Sonnet 5

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Helene sceut charmer avecque son Nepenthe
Les pleurs de Telemaque. Helene, je voudroy
Que tu peusses charmer les maux que je reçoy
Depuis deux ans passez, sans que je m’en repente.

Naisse de nos amours une nouvelle plante,
Qui retienne noz noms pour eternelle foy,
Qu’obligé je me suis de servitude à toy,
Et qu’à nostre contract la terre soit presente.

O terre, de nos oz en ton sein chaleureux
Naisse une herbe au Printemps propice aux amoureux,
Qui sur nos tombeaux croisse en un lieu solitaire.

O desir fantastiq, duquel je me deçoy,
Mon souhait n’adviendra, puis qu’en vivant je voy
Que mon amour me trompe, et qu’il n’a point de frere. 

 
 
 
                                                                                 Helen knew how to charm away with her nepenthe
                                                                                 The tears of Telemachus. Helen, I wish
                                                                                 You could charm away the pain I’ve been suffering
                                                                                 These last two years, though I am not sorry for them.
 
                                                                                 May a new plant be born from our love
                                                                                 To keep our names together [as a sign] of eternal fidelity,
                                                                                 As I have bound myself in servitude to you,
                                                                                 And may the earth be witness of our vow.
 
                                                                                 O earth, may there be born from our bones in your warm bosom
                                                                                 A spring plant perfect for lovers,
                                                                                 To grow on our graves in some lonely place.
 
                                                                                 O fantastical love with which I deceive myself!
                                                                                 My wish will not come true, since as I live I see
                                                                                 My love deceives me, and has no brother.
 
  
 
A couple of classical allusions here which need explaining!  ‘Nepenthe’ in line 1 refers to the 4th book of the
Odyssey (lines 220-1), in which Helen pours Telemachus a cup filled with the drug nepenthe, literally ‘no-grief’ – in other words, an anti-depressant (perhaps an opiate?).  At the other end of the sonnet, the odd reference to love’s brother is – apparently – a reference to the obscure Anteros (Anti-Eros – – love’s opposite or reflection). Cupid-Eros told his mother Venus he could not grow if he did not have a twin brother – who thus symbolises the need for love to be returned if it is to grow.
 
Blanchemain’s earlier version has only the minor substitution of a tree for a flower in line 10 – “Naisse un arbre au Printemps” (‘may there be born from our bones in your warm bosom / In Spring a tree perfect for lovers…’).  However, he also footnotes an alternative version of lines 6-7:
 
 
Qui conserve nos noms en escrit dessus soy,
Les porte entre-lassez d’une eternelle foy
 
                                                                                 To preserve our names in writing upon it,
                                                                                 And bear them entwined in eternal fidelity
 
The image here being either that of a tree with names inscribed by the lovers, perhaps; or a flower like the narcissus which bears the name ‘written’ on it in the form of the patterns on the petals.
 
 
 
 
 
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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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