Tag Archives: chesne

Ode retranch. 4

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O Pucelle plus tendre
Qu’un beau bouton vermeil
Que le rosier engendre
Au lever du soleil,
D’une part verdissant
De l’autre rougissant !
 
Plus fort que le lierre
Qui se gripe à l’entour
Du chesne aimé, qu’il serre
Enlassé de maint tour,
Courbant ses bras épars
Sus luy de toutes parts,
 
Serrez mon col, maistresse,
De vos deux bras pliez ;
D’un neud qui tienne et presse
Doucement me liez ;
Un baiser mutuel
Nous soit perpetuel.
 
Ny le temps, ny l’envie
D’autre amour desirer
Ne pourra point ma vie
De vos lèvres tirer ;
Ains serrez demourrons,
Et baisant nous mourrons.
 
En mesme an et mesme heure,
Et en mesme saison,
Irons voir la demeure
De la palle maison,
Et les champs ordonnez
Aux amans fortunez.
 
Amour par les fleurettes
Du printemps eternel
Voirra nos amourettes
Sous le bois maternel ;
Là nous sçaurons combien
Les amans ont de bien.
 
Le long des belles plaines
Et parmy les prez vers,
Les rives sonnent pleines
De maints accords divers ;
L’un joue, et l’autre au son
Danse d’une chanson.
 
Là le beau ciel décueuvre
Tousjours un front benin,
Sur les fleurs la couleuvre
Ne vomit son venin,
Et tousjours les oyseaux
Chantent sur les rameaux ;
 
Tousjours les vens y sonnent
Je ne sçay quoy de doux,
Et les lauriers y donnent
Tousjours ombrages moux ;
Tousjours les belles fleurs
Y gardent leurs couleurs.
 
Parmy le grand espace
De ce verger heureux,
Nous aurons tous deux place
Entre les amoureux,
Et comme eux sans soucy
Nous aimerons aussi.
 
Nulle amie ancienne
Ne se dépitera,
Quand de la place sienne
Pour nous deux s’ostera,
Non celles dont les yeux
Prirent le cœur des dieux.
O maid more tender
Than a fair crimson bud
To which the rosebush gives birth
At the rising of the sun,
Partly growing fresh and youthful,
Partly blushing redder!
 
Stronger than the ivy
Which climbs around
Its beloved oak, which it hugs
Wound in many a twist,
Curving its wide-spread arms
Above it on all sides,
 
Embrace my neck, mistress,
With your two bent arms;
In a knot which holds and squeezes
Sweetly bind me;
May our shared kiss
Be everlasting.
 
Neither time, nor the longing
To enjoy some other love
Can in any way pull my life
Back from your lips;
So let’s stay embracing
And we’ll die kissing.
 
In the same year, the same hour,
The same season,
We’ll go and see the dwellings
Of that pale house,
And the fields ordained
For happy lovers.
 
Love with the flowers
Of eternal springtime
Will see our love-dalliance
In our maternal woods;
There we shall discover how many
Good things lovers enjoy.
 
Along the fair plains
And among the green meadows,
The rivers play their music, full
Of many varied harmonies;
One plays, and the other
Dances to the sound of the song.
 
There the fair sky constantly
Shows a mild brow;
The grass-snake does not vomit
His venom on the flowers;
The birds are always
Singing in the branches;
 
The winds there are always making
Some sweet sound;
The laurels there always give
Their moist shade;
The beautiful flowers there always
Retain their colours.
 
Amid the great space
Of this happy orchard
We shall both take our place
Among the lovers,
And like them without a care
We too shall make love.
 
No ancient lover
Will be vexed
When from her spot
For us two she will remove herself,
Not even those whose eyes
Captured the hearts of the gods.

 

 
 
 
 
 

Hymn for King Henry III, King of France, for the Victory at Montcontour (Hymn 1:9)

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For those who prefer poetry to music, here’s one of Ronsard’s hymns. Apparently the king liked this one so much he learned it by heart and would recite it regularly to his courtiers – or enjoy hearing others recite it!

Tel qu’un petit Aigle sort,
   Fier et fort,
Dessous l’aile de sa mere,
Et d’ongles crochus et longs,
   Aux Dragons
Fait guerre sortant de l’aire :
 
Tel qu’un jeune Lyonneau
   Tout nouveau
Quittant caverne et bocage,
Pour premier combat assaut
   D’un cœur haut
Quelque grand Taureau sauvage :
 
Tel aux desens de vos dos,
   Huguenos
Sentistes ce jeune Prince,
Fils de Roy, frere de Roy,
   Dont la Foy
Merite une autre Province.
 
A peine sur son menton
   Un cotton
De soye se laisse espandre ;
Jeune trompant le trompeur,
   S’est sans peur
Monstré digne d’Alexandre.
 
Il a guidant ses guerriers,
   De Lauriers
Orné son front et sa bande :
Et Capitaine parfait,
   Sa main fait
Ce qu’aux autres il commande.
 
Il a tranché le lien
   Gordien
Pour nos bonnes destinées :
Il a coupé le licol
   Qui au col
Nous pendoit des huit années.
 
Il a d’un glaive trenchant
   Au mechant
Coupé la force et l’audace,
Il a des ennemis morts
   Les grans corps
Fait tomber dessus la place.
 
Ils ont esté combatus,
    Abbatus,
Terrassez dessus la poudre,
Comme chesnes esbranchez,
   Trebuchez
Dessous l’esclat d’une foudre.
 
De sang gisent tous couverts
   A l’envers,
Tesmoins de sa main vaillante :
Ilz ont esté foudroyez,
   Poudroyez,
Sur les bors de la Charante.
 
