Tag Archives: Nymphs

Chanson – Amours 2:66a

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

Quand j’estois libre, ains qu’une amour nouvelle
Ne se fut prise en ma tendre moëlle,  
   Je vivois bien-heureux,
Comme à l’envy les plus accortes filles
Se travailloyent par leurs flammes gentilles,  
   De me rendre amoureux. 
 
Mais tout ainsi qu’un beau Poulain farouche,
Qui n’a masché le frein dedans la bouche,  
   Va seulet escarté,
N’ayant souci sinon d’un pied superbe
A mille bonds fouler les fleurs et l’herbe,  
   Vivant en liberté : 
 
Ores il court le long d’un beau rivage,
Ores il erre en quelque bois sauvage  
   Fuyant de sault en sault :
De toutes parts les Poutres hanissantes
Luy font l’amour pour néant blandissantes,  
   A luy qui ne s’en chaut. 
 
Ainsi j’allois desdaignant les pucelles,
Qu’on estimoit en beauté les plus belles,  
   Sans respondre à leur vueil :
Lors je vivois amoureux de moy-mesme,
Content et gay, sans porter couleur blesme  
   Ny les larmes à l’œil. 
 
J’avois escrit au plus haut de la face
Avec l’honneur une agreable audace  
   Plaine d’un franc desir :
Avec le pied marchoit ma fantaisie
Où je voulois sans peur ne jalousie  
   Seigneur de mon plaisir. 
 
Mais aussi tost que par mauvais desastre
Je vey ton sein blanchissant comme albastre,  
   Et tes yeux deux soleils,
Tes beaux cheveux espanchez par ondées,
Et les beaux lis de tes lévres bordées  
   De cent œillets vermeils : 
 
Incontinent j’appris que c’est service.
La liberté de mon ame nourrice,  
   S’eschappa loin de moy :
Dedans tes rets ma premiere franchise
Pour obeïr à ton bel œil, fut prise  
   Esclave sous ta loy. 
 
Tu mis cruelle en signe de conqueste,
Comme veinqueur tes deux pieds sur ma teste,  
   Et du front m’a osté
L’honneur, la honte, et l’audace première,
Acouhardant mon ame prisonniere,  
   Serve à ta volonté. 
 
Vengeant d’un coup mille fautes commises,
Et les beautez qu’à grand tort j’avois mises  
   Par-avant à mespris,
Qui me prioyent en lieu que je te prie :
Mais d’autant plus que merci je te crie,  
   Tu es sourde à mes cris, 
 
Et ne respons non plus que la fontaine
Qui de Narcis mira la forme vaine,  
   En vengeant à son bord
Mille beautez des Nymphes amoureuses,
Que cest enfant par mines desdaigneuses  
   Avoit mises à mort.
When I was free, and a novel love
Had not been caught in my tender marrow,
   I lived happily;
How the most attractive girls competitively
Worked hard with their gentle flames
   To make me fall in love!
 
But just as a handsome wild colt
Which has not chewed the curb in his mouth
   Wanders far and wide by himself,
Having no care except with his proud foot
To trample with a thousand leaps the flowers and grass,
   Living in liberty;
 
Sometimes he runs along a fair riverbank,
Sometimes he wanders in some wild wood
   Fleeing with leap upon leap;
And on every side whinnying fillies
Make love to him, flattering him for nothing,
   He who cares nothing for it.
 
Just so I used to disdain the maids
That everyone thought fairest of the fair,
   Without responding to their wishes;
Then, I was in love with myself,
Happy and joyful, not wearing this pale colour
   Nor with tears in my eyes.
 
I had written on my forehead,
Together with honour, a pleasant audacity
Filled with frank desire;
My imagination advanced with my feet
Wherever I wanted, without fear or jealousy,
The master of my pleasure.
 
But as soon as through terrible misfortune
I saw your breast white as alabaster
   And your eyes, twin suns,
Your fine hair pouring down in waves,
And the fair lilies of your lips bordered
   With a hundred pink carnations,
 
Straightway I learned what it is to be in service,
And liberty, the nurse of my soul,
   Fled far from me;
Within your nets my earlier freedom
Was caught, so that it obeyed your fair eyes,
   A slave beneath your law.
 
