Sonnet 67

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Voyant les yeux de ma maistresse eslüe,
A qui j’ay dit, Seule à mon cœur tu plais,
D’un si doux fruict, Amour, tu me repais,
Que d’autre bien mon ame n’est goulüe.
 
L’Archer, qui seul les bons esprits englüe,
Et qui ne daigne ailleurs perdre ses traits,
Me fait de peur glacer le sang espais,
Quand je l’advise, ou quand je la salüe.
 
Non, ce n’est point une peine qu’aimer :
C’est un beau mal, et son feu doux-amer
Plus doucement qu’amerement nous brule.
 
O moy deux fois, voire trois bien-heureux,
S’ Amour me tue, et si avec Tibulle
J’erre là bas sous le bois amoureux.
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                            When I see the eyes of my chosen mistress,
                                                                            To whom I said “You alone please my heart”,
                                                                            You, Love, feed me with so sweet a fruit
                                                                            That my soul is greedy for no other.
 
                                                                            The Archer, who alone snares good spirits
                                                                            And who does not choose to waste his darts elsewhere,
                                                                            Makes my dull blood freeze with fear
                                                                            When I see her, or when I greet her.
 
                                                                            No, loving is no kind of trouble;
                                                                            It is a beautiful illness, and its bittersweet fire
                                                                            Burns us more gently than bitterly.
 
                                                                            Oh I’d be twice, no thrice happy
                                                                            If love kills me and with Tibullus
                                                                            I wander down below within the wood of lovers.
 
 
I think this is the first time we’ve met Tibullus, though Ronsard has named several other classical poets before. He was a ‘Silver Latin’ poet, that is a poet from the early years of the empire in the Augustan age. In our terms, that means he is one of those awkward people whose life started in BC and ended in AD 🙂  Naturally, he is another early love poet: you can read many of his poems on Tony Kline’s site. The wood of lovers is a reference to Virgil’s Aeneid – in book 6 when Aeneas goes to the underworld he sees the myrtle grove where lovers wander:
 
Not far from here, outspread on every side, are shown the Mourning Fields; such is the name they bear. Here those whom stern Love has consumed with cruel wasting are hidden in walks withdrawn, embowered in a myrtle grove; even in death the pangs leave them not. In this region he sees Phaedra and Procris, and sad Eriphyle, pointing to the wounds her cruel son had dealt, and Evadne and Pasiphaë. With them goes Laodamia, and Caeneus, once a youth, now a woman, and again turned back by Fate into her form of old. Among them, with wound still fresh, Phoenician Dido was wandering in the great forest …
(Fairclough’s translation). You may remember Ronsard among the myrtles in Helen 6(a).
 
Blanchemain’s earlier version has Ronsard wandering “prés de Tibulle” (‘near Tibullus’) instead of ‘with’ him; but there are more substantive differences in the first half of the poem:
 
 
Voyant les yeux de ma maistresse esleue,
A qui j’ay dit : Seule à mon cœur tu plais,
D’un si doux fruict mon âme je repais,
Que plus on mange et plus en est goulue.
 
Amour, qui seul les bons esprits englue,
Et qui ne daigne ailleurs perdre ses traits,
M’allége tant du moindre de ses traits
Qu’il m’a du cœur toute peine tollue.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           When I see the eyes of my chosen mistress,
                                                                           To whom I said “You alone please my heart”,
                                                                           I feed my soul with so sweet a fruit
                                                                           That, even as it eats more, it is greedy for more.
 
                                                                           Love, who alone snares good spirits
                                                                           And who does not choose to waste his darts elsewhere,
                                                                           Lightens for me the least of his wounds
                                                                           So much that he has lifted all pain from my heart.
 
 
 
To my mind this earlier version transitions better from first to second half; lightened wounds and no pain lead more readily to love not being any kind of trouble, than does blood frozen with fear at seeing or meeting the beloved! But the later version of line 4 is undeniably better. As usual with the changes Ronsard introduced into his poems, you win some and you lose some … !
 
 
 
 
 
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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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