Sonnet 3

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Ma douce Helene, non, mais bien ma douce haleine,
Qui froide rafraischis la chaleur de mon cœur,
Je prens de ta vertu cognoissance et vigueur,
Et ton œil comme il veut à son plaisir me meine.
 
Heureux celuy qui souffre une amoureuse peine
Pour un nom si fatal : heureuse la douleur,
Bien-heureux le torment, qui vient pour la valeur
Des yeux, non pas des yeux, mais de l’astre d’Helene.
 
Nom, malheur des Troyens, sujet de mon souci,
Ma sage Penelope et mon Helene aussi,
Qui d’un soin amoureux tout le cœur m’envelope :
 
Nom, qui m’a jusqu’au ciel de la terre enlevé,
Qui eust jamais pensé que j’eusse retrouvé
En une mesme Helene une autre Penelope ?
 
 
 
 
                                                                                 My sweet Helen, no rather my sweet breath
                                                                                 Whose cool refreshes the heat in my heart,
                                                                                 I gain strength and recognition from your virtue
                                                                                 And your eye leads me as it will at its pleasure.
 
                                                                                 Happy he who suffers a lover’s pain
                                                                                 For so fatal a name; happy the sadness,
                                                                                 So happy the torture which comes for the worth
                                                                                 Of those eyes – or not Helen’s eyes but her star.
 
                                                                                 That name, misfortune of the Trojans, subject of my care,
                                                                                 My wise Penelope and my Helen also,
                                                                                 Who envelops all my heart with her loving care;
 
                                                                                 That name which has lifted me from the earth to the heavens,
                                                                                 Who would ever have thought that I’d have found
                                                                                 In a Helen, indeed, another Penelope?
 
 
 
 Ronsard contrasts the heroines of the two Homeric poems about the Trojan War – Helen, the faithless wife, whose infidelity led to Troy’s destruction, and Penelope, faithful wife of Odysseus, who ‘spun out’ the years of waiting for his return remaining chaste & loyal despite strong pressure to re-marry.
 
Unfortunately I cannot think of a way to replicate his charming pun in the first line!
 
 Blanchemain’s earlier version has only a minor difference:  the end of line 8 is “des flammes d’Helene” (‘Helen’s fire’) instead of her star (astre).
 
 
 
 
 
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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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