Sonnet 124

Ce petit chien, qui ma maistresse suit,
Et qui jappant ne recognoist personne,
Et cest oiseau, qui ses plaintes resonne,
Au mois d’Avril soupirant toute nuit :
Et la barriere où quand le chaud s’enfuit,
Madame seule en pensant s’arraisonne,
Et ce jardin où son pouce moissonne
Toutes les fleurs que Zephyre produit :
Et ceste dance où la fleche cruelle
M’outre-perça, et la saison nouvelle
Qui tous les ans rafraichist mes douleurs :
Et son œillade, et sa parolle sainte,
Et dans le cœur sa grace que j’ay peinte,
Baignent mes yeux de deux ruisseaux de pleurs.
                                                                            That little dog which follows my mistress
                                                                            And yaps, recognising no-one,
                                                                            And that bird which sings its sorrows
                                                                            Sighing all night through April;
                                                                            And the fence where, when the day’s heat has gone,
                                                                            My Lady muses, alone with her thoughts,
                                                                            And that garden where her fingers gather
                                                                            All the flowers which Zephyr produces;
                                                                            And that dance in which the cruel arrow
                                                                            Pierced me through, and the new season
                                                                            Which every year renews my pains afresh;
                                                                            And her glance, and her saint-like speech,
                                                                            And her grace whose image I carry in my heart –
                                                                            These bathe my eyes with two streams of tears.




 Unusually for Ronsard, a sonnet in a 13+1 form: he doesn’t often pursue the same thought all the way to the penultimate line, though that is what here makes the sudden switch to tears instead of joy in the last line a decisive dramatic stroke.
I ought to confess to paraphrasing line 13 – literally ‘her grace of which I have made a painting in my heart’. (I was tempted by ‘which I have limned in my heart’, but that’s a bit too old-fashioned for Ronsard’s simple term!)
Minor variants in Blanchemain: in line 3, the bird repeats Ronsard’s sorrows instead of singing its own – “qui mes plaintes resonne”; and in the final line his tears run further, bathing his breast – “Baignent mon sein de deux ruisseaux”. Lines 4-5 change a little more, though without shifting the focus much:
Et cette pierre où, quand le chaud s’enfuit,
Seule à part soi pensive s’arraisonne
                                                                            And that stone where, when the day’s heat has gone,
                                                                            Alone, outside herself, pensive, she muses
If you can improve on ‘outside herself’ please do – I am stumped for a decent translation at the moment!




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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