Sonnet 139

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Ville de Blois, naissance de ma Dame,
Sejour des Roys et de ma volonté,
Où jeune d’ans je me vy surmonté
Par un œil brun qui m’outre-perça l’ame :
 
Chez toy je pris ceste premiere flame,
Chez toy j’apris que peult la cruauté,
Chez toy je vy ceste fiere beauté,
Dont la memoire encores me r’enflame.
 
Habite Amour en ta ville à jamais,
Et son carquois, ses lampes, et ses trais
Pendent en toy, le temple de sa gloire :
 
Puisse-il tousjours tes murailles couver
Dessous son aile, et nud tousjours laver
Son chef crespu dans les eaux de ton Loire.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            O town of Blois, the birthplace of my lady,
                                                                            Resting place of kings and of my wishes,
                                                                            Where young in years I found myself overcome
                                                                            By her brown eyes which pierced my soul right through;
 
                                                                            In you I received this first fiery love,
                                                                            In you I learned what cruelty can do,
                                                                            In you I saw that proud beauty
                                                                            Whose memory stirs me still.
 
                                                                            May Love live within your town forever,
                                                                            And may his quiver, his torches, his arrows
                                                                            Hang in you, the temple of his glory;
 
                                                                            May he always protect your walls
                                                                            Beneath his wings and, naked, always wash
                                                                            His curly head in the waters of your Loire.

 

 

 

In a marvellously unnecessary piece of editorialising, Muret tells us in his notes to this poem that ‘One may conjecture from this sonnet that his lady is from Blois’. Thank you…. 🙂
 
Perhaps surprisingly, this poem has plenty of variants.  Blanchemain prints the following version. I confess myself at a loss over Ronsard’s change of Loves’s ‘bow and arrows’ (below) to his ‘lamps and arrows’ (above) in line 10, in particular?!
 
 
Ville de Blois, naissance de ma dame,
Sejour des Roys et de ma volonté,
je fus pris, où je fus surmonté,
Par un œil brun qui m’outre-perçe l’ame,
 
Chez toy je pris ceste premiere flame,
Chez toy j’appris que peut la cruauté,
Chez toy je vey ceste fiere beauté,
Dont la memoire encores me r’enflame.
 
Se loge Amour en tes murs à jamais,
Et son carquois, et son arc et ses traits
Pendent en toy, comme autel de sa gloire ;
 
Puisse-il tousjours sous ses ailes couver
Ton chef royal, et, nud, tousjours laver
Le sien crespu dans l’argent de ton Loire.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            O town of Blois, the birthplace of my lady,
                                                                            Resting place of kings and of my wishes,
                                                                            Where I was seized, where I was overcome
                                                                            By her brown eyes which pierce my soul right through;
 
                                                                            In you I received this first fiery love,
                                                                            In you I learned what cruelty can do,
                                                                            In you I saw that proud beauty
                                                                            Whose memory stirs me still.
 
                                                                            May Love stay within your walls forever,
                                                                            And may his quiver, his bow and his arrows
                                                                            Hang in you, as an altar to his glory;
 
                                                                            May he always protect beneath his wings
                                                                            Your royal head and, naked, always wash
                                                                            His own curly head in the silvery waters of your Loire.
 
 
 
In case you might think that Ronsard had no other views on the second quatrain, Blanchemain also prints the following, completely different, quatrain in a footnote!
 
 
Sur le plus haut de sa divine flame,
Près de l’honneur, en grave majesté,
Reverement se sied la chasteté,
Qui tout bon cœur de ses vertus enflame.
 
 
                                                                            On the highest point of their holy flame,
                                                                            Next to honour, in grave majesty,
                                                                            Reverentially sits chastity,
                                                                            Which fires every good heart with her virtues.
 
 
It is at least obvious why he rejected this four-line aside about the wonder of his lady’s eyes, in favour of the version in which he continues his encomium of Blois.
 
 
 

 

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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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