In lines 1 & 4, the “-issant” ending implies that her hair is ‘darkening’, her eyes ‘getting browner’ – but I have used the simple adjective, as I don’t think that’s what Ronsard meant… (Note – below – that at first Cassandre’s hair was blonde, but later in life Ronsard adjusts the colour to dark! ) The reference in lines 10-11 is pretty obscure – another of Ronsard’s learned asides – the more so as it refers to a Trojan War episode outside Homer. Blanchemain’s note tells us “The axe (hache=hatchet) of Achilles, son of Peleus, cured the wounds that it had made”. This is from a story that Achilles first landed at Mysia, some way down the coast from Troy, but mistook it for Troy and attacked it. The Mysian king, Telephus, was wounded by Achilles but the wound would not heal. The Delphic oracles told Telephus that what made the wound would heal it, so he sought Achilles’ help – and, touched by the spear [not the axe!] that made the wound, it was healed. Nowadays the mythical image that might come to mind is Wagner’s Parsifal myth! Today for a change we have a poem whose ending Ronsard left untouched, but whose beginning was re-crafted. There is a tiny change in line 12 – “Ainsi le trait de ton bel œil me rue” – which swings the meaning around a little to become ‘And so the wound from your fair eyes threw me down’. Otherwise the sestet is identical. Here are the two quatrains in Blanchemain’s version; I admire the way he re-thought line 3 so completely with only a small change, building the very effective pairing of lines 3-4 in the version at the top. De ton poil d’or en tresses blondissant Amour ourdit de son arc la fiscelle ; Il me tira de ta vive etincelle Le doux fier trait qui me tient languissant. Du premier coup j’eusse été perissant, Sans l’autre coup d’une fleche nouvelle Qui mon ulcere en santé renouvelle, Et par son coup le coup va guarissant.
From your golden locks in their blonde braids, Love wove the string of his bow; He drew for me from your bright spark The sweet noble wound which keeps me pining. From the first blow I had been close to dying, Without the other blow from a new arrow Which restored to health my wound, And by its blow cured the blow.