Into The Pyrenees… Weekend Turfing

Welcome to the weekend edition of Turfing… for this edition, we are heading to the Pyrenees, for some time in Basque Country…

Hot days here in Portland, muggy as well. Helped our friends move some more this morning (Saturday) Sad seeing them leave their home of 10 years. We lived there for 2 years before they moved in. Great art, parties, and watching Rowan grow to 5 there was nice.

Tom and Cheryl (our friends) are on their way in the fall to Sedona. Tom as I may have mentioned before has been a close friend since 1969. Seems everyone is bailing out from Portland in our crowd… but we stay on until Rowan is out of school. I would like to stay here, but Portugal seems like a good option in many ways. The next election cycle will play a part in my decision for residency…

On The Menu:

The Links

Tales From The Basque: ERRUA, THE MADMAN

Basque Poetry: Ancient Tongues…

Have an excellent time this weekend…



The Links:

Fly Air Torture…

The Strange Meter Just Went Off The Scale…

Ann Coulter, Deadhead…

Ancient Jewelry…

Dancing with the moon goddess in Callanish


Tales From The Basque: ERRUA, THE MADMAN

Like many others in the world, there was a man and woman who had a. son. He was very wicked, and did nothing but mischief, and was of a thoroughly depraved disposition. The parents decided that they must send him away, and the lad was quite willing to set off.

He set out then, and goes far, far, far away. He comes to a city, and asks if they want a servant. They wanted one in a (certain) house. He goes there. They settle their terms at so much a month, and that the one who is not satisfied should strip the skin off the other’s back.

The master sends his servant to the forest to get the most crooked pieces of wood that he can find. Near the forest there was a vineyard. What does the servant do but cut it all up, and carries it to the house. The master asks him where the wood is. He shows him the vine-wood cut up. The master said nothing to him, but he was not pleased.

Next day the master says to him, “Take the cows to such a field, and don’t break any hole in the fence.”

What does the lad do? He cuts all the cows into little pieces, and throws them bit by bit into the field. The master was still more angry; but he could not say anything, for fear of having his skin stripped off. So what does he do? He buys a herd of pigs, and sends his servant to the mountain with the herd.

The master knew quite well that there was a Tartaro in this mountain, but he sends him there all the same.

Our madman goes walking on, on, on. He arrives at a little hut. The Tartaro’s house was quite close to his. The Pigs of the Tartaro and those of the madman used to go out together. The Tartaro said one day to him–

“Will you make a wager as to who will throw a stone farthest?”

He accepted the wager. That evening our madman was very sad. While he was at his prayers, an old woman appeared to him, and asks him–

“What is the matter with you? Why are you so sad?”

He tells her the wager that he has made with the Tartaro. The old woman says to him–

“If it is only that, it is nothing,”

And so she gives him a bird, and says to him–

“Instead of a stone, throw this bird.”

The madman was very glad at this. The next day he does as the old woman told him. The Tartaro’s stone went enormously far, but at last it fell; but the madman’s bird never came down at all.

The Tartaro was astonished that he had lost his wager, and they make another–which of the two should throw a bar of iron the farthest. The madman accepted again. He was in his little house sadly in prayer. The old woman appears again. She asks him–

“What’s the matter with you?”

“I have made a wager again, which of the two will throw the bar of iron the farthest, and I am very sorry.”

“If it is only that, it is nothing. When you take hold of the bar of iron, say, ‘Rise up, bar of iron, here and Salamanca.’” (Altchaala palenka, hemen eta Salamanka.)

Next day the Tartaro takes his terrible bar of iron, and throws it fearfully far. The young man could hardly lift up one end, and he says–

“Rise up, bar of iron, here and Salamanca.”

When the Tartaro heard that (he cried out)–

“I give up the wager–you have won,” and he takes the bar of iron away from him. “My father and my mother live at Salamanca; don’t throw, I beg of you, I implore you–you will crush them.”

Our madman goes away very happy.

The Tartaro says to him again:

“I will pull up the biggest oak in the forest, and you pull up another.”

He says, “Yes.” And the later it grew in the day, the sadder he became. He was at his prayers. The old woman comes to him again, and says to him–

“What’s the matter with you?”

He tells her the wager he has made with the Tartaro, and how he will pull up an oak. The old woman gives him three balls of thread, and tells him to begin and tie them to all the oaks in the forest.

Next day the Tartaro pulls up his oak, an enormously, enormously big one; and the madman begins to tie, and to tie, and to tie.

The Tartaro asks him:

“What are you doing that for?”

“You (pulled up) one, but I all these.”