As a sign of your conquest you cruelly placed
Your two feet on my head, as conqueror,
   And took from my brow
Honour, shame, and my earlier boldness
Rendering my imprisoned soul a coward,
   Servant to your desires.
 
Avenging with one blow a thousand faults I’d committed
And the beauties whom, greatly in the wrong, I had held
Before this in scorn
Who had begged me, instead now I beg you.
But as often as I beg for mercy from you,
   You are deaf to my cries
 
And respond no more than the fountain
Which showed Narcissus the image of his shape
   Taking revenge on its bank
For the thousand beauteous nymphs in love
Which that boy, with his scornful manner,
   Had put to death.
 
 
As with so many of Ronsard’s lyrics, the fluency and apparent inevitability of his lines is amazing. It seems so easy, so natural – and yet it makes perfect poetry, it rhymes and scans as if by chance. Wonderful.
 
But as we know, that’s the result of hard work & lots of re-working. Some variants in Blanchemain’s version to demonstrate the process.  The opening is different, there is an extra stanza, one of the existing stanzas is largely different, and there are plenty of other minor variants.  Easiest to see the whole thing again:
 
Quand j’estois libre, ains que l’amour cruelle
Ne fust esprise encore en ma mouelle,  
   Je vivois bien-heureux,
Comme à l’envy les plus accortes filles
Se travailloyent par leurs flammes gentilles,  
   De me rendre amoureux. 
 
Mais tout ainsi qu’un beau Poulain farouche,
Qui n’a masché le frein dedans la bouche,  
   Va seulet escarté,
N’ayant souci sinon d’un pied superbe
A mille bonds fouler les fleurs et l’herbe,  
   Vivant en liberté : 
 
Ores il court le long d’un beau rivage,
Ores il erre en quelque bois sauvage  
   Ou sur quelque mont haut ;
De toutes parts les Poutres hanissantes
Luy font l’amour pour néant blandissantes,  
   A luy qui ne s’en chaut. 
 
Ainsi j’allois desdaignant les pucelles,
Qu’on estimoit en beauté les plus belles,  
   Sans respondre à leur vueil :
Lors je vivois amoureux de moy-mesme,
Content et gay, sans porter couleur blesme  
   Ny les larmes à l’œil. 
 
J’avois escrit au plus haut de la face
Avec l’honneur une agreable audace  
   Plaine d’un franc desir :
Avec le pied marchoit ma fantaisie
De ça, de la, sans peur ne jalousie,
   Vivant de mon plaisir.
 
Mais aussi tost que par mauvais desastre
Je vey ton sein blanchissant comme albastre,  
   Et tes yeux deux soleils,
Tes beaux cheveux espanchez par ondées,
Et les beaux lis de tes lévres bordées  
   De cent œillets vermeils : 
 
Incontinent j’appris que c’est service.
La liberté, de ma vie nourrice,  
   Fuit ton œil felon
Comme la nue en temps serein poussée
Fuit à grands pas l’haleine courroucée  
   De l’oursal Aquilon.
 
[Et lors tu mis mes deux mains à la chaisne
Mon col au cep et mon cœur à la gesne,
   N’ayant de moy pitié,
Non plus, helas ! qu’un outrageux corsaire,
(O fier Destin) n’a pitié d’un forcère  
   A la chaisne lié.]
 
Tu mis apres en signe de conqueste,
Comme veinqueur tes deux pieds sur ma teste,  
   Et du front m’a osté
L’honneur, la honte, et l’audace première,
Acouhardant mon ame prisonniere,  
   Serve à ta volonté. 
 
Vengeant d’un coup mille fautes commises,
Et les beautez qu’à grand tort j’avois mises  
   Par-avant à mespris,
Qui me prioyent en lieu que je te prie :
Mais d’autant plus que merci je te crie,  
   Tu es sourde à mes cris, 
 
Et ne respons non plus que la fontaine
Qui de Narcis mira la forme vaine,  
   Vengeant dessus son bord
Mille beautez des Nymphes amoureuses,
Que cest enfant par mines desdaigneuses  
   Avoit mises à mort.
When I was free,and cruel love
Had not yet taken hold in my marrow,
   I lived happily;
How the most attractive girls competitively
Worked hard with their gentle flames
   To make me fall in love!
 
