Tag Archives: Vulcan

Amours 1.187

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Mechante Aglaure, ame pleine d’envie,
Langue confitte en caquet indiscret,
D’avoir osé publier le secret
Que je tenois aussi cher que ma vie.
 
Fiere à ton col Tisiphone se lie,
Qui d’un remors, d’un soin, et d’un regret,
D’un feu, d’un foet, d’un serpent, et d’un trait,
Sans se lasser punisse ta folie.
 
Pour me venger, ce vers injurieux
Suive l’horreur du despit furieux
Dont Archiloch aiguisa son Jambe :
 
Mon fier courroux t’ourdisse le licol
Du fil meurtrier, que l’envieux Lycambe,
Pour se sauver, estraignit à son col.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            You wicked Aglauros, you soul full of jealousy,
                                                                            You tongue steeped in indiscreet chatter,
                                                                            To have dared to make public the secret
                                                                            Which I kept as dear as my life.
 
                                                                            May proud Tisiphone bind herself around your neck,
                                                                            And with remorse, care, regret,
                                                                            With fire, whips, snakes and wounds
                                                                            May she tirelessly punish your folly!
 
                                                                            To avenge me, may this injurious verse
                                                                            Copy the fearful, furious spite
                                                                            With which Archilochus sharpened his iambics;
 
                                                                            May my proud wrath wind you in the halter
                                                                            Of the murderous cord which jealous Lycambes
                                                                            Tightened round his throat to save himself.
 
 
 
Let’s begin with the classical allusions:
 – Aglauros:  when Erechthonius was born (accidentally) from the union of Vulcan & Gaia (the Earth), Minerva hid him away. Aglauros was one of the inquisitive keepers of the hidden Erechthonius, who could not keep herself from looking to see what they were guarding, and was sent mad as a result. So here, she is a model for Cassandre recklessly and indiscreetly revealing Ronsard’s secret;
 – Tisiphone is one of the Furies, who pursue wrong-doers;
 – Archilochus was a Greek poet. Lycambes betrothed his daughter to Archilochus. but then broke the engagement; in response, Archilochus wrote a lot of angry verse about it, and Lycambes and his daughter – and perhaps others in the family – committed suicide as a result of the publicity.
 
The poem itself is a very good one, in my view. As usual, it took a while to reach this form; here is Blanchemain’s earlier version, in line 4 of which we have a characteristic new verb-from-adjective coinage by Ronsard which (also characteristically) he eliminated in later years. Note that the opening quatrain works completely differently, now a series of invocations of punishment rather than a statement of guilt. Why would a heart ‘rust’? It would be made of cold, hard iron – or at least that is the insult which I imagine Ronsard is implying.
 
 
Seconde Aglaure, avienne que l’envie
Rouille ton cœur traitrement indiscret,
D’avoir osé publier le secret
Qui bienheuroit le plaisir de ma vie.
 
Fiere à ton col Tisiphone se lie,
Qui d’un remors, d’un soin et d’un regret,
Et d’un foüet, d’un serpent et d’un trait,
Sans se lasser punisse ta folie.
 
Pour me venger, ce vers injurieux
Suive l’horreur du despit furieux
Dont Archiloch aiguisa son iambe ;
 
Et mon courroux t’ourdisse le licol
Du fil meurtrier que le mechant Lycambe
Pour se sauver estreignit à son col.
 
 
 
                                                                            You second Aglauros, may jealousy come and
                                                                            Rust your treacherously-indiscreet heart,
                                                                            For having dared to make public the secret
                                                                            Which brought good fortune and pleasure to my life.
 
                                                                            May proud Tisiphone bind herself around your neck,
                                                                            And with remorse, care, regret,
                                                                            And with whips, snakes and wounds
                                                                            May she tirelessly punish your folly!
 
                                                                            To avenge me, may this injurious verse
                                                                            Copy the fearful, furious spite
                                                                            With which Archilochus sharpened his iambics;
                                                                             
                                                                            And may my wrath wind you in the halter
                                                                            Of the murderous cord which jealous Lycambes
                                                                            Tightened round his throat to save himself.
 
 
 
 
 
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Madrigal (Amours 1.200a)

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Un sot Vulcan ma Cyprine fachoit :
Elle en pleurant qui son courroux ne cele,
L’un de ses yeux arma d’une etincelle,
De l’autre une eau sur sa joüe épanchoit.
 
