Sunday, July 08, 2012


Depiction of Lust, on a capital in the cloister of 
Lagrasse Abbey, Orbieu Valley, Languedoc.

Sestina d’Oc

Late October, on the side of a Corbières road,
A tuneless troubadour rests, in cool air, quiet.
Down from Quéribus, the last Cathar stand,
In the Langue d’Oc; oh the beauty of it, the language of yes, yes
He thought, to forsake everything and nothing for a reason to be,
And remembered she cried the same, at journey’s end.

Crusaders, parfaits and perfumed whores seeking a good end,
Had come this way once on the bitter twisted road,
Seeking consolation in whatever heaven be
Like Folquet de Marselha, once a flame in Dante’s paradise, then quiet
Of love, Fulk forgot his song and filled with mitred hate cried yes, yes
To a legated fratricide of Toulouse’s indignant stand.

As he looks towards the horizon where tall Lombards stand,
A cold tramontane from the massif heralds summer’s end,
And the leaves waft in the wind like Atlantic kelp and he thinks yes, yes
Here amongst the echoes of demagogues and demi-gods to take the road
North of a troubled troubadour; although less forgiving, less quiet.
And John Lennon on the car radio sang let it be, let it be.

Certainty of good and evil is not what he thought it to be;
For in Villerouge-Termenès he saw Bélibaste’s last stand,
Where betrayed by love, and hope, on a flaming pyre so quiet
Save a shepherd’s lament for the pure ones at journey’s end
But then a glottal cry, a final epiphany on the Paulician road.
And Madam-the-misbegotten-bitch Raymonde said yes, yes.

The traveller in Lagrasse rests, and a stonefaced lust invites yes, yes.
He looks at the cloistered withered tree, and wonders where he’d rather be,
Here stood Charlemagne and rampant Joyeuse before their Iberian road,
Yet on return, with Zaragossan gold, made at Roncevaux a fatal stand,
And marked for the land, language and love, in paradox, a beginning and an end
For Roland, the knighted voice of Oïl, lay not in chivalric legend quiet.

Clamouring northern Capetian hosts rendered southern chanson quiet,
As Innocent unleashed the hounds of God, with indulgent yes, yes,
Blessing crusading Louis and Leicester’s avarice and a bitter Occitan end.
And for this troubled troubadour, the torture of benediction an excuse be,
For power; as God and Mammon seldom, ever take a separated stand
Save in deceit, in ignorance, in denial of all times perdition road.

For the journey into his soul an end, this troubadour must elsewhere be,
Somewhere he can find the quiet, and hope to hear her yes, yes
With you, with you I will stand, and thereon we’ll take an unknown road.

©Roger Derham 2012