Tag Archives: Sinope

Amours 2:47

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Vos yeux estoient moiteux d’une humeur enflammee,
Qui m’ont gasté les miens d’une semblable humeur,
Et pource que vos yeux aux miens ont fait douleur,
Je vous ay d’un nom Grec Sinope surnommee :
 
Mais cest’ humeur mauvaise au cœur est devallee,
Et là comme maistresse a pris force et vigueur,
Gastant mon pauvre sang d’une blesme langueur,
Qui ja par tout le corps lente s’est escoulee.
 
Mon cœur environné de ce mortel danger,
En voulant resister au malheur estranger,
A mon sang converty en larmes et en pluye :
 
Afin que par les yeux autheurs de mon souci
Mon malheur fust noyé, ou que par eux aussi
Fuyant devant le feu j’espuisasse ma vie.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Your eyes were weeping with an inflammation
                                                                            And they have spoiled mine with a similar infection,
                                                                            And since your eyes have made mine ill
                                                                            I’ve surnamed you with the Greek name Sinope.
 
                                                                            But this illness has hurtled down to my heart,
                                                                            And there like its mistress gained strength and vigour,
                                                                            Spoiling my poor blood with a pallid inertia
                                                                            Which has now slowly flowed through all my body.
 
                                                                            My heart, besieged by this mortal danger
                                                                            And wanting to resist the foreign illness,
                                                                            Has converted my blood into tears and weeping;
 
                                                                            So that through my eyes, the creators of my trouble,
                                                                            My illness might be drowned, or through them too,
                                                                            Fleeing before the fire, I might extinguish my life.
 
 
 
 

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Marie’s eye condition: this is the poem which Belleau annotates, as I mentioned there, with an explanation of the name ‘Sinope’; and also the one in which Ronsard offers the most explicit of links between Marie and Sinope – unless of course you believe that the Sinope poems were addressed to another lady, and then simply transferred to the Marie set. He does not, after all, explicitly name Marie…  Belleau’s footnote in full:  ‘Marie had trouble with her eyes, and as the poet watched her intently the illness in those afflicted eyes entering his own made them ill too. And so he called Marie Sinope, which is to say ‘losing the eyes’.’

 
Like the last poem I posted, Blanchemain’s earlier version varies only in two places, and one of them is the first line!  In his version, Marie/Sinope’s eyes have been ‘struck’ with illness rather than the more precise ‘weeping’ in the later version: “Vos yeux estoient blessez d’une humeur enflammée“. The other change, in line 11, is mostly about sound and rhythm, inverting some of the words:  “A couvert mon sang en larmes et en pluye” (‘Has covered my blood with tears and weeping’); but the change from a rather odd ‘covering’ image to the sharper ‘converted’ may have been Ronsard’s initial spur to change.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:43

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Marie, que je sers en trop cruel destin,
Quand d’un baiser d’amour vostre bouche me baise
Je suis tout esperdu, tant le cœur me bat d’aise :
Entre vos doux baisers puissé-je prendre fin.
 
Il sort de vostre bouche un doux flair qui le thin
Le josmin et l’œillet la framboise et la fraise
Surpasse de douceur, tant une douce braise
Vient de la bouche au cœur par un nouveau chemin.
 
Il sort de vostre sein une odoreuse haleine
(Je meurs en y pensant) de parfum toute pleine,
Digne d’aller au ciel embasmer Jupiter.
 
Mais quand toute mon ame en plaisir se consomme
Mourant dessus vos yeux, lors pour me despiter
Vous fuyez de mon col pour baiser un jeune homme.
 
 
                                                                            Marie, whom I serve under too cruel a fate,
                                                                            When with a loving kiss your lips kiss me
                                                                            I am totally overcome, so happily does my hart beat ;
                                                                            Oh that could die among your sweet kisses!
 
                                                                            From your mouth comes a sweet scent which surpasses
                                                                            The sweetness of thyme, jasmine and pink,
                                                                            Raspberry and strawberry, such a gentle warmth
                                                                            Comes from your mouth to my heart by this new route.
 
                                                                            There rises from your breast a sweet-smelling breath
                                                                            (I die to think of it) full of perfume,
                                                                            Worthy to to anoint Jupiter in heaven.
 
