Sonnet 78

Standard
Petit barbet, que tu es bienheureux,
Si ton bon-heur tu sçavois bien entendre,
D’ainsi ton corps entre ses bras estendre,
Et de dormir en son sein amoureux !
 
Où moy je vy chetif et langoureux,
Pour sçavoir trop ma fortune comprendre.
Las! pour vouloir en ma jeunesse apprendre
Trop de raisons, je me fis malheureux.
 
Je voudrois estre un pitaut de village
Sot, sans raison et sans entendement
Ou fagoteur qui travaille au bocage :
 
Je n’aurois point en amour sentiment,
Le trop d’esprit me cause mon dommage,
Et mon mal vient de trop de iugement.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Little tyke, how fortunate you are,
                                                                            If only you were able to understand your fortune,
                                                                            To stretch out your body so between her arms
                                                                            And to sleep in her lovely bosom!
 
                                                                            Whereas I live weak and drooping
                                                                            From being too well able to understand my fate.
                                                                            Alas, from wanting in my youth to learn
                                                                            Too many truths, I have mad myself unhappy.
 
                                                                            I’d rather be a peasant in some village,
                                                                            Drunk, stupid and without understanding,
                                                                            Or a stick-collector working in the woods;
 
                                                                            Then I’d have no sentiment about love.
                                                                            Too much spirit is what causes me my harm,
                                                                            And my ills come from too much thinking.

 

 

The eternal lament of the intellectual – ‘my ills come from too much thinking’! As a friend of mine used to say, don’t employ university graduates if what you want is common sense… 🙂  I do like this poem!!
 
In line 9, the “pitaut de village” could be a ‘village idiot’, but in this context I think Ronsard is thinking about simple rusticity rather than simpletons.
 
Without changing the flavour of the poem, Ronsard re-wrote it considerably after the first edition. Generally I think his later version is tighter, with more varied writing within its theme, than the older one. Here is Blanchemain’s (early) version complete to show the differences:
 
 
Ha ! petit chien, que tu es bien-heureux,
Si ton bon-heur tu sçavois bien entendre,
D’ainsi ès bras de ma mie t’estendre,
Et de dormir en son sein amoureux !
 
Mais, las ! je vy chetif et langoureux,
Pour sçavoir trop mes misères comprendre.
Las! pour vouloir en ma jeunesse apprendre
Trop de sçavoir, je me fis mal-heureux.
 
Mon Dieu, que n’ai-je au chef l’entendement
Aussi plombé qu’un qui journellement
Bèche à la vigne ou fagotte au bocage !
 
Je ne serois chétif comme je suis ;
Mon trop d’esprit, qui cause mon dommage,
Ne comprendroit comme il fait mes ennuis.
 
 
 
 
                                                                           Ah, little pup, how fortunate you are,
                                                                           If only you were able to understand your fortune,
                                                                           To stretch yourself in the arms of my sweetheart
                                                                           And to sleep in her lovely bosom!
 
                                                                           But I, alas, live weak and drooping
                                                                           From being too well able to understand my wretchedness.
                                                                           Alas, from wanting in my youth to learn
                                                                           To know too much, I have made myself unhappy.
 
                                                                           My God, why don’t I have an intelligence
                                                                           As leaden as one who daily
                                                                           Digs in the vineyard or collects sticks in the woods!
 
                                                                           I’d not then be weak as I am;
                                                                           My excess of spirit, which causes me my harm,
                                                                           Would not understand how it makes my troubles!

 

 
 
 In line 9-10 the expression could also mean ‘being feather-brained’ – interesting how in English we go for a light image rather than a heavy one! – but in this case I think the heavy image is closer to Ronsard’s meaning.
 
 
Advertisements

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')

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s