Sonnet 85

Douce beauté qui me tenez le cueur,
Et qui avez durant toute l’année
Dedans vos yeux mon ame emprisonnée,
La faisant vivre en si belle langueur :
Ha ! que ne puis-je atteindre à la hauteur
Du Ciel tyran de nostre destinée ?
Je changerois sa course retournée,
Et mon malheur je mu’rois en bon heur.
Mais estant homme il faut qu’homme j’endure
Du Ciel cruel la violence dure
Qui me commande à mourir pour vos yeux.
Doncques je vien vous presenter, Madame,
Ce nouvel an pour obeïr aux Cieux,
Le cœur, l’esprit, le corps, le sang et l’ame.
                                                                            Sweet beauty, you who hold my heart
                                                                            And who have for this whole year
                                                                            Kept my soul imprisoned within your eyes,
                                                                            Making it live in such glorious suspense;
                                                                            Ah! Why can I not reach the heights
                                                                            Of Heaven, the dictator of our destiny?
                                                                            I would completely change its course
                                                                            And convert my sadness into happiness.
                                                                            But, being a man, I must as a man endure
                                                                            From cruel Heaven that harsh compulsion
                                                                            Which orders me to die for your eyes.
                                                                            So I now come to present to you, my Lady,
                                                                            Obeying the Heavens at this new year,
                                                                            My heart, my spirit, my body, my blood and my soul.




The tradition of new year poems goes far back into the medieval period if not before, and so in yet another way Ronsard places himself in the traditions of his art. Blanchemain notes that this poem post-dates his preferred 1560 edition, but prints it anyway (with no changes). He also reprints Muret’s footnote: “the poet sometimes said to me that this sonnet was not written to represent his own passion, but for another who had asked him, infinitely desiring never to be sought out by such importunate ones.” If true, that is not obvious from the poem which fits Ronsard’s poetic self-image perfectly: it would be harsh to suggest that this merely indicates that all his ‘passions’ are generic devices …
Because of a textual variant in no.84, Blanchemain thus has two consecutive poems starting with the same words – ‘Sweet beauty to which I owe my life’, ‘ Sweet beauty, you who hold my heart’ – which implies a structural link that is not, I think, actually there.
(I apologise for ‘dictator of our destiny’ in line 6, which creates a trite alliterative effect which is not Ronsard’s!)

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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