Sonnet 135


Sonnet 134 is already on the blog (here); so here’s no.135.


Douce beauté, meurdriere de ma vie,
En lieu d’un cœur tu portes un rocher :
Tu me fais vif languir et desecher
Passionné d’une amoureuse envie.
Le jeune sang qui d’aimer te convie,
N’a peu de toy la froideur arracher,
Farouche fiere, et qui n’as rien plus cher
Que languir froide, et n’estre point servie.
Appren à vivre, ô fiere en cruauté :
Ne garde point à Pluton ta beauté,
Quelque peu d’aise en aimant il faut prendre.
Il faut tromper doucement le trespas :
Car aussi bien sous la terre là-bas
Sans rien sentir le corps n’est plus que cendre.
                                                                            Sweet beauty, murderer of my life,
                                                                            In place of a heart you have a stone;
                                                                            You make me, though alive, fade away and shrivel up
                                                                            Impassioned with love’s desire.
                                                                            The youthful blood which urges you to love
                                                                            Has not been able to draw off your coldness from you,
                                                                            Wild and proud one, who hold nothing dearer
                                                                            Than sitting listlessly and coldly, accepting no service.
                                                                            Learn to live, proud in your cruelty;
                                                                            Don’t keep your beauty for Pluto,
                                                                            You must relax a little in love.
                                                                            You must sweetly defeat death,
                                                                            For, too, down there below the earth,
                                                                            Feeling nothing, the body is nothing but dust.




 I wonder if Ronsard meant “aussi bien” (in the penultimate line) to have the same meaning as “aussi tost” – that is, ‘For as soon as we are under the ground…’? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used this way but it certainly reads more sensibly / logically in English this way…
This is one of those poems in which Ronsard tweaked the sestet to try to get closer to his ideal. Personally I feel his first version was better and the later one (above) more obscure. Here’s that earlier, clearer version from Blanchemain (note that he didn’t modify “aussi bien” between versions!):
Apprens à vivre, ô fiere en cruauté ;
Ne garde point à Pluton ta beauté ;
Tes passetemps en aimant il faut prendre.
Le seul plaisir peut tromper le trespas :
Car, aussi bien, quand nous serons là-bas,
Sans plus aimer, nous ne serons que cendre. 
                                                                            Learn to live, proud in your cruelty;
                                                                            Don’t keep your beauty for Pluto;
                                                                            You must spend your leisure in love.
                                                                            Only pleasure can defeat death,
                                                                            For, too, when we are down below
                                                                            With no more love, we will be only dust.



(The next poem in the book is the “Stances” (stanzas) – the first poem not in sonnet form in the book.  It is already on the blog (here), along with the two following sonnets nos. 136 and 137.  So the next entry will be no. 138!



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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