Tandis Amour, qui petit se cachoit
Comme un oiseau dans le sein de la belle,
En l’œil humide alloit baignant son aile,
Puis en l’ardant ses plumes il sechoit.
 
Ainsi voit-on d’une face diverse
Rire et pleurer tout en un mesme temps
Douteusement le Soleil du printemps,
Quand une nuë à demi le traverse.
 
Quel dueil ensemble et quel plaisir c’estoit
De voir son geste, et les pleurs qu’elle verse
Pleins de regrets que le Ciel escoutoit ?
 
 
 
 
                                                                            A stupid Vulcan annoyed my Cyprian [Venus] :
                                                                            As she cried, not concealing her anger,
                                                                            One of her eyes she armed with a flashing spark,
                                                                            From the other a tear flowed onto her cheek.
 
                                                                            So Love, hiding his tiny self
                                                                            Like a bird within the beauty’s breast,
                                                                            Flew into the wet eye, bathing his wings,
                                                                            Then in the burning one he dried his feathers.
 
                                                                            Thus you might see with a divided appearance,
                                                                            Both laughing and crying at the same time
                                                                            Uncertainly, the Sun in spring
                                                                            When a cloud half-crosses it.
 
                                                                            What grief and what pleasure together it was
                                                                            To see how she acted, and the tears she cried
                                                                            Full of regret, that the Heavens might hear.
 
 
 
For Ronsard, a madrigal is, as you’ll recall, simply a sonnet with a bonus line or two. Here, his opening image is taken from classical myth, the unhappy marriage of Vulcan and Venus; but that is simply scene-setting. Vulcan here is obviously Ronsard who in his clumsy foolishness has upset Cassandre.
 
In Blanchemain, this is a (numbered) sonnet, simply being one line shorter: I’ve marked the spot in line 10 where in the later version above he has simply split the line and inserted 2 extra half-lines.
 
 
Un sot Vulcan ma Cyprine faschoit :
Et elle à part, qui son courroux ne celle,
L’un de ses yeux arma d’une estincelle,
De l’autre un lac sur sa joue épanchoit.
 
Tandis Amour, qui petit se cachoit
Folastrement dans le sein de la belle,
En l’œil humide alloit baignant son aile,
Puis en l’ardant ses plumes il sechoit.
 
Ainsi void-on quelquefois en un temps
Rire et pleurer [ ] le soleil du printemps,
Quand une nue à demi le traverse.
 
L’un dans les miens darda tant de liqueur,
Et l’autre, après, tant de flames au cœur,
Que fleurs et feux depuis l’heure je verse.
 
 
                                                                            A stupid Vulcan annoyed my Cyprian [Venus] :
                                                                            As she standing aside, not concealing her anger,
                                                                            Armed one of her eyes with a flashing spark,
                                                                            From the other a lake flowed onto her cheek.
 
                                                                            So Love, hiding his tiny self
                                                                            Playfully within the beauty’s breast,
                                                                            Flew into the wet eye, bathing his wings,
                                                                            Then in the burning one he dried his feathers.
 
                                                                            Thus you might see occasionally at the same time,
                                                                            Both laughing and crying the Sun in spring
                                                                            When a cloud half-crosses it.
 
                                                                            One of them shot so much water into my own [eyes],
                                                                            The other, afterwards, so many flames into my heart,
                                                                            That I’ve been pouring out flowers and fires since then. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Amours 1.196

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Au plus profond de ma poitrine morte
Il m’est advis qu’une main je reçoy,
Qui me pillant entraine avecque soy
Mon cœur captif, que maistresse elle emporte.
 
Coustume inique, et de mauvaise sorte,
Malencontreuse et miserable loy,
Tu m’as tué, tant tu es contre moy,
Loy des humains, bride trop dure et forte.
 
Faut-il que veuf, seul entre mille ennuis,
Mon lict desert je couve tant de nuits ?
Hà ! que je porte et de haine et d’envie
 
A ce Vulcan ingrat et sans pitié,
Qui s’opposant aux raiz de ma moitié,
Fait eclipser le Soleil de ma vie.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            In the deepest place in my dead breast
                                                                            I seem to feel a hand
                                                                            Which as it plunders me drags with it
                                                                            My captive heart, and takes it to be its mistress.
 