The Tartaro replies,

“No! No! No! What shall I do to fatten my pigs with without acorns? You have won; you have won the wager.”

The Tartaro did not know what to think about it, and saw that he had found one cleverer than himself, and so he asks him if he will come and spend the night at his house.

The madman says, “Yes.”

He goes to bed then with the Tartaro. But he knew that there was a dead man under the bed. When the Tartaro was asleep what does the madman do? He places the dead man by the Tartaro’s side, and gets under the bed himself. In the middle of the night the Tartaro gets up, and takes his terrible bar of iron and showers blows upon blows, ping pan, ping pan, as long and as hard as he could give them.

The Tartaro gets up as usual, and goes to see his pigs, and the madman also comes out from under the bed; and he goes to see the pigs too. The Tartaro is quite astounded to see him coming, and does not know what to think of it. He says to himself that he has to do with a cleverer than he; but he asks him if he has slept well.

He answers, “Yes, very well; only I felt a few flea-bites.”

Their pigs had got mixed, and as they were fat, he had to separate them in order to go away with his. The Tartaro asked the madman what mark his pigs had.

The madman says to him, “Mine have some of them one mark, some of them two marks.”

They set to work to look at them, and they all had these same marks.

Our madman goes off then with all the hogs. He goes walking on, on, on, with all his pigs. He comes to a town where it was just market day, and sells them all except two, keeping, however, all the tails, which he put in his pockets. As you may think, he was always in fear of the Tartaro. He sees him coming down from the mountain. He kills one of his hogs, and puts the entrails in his own bosom under his waistcoat. There was a group of men near the road. As he passed them he took out his knife, and stabs it into his chest, and takes out the pig’s bowels, and our mad man begins to run very much faster than before, with his pig in front of him.

When the Tartaro comes up to these men, he asks if they have seen such a man.

“Yes, yes, he was running fast, and in order to go faster just here he stabbed himself, and threw away his bowels, and still he went on all the faster.” The Tartaro, too, in order to go faster, thrusts his knife into his body, and falls stark dead.

The madman goes to his master’s. Near the house there was a marsh quite full of mud. He puts his live pig into it, and all the tails too. He enters the house, and says to the master that he is there with his pigs. The master is astounded to see him.

He asks him, “Where are the pigs, then?”

He says to him, “They have gone into the mud, they were so tired.”

Both go out, and begin to get the real pig out, and between the two they pull it out very well. They try to do the same thing with the others; but they kept pulling out nothing but tails.

The madman says, “You see how fat they are; that is why the tails come out alone.”

He sends the servant to fetch the spade and the hoe. Instead of bringing them he begins to beat the mistress, whack! whack! and he cries to the master, “One or both?”

The master says to him, “Both, both.”

And then he beats the servant maid almost to pieces. He goes then to the master, taking with him the spade and the hoe, and he sets to beating him with the spade and the hoe, until he can no longer defend himself, and then he thrashes the skin off his back, and takes his pig and goes off home to his father and mother; and as he lived well he died well too.

PIERRE BERTRAND learnt it from his Grandmother,

who died a few years since, aged 82.


Basque Poetry: Ancient Tongues…

THE SONG OF BERTERRETCHE – Anonymous, 15th century

The alder has not pith,

nor does the reed have bark.

I did not think that noblemen spoke lies.

The valley of Andoze,

oh the long valley!

Though it be weaponless thrice has it pierced my heart.

Berterretche from his bed

speaks low to the maidservant:

“Go see if there are men in sight.”

Straightway the maid told him

what she had seen,

Three dozen men going from door to door.

From his window

Berterretche greets my Lord Count

And offers him a hundred cows and their bull.

Treacherously spoke then

my Lord Count:

“Come to the door Berterretche, you shall return forthwith.”

Mother, give me my shirt,

perchance the one that I shall never cast off.

Those who live will remember the dawn that follows Easter.»

Oh the haste of Mari-Santz

as she sped past Bostmendieta!

On her two knees she entered the house of Buztanobi at Lacarry.

“O young Master of Buztanobi,

my beloved brother,

Without your aid my son is lost.”

“Be silent my sister,

I beg you do not weep;

If your son lives he is gone to Mauleon.”

Oh the haste of Mari-Santz

to the door of my Lord Count!

“Alas! my Lord Count, where have you my fine son?”

“Have you sons

other than Berterretche?

He lies dead over by Ezpeldoi; you who are alive go tend him.”

Oh, the men of Ezpeldoi;

they of little understanding,

Who having the dead so near knew nothing of it!

The daughter of Ezpeldoi,

she whom they call Margarita,

Gathers up the blood of Berterretche in handfulls.

