Sonnets diverses 1 – to King Henri II


Au Roy Henry II de ce nom    (To King Henry, second of that name)


Je vous donne le Ciel pour vos estrenes, SIRE.
Je ferois à la France, et à vous un grand tort,
A vous, sain et dispos, jeune, gaillard et fort ;
A la France qui seul pour son Roy vous desire ;
De vous donner la Mer : que vous vaudroit l’Empire
Des vagues et des vents ? De vous donner le sort
Qui survint à Pluton, que vous vaudroit le port
De l’Enfer odieux, des trois Mondes le pire ?
La France vous suffit, vous estes estrené :
Vos fils puisnez sont Ducs, Roy vostre fils aisné :
Et vos filles bien tost vous feront le grand-père
D’enfans, qui porteront le Sceptre en divers lieux,
Ainsi doresnavant vous serez dit le Père
Des Rois dont la grandeur vaut bien celle des Dieux
                                                                            If I give you the heavens as your new-year’s gift, Sire,
                                                                            I would do France and you a great wrong:
                                                                            You, as you are healthy and fit, young, merry and strong;
                                                                            France, as it wants you alone for its King.
                                                                            If I gave you the sea, what use to you would be the rule
                                                                            Of its waves and winds? If I gave you the lot
                                                                            Which fell to Pluto, what use to you would be the harbour
                                                                            Of hateful Hell, the worst of the three worlds?
                                                                            France is enough for you; there, that is your gift:
                                                                            Your younger children are Dukes, your eldest a King;
                                                                            And your daughters will soon make you the grandfather
                                                                            Of children who will bear the Sceptre in various places;
                                                                            And hereafter you will be called the Father
                                                                            Of Kings, whose greatness is like that of the gods.



A couple of notes:  Pluto was alloted Hades, while Jupiter got the heavens and Neptune the seas to rule.  Ronsard alludes to all three in the opening stanzas. In line 10, the ‘eldest child’ is Francis, later Francis II of France briefly, who at the time was King Consort of Scotland through his marriage to Mary, Queen of Scots (there is a beautiful double-portrait in Catherine de Medici’s book of hours.) . His death at the end of 1560 left her (briefly Queen Consort of France) a widow still in her teens, and free to pursue the chaotic course of her Scottish career with Darnley and Bothwell.
There is one small but significant difference in Blanchemain’s version, at the very beginning:  “De vous donner le ciel …”. He obviously changed it to avoid beginning the 2 quatrains with the same words. But the change was not a great one otherwise: while the original opening (“De vous donner le ciel …”) clearly means ‘If I gave you the heavens…’, I have been a little naughty in translating the revised version (“Je vous donne…”) the same way. In fact, it seems to me that grammatically the new version should be saying something like:  ‘I give you the heavens, Sire. I would be doing you & France wrong to give you the sea.’ But that upsets the balance of the quatrains as well as making lines 5-6 mostly repetition. So I think we have to read Ronsard’s new version as saying ‘I give you the heavens. (But no – ) I would be doing you & France a great wrong…”
I have put this in the Sonnets diverses – which is where Blanchemain prints it – though Marty-Laveaux includes it among the various “sonnets retranchées” in his final volume.




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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