Sonnet 88

Standard
Pour celebrer des astres dévestus
L’heur qui s’escoule en celle qui me lime,
Et pour loüer son esprit qui n’estime
Que le parfait des plus rares vertus,
 
Et ses regars, ains traits d’amours pointus,
Que son bel œil au fond du cœur m’imprime,
Il me faudroit non l’ardeur de ma ryme,
Mais l’Enthousiasme aiguillon de Pontus.
 
Il me faudroit une lyre Angevine,
Et un Daurat Sereine Limousine,
Et un Belleau, qui vivant fut mon bien,
 
De mesmes mœurs d’estude et de jeunesse,
Qui maintenant des morts accroist la presse,
Ayant fini son soir avant le mien.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            To celebrate the fortune, stripped from the stars,
                                                                            Which flows in her who has snared me,
                                                                            And to praise her spirit, which values
                                                                            Only perfection among the rarest of virtues,
 
                                                                            And her glances, like sharp arrows of love
                                                                            Which her fair eye lodges deep in my heart,
                                                                            I would need not the warmth of my poetry
                                                                            But the Enthusiasm which spurs Pontus.
 
                                                                            I would need the lyre of Anjou,
                                                                            And a Daurat, the Siren of Limoges,
                                                                            And a Belleau, who was everything good to me while he lived,
 
                                                                            With the same habits of study and of youth,
                                                                            Who now augments the crowd of the dead,
                                                                            Having finished the evening [of his life] before mine.

 

 

 After the certainty of his importance in the last poem, next is an equally-typical piece of Ronsard’s modesty, and admiration for his friends and fellow-poets of the Pleiade. Muret (whose notes are reprinted by Blanchemain tells) us that line 8 refers to ‘the poet Pontus de Tyard, Lord of Bissy’; that ‘Daurat is a very excellent poet in Greek and Latin, native of Limoges, the author’s instructor’; and that ‘Belleau was the close friend of our author, and was tutor of the late M. le duc d’Elboeuf, prince in the house of Lorraine’.  What he doesn’t tell us is that the ‘lyre of Anjou’ is Joachim du Bellay, who was born at Liré, in Anjou; but that is partly because in the version Blanchemain prints, du Bellay is more directly identified through reference to “L’Olive”, France’s first book of love sonnets. Jean Daurat (or Dorat, or D’Aurat) was the teacher and inspiration of many of the Pleaide poets; shwoing that this is a late version of the poem, Remy Belleau – close friend of Ronsard – died in 1577, before he was 50.
 
Not surprisingly, the early version in Blanchemain has some quite significant differences, particularly in the final tercet! His list of poets is also different.
 
 
 
Pour celebrer des astres dévestus
L’heur escoulé dans celle qui me lime,
Et pour loüer son esprit qui n’estime
Que le divin des divines vertus,
 
Et ses regars, ains traits d’Amour pointus,
Que son bel œil au fond du cœur m’imprime,
Il me faudroit non l’ardeur de ma ryme,
Mais la fureur du Masconnois Pontus.
 
Il me faudroit cette chanson divine
Qui transforma sur la rive angevine
L’Olive pale en un teint plus naïf.
 
Et me faudroit un Des-Autels encore,
Et celui-là qui sa Meline adore
En vers dorés, le bien disant Baïf.

 

 

                                                                            To celebrate the fortune, stripped from the stars,
                                                                            Flowing in her who has snared me,
                                                                            And to praise her spirit, which values
                                                                            Only the divine among divine virtues,
 
                                                                            And her glances, like sharp arrows of Love
                                                                            Which her fair eye lodges deep in my heart,
                                                                            I would need not the warmth of my poetry
                                                                            But the passion of Pontus, the man from Mâcon.
 
                                                                            I would need that divine poetry
                                                                            Which transformed, on the river at Anjou,
                                                                            The pale Olive to a more artless complexion.
 
                                                                            And I’d need a Des Autels as well,
                                                                            And that one who is loved by his Meline
                                                                            In golden verses, the fine-speaking Baïf.
 
 
This time we have a different list, of poets who were bigger names in the 1550-60s, rather than in the 1580s and later.  As well as Pontus and du Bellay, here we have Guillaume Desautels and Jean Antoine de Baif, who wrote ‘to Meline’. We’ve met the Baif family before – Ronsard went on an embassy to Germany with the father in his youth – but Des Autels is new to us here. He was distantly related to Pontus de Tyard, and like him linked to the prominent Guise family. More a political than poetical figure, Des Autrels was nonetheless cultured and learned (a Latin and Greek connoisseur as well as a writer in French and Latin); he championed Old French style and orthography and may thus have found himself slightly at odds with Ronsard’s exuberant coinage of new words, but the two were nonetheless close friends.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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