Cassandre: Sonnet 51

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Mille vrayment, et mille voudroyent bien,
Et mille encor ma guerriere Cassandre,
Qu’en te laissant je me voulusse rendre
Franc de ton reth, pour vivre en leur lien.
 
Las ! mais mon cœur, ainçois qui n’est plus mien,
En autre part ne sçauroit plus entendre.
Tu es la Dame, et mieux voudroit attendre
Dix mille morts, qu’il fust autre que tien.
 
Tant que la rose en l’espine naistra,
Tant que d’humeur le Printemps se paistra,
Tant que les Cerfs aimeront les ramées,
 
Et tant qu’Amour se nourrira de pleurs,
Tousjours au cœur ton nom et tes valeurs,
Et tes beautez me seront imprimées.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Truly a thousand [ladies], and another thousand,
                                                                            And a thousand more, my warlike Cassandre,
                                                                            Would like me to wish to be free of your net
                                                                            And, leaving you, to live in their bonds.
 
                                                                            Alas, my heart, which is no longer mine,
                                                                            Cannot now pay attention elsewhere.
                                                                            You are its Lady, and it would rather await
                                                                            Ten thousand deaths than be anyone’s but yours.
 
                                                                            As the rose is born from the thorn,
                                                                            As Spring feeds on moisture,
                                                                            As stags love branches,
 
                                                                            As Love is nourished by tears,
                                                                            So will your name and your worth
                                                                            And your beauties be always imprinted on my heart.

 

 
 
What a good sonnet at which to re-start reading book 1! Yes, it’s one of those which uses formal ‘tricks’ such as repetition to bind the poem together, but it does it well.
 
Why do ‘stags love branches’ in line 11?  I assume it’s because they are often seen rubbing their antlers against trees in the spring to remove the velvet;  though deer do also strip bark off trees in winter to eat it.
 
Blanchemain offers a couple of variants in the middle stanzas (and a “serf” as well as a “cerf”, which may be one reason Ronsard later amended line 6):
 
 
Las ! mais mon cœur, ainçois qui n’est plus mien,
Comme un vrai serf ne sçauroit plus entendre
A qui l’appelle, et mieux voudroit attendre
Dix mille morts, qu’il fust autre que tien.
 
Tant que la rose en l’espine naistra,
Tant que sous l’eau la baleine paistra,
Tant que les Cerfs aimeront les ramées, …
 
 
                                                                            Alas, my heart, which is no longer mine,
                                                                            Like a true servant cannot now hear
                                                                            Those who call, and it would rather await
                                                                            Ten thousand deaths than be anyone’s but yours.
 
                                                                            As the rose is born from the thorn,
                                                                            As [much as] the whale eats beneath the sea,
                                                                            As [much as] stags love branches, ….
 
 
 In this version the repeated “Tant que” perhaps need to be translated ‘As much as’, for that image of the whale depends on quantity I think! Then the last couple of lines shift meaning slightly to be something like ‘So much (so often?) will your name be engraved…’
 
 
 
 
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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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