Sonnet 92

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Sous le crystal d’une argenteuse rive,
Au mois d’Avril une perle je vy,
Dont la clairté m’a tellement ravy,
Qu’en mon esprit autre penser n’arrive.
 
Sa rondeur fut d’une blancheur naïve,
Et ses rayons treluisoyent à l’envi :
De l’admirer je ne suis assouvi,
Tant le destin me dit que je la suive.
 
Cent fois courbé pour la pescher à bas,
D’un cueur ardent je devalay le bras,
Et ja content la perle je tenoye,
 
Sans un Archer de mon bien envieux,
Qui troubla l’eau et m’esblouit les yeux,
Pour jouïr seul d’une si chere proye.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Beneath the crystal waters of a silvery stream
                                                                            In April I saw a pearl
                                                                            Whose brightness so delighted me
                                                                            That in my spirit no other thought arose.
 
                                                                            Its roundness was of a simple whiteness
                                                                            And its rays shone in competition [with the sun];
                                                                            I am never satisfied with admiring it
                                                                            Since fate tells me I must pursue it.
 
                                                                            A hundred times prevented from fishing it up,
                                                                            With eager heart I quickly plunged in my arm
                                                                            And now happily I would have the pearl
 
                                                                            If an Archer, envious of my prize,
                                                                            Had not stirred up the water and dazzled my eyes
                                                                            So that he alone could play with such desirable prey.

 

 

 

It’s nice to have a single sustained metaphor again, Ronsard does them so well! The Archer is of course the god of love. April, as I recall, was Cassandre’s birthday – but I may have remembered that wrongly!
 
Blanchemain’s earlier version has the same sustained metaphor, but some detailed differences:
 
 
Sous le crystal d’une argenteuse rive,
Au mois d’Avril une perle je vy,
Dont la clairté m’a tellement ravy,
Qu’en mes discours autre penser n’arrive.
 
Sa rondeur fut d’une blancheur naïve,
Et ses rayons treluisoient à l’envy.
Son lustre encor ne m’a point assouvy,
Ny ne fera tant qu’au monde je vive.
 
Cent et cent fois, pour la pescher à bas,
Tout recoursé je devalay le bras,
Et ja déjà content je la tenoye
 
Sans un archer, de mon bien envieux,
Qui troubla l’eau et m’esblouit les yeux
Pour jouïr seul d’une si chere proye.
 
 
 
                                                                            Beneath the crystal waters of a silvery stream
                                                                            One April I saw a pearl
                                                                            Whose brightness so delighted me
                                                                            That in my conversation no other thought arose.
 
                                                                            Its roundness was of a simple whiteness
                                                                            And its rays shone in competition [with the sun];
                                                                            Its lustre has still never satiated me
                                                                            Nor will it so long as I live in the world.
 
                                                                            Hundreds and hundreds of times, to fish it up,
                                                                            With sleeves rolled right up, I plunged in my arm
                                                                            And already now I happily would have it
 
                                                                            If an Archer, envious of my prize,
                                                                            Had not stirred up the water and dazzled my eyes
                                                                            So that he alone could play with such desirable prey.
 
 
 
 
I may have misunderstood but the homely image of rolling up the sleeves in line 10 would have been exactly the sort of touch the older Ronsard would have expunged – but it fits so much better than his ardent heart!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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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