Sonnet 118

Standard
Sans souspirer vivre icy je n’ay peu
Depuis le jour que les yeux de ma Dame
Tous pleins d’amours verserent en mon ame
Le doux venin, dont mon cœur fut repeu.
 
Ma chere neige, et mon cher et doux feu,
Voyez comment je m’englace et m’enflame ;
Comme la cire aux raions d’une flame
Je me consume, et vous en chaut bien peu.
 
Il est certain que ma vie est heureuse
De s’écouler joyeuse et douloureuse
Dessous vostre œil, qui jour et nuit me poind.
 
Mais ce pendant vostre beauté ne pense,
Que l’amitié d’amitié se compense,
Et qu’un amour sans frere ne croist point.
 
 
 
 
                                                                              I’ve been unable to live without sighing here
                                                                              Since the day when my Lady’s eyes,
                                                                              Filled with love, poured into my soul
                                                                              Their sweet poison, with which my heart was filled.
 
                                                                              My dear snow, my dear sweet fire,
                                                                              See how I freeze and burn;
                                                                              Like wax in the heat of a flame
                                                                              I am consumed, and you care precious little.
 
                                                                              Sure it is that my life is fortunate
                                                                              To be running away in joy and sadness
                                                                              Beneath your eyes, which day and night wound me.
 
                                                                              But yet your beauty does not consider
                                                                              That love balances itself with love,
                                                                              And that a love without its twin grows not at all.
 
 
At first I tried putting the opening line in the same sequence as Ronsard’s French – but it looks so much more tortured as ‘Without sighing to live here I’ve been unable’ than it does in his French!
 
Clearly it was a beginning he worked on repeatedly, because the opening lines are completely different in Blanchemain’s early version. And it wasn’t just the opening lines that changed substantially:  here’s a marked-up version of Blanchemain which shows just how much change was made.
 
 
Franc de travail une heure je n’ay peu
Vivre depuis que les yeux de ma dame
Mielleusement verserent dans mon ame
Le doux venin dont mon cœur fut repeu.
 
Ma chere neige et mon cher et doux feu,
Voyez comment je m’englace et m’enflame ;
Comme la cire aux rayons d’une flame
Je me consume, et vous en chaut bien peu.
 
Bien il est vrai que ma vie est heureuse
De s’écouler doucement langoureuse
Dessous vostre œil, qui jour et nuict me poind ;
 
Mais si faut-il que vostre bonté pense
Que l’amitié d’amitié se compense,
Et qu’un amour sans frere ne croist point.
 
 
 
 
                                                                             I’ve been unable to live free of trouble
                                                                             One single hour since my Lady’s eyes,
                                                                             Like honey poured into my soul
                                                                             Their sweet poison, with which my heart was filled.
 
                                                                             My dear snow, my dear sweet fire,
                                                                             See how I freeze and burn;
                                                                             Like wax in the heat of a flame
                                                                             I am consumed, and you care precious little.
 
                                                                             True indeed it is that my life is fortunate
                                                                             To be running away sweetly and lazily
                                                                             Beneath your eyes, which day and night wound me.
 
                                                                             But still your goodness should consider
                                                                             That love balances itself with love,
                                                                             And that a love without its twin grows not at all.
 
 
 I find it a great pity that the later version didn’t keep that marvellous word “mielleusement” (‘like honey’)! It’s also odd how, despite the large-scale changes, the resulting poems remain so similar.
 
Small note:  in the last line, Ronsard speaks of ‘love without a brother’: I have switched to ‘love without a twin’ only because I feel that is the modern idiom – – unless of course I’ve misunderstood Ronsard’s point…
 
 
 
 
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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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  1. Pingback: Sonnet 119 | Oeuvres de Ronsard

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