Sonnet 20

Standard
Je ne suis variable, et si ne veux apprendre
Le mestier d’inconstance, aussi ce n’est qu’esmoy :
Je ne dy pas si  Jane estoit prise de moy,
Que tost je n’oubliasse et Marie et Cassandre.

Je ne suis pas celuy qui veux Pâris reprendre
D’avoir manqué si tost à Pegasis de foy :
Plustost que d’accuser ce jeune enfant de Roy
D’avoir changé d’amour, je voudrois le defendre.

Pour ne garder long temps sa sotte loyauté,
Il fit bien de ravir ceste jeune beauté,
Bien qu’à sa propre ville elle fust malheureuse.

L’amant est bien novice, et son art il apprend,
« Quand il trouve son mieux si son mieux il ne prend,
« Sans grisonner au sein d’une vieille amoureuse.

 
 
                                                                      I am not changeable, and so don’t wish to learn
                                                                      The business of inconstancy, and anyway it’s just agitation:
                                                                      I cannot say if Jane is taken with me,
                                                                      As I cannot so soon forget Marie and Cassandre.

                                                                      I am not one to reprove Paris
                                                                      For so quickly breaking trust with Pegasis;
                                                                      Sooner than accuse that young son of the King
                                                                      Of changing his love, I’d rather defend him.

                                                                      While not keeping his foolish faith for a long time,
                                                                      He did well to carry off this young beauty
                                                                      Since she was unhappy in her own town.

                                                                      A novice, and learning his art, is the lover who
                                                                      “When he finds a better does not take the better,
                                                                      Rather than turning grey in the arms of an old lover.”
 
 
Pegasis is not the same as Pegasus: Pegasis is an obscure nymph or naiad, denizen of a spring of the River Grenikos (Granicus) in the Troad. She is mentioned in Quintus Smyrnaeus, a 4th century AD writer of Greek epic.  She is her conflated with Oenone, another naiad with whom Paris had a son but then abandoned; in some versions of the fall of Troy, after Paris is wounded by Philoctetes’ arrow, he seeks Oenone’s help but she refuses and he dies.
 
Blanchemain’s version substitutes a completely different (and inferior) first tercet, and considerably changes the first line of the second tercet. These changes are below. Other than that, there is a minor adjustment to the rhythm of line 4 – “Que bientost n’oubliasse et Marie et Cassandre” – which leaves the meaning essentially unchanged.
 
 
Il fist bien, il fist bien, de ravir cette Helene,
Cette Helene qui fut de tant de beautés pleine
Que du grand Jupiter on la disoit enfant.

L’amant est bien guidé d‘une heure malheureuse, …

 
                                                                      He did well, he did well to carry off this Helen,
                                                                      This Helen who was filled with such beauty
                                                                      That you’d have said she was a child of great Jupiter.

                                                                      The lover is indeed led by an unhappy moment who, …

 
 
 
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