                                                                            But when all my soul is consumed in pleasure,
                                                                            Dying beneath your gaze, then to spite me
                                                                            You rush from my embrace to kiss some young man.
 
 

Another of the Marie/Sinope poems, this time focusing on her sweet-smelling breath rather than her eye-problems! Much more gallant …

 
Blanchemain’s version again keeps Sinope’s name not Marie’s at the beginning (“Sinope, que je sers en trop cruel destin”); otherwise the only change is at the start of the sestet, where Ronsard replaced his first thoughts, the more vivid “vos tetins“, with the less tactile and perhaps less titillating “vostre sein” (above).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:41

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Je reçoy plus de joye à regarder vos yeux,
Qu’à boire, qu’à manger, qu’à dormir, ny qu’à faire
Chose qui soit à l’ame ou au corps necessaire,
Tant de vostre regard je suis ambitieux.
 
Pource ny froid hyver, ny esté chaleureux
Ne me peut empescher que je n’aille complaire
A ce cruel plaisir, qui me rend tributaire
De vos yeux qui me sont si doux et rigoureux.
 
Marie, vous avez de vos lentes œillades
Gasté de mes deux yeux les lumieres malades,
Et si ne vous chaut point du mal que m’avez fait.
 
Ou guarissez mes yeux, ou confessez l’offense :
Si vous la confessez, je seray satisfait,
Me donnant un baiser pour toute recompense.
 
 
                                                                            I get more joy from looking into your eyes
                                                                            Than from drinking, eating, sleeping, doing
                                                                            Anything which might be necessary to soul or body,
                                                                            So eager am I for your glance.
 
                                                                            Thus neither cold winter nor hot summer
                                                                            Can stop me from delighting
                                                                            In this cruel pleasure of bringing tribute
                                                                            To your eyes which to me are both so sweet and harsh.
 
                                                                            Marie, you have with your slow glances
                                                                            Wrecked the weak lights of my eyes
                                                                            And yet you care nothing for the harm you’ve done me.
 
                                                                            Either cure my eyes, or confess the offence:
                                                                            If you confess it I’ll be satisfied
                                                                            And just one kiss will be all my recompense.
 
 
There is a small cluster of Marie poems which refer to her having some sort of eye-condition. It appears that Ronsard’s eyes too got infected – whether just for poetic reasons, or in real life, depends on your views on the autobiographical authenticity of his poetry. Ronsard of course turns the messy illness into poetic gold.
 
This eye-condition is the reason that Belleau connects the Sinope poems with Marie. Indeed, as we shall see in another poem, Ronsard himself provides what you might think a convincing statement that Sinope and Marie are the same, when he states explicitly that he called Marie ‘Sinope’ (Greek: without sight) because of her condition. (We might think that a little insensitive: but perhaps the rules of finding classicizing pseudonyms override such concerns … !)
 
Blanchemain’s version again keeps Sinope’s name not Marie’s, and has a couple of other minor differences: here I think the later changes are a clear improvement, both for sense (in the final tercet) and for vividness (‘joy’ in line 1 rather than ‘good’).
 
 
Je reçoy plus de bien à regarder vos yeux,
Qu’à boire, qu’à manger, qu’à dormir, ny qu’à faire
Chose qui soit à l’ame ou au corps necessaire,
Tant de vostre regard je suis ambitieux.
 
Pource ny froid hyver, ny esté chaleureux
Ne me peut empescher que je n’aille complaire
A ce cruel plaisir, qui me rend tributaire
De vos yeux qui me sont si doux et rigoureux.
 
Sinope, vous avez de vos lentes œillades
Gasté de mes deux yeux les lumieres malades,
Et si ne vous chaut point du mal que m’avez fait.
 
Au moins guarissez les, ou confessez l’offense :
Si vous la confessez, je seray satisfait,
Me donnant un baiser pour toute recompense.
 
 
                                                                            I get more good from looking into your eyes
                                                                            Than from drinking, eating, sleeping, doing
                                                                            Anything which might be necessary to soul or body,
                                                                            So eager am I for your glance.
 
                                                                            Thus neither cold winter nor hot summer
                                                                            Can stop me from delighting
                                                                            In this cruel pleasure of bringing tribute
                                                                            To your eyes which to me are both so sweet and harsh.
 
