Sonnet 4


I’m feeling rather bereft tonight;  and there are plenty of things in the news to remind us that life is all too fragile. So, here’s a beautiful poem about its fragility. I’m afraid my translation is far from beautiful: but Ronsard’s poem is great art.

Comme on voit sur la branche au mois de May la rose
En sa belle jeunesse, en sa premiere fleur
Rendre le ciel jaloux de sa vive couleur,
Quand l’Aube de ses pleurs au poinct du jour l’arrose :
La grace dans sa fueille, et l’amour se repose,
Embasmant les jardins et les arbres d’odeur :
Mais batue ou de pluye, ou d’excessive ardeur,
Languissante elle meurt fueille à fueille déclose.
Ainsi en ta premiere et jeune nouveauté,
Quand la terre et le ciel honoroient ta beauté,
La Parque t’a tuee, et cendre tu reposes.
Pour obseques reçoy mes larmes et mes pleurs,
Ce vase plein de laict, ce panier plein de fleurs,
Afin que vif et mort ton corps ne soit que roses.
                                                                      As you see the rose on the branch in May
                                                                      In her lovely youth, with her first flower
                                                                      Making the sky jealous of her bright colour
                                                                      When the Dawn with her tears makes the sky pink at start of day:
                                                                      Grace and love rest in her blooms
                                                                      Perfuming gardens and trees with her scent
                                                                      But then, battered by the rain or too much heat,
                                                                      Fading she dies, stripped of petal after petal.
                                                                      Just so in your first new youthfulness
                                                                      When earth and heaven honoured your beauty,
                                                                      Fate killed you, and now you are just ashes.
                                                                      As funeral rites, receive my tears and weeping,
                                                                      This vase full of milk, this basket full of flowers
                                                                      So that living or dead your body should be only roses.
 No need for commentary, nor versions: this poem is perfect as it stands. I only wish I could match ‘arroser’ in line 4 – Dawn bedewing the earth, pouring out her tears, and ‘making pink’ (ar-rose-er) all in one word.

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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