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Marvoil
by Ezra Pound
from Personae (published in 1909 by Faber and Faber)


A poor clerk I, “Arnaut the less” they call me,
And because I have small mind to sit
Day long, long day cooped on a stool
A-jumbling o’ figures for Maitre Jacques Polin,
I ha’ taken to rambling the South here.

The Vicomte of Beziers ‘s not such a bad lot.
I made rimes to his lady this three year:
Vers and canzone, till that damn’d son of Aragon,
Alfonso the half-bald, took to hanging
His helmet at Beziers.
Then came what might come, to wit: three men and one woman,
Beziers off at Mont-Ausier, I and his lady
Singing the stars in the turrets of Beziers,
And one lean Aragonese cursing the seneschal
To the end that you see, friends:

Aragon cursing in Aragon, Beziers busy at Beziers–
Bored to an inch of extinction,
Tibors all tongue and temper at Mont-Ausier,
Me! in this damn’d inn of Avignon,
Stringing long verse for the Burlatz;
All for one half-bald, knock-knee’d king of the Aragonese,
Alfonso, Quattro, poke-nose.

And if when I am dead
They take the trouble to tear out this wall here,
They’ll know more of Arnaut of Marvoil
Than half his canzoni say of him.
As for will and testament I leave none,
Save this: “Vers and canzone to the Countess of Beziers
In return for the first kiss she gave me.”
May her eyes and her cheek be fair
To all men except the King of Aragon,
And may I come speedily to Beziers
Whither my desire and my dream have preceded me.

O hole in the wall here! be thou my jongleur
As ne’er had I other, and when the wind blows,
Sing thou the grace of the Lady of Beziers,
For even as thou art hollow before I fill thee with this parchment,
So is my heart hollow when she filleth not mine eyes,
And so were my mind hollow, did she not fill utterly my thought.

Wherefore, O hole in the wall here,
When the wind blows sigh thou for my sorrow
That I have not the Countess of Beziers
Close in my arms here.
Even as thou shalt soon have this parchment.

O hole in the wall here, be thou my jongleur,
And though thou sighest my sorrow in the wind,
Keep yet my secret in thy breast here;
Even as I keep her image in my heart here. 

          Mihi pergamena deest

 

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