Monthly Archives: April 2017

Helen 2:5

N’oubliez, mon Helene, aujourd’huy qu’il faut prendre
Des cendres sur le front, qu’il n’en faut point chercher
Autre part qu’en mon cœur que vous faites seicher,
Vous riant du plaisir de le tourner en cendre.
Quel pardon pensez vous des Celestes attendre?
Le meurtre de vos yeux ne se sçauroit cacher :
Leurs rayons m’ont tué, ne pouvant estancher
La playe qu’en mon sang leur beauté fait descendre.
La douleur me consume, ayez de moy pitié.
Vous n’aurez de ma mort ny profit ny louange :
Cinq ans meritent bien quelque peu d’amitié.
Vostre volonté passe et la mienne ne change.
Amour qui voit mon cœur voit vostre mauvaistié :
Il tient l’arc en la main, gardez qu’il ne se vange.
                                                                            Don’t forget, my Helen, that today we’re supposed to put
                                                                            Ashes on our brow – ashes you need seek nowhere
                                                                            Else but in my heart which you’ve dried out,
                                                                            Laughing at the pleasure of turning it to ashes.
                                                                            What pardon do you think to gain from those in heaven ?
                                                                            The murder in your eyes cannot hide itself ;
                                                                            Their rays have killed me, being unable to staunch
                                                                            The wound which their beauty brought down into my blood.
                                                                            Sadness consumes me, have pity on me.
                                                                            You’ll gain from my death neither profit nor praise;
                                                                            Five years deserve some small amount of pity.
                                                                            Your desire passes away, but mine does not change.
                                                                            Love who sees my heart sees your wickedness;
                                                                            He holds his bow in his hand, watch out that he doesn’t take revenge.
Easter seems an appropriate time, even if Ash Wednesday is long past, for this one!
As usual Ronsard takes the germ of an idea (ashes) and elaborates it into another poetic exploration of the ashes of a lover’s heart. (Note that here it is five years of pining;  a couple of poems later (in sonnet 7), it is seven years… It might be a sign of the poems being written over a period, but more likely it’s poetic licence on Ronsard’s part.)
No variants to report in Blanchemain’s version.