Les Amours de Cassandre: Sonnet 1

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Qui voudra voir comme un dieu me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
A suivre en vain l’objet de son malheur,
Me vienne lire: il verra ma douleur
Dont ma déesse et mon dieu ne font compte.
 
Il connaîtra qu’amour est sans raison,
Un doux abus, une belle prison,
Un vain espoir qui de vent nous vient paître.
 
Et connaîtra que l’homme se décoit
Quand plein d’erreur un aveugle il reçoit
Pour sa conduite, un enfant pour son maître.
 
 
                                                                        Whoever wants to see how a god is overcoming me,
                                                                        how he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
                                                                        how he is burning then freezing my heart,
                                                                        how he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
                                                                        Whoever wants to see youth quick
                                                                        to pursue in vain the object of his misfortune,
                                                                        let him come and read me: he will see my misfortune,
                                                                        of which my goddess [Cassandre] and my God take no account.
 
                                                                        He will understand that love is without reason,
                                                                        a sweet illusion, a good-looking prison,
                                                                        an empty hope which tries to feed us with a breeze.
 
                                                                        And he will understand that man deceives himself
                                                                        when utterly mistakenly he takes blind Love
                                                                        as his guide, the child Cupid as his master.
 
 
 
 Blanchemain offers a range of texts! The second half of his main text is, essentially, a completely different poem:
 
 
Qui voudra voir comme un dieu me surmonte,
Comme il m’assaut, comme il se fait vainqueur,
Comme il renflamme et renglace mon coeur,
Comme il se fait un honneur de ma honte,
 
Qui voudra voir une jeunesse prompte
A suivre en vain l’objet de son malheur,
Me vienne voir: il verra ma douleur
Et la rigueur de l’archer qui me dompte.
 
Il cognoistra combien la raison peut,
Contre son arc, quand une fois il veut
Que nostre cueur son esclave demeure,
 
Et si verra que je suis trop heureux
D’avoir au flanc l’aiguillon amoureux,
Plein du venin dont il faut que je meure.
 
 
                                                                        Whoever wants to see how a god is overcoming me,
                                                                        how he is assaulting me, how he is making himself conqueror,
                                                                        how he is burning then freezing my heart,
                                                                        how he is gaining glory for himself from my shame;
 
                                                                        Whoever wants to see youth quick
                                                                        to pursue in vain the object of his misfortune,
                                                                        let him come and see me: he will see my misfortune,
                                                                        And the harshness of the archer who overwhelms me.
 
                                                                        He will understand what love can do
                                                                        against his bow, when once he wishes
                                                                        our hearts to remain his slave,
 
                                                                        And, too, will see that I am too happy
                                                                        to have love’s spur in my side,
                                                                        full of the poison which must kill me.
 
 
Whatever we may think of such a complete re-write of the opening poem of the collection, let’s recognise however that the chanegs we see here are only part of the story! Blanchemain offers this 1567 version of the sestet too! (Variants marked vs Blanchemain’s version above):
 
 
Il cognoistra combien peut la raison,
Contre son trait, quand sa douce poison
Tourmente un cueur que la jeunesse enchante;
 

Et cognoistra que je suis trop heureux

D’estre, en mourant, nouveau cygne amoureux,
Qui plus languit, et plus doucement chante.
 
 
 
                                                                        He will understand what love can do
                                                                        against his blow, when its sweet poison
                                                                        torments a heart which youth enchants;
 
                                                                        And he will know that I am too happy
                                                                        to be, as I die, another swan in love
                                                                        who, as he fades, sings sweeter still.
 
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About fattoxxon

Who am I? Lover of all sorts of music - classical, medieval, world (anything from Africa), world-classical (Uzbek & Iraqi magam for instance), and virtually anything that won't be on the music charts... Lover of Ronsard's poetry (obviously) and of sonnets in general. Reader of English, French, Latin & other literature. And who is Fattoxxon? An allusion to an Uzbek singer - pronounce it Patahan, with a very plosive 'P' and a throaty 'h', as in 'khan')

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