A riddle from the Middle Ages…
Oft I must strive with wind and wave, Battle them both when under the sea
I feel out the bottom, a foreign land. In lying still I am strong in the strife;
If I fail in that they are stronger than I, And wrenching me loose, soon put me to rout.
They wish to capture what I must keep. I can master them both if my grip holds out,
If the rocks bring succor and lend support, Strength in the struggle. Ask me my name!
Welcome to Monday…
Raining over the weekend here in Portland. The glory days of sunshine are now but a memory. The cat now stays in until spring. He leaves for but a short while, and then back on the couch, or in front of the fire…
Time Together: Today Mary and I have been married for 28 years. I would have never met her if it had not been for our good friend Lizbeth (I swear I will write a long one to you Lizbeth, this week, I promise!) I went to visit Lizbeth when I came back from Germany to London. I walked in, and there was Mary… A happy accident indeed! (BTW – Lizbeth & her Greg just celebrated their 10th! Congratulations to them!)
Hopefully we are off to dinner tonight, with maybe a film before.
On the Menu Today:
A bit of Imperial History from our friend Diana..
Troubadours Revisited: Poems & Lyrics From The Sublime to the Bawdy
I hope you enjoy this riddling entry…!
Why Isn’t the Atmosphere Warming Like the Earth’s Surface?
A bit of history from our friend Diana…
A lonely wanderer, wounded with iron, I am smitten with war-blades, sated with strife,
Worn with the sword-edge; I have seen many battles, Much hazardous fighting, oft without hope
Of comforts or help in the carnage of war Ere I perish and fall in the fighting of men.
The leavings of hammers, the handiwork of smiths, Batter and bite me, hard-eged and sharp;
The brunt of the battle I am doomed to endure. In all the folk-stead no leech could I find
With wort or simple to heal my wounds; But day and night with the deadly blows
The marks of the war-blades double and deepen
Troubadours Revisited: Poems & Lyrics From The Sublime to the Bawdy
From Jaufre Rudel…
When the rill of the fountain
When the rill of the source
turns clear, as is its habit
and the dogrose blossoms
and the nightingale on the bough
performs and repeats and smoothens
and improves its sweet song,
it is time I take mine up again.
Love of a distant land,
for your sake all my heart aches
and I can’t find a remedy
(unless it is your name’s reverberation)
to the ill of lacking sweet love,
in the garden and behind the curtain,
of a longed-for companion.
Since I don’t get a chance all day
it is no wonder I crave for it
because a prettier Christian
never was nor–god forbids it–
a Jewish or Saracen woman.
He is well paid in manna
he who gains some of her love.
My heart desires incessantly
her whom I love the most,
and I believe my will deceives me
since lust takes her off from me;
it is more stinging than a thorn
the pain which joy heals,
so I don’t want anyone to pity me.
When I have time to fantasize about her
then I kiss and hug her;
but then I twist and turn
because it frustrates and fires me
that the flower doesn’t give fruit.
The joy which torments me
abates all my pride.
Without a parchment scroll
I send this poem, singing
in plain Romance language,
to Ugo Bru, through Filhol.
I am happy that people from Poitiers,
Berry and Guyana
are gladdened by her: and the Bretons likewise.
When the nightingale in the woods
When, in the woods, the nightingale
gives love, and requires it, and takes it
and modulates its song in joy
and often admires its mate;
when the brooks are clear, and the meadows gentle,
because of the happiness that reigns over them,
a great joy dwells in my heart.
I long for a friendship
since I don’t know of a worthier joy
than this, which would suit me
if she gave me a present of love;
her shape is full, delicate and gentle
without anything to mar it:
and her good love has a good taste.
I am concerned about this love
whether I am awake or sleeping
for there I have a marvelous joy
because I joyfully enjoy her joy.
But her beauty comes to no avail,
because no friend teaches me
how to taste of her.
I am so gripped by this love
that when I run towards her
I feel like I am walking backwards
and like she is fleeing from me.
And my horse keeps so slow
a pace, that I think I’ll never reach her
unless she wants to wait for me.
Love, I leave you happily
since I pursue something better,
and flee towards such an adventure
that my heart already rejoices in it.
However, because of my Good Warranter,
who wants me, calls me and condescends,
I must split my desire.
He who reigns here in delight
and does not follow god in Bethlehem
I don’t see how he could be valiant,
or achieve salvation,
since I believe, as far as I know,
that only he who is taught by Jesus
can be sure of his schooling.
And now… For some of the Bawdy Ones…
I come to you, Sir, with my skirt lifted,
since I have heard your name is the Mounting Lord,
and I was never sated with fucking:
I kept a chaplain for two years,
and his clerics and all his following;
and I have a large, firm and sprightly butt
and a larger cunt than any woman ever.