But just as a handsome wild colt
Which has not chewed the curb in his mouth
   Wanders far and wide by himself,
Having no care except with his proud foot
To trample with a thousand leaps the flowers and grass,
   Living in liberty;
 
Sometimes he runs along a fair riverbank,
Sometimes he wanders in some wild wood
   Or on some high mountain;
And on every side whinnying fillies
Make love to him, flattering him for nothing,
   He who cares nothing for it.
 
Just so I used to disdain the maids
That everyone thought fairest of the fair,
   Without responding to their wishes;
Then, I was in love with myself,
Happy and joyful, not wearing that pale colour
   Nor with tears in my eyes.
 
I had written on my forehead,
Together with honour, a pleasant audacity
Filled with frank desire;
My imagination advanced with my feet
Wherever I wanted, without fear or jealousy,
The master of my pleasure.
 
But as soon as through terrible misfortune
I saw your breast white as alabaster
   And your eyes, twin suns,
Your fine hair pouring down in waves,
And the fair lilies of your lips bordered
   With a hundred pink carnations,
 
 Straightway I learned what it is to be in service,
Andliberty, the nurse of my life,
   Fled your treacherous eye
As a cloud in clear weather
Flees at great pace when pushed by the angry breath
   Of polar Aquilo.
 
[And then you put my two hands to the chain,
My neck to the vine and my heart to shame,
Having no pity on me,
No more alas than a hostile corsair
Has pity – o proud fate! – on a galley-slave
Bound with a chain.]
 
As a sign of your conquest you then placed
Your two feet on my head, as conqueror,
   And took from my brow
Honour, shame, and my earlier boldness
Rendering my imprisoned soul a coward,
   Servant to your desires.
 
Avenging with one blow a thousand faults I’d committed
And the beauties whom, greatly in the wrong, I had held
Before this in scorn
Who had begged me, instead now I beg you.
But as often as I beg for mercy from you,
   You are deaf to my cries
 
And respond no more than the fountain
Which showed Narcissus the image of his shape
   Taking revenge on its bank
For the thousand beauteous nymphs in love
Which that boy, with his scornful manner,
   Had put to death.
 
Just a few words about “l’oursal Aquilon” in the middle of the poem:  ‘oursal’ indicates ‘of the bear’ here indicating the Pole Star in the constellation of the Little Bear – which points north, where Aquilo, the north wind, blows from.  (Blanchemain puts the following stanza in [brackets] without explanation – this usually means it disappeared quite early on from the published editions.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Sonnet 150

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En ce printemps qu’entre mes bras n’arrive
Celle qui tient ma playe en sa verdeur,
Et ma pensée en oisive langueur,
Sur le tapis de ceste herbeuse rive ?
 
Et que n’est-elle une Nymphe native
De ce bois verd ? par l’ombreuse froideur
Nouveau Sylvain j’alenterois l’ardeur
Du feu qui m’ard d’une flamme trop vive.
 
Et pourquoy, cieux ! l’arrest de vos destins
Ne m’a faict naistre un de ces Paladins,
Qui seuls portoyent en crope les pucelles ?
 
Et qui tastant baisant et devisant,
Loin de l’envie et loin du mesdisant,
Par les forests vivoyent avecques elles ?
 
 
 
                                                                            In this springtime, why does she not come into my arms,
                                                                            She who keeps my wound fresh
                                                                            And my thoughts in idle listlessness
                                                                            On the carpet of this grassy bank?
 
                                                                            And why is she not a Nymph, native
                                                                            Of this green wood? With its shady cool
                                                                            I, a new Wood-dweller, would retard the heat
                                                                            Of the fire which burns me with too bright a flame.
 
                                                                            And why, heavens, did the judgement of fate
                                                                            Not make me born one of those Paladins
                                                                            Who alone carry maidens behind them,
 
                                                                            And who – touching, kissing, chatting,
                                                                            Far from envy and those who speak ill –
                                                                            Live with them in the forests?