                                                                            Iniquitous custom, wicked fate,
                                                                            Unlucky and wretched law,
                                                                            You have killed me, so much you are against me,
                                                                            Law of mankind, bridle too harsh and strong.
 
                                                                            Must I bereft, alone among a thousand troubles,
                                                                            Brood on my deserted bed for so many nights?
                                                                            Ah, what hate and jealousy I bear
 
                                                                            Towards that ungrateful and pitiless Vulcan
                                                                            Who, setting himself against the light of my other half,
                                                                            Eclipsed the Sun of my life.
 
 
 
Muret, footnoting the Amours, tells us: ‘Vulcan, husband of Venus, was a jealous god. This sonnet has nothing to do with Cassandre, as with several others in this book.’ Vulcan as the husband of Venus, who found her in bed with Mars; are we to assume that Ronsard has been playing with a married lady? Or is this a less-precise reference, which would fit Cassandre better, to another lover competing for her hand and making off with her – perhaps, her husband-to-be rather than a husband? Or is Muret right in saying this has nothing to do with Cassandre – for, after all, we have already encountered many a sonnet addressed to Sinope, Marguerite and other ladies?
 
In the end, does it matter?! Poetry does not, after all, have to be subjected to the analysis which a strict biographer might apply. It is an attractive poem with a novel image in the opening quatrain and some unusual phrases in the second.
 
In both, there are variants in the earlier Blanchemain edition: of these I think we can safely say the older versions of lines 2 and 7 are weaker, but that does not make the version less interesting.
 
 
Au plus profond de ma poitrine morte
Sans me tuer une main je reçoy,
Qui, me pillant, entraine avecques soy
Mon cœur captif, que, maistresse, elle emporte.
 
Coustume inique et de mauvaise sorte,
Malencontreuse et miserable loy,
Tant à grand tort, tant tu es contre moy,
Loy sans raison miserablement forte.
 
 
                                                                            In the deepest place in my dead breast
                                                                            I feel a hand which does not kill me,
                                                                            Which as it plunders me drags with it
                                                                            My captive heart, and takes it to be its mistress.
 
                                                                            Iniquitous custom, wicked fate,
                                                                            Unlucky and wretched law,
                                                                            So wrongly, so much you are against me,
                                                                            Law without reason, wretchedly strong.
 
 
 
 

Odes 4:5

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Guy, nos meilleurs ans coulent
Comme les eaux qui roulent
D’un cours sempiternel ;
La mort pour sa sequelle
Nous ameine avec elle
Un exil éternel.
 
Nulle humaine priere
Ne repousse en arriere
Le bateau de Charon,
Quand l’ame nue arrive
Vagabonde en la rive
De Styx et d’Acheron.
 
Toutes choses mondaines
Qui vestent nerfs et veines
La mort égale prend,
Soient pauvres ou soient princes ;
Car sur toutes provinces
Sa main large s’estend.
 
La puissance tant forte
Du grand Achille est morte,
Et Thersite, odieux
Aux Grecs, est mort encores ;
Et Minos qui est ores
Le conseiller des dieux.
 
Jupiter ne demande
Que des bœufs pour offrande ;
Mais son frere Pluton
Nous demande, nous hommes,
Qui la victime sommes
De son enfer glouton.
 
Celuy dont le Pau baigne
Le tombeau nous enseigne
N’esperer rien de haut,
Et celuy que Pegase
(Qui fit soucer Parnase)
Culbuta d’un grand saut.
 
Las ! on ne peut cognaistre
Le destin qui doit naistre,
Et l’homme en vain poursuit
Conjecturer la chose
Que Dieu sage tient close
Sous une obscure nuit.
 
Je pensois que la trope
Que guide Calliope,
Troupe mon seul confort,
Soustiendroit ma querelle,
Et qu’indonté par elle
Je donterois la mort.
 
Mais une fiévre grosse
Creuse déjà ma fosse
Pour me banir là bas,
Et sa flame cruelle
Se paist de ma mouelle,
Miserable repas.
 