And I come towards you, Lady, with my trousers lowered,
with a larger cock than any randy donkey,
and will fuck you with such an outburst
that you’ll have to wring your bed-sheets the day after
—and say thereafter that they need to be washed;
Neither I, nor my huge nuts will leave
unless I fuck you until you pass out.
Since you anticipate so much fucking,
I would like to know, Sir, your pride,
since I have armoured my entrance quite well
in order to resist the attack of large testicles;
then I’ll start kicking so much
that you won’t be able to hold to the front hair
and you’ll have to begin again from behind.
Know, my lady, that I agree to all this:
as long as we are together until tomorrow,
I shall ram into your armoured entrance;
then you’ll know whether mine is just boasting,
since I’ll make you cast through your arse
such farts as will sound like they come from a horn
–and your dance shall suit the music.
While walking along a shore,
alone, on a bummel,
I saw a mirthful swineherd,
who was watching a herd of pigs;
I went towards her right away,
following the ridge of a fallow.
With her ugly, repulsive body,
swarthy, black like tar
and as fat as a barrel,
each of her breasts
was so large that she looked like an English woman.
Upon seeing her so disgusting,
I was taken aback.
She stayed there dumbly,
and I told her: “Gracious lady,
beautiful thing, and courteously learned,
tell me whether you are a maiden”.
In the meanwhile, under her skirt,
she scratches and rubs with vigour
her misshapen tub of a body:
and, hadn’t the rim of the skirt been there,
all her slit would have been visible!
She then answered,
with a bellowing, hoarse voice:
“Man, what do you want from me?
Get lost, for god’s sake!”
“Lovely girl”, I resumed,
“I have suffered much for your sake,
and therefore I endear you to tell me
willingly what I ask you”.
“Sir, in order to avoid an argument
and to escape a dispute,
on condition that it isn’t blamed on me,
I will tell you this, as much as I can:
no husband nor spouse rules over me,
nor was I ever submitted to a man,
nor was I his table or saddle”.
“Today, girl, you shall be caught red-handed,
since I well know who embraces you”.
“Don’t blame me for the cattleman, poor me!
for I would have been interred
long ago, without his
cheerfulness! He plays his flute so well
he makes me rejoice and renews me!
There doesn’t pass a day he doesn’t drink with me
from the barrel’s bottom, with his mouth,
without trying anything dishonourable,
which between us just doesn’t happen.”
you love him of perfect love?”.
“Oh yes, more than the pig loves acorns
or a true sow cabbage!”
“Sister, you speak so well
that you transpierce me all over.
I endear you that we both go
amuse ourselves among those ferns
before my love-sickness grows”.
“Sir, I don’t think that this May
you will see me go that way:
she who betrays her oaths must drain the bitter cup!”
“Since embroidery without eyelets
is worth little, said I,
let your good heart avail me!”
“You are moving me to great folly,
fair lord, because I love you plenty”.
Therefore she let herself go
so much that I was almost afraid.
“Sister, since you can catch so well,
let’s go place our trap
down there in the early grass”.
She lifts her skirt up
to better walk unhindered,
and leads me under a beech,
and there she bends over.
“On the front side, said I, my girl,
you are too becoming,
so that you shan’t see me, this year,
docking in this port of yours”.
“Since you see that I am playful,
sir, you think about perversions;
and I would rather be struck by lightning
than commit such a grievous sin”.
She walks away and makes her getaway;
she goes with her threadbare skirt,
big enough to look like a cupboard.
But, while crossing a rill, she slips
and deals with it so skillfully
that, with a flick of her jaw,
she falls bottom up.
Upon seeing such an expertise,
I left the place altogether.
Humble Flower, purity
and beauty never leave your side;
and since you are the flower of nobility,
my heart tells and repeats me
that he is a fool who opposes you.
Note: this poem is not as cryptic as one might suppose. The troubadour is one of those several men who dislike having to compare to a series of former lovers. He therefore, while courting a lady whose “side purity never leaves”, goes for an abominably ugly swineherd in the hope she is a virgin. Upon seeing she is not, he proposes to sodomize her instead; she formally refuses, but then “slips” in a convenient position for the practice. Upon seeing the skill with which she goes about it, the troubadour infers she is inured to the practice and goes away. This fairly tasteless piece is interesting for two reasons. First, it treats a fetishist subject in an age (the late XIII century) in which the church reacted with torture and imprisonment even to the most innocent erotic literature. Second, it makes fun of the troubadouric stereotype of the faithful poet who always loves “of perfect love”, of the “pastourelle” genre and even (in the envoi) of religious literature. The choice of the author of remaining anonymous should not surprise anyone.