Sonnet 125

Standard
Du feu d’amour, impatient Roger
(Pipé du fard de magique cautelle)
Pour refroidir ta passion nouvelle,
Tu vins au lict d’Alcine te loger.
 
Opiniastre à ton feu soulager,
Ore planant, ore noüant sus elle,
Entre les bras d’une Dame si belle,
Tu sceus d’Amour et d’elle te vanger.
 
En peu de temps le gracieux Zephyre,
D’un vent heureux em-poupant ton navire,
Te fit surgir dans le port amoureux :
 
Mais quand ma nef de s’aborder est preste,
Tousjours plus loin quelque horrible tempeste
La single en mer, tant je suis malheureux.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            From the fire of love, impatient Ruggiero
                                                                            (Snared by the trickery of some sly magic)
                                                                            To cool down your new passion
                                                                            You came to lie on the bed of Alcina.
 
                                                                            Determined to assuage your burning,
                                                                            Now floating, now swimming near her,
                                                                            Between the arms of a Lady so fair,
                                                                            You recognised how to avenge yourself on Love and on her.
 
                                                                            In a short time the graceful Zephyr,
                                                                            Filling your sails with a lucky breeze,
                                                                            Made your love’s port come into view;
 
                                                                            But when my ship is ready to come in,
                                                                            Some awful tempest always drives it
                                                                            Far off in the sea, so unlucky am I.

 

 

 

Ariosto’s ‘Orlando furioso’ is embedded in renaissance thought, but less so in today’s reading-lists. Alcina may be familiar through Handel’s opera, but otherwise the story is probably little known. The episode of Ruggiero (Roger) and Alcina is modelled on that of Odysseus and Circe in Homer – Alcina lures the brave warrior Ruggiero to her magic island, ensnares him with her spells, and he has to break the charm to escape. Of course in Ronsard’s version escaping the beloved is not the objective: the aim is to win her, in which Ruggiero has been lucky and Ronsard not. His readers would of course recognise that he has turned Ariosto’s tale on its head by presenting Ruggiero as the lucky lover!
 
Blanchemain does not print this poem in his Cassandre; it slips into the Pièces retranchées. There he prints a rather different text for the opening quatrains:
 
 
Entre tes bras, impatient Roger
(Pipé du fard de magique cautelle)
Pour refroidir ta chaleur immortelle,
Au soir bien tard Alcine vint loger.
 
Opiniastre à ton feu soulager,
Ore planant, ore noüant sus elle,
Dedans le gué d’une beauté si belle,
Toute une nuit tu appris à nager.
 
                                                                            Into your arms, impatient Ruggiero
                                                                            (When you were snared by the trickery of sly magic)
                                                                            To cool down your immortal heat
                                                                            Late at night Alcina came to stay.
 
                                                                            Determined to assuage your burning,
                                                                            Now floating, now swimming near her,
                                                                            Within the ford of so fair a beauty
                                                                            You learned all night how to swim.
 
 
 
In this version, the first quatrain is rather clearer and I prefer it.  The ‘ford’ in line 7 carries ideas of a safe place to learn – the ‘shallow end’ (though I wanted to avoid the word ‘shallow’ which we tend to link with beauty in a moral or intellectual sense!), as well as a means of ready access… 

 

 

 
 
 
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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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  1. Pingback: Dedans le gué d’une beauté si belle | opera, innit?

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