Sonnet 65

Standard
Quand j’apperçoy ton beau poil brunissant,
Qui les cheveux des Charites efface,
Et ton bel œil qui le Soleil surpasse,
Et ton beau teint sans fraude rougissant,
 
A front baissé je pleure gemissant
Dequoy je suis (faulte digne de grace)
Sous les accords de ma ryme si basse,
De tes beautez les honneurs trahissant.
 
Je connoy bien que je devroy me taire
En t’adorant : mais l’amoureux ulcere
Qui m’ard le cœur, vient ma langue enchanter.
 
Doncque (mon Tout) si dignement je n’use
L’ancre et la voix à tes graces chanter,
C’est le destin, et non l’art qui m’abuse.
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                            When I see your fair brown locks
                                                                            Which eclipse the hair of the Graces,
                                                                            And your fair eye which surpasses the Sun,
                                                                            And your fair complexion reddened by no artificial means,
 
                                                                            With lowered brow I weep, groaning
                                                                            That I am (though it’s a failing worthy of forgiveness)
                                                                            Betraying in the rhymes of my poor poetry
                                                                            The honour due to your beauties.
 
                                                                            I fully understand that I should be quiet
                                                                            As I adore you; but the ulcer of love
                                                                            Which burns my heart has enchanted my tongue.
 
                                                                            So, my All, if I do not worthily use
                                                                            My ink and my voice to sing your graces,
                                                                            It is fate not art which leads me astray.

 

 

  
Here’s another poem which the older Ronsard considerably re-worked. In places you can see why: the early version of line 4 (below) starts “Et ton tetin” which sounds pretty ugly, so “ton beau teint” is a definite improvement. Sometimes you wonder what was behind the change: why is Cassandre’s hair brown in old Ronsard’s memory, when it’s blonde (below) to his younger eyes?!
 
It’s good to see a bit of modesty – even if false modesty – about the power of poetry! But of course the point is that however beautiful the poem – and Ronsard would always claim his own as beautiful – she outshines it. The 2 versions of the final couplet are fascinating for their differences, while retaining the same effect: quite a virtuoso re-working in the late version!
 
Here is the complete Blanchemain (early) version:
 
 
Quand j’apperçoy ton beau chef jaunissant,
Qui la blondeur des filets d’or efface,
Et ton bel œil qui les astres surpasse,
Et ton tetin comme œillet rougissant,
 
A front baissé je pleure, gémissant
De quoi je suis (faute digne de grace)
Sous l’humble voix de ma rime si basse,
De tes beautés les honneurs trahissant.
 
Je connois bien que je devrois me taire
Ou mieux parler : mais l’amoureux ulcère
Qui m’ard le cœur me force de chanter.
 
Doncque, mon tout, si dignement je n’use
L’encre et la voix à tes graces vanter,
Non l’ouvrier, non, mais son destin, accuse.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           When I see your fair golden hair
                                                                           Which eclipses the colour of golden tiaras,
                                                                           And your fair eye which surpasses the stars,
                                                                           And your breast reddening like a carnation,
 
                                                                           With lowered brow I weep, groaning
                                                                           That I am (though it’s a failing worthy of forgiveness)
                                                                           Betraying in the humble words of my poor poetry
                                                                           The honour due to your beauties.
 
                                                                           I fully understand that I should be quiet
                                                                           Or speak better; but the ulcer of love
                                                                           Which burns my heart forces me to sing.
 
                                                                           So, my All, if I do not worthily use
                                                                           My ink and my voice to laud your graces,
                                                                           Accuse not the workman, no, but his fate.

 

 

 Incidentally, Blanchemain also quotes the whole late version in a footnote, though with one minor change – “‘de ma lyre” in line 7 instead of “de ma ryme” (do I even need to translate that for you?!)
 
 
 
 
 
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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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