Sonnet 35

Puisse advenir qu’une fois je me vange
De ce penser qui devore mon cueur,
Et qui tousjours comme un lion veinqueur
Le tient l’estrangle et sans pitié le mange!
Avec le temps le temps mesme se change :
Mais ce cruel qui suçe ma vigueur,
Opiniastre à garder sa rigueur,
En autre lieu qu’en mon coeur ne se range.
Il est bien vray qu’il contraint un petit
Durant le jour son secret appetit,
Et sur mon coeur ses griffes il n’allonge ;
Mais quand le soir tient le jour enfermé,
Il sort en queste et lion affamé,
De mille dents toute nuict il me ronge.
                                                                      Oh, if only just once I could chance to take revenge
                                                                      On this thought which eats away at my heart,
                                                                      And which always, like a conquering lion,
                                                                      Keeps it in a stranglehold and devours it pitilessly!
                                                                      With time, time itself changes:
                                                                      But this cruel (thought) which sucks dry my vigour,
                                                                      Stubborn in preserving its harsh grip,
                                                                      Will settle nowhere else than in my heart.
                                                                      True it is that, during the day, it holds back
                                                                      Its hidden appetite a little,
                                                                      And does not extend its claws onto my heart;
                                                                      But when evening brings the day to a close,
                                                                      Out it comes on the hunt, and like a hungry lion
                                                                      With a thousand teeth gnaws at me all night.
Blanchemain has various minor differences:  in line 7, “Opiniastre au cours de sa rigueur” (‘Stubborn in its harshness’); in line 9 a rearrangement of the words so that it becomes “Bien est-il vray qu’il contraint un petit” – which, to me, is more elegant than Marty-Laveaux’s version; in line 11, “Et dans mes flancs ses griffes …” (‘extend its claws onto my breast’); and then in line 12, “Mais quand la nuit tient le jour enfermé” (‘when night brings the day to a close’).
Although Ronsard often uses a Petrarchan sonnet as his starting point, lifting a theme or a phrase, I was intrigued by Blanchemain’s claim (in a footnote) that “all of this sonnet is taken from Petrarch”.  A little research demonstrated that claim to be untrue!  In fact, Ronsard borrows the beginning of the first quatrain & the end of the second, merges them into his own first quatrain, and then heads off in a completely different direction – as usual.
Here is Petrarch – no. 256 in the Canzoniere – with my (slightly approximate) translation:
Far potess’io vendetta di colei
che guardando et parlando mi distrugge,
et per piú doglia poi s’asconde et fugge,
celando gli occhi a me sí dolci et rei.
Cosí li afflicti et stanchi spirti mei
a poco a poco consumando sugge,
e ‘n sul cor quasi fiero leon rugge
la notte allor quand’io posar devrei.
L’alma, cui Morte del suo albergo caccia,
da me si parte, et di tal nodo sciolta,
vassene pur a lei che la minaccia.
Meravigliomi ben s’alcuna volta,
mentre le parla et piange et poi l’abbraccia,
non rompe il sonno suo, s’ella l’ascolta.
                                                                      If only I could have revenge on her
                                                                      who destroys me with glances and words,
                                                                      and, for greater pain, then ups and flees,
                                                                      hiding the eyes so sweet and hurtful to me.
                                                                      So, my afflicted and tired spirits
                                                                      little by little seem consumed,
                                                                      and in my heart like a fierce lion she roars
                                                                      all night when I should rest.  
                                                                      My soul, which Death pursues from its home,
                                                                      parts from me, and freed from that trap
                                                                      goes straight to her who threatens it.
                                                                      I wonder indeed if at any time,
                                                                      with my calling and crying and embracing,
                                                                      her sleep is broken, if she hears it.
(A footnote on the Petrarch: I’m not sure. in line 13, whether it’s ‘me’ that’s calling etc, or whether it’s ‘my soul’ which has gone to her and is calling etc. Feel free to read it the other way if you prefer.)

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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