Sonnet 12

Deux Venus en Avril (puissante Deité)
Nasquirent, l’une en Cypre, et l’autre en la Saintonge :
La Venus Cyprienne est des Grecs la mensonge,
La chaste Saintongeoise est une verité.

L’Avril se resjouist de telle nouveauté,
Et moy qui jour ny nuict d’autre Dame ne songe,
Qui le fil amoureux de mon destin allonge
Ou l’accourcist, ainsi qu’il plaist à sa beauté,

Je me sens bien-heureux d’estre nay de son âge.
Si tost que je la vy, je fus mis en servage
De ses yeux, que j’estime un sujet plus qu’humain,

Ma Raison sans combatre abandonna la place,
Et mon cœur se vit pris comme un poisson à l’hain :
Si j’ay failly, ma faute est bien digne de grace.

                                                                                Two Venuses (that powerful goddess) in April
                                                                                Were born, one in Cyprus, the other in Saintonge;
                                                                                The Cypriot Venus is just a tale of the Greeks,
                                                                                But the chaste lady of Saintonge is real.
                                                                                April rejoiced at this novelty
                                                                                And I who dream of no other lady day or night
                                                                                Whom the ties of love and fate drive away
                                                                                Or bring close to her as her beauty pleases,
                                                                                I feel myself happy to have been born in her time.
                                                                                As soon as I saw her, I was placed in the service
                                                                                Of her eyes, which I consider super-human;
                                                                                My reason gave way without a struggle
                                                                                And my heart recognised it was caught like a fish on a line.
                                                                                If I was in error, my error is surely worthy of forgiveness.


Blanchemain’s text varies in a couple of places: the opening line is one of them, where Blanchemain prints “Deux Venus en Avril de mesme deité…” (‘From the same godhead, two Venuses in April…’). Though Blanchemain opts for the same first line of the sestet (line 9) as Marty-Laveaux, he also offers an alternative in a footnote: “Je suis trois fois un Dieu, d’estre nay de son âge” (‘I am three times a god to have been born in her time.’) Though the ‘three gods’ picks up the ‘two Venuses’, it is a bit awkward & I can see why the other (later?) version is preferred.
There is one other minor difference between the two versions: in line 3 Blanchemain prints “le mensonge” while the evrsion above has “la mensonge” – curiously, as ‘mensonge’ is (normally) masculine.
Saintonge is a province on the Atlantic coast just north of Gascony (and also bordered by Poitou & Limousin), in which lies the city of Surgères, Hélène’s home.

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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