The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 20-JAN 21

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DEC 20-JAN 21 Issue

from The Songs of Raimbaut D’Aurenga


I see that the fine songs
of the delicate, trembling
little birds are growing louder
and it’s so sweet and fine to hear
that I don’t think I can live
without writing a poem. So I start
a cheerful new one.

I see the rays of the
fine white sun. They are hot,
horrible, desiccating, relentless, and brutal.
They shatter all my fine fantasies.
But I do have one cheerful hope--
to have fresh joy. My desire is not
to crave a weak life.

This new fine joy isn’t clear to me
but it isn’t totally opaque either.
It gives me the “soft sighs.”
I don’t know whether my poem will help me
win it or not. I fear that this life,
where I love my baby and feel only moderate cheer,
will last forever.

My heart is fine
and deeply depressed!
I come to you half-bitter and half-happy,
full and void of fine beginnings.
One half of me is cheerful,
the other sleepy and afraid
of desire, barely alive.

A hope so fine
consumed me
and shoved me into failure.
My fear shows me that pleasure
is worth more to the survivor
than a quick hit. So my fear
is tempered by cheerful desire.

Your fine friend
won’t come near you,
baby, or show you his face,
even though his heart is stupidly yours.
He doesn’t even know if you are harsh or cheerful!
He fears you so much
he avoids you, and doesn’t know how to live.

A lover who doesn’t fear
their baby is not a fine lover,
even if they are faithful
and tell excellent lies. They should
sweetly go become martyrs rather than live!
Because there is no true love
if there’s not immense, cheerful terror.

Ay! My fresh fine baby!
You never lie.
Baby, if I’m not clever enough
to teach you what I want with words,
I hope you will pity me, a cheerful
moron. If you want me to stay
alive, I can deal with a delay.

Baby, you’re the best thing alive.
Even far away you burn me up without fire,
and make me want to cheer up.

Ay! You are so sweet and charming and cheerful.
I can feel death coming close to me
if you don’t help me out with life.


Now I’ll write the kind of poem
that won’t break me.
Because now my baby, who made me trade
wrong for right, is acting weird.
I’m depressed,
a failure,
betrayed in love.
I’m obviously a complete moron
if I deceived her.

Jesus Christ! How am I so brave to recite
my legendary bad luck?
My depression was always immeasurable
and my heart is lost and confused.
sizzles my
lust, and I’m deeply sad.
And I was just about to make joy my family.

I guess I’ll read my poem through tears,
since poems will not protect my pleasure.
It just makes my good longing lesser,
so what good does poetry do me? It’s like I’m barking.
I guess I’m a moron
to chase after
if I get nothing from it but anguish,
sadness, misery, and sobbing.

My mom gave birth to an unlucky thing.
Everything bad is worse when it’s me.
Someone predicting my downfall is an idiot!
How could I be worse off? Fucking shit!
Not even if they hanged me
high in the wind
in front of everybody.
If someone wanted to pull out my eyes,
I’d consider them generous.

My sweet baby, you’re so classy,
please don’t be so careless with me!
You’re doing something unjust
if your heart isn’t bright with mercy,
and I expect
to be acquitted
if you’re in a good mood.
And don’t make me miserable
by forcing me out of my home.

I swear by my daddy’s ghost
if your heart stays stubborn,
no walls or patio will keep me
from leaving my home
in such a way
that it will be a very long time
before I see my relatives.
Oh, I see, you don’t care.

Baby, God is the judge.
He acquitted an immense crime
‐‐so the scriptures say‐‐
and pardoned a traitor and a thief.
in his opinion,
if you tell the truth
you’ll either be pardoned right away
or never!

Baby, because your heart is unrelieable,
I’ll fuck other people forever.
People who look like you.
That’s the only reason I need to fuck.
I’ll fuck bad people,
worthless ones,
people who hate me,
people of your very squad!
But they won’t see the real me.

OK baby lets
If I ever break your rules,
I won’t forgive myself.

And if I lie
and break this agreement,
then I shall quickly
poison myself with corn-lilies.


Here’s what tortures me: the cold
and the wind and the mud and the ice
and the storms and a harsh thought
about my hot, sweet baby,
who has made my heart so confused
one minute I’m walking, then on the floor.
Half the day I’m ruined, the other half ecstatic.

I’m not complaining about the winter.
Far from it! To me it’s a party.
Now you see how perverted my desires are.
But I tell you this about my baby:
since she knows that love like this,
that keeps us young, quickly becomes too much,
she’ll either keep me for pleasure, or release me.

O baby, your heart is classy and fresh.
The thought rises to my brain
that maybe I should learn how to please you.
Oh my god baby you are sweet and loving!
Jesus Christ! Let’s never break up!
Just remember how hot it is when we kiss.
Talking about it is not as good.

My eyes roll back into my skull,
and my heart, which furnishes this horror,
flutters so much they have to fan my face
when I remember, sweet baby,
how beautiful our love was
before the bad, savage gossips
interfered with their fake tales.

Gossips, we are not the same.
I’m just not like you
and never was. Do you see, happy love?
Sweet love, my case is closed.
If the person who told these lies was in love,
I mean the person who birthed this horror,
I wouldn’t try to harm or ruin them.

Because, honestly, I can’t remember--
and I am listening to my heart--
any sister, cousin, or aunt
who wanted to love well
and cared what I thought or tried to hide it.
And I, Raimbaut D’Aurenga
should reflect on my xenophobic worldview.

Baby, why do I stay so far away?
I have no reason not to see you
except fear—and I am afraid--
that I’ll ruin your life, sweet baby.
So announce the date of my trial.
I’ll be so secretive that only my cheek will know,
and I’ll rush to furnish you with proof.

I lose the color and blood from my face
because of my lust to disrobe
and be with you without clothes on,
my favorite of your outfits.
My desire is like a ravenous toddler.
No matter how much I eat, in one day
I lose a month’s worth of fat.

Baby, if you want to, refresh our joy.
I’ll be here, hanging in, actually happy
but pretending to be burdened, sad, and confused.

Reader, I hope you have a good one.
Meanwhile I’ll continue to whine,
and sigh, and complain.


Raimbaut D’Aurenga

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

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


The Brooklyn Rail

DEC 20-JAN 21

All Issues