Amours 1.188

En nul endroit, comme a chanté Virgile,
La foy n’est seure, et me l’a fait sçavoir
Ton jeune cœur, mais vieil pour decevoir,
Rompant la sienne en amour si fragile.
Tu ne sçaurois, comme femme inutile,
Assujettir les cœurs à ton pouvoir,
Jouët à vent, flot prompt à s’esmouvoir,
Beauté trop belle en ame trop mobile.
Escoute, Amour, si tu as quelquefois
Haussé ton vol sous le vent de ma voix,
Jamais mon cœur de son cœur ne racointes.
Puisse le Ciel sur sa langue envoyer
Le plus aigu de sa foudre à trois pointes
Pour le payment de son juste loyer.
                                                                            In no place, as Virgil sang,
                                                                            Is faith certain, and your young heart
                                                                            Has made me know this truth – young, but old in deception,
                                                                            Breaking its own [faith] in a love so fragile.
                                                                            You’d know, like a useless woman,
                                                                            How to subject hearts to your power,
                                                                            A plaything for the wind, a stream quick to move,
                                                                            A beauty too fair in a soul too flighty.
                                                                            Hear, Love, if you have sometimes
                                                                            Taken wing, lifted on the breeze of my song,
                                                                            Never re-acquaint my heart with her heart.
                                                                            May Heaven send upon her tongue
                                                                            The sharpest of its thunderbolts, triple-pointed,
                                                                            As payment of what she’s rightly owed.
Virgil, in Aeneid 4, famously talks of “vana fides” (’empty faith’) – I’m not sure he talks about ‘uncertain faith’ (“incerta fides”) – but the accuracy of a semi-quotation is hardly the point here! In line 13, we might also quibble about three-pointed thunderbolts, recalling some strange mix of Neptune’s trident with Jupiter’s thunderbolt; but again that would be missing the point…
More importantly, I have no idea why in line 5 Ronsard chose the epithet “inutile” (‘useless’) – he clearly mean something like ‘skilled in pointless things’, but is this a case of him pushing the vocabulary further, or is it simply a strange word to choose?  It is, at least, a better stab at it than his earlier version:
Tu es vraiment et sotte et mal habile
D’assujettir les cœurs …
                                                                             You are truly foolish and clumsy
                                                                            In subjecting hearts …
Blanchemain’s edition also opens line 9 with one of his ‘fall-back’ exclamations, definitely improved in the later version above:
Helas ! Amour, si tu as quelquefois …
                                                                             Alas, Love, if you have sometimes …

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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