Charante qui prend son nom
   D’Acheron,
A tels esprits sert de guide,
Les passant comme en bateau
   Par son eau
Au rivage Acherontide.
 
Ils sont trebuchez à bas,
   Le repas
Des mastins sans sepulture,
Et sans honneur de tombeaux 
   Les corbeaux
Mangent leur chair pour pasture.
 
Ny le tranchant coutelas,
   Ny le bras,
Ny force à la guerre adextre
Ne sert de rien à la fin
   Au plus Fin,
Quand il se prend à son maistre.
 
Du fort pere vient l’enfant
   Trionfant :
Le cheval ensuit sa race,
Le chien qui de bon sang part,
   Va gaillard
De luy-mesmes à la chasse.
 
Ainsi Pyrrhe Achillien
   Du Troyen
Coupa la guerre ancienne,
Ruant en l’âge où tu es
   Les feux Grecs
Dedans la ville Troyenne.
 
Ainsi Prince valeureux,
   Et heureux,
Tu mets fin à nostre guerre,
Qui depuis huit ans passez
   Oppressez
Nous tenoit les cœurs en serre.
 
Ce que les vieux n’avoyent sceu,
   Tu l’as peu
Parachever en une heure ;
Aussi Prince de bon-heur,
   Tout l’honneur
Sans compagnon t’en demeure.
 
A Dieu grace nous rendons,
   Et fendons
L’air sous l’hynne de victoire,
Poussant gaillars et joyeux
   Jusqu’aux Cieux,
Ton nom tes faits et ta gloire.
 
Et soit au premier resveil
   Du Soleil,
Soit qu’en la mer il s’abaisse,
Tousjours nous chantons Henry
   Favori
De Mars et de la jeunesse.
As a little eagle comes out,
   Bold and strong,
From beneath its mother’s wing
And with long, hooked talons
   Makes war
On dragons, coming from the air;
 
As a young lion,
   New-grown,
Quiting cave and woodland
For its first fight attacks
   With high courage
Some great, savage bull;
 
So, to the cost of your hides,
   Huguenots,
You felt this young Prince:
The son of a King, the brother of a King
   Whose faithfulness
Deserves another demesne.
 
Hardly on his chin
   Had the silken
Fluff begun to sprout;
Young, deceiving the deceiver,
   He fearlessly showed
Himself worthy of Alexander.
 
Guiding his warriors, he has
   With laurels
Adorned his brow and his troop,
And, the perfect captain,
   His hand does
What he commands others to do.
 
He cut the knot
   Of Gordium
To make our future good,
He cut the halter
   Which for eight years
Has hung around our necks.
 
With his slicing blade he has
   Cut off
The strength and daring of the wicked,
He has made the dead enemies’
   Great corpses
Fall upon the ground.
 
They were fought,
   Beaten down,
Crushed into the dust
Like oaks lopped down,
   Battered
Under a bursting thunderbolt.
 
Covered in blood they all lie
   Overturned,
Witnesses to his valiant hand.
They were crushed,
   Turned to dust,
On the banks of the Charente.
 
The Charente, which takes its name
   From Acheron,
Acted as guide to those spirits,
Passing them, as if in boats,
   Through its waters
To the banks of Acheron.
 
They are catapulted down,
   A meal
For dogs, without burial
And without the honour of tombs;
   Crows
Feast on their flesh.
 
Neither the slicing cutlass,
   Nor an arm
Or strength suited to war
Offer any help in the end
   To the finest
When he takes himself to his master.
 
From a powerful father comes a son
   Triumphant;
The horse follows his breeding,
The dog which comes from a good bloodline
   Happily goes
Off to the hunt by himself.
 
Thus Pyrrhus, son of Achilles,
   Cut short
The ancient war of the Trojan,
Hurling down in the age in which you are
   Those who once were Greek
Within the city of Troy.
 
So, valorous and fortunate
   Prince,
You have made an end of our wars
Which for the last eight years
   Oppressed
Us all, squeezing our hearts.
 
What the ancients could not do,
   You have managed
To complete in a single hour;
So Prince of good fortune,
   All the glory
Rests with you and you alone.
 
To God we give thanks
   And shatter
The air with our victory song;
Shouting gaily and joyously
   To the heavens
Your name, your deeds and your glory.
 
Whether at the first rising
   Of the sun,
Or when he sets in the sea,
We continuously sing of Henry,
   Favourite
Of Mars and of our youth.

 

 Plenty of classical and other learning in here, so let’s add a few notes. 
 
Stanzas 3-4 reminds us that this was a period of considerable Catholic-Protestant tension. The Battle of Montcontour was in 1569, during the Third War of Religion, and was (as suggested in stanza 16) decisive. Sadly it did not end the strife; the famous St Bartholomew’s Day massacre took place three years later in 1572 (when Ronsard was in his late 40s). Henry, who was only 18 at the time of the battle, came to the throne in 1574.
 
In stanza 6, the reference to Gordium goes back to Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian knot – a symbol of future rule over Asia and of future victories, hence its appropriate use here. But the knot is also proverbially used as a symbol of insoluble problems; and any claim that Henry III resolved the Wars of Religion at Montcontour can only be considered optimistic…!
 
In stanzas 9-10 Ronsard makes the fanciful claim that the river Charente derives its name from Acheron, the river of Hades. It gives him a good image but seems unlikely. (Montcontour is in the Poitou-Charentes region.)
 
Pyrrhus (in stanza 14) is another name for Neoptolemus, the rather angry and aggressive son of Achilles who killed old men, boys & women (Priam, Astyanax & Polyxena) in the sack of Troy. I doubt Ronsard is suggesting Henry III is quite so savage or ruthless; the link is rather the decisiveness of the victories.
 
