es sourde à mes cris, 
 
Et ne respons non plus que la fontaine
Qui de Narcis mira la forme vaine,  
   Vengeant dessus son bord
Mille beautez des Nymphes amoureuses,
Que cest enfant par mines desdaigneuses  
   Avoit mises à mort.
When I was free,and cruel love
Had not yet taken hold in my marrow,
   I lived happily;
How the most attractive girls competitively
Worked hard with their gentle flames
   To make me fall in love!
 
But just as a handsome wild colt
Which has not chewed the curb in his mouth
   Wanders far and wide by himself,
Having no care except with his proud foot
To trample with a thousand leaps the flowers and grass,
   Living in liberty;
 
Sometimes he runs along a fair riverbank,
Sometimes he wanders in some wild wood
   Or on some high mountain;
And on every side whinnying fillies
Make love to him, flattering him for nothing,
   He who cares nothing for it.
 
Just so I used to disdain the maids
That everyone thought fairest of the fair,
   Without responding to their wishes;
Then, I was in love with myself,
Happy and joyful, not wearing that pale colour
   Nor with tears in my eyes.
 
I had written on my forehead,
Together with honour, a pleasant audacity
Filled with frank desire;
My imagination advanced with my feet
Wherever I wanted, without fear or jealousy,
The master of my pleasure.
 
But as soon as through terrible misfortune
I saw your breast white as alabaster
   And your eyes, twin suns,
Your fine hair pouring down in waves,
And the fair lilies of your lips bordered
   With a hundred pink carnations,
 
 Straightway I learned what it is to be in service,
Andliberty, the nurse of my life,
   Fled your treacherous eye
As a cloud in clear weather
Flees at great pace when pushed by the angry breath
   Of polar Aquilo.
 
[And then you put my two hands to the chain,
My neck to the vine and my heart to shame,
Having no pity on me,
No more alas than a hostile corsair
Has pity – o proud fate! – on a galley-slave
Bound with a chain.]
 
As a sign of your conquest you then placed
Your two feet on my head, as conqueror,
   And took from my brow
Honour, shame, and my earlier boldness
Rendering my imprisoned soul a coward,
   Servant to your desires.
 
Avenging with one blow a thousand faults I’d committed
And the beauties whom, greatly in the wrong, I had held
Before this in scorn
Who had begged me, instead now I beg you.
But as often as I beg for mercy from you,
   You are deaf to my cries
 
And respond no more than the fountain
Which showed Narcissus the image of his shape
   Taking revenge on its bank
For the thousand beauteous nymphs in love
Which that boy, with his scornful manner,
   Had put to death.
 
Just a few words about “l’oursal Aquilon” in the middle of the poem:  ‘oursal’ indicates ‘of the bear’ here indicating the Pole Star in the constellation of the Little Bear – which points north, where Aquilo, the north wind, blows from.  (Blanchemain puts the following stanza in [brackets] without explanation – this usually means it disappeared quite early on from the published editions.
 
 
 
 
 
 

De la defloration de Lede (Odes 3:20)

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Time for one of Ronsard’s longer poems, I think! This is one of his mythological extravaganzas, and its topic is the ‘Defloration of Leda’ – it is dedicated to Cassandre(!)

Ronsard divides it into 3 ‘pauses’ or parts; and there are two alternative openings (the later 1587 one printed by Blanchemain in a footnote). For simplicity I’ve shown the two at the beginning of the poem. I’ve also added a number of ‘footnotes’, indicated in the text to make it easier to locate them.

Premier pause
 
Le cruel Amour, vainqueur
De ma vie, sa sujette,
M’a si bien écrit au cœur
Votre nom de sa sagette,
Que le temps, qui peut casser
Le fer et la pierre dure,
Ne le sauroit effacer
Qu’en moi vivant il ne dure.
 
[alternative opening (1587) :
Amour, dont le traict vainqueur
Fait en mon sang sa retraite,
M’a si bien escrit au cœur
Le nom de ma Cassandrette,
Que le tombeau mange-chair,
Logis de la pourriture,
Ne pourra point arracher
De mon cœur sa pourtraiture.]
 
