Sonnet 3

Jodelle, l’autre jour l’enfant de Cytherée
Au combat m’appella courbant son arc Turquois :
Et lors comme hardi je vesti le harnois,
Pour avoir contre luy la chair plus asseurée.
Il me tira premier une fleche acerée
Droit au coeur puis une autre et puis tout à la fois
Il decocha sur moy les traits de son carquois,
Sans qu’il eust d’un seul coup ma poitrine enserrée.
Mais quand il vit son arc de fleches desarmé,
Tout despit s’est luy-mesme en fleche transformé,
Puis en moy se rua d’une puissance extresme.
Quand je me vey vaincu, je me desarmay lors :
Car rien ne m’eust servi de m’armer par dehors,
Puisque mon ennemi estoit dedans moy-mesme.
                                                                      Jodelle, the other day Cytherea’s child
                                                                      Called me to battle, bending his Turkish bow;
                                                                      Then like a rash man I put on my harness,
                                                                      To keep my flesh the safer against him. 
                                                                      He shot at me first a sharp arrow,
                                                                      Straight at my heart, then another, then he loosed
                                                                      On me all the darts at once from his quiver,
                                                                      Without hitting my tight-bound breast with a single shot. 
                                                                      But when he saw his bow had run out of arrows,
                                                                      All his spite was itself changed into an arrow
                                                                      Then rushed upon me with extreme force.  
                                                                      When I saw I was beaten, I disarmed myself;
                                                                      For it would have been no use for me to armour my outside,
                                                                      Since my enemy was within me.
Cytherea is Venus; so her child is Cupid.  I’m not sure why his bow is Turkish especially.  Belleau tells us that Ronsard “dedicates the sonnet to Estienne Jodelle of Paris, Latin and French poet”.
It’s an interesting poem: charming in its way, but then why say he was immune to love until Cupid gathered all his spite & shot him with that? It’s a variant on a common enough theme, but reads to me like a rather reluctant lover?  Blanchemain’s version changes only the last word of line 8: replacing “ma poitrine enserrée” (‘my tight-bound breast’) with “ma poitrine enferrée” (‘my iron-clad breast’).

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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