 
There are some minor variants in editions: Blanchemain’s opening stanza goes
 
      Tel qu’un petit Aigle sort,
         Fier et fort,
      De dessous l’aile à sa mere,
      Et d’ongles crochus et longs,
         Aux dragons
      Fait guerre sortant de l’aire
 
– the changed third line can be translated identically, or could mean the eagle comes out ‘from beneath the wing to its mother’.  Then stanzas 10-11 go:
 
      Charante qui prend son nom
         D’Acheron,
      Leur sert de port et de guide,
      Les passant comme en bateau
         Par son eau
      Au rivage Acherontide.
 
      Ils sont trebuchez à bas,
         Le repas
      Des mastins, sans sepulture,
      Et sans honneur de tombeaux ;
         Les corbeaux
      De leur chair font leur pasture.
 
 
(The Charente ‘acts as their port and guide’; and crows ‘make their feast on their flesh’).
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 151

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Que toute chose en ce monde se muë,
Soit desormais Amour soulé de pleurs,
Des chesnes durs puissent naistre les fleurs,
Au choc des vents l’eau ne soit plus émuë :
 
Le miel d’un roc contre nature suë,
Soyent du printemps semblables les couleurs,
L’esté soit froid, l’hyver plein de chaleurs,
Pleine de vents ne s’enfle plus la nuë :
 
Tout soit changé, puis que le nœud si fort
Qui m’estraignoit, et que la seule mort
Devoit trancher, elle a voulu desfaire.
 
Pourquoy d’Amour mesprises-tu la loy ?
Pourquoy fais-tu ce qui ne se peut faire ?
Pourquoy romps-tu si faussement ta foy ?
 
 
 
                                                                            Oh, that everything in this world could change,
                                                                            That Love could from now on be satisfied with tears,
                                                                            Hard oaks could put forth flowers,
                                                                            And the sea no longer driven by the winds’ impulse;
 
                                                                            Honey – against nature – be exuded by a rock,
                                                                            All the colours of spring be the same,
                                                                            The summer cold, the winter full of warmth,
                                                                            Clouds filled by winds no longer swell up;
 
                                                                            That all could be different, since that strong knot
                                                                            Which chokes me and which death alone
                                                                            Should cut, she tried to undo.
 
                                                                            Why do you scorn Love’s law?
                                                                            Why are you doing that which cannot be done?
                                                                            Why are you so falsely breaking your word?

 

 

 

Is it just me, or is there a sense of a new beginning here? Maybe I’m influenced by having paused at the ‘magic number’ 150 – nothing like that would have been in Ronsard’s mind as the structure & contents of the book shifted over time…
 
The earlier Blanchemain version differs in detail:  line 5 is “Du cœur des rocs le ciel degoutte et sue” (‘Heaven drop and be exuded from the heart of rocks’); and line 11 ends “… ma dame veut desfaire” (‘… my lady tries to undo’).
 
For those interested in sources, this poem closely mirrors one of Pietro Bembo’s – that’s Cardinal Pietro Bembo, though he was a humanist scholar first…!  His sonnet 39 goes as follows (my ‘translation’ is more like an ‘approximation’ since I’ve never studied Italian and cannot guarantee the detail!):
 
 
Correte fiumi a le vostre alte fonti,
Onde al soffiar de’ venti or vi fermate,
Abeti e faggi il mar profondo amate,
Umidi pesce e voi gli alpestri monti.
 
Nè si porti dipinta ne le fronti
Alma pensieri e voglie innamorate :
Ardendo ‘l verno agghiacci omai la state,
E’l Sol là oltre, ond’ alza, chini e smonti.
 
Cosa non vada più come solea :
Poi che quel nodo è sciolto, ond’ io fui preso ;
Ch’ altro che morte scioglier non devea.
 
Dolce mio stato chi mi t’ ha conteso ?
Com’ esser può quel, ch’ esser non potea ?
O cielo, o terra : e so ch’ io sono inteso.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Run, streams, back to your original springs;
                                                                            Waves, stand still at the blowing of the winds;
                                                                            Firs and beeches, love the deep sea;
                                                                            And you, wet fish, [love] the alpine mountains.
 
                                                                            Do not carry pictured on your brows
                                                                            Dear thoughts and wishes of love;
                                                                            Burning winter, now stand frozen
                                                                            And Sun, sink and dismount there where you rise.
 
                                                                            Things no longer go as they used to,
                                                                            Now that this knot is loosed, in which I was caught,
                                                                            Which nothing other than death should break.
 
                                                                            My sweet being, who has put us in conflict?
                                                                            How can that be, which could not be?
                                                                            O heaven, o earth! I know I am understood.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 206

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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.
 
 
 
 

Madrigal (6a)

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Prenez mon coeur, Dame, prenez mon coeur,
Prenez mon coeur, je vous l’offre, ma Dame :
Il est tout vostre, et ne peut d’autre feme,
Tant vostre il est, devenir serviteur.
 
Doncque si vostre, il meurt vostre en langueur :
Vostre à jamais, vostre en sera le blâme :
Et si là bas on punira vostre ame
Pour tel peché d’une juste rigueur.
 
Quand vous seriez quelque fille d’un Scythe,
Encor l’amour qui les Tigres incite,
Vous flechiroit : mais trop cruellement
 
Vous me gesnez de tourment sur tourment,
Me reperçant d’amoureuses halesnes,
Pour tesmoigner que du commencement
L’homme nasquit de rochers et de chesnes.
 
 
                                                                      Take my heart, Lady, take my heart;
                                                                      Take my heart, I offer you it, my Lady;
                                                                      It is entirely yours and cannot become,
                                                                      So completely it’s yours, the servant of another lady.
 
                                                                      Yet if yours, it is dying yours, in pining;
                                                                      Yours forever, yours will be the blame;
                                                                      And so down below they will punish your soul
                                                                      For such a sin with deserved harshness. 
 