Mon luth, qui des bois oyans
Souloit alléger les peines,
Las ! de mes yeux larmoyans
Ne tarit point les fontaines ;
Et le soleil ne peut voir,
Soit quand le jour il apporte,
Ou quand il se couche au soir,
Une autre douleur plus forte.
 
Mais vostre cœur obstiné,
Et moins pitoyable encore
Que l’Ocean mutine
Qui baigne la rive more,
Ne prend mon service à gré,
Ains d’immoler envie
Le mien, à luy consacré
Des premiers ans de ma vie.
 
Jupiter, espoinçonné
De telle amoureuse rage,
A jadis abandonné
Et son trône et son orage ;
Car l’œil qui son cœur estraint,
Comme estraints ores nous sommes
Ce grand seigneur a contraint
De tenter l’amour des hommes.
 
Impatient du desir
Naissant de sa flame esprise,
Se laissa d’amour saisir,
Comme une despouille prise.
Puis il a, bras, teste et flanc,
Et sa poitrine cachée
Sous un plumage plus blanc
Que le laict sur la jonchée.
 
Et son col mit un carcan
Avec une chaîne où l’œuvre
Du laborieux Vulcan
Admirable se descœuvre.
D’or en estoient les cerceaux,
Piolez d’émail ensemble.
A l’arc qui note les eaux
Ce bel ouvrage ressemble.
 
L’or sur la plume reluit
D’une semblable lumiere
Que le clair œil de la nuit
Dessus la neige premiere.
Il fend le chemin des cieux
Par un voguer de ses ailes,
Et d’un branle spatieux
Tire ses rames nouvelles.
 
Comme l’aigle fond d’en haut,
Ouvrant l’espais de la nue,
Sur l’aspic qui leche au chaud
Sa jeunesse revenue,
Ainsi le cygne voloit
Contre-bas, tant qu’il arrive
Dessus l’estang où souloit
Jouer Lede sur la rive.
 
Quand le ciel eut allumé
Le beau jour par les campagnes,
Elle au bord accoustumé
Mena jouer ses compagnes ;
Et, studieuse des fleurs
En sa main un pannier porte
Peint de diverse couleurs
Et peint de diverse sorte.
 
 
Seconde pause
 
D’un bout du pannier s’ouvroit,
Entre cent nues dorées,
Une aurore qui couvroit
Le ciel de fleurs colorées ;
Ses cheveux vagoient errans,
Souflez du vent des narines
Des prochains chevaux tirans
Le soleil des eaux marines.
 
Comme au ciel il fait son tour
Par sa voye courbe et torte,
Il tourne tout a l’entour
De l’anse en semblable sorte.
Les nerfs s’enflent aux chevaux
Et leur puissance indontée
Se lasse sous les travaux
De la penible montée.
 
La mer est peinte plus bas,
L’eau ride si bien sur elle,
Qu’un pescheur ne nieroit pas
Qu’elle ne fust naturelle.
Ce soleil tombant au soir
Dedans l’onde voisine entre
A chef bas se laissant cheoir
Jusqu’au fond de ce grand ventre.
 
Sur le sourci d’un rocher
Un pasteur le loup regarde,
Qui se haste d’approcher,
Du couard peuple qu’il garde ;
Mais de cela ne luy chaut,
Tant un limas luy agrée,
Qui lentement monte au haut
D’un lis au bas de la prée.
 
Un satyre tout follet,
Larron, en folastrant tire
La panetiere et le laict
D’un autre follet satyre.
L’un court après tout ireux,
L’autre defend sa despouille,
Le laict se verse sur eux,
Qui sein et menton leur souille.
 
Deux beliers qui se heurtoient
Le haut de leurs testes dures
Pourtraits aux deux bords estoient
Pour la fin de ses peintures.
Tel pannier en ses mains mist
Lede, qui sa troupe excelle,
Le jour qu’un oiseau la fist
Femme en lieu d’une pucelle.
 
