Sonnet 146

Tout effroyé je cherche une fonteine
Pour expier un horrible songer,
Qui toute nuict ne m’a faict que ronger
L’ame effroyée au travail de ma peine.
Il me sembloit que ma douce-inhumaine
Crioit, Ami, sauve moy du danger,
A toute force un larron estranger
Par les forests prisonniere m’em-meine.
Lors en sursaut, où me guidoit la vois,
Le fer au poing je brossay dans le bois :
Mais en courant apres la derobée,
Du larron mesme assaillir me suis veu,
Qui me perçant le cœur de mon espée,
M’a fait tomber dans un torrent de feu.
                                                                            Thoroughly scared, I seek a fountain
                                                                            To make sacrifice against a frightful dream
                                                                            Which all night did nothing but gnaw away
                                                                            My scared soul, afflicting [further] my pains.
                                                                            It seemed to me that my sweetly-inhuman lady
                                                                            Cried out “My love, save me from danger!
                                                                            With all his strength some unknown thief
                                                                            Is dragging me off, a prisoner, through the forest.”
                                                                            Then, leaping up, where her voice led me
                                                                            With sword in hand I pushed my way into the wood;
                                                                            But running after the ravished lady
                                                                            I found myself attacked by the thief himself,
                                                                            Who piercing my heart with my own sword
                                                                            Caused me to fall into a torrent of fire.





In line 2, “expier” is really ‘to atone for’ – but there’s a secondary (more classically-rooted) meaning of ‘to sacrifice in order to ward off evil’.  I’ve gone for the more general ‘making sacrifice’. In line 10 note that “brossay” has a secondary meaning too, something like “I missed her, I couldn’t find her”, which – though maybe at the back of Ronsard’s mind – is not the way he uses it here.
There are only 2 minor differences in Blanchemain’s earlier version:  in line 10, “je brossay par le bois” (‘I pushed my way through the wood’; and the very opening which is, in this earlier version, “Espouvanté, je cherche une fontaine” (‘Terrified, I seek…’).  Why on earth did Ronsard change that to ‘effroyé’ so that he ends up repeating the word in lines 1 & 4 ?!




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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