Monday, May 21, 2012

Deciphering Marie de France

Facinating, obscure and mysterious as the Arthurain legends and lives of the Saints she wrote about, this female bard composed somewhere between 1160 – 1215 A.D. Some say she was prioress of an abbey, others a lady of the court and half sister to King Henry II. Often her songs viewed love through a persepective of suffering, forbidden passion and longing.. Throughout her manuscrpts, she claims no ownership of these tales but contends she was recording the voice of others.

A reed from the river bank
she applies to this patch
of parchement.

Today's song is short
a fragment of her life.

Her left hand leans
on the leafless stalk
pressing name and place
of birth into script.

She pauses, light hair
sprawling along the bone --
slender trellis
of shoulders and spine.

What more should she say ?
Favorite flower, color --
method of telling time.

She records
honeysuckle and lavender
in her verse, denotes
her heart as the clock
striking hours of joy or grief.

marking an urge
to lay with her lover
by tallow light
when leaves along the casement
are silvered and damp.

Nothing more to mention
except -- she's a shadow
in the abbey garden,
half sister to faith
and foreign king.

She draws a soft breath
and stretches her hand
releasing the strain,
bidding the wind
to bring other voices,
ancient tales to mind.

Tomorrow, those smooth
meticulous fingers
will translate to Isolde
tilting fate –
and a tall cup of wine.

No comments: