Amours 1.205

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Just back after a short holiday. Let’s have a sonnet.

 
Comme on souloit si plus on ne me blasme
D’avoir l’esprit et le corps ocieux,
L’honneur en soit au trait de ces beaux yeux,
Qui m’ont poli l’imparfait de mon ame.
 
Le seul rayon de leur gentille flame
Dressant en l’air mon vol audacieux
Pour voir le Tout m’esleva jusqu’aux Cieux,
Dont ici bas la partie m’enflame.
 
Par le moins beau qui mon penser aila,
Au sein du beau mon penser s’en vola,
Espoinçonné d’une manie extresme :
 
Là du vray beau j’adore le parfait,
Là, d’ocieux actif je me suis fait,
Là je cogneu ma maistresse et moy-mesme.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            If, as they used to, people no longer blame me
                                                                            For having a lazy mind and body,
                                                                            The honour for it is in the wound of those fair eyes
                                                                            Which have polished the imperfections of my soul.
 
                                                                            The ray of their noble flame alone,
                                                                            Supporting in the air my daring flight
                                                                            To see the All, raised me to heaven –
                                                                            Down here, [just] a part inflames me.
 
                                                                            By that less-fair way which gave my thoughts wings,
                                                                            My thoughts flew to the bosom of the Fair,
                                                                            Tortured by extreme obsession ;
 
                                                                            There I adore the perfection of true Beauty,
                                                                            There I become active, not lazy,
                                                                            There I have found my mistress and myself.
 
 
 
Charmingly, Ronsard acknowledges that a writer’s life draws its share of criticism (‘laziness’), but also – and equally charmingly – lays a claim to fame and worth for his work, in that people no longer criticise him for spending his time writing! And, still charmingly, he deflects the implicit charge of pride by pointing the attention (of course) at Cassandre. All neatly done in a couple of lines. Brilliant.
 
His first version took a slightly different route, and one which less-effectively avoids the charge of pride: this time it is Ronsard, not his readers, who acknowledges Cassandre’s primary role:
 
 
Comme on souloit si plus on ne me blasme
D’avoir l’esprit et le corps ocieux,
Je t’en rends grace, heureux traits de ces yeux,
Qui m’as poli l’imparfait de mon ame.
 
 
                                                                            If as they did, people no longer blame me
                                                                            For having a lazy mind and body,
                                                                            I give you thanks for it, lucky darts of those eyes,
                                                                            You who have polished the imperfections of my soul.
 
 
 There’s also a small change in line 5, which reads “de si gentille flame” (‘ of so noble a flame’).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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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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