Veu la douleur, qui doucement me lime,
Et qui me suit, compagne, pas-à-pas,
Je prevoy bien qu’encor je ne suis pas
Pour trop aimer à la fin de ma rime.
Dame, l’ardeur qui de chanter m’anime
Et qui me rend en ce labeur moins las,
C’est que je voy qu’agreable tu l’as,
Et que je tiens de tes pensers la cime.
Je suis, Amour, heureux et plusqu’heureux
De vivre aimé, et de vivre amoureux
De la beauté d’une Dame si belle,
Qui lit mes vers, qui en fait jugement,
Et dont les yeux me baillent argument
De souspirer heureusement pour elle.
In view of the grief which sweetly entraps me
And pursues me like a companion, step by step,
I foresee that I am not yet,
From loving too much, at the end of my verse.
My Lady, the passion which drives me to sing
And makes me less weary in this task
Is that of seeing it delights you
And that I retain the highest of your thoughts.
I am happy, Love, and more than happy
To live beloved, and to live in love
With the beauty of so fair a Lady
Who reads my verse, who offers her judgement of it,
And whose eyes offer me a reason
To sigh happily for her.
For once Ronsard admits he’s happy in his love – even if lines 1-2 suggest a negative view. It is faintly odd that, after so negative a start, the rest of the poem is so positive; a pity, as it weakens what would otherwise be one of my favourites. Even so, there is that lovely play on “suit … suis” in lines 2-3. And note how, at the end of this huge book of love-sonnets, Ronsard promises us more: does he mean simply further editions amplified with more poems to Cassandre, or can he already have been thinking of the ‘Continuation des Amours’ which later transformed into book 2, the Amours de Marie?
There is of course an earlier version, though it differs only in detail: in line 3 “Je connoy bien …” (‘I recognise that I am not …’); in line 9 “Je suis vraiment heureux” (‘I am tuly happy’) – which I think is better, though some might think there are then too many “V”s in 9-10; and line 13 “Et qui me donne à tout heure argument” (‘And which at all times gives me reason …’).