Tag Archives: Europa

Amours 1:189

Son chef est d’or, son front est un tableau,
Où je voy peint le gain de mon dommage :
Belle est sa main qui me fait devant l’âge
Changer de teint, de cheveux et de peau.
Belle est sa bouche et son soleil jumeau,
De neige et feu s’embellist son visage,
Pour qui Jupin reprendroit le plumage
Ore d’un Cygne, or’ le poil d’un Toreau.
Doux est son ris, qui la Meduse mesme
Endurciroit en quelque roche blesme,
Vengeant d’un coup cent mille cruautez.
Mais tout ainsi que le Soleil efface
Les moindres feux, ainsi ma foy surpasse
Le plus parfait de toutes ses beautez.
                                                                            Her hair is golden, her brow a picture
                                                                            On which I see painted my getting this wound ;
                                                                            Fair is her hand which makes me, before my time,
                                                                            Change colour, both of hair and skin.
                                                                            Fair is her mouth and her twin suns,
                                                                            With snow and fire is her face embellished ;
                                                                            For it, Jupiter would again take on the plumage
                                                                            Of a swan, or the hide of a bull.
                                                                            Sweet is her smile, though may Medusa
                                                                            Harden it into some pale rock,
                                                                            Repaying in one moment a hundred thousand cruelties !
                                                                            But just as the sun overpowers
                                                                            Smaller fires, so my faithfulness surpasses
                                                                            The most perfect of all her beauties.
Lines 7-8 refer to the stories of Europa (carried off by Jupiter in the form of a bull) and Leda (raped by Jupiter in swan’s form).  In line 9 Medusa is of course the monster who turns anyone who sees her face into stone.
No changes between versions to report.

Stances lyriques (Lyric stanzas) – from the Poèmes retranchées


This one comes with variant subtitles:  in Marty-Laveaux it is simply “pour un banquet” (‘for a banquet’); but the Blanchemain version is helpfully headed “Stances promptement faites pour jouer sur la lyre, un joueur respondant à l’autre, au baptesme du fils de Monsieur de Villeroy, en faveur de Monsieur de l’Aubespine à présent” (‘Stanzas written to be played on the lyre, one player responding to the other, at the baptism of the son of M. de Villeroy …’).  Here then is a prime example of Ronsard’s concern to make his poetry adaptable to music. Many of his ‘withdrawn’ items were withdrawn simply because their rhyme-schemes no longer fitted the more advanced ideas he developed – principally, about metrical regularity in the use of masculine & feminine endings (broadly, alternating 10-syllable and 11-syllable lines, which clearly has an impact on the way a composer sets the text).

