Sonnet 56

Amour est sans milieu, c’est une chose extrême
Qui ne veut (je le sçay) de tiers ny de moitié :
Il ne faut point trencher en deux une amitié.
«  Un est nombre parfait, imparfait le deuxiéme. »
J’aime de tout mon cœur, je veux aussi qu’on m’aime.
Le desir au desir d’un nœud ferme lié
Par le temps ne s’oublie et n’est point oublié,
Il est tousjours son tout, contenté de soy-mesme.
Mon ombre me fait peur, et jaloux je ne puis
Avoir un compaignon tant amoureux je suis,
Et tant je m’essentie en la personne aimée.
L’autre amitié ressemble aux enfans sans raison :
C’est se feindre une flame une vaine prison,
Où le feu contrefait ne rend qu’une fumee.
                                                                              There is no middle in love, it’s an extreme thing
                                                                              Which accepts no thirds or halves, I know;
                                                                              You mustn’t ever cut love in half.
                                                                              “One is a perfect number, the second is imperfect.”
                                                                              I love with all of my heart, but I also want to be loved.
                                                                              Desire bound to desire by a strong knot
                                                                              Does not forget with time, nor is it forgotten;
                                                                              It is always everything it needs, contented with itself.
                                                                              My shadow frightens me, and I am so jealous I cannot
                                                                              Have a companion who is as in love as I am,
                                                                              So far do I feel myself in my beloved’s person.
                                                                              Other loves resemble children without reason;
                                                                              It’s like pretending to yourself there’s a flame in an empty cell,
                                                                              Where the pretended fire gives nothing but smoke.


Some amplifications on the above translation.  In line 3, there is a hint of ‘dissect love’ or ‘dissect a love-affair’; in line 11, “je m’essentie” seems to me to carry a range of suggestions, around subsuming oneself in the other, being combined with & sharing one ‘essence’ with the other, being ‘essential’ not in a modern sense of being necessary but in the medieval sense of being the basic fundamental component.
Blanchemain offers an alternative to the last tercet: with the duplication of ‘court’ as the rhyme-word in successive lines, you can see why Ronsard re-wrote this!
L’autre amitié ressemble à quelque vent qui court :
Et, vraiment, c’est aimer comme on fait à la court,
Où le feu contrefait ne rend qu’une fumee.
                                                                              Other loves resemble a passing breeze;
                                                                              And truly are like the loving one does at Court,
                                                                              Where the pretended fire gives nothing but smoke.

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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