Sonnet 33

Standard
Je ne serois d’un abusé la fable,
Fable future au peuple survivant,
Si ma raison alloit bien ensuivant
L’arrest fatal de ta voix veritable,
 
Chaste prophete, et vrayment pitoyable,
Pour m’advertir tu me predis souvent,
Que je mourray, Cassandre, en te servant :
Mais le malheur ne te rend point croyable.
 
Le fier destin qui trompe mon trespas,
Et qui me force à ne te croire pas,
Pour me piper tes oracles n’accorde.
 
Puis je voy bien, veu l’estat où je suis,
Que tu dis vray :  toutesfois je ne puis
D’autour du col me detacher la corde.
 
 
 
                                                                      I would not be the tale of a misused man,
                                                                      A future tale for the people living after us,
                                                                      If my mind were well, following
                                                                      Its fateful capture by your truthful voice,
 
                                                                      Chaste prophetess, and truly to be pitied.
                                                                      To warn me you often give me the prediction
                                                                      That I will die, Cassandre, serving you;
                                                                      But my misfortune does not make you at all believable.
 
                                                                      The proud destiny which denies me my death,
                                                                      And which forces me not to believe you,
                                                                      Does not grant that your oracles should snare me.
 
                                                                      But then I see clearly, given the position I’m in,
                                                                      That you speak the truth:  anyway, I cannot
                                                                      Remove the rope from round my neck.
 
 
 
Let me admit this up front:  the fluidity of Ronsard’s thought in this sonnet leaves me very uncertain that I’ve translated it correctly. I’m not quite sure I follow all his twists and turns.  Anyway, the translation is what it is: if you can offer improvements let me know!!
 
In the middle, Ronsard is clearly once again aligning his Cassandre with Cassandra of Troy, the ‘chaste prophetess’.  Assuming that I recall correctly it was her who lost her voice (see Sonnet 27), then ‘l’arrest … de ta voix’ may have a double meaning: for Trojan Cassandra, ‘the stoppage of your voice’, while for modern Cassandre, ‘my capture by your voice’. I say ‘may have’ – I may have misunderstood what’s going on here!
 
One difficulty is the punctuation in the first octet. Marty-Laveaux has this all as one sentence, which leaves me confused!  I have split the sentence at the end of line 5 – which is probably not what Ronsard would want, as he generally keeps his thought-units aligned with the sections of the sonnet. Blanchemain (for that reason?) makes each of the quatrains a complete sentence in itself.
 
And what of Blanchemain’s text? Well, he presents a different arrangement of the first line: “D’un abusé je ne serois la fable”, which does not affect the meaning; but he offers not one but two different versions of the final sestet.
 
Car ton destin qui cèle mon trespas,
Et qui me force à ne te croire pas,
D’un faux espoir tes oracles me cache.
 
Et si voy bien, veu l’estat où je suis,
Que tu dis vray ;  toutesfois je ne puis
D’autour du col me denouer l’attache.

 

 
                                                                      For your fate which conceals my death (from me),
                                                                      And which forces me not to believe you,
                                                                       Hides your oracles in a false hope.
 
                                                                      And if I see clearly, given the position I’m in,
                                                                      That you speak the truth, anyway, I cannot
                                                                      Un-knot the cord from round my neck.

 

 The version above, you may note, makes the fate definitely hers; my translation implicitly assumed the fate or destiny was his. Blanchemain’s second version is as above except that he goes back to the same last line as Marty-Laveaux, above, but has a different line 11 rhyming with it. If anything, the new line 11 increases my uncertainty even more – see the tentative translation of the first sestet below!
 
(l. 11) Nulle créance à tes propos n’accorde …
(l. 14) D’autour du col me detacher la corde.
 
                                                                      For your destiny which conceals my death (from me),
                                                                      And which forces me not to believe you,
                                                                      Does not accept any claim from your suggestions.
 
 
 
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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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