I Joueur
Autant qu’au Ciel on voit de flames
Dorer la nuict de leur clartez,
Autant voit-on icy de Dames
Orner ce soir de leurs beautez.
II Joueur
Autant que l’on voit une prée
Fleurir en jeunes nouveautez
Autant ceste troupe sacrée
S’enrichit de mille beautez.
La Cyprine et les Graces nuës,
Se desrobant de leur sejour,
Sont au festin icy venuës,
Pour de la nuict faire un beau jour.
Ce ne sont pas femmes mortelles
Qui vous esclairent de leurs yeux,
Ce sont Déesses eternelles,
Qui pour un soir quittent les Cieux.
Quand Amour perdroit ses flaméches
Et ses dards trempez de soucy,
Il trouveroit assez de fléches
Aux yeux de ces Dames icy.
Amour qui cause nos detresses
Par la cruauté de ses dards,
Fait son arc de leurs blondes tresses,
Et ses fléches de leurs regards.
Il ne faut point que l’on desire
Qu’autre saison puisse arriver,
Voicy un Printemps qui souspire
Ses fleurs au milieu de l’Hyver.
Ce mois de Janvier qui surmonte
Avril par la vertu des yeux
De ces Damoiselles, fait honte
Au Printemps le plus gracieux.
Ce grand Dieu, Prince du tonnerre,
Puisse sans moi l’air habiter,
Il me plaist bien de voir en terre
Ce qui peut blesser Jupiter.
Les Dieux épris comme nous sommes,
Pour l’amour quittent leur sejour :
Mais je ne voy point que les hommes
Aillent là-haut faire l’amour.
A la couleur des fleurs écloses
Ces Dames ont le teint pareil,
Aux blancs Lys, aux vermeilles roses
Qui naissent comme le Soleil.
Leur blanche main est un yvoire,
De leurs yeux les astres se font :
Amour a planté sa victoire
Sus la Majesté de leur front.
Las ! que ne suis-je en ceste trope
Un Dieu caché sous un Toreau ?
Je ravirois encore Europe
Au beau milieu de ce tropeau.
Que n’ay-je d’un Cygne la plume,
Pour joüir encore à plaisir
De ceste beauté qui m’allume
Le cœur de crainte et de desir ?
Amour qui tout void et dispense,
Ces Dames vueille contenter :
Et si la rigueur les offense,
Nouvel amy leur presenter.
Afin qu’au changer de l’année,
Et au retour des jeunes fleurs,
Une meilleure destinée
Puisse commander à leurs cœurs.
Just as we see the lights in heaven
Gild the night with their brightness,
So we see here ladies
Adorn the evenings with their beauty.
Just as we see a meadow
Flower with fresh newness,
So this holy band
Enriches itself with a thousand beauties.
The Cyprian goddess [Venus] and the naked Graces,
Abandoning their homes,
Have come here to the feast
To make night into fair day.
These are not mortal women
Who light you with their eyes,
These are eternal goddesses
Who have, for an evening, have left the heavens.
When love loses his fiery bolts
And his darts drenched in pain,
He will find enough arrows
In the eyes of these ladies here.
Love who causes our distress
Through the cruelty of his darts
Makes his bow from their blond tresses
And his arrows from their glances.
We need not wish
That another season might arrive,
Here is spring, breathing out
Its flowers in the midst of winter.
This month of January, which is better
Than April because of the power in the eyes
Of these maidens, makes ashamed
Even the most graceful spring.
That great god, prince of thunder,
Can live in the sky without me;
I am quite happy seeing on earth
That beauty which can wound Jupiter.
The gods, smitten as we are,
Leave their dwelling for love;
But I never see men
Going up there to make love!
Like the colour of blossoming flowers
Is the hue these Ladies have,
Like white lilies, like crimson roses,
Which grow as the sun.
Their white hands are ivory,
Of their eyes are the stars made;
Love has founded his victory
On the majesty of their brows.
Alas, why can’t I be among this troop
A god hidden beneath [the likeness of] a bull?
I would again steal away Europa
From the fair midst of this troop.
Why can’t I have the feathers of a swan,
To play again at my pleasure
With this beauty which fires my
Heart with fear and longing?
Love, who sees all and grants all,
Wishes to please these Ladies;
And if my strictness injures them
He will present them a new lover.
If only, at the turn of the year
And when the young flowers come back,
A better fate
Might control their hearts.
 The ‘great god of the thunder’ (i.e. Jupiter) re-appears near the end of the poem as the bull who carried off Europa, and the swan that ravished Leda.
(Like most items “retranchées”, there is not much to report concerning variants: in this case, “fleurer” rather than ‘fleurir’ in the second verse (a variant conjugation for the verb) is about the only interest!)

Élégie – part 1


Another long poem as the book draws to an end. Unlike the ‘Stanzas’ at the beginning of the book, this elegy gradually disintegrates from its initially-standard stanza-form into a series of shorter & longer segments. I guess the more erratic length is suposed to ‘unbalance’ the reader and convey distress. Personally, I find it slightly annoying, but that’s just my opinion!

Like the ‘Stances’, I have decided to ‘publish’ this 150-line poem in several parts.

