Chere maistresse à qui je doy la vie,
Le cœur, le corps, et le sang, et l’esprit,
Voyant tes yeux Amour mesme m’apprit
Toute vertu que depuis j’ai suivie.
Mon cœur ardent d’une amoureuse envie,
Si vivement de tes graces s’éprit,
Qu’au seul regard de tes yeux il comprit
Que peut honneur, amour et courtoisie.
L’homme est de plomb, ou bien il n’a point d’yeux,
Si te voyant il ne voit tous les Cieux
En ta beauté qui n’a point de seconde.
Ta bonne grace un rocher retiendroit :
Et quand sans jour le monde deviendroit,
Ton œil si beau seroit le jour du monde.
Dear mistress, to whom I owe my life,
My heart, my body, my blood, my spirit,
When I saw your eyes Love himself taught me
Every virtue which since then I have pursued.
My heart burning with love’s desire
So swiftly was ravished by your grace
That from a single glance of your eyes it knew
What honour, love and nobility can be.
A man is made of lead, or rather has no eyes
If, in seeing you, he does not see the whole of Heaven
In your beauty, which has no like.
Your good graces would captivate a stone;
And if the world should be without light,
Your eyes – so beautiful! – would be the light of the world.
Another spontaneous and elegant compliment. But, as usual, one Ronsard re-worked in older age. Blanchemain’s early version begins, “Douce beauté à qui je dois la vie” (‘Sweet beauty to which I owe my life’) – which I prefer! – and line 7 begins “Que d’un regard …” (‘That from a glance of your eyes it knew’).
He notes that ‘this sonnet bears in the 1567 edition, where it first appears, this title : To M. de Limeuil. The M has to mean Miss, or perhaps Marie. Note that [the poem] is found [in 1567] in the Amours de Marie, whose name might perhaps thus be revealed’. The small but beautiful village of Limeuil makes no claims to being Marie’s home but who knows?! It seems more likely that he is addressing the much better known Isabeau de Limeuil, a lady of honour in the service of Catherine de Medici, who became mistress of the Prince of Condé in around 1562.