Sonnet 5

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Je parangonne au soleil que j’adore
L’autre soleil. Cestuy là de ses yeulx
Enlustre, enflamme, enlumine les cieulx
Et cestuy ci nostre France honore.
 
Tous les presens du coffre de Pandore
Les Elements, les Astres et les Dieux
Et tout cela que Nature a de mieux,
Ont embelli le sujet que j’honore.
 
Ha, trop heureux si le cruel Destin
N’eust emmuré d’un fort diamantin
Si chaste coeur dessous si belle face:
 
Et si mon coeur de mon sein arraché
Ne m’eust trahy, pour se voir attaché
De clous de feu sur le froid de sa glace.

.

 
 
                                                                       I rival to the sun which I adore
                                                                       With that other sun. The one’s eyes
                                                                       Makes the heavens shine, blaze, bright,
                                                                       The other one honours our France.
 
                                                                       All the presents in Pandora’s box,
                                                                       The elements, the stars and the gods
                                                                       And all that which is best in Nature
                                                                       Have beautified the lady I adore.
 
                                                                       Only too happy if cruel fate
                                                                       Had not built a wall, hard as diamond,
                                                                       Around that heart so chaste beneath face so fair:
 
                                                                       And if my heart from my breast torn out
                                                                       Had not betrayed me, to see itself fixed
                                                                       With fiery bolts to her icy coldness.
 
 
In the opening quatrain, Ronsard’s ‘this – that’ is open to different interpretations.  Most likely the sun illumines the heavens (with his eyes), while Cassandre illumines France. But t coul be read the other way round, with Cassandre illuminating the heavens (with her eyes). My version is intended to allow you to read it either way!
 
This was one of those poems that Ronsard re-wrote substantially. In that other version, the ‘correct’ reading is perhaps the other way round – that is, the sun illumines the whole earth, Cassandre illumines the heavens. But it could (of course) be simply an extension of Cassandre’s earthly illumination, beyond France to illumine the whole world.  Here, as there is substantial re-writing, is that other version complete:
 
 
Pareil j’egalle au soleil que j’adore
L’autre soleil. Cestuy là de ses yeulx
Enlustre, enflamme, enlumine les cieulx
Et cestuy ci toute la terre honore.
 
L’art, la Nature et les Astres encore
Les Elements, les Graces et les Dieux
Ont prodigué le parfaict de leur mieux,
Dans son beau jour qui le nostre décore.
 
Heureux, cent foys heureux, si le destin
N’eust emmuré d’un fort diamantin
Si chaste cuoeur dessoubz si belle face:
 
Et plus heureux si je n’eusse arraché
Mon cuoeur de moy, pour l’avoyr attaché
De cloudz de feu sur le froid de sa glace.
 
 
 
                                                                       I consider equal to the sun which I adore
                                                                       That other sun. The one’s eyes
                                                                       Makes the heavens shine, blaze, bright,
                                                                       The other one honours the whole earth.
 
                                                                       Art, nature and the stars too,
                                                                       The elements, the Graces and the gods
                                                                       Have generously given of their best, perfection itself,
                                                                       In her fine day which ornaments our own.
 
                                                                       I’d be blessed, a hundred times blessed, if fate
                                                                       Had not built a wall, hard as diamond,
                                                                       Around that heart so chaste beneath face so fair:
 
                                                                       And still more blessed if I had not torn out
                                                                       My own heart, so that I could fix it
                                                                       With fiery bolts to her icy coldness.
 
 
 
 
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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')

3 responses »

  1. ‘De clous de feu sur le froid de sa glace.’

    Surely fiery nails, or nails of fire (or bolts, it makes no difference) but not Iron.

    feu – fire
    fer – iron

    Just an observation but I suppose useful for the classic Ronsard internal antithesis/ juxtaposition.

    • Good grief, how did THAT get past my proof-reading? (Perhaps I won’t apply for a professional editorship just yet… 🙂 )

      Well spotted – thank you – and corrected in the updated version above!

  2. An easy mistake I suppose since you do expect nails/bolts to be made from iron as opposed to fire eh?

    A big thank you as well, Fattoxxon, these translations have really helped with my revision.

    G

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