                                                                      Were you some Scythian’s daughter,
                                                                      Still then the love which urges the tigers
                                                                      Would move you; but too cruelly
 
                                                                      You trouble me with torment upon torment,
                                                                      Piercing me again and again with a lover’s sighs,
                                                                      Bearing witness that from the beginning
                                                                      Man has been born of stone and wood.
 
 
 Scythians make another appearance, as models of barbarian cruelty.
 
Here, interestingly, Blanchemain offers a sonnet under the title ‘Madrigal’, with variants that (as he records in a footnote) ‘make the sonnet into a madrigal’: first, the poem as a sonnet (changes against the above marked in red):
 
Prenez mon coeur, Dame, prenez mon coeur,
Prenez mon coeur, je vous l’offre, ma Dame :
Il est tout vostre, et ne peut d’autre feme,
Tant vostre il est, devenir serviteur.
 
Doncque si vostre, il meurt vostre en langueur :
Vostre à jamais, vostre en sera le blâme :
Et si là bas on punira vostre ame
Pour ce malfait d’une injuste rigueur.
 
Quand vous seriez quelque fille d’un Scythe,
Encor l’amour qui les Tigres incite,
Vous forceroit de mon mal secourir.
 
Mais vous, trop plus qu‘une tigresse fière,
Las ! de mon coeur vous êtes la meurdrière,
Et ne vivez que de le voir mourir.
 
 
                                                                      Take my heart, Lady, take my heart;
                                                                      Take my heart, I offer you it, my Lady;
                                                                      It is entirely yours and cannot become,
                                                                      So completely it’s yours, the servant of another lady. 
 
                                                                      Yet if yours, it is dying yours, in pining;
                                                                      Yours forever, yours will be the blame;
                                                                      And so down below they will punish your soul
                                                                      For this misdeed with unjust harshness. 
 
                                                                      Were you some Scythian’s daughter,
                                                                      Still then the love which urges the tigers
                                                                      Would force you to relieve my ills.
 
                                                                     But you, so much more than a proud tigress,
                                                                      Are, alas, the murderer of my heart
                                                                      And live only to see it die.
 
 
His variant form reverts to the text provided by Marty-Laveaux except that he adds another line! The madrigal then becomes a series of 4 equal 4-line stanzas.  Here are the last two, as offered by Blanchemain:
 
 
Quand vous seriez quelque fille d’un Scythe,
Encor l’amour qui les Tigres incite,
Vous flechiroit : mais trop cruellement
Du frein d’amour vous me serrez les resnes,
 
Et me gesnez de tourment sur tourment,
Me reperçant d’amoureuses halesnes,
Pour tesmoigner que du commencement
L’homme nasquit de rochers et de chesnes.
 
 
                                                                      Were you some Scythian’s daughter,
                                                                      Still then the love which urges the tigers
                                                                      Would move you; but too cruelly
                                                                      With the bit of love you tighten my reins 
 
                                                                      And trouble me with torment upon torment,
                                                                      Piercing me again and again with a lover’s sighs,
                                                                      Bearing witness that from the beginning
                                                                      Man has been born of stone and wood.
 
 
[In the last line, literally, ‘stone and oak’ but the generic form is clearly meant.]
 
 
 
 

Chanson (6c)

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In his second book of Amours, Ronsard allowed himself to break up the sequence of sonnets with verse in different forms – madrigals, chansons, …  These are inserted (unnumbered) into the sequence – see the collection listing for the order – but for convenience I have given them a number too, showing which sonnet they come after, so that (e.g.) 6a comes after sonnet 6; and 6c is the third poem inserted between sonnets 6 and 7.
I’m also experimenting with how to present a long poem with a translation. As with the sonnets, Ronsard does not leave gaps between each stanza’ of 4 lines, but he does notate the poem in sections of 4 lines.

 
 
