Helen 2:60

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Passant dessus la tombe où Lucrece repose,
Tu versas dessus elle une moisson de fleurs :
L’eschaufant de souspirs, et l’arrosant de pleurs,
Tu monstras qu’une mort tenoit ta vie enclose.
 
Si tu aimes le corps dont la terre dispose,
Imagine ta force et conçoy tes rigueurs :
Tu me verras cruelle entre mille langueurs
Mourir puis que la mort te plaist sur toute chose.
 
C’est acte de pitié d’honorer un cercueil,
Mespriser les vivans est un signe d’orgueil.
Puis que ton naturel les fantômes embrasse,
 
Et que rien n’est de toy, s’il n’est mort, estimé,
Sans languir tant de fois, esconduit de ta grace,
Je veux du tout mourir pour estre mieux aimé.
 
 
 
 
                                                                            Passing over the tomb where Lucrece lies,
                                                                            You poured upon her a harvest of flowers :
                                                                            Warming her with your sighs, wetting her with your tears,
                                                                            You showed that the dead girl held your life prisoner.
 
                                                                            If you love the body which belongs to the earth,
                                                                            Imagine your power and consider your harshness ;
                                                                            Cruel one, you will see me among a thousand sufferings
                                                                            Dying – since death pleases you above all.
 
                                                                            It is an act of pity to honour a coffin,
                                                                            But despising the living is a sign of pride.
                                                                            Since your nature is to caress ghosts,
 
                                                                            And nothing is esteemed by you unless it is dead,
                                                                            Suffering no more by being dismissed from your favour,
                                                                            I’d prefer to die, that I might be better loved.
 
 
 
It sometimes seems that you can hear real irritation in Ronsard. To me, this is one of those places: ‘yes, Helene, it’s all very well remembering the dead, but remember the living too’. Note that, in line 3, ‘eschauffer’ carries an implied meaning of ‘arousing’ as well as ‘warming’ – as if Helen could raise Lucrece from the dead.
 
Richelet informs us that “this Lucrece was a girl from Bacqueville [Normandy], young, fair, learned, among the most perfect at Court, who was among Helen’s best friends”.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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