Appendix: Three Penn Poems of Related Interest

WIMSATT, APPENDIX: THREE PENN POEMS OF RELATED INTEREST: FOOTNOTE


1 Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose, line 21742.
 
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Appendix: Three Penn Poems of Related Interest

Two anonymous balades in Penn have an undoubted relationship to poems of “Ch” and provide interesting comparison to them. Among other things they suggest that there were informal writing competitions among the poets at court who matched their efforts employing similar subjects and wording. These two works are presented in this appendix together with a third balade which represents well the droll humor sometimes found in poems of the formes fixes.

The first work is a balade whose subject and refrain are close to “Ch” 5, Balade [“The Castoff Lady”]. It is the only poem edited here for which I fail to provide at least a suggestive translation. In his edition of the anonymous balades in the Penn manuscript, Charles Mudge simply transcribes the text without attempting to punctuate. Though I do not understand a good part of the text, sentence divisions seem reasonably certain, as well as the outlines of the lady’s story. As with the “Ch” version of the abandoned-lady story, this woman has been deserted by her lover in her mature years. She laments in the refrain that he who called loudly upon her when she was young abandons her now that she is older. Also like the lady of the “Ch” poem, she compares herself to the desolate Medea and Dido, and him to Jason and Aeneas; she also adduces the biblical example of “dur Moïses” (line 1), evidently referring to Moses’ having sent Zipporah back to her father Jethro (Exodus 18). The “annel de la fleur de soucie” named in the refrain probably refers to the crown of marigolds (“soussie”) ascribed to Jealousy in the Roman de la Rose.1

The two-line refrain, characteristic of early Middle French balades, perhaps indicates composition of the work before the “Ch” poem. The latter is a more complex work and seems clearly superior.
[MS #35]







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[THE CASTOFF LADY (2)]
          BALADE

Dur Moïses, de langoreuse mort
M’a Saba morte en Ethyope nee.
Temps, labours, biens a peu tan est sas tort
De toy saoul m’a fait tigre afamee,
Qu’au foy ne tiens, mes jus la juste espee;
Ou se ce non, en moy te justefie.
Vielle me lais qui jeune m’as hussee
Pour un annel de la fleur de soucie.

Ingrast Jason, fleuve de desconfort,
Je te plaing plus que ne fovas [fais?] moy, Medee,
Qu’envers noz dieux n’auras ja tu bon sort,
E mon labour o ma toison doree.
Qu’aprés foy m’as povre respudiee;
Esgarix un sont de menu druerie.
Vielle me lais qui jeune m’as hussee
Pour un annel etc.

Lasse, Dido, garpie. Sur mon port
Quel plaint feray de toy, le faint Enee?
J’ay tout perdu pour t’amour qui m’amort,
E de foy faus; or muir desesperee
Muïre ainsi qui m’as achetivee,
A qui fornest amant viloterie.
Vielle me lais qui jeune m’as hussee
Pour un annel etc.
The second balade in Penn which matches a poem of “Ch” (Poem III) is paired with it in the manuscript, immediately preceding it. The two poems have the refrain “Quant ma dame me donna nom d’ami,” and description of the lover’s “day of grace” occupies both. Their rhetorical structures are so similar as to make imitation certain; in each the first stanza attempts to capture the superlative quality of the day, the second describes the action of the day in terms of a personification allegory in which Pity and her helpers defeat Refusal, and the third recapitulates the events and their effects. Again the “Ch” poem seems an improvement on the other work.
[MS #238]







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[THE DAY OF GRACE (2)]
          BALADE

S’Amours plaisoit ses tresors defermer
Pour exaucier un loial amoureux,
Et Fortune le vouloit confermer
Estre appellé en ce monde eureux,
Je croy qu’a pou ne porroient ces deux
Tant l’enrichir, certes, qu’ilz firent my
Quant ma dame me donna nom d’amy.

J’estoie avant sans rire ne chanter,
Triste, pensis, plaintis, et paoureux,
Povre d’espoir, sans oser gens hanter,
Quant Bel Acueil et Franchise le preux,
Avec Pitié, de Reffus l’orguilleux
Me vengerent; mourir par eulx le vy
Quant ma dame me donna nom d’amy

Onques Dangier n’en daigna reculer,
N’estre vaincu ne post, tant est crueux.
Je doubtay lors mes amis affoler.
Mercy huchay, jointes mains, tres honteux.
Elle sailli, dont je fus si ioieux
Qu’en la doulceur de tous biens m’endormy
Quant ma dame me donna nom d’amy.

