En regardant vers le pais de France

Like yesterday, another poem coming out of the consequences of war, never happy, almost never positive. Here we have Charles of Orleans, a senior member of the French royal family, captive in England after being taken prisoner at Agincourt in the early 1400s. In this ballad, he is standing on the cliffs at Dover, within sight of his homeland across the English Channel, but completely powerless to return. The poem is a vivid expression of his experience. Written almost 700 years ago, it still feels fresh and relevant.

En regardant vers le païs de France,
Un jour m’avint, a Dovre sur la mer,
Qu’il me souvint de la doulce plaisance
Que souloye oudit pays trouver ;
Si commençay de cueur a souspirer,
Combien certes que grant bien me faisoit
De voir France que mon cueur amer doit.

Je m’avisay que c’estoit non savance
De telz souspirs dedens mon cueur garder,
Veu que je voy que la voye commence
De bonne paix, qui tous biens peut donner ;
Pour ce, tournay en confort mon penser.
ais non pourtant mon cueur ne se lassoit
De voir France que mon cueur amer doit.

Alors chargay en la nef d’Esperance
Tous mes souhaitz, en leur priant d’aler
Oultre la mer, sans faire demourance,
Et a France de me recommander.
Or nous doint Dieu bonne paix sans tarder !
Adonc auray loisir, mais qu’ainsi soit,
De voir France que mon cueur amer doit.


Paix est tresor qu’on ne peut trop loer.
Je hé guerre, point ne la doy prisier ;
Destourbé m’a longtemps, soit tort ou droit,
De voir France que mon cueur amer doit.

From <http://www.devoir-de-francais.com/commentaire-charles-orleans-recueil-ballades-regardant-vers-pais-france-16715-5559.html&gt;

Throughout the poem he knows his feelings of nostalgia and yearning for his beloved France are useless, since he cannot act on them, but he cannot avoid these feelings because, in his heart, he must love France. This is a poem of exile, but of involuntary exile, which makes the poet’s experience even more poignant.
The first two lines of the final stanza can stand as a timeless, universal condemnation of war and all its consequences, “Paix est tresor qu’on ne peut trop loer, Je he guerre, point ne la doy prisier” . This should be a daily reflection of all those in power who bring us again and again to the brink of war or beyond.

The Poetry Dude


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