Sonnet 110

Standard
Amour, si plus ma fièvre se renforce,
Si plus ton arc tire pour me blesser,
Avant mes jours j’ai crainte de laisser
Le verd fardeau de mon humaine escorce.
 
Ja de mon cœur je sens moindre la force
Se transmuer, pour sa mort avancer,
Devant le feu de mon ardant penser,
Non en bois verd, mais en poudre d’amorce.
 
Bien fut pour moy le jour malencontreux,
Où j’avallay le breuvage amoureux,
Qu’à si longs traits me versoit une œillade :
 
O bien-heureux ! si pour me secourir,
Dés le jour mesme Amour m’eust fait mourir
Sans me tenir si longuement malade.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Love, if my fever grows further,
                                                                            If your bow shoots again to wound me,
                                                                            Before my time I fear I’ll leave
                                                                            The young burden of my mortal husk.
 
                                                                            Already I can feel less the strength of my heart –
                                                                            transforming, to advance its death,
                                                                            Before the fire of my ardent thoughts
                                                                            Not into green wood but into the ashes of attraction.
 
                                                                            Truly the day was unlucky for me
                                                                            On which I swallowed the love potion
                                                                            Which, in such long draughts, her glance poured for me;
 
                                                                            How fortunate, if to help me
                                                                            On that same day Love had made me die
                                                                            Without keeping me ill for so long.

 

 

 

 Today is one of Ronsard’s ‘tinkering’ days: the earlier version of the poem is substantially the same, he has just re-worked the language and tightened up or changed some words for improved sound. So we have in lines 3-4
 
 
Avant mes jours j’ai grand’peur de laisser
Le verd fardeau de ceste jeune escorce
 
 
                                                                            Before my time I am much afraid I’ll leave
                                                                            The young burden of this youthful husk.

 

(Though Ronsard avoids the solecism of my translation, not repeating the same word (‘young’) – the ‘green burden’ is an image of spring-like freshness but I’m struggling to find an alternative word that conveys the thought well in English!)
 
Other changes are: “Quand je humai le breuvage amoureux” in line 10 (‘When I supped the love potion’); and “O fortuné si, pour me secourir” in line 12 (‘How lucky if to help me…’)

 

 

 
 
 
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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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