                                                                            Sinope, you have with your slow glances
                                                                            Wrecked the weak lights of my eyes
                                                                            And yet you care nothing for the harm you’ve done me.
 
                                                                            At least cure them, or confess the offence:
                                                                            If you confess it I’ll be satisfied
                                                                            And just one kiss will be all my recompense.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:39 (madrigal)

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Another of those poems whose form Marty-Laveaux and Blanchemain disagree about:

Maistresse, de mon cœur vous emportez la clef,
La clef de mes pensers et la clef de ma vie :
Et toutesfois (helas ! ) je ne leur porte envie,
Pourveu que vous ayez pitié de leur meschef.
 
Vous me laissez tout seul en un tourment si gref,
Que je mourray de dueil d’ire et de jalousie :
Tout seul je le voudrois, mais une compagnie
Vous me donnez de pleurs qui coulent de mon chef.
 
Que maudit soit le jour que la fleche cruelle
M’engrava dans le cœur vostre face si belle,
Voz cheveux vostre front vos yeux et vostre port,
Qui servent à ma vie et de Fare et d’estoille !
 
Je devois mourir lors sans plus craindre la mort,
Le despit m’eust servy pour me conduire au port,
Mes pleurs servy de fleuve, et mes souspirs de voile.
 
 
                                                                            Mistress, you carry the key of my heart,
                                                                            The key of my thoughts and the key of my life ;
                                                                            And yet, alas, I don’t envy them
                                                                            Since you have pity on their misfortune.
 
                                                                            You leave me all alone in torment so grievous
                                                                            That I shall die of grief, anger and jealousy ;
                                                                            All alone, I’d like that, but you give me
                                                                            A company of tears which flow down my face.
 
                                                                            Cursed be the day that the cruel dart
                                                                            Engraved in my heart your beautiful face,
                                                                            Your hair, your brow, your eyes and your bearing,
                                                                            Which serve as my life’s Pharos and star !
 
                                                                            I should die now without fearing death more,
                                                                            Scorn has served to lead me to port,
                                                                            My tears served as the river, my sighs as the sail.
 
 
We’re back in the poems for Marie, so classical references are occasional rather than freely-scattered. Here, only the Pharos, the famous lighthouse of Alexandria. (Did you know it stood guard over the harbour there until the late middle ages??) 
 
This is one of the ‘Sinope’ poems: as Blanchemain’s footnote reminds us, “Belleau gives the explanation of this name Sinope, applied to Marie [i.e. that Sinope was simply a pseudonym for Marie]. In the 1560 edition he says on the contrary that this name is to hide a lady of illustrious birth, beloved of the poet ‘with a furious passion’.”  So, Blanchemain’s version opens with Sinope’s name not Marie’s: “Sinope, de mon cœur vous emportez la clef…”.   Blanchemain’s earlier version also ends with something far simpler than the extravagant metaphor of the later version; and (with one less line) is a sonnet not the ‘madrigal’ of 15 lines which Marty-Laveaux prints (4+4+3+3, not 4+4+4+3). His version does not have line 12, the one about the Pharos, and then his sestet reads:
 
Je devois mourir lors sans plus tarder une heure;
Le temps que j’ay vescu depuis telle blesseure
Aussi bien n’a servi qu’à m’allonger la mort.  
 
                                                                            I should die now without waiting another hour;
                                                                            The time that I’ve lived quite well
                                                                            Since such a wound, has served only to push back my death.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 2:42

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Si j’estois Jupiter, Marie, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois Roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, Roine des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison les ondes vous auriez.
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire sous vos mains, dame des terres rondes,
Et dessus un beau Coche en belles tresses blondes
Par le peuple en honneur Deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Le ciel pour vous servir seulement m’a fait naistre,
De vous seule je prens mon sort avantureux.
 
Vous estes tout mon bien, mon mal, et ma fortune.
S’il vous plaist de m’aimer, je deviendray Neptune,
Tout Jupiter tour Roy tout riche et tout heureux. 
 
 
 
                                                                            If I were Jupiter, Marie, you would be
                                                                            My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
                                                                            You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
                                                                            And would have as your home the waves ;
 
                                                                            If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
                                                                            Power in your hands, lady of the round world,
                                                                            And in a fine coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
                                                                            You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
                                                                            But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
                                                                            Heaven had me born only to serve you,
                                                                            From you alone I receive my venturesome fate.
 
