Sonnet 116

Standard
Ceste beauté de mes yeux adoree,
Qui me fait vivre entre mille trespas,
Couploit mes chiens, et poursuivoit mes pas,
Ainsi qu’Adon, Cyprine la doree :
 
Quand une ronce en vain enamouree,
Ainsi que moy, du vermeil de ses bras,
En les baisant luy fit couler à bas
Une liqueur de pourpre coloree.
 
La terre adonc, qui soigneuse receut
Ce sang divin, fertilement conceut
Pareille au sang une rouge fleurette.
 
Et tout ainsi que d’Helene nâquit
La fleur qui d’elle un beau surnom aquit,
Du nom Cassandre elle eut nom Cassandrette.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            That beauty adored by my eyes,
                                                                            Who makes me live among a thousand deaths,
                                                                            Put my dogs on a lead and followed my path,
                                                                            As golden Cyprine [Venus] did Adonis;
 
                                                                            When a bramble, vainly enamoured
                                                                            Like me, from the pink of her arms
                                                                            As it kissed them made flow down
                                                                            A precious liquid, purple in colour.
 
                                                                            The earth indeed which with concern received
                                                                            This divine blood in fertility conceived
                                                                            A little flower, red like the blood.
 
                                                                            And just as from Helen was born
                                                                            The flower which from her acquired its fair name,
                                                                            From Cassandre’s name this one is called Cassandrette [little Cassandre].

 

 

 

 A classical frame for a familiar trope – but does’t Ronsard do it well?!  Muret points out that “golden” is an epithet often applied by Greek poets to beauties, another subtle classical allusion. Venus’s origins in Cyprus have come up before. One ancient myth had it that elecampane (a member of the daisy family) grew from Helen’s tears when Paris stole her away to Troy – the plant is also known as Helenium.
 
In Blanchemain’s version, line 10 appears as “Ce sang divin, tout sus l’heure conceut” (‘This divine blood at that very moment conceived’) which has the advantage of an urgency lacking in “fertilement” but does rather overload the line with ‘s’ sounds!  This version also offers a couple of changes in the first quatrain:
 
 
Celle qui est de mes yeux adorée,
Qui me fait vivre entre mille trespas,
Chassant un cerf, suivoit hier mes pas,
Ainsi qu’Adon Cyprine la dorée ;
 
 
 
                                                                            She who is adored by my eyes,
                                                                            Who makes me live among a thousand deaths,
                                                                            As I was hunting a deer yesterday followed my path,
                                                                            As golden Cyprine did Adonis;

 

 

 
 
 
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