Sonnet 52

Standard
Avant qu’Amour du Chaos ocieux
Ouvrist le sein qui couvoit la lumiere,
Avec la terre, avec l’onde premiere,
Sans art sans forme estoyent broüillez les Cieux.
 
Tel mon esprit à rien industrieux,
Dedans mon corps, lourde et grosse matiere,
Erroit sans forme et sans figure entiere,
Quand l’arc d’Amour le perça par tes yeux.
 
Amour rendit ma nature parfaite,
Pure par luy mon essence s’est faite,
Il me donna la vie et le pouvoir,
 
Il eschaufa tout mon sang de la flame,
Et m’agitant de son vol feit mouvoir
Avecques luy mes pensers et mon âme.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Before Love opened unproductive Chaos’s
                                                                            Breast which coveted the light,
                                                                            Together with the earth and the first waves
                                                                            The heavens were confused, without art or form.
 
                                                                            Just so my spirit, working at nothing,
                                                                            Was wandering within my body, that heavy and gross matter,
                                                                            Shapeless and entirely without form,
                                                                            When Love’s arrow wounded it through your eyes.
 
                                                                            Love made my nature perfected,
                                                                            My essence was made pure by him,
                                                                            He gave me life and power.
 
                                                                            He warmed my blood with his fire,
                                                                            And stirring me by his flight made
                                                                            My thoughts and soul move with him.

 

  
So early a sonnet inevitably attracted change as Ronsard revised his works. Blanchemain offers us a minor variant in the penultimate line – “m’emportant” (‘sweeping me away in his flight’) for “m’agitant” (‘stirring me by his flight’) – but also offers a version completely different except for the first ‘stanza’! (Though even there there is a tiny change “les cieu” rather than “les cieux”, no change in meaning but an interesting piece of orthography…
 
Here is the complete Blanchemain (early) version:
 
 
Avant qu’Amour du Chaos ocieux
Ouvrist le sein qui couvoit la lumiere,
Avec la terre, avec l’onde premiere,
Sans art, sans forme, estoient brouillez les cieu
 
Ainsi mon tout erroit séditieux
Dans le giron de ma lourde matiere,
Sans art, sans forme et sans figure entiere,
Alors qu’Amour le perça par tes yeux.
 
Il arrondit de mes affections
Les petits corps et leurs perfections ;
Il anima mes pensers de sa flamme ;
 
Il me donna la vie et le pouvoir,
Et, de son branle, il fit d’ordre mouvoir
Les pas suivis du globe de mon âme.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Before Love opened unproductive Chaos’s
                                                                           Breast which coveted the light,
                                                                           Together with the earth and the first waves
                                                                           The heavens were confused, without art or form.
 
                                                                           Just so my whole being wandered rebellious,
                                                                           Held in the lap of my heavy matter,
                                                                           Without art, without shape, entirely without form,
                                                                           When Love’s arrow wounded it through your eyes.
 
                                                                           He rounded out the little forms
                                                                           Of my affections, and perfected them,
                                                                           He excited my thoughts with his fire;
 
                                                                           He gave me life and power
                                                                           And with his impulse he made move in ordered fashion
                                                                           The steps taken by that sphere, my soul.

 

 
 
For me lines 5-6 are more successful in this early version, less complex perhaps but also clearer. Likewise the sestet is perhaps simpler and less sophisticated writing, but quite charming.
 
 
 
 
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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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