Amours 1.173

Mon fol penser pour s’en-voler plus haut
Apres le bien que hautain je desire,
S’est emplumé d’ailes jointes de cire,
Propres à fondre au rais du premier chaud.
Luy fait oiseau, dispost de saut en saut
Poursuit en vain l’objet de son martire,
Et toy qui peux et luy dois contredire,
Tu le vois bien, Raison, et ne t’en chaut.
Sous la clarté d’une estoile si belle
Cesse, Penser, de hazarder ton aile,
Qu’on ne te voye en bruslant desplumer :
Pour amortir une ardeur si cuisante,
L’eau de mes yeux ne seroit suffisante,
Ny l’eau du ciel, ny les flots de la mer.
                                                                            My mad thoughts, to fly higher
                                                                            After the good things I proudly desire,
                                                                            Have winged themselves with feathers joined by wax
                                                                            Suited to melting in the rays of the first heat.
                                                                            Made into a bird, alert, bound after bound
                                                                            They pursue in vain the object of their torture ;
                                                                            And you, who can and ought to tell them no,
                                                                            You see this clearly, Reason, and care not at all.
                                                                            Beneath the shining of a star so fair
                                                                            Cease, my thoughts, from risking your wings,
                                                                            That we might not see you burning and un-feathered ;
                                                                            To lessen so burning a heat
                                                                            The water of my eyes would never be sufficient,
                                                                            Nor the waters of heaven, nor the waves of the sea.
No mention of Daedalus and Icarus, but that is clearly the image Ronsard expects us to have in mind. The last line recalls Icarus falling into the sea (which, in his case, did quench the flames); though perhaps also recalls the chariot of Phoebus Apollo, carrying the sun, which sinks into the sea unquenched each evening.
Blanchemain offers a small number of variants; the opening line becomes “Ce fol penser, pour s’en-voler trop haut” (‘These mad thoughts, to fly too high’); and then the sestet becomes:
Sous la clarté d’une estoille si belle
Cesse, Penser, de hazarder ton aile,
Ains que te voir en bruslant desplumer :
Car, pour esteindre une ardeur si cuisante,
L’eau de mes yeux ne seroit suffisante,
Ny suffisans tous les flots de la mer.

                                                                            Beneath the shining of a star so fair

                                                                            Cease, my thoughts, from risking your wings
                                                                            Lest you see yourselves burning and un-feathered ;
                                                                            For, to extinguish so burning an ardour
                                                                            The water of my eyes would never be sufficient,
                                                                            Nor yet would all the waters of the seas.
Muret, in a footnote, tells us that Ronsard is ‘imitating a sonnet of Ariosto’. Imitation can mean many things: in this case, a collection of images and an overarching metaphor, since the poem itself is organised and structured rather differently. Nevertheless the link is clear. Here is the sonnet:
Sonetto VIII
Nel mio pensier, che così veggio audace,
Timor, freddo com’ angue, il cor m’assale;
Di lino e cera egli s’ha fatto l’ale,
Disposte a liquefarsi ad ogni face.
E quelle, del disir fatto seguace,
Spiega per l’aria, e temerario sale:
E duolmi che a ragion poco ne cale,
Che devria ostargli, e sel comporta e tace.
Per gran vaghezza d’un celeste lume
Temo non poggi sì, che arrivi in loco
Dove si accenda, e torni senza piume.
Saranno, oimè, le mie lagrime poco
Per soccorrergli poi, quando nè fiume,
Nè tutto il mar potrà smorzar quel foco.
                                                                            Sonnet 8
                                                                            In my thoughts which I see being thus bold,
                                                                            Fear, cold like a serpent, assaults my heart;
                                                                            With flax and wax he has made himself wings
                                                                            Which will liquefy in any fire.
                                                                            And these, made the followers of desire,
                                                                            Unfold in the air, and leap recklessly;
                                                                            It grieves me that it will barely listen to reason
                                                                            Which ought to show it how to bear itself and to be silent.
                                                                            In the great emptiness of heaven’s light
                                                                            I fear it will not rest until it arrives in a place
                                                                            Where it will burn, and return without wings.
                                                                            My tears will, alas, do little
                                                                            To help then, when neither a river
                                                                            Nor all the sea could quench that flame.
 [That makes 200 Cassandre poems posted. Just over four-fifths of the book…]

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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