Sonnet 74

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Les Elemens et les Astres, à preuve
Ont façonné les rais de mon Soleil,
Vostre œil, Madame, en beauté nompareil,
Qui çà ne là son parangon ne treuve.
 
Dés l’onde Ibere où le Soleil s’abreuve,
Jusqu’à l’autre onde où il perd le sommeil,
Amour ne voit un miracle pareil,
Sur qui le Ciel tant de ses graces pleuve.
 
Cet œil premier m’apprit que c’est d’aimer :
Il vint premier tout le cœur m’entamer,
Servant de but à ses fleches dardées.
 
L’esprit par luy desira la vertu
Pour s’en-voler par un trac non batu
Jusqu’au giron des plus belles Idées.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            The Elements and Stars fashioned
                                                                            Their masterpiece, the rays of my Sun,
                                                                            Your eyes, my Lady – unequalled in beauty,
                                                                            Which nowhere find a comparator.
 
                                                                            From the Iberian sea where the sun drinks deeply,
                                                                            To the other sea where he wakes from sleep,
                                                                            Love sees no like miracle
                                                                            On which Heaven has rained so many of its graces.
 
                                                                            Those eyes first taught me what it is to love;
                                                                            They first came to break into all my heart,
                                                                            Which provided the target for their barbed arrows.
 
                                                                            Through those eyes, my spirit sought virtue
                                                                            So that it might fly on some unbeaten track
                                                                            To the bosom of the finest Ideals.

 

 

I have changed the image in line 1 – my image comes from apprenticeships in the arts, Ronsard’s comes from the craft of the armourer: the “preuve” is a test, a competition, but especially a competition of the noble, jousting kind. So in Ronsard’s image the ‘weapon’ of Cassandre’s eyes was made to be tested in combat against others. In the final line, as well, I have used ‘Ideals’ but in fact Ronsard refers to Platonic Forms or ‘Ideas’.  For a reader today, chivalry and Platonic philosophy are perhaps less current than they would be to Ronsard’s learned renaissance audience and I’ve switched to images that may carry more immediate impact today.
 
However, note that Blanchemain quotes Muret’s commentary on line 1, where he ‘translates’ “à preuve” as “à qui mieux” (‘who better?’) – ‘The stars – who better – created Cassandre’s radiant eyes’. Muret also suggests that the final line really means ‘to the bosom of God’ [ he uses the words “la divinité” as a humanist! ].
 
Blanchemain’s earlier version has a number of variants throughout, so here is his version complete:
 
 
Les Elemens et les Astres, à preuve
Ont façonné les rais de mon Soleil,
Je dis son œil, en beauté nompareil,
Qui çà ne là son parangon ne treuve.
 
Dés l’onde Ibere où le Soleil s’abreuve,
Jusques au lit de son premier réveil,
Amour ne void un miracle pareil,
Sur qui le Ciel tant de ses graces pleuve.
 
Cet œil premier m’apprit que c’est d’aimer :
Il vint premier ma jeunesse animer
A la vertu, par ses flammes dardées.
 
Par lui mon cœur premièrement s’aila,
Et loin du peuple à l’écart s’envola
Jusqu’au giron des plus belles Idées.
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                           The Elements and Stars made
                                                                           Their masterpiece, the rays of my Sun –
                                                                           I mean her eyes – unequalled in beauty,
                                                                           Which nowhere find a comparator.
 
                                                                           From the Iberian sea where the sun drinks deeply,
                                                                           To the bed of his first waking,
                                                                           Love sees no like miracle
                                                                           On which Heaven has rained so many of its graces.
 
                                                                           Those eyes first taught me what it is to love;
                                                                           They first came to excite my youth
                                                                           To virtue, with their barbed flames.
 
                                                                           Through those eyes, my heart first took wing,
                                                                           And flew aside, far from the people,
                                                                           To the bosom of the finest Ideals.

 

 
 
 
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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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