Sonnet 44


Once again my PC and WordPress have had a falling-out & refused to talk to each other for a week. But they seem to have kissed & made up today, so here’s a quick post!

Comme une belle fleur assise entre les fleurs,
Mainte herbe vous cueillez en la saison plus tendre
Pour me les envoyer, et pour soigneuse appendre
Leurs noms et qualitez, especes et valeurs.
Estoit-ce point afin de guarir mes douleurs,
Ou de faire ma playe amoureuse reprendre ?
Ou bien s’il vous plaisoit par charmes entreprendre
D’ensorceler mon mal, mes flames et mes pleurs ?
Certes je croy que non : nulle herbe n’est maistresse
Contre le coup d’Amour envieilly par le temps.
C’estoit pour m’enseigner qu’il faut dés la jeunesse,
Comme d’un usufruit, prendre son passetemps :
Que pas à pas nous suit l’importune vieillesse,
Et qu’Amour et les fleurs ne durent qu’un Printemps.
                                                                              Like a beautiful flower sitting amongst the flowers
                                                                              You pluck many a plant in early season
                                                                              To send me them and eagerly to learn
                                                                              Their names and features, their types and uses.
                                                                              Was this to to cure my sadness,
                                                                              Or to make my love-wound improve?
                                                                              Or perhaps it pleased you to try with spells
                                                                              To charm away my ills, my love-flame, my tears?
                                                                              No, I really think not.  No plant has mastery
                                                                              Over a love-wound which has grown old with time.
                                                                              It was to teach me that one should, from youth,
                                                                              Treat time as a thing we only have the use of while we live;
                                                                              That step by step old-age pursues and pesters us,
                                                                              And that Love and flowers last only for the Springtime.
What? Helene botanising? Oh no, just another way of frustrating her elderly lover!
But how many (good) poems can you think of which include the word ‘usufruct’?! On the assumption that, like me, most readers will have little clear idea what one of those is, I have paraphrased it as ‘a thing we only have the use of while we live’…  For that reason, and that beautiful last line “… qu’Amour et les fleurs ne durent qu’un Printemps”, I love this poem.
It is, incidentally, unchanged from the early Blanchemain version.

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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