 

 

 

 Another allusion to Ariosto, perhaps, in the reference to Paladins on chargers. His wry humour amuses me – why is it OK for heroes in storybooks to go off alone into the woods with maidens, without people whispering suspiciously about what they might get up to, but not for real people to do it…?
 
In line 11, the maiden is ‘en crope’ : in case horse-jargon isn’t your thing, that is ‘on the crupper’, behind the saddle on the horse’s back.  We might also say, ‘riding pillion’.
 
Blanchemain has a few variants, including the opening, but they leave the sense unchanged: here are his opening lines
 
 
Entre mes bras que maintenant n’arrive
Celle qui tient ma playe en sa verdeur,
Et ma pensée en gelant tiedeur
Sur le tapis de ceste herbeuse rive !
 
Et que n’est-elle une nymphe native
De quelque bois ! Par l’ombreuse froideur …
 
 
 
                                                                            Why does she not now come into my arms,
                                                                            She who keeps my wound fresh
                                                                            And my thoughts in freezing warmth
                                                                            On the carpet of this grassy bank?
 
                                                                            And why is she not a Nymph, native
                                                                            Of some wood? Through the shady cool …

 

And so we complete 150 sonnets from book 1; I shall update the ‘complete’ pdf shortly.  [Edit:  pdf uploaded.]  Such is the size of Amours I that, even after more than 150 poems, we’re still less than two-thirds of the way through, however…!
 
 
 

Sonnet 60

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Ny voir flamber au poinct du jour les roses,
Ny liz plantez sur le bord d’un ruisseau,
Ny son de luth, ny ramage d’oyseau,
Ny dedans l’or les gemmes bien encloses,
 
Ny des Zephyrs les gorgettes décloses,
Ny sur la mer le ronfler d’un vaisseau,
Ny bal de Nymphe au gazouillis de l’eau,
Ny voir fleurir au printems toutes choses,
 
Ny camp armé de lances hérissé,
Ny antre verd de mousse tapissé,
Ny des forests les cymes qui se pressent,
 
Ny des rochers le silence sacré,
Tant de plaisir ne me donnent qu’un Pré,
Où sans espoir mes esperances paissent.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Not seeing roses on fire at the break of day,
                                                                           Nor lilies planted on the bank of a stream,
                                                                           Nor the sound of the lute, the warbling of birds,
                                                                           Nor jewels well-set in gold,
 
                                                                           Nor the open throat of the Zephyr [west wind],
                                                                           Nor the creaking of a ship on the sea,
                                                                           Nor the dance of Nymphs to the babbling of the water,
                                                                           Nor seeing everything blossom in spring,
 
                                                                           Nor an armed camp bristling with spears,
                                                                           Nor a cave carpeted with green moss,
                                                                           Nor the close-packed treetops in the forest,
 
                                                                           Nor the sacred silence of the rocks –
                                                                           None give me as much pleasure as that Meadow
                                                                           Where my hopes feed without expectation.
 
 

 

  
Sometimes a poem looks like it came out fully-formed, and sometimes you look at a poem and think ‘the poet clearly set himself a puzzle to work out here!’.  For me this has the look of a poem in which Ronsard wondered how long he could keep going with “Ny…” lines and ‘random’ images, while still making a satisfying poem. As my own little tribute – after all, starting the line the ame each time is easy enough – I’ve added an extra ‘No…’ in line 13…!
 
Just some small changes from Blanchemain’s early version: in line 3 he has “chants de luth” (‘songs of the lute’), changed above so that the ‘s’ is echoed in the second half of the line – an improvement I’d say; and the last 2 “Ny…” lines (11-12) are “Ny les Sylvains qui les Dryades pressent, /Et jà dejà les domptent à leur gré,” (‘Nor the Wood-folk who pursue the Dryads /And quickly overcome them as they wish’). Note that, in this early version, only 11 (not 12) lines begin with “Ny”!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ode 4: 32

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Verson ces roses en ce vin,
En ce bon vin versons ces roses,
Et boivon l’un à l’autre, afin
Qu’au cœur nos tristesses encloses
Prennent en boivant quelque fin.
 
La belle rose du printemps,
Aubert, admoneste les hommes
Passer joyeusement le temps,
Et pendant que jeunes nous sommes,
Esbattre la fleur de nos ans.
 
