Amours 2:65

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Bien que ton œil me face une dure ecarmouche,
Moy veincu de sa flame et luy tousjours veinqueur :
Bien que depuis trois ans sa cruelle rigueur
Me tienne prisonnier de ta beauté farouche :
 
Bien que son traict meurtrier jusqu’à l’ame me touche,
Si ne veux-je eschapper de si douce langueur,
Ne vivre sans avoir ton image en mon cœur,
Tes mains dedans ma playe, et ton nom en ma bouche.
 
Ce m’est extreme honneur de trespasser pour toy,
Qui passes de beauté la beauté la plus belle.
Un soudart pour garder son enseigne et sa foy,
 
Meurt bien sur le rempart d’une forte Rochelle.
Je mourray bien-heureux s’il te souvient de moy.
« La mort n’est pas grand mal, c’est chose naturelle.
 
 
 
                                                                            Although your eyes gave me a tough fight,
                                                                            And I am conqueredby their flame, and they always the conqueror ;
                                                                            Although for three years their cruel severity
                                                                            Has held me prisoner of their wild beauty ;
 
                                                                            Although their murderous wound has reached into my soul ;
                                                                            Yet I have no wish to escape such sweet pining,
                                                                            Nor to live without having your image in my heart,
                                                                            Your hands within my wound, your name on my lips.
 
                                                                            It is for me the greatest honour to die for you
                                                                            Who surpass in beauty the beauty of the most fair.
                                                                            A soldier, to preserve his standard and his trust,
 
                                                                            Dies well on the ramparts of strong La Rochelle ;
                                                                            I shall die happy if you remember me.
                                                                            “Death is no great ill, it is a natural thing.”
 
 
 
I think that the siege of La Rochelle is probably as well-known in England as France, and almost certainly was better-known by far in Ronsard’s time. Still, Belelau felt it necessary to footnote the reference, saying “he means the siege of La Rochelle which Henri, Duke of Anjou and later third King of that name, made against those of the pretended faith, 1572“. No prozes for guessing which side Belleau, like Ronsard, took in the religious debates of the day! Note, however, that despite his catholic sympathies it is the Protestant defender of the city who dies well, defending his standard on the walls. It would be unfair to put Ronsard down as an unthinking factionary; if anything, his discussions of the religious question see the other side as misguided and his aim is unity. It is only when he is attacked unthinkingly and maliciously that he replies scathingly.

 
Blanchemain offers a completely different sestet (and some other variants). It is, I think, obvious that the later La Rochelle version is a far better piece of work than the rather self-pitying and accusatory earlier version. Is it unreasonable, though, to admit that I always love the sound & shape of the word ‘incessament’?!
 
 
Bien que ton œil me face une dure écarmouche,
Moy restant le vaincu et luy tousjours veinqueur :
Bien que depuis trois ans sa cruelle rigueur
Me tienne prisonnier de ta beauté farouche :
 
Bien qu’Amour de son traict incessament me touche,
Si ne veux-je eschapper de si douce langueur,
Ne vivre sans avoir ton image en mon cœur,
Tes mains dedans ma playe, et ton nom en ma bouche.
 
Si tu veux me tuer, tû-moi, je le veux bien :
Ma mort te sera perte et à moy très grand bien,
Et l’œuvre qu’à ton los je veux mettre en lumière
 
Finira par ma mort, finissant mon emoi ;
Ainsi mort, je serai libre de peine, et toi,
Cruelle, de ton nom tu seras la meurdriére.
 
 
 
                                                                            Although your eyes gave me a tough fight,
                                                                            Me remaining the conquered, and they always the conqueror ;
                                                                            Although for three years their cruel severity
                                                                            Has held me prisoner of their wild beauty ;
 
                                                                            Although Love with his arrows incessantly stabs me,
                                                                            Yet I have no wish to escape such sweet pining,
                                                                            Nor to live without having your image in my heart,
                                                                            Your hands within my wound, your name on my lips.
 
                                                                            If you wish to kill me, kill me! I’m content with that.
                                                                            My death will be a loss to you, but a great gain to me,
                                                                            And the work which to your loss I plan to bring to light
 
                                                                            Will end with my death, ending my griefs;
                                                                            Dead like this, i shall be free of pain, and you,
                                                                            Cruel one, will be the murderer of your own name.
 
 
 
 
 
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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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