Tag Archives: Leda

Amours 1:189

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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.
 
 
 
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De la defloration de Lede (Odes 3:20)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stances lyriques (Lyric stanzas) – from the Poèmes retranchées

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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.
 
I
La Cyprine et les Graces nuës,
Se desrobant de leur sejour,
Sont au festin icy venuës,
Pour de la nuict faire un beau jour.
 
II
Ce ne sont pas femmes mortelles
Qui vous esclairent de leurs yeux,
Ce sont Déesses eternelles,
Qui pour un soir quittent les Cieux.
 
I
Quand Amour perdroit ses flaméches
Et ses dards trempez de soucy,
Il trouveroit assez de fléches
Aux yeux de ces Dames icy.
 
II
Amour qui cause nos detresses
Par la cruauté de ses dards,
Fait son arc de leurs blondes tresses,
Et ses fléches de leurs regards.
 
I
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.
 
II
Ce mois de Janvier qui surmonte
Avril par la vertu des yeux
De ces Damoiselles, fait honte
Au Printemps le plus gracieux.
 
I
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.
 
II
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.
 
I
A la couleur des fleurs écloses
Ces Dames ont le teint pareil,
Aux blancs Lys, aux vermeilles roses
Qui naissent comme le Soleil.
 
II
Leur blanche main est un yvoire,
De leurs yeux les astres se font :
Amour a planté sa victoire
Sus la Majesté de leur front.
 
I
Las ! que ne suis-je en ceste trope
Un Dieu caché sous un Toreau ?
Je ravirois encore Europe
Au beau milieu de ce tropeau.
 
II
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 ?
 
I
Amour qui tout void et dispense,
Ces Dames vueille contenter :
Et si la rigueur les offense,
Nouvel amy leur presenter.
 
II
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!)
 

Sonnet 9

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We’ve all heard of writer’s block; I wonder if there’s such a thing as translator’s block?? I apologise for the lengthy absence: initially with ‘translator’s block’, then I’ve just been unable to get onto WordPress for the last couple of months for reasons I don’t understand. Still, it’s working now so I’ll get posting again…

L’autre jour que j’estois sur le haut d’un degré,
Passant tu m’advisas, et me tournant la veuë,
Tu m’esblouis les yeux, tant j’avois l’ame esmeuë
De me voir en sursaut de tes yeux rencontré.
 
Ton regard dans le cœur, dans le sang m’est entré
Comme un esclat de foudre alors qu’il fend la nue :
J’euz de froid et de chaut la fiévre continue,
D’un si poignant regard mortellement outré.
 
Lors si ta belle main passant ne m’eust fait signe,
Main blanche, qui se vante estre fille d’un Cygne,
Je fusse mort, Helene, aux rayons de tes yeux :
 
Mais ton signe retint l’ame presque ravie,
Ton œil se contenta d’estre victorieux,
Ta main se resjouyt de me donner la vie.
 
 
 
                                                                                 The other day, when I was at the top of a staircase
                                                                                 You saw mw as you passed; turning your eyes on me
                                                                                 You blinded me, so stunned was my soul
                                                                                 Seeing myself all unexpectedly meeting you eyes.
 
                                                                                 Your look struck my heart, my blood,
                                                                                 Like a thunderclap as it splits the clouds:
                                                                                 I fell ill with a continuous fever, hot and cold,
                                                                                 Done to death by so sharp a look.
 
                                                                                 So, if your hand had not beckoned me as you passed,
                                                                                 That white hand which boasts it’s the swan’s daughter[‘s],
                                                                                 I would have been dead, Helen, from the rays of your eyes.
 
                                                                                 But your signal saved my soul, almost rapt away,
                                                                                 Your eye was happy to be victorious,
                                                                                 And your hand rejoiced to restore my life.
 
 
The swan’s daughter in line 10 is the original Helen (of Troy), the daughter of Leda to whom Jupiter famously appeared as a swan before engaging in sex with her: a subject many painters have enjoyed having a go at! As Nicolas Richelet put it in his notes (quoted by Blanchemain), “from that it follows that her hand retains the whiteness of the bird whose daughter she is“.
 
Blanchemain’s text is identical except that the second half begins “Et si ta belle main…” (‘And, if your fair hand…’) – which, for me, is a more natural conjunction here.