Je veux chanter en ces vers ma tristesse :
Car sans pleurer chanter je ne pourrois,
Veu que je suis absent de ma maistresse :
Si je chantois autrement je mourrois.
                                                                                       I want to sing in these verses of my sadness
                                                                                       For I could not sing without weeping
                                                                                       Seeing that I am away from my mistress.
                                                                                       If I sang of other things I would die.
Pour ne mourir il faut donc que je chante
En chants piteux ma plaintive langueur,
Pour le départ de ma maistresse absente,
Qui de mon sein m’a desrobé le coeur.
                                                                                       So as not to die, I must therefore sing
                                                                                       In pitiful songs of my woeful weakness
                                                                                       On the departure of my absent mistress
                                                                                       Who has stolen the heart from my bosom.
Desja l’Esté, et Ceres la blétiere,
Ayant le front orné de son present,
Ont ramené la moisson nourriciere
Depuis le temps que d’elle suis absent,
                                                                                       Already Summer, and Ceres the corn goddess,
                                                                                       Her brow adorned with her gifts,
                                                                                       Have brought in the nourishing harvest
                                                                                       Since the time that I have been away from her
Loin de ses yeux, dont la lumiere belle
Seule pourroit guarison me donner :
Et si j’estois là bas en la nacelle,
Me pourroit faire au monde retourner.
                                                                                       Far from her eyes whose lovely light
                                                                                       Alone could give me healing
                                                                                       And even if I were in the beyond, in my coffin,
                                                                                       That light could make me return to the world.
Mais ma raison est si bien corrompue
Par une fausse et vaine illusion,
Que nuict et jour je la porte en la veuë,
Et sans la voir j’en ay la vision.
                                                                                       But my reason is so completely corrupted
                                                                                       By a false and empty illusion
                                                                                       That night and day I carry her before my eyes
                                                                                       And without seeing her I have her in my sight.
Comme celuy qui contemple les nues,
Fantastiquant mille monstres bossus,
Hommes, oiseaux, et Chimeres cornues,
Tant par les yeux nos esprits sont deceus.
                                                                                       Like one who contemplates the clouds
                                                                                       Inventing a thousand hunchback beasts
                                                                                       Men, birds and horned chimaera
                                                                                       So by our eyes our spirits are deceived.
Et comme ceux, qui d’une haleine forte,
En haute mer, à puissance de bras
Tirent la rame, ils l’imaginent torte,
Et toutesfois la rame ne l’est pas :
                                                                                       And like those who with deep breaths
                                                                                       In high seas by the power of their arms
                                                                                       Pull the oars, they make some mistake
                                                                                       And suddenly the oar is not there,
Ainsi je voy d’une oeillade trompee
Cette beauté, dont je suis depravé,
Qui par les yeux dedans l’ame frapée,
M’a vivement son portrait engravé.
                                                                                       So I see through a trick of my sight
                                                                                       This beauty of which I am deprived
                                                                                       Which striking my soul through my eyes
                                                                                       Has vividly engraved her portrait within me.
Et soit que j’erre au plus haut des montaignes
Ou dans un bois, loing de gens et de bruit,
Ou sur le Loir, ou parmy les campaignes,
Tousjours au coeur ce beau portrait me suit.
                                                                                       And if I wandered over the highest mountains
                                                                                       Or in a wood far from people and noise
                                                                                       Or on the Loir, or in the countryside,
                                                                                       Always this lovely portrait is there in my heart.
Si j’apperçoy quelque champ qui blondoye
D’espics frisez au travers des sillons,
Je pense voir ses beaux cheveux de soye
Espars au vent en mille crespillons.
                                                                                       If I see some field yellowing
                                                                                       With corn waving across the furrows
                                                                                       I think I see her lovely silken her
                                                                                       Spread in the wind in thousands of little curls.
Si le Croissant au premier mois j’avise,
Je pense voir son sourcil ressemblant
A l’arc d’un Turc qui la sagette a mise
Dedans la coche, et menace le blanc.
                                                                                       If I see the crescent moon at the start of the month
                                                                                       I think I see her eyebrows, like
                                                                                       A Turk’s bow when he’s nocked an arrow
                                                                                       And threatens the white man.
Quand à mes yeux les estoiles drillantes
Viennent la nuict en temps calme s’offrir,
Je pense voir ses prunelles ardantes,
Que je ne puis ny fuyr, ny souffrir.
                                                                                       When the twinkling stars come and offer themselves to my eyes
                                                                                       At night in calm weather
                                                                                       I think I am seeing her burning pupils
                                                                                       Which I can neither flee nor endure.
Quand j’apperçoy la rose sur l’espine,
Je pense voir de ses lèvres le teint :
La rose au soir de sa couleur decline,
L’autre couleur jamais ne se desteint.
                                                                                       When I spy the rose on its thorn
                                                                                       I think I see the colour of her lips
                                                                                       But the rose’s colour wanes at evening,
                                                                                       The other colour never fades.
Quand j’apperçoy les fleurs en quelque prée
Ouvrir leur robe au lever du Soleil,
Je pense voir de sa face pourprée
S’espanouyr le beau lustre vermeil.
                                                                                       When I see flowers in some meadow
                                                                                       Opening their frock at the sun’s rising
                                                                                       I think I’m seeing her flushed face
                                                                                       Blooming with its charming crimson tint.
Si j’apperçoy quelque chesne sauvage,
Qui jusqu’au ciel éleve ses rameaux,
Je pense voir sa taille et son corsage,
Ses pieds sa grève et ses coudes jumeaux.
                                                                                       If I see some wild oak
                                                                                       Lifting its branches to the sky
                                                                                       I think I’m seeing her waist and blouse
                                                                                       Her feet, her legs, her twin arms.
Si j’entens bruire une fontaine claire,
Je pense ouir sa voix dessus le bord,
Qui se plaignant de ma triste misere,
M’appelle à soy pour me donner confort.
                                                                                       If I hear the sound of a clear spring
                                                                                       I think I’m hearing her voice over the bank
                                                                                       Which, pitying my sad distress,
                                                                                       Calls me to itself to give me comfort.
Voilà comment pour estre fantastique,
En cent façons ses beautez j’apperçoy,
Et m’esjouïs d’estre melancholique,
Pour recevoir tant de formes en moy.
                                                                                       That’s how fantastical I am
                                                                                       In a hundred ways I see her beauty
                                                                                       And rejoice to be unhappy
                                                                                       Since I perceive her in so many shapes.
Aimer vrayment est une maladie,
Les medecins la sçavent bien juger,
Nommant ce mal fureur de fantaisie,
Qui ne se peut par herbes soulager.
                                                                                       To love is truly an illness
                                                                                       Doctors know well how to diagnose it
                                                                                       Defining this illness as a madness of fantasy
                                                                                       Which cannot be cured with medicine.
J’aimerois mieux la fièvre dans mes veines,
Ou quelque peste, ou quelque autre douleur
Que de souffrir tant d’amoureuses peines,
Dont le bon-heur n’est sinon que malheur.
                                                                                       I’d prefer fever in my veins
                                                                                       Or some kind of plague or other illness
                                                                                       Than to suffer so many pains for love
                                                                                       Whose good-feeling is nothing but feeling-bad.
Or va, Chanson, dans le sein de Marie,
Pour l’asseurer, que ce n’est tromperie
Des visions que je raconte icy,
Qui me font vivre et mourir en soucy.
                                                                                       So, my song, go to Marie’s breast
                                                                                       To assure her that they’re no lie,
                                                                                       These visions that I speak of here
                                                                                       Which make me live and die in pain.
 