TRANSLATION

If it pleased Love to unlock his treasure
To fulfill the desire of a loyal lover,
And Fortune wished to confirm
Him to be called happy in this world,
I think that these two could not
Enrich him so much, indeed, as they did me
When my lady gave me the name of Friend.

Before, I was without laughter or song,
Sad, pensive, complaining, and fearful,
Poor in hope, not daring to go out in company,
When Fair Welcome and noble Generosity,
Along with Pity, avenged me on proud Refusal;
I saw them put him to death
When my lady gave me the name of Friend.

Danger did not deign to retreat from there,
Nor was he able to be conquered, he is so cruel.
I feared then that my lady was stunned by fear.
I pressed for mercy, with my hands folded, very humble.
She sprang up, from which I was so happy
That the sweetness of all good things overcame me
When my lady gave me the name of Friend.
The third poem, which is presented here as a specimen of humor in Penn congenial to the Middle French lyric mode, is also classed as “corrupt” by Mudge. In this case the problem probably arises from the author’s use of nonce words and a humorous name not otherwise recorded. The poet threatens the lover who does not adhere to proper behavior in love with being devoured by a voracious “louf,” “houf,” “gouf” called “Cire Mire Bouf.” The nouns probably play on Old French lufre (louffre, etc.) and golafre, both of which mean “glutton.” It is likely that the appellation of the greedy monster signifies “Sir Tusked Ox.” Its nature recalls the two fabulous man-eating bovines, Bicorne and Chichevache, known to Chaucer’s Clerk (CT IV[E]1188), who feed on patient husbands and wives. The balade counsels service of Amour with humility, generosity, and patience if one is to avoid being eaten and digested (”transglouti”) by the perilous beast.
[MS #42]







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[SIR TUSKED OX]
          BALADE

Se tu monde estre veuls en ce monde
Servir t’estuet tresloyaument Amour,
Grace et Bonté, tire Avoir qui maint monde,
Humilité, Attrempence en honnour,
Fuir Orgueil, querir Paix et Doulçour.
Perseverer y soit pour le meillour,
Ou estre pues devouré d’un seul louf
Qu’a droit nommé est Cire Miré Bouf.

Se grant avoir ou richesse t’abonde,
Pour ce n’en dois avoir plus grant rigour;
Ains plus courtois dois estre que la bonde.
De Fol Cuidier ne te face grevour,
Qu’estre ne dois — trop seroit grant folour.
Or mire dont ton estat et valour,
Ou estre pues transglouti d’un seul houf
Qu’a droit nommé est Cire Miré Bouf.

L’amere mort qui tout mort et suronde
Mort un chascun, soit de nuit ou de jour;
Ne scray comment tant est haute et parfonde.
Or t’estuet dont retraire sans seiour
De niceté faire, entiché par errour.
Paciant soies en desroy, sans irour,
Ou peris pues d’un aventureux gouf,
Qu’a droit nommé est Cire Miré Bouf.

TRANSLATION

If you want to be pure in this world
You must most loyally serve Love,
Grace and Goodness — cast off possessions which hold the world —
Humility, Moderation with honor,
Flee Pride, seek Peace and Sweetness.
May Perseverance be present for all that is best,
Or you may be devoured by a lone “louf”
That is rightly known as Sir Tusked Ox.

If you abound in possessions or riches,
You ought not because of these be more haughty;
Rather you should be more courteous than a serf.
Do not harm yourself with Foolish Presumption,
For you must not be so — that would be too great a folly.
Now then maintain your rank and worth,
Or you may be swallowed gluttonously by a lone “houf”
That is rightly known as Sir Tusked Ox.

Bitter Death, which bites and drowns all,
Kills each person, whether by day or night;
I do not know how, it is so high and deep.
Now you must draw back without delay
From acting stupidly, soiled by error.
Be patient in trouble, without anger,
Or you may be destroyed by a questing “gouf”
That is rightly known as Sir Tusked Ox.

Go To Chaucer and MS French 15 (Penn)