Sonnet 159

En ma douleur, malheureux, je me plais,
Soit quand la nuict les feux du Ciel augmente,
Ou quand l’Aurore en-jonche d’Amaranthe
Le jour meslé d’un long fleurage espais,
D’un joyeux dueil mon esprit je repais :
Et quelque part où seulet je m’absente,
Devant mes yeux je voy tousjours presente
Celle qui cause et ma guerre et ma paix.
Pour l’aimer trop également j’endure
Ore un plaisir, ore une peine dure,
Qui d’ordre egal viennent mon cœur saisir :
Brief, d’un tel miel mon absinthe est si pleine,
Qu’autant me plaist le plaisir que la peine,
La peine autant comme fait le plaisir.
                                                                            In my sadness, unfortunate, I am content,
                                                                            Whether at night when heaven’s lamps grow brighter,
                                                                            Or when Dawn carpets with purple
                                                                            The day, mingled with a long deep carpet of flowers,
                                                                            With joyful grief I feed my spirit;
                                                                            And wherever I go off alone
                                                                            Before my eyes I see always present
                                                                            Her who causes both my war and my peace.
                                                                            For loving her too much, equally I endure
                                                                            Now pleasure, now harsh pain,
                                                                            Which in constant succession come and seize my heart;
                                                                            In short, with such honey is my wormwood so full
                                                                            That pleasure pleases me as much as pain,
                                                                            Pain as much as does pleasure.
Blanchemain reprints a couple of Muret’s notes which are useful to me as translator if less so to you as readers!  He tells us that “en-jonche” means ‘to carpet [with rushes]’ – ‘the metaphor is taken from the rushes that one throws around the place to freshen up the summer’.  Also in line 3, where I have simply provided a colour-word (purple), Ronsard uses ‘Amaranthe’, a plant which carries the same name in English. To help his French readers connect this with the colour, Muret reminds them that it is what ‘the vulgar call “passevelours” (‘velvet’ being the key element of the name’); apparently amaranth is also called in English red-root, which might serve the same purpose!
Otherwise only a few minor variants in Blanchemain’s text – though one alters the opening line:
En ma douleur, las ! chétif, je me plais …
                                                                            In my sadness, wretched alas, I am content …
There is a tiny change in line 12, which begins “Et d’un tel miel …” (‘And with such honey…’), which is interesting for the rhythmically much more satisfying solution he replaced it with (above); and perhaps the ‘biggest’ change in the opening of the second quatrain (line 5) which becomes:
 D’un joyeux dueil sans fin je me repais …
                                                                            In my sadness, wretched alas, I am content …

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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