L’une arrache d’un doigt blanc
Du beau Narcisse les larmes,
Et la lettre teinte au sang
Du Grec marry pour les armes.
De crainte l’œillet vermeil
Pallist entre ces pillardes,
Et la fleur que toy, Soleil,
Des cieux encor tu regardes.
 
A l’envi sont jà cueillis
Les verds tresors de la plaine,
Les bassinets et les lis,
La rose et la marjolaine,
Quand la vierge dit ainsi,
De son destin ignorante :
« De tant de fleurs que voicy
Laissons la proye odorante.
 
« Allons, troupeau bien-heureux,
Que j’aime d’amour naïve,
Ouyr l’oiseau douloureux
Qui se plaint sur nostre rive. »
Et elle, en hastant le pas,
Fuit par l’herbe d’un pied vite ;
Sa troupe ne la suit pas,
Tant sa carriere est subite ;
 
Du bord luy tendit la main,
Et l’oiseau, qui tressaut d’aise,
S’en approche tout humain,
Et le blanc yvoire baise.
Ores l’adultere oiseau,
Au bord par les fleurs se joue,
Et ores au haut de l’eau
Tout mignard près d’elle noue.
 
Puis, d’une gaye façon,
Courbe au dos l’une et l’autre aile,
Et au bruit de sa chanson
Il apprivoise la belle.
La nicette en son giron
Reçoit les flammes secrettes,
Faisant tout à l’environ
Du cygne un lict de fleurettes.
 
Luy, qui fut si gracieux,
Voyant son heure opportune,
Devint plus audacieux,
Prenant au poil la fortune.
De son col comme ondes long
Le sein de la vierge touche,
Et son bec luy mit adonc
Dedans sa vermeille bouche.
 
Il va ses ergots dressant
Sur les bras d’elle qu’il serre,
Et de son ventre pressant
Contraint la rebelle à terre.
Sous l’oiseau se debat fort,
Le pince et le mord, si est-ce
Qu’au milieu de tel effort
Ell’ sent ravir sa jeunesse.
 
Le cinabre çà et là
Couloura la vergongneuse.
A la fin elle parla
D’une bouche desdaigneuse :
« D’où es-tu, trompeur volant ?
D’où viens-tu, qui as l’audace
D’aller ainsi violant
Les filles de noble race ? 
 
« Je cuidois ton cœur, helas !
Semblable à l’habit qu’il porte,
Mais (hè pauvrette ! ) tu l’as,
A mon dam, d’une autre sorte.
O ciel ! qui mes cris entens,
Morte puissé-je estre enclose
Là bas, puis que mon printemps
Est despouillé de sa rose !
 
« Plustost vien pour me manger,
O veufve tigre affamèe,
Que d’un oiseau estranger
Je sois la femme nommée. »
Ses membres tombent peu forts,
Et dedans la mort voisine
Ses yeux jà nouoient, alors
Que luy respondit le cygne :
 
Troisiesme pause
 
« Vierge, dit-il, je ne suis
Ce qu’à me voir il te semble ;
Plus grande chose je puis
Qu’un cygne à qui je ressemble :
Je suis le maistre des cieux,
Je suis celuy qui desserre
Le tonnerre audacieux
Sur les durs flancs de la terre.
 
« La contraignante douleur
Du tien, plus chaud, qui m’allume,
M’a fait prendre la couleur
De ceste non mienne plume.
Ne te va donc obstinant
Contre l’heur de ta fortune :
Tu seras incontinant
La belle-sœur de Neptune,
 
« Et si tu pondras deux œufs
De ma semence feconde,
Ainçois deux triomphes neufs,
Futurs ornemens du monde.
L’un deux jumeaux esclorra :
Pollux, vaillant à l’escrime,
Et son frere, qu’on loûra
Pour des chevaliers le prime ;
 
« Dedans l’autre germera
La beauté, au ciel choisie,
Pour qui un jour s’armera
L’Europe contre l’Asie. »
A ces mots, elle consent,
Recevant telle avanture,
Et jà de peu à peu sent
Haute eslever sa ceinture.
 
