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A letter from Adam de Perseigne? (1184)

Translated letter: 

A song that David made,
that our lord put in his heart,
I shall say, my lady of Champagne,
whom the Lord God teaches
and inspires with all goods
so she lacks nothing;
rather, if one dare say it,
there is a little too much of one thing:
he who created her put so much
largesse in her that she has too much.
Largesse and high spending
bring care and constraint
often to noble hearts;
God grant that we have no harm from it!
On Christmas day in the morning
the holy church recites in Latin
the psalm that I begin for you;
I want to put it into romance [French] for you
so you can take from it what you will,
if folly does not deceive you. (1-20)
Noble sister of the king of France,
remember your faith.
Think, lady, of loving well,
of serving and imploring
him who inspires the faith in us
in which your noble heart sees itself.
Yours is true and sharp,
I do not know where you took it
but I make you wise about one thing:
that you have a great advantage
for there is a word in holy scripture
that assures us of great good:
who loves God and seeks from him
can be sure that he will profit from it.
He puts his heart to a very good school
who willingly hears his word
and you, lady, are always ready
to hear it and seek it.
The good master from whom you have
retained whatever you know,
as he is a true friend,
believe well that he has put it there. (2079-2100)

Original letter: 

Une chancon que David fist
Que nostre sire an cuer li mist
Dirai ma dame de Champaigne,
Celi cui Damedes ansaigne
Et espire de toz ses biens
Si qu'an li ne faut nule riens;
Ancois i a, qui dire l'ose,
Un po trop d'une sole chose:
Tant i mist cil qui la cria
Largece que trop en i a.
Largece et li hauz despans
Metent cusancon et espans
Mainte foiz an jantil'corage;
Deus doint que n'i aiens damage!
Le jor de Noel au matin
Nos dist sainte eglise an latin
Le saume que je vos comanz;
Metre le vos vuel an romanz,
S'i porroiz prandre que que soit
Se folie ne vos decoit. (1-20)
La jantis suer le roi de France,
Recordez i vostre creance.
Pansez, dame, de bien amer,
De servir et de reclamer
Celui qui la foi nos espire
Ou vostre jantis cuers se mire.
Mout l'avez fin et aguisie,
Ne sai ou vos avez puisie
Mes d'une chose vos faz sage:
Que mout avez grant avantage,
Qu'un mot a an sainte escriture
Qui de grant bien nos asseure:
Qui Dieu aime et de lui anquiert
Seurs soit il que miauz l'an iert;
Mout met son cuer a bone escole
Qui volantiers ot sa parole,
Et vos, dame, estes toz jorz preste
De l'oir et d'estre an anqueste.
Li bons maistre don vos avez
Retenu quanque vos savez,
Si comme il est verais amis
Croisse le bien qu'il i a mis! (2079-2100)

Historical context: 

The author of the poem is not known, though it is assumed that he was a Cistercian and the editor Jenkins argues for Adam de Perseigne. The work was composed for Marie early in her regency, Jenkins suggests, in a period when she was taking in the Jews expelled by her half-brother Philip II; the poem makes a plea for humane treatment of the Jews, ll.839-44: “God commanded us, do not doubt, not to kill the Jews, but to let them live among us because the books of our faith and the witnesses we need are in their law.” The French poem sets the psalm and commentary within a vision king David has of heaven and the coming of Christ. I cite only the passages that specifically address Marie.

Printed source: 

"The Eructavit: An Old French Metrical Paraphrase of Psalm XLIV," ed. T. Atkinson Jenkins, Gesellschaft für Romanische Literatur, 20 (Dresden: GfRL, 1909)


The attribution of the letter to Adam de Perseigne is questionable. 


1184, December