Sonnet 120

Standard
Franc de raison, esclave de fureur,
Je vay chassant une Fere sauvage,
Or’ sur un mont, or’ le long d’un rivage,
Or’ dans le bois de jeunesse et d’erreur.
 
J’ay pour ma lesse un long trait de malheur,
J’ay pour limier un violent courage,
J’ay pour mes chiens l’ardeur et le jeune âge,
Et pour piqueurs l’espoir et la douleur.
 
Mais eux voyans, que plus elle est chassee,
Plus elle fuit d’une course eslancee,
Quittent leur proye : et retournent vers moy
 
De ma chair propre osant bien leur repaistre.
C’est grand pitié (à mon dam je le voy)
Quand les valets commandent à leur maistre.
 
 
 
 
                                                                              Clear of reason, a slave of madness,
                                                                              I chase and chase a savage Beast
                                                                              Now over hills, now along riverbanks,
                                                                              Now in the woods of youth and error.
 
                                                                              I have as my leash a long line of misfortunes,
                                                                              I have as my limed twig violent courage,
                                                                              I have as my dogs passion and youth,
                                                                              And as beaters hope and sadness.
 
                                                                              But when they see that the more she is pursued,
                                                                              The more she flees, bounding ahead,
                                                                              They give up their prey, and return towards me
 
                                                                              Daring to feast themselves on my own flesh.
                                                                              It is a great shame (to my chagrin I see it)
                                                                              When the servants rule their master.
  
 
There is a feast of variants here!  First, Blanchemain’s ‘main’ text has a couple of minor changes in the second quatrain, and then a completely different final 5 lines:
 
 
Franc de raison, esclave de fureur,
Je vay chassant une fere sauvage,
Or’ sur un mont, or’ le long d’un rivage,
Or’ dans le bois de jeunesse et d’erreur.
 
J’ay pour ma laisse un long trait de malheur,
J’ay pour limier un trop ardent courage,
J’ay pour mes chiens l’ardeur et le jeune âge,
J’ay pour piqueurs l’espoir et la douleur.
 
Mais eux, voyant que plus elle est chassée,
Loin, loin, devant plus s’enfuit elancée,
Tournant sur moi leur rigoureux  effort,
 
Comme mastins affamés de repaistre,
A longs morceaux se paissent de leur maistre,
Et sans mercy me traînent à la mort.
 
 
 
                                                                             Clear of reason, a slave of madness,
                                                                             I chase and chase a savage Beast
                                                                             Now over hills, now along riverbanks,
                                                                             Now in the woods of youth and error.
 
                                                                             I have as my leash a long line of misfortunes,
                                                                             I have as my limed twig too passionate courage,
                                                                             I have as my dogs passion and youth,
                                                                             I have as beaters hope and sadness.
 
                                                                             But when they see that the more she is pursued,
                                                                             The further before them, far far off she bounds in flight
                                                                             Turning on me their strenuous efforts,
 
                                                                             Like famished mastiffs eager to eat
                                                                             They feast themselves with great bites of their master,
                                                                             And without mercy drag me to my death.
 
 
Blanchemain then footnotes a version of the first tercet which resembles Marty-Laveaux’s, except with further variants:
 
 
Mais eux, voyant que plus elle est chassée,
Plus fuit devant d’une course eslancée,
Quittent leur propre proye, et, rebrossant vers moy…
 
 
                                                                             But when they see that the more she is pursued,
                                                                             The more she flees before them, bounding ahead,
                                                                             They give up their proper prey, and rushing the wrong way towards me…
 
 
And, as if that wasn’t enough, I also have a version which changes the second pair of lines in the second quatrain (lines 7-8):
 
 
J’ay pour mes chiens, et le soing, et la rage,
La cruaulté, la peine et la douleur.
 
                                                                             I have as my dogs care and fury,
                                                                             Cruelty, pain and sadness.
 
 
Note that all these sets of variants are small changes within the same framework; only in the final Marty-Laveaux version does he shorten the account of his ‘dogs’ turning on himself, and add the morlaising ending. Though in quite what sense our feelings are our servants rather than our masters I am not sure:  personally, I think this is another of the ‘thoughts of old age’ which don’t add to the effect.
 
 
 
 
 
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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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