 
Cruel Love, conqueror
Of my life, his subject,
Has written so well in my heart
Your name with his arrow
That time, which can break
Iron and hard stone,
Could not wipe it away
Such that it will not last in me while alive.
 
 
Love, whose conquering dart
Has made its home in my blood,
Has so well written in my heart
The name of my little Cassandre
That the flesh-eating tomb,
Where decay lives,
Could not take any part
From my heart of her portrait.
 
My lute, which is accustomed
To lessening the woes of the listening woods,
Alas, dries not the fountains
Of my weeping eyes;
And the sun cannot see,
Either when he brings the day
Or when he goes to bed at night,
Any other grief more strong.
 
But your stubborn heart,
Less pitiful still
Than the unruly ocean
Which bathes the Moorish coast,
Does not like my service,
But wants to sacrifice
My own, consecrated to it
From the earliest years of my life.
 
Jupiter, excited
By a similar passionate love,
Once abandoned
His throne and his storm;
For his eye, which compelled his heart
As sometimes our hearts are compelled,
Compelled this great lord
To try a human love.
 
Impatient with the desire
Growing from his love-struck flame,
He gave himself over to love
Like the captured spoils of war.
Then his arms, head and flanks
And his breast he head
Beneath a plumage whiter
Than milk on scattered rushes.
 
And his neck wore a collar
With a chain, on which the work
Of hard-working Vulcan
Could be seen and admired.
The hoops were of gold
Together with enamel of many colours.
The bow which the waters draw
This lovely piece of work resembled.
 
Gold shone out on his feathers
With a light like
The bright eye of the night
On a first snow.
He cleaved his path through the heavens
With the sail of his wings,
And with a measured beat
He pulled his new oarage.
 
As the eagle swoops from on high,
Making an opening in the thick clouds,
Upon the asp which, in the heat, licks
Its recovered youthfulness;1
So the swan flew
Down here to arrive
Upon the pool where Leda
Was accustomed to play on the bank.
 
When fair day had lit
The sky over the fields,
She led her companions to play
On the usual bank
And fascinated by flowers
She bore in her hand a basket
Painted in many colours
And painted many ways.
 
 
 
 
On one end of the basket was shown2
Amidst a hundred golden clouds
A Dawn which covered
The sky with colourful flowers;
Her waving hair flying,
Blown by the breath from the nostrils
Of the nearby horses drawing
The sun from the waters of the sea.3
 
As it makes its journey in the heavens
On its curved, twisting route,
It turns entirely around
The handle [of the basket] in a similar way;
The sinews on the horses swell
And their undaunted power
Tires under the labours
Of the arduous climb.
 
The sea is painted below,
The water ripples so well on it
That a fisherman would not deny
That it was natural;
And the sun sinking at evening
Into the waves beside, goes in
With head lowered, letting itself fall
Right to the bottom of its great belly.
 
On the brow of a rock
A shepherd watches a wolf
Which hastens to get near
The cowardly race which he guards;
But he cares not about that
So much he is amused by a snail
That slowly climbs to the top
Of a lily, at the bottom of the meadow.
 
A frolicking satyr,
A thief, as he frolics steals
A basket and milk
From another frolicking satyr;
The one runs after him, utterly livid,
The other defends his spoils,
The milk gets tipped over them
And soils their breasts and chins.
 
Two rams crashing together
The tops of their hard heads
Shown at the two edges were
The last of its pictures.
Such was the basket which Leda took
In her hands, she who outshines her followers,
On the day when a bird would make her
A woman instead of a maid.
 
One [of the ladies] picked with her white fingers
The tears of fair Narcissus,
And the letters painted by the blood
Of the Greek distraught over the armour. 4
In fear the pink carnation
Pales amidst these looters,
And so too the flower which you, o Sun,
Still watch over from the heavens.
 
