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Guillem Comte de Peitau 275  Guillem Comte de Peitau (1071–1127) “That the fevered breath attain relief” Vers That the fevered breath attain relief I shape a song upon my grief Who will to love no more hold fief Here in Poitou or Limousin, Who in terror turn and peril A stranger, and commence my exile, And where neighbors work his evil In time of war forsake my son. Ah lords and counties of Poitou, In this forsaking is my sorrow! I beseech Foucon d’Angou To guard this country and his kin. If not his hand avails us, nor That king in whom I rest my honor, How great the pack eyeing the plunder: Gascon thieves and Angevin. Lords, if valor and wit be small These when I leave will seize the wall And quickly shake it, and it fall Where little I left it, young and thin. May he nearest who follows me If ever I wronged him pardon me; To Jesus on his throne I pray This in my own tongue and in Latin, Who have been kin to strength and mirth And know this parting from them both 276 Provençal Toward that demesne whose king and faith Wall them with peace even who sin. I have been gay but this my laughter The lord forgets from his desire; I can no burden longer bear, So near I come to the last pain. From all I love I turn aside, I leave my knighthood and my pride; May all reach welcome under God And pray him that he take me in. May those my friends after I die Form in honor about my body Who have been guest to mirth and joy Far and near and in my mansion, And thus depart mirth and joy, The colored robes and sable skin. W. S. Merwin, 1950 “Friend, I would make verses . . . that’s understood,” Vers Friend, I would make verses . . . that’s understood, But I witless, and they most mad and all Mixed up, mesclatz, jumbled from youth and love and joy— And if the vulgar do not listen to them? Learn ’em by heart? He takes a hard Parting from men’s love who composes to his own liking. Two horses have I to my saddle, sleek, Game: but husband both for battle? I have Not the skill, for neither will allow the other. Guillem Comte de Peitau 277  But could I fasten them both to serve my rein I would not change cavalage with any other, For then would I be better mounted than any man living. The first is of mountain stock, the swifter running; Sure-footed, well-composed she treads, but wild, Shy, fierce, so savage she forbids currying. The other Was nourished up and bred past Cofolens And I have seen none more beautiful to my knowing, No, nor would exchange her, not for gold or silver. I gave her to her lord a grazing colt, Yet, by the saints, so well have I retained her At a sign her bridle would she rive asunder to come to me. Lord, in this difficulty counsel me! Never was I more harassed in a choice. Agnes or Arsen! Madness or death will take me first. At Gimel have I a castle under domain, At Nieul have I pride before men; for both These nonpareils are sworn to me, and pledged by oath. Paul Blackburn, 1952 ...


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