                                                                            You are all my good, my ills, my fortune.
                                                                            If it pleases you to love me, I shall become Neptune,
                                                                            Jupiter entire, and King, and rich, and happy.
 
 
Jupiter and Juno as king and queen of heaven are probably familiar; but you (like me) might have tripped over the reference to Tethys. Here, Ronsard goes back to the ‘old’ gods, the Titans: Tethys was the sister and wife of Oceanus, the personification (and ruler) of the seas before the dynastic wars in which the classical (Olympian) gods defeated the Titans from whom they were descended.  There’s a suggestion in the poem that Ronsard may not have been so specific, since at the end where he reflects back the opening stanza, he uses Neptune’s name as if he – being king of the sea – were the (unnamed) consort of Tethys.As you will see below, he confuses the picture further in his earlier version, since there the Ocean is a home not a husband!
 
Turning then to Blanchemain’s version, we find substantial variants, so much so that it is addressed to a different lady, and 50% of the poem is different! Sinope is the addressee of some 14 (earlier versions of) his poems, later re-addressed in the collected books to Marie. It seems that he had a brief liaison in 1558-9 with ‘Sinope’ (if that was her name). Laumonier explains how Belleau, in his 1560 commentary, makes clear that she and Marie are different people, although after Marie’s death in 1578 Ronsard modified Belleau’s notes to suggest that Sinope was just a nickname for Marie.
 
We can tell it’s an early poem, incidentally, as he refers to his “bonnet rond”, the sign of the priesthood – an odd thing to find in a love poem, and that is no doubt one reason why the older, wiser, and much more conservative Ronsard changed it…  More disappointingly he also removed the wonderfully erotic image of the final stanza below, and replaced it with a considerably more staid and stately ending we see above. 
 
Here is the earlier version complete:
 
 
Si j’estois Jupiter, Sinope, vous seriez
Mon espouse Junon : si j’estois roy des ondes,
Vous seriez ma Tethys, royne des eaux profondes,
Et pour vostre maison l’Océan vous auriez.
 
Si la terre estoit mienne, avec moy vous tiendriez
L’empire de la terre aux mammelles fecondes,
Et, dessus une coche en belles tresses blondes,
Par le peuple en honneur deesse vous iriez.
 
Mais je ne suis pas Dieu, et si ne le puis estre :
Pour telles dignités le ciel ne m’a fait naistre ;
Mais je voudrois avoir changé mon bonnet rond,
 
Et vous avoir chez moi pour ma chère espousée ;
Tout ainsi que la neige au doux soleil se fond,
Je me fondrois en vous d’une douce rousée.
 
 
 
                                                                            If I were Jupiter, Sinope, you would be
                                                                            My wife Juno ; if I were king of the waves,
                                                                            You would be my Tethys, queen of the deep waters
                                                                            And would have as your home the Ocean ;
 
                                                                            If the earth were mine, you would hold with me
                                                                            Power over the earth with its fertile breasts,
                                                                            And in a coach, with your beautiful blonde hair,
                                                                            You would go like a goddess, honoured by the people.
 
                                                                            But I am not a god, nor can I become one :
                                                                            For such honours heaven did not have me born.
                                                                            But I wish I could have exchanged my round priest’s hat
 
                                                                            And had you in my home as my dear wife ;
                                                                            Just as the snow melts in the soft sunshine,
                                                                            So I would melt into you like the soft dew.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 44 (Marie)

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For no particular reason other than I was reading something other than Helen, here’s a beautiful sonnet from the Marie set:

 

Marie, baisez-moy : non, ne me baisez pas,
Mais tirez moy le cœur de vostre douce haleine :
Non, ne le tirez pas, mais hors de chaque veine
Succez-moy toute l’ame esparse entre vos bras :
 
Non, ne la succez pas : car apres le trespas
Que serois-je sinon une semblance vaine,
Sans corps desur la rive, où l’amour ne demeine
(Pardonne moy Pluton) qu’en feintes ses esbas ?
 
Pendant que nous vivons, entr’aimons nous, Marie,
Amour ne regne point sur la troupe blesmie
Des morts, qui sont sillez d’un long somme de fer.
 
