Sonnet 37

Standard
Ces petits corps qui tombent de travers
Par leur descente en biais vagabonde,
Heurtez ensemble ont composé le monde
S’entr’acrochans de liens tous divers.
 
L’ennuy, le soing et les pensers couvers
Tombez espais en mon amour profonde,
Ont acroché d’une agrafe feconde
Dedans mon coeur l’amoureux univers.
 
Mais s’il advient que ces tresses orines,
Ces dois rosins et ces mains ivoirines
Rompent ma trame en servant leur beauté,
 
Retourneray-je en eau, ou terre, ou flame ?
Non : mais en voix qui là bas de ma Dame
Accusera l’ingrate cruauté.
 
 
 
                                                                      Those little bodies which fall sideways
                                                                      In their descent by slant-wise wanderings
                                                                      By crashing together have made up the world
                                                                      Grasping one another by all kinds of ties.
 
                                                                      Pain, care and hidden thoughts
                                                                      By falling thickly on my profound love
                                                                      Have grasped with their plentiful hooks
                                                                      The whole universe of love within my heart.
 
                                                                      But if it happens that those golden locks,
                                                                      Those rosy fingers and those ivory hands
                                                                      Should snap my thread as I serve their beauty,
 
                                                                      Shall I return to water, earth or fire?
                                                                      No: rather, to a voice which down below will accuse
                                                                      The ungrateful cruelty of my Lady.
 
 
 
From mythology Ronsard moves to philosophy – beginning with the atomic theories Democritus, Epicurus et al; and ending with (three of) the four elements originally proposed by Empedocles and by Ronsard’s time firmly embedded in philosophy and ‘science’. There’s even a hint of Copernican astronomy with the concept of objects ‘falling sideways’ – the orbit of a planet or an electron is simply the effect of continuously falling towards the centre but travelling sideways (‘slant-wise’?) fast enough to remain at the same distance from the centre.
 
But mythology is not far off: in line 11 there’s a reference to the ‘thread’ of life which the Fates would cut when it was your time to die.
 
Once again Blanchemain has a substantially varied version.  As there are changes in all parts of the poem, here’s his version complete:
 
 
Ces petits corps culbutans de travers,
Par leur descente en biais vagabonde,
Heurtez ensemble ont composé le monde,
S’entr’accrochans d’accrochements divers.
 
L’ennuy, le soing et les pensers couvers,
Tombez espais en mon amour profonde,
Ont façonné d’une attache feconde
Dedans mon coeur l’amoureux univers.
 
Mais s’il advient que ces tresses orines,
Ces dois rosins et ces mains yvoirines
Froissent ma vie, en quoi retournera
 
Ce petit tout ? En eau, air, terre, ou flamme ?
Non, mais en voix qui toujours de ma dame
Par le grand tout les honneurs sonnera.
 
 
                                                                     Those little bodies tumbling sideways
                                                                     In their descent by slant-wise wanderings
                                                                     By crashing together have made up the world
                                                                     Grasping one another in various grips.
 
                                                                     Pain, care and hidden thoughts
                                                                     By falling thickly on my profound love
                                                                     Have fashioned with their plentiful fixings
                                                                     The whole universe of love within my heart.
 
                                                                     But if it happens that those golden locks,
                                                                     Those rosy fingers and those ivory hands
                                                                     Should hurt my life, to what will return
 
                                                                     My little all? To water, air, earth or fire?
                                                                     No: rather, to a voice which will always shout out
                                                                     The beauty of my lady throughout the great all.
 
 
This version manages to get all four of the elements into line 12, even if ‘air’ is a little awkwardly on an unstressed-syllable, as well as contrasting ‘my little all’ with the ‘great all’ of the universe in philosophical style. There are losses too: line 4 is pretty weak, for instance!  The enjambment in lines 11-12 is unusual for Ronsard.
 
 
 
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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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