After the success of his first books of Amours, and the Odes and Hymns, Ronsard returned to the sonnet form in the 1570s with two books of Sonnets pour Hélène.  Unlike the first two books of Amours, which recall real love affairs which Ronsard went through, Hélène appears (to me at least) to be an imagined love – an example of chivalric or courtly love. Nevertheless Helen seems to be a real person – Hélène de Fonsèque (1546 – 1618), who came from Surgères (see sonnet 7 of book 1) and was a demoiselle d’honneur to the Queen Catherine de Medici. There is a suggestion that Ronsard wrote the poems as a form of therapy for her after her husband was killed in the wars.

The second book contains perhaps Ronsard’s most famous sonnet of all, “Quand vous serez bien vieille“. Poems from both books will appear here; I should also direct your attention to the attractive English verse translations of the whole two books by Humbert Wolfe. Second hand copies are easy to come by on the web!

 

book 1

book 2

 
 
 
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s