C’est abus que Pluton ait aimé Proserpine,
Si doux soing n’entre point en si dure poitrine :
Amour regne en la terre et non point en enfer.

 

 
 
 
                                                                                Marie, kiss me ; no, don’t kiss me
                                                                                But draw out my heart with your sweet breath;
                                                                                No, don’t draw it out, but from each vein
                                                                                Suck out my whole soul, spread within your arms;
 
                                                                                No, don’t suck it out; for after my death
                                                                                What would I be but an empty shade
                                                                                With no body, upon the river where love dances
                                                                                (Pardon me, Pluto) its frolics only in sham.
 
                                                                                While we live, let us love one another, Marie,
                                                                                Love does not reign at all over the pallid company
                                                                                Of the dead, who are buried in a long, iron-hard sleep.
 
                                                                                It’s a lie that Pluto loved Proserpina;
                                                                                So sweet a care never entered so harsh a breast;
                                                                                Love reigns with the ladies, never in Hades.
 
 
 
Ronsard’s friend Remy Belleau, in his edition of Ronsard’s Marie (quoted by Blanchemain), said “this sonnet is among the most beautiful to be found, for being full of noble, contrary repetitions”.  The last line I have translated freely: literally it should be something like ‘Love reigns in the world, never in the underworld’, to try (clumsily) to catch that internal half-rhyme on ‘terre/enfer’. But I read that as rather a sly, tongue in cheek, half-rhyme, which is why I’ve gone with a less accurate but livelier rhyme in my text 🙂 
 
The story of Pluto running away with Proserpina (Persephone), the daughetr of Ceres, is a well-known legend, a trope for the changing seasons: Persephone returns to her mother in Spring, the corn (Ceres) happily re-grows, and then in autumn Pluto takes Persephone back under the ground while winter hardens the ground and nothing grows. It is perhaps strange that Ronsard should be so rude to Pluto in the last tercet, after begging his pardon a few lines earlier. Once again, late tinkering is to blame, for in the earlier version (below) there is no begging of pardon.
 
Naturally Blanchemain’s text has some other minor changes too, perhaps most surprisingly (given this is in the middle of the Amours de Marie), in addressing the poem to Sinope not Marie! Mythologically, Sinope is a minor legendary figure, ancestor of the race of the Syrians; but in Ronsard she is an older, fading beauty to whom he addresses a short cycle of sonnets.
 
As the changes in Blanchemain’s version are scattered through the text it will do least violence to your enjoyment of the poem if I print it in full in his version:
 
 
Sinope, baisez-moy : non, ne me baisez pas,
Mais tirez moy le cœur de vostre douce haleine :
Non, ne le tirez pas, mais hors de chaque veine
Succez-moy toute l’ame esparse entre vos bras :
 
Non, ne la succez pas : car apres le trespas
Que serois-je sinon une semblance vaine,
Sans corps desur la rive, où l’amour ne demeine
Comme il fait icy haut, qu’en feintes ses esbas ?
 
Pendant que nous vivons, entr’aimons nous, Sinope ;
Amour ne regne point sur la debile trope
Des morts, qui sont sillez d’un long somme de fer.
 
C’est abus que Pluton ait aimé Proserpine,
Si doux soing n’entre point en si dure poitrine :
Amour regne en la terre et non point en enfer.
 
 
                                                                               Sinope, kiss me ; no, don’t kiss me
                                                                               But draw out my heart with your sweet breath;
                                                                               No, don’t draw it out, but from each vein
                                                                               Suck out my whole soul, spread within your arms;
 
                                                                               No, don’t suck it out; for after my death
                                                                               What would I be but an empty shade
                                                                               With no body, upon the river where love dances,
                                                                               As it doesn’t up here, its frolics only in sham.
 
                                                                               While we live, let us love one another, Sinope,
                                                                               Love does not reign at all over the feeble company
                                                                               Of the dead, who are buried in a long, iron-hard sleep.
 
                                                                               It’s a lie that Pluto loved Proserpina;
                                                                               So sweet a care never entered so harsh a breast;
                                                                               Love reigns with the ladies, never in Hades.
 
 
 
 [ PS  I’m sure that Ronsard had a wry smile on his face as he re-wrote the opening of line 8 to echo the beginning of this poem in his Cassandre set. The echo is entirely deliberate, I am certain. ]