Le jour que la beauté du monde la plus belle
Laissa dans le cercueil sa despouille mortelle
Pour s’en-voler parfaite entre les plus parfaits,
Ce jour Amour perdit ses flames et ses traits,
Esteignit son flambeau, rompit toutes ses armes,
Les jetta sur la tombe, et l’arrousa de larmes :
Nature la pleura, le Ciel en fut fasché
Et la Parque d’avoir un si beau fil trenché.
Depuis le jour couchant jusqu’à l’Aube vermeille
Phenix en sa beauté ne trouvoit sa pareille,
Tant de graces au front et d’attraits elle avoit :
Ou si je me trompois, Amour me decevoit.
Si tost que je la vey, sa beauté fust enclose
Si avant en mon cœur, que depuis nulle chose
Je n’ay veu qui m’ait pleu, et si fort elle y est,
Que toute autre beauté encores me desplaist.
 Dans mon sang elle fut si avant imprimee,
Que tousjours en tous lieux de sa figure aimee
Me suivoit le portrait, et telle impression
D’une perpetuelle imagination
M’avoit tant desrobé l’esprit et la cervelle,
Qu’autre bien je n’avois que de penser en elle,
En sa bouche en son ris en sa main en son œil,
Qu’encor je sens au cœur, bien qu’ils soient au cercueil.
J’avois au-paravant, veincu de la jeunesse,
Autres dames aimé (ma faute je confesse) :
Mais la playe n’avoit profondement saigné,
Et le cuir seulement n’estoit qu’esgratigné,
Quand Amour, qui les Dieux et les hommes menace,
Voyant que son brandon n’eschauffoit point ma glace,
Comme rusé guerrier ne me voulant faillir,
La print pour son escorte et me vint assaillir.
Encor, ce me dit-il, que de maint beau trofee
D’Horace, de Pindare, Hesiode et d’Orfee,
Et d’Homere qui eut une si forte vois,
Tu as orné la langue et l’honneur des François,
Voy ceste dame icy : ton cœur tant soit il brave,
Ira sous son empire, et fera son esclave.
Ainsi dit, et son arc m’enfonçant de roideur,
Ensemble dame et traict m’envoya dans le cœur.
 Lors ma pauvre raison des rayons esblouye
D’une telle beauté se perd esvanouye,
Laissant le gouvernail aux sens et au desir,
Qui depuis ont conduit la barque à leur plaisir.
Raison, pardonne-moy : un plus caut en finesse
S’y fust bien englué, tant une douce presse
De graces et d’amours la suivoient tout ainsi
Que les fleurs le Printemps, quand il retourne ici.
The day on which the most beautiful of the world’s beauty
Left in the coffin her mortal remains
To fly off, perfect among the most perfect,
On that day Love lost his flame and his arrows,
Put out his torch, broke all his weapons,
Threw them on the tomb and bedewed it with tears:
Nature wept for her, Heaven was angered
And Fate too, at having cut so fair a thread.
From sunset to rosy dawn
Phoenix could not find her equal in beauty,
Such grace and charms she had in her face;
Or, if I’m wrong, Love deceives me.
As soon as I saw her, her beauty was kept
So much at the front of my mind [heart] that since then nothing
Have I seen which pleased me, and there it is so strong
That all other beauty still  displeases me.
In my blood she was imprinted so far to the front
That always in all places the image of her
Beloved form follows me, and such an impression
Of this perpetual fancy
Has so robbed me of spirit and rational thought
That I have no other benefit than thinking of her,
Of her lips, her smile, her hand, her eye
Which I still feel in my heart though they are in the grave.
 I have in the past, conquered by youthful desire,
Loved other ladies – I confess my fault;
But the wound did not bleed so deeply
And my hide was just scratched,
When Love, who threatens gods and men,
Seeing that his torch was not warming my ice at all
And like a cunning warrior not wanting to lose me,
Took her for his escort and came to besiege me.
 Although, he said to me, with many a fair trophy
From Horace, Pindar, Hesiod and Orpheus
And Homer too who was so powerful a voice,
You have embellished the language and the glory of the French people,
See this lady here: your heart however brave it is
Will fall under her power, and become her slave.
So he said, and his bow crushing me with its violence
Sent both dart and lady together into my heart.
Then my weak reason, dazzled by the glare
Of such a beauty, fainted and was lost,
Leaving control to feeling and desire,
Which since then have steered my boat at their pleasure.
Reason, forgive me: one more cunning in subtlety
Would easily have been caught like this, so sweet a crowd
Of graces and loves followed her just like
The flowers follow Spring, when it returns here.
There is only one variant in Blanchemain’s text of this section – of the last line and a half.  Blanchemain has:
                                        …tant une douce presse
De graces et d’amours en volant la suivoient,
Et de ses doux regards ainsi que moy vivoient.
                                                                                                                 … so sweet a crowd
                                                                              Of graces and loves follow her in flight
                                                                              And live on her sweet glances, as I do.
 Perhaps a quick word on the various classical allusions.  In the first stanza, and again at the end of the poem (in the third section as blogged here) Fate (la Parque) is invked with the image of ‘cutting the thread’ of life; the three Fates span a thread for every man’s life & when the third sister Atropos cut that thread that ended the man’s life. Phoenix was a brother of Europa who, after she was carried off by Jupiter, set off to seek her; eventually settling in Phoenicia, he was believed to have fathered children by many mothers.
The list of poets includes the traditionally greatest poets of the classical world: Homer and Hesiod, the archetypes of Greek epic and pastoral poetry; Pindar, originator of the ode; Horace the greatest of the Latin lyrical poets. Orpheus of course was the legendary singer whose songs were powerful enough to raise the dead.

