While I was rummaging through some of my old boxes and chests recently, I unearthed a poem one of my ancestors had written to the man she was in love with. Her name was Garsenda (1180-????) and he, her future husband, was Alfonso.
Below is her poem, with the original in french below that:
You’re so well-suited as a lover,
but I’m glad my love makes you the penitent,
otherwise I’d be the one to suffer.
Still, in the long run it’s you who stands to lose
if you’re not brave enough to state your case,
and you’ll do both of us great harm if you refuse.
For a lady doesn’t dare uncover
her true will, lest those around her think her base.
Vos que.m semblatz dels corals amadors,
ja non volgra que fossetz tan doptanz;
e platz me molt quar vos destreing m’amors,
qu’atressi sui eu per vos malananz.
Ez avetz dan en vostre vulpillatge
quar no.us ausatz de preiar enardir,
e faitz a vos ez a mi gran dampnatge;
que ges dompna no ausa descobrir
tot so qu’il vol per pair de faillir.
I suspect that speaking from the heart is the one thing that can connect us, in spite of the distance in time. A few years ago I needed a break from the vacuuming and sat down in a comfy arm chair with a cup of tea and a slim volume of poems by Omar Kyam (or Omar Khayyam).
As I read his love poems, especially the one with the line something about all he needs is “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and Thou,” and I sat there, staring down at that line, and suddenly thought, “Would this Persian poet, mathematician and astronomer have ever guessed that a thousand years after he wrote this some little housewife half way around the world would be sitting and reading his poems, and that they would still resonate with her.
We live in a world of wonders. It can also make you tremble to think of putting pen to paper!