Car ainsi qu’elle défleurit
A bas en une matinée,
Ainsi nostre âge se flestrit,
Las ! et en moins d’une journée
Le printemps d’un homme perit.
 
Ne veis-tu pas hier Brinon
Parlant et faisant bonne chere,
Lequel aujourd’hui n’est sinon
Qu’un peu de poudre en une bière,
Qui de luy n’a rien que le nom ?
 
Nul ne desrobe son trespas,
Caron serre tout en sa nasse,
Roys et pauvres tombent là bas ;
Mais ce-pendant le temps se passe,
Rose, et je ne te chante pas.
 
La rose est l’honneur d’un pourpris,
La rose est des fleurs la plus belle,
Et dessus toutes a le pris :
C’est pour cela que je l’appelle
La violette de Cypris.
 
Le rose est le bouquet d’amour,
La rose est le jeu des Charites,
La rose blanchit tout autour
Au matin de perles petites
Qu’elle emprunte du poinct du jour.
 
La rose est le parfum des dieux,
La rose est l’honneur des pucelles,
Qui leur sein beaucoup aiment mieux
Enrichir de roses nouvelles,
Que d’un or tant soit precieux.
 
Est-il rien sans elle de beau ?
La rose embellit toutes choses,
Venus de roses a la peau,
Et l’Aurore a les doigts de roses,
Et le front le Soleil nouveau.
 
Les nymphes de rose ont le sein,
Les coudes, les flancs et les hanches ;
Hebé de roses a la main,
Et les Charites, tant soient blanches,
Ont le front de roses tout plein.
 
Que le mien en soit couronné,
Ce m’est un laurier de victoire :
Sus, appelon le deux-fois-né,
Le bon pere, et le faisons boire,
De cent roses environné.
 
Bacchus, espris de la beauté
Des roses aux fueilles vermeilles,
Sans elles n’a jamais esté,
Quand en chemise sous les treilles
Il boit au plus chaud de l’esté.
Pour these roses into the wine,
Into this fine wine pour these roses,
And drink one to another, that
Those sad things we keep in our hearts
May meet in drinking some kind of end.
 
The fair rose of spring,
Aubert, admonishes men
To spend their time joyously
And, while we’re young,
To frolic away the flower of our years.
 
For just as her petals fall
Down in a morning,
So our age is blighted:
Alas, in less than a day
A man’s springtime perishes.
 
Didn’t you see Brinon yesterday
Chattering and making good cheer,
Who is nothing today but
A little powder in a beer
Which has nothing of him but his name?
 
None can avoid his death,
Charon closes his net on us all,
Kings and paupers fall down below;
But – time is passing,
O Rose, and I am not singing of you!
 
The Rose is the most distinguished of crimsons,
The Rose is of flowers most beautiful,
And above all others takes the prize:
That’s why I call it
The violet of Cypris (=Venus).
 
Rose is the scent of love
The Rose is the plaything of the Graces,
The Rose makes all around it fade,
In the morning, with tiny pearls
She borrows from the dawn.
 
The Rose is the perfume of the gods,
The Rose is the symbol of virgins,
Who love far more to enrich
Their breast with fresh roses
Than with gold however precious.
 
Is there anything beautiful without her?
The Rose enhances all things,
Venus has skin like roses,
And Dawn is rosy-fingered
And the morning Sun is rose-pink.
 
The nymphs have rosy breasts,
Arms, bodies, legs;
Hebe has a rosy hand,
And the Graces, though fair-skinned,
Have all-rosy brows.
 
Would that mine was so crowned,
That would be for me a laurel of victory;
Up then, call the twice-born,
The good father, and let’s make him drink,
Encircled by a hundred roses.
 
Bacchus, enamoured of the beauty
Of roses with their crimson petals,
Has never been without them
When in shirt-sleeves he drinks
Beneath the arbour in the hottest days of summer.
 
