Tag Archives: Cyprus

Amours 2:54

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Quiconque voudra suivre Amour ainsi que moy,
Celuy se delibere en penible tristesse
Vivre comme je vy, il pleust à la Déesse
Qui tient Cypre en ses mains, d’ordonner telle loy.
 
Apres avoir souffert les maux que je reçoy,
Il mourra de langueur, et sa fiere maistresse,
Le voyant trespassé sautera de liesse,
Se moquant du tombeau du mort et de sa foy.
 
Allez donc Amoureux faire service aux Dames,
Offrez leur pour present et vos corps et vos ames,
Vous en receverez un salaire bien doux.
 
« Je croy que Dieu les feit à fin de nuire à l’homme :
« Il les feit (Pardaillan) pour nostre malheur, comme
« Les Tygres les Lions les Serpens et les Loups.
 
 
 
                                                                            Whoever would like to follow Love as I do,
                                                                            Let him plan to live like I live,
                                                                            In vexed sadness ; for it pleases the goddess
                                                                            Who holds Cyprus in her hands to ordain this law.
 
                                                                            Having suffered the ills which I receive
                                                                            He will die of weakness and his proud mistress,
                                                                            Seeing him dead, will leap with happiness
                                                                            Mocking the dead man’s tomb and his faithfulness.
 
                                                                            So go on, lovers, do service to your ladies,
                                                                            Offer them your souls and bodies as a gift,
                                                                            You will receive a sweet payment :
 
                                                                            “I believe God made them to destroy man,
                                                                            He made them, Pardaillan, for our misfortune, like
                                                                            Tigers, lions, serpents and wolves.”

 
 
Ronsard in frustrated mood again, finding yet another way of complaining about a lover’s ills – and particularly, of course, about how he (Ronsard) is the most ill-served of all!  (The goddess of Cyprus is Venus.)
 
The Pardaillan family was an ancient one even in Ronsard’s time; though its most famous representative was still to make his mark – Antoine-Arnaud de Pardaillan de Gondrin, who commanded the king’s armies in Picardy, Savoy and Spain at the end of the century and raised the family to the marquisate, was son of Hector de Pardaillan, who is Ronsard’s addressee.
 
Blanchemain’s earlier version is considerably different in detail, though none of Ronsard’s later amendments really change the content. Note however how line 8’s older version switches the ‘faithfulness’/’loyalty’ under consideration – hers not his; and how in line 11, by adjusting the spelling of the future tense “recev(e)rez”, Ronsard re-balances the motion of the entire line!
 
 
Quiconque voudra suivre Amour ainsi que moy,
Celuy se delibere en penible tristesse
Mourir ainsy que moy : il pleut à la déesse
Qui tient Cypre en ses mains, d’ordonner telle loy.
 
Apres avoir souffert maint deuil et maint emoy,
Il lui faudra mourir, et sa fiere maistresse,
Le voyant au tombeau, sautera de liesse,
Sur le corps trespassé pour luy garder sa foy.
 
Allez donc maintenant faire service aux dames,
Offrez-leur pour present et vos corps et vos ames,
Et vous en recevrez un salaire bien doux !
 
Je croy que Dieu les feit à fin de nuire à l’homme :
Il les feit, Pardaillan, pour nostre malheur comme
Les tigers, les lions, les serpens et les lous.
 
 

 
                                                                            Whoever would like to follow Love as I do,
                                                                            Let him plan to die like I do,
                                                                            In vexed sadness ; for it pleases the goddess
                                                                            Who holds Cyprus in her hands to ordain this law.
 
                                                                            Having suffered much grief and much distress
                                                                            He will have to die, and his proud mistress,
                                                                            Seeing him in the tomb, will leap with happiness
                                                                            On the corpse which died to preserve her loyalty.
 
                                                                            So go on now, do service to your ladies,
                                                                            Offer them your souls and bodies as a gift,
                                                                            And you will receive a sweet payment :
 
                                                                            I believe God made them to destroy man,
                                                                            He made them, Pardaillan, for our misfortune, like
                                                                            Tigers, lions, serpents and wolves.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 131

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A toy chaque an j’ordonne un sacrifice,
Fidele coin, où tremblant et poureux,
Je descouvry le travail langoureox
Que j’endoroy, Dame, en votre service.
 
Un coin meilleur plus seur et plus propice
A declarer un torment amoureux,
N’est point en Cypre, ou dans les plus heureux
Vergers de Gnide, Amathonte ou d’Eryce.
 