Sonnet 40

Que de Beautez, que de Graces écloses
Voy-je au jardin de ce sein verdelet,
Enfler son rond de deus gazons de lait,
Où des Amours les fleches sont encloses !
Je me transforme en cent metamorfoses,
Quand je te voy, petit mont jumelet,
Ains du printemps un rosier nouvelet,
Qui le matin caresse de ses roses.
S’Europe avoit l’estomac aussi beau,
Sage tu pris le masque d’un toreau,
Bon Jupiter pour traverser les ondes.
Le Ciel n’est dit parfait pour sa grandeur.
Luy et ce sein le sont pour leur rondeur:
Car le parfait consiste en choses rondes.
                                                                       What beauty, what grace do I see
                                                                       Blossom in the garden of this ripe breast
                                                                       Swelling its roundness with two milky lawns
                                                                       Where the arrows of Love are enclosed!
                                                                       I change myself into a hundred different forms
                                                                       When I see you, small twin mounds,
                                                                       Like a young rose-bush in spring
                                                                       Which the morning caresses with its own rose-pink.
                                                                       If Europa had so fine a breast
                                                                       It was wise of you to put on the mask of a bull
                                                                       Great Jupiter, to cross the waves.
                                                                       Heaven is not called perfect for its size.
                                                                       It and this breast are perfect because they’re curved;
                                                                       for perfection consists in curves.
Another sonnet which Ronsard changed substantially in different versions. Blanchemain: has a radically changed ending, and minor changes in the first quatrain. Though the second quatrain is unchanged, it’s probably simplest to give the whole poem again in this version:
Ah !   seigneur Dieu !  que de graces écloses
Dans le jardin de ce sein verdelet,
Enflent le rond de deux gazons de lait,
Où des Amours les flesches sont encloses !
Je me transforme en cent metamorfoses,
Quand je te voy, petit mont jumelet,
Ains du printans un rosier nouvelet,
Qui le matin caresse de ses roses.
S’Europe avoit l’estomach aussi beau,
De t’estre fait, Jupiter, un taureau,
Je te pardonne.  Eh! que ne sui-je puce ?
La baisottant, tous les jours je mordroi
Ses beaus tetins ;  mais la nuit je voudrois
Que rechanger en homme je me pusse.
                                                                       Oh Lord God, how many graces blossoming
                                                                       In the garden of this ripe breast
                                                                       Swell the roundness of the two milky lawns
                                                                       Where the arrows of Love are enclosed!
                                                                       I change myself into a hundred different forms
                                                                       When I see you, small twin mounds,
                                                                       Like a young rose-bush in spring
                                                                       Which the morning caresses with its own rose-pink.
                                                                       If Europa had so fine a breast
                                                                       Then for making yourself, Jupiter, into a bull
                                                                       I pardon you. Oh, why can’t I be a flea?
                                                                       Giving her little kisses, all day long I would nibble
                                                                       Her beautiful breasts; but at night I’d wish
                                                                       That I could change back into a man.
 Blanchemain also footnotes a version of the ending corresponding to Marty-Laveaux’s text above, except that he begins line 10 with “Rusé” instead of “Sage” (‘It was cunning of you…’).  I should note that I have also seen a version with ‘bienveigne’ (‘welcomes’) instead of “caresses’ in line 8, but I don’t know if that is authentic Ronsard.