Sonnet 61

Standard
Dedans un pré je veis une Naïade,
Qui comme fleur marchoit dessus les fleurs,
Et mignotoit un bouquet de couleurs,
Echevelee en simple verdugade.
 
De son regard ma raison fut malade,
Mon front pensif, mes yeux chargez de pleurs,
Mon cœur transi : tel amas de douleurs
En ma franchise imprima son œillade.
 
Là je senty dedans mes yeux couler
Un doux venin, subtil à se mesler
Où l’ame sent une douleur extrème.
 
Pour ma santé je n’ay point immolé
Bœufs ny brebis, mais je me suis brulé
Au feu d’Amour, victime de moy-mesme.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Within a meadow I saw a Naiad
                                                                           Who like a flower walked upon the flowers
                                                                           And cosseted a bouquet of colours,
                                                                           Half-dressed in just her petticoat.
 
                                                                           At her look my reason became sick,
                                                                           My brow thoughtful, my eyes full of tears,
                                                                           My heart pierced; such a mass of ills
                                                                           Her glance imprinted on my freedom.
 
                                                                           There I felt running into my eyes
                                                                           A sweet poison, subtly in-mixing itself
                                                                           Where my soul felt extreme pain.
 
                                                                           I have sacrificed no burnt-offerings of oxen or sheep
                                                                           For my health, but rather have burned myself
                                                                           On the altar of Love, my own victim.

 

  
 
The version above gives little clue that in its earliest form the sonnet had a completely different ending!  What I find fascinating is that both endings look like an organic part of the finished poem – yet one is grafted on, turning the end of the poem in a very different direction.  There are also a couple of lesser changes early on; here’s the whole thing in that early version:
 
 
Dedans un pré je veis une Naïade,
Qui comme fleur marchoit dessus les fleurs,
Et mignotoit un bouquet de couleurs,
Echevelee en simple verdugade.
 
Dès ce jour-là ma raison fut malade,
Mon front pensif, mes yeux chargez de pleurs,
Moi triste et lent : tel amas de douleurs
En ma franchise imprima son œillade.
 
Là je senty dedans mes yeux couler
Un doux venin, subtil à se mesler
Au fond de l’âme, et, depuis cet outrage,
 
Comme un beau lis, au mois de juin, blessé
D’un rais trop chaud, languit à chef baissé,
Je me consume au plus verd de mon âge.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Within a meadow I saw a Naiad
                                                                           Who like a flower walked upon the flowers
                                                                           And cosseted a bouquet of colours,
                                                                           Half-dressed in just her petticoat.
 
                                                                           Since that day my reason has become sick,
                                                                           My brow thoughtful, my eyes full of tears,
                                                                           Myself sad and slow; such a mass of ills
                                                                           Her glance Imprinted on my freedom.
 
                                                                           There I felt running into my eyes
                                                                           A sweet poison, subtly in-mixing itself
                                                                           Deep in my soul, and since that assault
 
                                                                           Just as a fair lily in the month of June, struck
                                                                           By too warm a ray [of sunshine], droops with its head down
                                                                           So I am consumed in the bloom of my youth.
 
 
EDIT:  Some commentators would have it that the ‘meadow’ in the first line is meant to evoke  the name of Cassandre’s husband, Jean de Peigné seigneur du Pray:  “pré/Pray” sound the same. It’s even been said that Ronsard changed the earlier plural (“prés”/’meadows’) to the singular, to make the allusion clearer. It’s possible, I suppose.
 
 
 
 
 
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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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