I think this is a little gem, a great little poem with an arresting opening. The reference to Proteus in the last line looks a little odd at first glance, for it was Prometheus the vulture attacked (and there was only one of it) while Proteus is defeated by Aristaeus (in Virgil) or Menelaus (in Homer). But Ronsard’s point is that the ‘tiresome thoughts’ are in many forms, as Proteus took many forms while fighting Aristaeus/Menelaus. So the thoughts are like a multiple Promethean vulture, constantly ripping at his guts, and take many forms like Proteus. In his earlier version, the simile is simpler, limiting itself to the Promethean image. It is also clear that Ronsard spent time tightening up the poem as he worked on the later version: all the changes in the first dozen lines are improvements; in the last couplet Ronsard recognises as we have seen that he can be much more economical with his Promethean simile, and then double up in the final line. Le mal est grand, le remede est si bref A ma douleur, qui jamais ne s’alente, Que, bas ne haut, dés le bout de la plante Je n’ay santé jusqu’au sommet du chef. L’œil qui tenoit de mes pensers la clef, En lieu de m’estre une estoille drillante Parmy les flots de l’Amour violente, Contre un orgueil a fait rompre ma nef. Un soin meurtrier, soit que je veille ou songe, Tigre affamé, le cœur ne mange et ronge, Suçant toujours le plus doux de mon sang. Et le penser importun qui me presse Et qui jamais en repos ne me laisse, Comme un vautour me mord toujouors au flanc. The pain is great, the remedy so quick, For my sadness which never lessens; So bottom to top, from the sole of my feet To the top of my head my health is gone. The eye which holds the key to my thoughts, Instead of being for me a dazzling star Amidst the surges of violent love, On pride has wrecked my ship. A murderous grief, whether I wake or dream, Like a hungry tiger chews and gnaws my heart, Sucking always the sweetest of my blood. And the tiresome thoughts which press around me And which never leave me in peace, Like a vulture is always gnawing my side. Blanchemain also offers a variant on the final couplet, which I take to be still earlier: it is weaker, its vocabulary flatter, it avoids the classical allusions, and it reduplicates the line ending in “sang” (‘blood’) at the end of both tercets which looks a little unimaginative! Comme un mastin eschappé de sa laisse Mange ma vie, et se noie en mon sang. Like a mastiff escaped from his leash Eats up my life, and steeps himself in my blood.