Eussé-je l’or d’un Prince ambitieux,
Coin, tu serois un temple precieux
Enrichy d’or et de despense grande :
 
Où les amans par un vœu solennel
Joutant lutant autour de ton autel,
S’immoleroient eux-mesmes pour offrande.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            For you I command an annual sacrifice,
                                                                            Trusty spot, where trembling and poor
                                                                            I discovered the listless labour
                                                                            Which I endure, my Lady, in your service.
 
                                                                            A better spot, more certain and more favourable
                                                                            For declaring a lover’s torment,
                                                                            There is not – in Cyprus, or in the happiest
                                                                            Orchards of Cnidus, Amathus or Eryx.
 
                                                                            Had I the gold of an ambitious Prince,
                                                                            Little spot, you would become a precious temple
                                                                            Enriched with gold and great expense,
 
                                                                            Where lovers with a solemn vow,
                                                                            Jousting and fighting around your altar,
                                                                            Would sacrifice themselves as an offering.

 

 

 

 Is there a little slip in Ronsard’s clasical learning here?  In lines 7-8, Cnidus was a wealthy city on the Ionian coast (SW Turkey) – though it was wealthy through trade rather than agriculture; Amathus was an ancient royal city of Cyprus, rich in grain; and Eryx (now Erice) is in Sicily, an island which was traditionally a grain-basket for the Mediterranean. So the reference to “vergers”, taken broadly as agriculture rather than specifically ‘orchards’, is generally fine. But why “Cyprus, or … Amathus”? if Amathus is (by extension) used to represent Cyprus??
 
While I am nit-picking I should admit that I have struggled to find “poureux” in any dictionary, old or new. I think it means ‘poor’ but I can’t prove it…
 
Today is also one of those days when you (almost) get two poems for the price of one: at least, the second half is substantially different. Blanchemain offers a couple of variants in line 5 – “Un coin vraiment plus seur ne plus propice” (‘A spot truly more certain and more favourable’) – and then the following sestet.  The first tercet is clearly weaker; the second providing, instead of a medieval image, a classical one (dedicating an offering by hanging it in the temple, reminding me again of Horace’s ode 1:5 – see here).
 
 
 
Eussé-je l’or d’un prince ambitieux,
Tu toucherois, nouveau temple, les cieux,
Elabouré d’une merveille grande ;
 
Et là, dressant à ma nymphe un autel,
Sur les piliers de son nom immortel
J’appenderois mon ame pour offrande.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Had I the gold of an ambitious Prince,
                                                                           You would reach the heavens, a new temple,
                                                                           Built by a great marvel;
 
                                                                           And there, setting an altar to my nymph,
                                                                           On the columns of her immortal name
                                                                           I would hang my soul as an offering.

 

 

 
 
 

Sonnet 116

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Ceste beauté de mes yeux adoree,
Qui me fait vivre entre mille trespas,
Couploit mes chiens, et poursuivoit mes pas,
Ainsi qu’Adon, Cyprine la doree :
 
Quand une ronce en vain enamouree,
Ainsi que moy, du vermeil de ses bras,
En les baisant luy fit couler à bas
Une liqueur de pourpre coloree.
 
La terre adonc, qui soigneuse receut
Ce sang divin, fertilement conceut
Pareille au sang une rouge fleurette.
 
Et tout ainsi que d’Helene nâquit
La fleur qui d’elle un beau surnom aquit,
Du nom Cassandre elle eut nom Cassandrette.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            That beauty adored by my eyes,
                                                                            Who makes me live among a thousand deaths,
                                                                            Put my dogs on a lead and followed my path,
                                                                            As golden Cyprine [Venus] did Adonis;
 
                                                                            When a bramble, vainly enamoured
                                                                            Like me, from the pink of her arms
                                                                            As it kissed them made flow down
                                                                            A precious liquid, purple in colour.
 
                                                                            The earth indeed which with concern received
                                                                            This divine blood in fertility conceived
                                                                            A little flower, red like the blood.
 
                                                                            And just as from Helen was born
                                                                            The flower which from her acquired its fair name,
                                                                            From Cassandre’s name this one is called Cassandrette [little Cassandre].

 

 

 

 A classical frame for a familiar trope – but does’t Ronsard do it well?!  Muret points out that “golden” is an epithet often applied by Greek poets to beauties, another subtle classical allusion. Venus’s origins in Cyprus have come up before. One ancient myth had it that elecampane (a member of the daisy family) grew from Helen’s tears when Paris stole her away to Troy – the plant is also known as Helenium.
 
