Sonnet 1


Apologies for the long gap in posting. It’s time to have a proper go at vol.2 of the Amours!

Tyard, on me blasmait à mon commencement,
Dequoy j’estois obscur au simple populaire :
Mais on dit aujourd’huy que je suis au contraire,
Et que je me démens parlant trop bassement.
Toy de qui le labeur enfante doctement
Des livres immortels, dy-moy, que doy-je faire ?
Dy-moy (car tu sçais tout) comme doy-je complaire
A ce monstre testu divers en jugement ?
Quand je tonne en mes vers il a peur de me lire :
Quand ma voix se desenfle il ne fait qu’en mesdire.
Dy-moy de quel lien, force, tenaille, ou clous
Tiendray-je ce Proté qui se change à tous coups ?
Tyard, je t’enten bien, il le faut laisser dire,
Et nous rire de luy, comme il se rit de nous.
                                                                      Tyard, they used to blame me at the beginning
                                                                      For being obscure to the simple man in the street;
                                                                      But today they say that I am the opposite,
                                                                      And that I’ve gone mad for speaking in too low a style.
                                                                      You whose labour gives birth learnedly
                                                                      To immortal books, tell me, what should I do?
                                                                      Tell me (for you know everything) how I should please
                                                                      This many-headed monster, with such varied opinions?
                                                                      When I thunder in my verse, they’re afraid to read me;
                                                                      When my voice shrinks down, they just abuse me.
                                                                      Tell me what bonds, force, manacles or nails I can use
                                                                      To hold this Proteus who changes shape at every attack?
                                                                      Tyard, I understand you completely: we must leave him to speak,
                                                                      And laugh at him, as he laughs at us.
Ronsard opens his second book in a much more arch & knowing style. While the first book is essentially between him and Cassandre, in the 2nd book he is constantly addressing his poems and symptoms to third parties, providing an ironic commentary on his own infatuation. Fortunately, there is plenty of sincere poetry here as well…
Blanchemain in his edition provides copies of the notes added by Ronsard’s friend Remy Belleau in his 1560 edition; so here for instance Belleau tells us “He inscribes this sonnet to Pontus de Tyard, one of the most learned of men, principally in mathematics, philosophy and poetry; he died in 1662 as bishop of Chalons, count and peer of France, aged 82.”
Together with the more arch handling of the poems comes even greater effort to polish and re-make these poems. Blanchemain’s version brings a re-written opening, and a completely new first tercet.  (I’ve given lines 9-12, not just the tercet, as there is a minor consequential change in the translation.)
Mon Tyard, on disoit à mon commencement,
Que j’estois trop obscur au simple populaire ;
                                                                     O my Tyard, they used to say at the beginning
                                                                      That I was too obscure to the simple man in the street;
Quand j’escris hautement il ne veut pas me lire,
Quand j’escris bassement il ne fait que mesdire.
De quels liens serrés ou de quel rang de clous
Tiendray-je ce Proté, qui se change à tous coups ?
                                                                      When I write in a high style, they don’t want to read me;
                                                                      When I write in a low style, they just abuse me.
                                                                      With what tight bonds or what line of nails
                                                                      Can I hold this Proteus who changes shape at every attack?

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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