 
 
It will be no surprise that there are quite a number of adjustments in different versions.  Although the changes do not affect the meaning much, Blanchemain’s version has different choices of words, different phrases, all the way through,  as he presents a different stage of Ronsard’s re-working of the poem. 
 
That makes it hard to present the changes in a way that doesn’t leave you constantly referring back and forth between versions. I’ve opted for being prolix and setting out the whole poem (again!) in Blanchemain’s version, this time with the changes marked in colour. There’s an additional verse he marks with parentheses [ ] but he doesn’t offer an explanation for including it – it is clearly inferior to the surrounding verses.
 
 
Je veux chanter en ces vers ma tristesse:
Car autrement chanter je ne pourrois,
Veu que je suis absent de ma maistresse ;
Si je chantois autrement je mourrois.
 
Pour ne mourir il faut donc que je chante
En chants piteux ma plaintive langueur,
Pour le départ de ma maistresse absente,
Qui de mon sein m’a desrobé le coeur.
 
Desja l’esté et Ceres la blétiere,
Ayant le front orné de son present,
Ont ramené la moisson nourriciere
Depuis le temps que mort je suis absent,
 
De ses beaux yeux, dont la lumiere belle
Seule pourroit guerison me donner,
Et, si j’estois là bas en la nacelle,
Me pourroit faire au monde retourner.
 
Mais ma raison est si bien corrompue
Par une fausse et vaine illusion,
Que nuict et jour je la porte en la veue,
Et sans la voir j’en ay la vision.
 
Comme celuy qui contemple les nues,
Pense aviser mille formes là-sus,
D’hommes, d’oiseaux, de Chimeres cornues,
Et ne voit rien, car ses yeux sont deceus.
 
Et comme cil qui, d’une haleine forte,
En haute mer, à puissance de bras
Tire la rame, il l’imagine torte,
Rompue en l’eau, toutesfois ne l’est pas,
 
Ainsi je voy d’une veue trompée
Celle qui m’a tout le sens depravé,
Qui, par les yeux dedans l’ame frapée,
M’a vivement son pourtrait engravé.
 
Et soit que j’erre au plus haut des montagnes
Ou dans un bois, loin de gens et de bruit,
Ou dans les prés, ou parmy les campaignes,
Toujours à l’oeil ce beau pourtrait me suit.
 
Si j’aperçoy quelque champ qui blondoye
D’espics frisez au travers des sillons,
Je pense voir ses beaux cheveux de soye,
Refrisottés en mille crespillons.
 
[Si j’aperçoi quelque table carrée
D’ivoire ou jaspe aplani proprement,
Je pense veoir la voûte mesurée
De son beau front égallé pleinement.]
 
Si le croissant au premier mois j’avise,
Je pense voir son sourcil ressemblant
A l’arc d’un Turc qui la sagette a mise
Dedans la coche, et menace le blanc.
 
Quand à mes yeux les estoilles drillantes
Viennent la nuict en temps calme s’offrir,
Je pense voir ses prunelles ardantes,
Que je ne puis ny fuire ny souffrir.
 
Quand j’apperçoy la rose sur l’espine,
Je pense voir de ses lèvres le teint ;
Mais la beauté de l’une au soir decline,
L’autre beauté jamais ne se desteint.
 
Quand j’apperçoy les fleurs dans une prée
S’espanouir au lever du soleil,
Je pense voir de sa face pourprée
Et de son sein le beau lustre vermeil.
 
Si j’apperçoy quelque chesne sauvage,
Qui jusqu’au ciel éleve ses rameaux,
Je pense en luy contempler son corsage,
Ses pieds, sa grève, et ses coudes jumeaux.
 
Si j’enten bruire une fontaine claire,
Je pense ouyr sa voix dessus le bord,
Qui, se plaignant de ma triste misere,
M’appelle à soy pour me donner confort.
 
Voilà comment, pour estre fantastique,
En cent façons ses beautez j’apperçoy,
Et m’esjouy d’estre melancholique,
Pour recevoir tant de formes en moy.
 
Aimer vrayment est une maladie ;
Les medecins la sçavent bien juger,
En la nommant fureur de fantaisie,
Qui ne se peut par herbes soulager.
 
J’aimerois mieux la fièvre dans mes veines,
Ou quelque peste, ou quelque autre douleur,
Que de souffrir tant d’amoureuses peines,
Qui sans tuer nous consomment le coeur.
 
Or-va, Chanson, dans le sein de Marie,
Qui me fait vivre en penible soucy,
Pour l’asseurer que ce n’est tromperie
Des visions que je raconte icy.
I want to sing in these verses of my sadness
For I could not sing of anything else
Seeing that I am away from my mistress.
If I sang of other things I would die.
 
So as not to die, I must therefore sing
In pitiful songs of my woeful weakness
On the departure of my absent mistress
Who has stolen the heart from my bosom.
 
Already Summer, and Ceres the corn goddess,
Her brow adorned with her gifts,
Have brought in the nourishing harvest
Since the time that, dead, I have been away
 
From her fair eyes whose lovely light
Alone could give me healing
And even if I were in the beyond, in my coffin,
That light could make me return to the world.
 
But my reason is so completely corrupted
By false imagination
That night and day I carry her before my eyes
And without seeing her I have her in my sight.
 
Like one who contemplates the clouds
Thinks that he sees a thousand shapes up there
Men, birds and horned chimaera,
Yet sees nothing, for his eyes are deceived.
 
And like he who with deep breaths
In high seas by the power of his arms
Pull the oar, he makes some mistake
And suddenly, broken in the sea, it is not there,
 
So I see through a trick of my sight
She who has deprived me of all sense,
Which striking my soul through my eyes
Has vividly engraved her portrait within me.
 
