Sonnet 64


Sonnet 63 is already posted (here) so let’s skip to no. 64…

Tant de couleurs l’Arc-en-ciel ne varie
Contre le front du Soleil radieux,
Lors que Junon par un temps pluvieux
Renverse l’eau dont la terre est nourrie :
Ne Jupiter armant sa main marrie
En tant d’éclairs ne fait rougir les cieux,
Lors qu’il punit d’un foudre audacieux
Les monts d’Epire, ou l’orgueil de Carie :
Ny le Soleil ne rayonne si beau
Quand au matin il nous monstre un flambeau
Tout crespu d’or, comme je vy ma Dame
Diversement les beautez accoustrer,
Flamber ses yeux, et claire se monstrer,
Le premier jour qu’elle ravit mon ame.
                                                                           The rainbow does not range so many colours
                                                                           On the brow of the radiant sun
                                                                           When Juno in rainy weather
                                                                           Pours out the water which nourishes the earth;
                                                                           Jupiter arming his marring hand
                                                                           Does not so light up the heavens with his lightning
                                                                           When he punishes with daring thunder
                                                                           The mountains of Epirus or the pride of Caria;
                                                                           The Sun does not shine so beautifully
                                                                           When in the morning he shows us his fire
                                                                           Fringed with gold, as I saw my Lady
                                                                           Variously dress her beauties,
                                                                           And make her eyes shine and appear so bright,
                                                                           On the first day that she stole my soul.
Although the Cassandre sonnets are often portrayed as more naive, more confident than the later (Helen) sonnets, in fact I’ve found they’re often just as cynical or just as tongue-in-cheek as the later, arguably more disillusioned, sets. Yet there are certainly occasions when Ronsard offers us a sunny, bright poem that has not a trace of cynicism or disillusionment about it: and here’s one.  So neat it is, that even the older Ronsard found nothing in his first thoughts which needed improving!
Some comments on the mythological aspects of the poem. Juno strikes me as an odd choice in the first quatrain: she is not (to my mind) usually associated with rain, but with war, youth and strength, maybe the moon and women and fertility. I suppose it is in this last role that she is invoked here, but I wonder if the choice was driven by poetic reasons (and metre!) as much as mythology? With Jupiter and his thunderbolts we are on safer ground; I’ve assumed that Ronsard is using “marrie” transitively rather than in its usual meaning of “sad” or “unhappy”. But why Epirus and Caria? Well, Jupiter (Zeus) had a sanctuary in Dodona, Epirus, so there is a connection; but Ronsard is almost certainly half-quoting Silus Italicus, whose ‘Punica’ contains the line “intonat ipse, quod tremat et Rhodope Taurusque et Pindus et Atlas” – ‘[Jupiter] himself thundered, and Rhodope and Taurus and Pindus and Atlas shook’.  I have to admit I can’t think of or find any obvious link to Caria – but I’m sure there is something equally recondite there to be found…
[Edit:  thanks to Gregorio for pointing me to Muret’s notes, which suggest the ‘pride of Caria’ is a reference to the Mausoleum, the enormous tomb-monument built for Mausolus and his wife, one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’. I can see that this might be ‘the pride of Caria’, but lightning didn’t destroy the Mausoleum – it was brought down by a series of medieval earthquakes. So either Ronsard or Muret is stretching a point here … ]



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')

3 responses »

  1. Hello, i’m a student in French litterature and I must study the Amours de Cassandre…
    I just can say that your website is helpful for several aspects, so go on ! ^^

    For this poem… My book has a critic edition which talks about Caria as the “gravestone of the King Mosole in Caria” ; I don’t understand the referrence… Maybe it can help you ?

    (For Epirus, by the way, the explanation is that Epirus is a mount that attracted the thunderbolts)

    Anyway, have a good day (and sorry for my poor English) ! 😉

  2. thanks Gregorio – I’ve added an ‘edit’ to include the reference to the Mausoleum – and to say that I am not quite convinced the critics have got it right! 🙂

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