Sonnet 18

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Une beauté de quinze ans enfantine,
Un or frisé de meint crespe anelet,
Un front de rose, un teint damoiselet,
Un ris qui l’ame aux Astres achemine :
 
Une vertu de telle beauté digne,
Un col de neige, une gorge de lait,
Un coeur ja meur en un sein verdelet,
En Dame humaine une beauté divine :
 
Un oeil puissant de faire jours les nuis,
Une main douce à forcer les ennuis,
Qui tient ma vie en ses dois enfermée :
 
Avec un chant decoupé doucement,
Or’ d’un souris, or’ d’un gemissement :
De tels sorciers ma raison fut charmée.
 
 
 
                                                                       A childlike beauty just fifteen years old,
                                                                       The curled gold of so many ringlets
                                                                       A rosy brow, a maiden’s hue,
                                                                       A smile which carries my soul to the stars :
 
                                                                       A virtue worthy of such beauty
                                                                       A snowy neck, a milk-white throat,
                                                                       A heart already ripe in a youthful breast
                                                                       In a human Lady, a divine beauty :
 
                                                                       An eye with the power to make nights into days,
                                                                       A soft hand to drive off cares,
                                                                       Which holds my life enclosed in its fingers :
 
                                                                       With a song softly ending
                                                                       Now in a smile, now in a sigh :
                                                                       With such sorcery my reason has been charmed.
 
 
 
Ronsard leaves the mythology behind to return to his closely-observed naturalism. The phrasing is beautiful even if sometimes the adjectives are familiar.  Though this version is very little changed from earlier ones, his second thoughts are nonetheless valuable – the changes from the earlier version (below) definitely enhance the poem.
 
Two minor changes:  graces” to “beauté” in line 5 (earlier version: “A virtue worthy of such graces/favours”), and “piller” to “forcer” (line 10 – “A soft hand to steal cares away”);  and a different first line, far weaker than the one he replaced it with later:
 
Un chaste feu qui en l’ame domine
                                                                        A chaste warmth/fire which rules my soul
 
 
 
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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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