Saturday, June 23, 2018


Pierre de Ronsard wrote this sonnet in his youth, when he was in love with Cassandre Salviati: perhaps a comment on obsession.  Life was good then and he was blithe; his poems remind one of the Cavalier poets.  As with my other translations from French poetry – reckless exercise, as I have said before, for a mere novice in the language – this one is meant to convey the tone and trend, not to be exactly faithful to length of line, scansion, or pattern of rhymes; not trying to match the poetic qualities of the great Ronsard.

Je veux lire en trois jours l'Iliade d'Homere,
Et pour ce, Corydon, ferme bien l'huis sur moy:
Si rien me vient troubler, je t'assure ma foy
Tu sentiras combien pesante est ma colere.

Je ne veux seulement que notre chambriere
Vienne faire mon lit, ton compagnon ni toy,
Je veux trois jours entiers demeurer a requoy,
Pour follastrer apres une semaine entiere.

Mais, si quelqu'un venait de la part de Cassandre,
Ouvre-luy tost la porte, et ne le fais attendre,
Soudain entre en ma chambre et me viens accoustrer.

Je veux tant seulement a luy seul me monstrer:
Au reste, si un dieu voulait pour moi descendre
Du Ciel, ferme la porte et ne le laisse entrer.


I mean to read the Iliad in three days,
So Corydon, make fast my chamber door:
If any disturb me, you may be sure
My wrath you will feel in most painful ways!

Not chambermaid alone, who comes to make
My bed keep out, but you are barrèd too.
I need three days entire – or four, look you:
And after – a week of pleasure I shall take.

But from Cassandre if one comes to the gate,
Quickly open the door, don’t make him wait.
Haste back and dress me that I may look fine:

Word from my lady will I gladly hear.
None else will I see, let a god appear
Shut the door firmly though he be divine!

Ruth Heredia is the originator and holds the copyright to all material on this blog unless credited to some source. Please do not use it or pass it off as your own work. That is theft. If you wish to link it, quote it, or reprint in whole or in part, please be courteous enough to seek my permission.

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