I’ve Made This Rhyme Completely Free of Sense by William IX, Duke of Aquitaine

I’ve made this rhyme completely free
of sense—it’s not of you and me,
or youth, or doings he-and-she,
or springtime thoughts.
It came to me while I was sleeping
on my horse.

What planet ruled when I was born?
I’m native here and still feel foreign.
Can’t be contented, or forlorn,
or change myself:
I was the midnight work of freaking
magic elves.

I can’t tell when I wake or sleep
unless the others keep me briefed.
It almost breaks my heart—I’m deeply
plagued by doubts,
and none of them, by Saint Martial,
is worth a mouse.

They say I’ll soon be dropping dead
Fetch that doctor, quick!—I said—
his name has just escaped my head.
No matter who:
he’s bad if I do not get well,
good if I do.

My lady friend I’ve never seen:
I don’t know if she’s cute or plain,
or if she’s kind to me or mean.
Why should I care?—
I don’t let French and Normans stay
the night in here.

My passion’s absolutely strong
but she won’t do me right, or wrong.
Avoiding her I get along
just fine. Forget her:
I’ve others nicer anyway
who please me better.

This verse I’ve made—of what or who
unknown—I’ll send to someone who
will send it on to someone who
is in Anjou,
who might decode it and convey
the key to you.

From: http://www.midi-france.info/190401_guilhem.htm

Date: 11th century (original in Occitan); 2001 (translation in English)

By: William IX, Duke of Aquitaine (1071-1127)

Translated by: Leonard Cottrell (1937-2016)

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