Que peu s’en faut, ma vie,
Que tu ne m’es ravie
Close sous le tombeau,
Et que mort je ne voye
Où Mercure convoye
Le debile troupeau !
 
[Et ce Grec qui les peines
Dont les guerres sont pleines
Va là bas racontant,
Poëte qu’une presse
Des épaules espaisse
Admire en l’écoutant.]
 
A bon droit Prométhée
Pour sa fraude inventée
Endure un tourment tel,
Qu’un aigle sur la roche
Luy ronge d’un bec croche
Son poumon immortel.
 
Depuis qu’il eut robée
La flame prohibée,
Pour les dieux despiter,
Les bandes incogneues
Des fiévres sont venues
Parmi nous habiter.
 
Et la mort despiteuse,
Auparavant boiteuse,
Fut légère d’aller ;
D’ailes mal-ordonnées
Aux hommes non données
Dedale coupa l’air.
 
L’exécrable Pandore
Fut forgée, et encore
Astrée s’en-vola,
Et la boîte féconde
Peupla le pauvre monde
De tant de maux qu’il a.
 
Ah ! le meschant courage
Des hommes de nostre âge
N’endure pas ses faits ;
Que Jupiter estuye
Sa foudre, qui s’ennuye
Venger tant de mesfaits !
Guy, our best years rush by
Like streams flowing
In their everlasting race ;
Death, as the sequel,
Brings us with it
Eternal exile.
 
No human prayer
Can push back
Charon’s boat
When the naked soul arrives
A wanderer at the river
Styx and Acheron.
 
All wordly things
Equipped with nerves and veins
Death takes equally,
Be they poor men or princes ;
For over all the empires
Its wide hand extends.
 
The strength, though great,
Of mighty Achilles is dead ;
And Thersites, hated
By the Greeks, is dead too ;
And Minos too, who was once
Advisor to the gods.
 
Jupiter requires only
Cattle as an offering ;
But his brother Pluto
Requires us, us men,
Who are the victims
Of his greedy hell.
 
He, whose tomb the Pau [Po]
Bathes, teaches us
To hope for nothing from on high,
And he too, whom Pegasus
(Who disquieted Parnassus)
Knocked down with his great leap.
 
Alas ! we cannot know
The fate which must come to us,
And man in vain seeks
To conjecture what thing
Our wise God keeps hidden
Beneath dark night.
 
I thought that the troop
Whom Calliope leads,
The troop which is my sole comfort,
Would support my complaint
And that, untamed by them,
I would tame death.
 
But a great fever
Is already digging my grave
To banish me down there,
And its cruel flame
Is feeding on my marrow,
A wretched repast.
 
How little is needed, mt life,
For you to be taken from me,
Shut in beneath my tomb,
And for me to see death
Where Mercury brings
The feeble troop !
 
[And that Greek who
Continually recounts down there
The pains with which war is filled,
The poet whom a crowd
Of wide shoulders
Admires as they listen.]
 
Rightly does Prometheus
For that trick he contrived
Endure such torment,
As, on his rock, an eagle
With its crooked beak gnaws
His immortal guts.
 
Since he stole away
The forbidden fire
To spite the gods,
The unknown bonds
Of fevers have come
To live among us ;
 
And resentful death,
Before that limping slowly,
Has become light on his feet.
With clumsy wings
Not granted to man
Daedalus cut through the air.
 
Cursed Pandora
Was forged and, still
A star, flew off
While the fruitful box
Peopled this poor world
With all the evils it had.
 
Ah, the paltry courage
Of the men of our age
Cannot endure their deeds ;
May Jupiter hold back
His thunderbolts, bored with
Avenging so many misdeeds !

 

This Ode is dedicated to Guy Pacate, prior of Sougé – a small village in the Loir region. Even today it consists of little more than one street and a church. Pacate had been one of the little group around Daurat in the 1540s, including Ronsard, du Bellay and Denisot, from which sprang the Pléiade. Among them he was apparently known for his learning and his gift for Latin poetry; though beyond their circle he seems obscure.  Perhaps it is relevant that, in the posthumous editions of Ronsard the dedication was to Jean Daurat himself, rather than this little-known satellite of his.
 
It’s certainly relevant that Pacate knew his classics: there is an array of classical references here rarely seen in such number in Ronsard’s poems! But at the same time Ronsard contrives an inward-looking reflection on death rather than a grand, public poem, suitable to the relative obscurity of the dedicatee.
 
Stanza 2 refers to the journey to the afterlife: souls would come down to the river Styx where they awaited Charon’s boat to ferry them over to Hades. (Mercury guided souls to the underworld – stanza 10.)
 
Stanza 4 contrasts Achilles with Thersites, the former the hero of the Iliad, the latter an annoying, cowardly tell-tale also on the Greek side; and adds Minos, once a king on earth, but tricked and killed in his bath by his daughters.
 
In stanza 6, Pau is famous as the birthplace of “noste Enric” (‘our Henry’), Henry IV of France; and earlier was the base of Gaston Fébus, whose Renaissance court paralleled that of Italian city-states. But this Pau is in fact the Po in north Italy, reputed to be where Phaethon fell when struck down by Jupiter’s thunderbolt. The second half of the stanza is about Perseus; other editions have “sourcer” rather than the (unique?) “soucer” which I have treated as if it were “soucier”: “Qui fit sourcer Parnase” would mean something like “who made a spring come from Parnassus”, the spring being the Hippocrene spring which was created when Pegasus stamped his foot, and which became sacred to the Muses.
 
The troop of Calliope in stanza 8 is the Muses – Calliope is the muse of epic poetry. In stanza 11, the poet is no doubt Homer; we have met Prometheus (stanzas 12-13), punished by the gods for bringing fire to man, regularly. In stanza 14 I have to admit the presence of Daedalus confuses me: there is no link to Pandora, nor did his flight lead to his own death. I assume that Ronsard is offering a simile – like Daedalus taking wing, death too became swifter.
 
Finally, in the penultimate stanza, Pandora is ‘forged’ because she the first woman, was made by Vulcan on Jupiter’s instructions. The story of the evils contained in Pandora’s box is well-known.
 
 
 
 
 

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.

Sonnet 27

Standard
Chef, escole des arts, le sejour de science,
Où vit un intellect qui foy du Ciel nous fait,
Une heureuse memoire, un jugement parfait,
D’où Pallas reprendroit sa seconde naissance.
 
Chef, le logis d’honneur, de vertu, de prudence,
Ennemy capital du vice contrefait :
Chef, petit Univers, qui montres par effet
Que tu as du grand Tout parfaite cognoissance :
 
Et toy divin esprit qui du Ciel es venu,
En son chef comme au Ciel sainctement retenu,
Simple rond et parfait, comme icy nous ne sommes
 
Où tout est embrouillé, sans ordre ny sans loy :
Puisque tu es divin, ayes pitié de moy :
Il appartient aux Dieux d’avoir pitié des hommes.
 
 
                                                                                O Head, the school of the arts, the home of understanding,
                                                                                Where lives the intellect which grants us faith in Heaven,
                                                                                Happy memory, perfect judgement,
                                                                                From where Pallas had her second birth;
 
                                                                                Head, the place where honour, virtue and prudence live,
                                                                                Mortal enemy of deformed vice;
                                                                                Head, that little universe, you show by your actions
                                                                                That you have perfect understanding of the great All;
 
                                                                                And you, divine spirit who came from Heaven,
                                                                                Resting in the head with no less holiness than in Heaven,
                                                                                Plain, straightforward and perfect, as we cannot be here
 
                                                                                Where all is confusion, without order or law;
                                                                                Since you are divine, have pity on me;
                                                                                It is the function of the gods to have pity on men.
 
 
 
 A lovely poem, though I confess to having some difficulty with the syntax – the address is to Head and Spirit, but only the second seems to be addressed in the last lines, while the opening address to the Head seems to be left high and dry. Maybe I’ve missed something….
 
In line 4, the reference is to Pallas Athene. Her mother Metis conceived her after a visit from Jupiter, but then Jupiter, fearing a prophecy that the child of Metis (‘crafty thought’) would be greater than its father, swallowed Metis! Developing a massive headache some time later, Jupiter eventually called on Vulcan to hit his head with his great hammer – or, sometimes, an axe – and out leapt Athene, fully-armed and fully-grown; a ‘second birth’ after her presumed original birth in the normal fashion inside him.
 