 In the 5th stanza, Charon is the boatman who ferries dead souls across the river Styx; I can’t recall anywhere else where the image is of him fishing them up in his net!  In the 9th stanza, ‘rosy-fingered Dawn’ is how Homer always terms her.  In the penultimate stanza the ‘twice-born’ is Dionysus, or Bacchus as in the final stanza. Why twice-born? Well, Bacchus was the child of Jupiter and Semele; those who know the Handel opera will know Semele died as a result of seeing Jupiter in all his glory – before giving birth. Jupiter then took her unborn child (a ‘six-month child’ according to some Greek writers) and sewed it into his thigh to complete its growth until ready to be born. Hence ‘twice-born’, once from Semele’s womb, once from Jupiter’s thigh.
 
Aubert in the 2nd stanza is Guillaume Aubert, friend of du Bellay & posthumous editor of his works.
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 49

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D’un solitaire pas je ne marche en nul lieu,
Qu’Amour bon artisan ne m’imprime l’image
Au profond du penser de ton gentil visage,
Et des propos douteux de ton dernier Adieu.Plus fermes qu’un rocher, engravez au milieu
De mon cœur je les porte : et s’il n’y a rivage,
Fleur, antre ny rocher, ny forest ny bocage,
A qui je ne les conte, à Nymphe ny à Dieu.

D’une si rare et douce ambrosine viande
Mon esperance vit, qui n’a voulu depuis
Se paistre d’autre apast, tant elle en est friande.

Ce jour de mille jours m’effaça les ennuis :
Car tant opiniastre en ce plaisir je suis,
Que mon ame pour vivre autre bien ne demande.

 

 
 
                                                                              With solitary step I can walk nowhere
                                                                              But Love, that fine craftsman, prints in my deepest thoughts
                                                                              The image of your noble face
                                                                              And the wavering words of your last Farewell.
 
                                                                              More solid than a rock I carry them engraved
                                                                              In the midst of my heart; and so there is no riverbank,
                                                                              No flower, cave, crag, forest nor grove
                                                                              To which I do not recount them, no Nymph nor god.
 
                                                                              On so rare and sweet ambrosial meat
                                                                              My hope lives, which never since desired
                                                                              To feed on any other food, so partial it is to this.
 
                                                                              That day erased the worries of a thousand days for me;
                                                                              For I am so tenacious in this pleasure
                                                                              That my soul asks no other good thing to live.

 

  
 
I cannot imagine why Ronsard changed line 4 to “propos douteux”. What is it about “douteux” (doubtful) words which  makes Ronsard carry them engraved in his heart, happily telling everything he meets, and asking for no more substantial fare??  I have translated as ‘wavering’ simply to try to get something positive out of the word!
 
The earlier version, in Blanchemain, had “mots gracieux” (‘gracious words’) which fit the context of the rest so much better.  But that word “mot” was perhaps too unpoetical for the older Ronsard to accept – even though using such plain language was one of the things that made his name!
 
There are no other changes from the early version.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 48

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Ton extreme beauté par ses rais me retarde
Que je n’ose mes yeux sur les tiens asseurer,
Debile je ne puis leurs regards endurer.
Plus le Soleil esclaire, et moins on le regarde.

Helas ! tu es trop belle, et tu dois prendre garde
Qu’un Dieu si grand thresor ne puisse desirer,
Qu’il ne t’en-vole au ciel pour la terre empirer.
« La chose precieuse est de mauvaise garde. »

Les Dragons sans dormir tous pleins de cruauté,
Gardoient les pommes d’or pour leur seule beauté :
Le visage trop beau n’est pas chose trop bonne.

Danaé le sceut bien, dont l’or se fist trompeur.
Mais l’or qui domte tout, davant tes yeux s’estonne,
Tant ta chaste vertu le fait trembler de peur.

 

 
 
                                                                              Your extreme beauty holds me back by its rays
                                                                              So that I dare not fix my eyes on yours,
                                                                              I am weak and cannot endure their glances.
                                                                              The more the Sun shines, the less one can look upon him.
 
                                                                              Alas, you are too fair, you must take care
                                                                              That a god does not desire so great a treasure,
                                                                              That he does not steal you away to heaven, to make the earth a worse place.
                                                                              “A precious treasure is poorly guarded.”
 
                                                                              Sleepless Dragons full of cruelty
                                                                              Guarded the golden apples for their beauty alone;
                                                                              A face too fair is not something too good [for them].
 