In Blanchemain’s version, line 10 appears as “Ce sang divin, tout sus l’heure conceut” (‘This divine blood at that very moment conceived’) which has the advantage of an urgency lacking in “fertilement” but does rather overload the line with ‘s’ sounds!  This version also offers a couple of changes in the first quatrain:
 
 
Celle qui est de mes yeux adorée,
Qui me fait vivre entre mille trespas,
Chassant un cerf, suivoit hier mes pas,
Ainsi qu’Adon Cyprine la dorée ;
 
 
 
                                                                            She who is adored by my eyes,
                                                                            Who makes me live among a thousand deaths,
                                                                            As I was hunting a deer yesterday followed my path,
                                                                            As golden Cyprine did Adonis;

 

 

 
 
 

Sonnet 41

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Comme je regardois ces yeux, mais ceste fouldre,
Dont l’esclat amoureux ne part jamais en vain,
Sa blanche charitable et delicate main
Me parfuma le chef et la barbe de pouldre.
 
Pouldre, l’honneur de Cypre, actuelle à resouldre
L’ulcere qui s’encharne au plus creux de mon sein,
Depuis telle faveur j’ay senty mon cœur sain,
Ma playe se reprendre, et mon mal se dissouldre.
 
Pouldre, Atomes sacrez qui sur moy voletoient,
Où toute Cypre, l’Inde et leurs parfums estoient,
Je vous sens dedans l’ame. O Pouldre souhaitee,
 
En parfumant mon chef vous avez combatu
Ma douleur et mon cœur : je faux, c’est la vertu
De ceste belle main qui vous avoit jettee.
 
 
 
                                                                              As I looked upon those eyes, or rather those lightning-bolts
                                                                              Whose explosion of love never flashes out in vain,
                                                                             Her graceful white and delicate hand
                                                                              Perfumed my hair and beard with powder.
 
                                                                             O Powder, the gift of Cyprus, immediately dissolving
                                                                              The ulcer which burrows into the deepest crevice of my breast,
                                                                              Since receiving this favour I have felt my heart whole,
                                                                              My wound recover, my ills dissolve.
 
                                                                              O Powder, holy grains which flutter upon me
                                                                              In which are all of Cyprus, the Indies and their perfumes,
                                                                              I feel you within my soul. O much-deired powder,
 
                                                                              In perfuming my head you have defeated
                                                                              My sadness and my heart; I’m wrong, it was the virtue
                                                                              Of that fair hand which shook you.
  
 
 
 Cyprus here is associated with Venus’s cult. One of Ronsard’s more artificial conceits; but a well-formed poem, and one which remained unchanged from Blanchemain (early) to Marty-Laveaux (late) editions;  though it appeared in the Amours diverses (1578) before being re-located to Helen!
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 12

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Deux Venus en Avril (puissante Deité)
Nasquirent, l’une en Cypre, et l’autre en la Saintonge :
La Venus Cyprienne est des Grecs la mensonge,
La chaste Saintongeoise est une verité.

L’Avril se resjouist de telle nouveauté,
Et moy qui jour ny nuict d’autre Dame ne songe,
Qui le fil amoureux de mon destin allonge
Ou l’accourcist, ainsi qu’il plaist à sa beauté,

Je me sens bien-heureux d’estre nay de son âge.
Si tost que je la vy, je fus mis en servage
De ses yeux, que j’estime un sujet plus qu’humain,

Ma Raison sans combatre abandonna la place,
Et mon cœur se vit pris comme un poisson à l’hain :
Si j’ay failly, ma faute est bien digne de grace.

 
 
 
 
                                                                                Two Venuses (that powerful goddess) in April
                                                                                Were born, one in Cyprus, the other in Saintonge;
                                                                                The Cypriot Venus is just a tale of the Greeks,
                                                                                But the chaste lady of Saintonge is real.
 
                                                                                April rejoiced at this novelty
                                                                                And I who dream of no other lady day or night
                                                                                Whom the ties of love and fate drive away
                                                                                Or bring close to her as her beauty pleases,
 
                                                                                I feel myself happy to have been born in her time.
                                                                                As soon as I saw her, I was placed in the service
                                                                                Of her eyes, which I consider super-human;
 
                                                                                My reason gave way without a struggle
                                                                                And my heart recognised it was caught like a fish on a line.
                                                                                If I was in error, my error is surely worthy of forgiveness.

 

 
 
Blanchemain’s text varies in a couple of places: the opening line is one of them, where Blanchemain prints “Deux Venus en Avril de mesme deité…” (‘From the same godhead, two Venuses in April…’). Though Blanchemain opts for the same first line of the sestet (line 9) as Marty-Laveaux, he also offers an alternative in a footnote: “Je suis trois fois un Dieu, d’estre nay de son âge” (‘I am three times a god to have been born in her time.’) Though the ‘three gods’ picks up the ‘two Venuses’, it is a bit awkward & I can see why the other (later?) version is preferred.
 