This is the last of the batch of 1578 poems which Blanchemain added into his (earlier) text.  He offers a different line 11-12, and a small change in line 10, providing “ce chef” instead of “son chef” (‘this head’ not ‘his/her head’); but in the above translation I have effectively used Blanchemain’s version anyway, since I cannot see how ‘son’ fits in as a possessive and have assumed it is in effect a ‘pointer’ like ‘this’.
 
He also offers in a footnote a different version of line 10:  so here is the sestet with Blanchemain’s footnoted line 10, and the 11-12 he adopts in his text, to show all the variant lines in one place:
 
 
Et toy divin esprit, qui du Ciel es venu,
Dedans un autre ciel où tu es retenu,
Simple, sans passions, comme icy bas ne sommes
 
Mais tout prompt et subtil, tout rond et tout en toy,
Puis que tu es divin, ayes pitié de moy :
Il appartient aux Dieux d’avoir pitié des hommes.
 
 
                                                                               And you, divine spirit who came from Heaven,
                                                                               Within that other heaven where you rest
                                                                               Plain, passion-free, as we are not here below
 
                                                                               But quick and discerning in all, all straightforwardness, and at one with yourself;
                                                                               Since you are divine, have pity on me;
                                                                               It is the function of the gods to have pity on men.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonnet 147

Standard
Un voile obscur par l’horizon espars
Troubloit le Ciel d’une humeur survenue,
Et l’air crevé, d’une gresle menue
Frappoit à bonds les champs de toutes pars :
 
Desja Vulcan de ses borgnes soudars
Hastoit les mains à la forge cognüe,
Et Jupiter dans le creux d’une nüe
Armoit sa main de l’esclair de ses dars :
 
Quand ma Nymphette, en simple verdugade
Cueillant les fleurs, des raiz de son œillade
Essuya l’air gresleux et pluvieux ;
 
Des vents sortis remprisonna les tropes,
Et fit cesser les marteaux des Cyclopes,
Et de Jupin rasserena les yeux.
 
 
                                                                                             A dark gloom, spread along the horizon,
                                                                                             Troubled the sky with its unexpected damps,
                                                                                             And the bursting air suddenly struck
                                                                                             The fields on every side with thin drizzle;
 
                                                                                             Already Vulcan with his disreputable troop
                                                                                             Was hastily setting to work at his well-known forge,
                                                                                             And Jupiter, in the hollow of a cloud,
                                                                                             Was arming himself with the lightning of his bolts;
 
                                                                                             When my little nymph, in just her petticoat,
                                                                                             Picking flowers, with a look of her eyes
                                                                                             Swept away the drizzling and rainy air,
 
                                                                                             Re-imprisoned the whirling of the escaped winds,
                                                                                             Stopped the hammers of the Cyclopes,
                                                                                             And calmed the eyes of Jove again.
 
 
 
Another charming image from Ronsard, a witty modern adaptation of various classical tropes: we also have Jupiter and his lightning-bolts, and Vulcan at his forge making them with his Cyclopean helpers.  Blanchemain offers Ronsard’s earlier thoughts, where in the second stanza we see that an older Ronsard seems to have felt “les bras”‘ (arms) rather too common to be mentioned in such august company as the gods, and replaced them:
 
 
Desja Vulcan les bras de ses soudars
Hastoit, depit, à la forge cognüe …
 
                                                                                             Already Vulcan was speeding his troop’s arms
                                                                                             Spitefully to the well-known forge …
 
 
In the penultimate line he perhaps felt that his earlier thoughts (slowing down the hammers) were not decisive enough, and instead brought them to a halt:  Blanchemain’s early version is “Et ralenta les marteaux des Cyclopes” (‘Slowed the hammers of the Cyclopes’).
 
 
 
POSTSCRIPT:  I just found this lovely translation of the final sestet at Goodreads:
 
                                                                                    When my nymphet, in just her underwear,
                                                                                    goes picking flowers, her flirtatious stare
                                                                                    clears the rain and hail from above –
                                                                                    she returns the loosed wind’s moan to peace
                                                                                    and makes the Cyclops’ hammers cease,
                                                                                    and calms the eyes of Jove.
 
 Fabulous! For me that catches much of the style of Ronsard – easily flowing, a virtuoso mix of high-flown and ordinary language, the art that conceals art.