Sonnet 29

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J’aime la fleur de Mars, j’aime la belle rose,
L’une qui est sacrée à Venus la Deesse,
L’autre qui a le nom de ma belle maistresse,
Pour qui troublé d’esprit en paix je ne repose.
 
J’aime trois oiselets, l’un qui la plume arrose
De la pluye de May, et vers le Ciel se dresse :
L’autre qui veuf au bois lamente sa destresse :
L’autre qui pour son fils mille versets compose.
 
J’aime un pin de Bourgueil, où Venus apendit
Ma jeune liberté, quand prise elle rendit
Mon cœur qui doucement un bel œil emprisonne.
 
J’aime un jeune laurier de Phebus l’arbrisseau,
Dont ma belle maistresse en pliant un rameau
Lié de ses cheveux me fist une couronne.
 
 
 
                                                                                            I love the March flowers [or, the flower of Mars], I love the fair rose,
                                                                                            The one which is sacred to the goddess Venus,
                                                                                            The other which has the name of my fair mistress
                                                                                            For whom, troubled in spirit, I cannot rest in peace.
 
                                                                                            I love three birds, one which sprinkles its feathers
                                                                                            With May’s rains and draws itself up towards the heavens,
                                                                                            Another which, widowed, bewails its grief in the woods,
                                                                                            The other which composes a thousand songs for its child.
 
                                                                                            I love a pine in Bourgueil, where Venus hung up
                                                                                            My youth’s freedom when, captured, she returned
                                                                                            My heart, which a fair eye had sweetly imprisoned.
 
                                                                                            I love a fair laurel, the tree of Apollo,
                                                                                            With which my fair mistress, bending a twig
                                                                                            Tied with her hair, made me a crown.
 
 
Belleau adds a footnote to tell us the 3 birds of the second stanza are “the lark, the turtle-dove and the nightingale“. In the first stanza, the rose is obvious but the ‘fleur de Mars’ less so. It’s another of Ronsard’s diificult-to-translate moments: is it, in the company of Venus, ‘the flower of Mars’? Or is it ‘the flowers in March’? Or a specific ‘flower of March’?   A spring flower, the wood violet is often called the ‘fleur de Mars’ – but it doesn’t carry Marie’s name. On the other hand, a variety of thistle, the ‘silybum marianum’, is known in French as ‘Chardon-Marie’. For me, though, the most likely is the “marguerite” or daisy: so I think the meaning is “I love the March flowers, especially the daisy”.
 
Apollo is associated with the laurel because the nymph Daphne whom he was pursuing for love was changed into one. Venus is associated with the pine, because pinecones were a symbol of fertility.
 
Blanchemain offers minor variants, which are easier to indicate in his text than to spell out laboriously here:
 
 
J’aime la fleur de Mars, j’aime la belle rose,
L’une qui est sacrée à Venus la Deesse,
L’autre qui a le nom de ma belle maistresse,
Pour qui ne nuit, ne jour en paix je ne repose.
 
J’aime trois oiselets, l’un qui la plume arrose
De la pluye de May, et vers le Ciel se dresse :
L’autre qui veuf au bois lamente sa destresse :
L’autre qui pour son fils mille versets compose.
 
J’aime un pin de Bourgueil, où Venus apendit
Ma jeune liberté, quand pris elle rendit
Mon cœur que doucement un bel œil emprisonne.
 
J’aime un gentil laurier de Phebus l’arbrisseau,
Dont ma belle maistresse en tordant un rameau
Lié de ses cheveux me fist une couronne.
 
 
                                                                                             I love the flower of Mars, I love the fair rose,
                                                                                             The one which is sacred to the goddess Venus,
                                                                                             The other which has the name of my fair mistress
                                                                                             For whom neither night nor day can I rest in peace.
 
                                                                                             I love three birds, one which sprinkles its feathers
                                                                                             With May’s rains and draws itself up towards the heavens,
                                                                                             Another which, widowed, bewails its grief in the woods,
                                                                                             The other which composes a thousand songs for its child.
 
                                                                                             I love a pine in Bourgueil, where Venus hung up
                                                                                             My youth’s freedom when she returned my captured
                                                                                             Heart, which a fair eye had sweetly imprisoned.
 
                                                                                             I love a noble laurel, the tree of Apollo,
                                                                                             With which my fair mistress, twisting a twig
                                                                                             Tied with her hair, made me a crown.
 
 
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