And if I wandered over the highest mountains
Or in a wood far from people and noise
Or in the meadows, or the countryside,
Always this lovely portrait is there to my eye.
 
If I see some field yellowing
With corn waving across the furrows
I think I see her lovely silken her
Crimped again in thousands of little curls.
 
[If I see some squared-off table
Made of ivory or jasper, finely planed,
I think I see plainly equalled
The finely-proportioned arc of her brow.]
 
If I see the crescent moon at the start of the month
I think I see her eyebrows, like
A Turk’s bow when he’s nocked an arrow
And threatens the white man.
 
When the twinkling stars come and offer themselves
To my eyes at night in calm weather
I think I am seeing her burning pupils
Which I can neither flee nor endure.
 
When I spy the rose on its thorn
I think I see the colour of her lips
But the beauty of the one wanes at evening,
The other beauty never fades.
 
When I see flowers in a meadow
Opening at the sun’s rising
I think I’m seeing the charming crimson tint
Of her flushed face and of her breast.
 
If I see some wild oak
Lifting its branches to the sky
I think in it I see her waist
Her feet, her legs, her twin arms.
 
If I hear the sound of a clear spring
I think I’m hearing her voice over the bank
Which, pitying my sad distress,
Calls me to itself to give me comfort.
 
That’s how fantastical I am
In a hundred ways I see her beauty
And rejoice to be unhappy
Since I perceive her in so many shapes.
 
To love is truly an illness
Doctors know well how to diagnose it
In defining it as a madness of fantasy
Which cannot be cured with medicine.
 
I’d prefer fever in my veins
Or some kind of plague or other illness
Than to suffer so many pains for love
Whose good-feeling is nothing but feeling-bad.
 
So, my song, go to Marie’s breast
Which makes me live in terrible pain.
To assure her that they’re no lie,
These visions that I speak of here.
 
 Note that in this version Ronsard juggles the last three lines – only one is re-written, but the sequence changes.
 
 

Odes 4, 20 – to Remy Belleau

Standard
Du grand Turc je n’ay souci,
Ny du grand soldan aussi;
L’or ne maistrise ma vie,
Aux roys je ne porte envie;
 
J’ay souci tant seulement
De parfumer cointement
Ma barbe, et qu’une couronne
De fleurs le chef m’environne.
Le soin de ce jour me point,
Du demain je n’en ai point.
Qui, bons Dieux! sçauroit cognoistre
Si un lendemain doit estre.
 
Vulcan, en faveur de moy,
Je te pri’, despeche-toy
De me tourner une tasse,
Qui de profondeur surpasse
Celle du vieillard Nestor;
Je ne veux qu’elle soit d’or,
Sans plus fay-la-moi de chesne,
Ou de lierre, ou de fresne.
 
Et ne m’engrave dedans
Ces grands panaches pendans,
Plastrons, morions, ny armes:
Qu’ai-je soucy des allarmes,
Des assauts ni des combas?
Aussi ne m’y grave pas
Ny le soleil ny la Lune,
Ny le jour ny la nuict brune,
Ny les astres radieux :
Eh ! quel soin ai-je des cieux,
De leurs Ours, de leur Charrette,
D’Orion ou de Boète?
 
Mais pein-moi, je te suppli,
D’une treille le repli
Non encore vendangée ;
Peins une vigne chargée
De grapes et de raisins,
Peins-y des fouleurs de vins.
[Peins-y Vénus et Cassandre,
Laisse de Bacchus espandre
Le lierre tout autour ;
Peins-y la Grâce et l’Amour,]
Le nez et la rouge trongne
D’un Silene et d’un yvrongne.
 
 
 
                                                                                                I don’t care about the Grand Turk
                                                                                                Nor the Great Sudan
                                                                                                Gold is not master in my life
                                                                                                I have no envy of kings.
 
                                                                                                In fact my only care is
                                                                                                To calmly perfume 
                                                                                                My beard, and put a crown
                                                                                                Of flowers around my head.
                                                                                                Today’s care is enough for today
                                                                                                For tomorrow I don’t care at all.
                                                                                                Who, by the gods, could even be sure
                                                                                                That tomorrow will really come?
 
                                                                                                Vulcan, while you favour me
                                                                                                I beg you hurry
                                                                                                To make me a cup
                                                                                                Which in its volume surpasses
                                                                                                That of old Nestor.
                                                                                                I want only that it be of gold
                                                                                                Without any fiddly fittings of oak
                                                                                                Or ivy or ash
 
                                                                                                Don’t engrave me within it any of
                                                                                                Those great swinging plumes,
                                                                                                Breastplates, helmets or weapons:
                                                                                                What do I care about battle’s alarms
                                                                                                Or assaults or fighting?
                                                                                                Also don’t engrave on it for me
                                                                                                Sun or Moon
                                                                                                Day or dark night
                                                                                                Nor radiant stars:
                                                                                                What do I care for the heavens
                                                                                                The Great Bear, Auriga,
                                                                                                Orion or Boötes?
 
                                                                                                Instead, paint me I beg
                                                                                                The meanders of a climbing vine
                                                                                                Not yet harvested;
                                                                                                Paint a vine heavy
                                                                                                With bunches of grapes,
                                                                                                Paint there the treading of the grapes.
                                                                                                [Paint there Venus and Cassandra,
                                                                                                Let Bacchus’s ivy spread
                                                                                                All around;
                                                                                                Paint there Grace and Love,
                                                                                                The nose and the red face
                                                                                                Of a Silenus and a drunkard.
 