As competitively they were picking
The green treasures of the plain,
The buttercup and lily,
The rose and marjoram,
The maid spoke thus,
Ignorant of her fate:
“Leave your perfumed prey,
The flowers that are so many here.
 
Come, my happy band
Whom I love with an artless love,
Come and hear the sad bird
Who laments upon our riverbank.”
And she, hurrying her steps,
Ran through the grass with quick feet;
Her band did not follow,
So sudden was her flight.
 
On the bank, she held out her hand to it
And the bird, which was fidgeting with pleasure,
Approached her, entirely like a man,
And kissed her white ivory.
Sometimes the false bird 5
Played on the bank amidst the flowers,
Sometimes on top of the water
It swam, all daintily, near her.
 
Then in a jolly fashion
It curved both wings over its back,
And with the sound of its singing
It tamed the fair maid.
The silly girl felt
His hidden fire in her lap,
Making all around
The swan little flowers of light.
 
He, from being so gracious,
As he saw his opportune moment
Became more daring,
Going with fortune’s flow.
With long waves of his neck
He touched the maid’s breast
And then placed his beak
Within her crimson mouth.
 
Putting his spurs upon
The arms of her he grasped,
And pressing down with his belly,
He forced her, unwilling, to the ground.
Beneath the swan she fought hard,
Pinching and biting him, yet it was
That in the midst of her efforts
She felt her youth stolen away.
 
Cinnabar here and there
Coloured the shamed lass.
In the end she spoke
In a disdainful voice:
“Where are you from, you flying deceiver?
Where do you come from, who dare
To go around thus raping
Girls of noble race?
 
I thought your heart, alas,
Was like the colours you wear,
But – poor me! – you have one
Of another sort, to my destruction.
O heavens, who hear my cries,
I would rather be dead and shut up
Down below, since my springtime
Has been stripped of its rose!
 
Rather come and eat me,
Some hungry widowed tigress,
Than that I should be called the wife
Of some unknown bird.”
Her limbs fell strengthless
And her eyes were already swimming
In death, her neighbout, when
The swan replied thus to her:
 
 
 
“Maiden,” he said, “I am not
What I seem to you as you see me;
Greater things can I do
Than the swan I appear;
I am the master of the heavens,
I am he who looses
The insolent thunderbolts
Upon the hard flanks of the earth.
 
A painful compulsion
For your warmer [colour], which excites me,
Made me take on the colour
Of these feathers which are not mine.
So do not go on complaining
About the misfortune of your fate;
You will forthwith be
Neptune’s sister-in-law,
 
And so you will lay two eggs
From my fruitful seed,
And with them two new triumphs,
Future ornaments of the world.
One will disclose two twins:
Pollux, valiant in the swordfight,
And his brother who will be praised
As the finest of horsemen;
 
Within the other will grow
The beauty, chosen for heaven,
For whom one day Europe
Will take arms against Asia.”
At these words, she accepted,
Gaining such an outcome,
And then little by little felt
Her belt rising higher.
 
 Footnotes:
 1 i.e. its new skin after shedding the old2 the description of what is painted on the basket, which fills the remainder of the poem, is a gentle parody of the descriptions of heroes’ shields in Homer and Virgil.

3 i.e. the sun’s chariot, pulled by fiery horses, rising from the sea at dawn

4 the narcissus grew from the tears of Narcissus; the ‘flower of Ajax’ [perhaps a fritillary (lily) or a larkspur] grew from the blood spilled at his suicide on failing to win the arms of Achilles, and the Greeks read its markings as the letters AI (= ‘ah, woe!’)

5 the French word means both ‘fake’ and ‘adulterous’; ‘false’ carries something of the same effect in English

 
 Those unfamiliar with the myth – which was a major source of inspiration to Renaissance artists – should glance at Wikipedia, or this indicative set of images! The reference in the last stanza is to Helen of Troy.