Oh, what fine linen there is

to be washed at the house of Ezpeldoi!

Of the shirts of Berterretche they say there are three dozen.

(Translation: Rodney Gallop)

(The Song of Berterretche The medieval Bereterretxe ballad or «kantore» is probably the best known throughout the Basque Country. Versions of it have been recorded by singers and are available on records, but its success may also be put down to the daramtism of the subject and the quality of the text. Handed down orally from generation to generation, this composition tells the story of one of many episodes of the fight between rival clans. The crime that is denounced in the ballad took place between 1434 and 1449, and was ordered by the Count of Lerin.)


A PLEA FOR A KISS – Bernat Etxepare, 1545

Lady, may God protect you. Now are we on equal ground.

If I were king, you would be queen.

Please give me a kiss. Fear not!

The sorrows I have suffered for you are worthy of one.

Go on! Begone! Who do you take me for!

I do not think I have ever seen the likes of you.

Do not say such harsh words to me.

Go and tell the others! I am not what you take me for.

If you were a bad woman, I should pay no heed.

Because you are who you are, I agonize over you.

I do not believe I have said anything indecent.

By giving a kiss you would not be slighted.

Your kiss, I know, demands something else.

Lady, you have guessed even before I spoke.

Then stop saying such things to me.

As you are so shrewish, I shall do something else.

As long as I live, then, I shall let you not.

That which I now desire, shall you do here.

— I truly believe you are not in jest.

— Is this man going to shame me here?

Oh, what shall I do? — Hush up a while!

Tralala, tralala, kisses galore and another one for good measure.

Lady, once again, speak more gently!

(Translation: Toni Strubell)


IN DEFENCE OF WOMEN – Bernat Etxepare, 1545

Speak no ill of women, by my love;

If men let them alone, they’d do no wrong.

Many men speak ill of them,

Talking in a light and dishonest way.

They’d be better off in silence,

Women would do no wrong were there no men.

Few sane men there are who slang them,

It is more honest to speak well of them.

Why must they be criticised?

Big and small, we are all born of them.

To blame women is not brave,

Or to equal them all to criticize but one.

A man thus behaving would be better off mute,

And deserves not to have been fed milk.

He who blames women should think

Where he and all of us are born from,

I would ask him if he was born of woman or not.

If only for her, he should praise them all.

Women are always a benefit for men,

By them we all come to the world;

If she didn’t bring us up, we’d die on birth,

And when we’ve grown up, we still need her.

When we are healthy, through her we dress and eat,

When we’re ill, we’re lost without her,

When we die, who will weep for us like a woman?

We need her at all times, there’s no doubt.

Where there’s no woman, I see nothing pleasing,

Neither man nor the home is tended to,

Disorder reigns throughout the house.

I care not for paradise if there’s no women there.

Never have I heard that women attack men first,

Rather that it’s man who offends the woman.

Evil always pours from men,

Why then are women to be blamed?

Men should have more virtue

I see more of it among women;

There are a thousand bad men for every bad woman,

For every virtuous man there are a thousand women.

If we believed men, there’d be no good women,

They can’t help attacking them even if they’re good.

But there are many women who avoid men,

Because virtue is much greater amongst them.

Never have I heard of a woman forcing a man,

It’s the man who chases the woman like a fool.

If any should approach him lovingly,

Must man blame her for this?

God loves women more than anything on earth;

He came down from heaven for love of one.

It was a woman who made Him our brother,

And through her, all women are worthy of praise.

I think a woman is something sweet,

Something charming in all her charms,

She supplies great pleasure by night and by day.

Great villainy it is to speak ill of her.

There’s nothing so pretty and pleasurable

As a naked woman beneath the man,

Surrendered with wide open arms,

So a man can do with her as he please.

Though he harms her with his dart in her body,

She will complain less than would an angel.

The dart once relaxed and healed the wound,

The power of her charms reconciles them.

Can there be any so coarse as not to see this

And who can blame her for this?

It is not a well bred man who behaves thus

Because he does not the good that women do.

(Translation: Toni Strubell

(Bernat Etxepare – He was born in Eiheralarre, a village close to Donibane Garazi (Saint Jean de Pied de Port), capital of the part of Navarre that today forms part of France. This priest was the author of the first book printed in the Basque language in 1545. We know little about his life, but we do know he spent some time in prison, probably accused of political involvement at a time when the kingdoms of France and Castile were jostling to take over the old Kingdom of Navarre. In his book, he gathered autobiographical, religious, amatory and patriotic poems, some of which praise the Basque language.


Have a good weekend!


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