 
Ronsard plays with the Homeric set-piece of describing some great object made for a hero by a god; in Homer it’s Achilles’ shield – here, it’s a large wine-cup…  Nestor’s proverbially huge cup is described in the Iliad:
 
     When that cup was full,
     another man could hardly lift it from the table
 
(translation by Ian Johnston, mala.bc.ca).    Ronsard’s poem is the immediate source of the poem ‘Upon his drinking cup’ by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (though his last line unsurprisingly goes for the crude shock word; very unlike Ronsard!).
 
                       Vulcan contrive me such a Cup,
                      As Nestor us’d of old;
                      Shew all thy skill to trim it up,
                      Damask it round with Gold.
 
                      Make it so large, that fill’d with
                      Sack, Up to the swelling brim,
                      Vast Toasts, on the delicious Lake,
                      Like Ships at Sea may swim.
 
                      Engrave no Battail on his Cheek,
                      With War, I’ve nought to do;
                      I’m none of those that took Mastrich,
                      Nor Yarmouth Leager knew.
 
                      Let it no name of Planets tell,
                      Fixt Stars, or Constellations;
                      For I am no Sir Sydrophell,
                      Nor none of his Relations.
 
                      But carve thereon a spreading Vine,
                      Then add Two lovely Boys;
                      Their Limbs in Amorous folds intwine,
                      The Type of future joys.
 
                      Cupid, and Bacchus, my Saints are,
                      May drink, and Love, still reign,
                      With Wine, I wash away my cares,
                      And then to C*** again.                                                           (text sourced from recmusic.org/lieder)
 
 
Both Ronsard and Rochester go back ultimately to Greek originals by Anacreon: Odes 17 & 18 in older editions, more recently relegated to the ‘Anacreonta’ (nos. 4-5) i.e. pseudonymous works in the style of Anacreon. Ode 17 is a far better work than ode 18; though the latter contributes a few ideas, the bulk of Ronsard & Wilmot’s ideas can be traced to ode 17.
 
 
ΕΙΣ  ΠΟΤΗΡΙΟΝ  ΑΡΓΥΡΟΥΝ
 
Τὁν ἄργυρον τορεὐσας,
Ἥφαιστέ, μοι ποιήσον,
Πανοπλίαν μὲν οὐχί ·
Τί γὰρ μάχαισι κᾀμοί ;
Ποτήριον δὲ κοίλον,
Ὅσον δύνῃ,  βάϑυνον.
Ποίει δέ μοι, κατ΄ αὐτὸ,
Μήτ̕ ἄστρα, μήϑʹ ἁμάξας͵
Μὴ στυγνὸν Ὠρίωνα·
Τί Πλειάδεσσι κᾀμοί ;
Τί δ΄ ἄστρασιν Βοὠτεω ;
Ποίησον ἀμπέλους μοι,
Καὶ  βότρυας κατ΄ αὐτὸ,
Καὶ χρυσέους πατοῦντας,
Ὁμοῦ καλῷ Λυαίῳ,
Ἔρωτα καὶ Βάϑυλλον.
 
 
                                                                                               ON A SILVER CUP
 
                                                                                              After carving the silver,
                                                                                               O Hephaestus [Vulcan], make for me
                                                                                               No suit of armour;
                                                                                               For what have I to do with battles?
                                                                                               But rather [make] a hollow bowl
                                                                                               As deep as you can.
                                                                                               And make for me , on it,
                                                                                               Not stars, not the Wagon [=Plough],
                                                                                               Not hateful Orion;
                                                                                               For what have I to do with the Pleaides?
                                                                                               Or with the stars of Boötes?
                                                                                               Make for me vines
                                                                                               And clusters of grapes on it,
                                                                                               And, treading the grapes, golden
                                                                                               Love and Bathyllus [a beautiful boy],
                                                                                               Together with fair Lyaeus [Bacchus].
 
 
Here is Ode 18, which has the same title.
 
Καλλίτεχνά, μοι τόρευσον
Ἔαρος κύπελλον ἡδύ.
Τὰ πρῶτα, τερπνὸν ἡμῖν,
Ῥόδον φέρουςαν ὥρην.
Τὸν ἄργυρον δ΄ ἁπλώσας,
Πότον ποίει μοι τερπνόν.
Τῶν τελετῶν, παραινῶ,
Μή μοι ξένον τορεύσῃς,
Μὴ φευκτὸν ἱστὀρημα.
Μᾶλλον ποίει Διὸς γόνον,
Βάκχον Εὔϊον ἡμῖν,
Μύστην νάματος· ἢ Κύπριν
Ὑμεναίοις κρατοῦσαν.
Χάρασσ’ Ἔρωτ’ ἄνοπλον,
Καὶ χαρίτας γελώσας
Ὑπ’ ἄμπελον εὐπέταλον,
Εὐβότρυον, κομῶσαν,
Σύναπτε κούρους εὐπρεπεῖς,
Ἂν μὴ Φοῖβος ἀϑύρῃ.
 
 
                                                                                               O gifted craftsman, carve for me
                                                                                               The sweet cup of Spring.
                                                                                               First, the season which brings
                                                                                               The rose, delightful to us.
                                                                                               Shaping the silver,
                                                                                               Make me a delightful drinking-cup.
                                                                                               Do not carve for me a strange
                                                                                               And shocking tale
                                                                                               Of sacrifices, please.
                                                                                               Rather, make for us the son of Zeus,
                                                                                               Bacchus Euios,
                                                                                               The priest of running wine; or Venus
                                                                                               Who has charge of weddings.
                                                                                               Engrave Cupid unarmed,
                                                                                               And the laughing Graces
                                                                                               Under a leafy vine,
                                                                                               Heavy with fine grapes;
                                                                                               And add some handsome boys,
                                                                                               If Phoebus [Apollo] is not playing there.