Sonnet 115

Standard

Sonnets 113 and 114 are already available, so on to no.115…

 
Plus que les Rois, leurs sceptres et leur bien,
J’aime ce front où mon Tyran se jouë,
Et le vermeil de ceste belle jouë,
Qui fait honteux le pourpre Tyrien.
 
Toutes beautez à mes yeux ne sont rien
Au prix du sein, qui souspirant secoüe
Son gorgerin, sous qui doucement noüe
Un petit flot que Venus diroit sien.
 
En la façon que Jupiter est aise,
Quand de son chant une Muse l’appaise :
Ainsi je suis de ses chansons épris,
 
Lors qu’à son luth ses doigts elle embesongne,
Et qu’elle dit le branle de Bourgongne,
Qu’elle disoit le jour que je fus pris.
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                            More than kings, their sceptres and their wealth,
                                                                            I love that brow with which my tyrant deceives,
                                                                            And the crimson of that fair cheek
                                                                            Which puts Tyrian purple to shame.
 
                                                                            All beauties are to my eyes nothing
                                                                            Beside the value of that breast, which sighing shakes
                                                                            Her pretty throat, under which she sweetly gathers
                                                                            A little storm which Venus could call her own.
 
                                                                            In the way Jupiter is at ease
                                                                            When with her song a Muse calms him;
                                                                            Just so I am delighted with her songs,
 
                                                                            When at her lute she works her fingers diligently,
                                                                            And when she sings that Burgundian dance
                                                                            That she sang the day I fell in love.
 
 
 
 
After a series of poems with few classical allusions, here come several at once! ‘Tyrian purple’ is a commonplace of classical poetry, Tyre being the key trade centre in the Mediterranean where (expensive) purple dyes could be obtained. Both the value and rarity of Tyrian purple is in Ronsard’s mind.  In similar fashion the references to Venus (love) and Jupiter (impetuous anger) are classical commonplaces.
 
Whether there is significance in a Burgundian dance I can’t say; earlier in the Middle Ages Burgundy was a major centre of culture, but a “branle” is a relatively low-class dance – the English ‘brawl’ which derives from it gives you some idea of its informality and lack of subtlety! I imagine though that ‘Burgundian brawl’ is chosen for alliteration rather than for class-distinctions…
 
Ronsard modified lines all the ay through the first three-quarters of the poem, leaving only the last tercet unchanged. So here are lines1-11 in the earlier Blanchemain version, to which you’ll need to add the last three lines above to complete the poem 🙂
 
 
 
Plus mille fois que nul or terrien,
J’aime ce front où mon Tyran se joue,
Et le vermeil de ceste belle joue,
Qui fait honteux le pourpre tyrien.
 
Toutes beautez à mes yeux ne sont rien
Au prix du sein qui lentement secoue
Son gorgerin, sous qui per à per noue
Le branle égal d’un flot cytherien.
 
Ne plus ne moins que Jupiter est aise
Quand de son luth quelque Muse l’appaise,
Ainsi je suis de ses chansons épris …
 
 
 
 
                                                                            A thousand times more than any earthly gold
                                                                            I love that brow with which my tyrant deceives,
                                                                            And the crimson of that fair cheek
                                                                            Which puts Tyrian purple to shame.
 
                                                                            All beauties are to my eyes nothing
                                                                            Beside the value of that breast, which slowly shakes
                                                                            Her pretty throat, under which she gathers, paired together,
                                                                            The well-matched dance of a Cytherian storm.
 
                                                                            No more nor less than Jupiter is at ease
                                                                            When with her lute one of the Muses calms him;
                                                                            Just so I am delighted with her songs, …
 
 
 
Here, ‘Cytherian’ is a reference to Venus, who was born there (or, technically, came ashore from her shell – as in Botticelli’s famous painting). Note here that the “branle” in line 8 here means something like ‘movement’, but it can still figuratively be translated as ‘dance’; “égal” here suggesting the dancers move closely together. It’s pretty obvious that Ronsard is thinking some fairly low-class thoughts about the ‘pair’ which dance so attractively underneath her throat!
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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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