There is one other minor difference between the two versions: in line 3 Blanchemain prints “le mensonge” while the evrsion above has “la mensonge” – curiously, as ‘mensonge’ is (normally) masculine.
 
Saintonge is a province on the Atlantic coast just north of Gascony (and also bordered by Poitou & Limousin), in which lies the city of Surgères, Hélène’s home.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 7

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Amour abandonnant les vergers de Cytheres,
D’Amathonte et d’Eryce, en la France passa :
Et me monstrant son arc, comme Dieu, me tança,
Que j’oubliois, ingrat, ses loix et ses mysteres.
 
Il me frappa trois fois de ses ailes legeres :
Un traict le plus aigu dans les yeux m’eslança.
La playe vint au cœur, qui chaude me laissa
Une ardeur de chanter les honneurs de Surgeres.
 
Chante (me dist Amour) sa grace et sa beauté,
Sa bouche ses beaux yeux sa douceur sa bonté :
Je la garde pour toy le sujet de ta plume.
 
Un sujet si divin ma Muse ne poursuit.
Je te feray l’esprit meilleur que de coustume :
«  L’homme ne peut faillir, quand un Dieu le conduit.
 
 
 
                                                                                 The god of Love, abandoning the orchards of Cythera,
                                                                                 Amathus and Eryx, has moved to France
                                                                                 And showing me his bow like a god he scolded me
                                                                                 For ungratefully forgetting his laws and mysteries.
 
                                                                                 He struck me three times with his light wings;
                                                                                 The sharpest of his arrows he shot in my eyes.
                                                                                 The wound reached my heart, and that burning wound gave me
                                                                                 A burning desire to sing of the glory of Surgères.
 
                                                                                 “Sing,” said the god of Love to me “of her grace and beauty,
                                                                                 Her lips, her fair eyes, her sweetness, her goodness;
                                                                                 I am watching over her for you, to be the subject of your verse.”
 
                                                                                 So godlike a subject my Muse was not seeking!
                                                                                 “I shall make your spirit greater than it was;
                                                                                 Man cannot fail, when a god leads him.”
 
 
  
 
Ronsard sets out the inspiration for his new book of poems in a strongly classicising style, pointing to the direct inspiration – indeed, demands – of the god of love as his motivation. He also localises his Helen as the lady from Surgères – and indeed she remains the town’s principal claim to fame.
 
Blanchemain’s version is identical except that he (curiously) prints “Un ardeur” at the beginning of line 8 – I don’t recall seeing it as a masculine noun elsewhere, maybe this is a typo?
 
The opening classical allusions may need some explanation:  though all are sites associated with Venus as goddess of love.  The Palicastro (Old Town) on the island of Cythera has an archaic Greek temple to Venus (Aphrodite) ‘of the Heavens’;  Amathus on Cyprus was the second-largest cult site for Venus in the ancient world (after her birthplace, Paphos); and mount Eryx in Sicily (now Monte San Giuliano), which was in ancient times considered equal to Etna as one of Sicily’s greatest mountains, was topped by another temple of Venus.
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 24

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Escumiere Venus, Royne en Cypre puissante,
Mere des doux amours, à qui tousjours se joint
Le plaisir et le jeu, qui tout animal point
A tousjours reparer sa race perissante :
 
Sans toy Nymphe aime-ris la vie est languissante,
Sans toy rien n’est de beau de vaillant ny de coint,
Sans toy la Volupté joyeuse ne vient point,
Et des Graces sans toy la grace est desplaisante.
 
Ores qu’en ce printemps on ne sçauroit rien voir,
Qui fiché dans le cœur ne sente ton pouvoir,
Sans plus une pucelle en sera-t’elle exente ?
 
Si tu ne veux du tout la traiter de rigueur,
Au moins que sa froideur en ce mois d’Avril sente
Quelque peu du brasier qui m’enflame le cœur.
 
 
                                                                                            Venus of the foam, powerful Queen in Cyprus,
                                                                                            Mother of sweet love, with whom always
                                                                                            Pleasure and fun are joined, which every beast relies on
                                                                                            To restore its dying breed forever:
 
                                                                                            Without you, Nymph who loves to smile, life is tedious,
                                                                                            Without you there is nothing fine, brave or pleasing,
                                                                                            Without you happy pleasure never arrives,
                                                                                            And without you the grace of the Graces itself is displeasing.
 
                                                                                            There is nothing in this springtime one would expect to see
                                                                                            Which does not feel, driven into its heart, your power;
                                                                                            Will even a maiden be exempt from it?
 
                                                                                            If you do not want at all to treat it harshly,
                                                                                            At least may its coldness in this month of April feel
                                                                                            Some part of the furnace which burns in my heart.