                                                                              Danaë knew it well, she whom gold itself deceived.
                                                                              But the gold which rules everything stops astounded before your eyes,
                                                                              So much does your chaste virtue make it tremble with fear.
  
 
 
I do love it when Ronsard really gets the classical ‘bug’ and writes a tour de  force of classicizing fantasy!  And here he lets us know in the opening words we are in for a treat – how often is beauty ‘extreme’??  But he builds his poem carefully too – 4 lines of earthly normality, 4 of generalised fantasy about the gods, then 2×3 lines of classicizing with specific references to classical myth.
 
The ‘sleeping dragons’ guarding the ‘golden apples’ of the Hesperides (the nymphs of the evening) recall the 11th labour of Hercules, tasked with obtaining the golden apples. In mythology the dragons were a singular but multi-headed dragon – but I think the plural allowable! Danae is of course the lady often depicted in Renaissance art welcoming Jupiter transformed into a shower of gold, by which she became pregnant with Perseus (who, incidentally, also later visited the Hesperides, but for weapons to fight Medusa not to retrieve apples; I certainly wouldn’t put it past Ronsard to be expecting us readers to see the ‘extra’ link to the Hesperides here).
 
Blanchemain offers us only one variant, in line 12 where he has
 
Danaé le sceut bien, qui sentit l’or trompeur
 
                                                                              Danaë knew it well, she who felt gold’s deception
 
‘Felt’ is far too weak a translation of “sentit”, which has all sorts of other meaning wrapped up in it – perceiving/understanding, a sexual sense of penetration, a hint of suspecting, a sensuous implication of gently stroking…
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 47

Standard
Coche cent fois heureux, où ma belle Maistresse
Et moy nous promenons raisonnans de l’amour :
Jardin cent fois heureux, des Nymphes le sejour,
Qui pensent, la voyant, voir leur mesme Deesse.
 
Bienheureuse l’Eglise, où je pris hardiesse
De contempler ses yeux, qui des miens sont le jour,
Qui ont chauds les regards, qui ont tout à l’entour
Un petit camp d’amours, qui jamais ne les laisse.
 
Heureuse la Magie, et les cheveux bruslés,
Le murmure l’encens et les vins escoulez
Sur l’image de cire : ô bien-heureux servage !
 
O moy sur tous amans le plus avantureux,
D’avoir osé choisir la vertu de nostre âge,
Dont la terre est jalouse, et le ciel amoureux.

 

 
 
                                                                              O coach a hundred times happy, in which my fair mistress
                                                                              And I drive out arguing about love;
                                                                              O garden a hundred times happy, the resting-place of the Nymphs
                                                                              Who believe, as they see her, they are seeing their own goddess.
 
                                                                              Happy the Church in which I plucked up courage
                                                                              To gaze into her eyes, which are the daylight of my own,
                                                                              Which have such warm glances, which have all around them
                                                                              A small camp of cupids who never leave them.
 
                                                                              Happy that Magic, and the burned hair,
                                                                              The murmuring, the incense, the wine poured
                                                                              Over that waxen image: o truly happy servitude!
 
                                                                              O I am the boldest of all lovers
                                                                              To have dared choose the virtue of our age,
                                                                              Of whom earth herself is jealous, with whom heaven is in love.

 

  
 
 
Blanchemain offers one variant line, at the end of the first quatrain:  frankly a rather weak line compared to the improved version above!
 
Jardin cent fois heureux, des Nymphes le sejour,
Qui l’adorent de loin ainsi que leur déesse.
 
                                                                              O garden a hundred times happy, the resting-place of the Nymphs
                                                                              Who adore her from afar as well as their goddess.
 
 
The second half of the poem begins with an initially rather confusing image – incense and wine yes, but burned hair?  We are to imagine a voodoo-style ceremony, with the lover’s wax image being used to cast a spell over him. Incense, wine and (yes) burning hair are all part of making the spell as the sorcerer murmurs the magic words over the image. Note that Ronsard keeps switching between fanciful pictures (nymphs and cupids) and solid reality (coaches and churches): I think we can safely assume he is putting the magic spell into the fanciful category, a picture of how he is enslaved by love rather than a suggestion of how it came about…!