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Two Poems from The Songs of Raimbaut D’Aurenga

by Raimbaut D’Aurenga, translated from the Occitan by Brandon Brown




17.

It’s my pleasure
to once again
make it known
how smart I am,
make it plain for the clever, overeducated assholes
going around talking shit
saying my poems and manners
are infantile.
I follow my heart
and show the parts
of it my baby allows me to share.

Whoever’s talking,
I’m quite satisfied
with my wits,
because I may not know much
but I know better
than the loudmouths
going around talking shit
like “he’s crazy.” “no he’s not.” “well, his poem is.”
and then I’ll flip it around
like it was a game
and write something good,
simple, polite, and amazing.

I write and talk
in experimental fashion
and make my truth
apparent wherever
it’s appropriate to be clear.
The best poets
are like little kids
compared to me, I guarantee it.
But I keep that thought
inside my heart
and never let a word
escape my teeth.

I write about love
because I love with no tricks
I love who I’m supposed to
so even decent lovers,
when they learn how fine I do it,
come up to me
and beg me to be their teacher
so they can study
good loving.
Sometimes I fantasize
that 500 women will beg me to teach them

My heart’s so good
better than I can say
and I’m so sophisticated
I don’t care about a duke
or king unless they care for me
and if I don’t like someone
then fuck them
but I love those who love me
and I don’t want to beg…
frankly I prefer
when someone begs me
more than the reverse.

I hope the current king
curses the ugly jokers
the shit-talking fools
spreading gossip.
Oh nevermind.
I don’t want to talk about them.
Just mentioning them gives me a headache.
And even if they all
tried to take me on
I’d never love them
I’m too full of feeling.

Whoever is afraid to ask God
to curse the rich
knows nothing about love.

And I’d like to ask you, poem,
to go to Urgel and show yourself
in your finest outfit.

And bring me love
that’s full of feeling.
I hope for the best, since I’ve been promised it!






28.

For a long time I’ve had a secret
but God doesn’t want me to hide
my emergency anymore,
which makes me angry and terrified.
So listen, my friends,
I’ll tell you about my crisis.

I want you all to be assured of this:
the things which make someone happy
are lost to me, I’m ashamed to say it.
And I’m not brave enough to say who took them.
I must have a very honest heart
to say something so awkward.

I’m in a real hurry
to explain my bad situation
because I want to right away soothe
all you confused husbands,
you angry husbands filled with worry,
who always give me nasty looks.

If I seem charming and polite,
know that I am weak and mean,
a coward (armed or naked),
and I have leprosy and I stink,
I’m stingy, a shitty host,
and the worst soldier in the world!

Which is why anybody vexed
when I court their wife is an obvious
moron. Why would they care?
No harm will come to them
if my already-doubled sighs
just get deeper.

Even if I hadn’t lost everything,
loss that makes your beard fall out,
I’ve got plenty to preen about,
so many vices to debase myself,
so no perfect lovers should
ever think I’m worth more than a quarter.

If I’m allowed to write poetry
I’ll write it and won’t quit.
And if somebody’s husband is irritated
because I cover over my depression
with happiness, they can all
grow huge pimples on their face.

I offer my whole self to women
and give it, because that gives me joy.
And if I won’t be able to add to my joy
in the bedroom, then I’ll grow fat
just on lust and gazing
since I don’t need anything else.

I would like the countess of Monrosier
to hear all about my perfect pleasure.




Raimbaut D’Aurenga (1147–1173) was the lord of Orange. He wrote poems in the troubadour milieu, of which thirty-nine remain. He was a well-known poet in his short life, celebrated by his friends and other troubadours, and lived a decadent life before dying in a pandemic in 1173. 

Brandon Brown’s most recent books are Work (Atelos) and The Four Seasons (Wonder). He lives in El Cerrito, California.