En la forest d’Ennuyeuse Tristesse, 

This is an interesting allegorical poem from Charles d’Orleans, less personal than his poems of exile and nostalgia. It seems to hark back to an earlier poetic sensibility in which formulaic stereotypes were used to depict real emotions and situations. In the forest of unfortunate sadness is the title, clumsily translated into English, and it concerns the encounter of a lost soul with the goddess of Love. It could easily come from one of the more obscure corners of Arthurian romance, such as were being written 200 years or so previously, where allegory and symbolism were so important in conveying meaning and engaging the audience in the mental gymnastics required to follow what was going on.

I hope the spelling and structure of the French language of the period are reasonably intelligible. I prefer to stay close to the original formats just to do justice to the intentions of the poet.

Charles d’ ORLEANS   (1394-1465)

En la forest d’Ennuyeuse Tristesse

En la forest d’Ennuyeuse Tristesse,
Un jour m’avint qu’a par moy cheminoye,
Si rencontray l’Amoureuse Deesse
Qui m’appella, demandant ou j’aloye.
Je respondy que, par Fortune, estoye
Mis en exil en ce bois, long temps a,
Et qu’a bon droit appeller me povoye
L’omme esgaré qui ne scet ou il va.

En sousriant, par sa tresgrant humblesse,
Me respondy : ” Amy, se je savoye
Pourquoy tu es mis en ceste destresse,
A mon povair voulentiers t’ayderoye ;
Car, ja pieça, je mis ton cueur en voye
De tout plaisir, ne sçay qui l’en osta ;
Or me desplaist qu’a present je te voye
L’omme esgaré qui ne scet ou il va.

– Helas ! dis je, souverainne Princesse,
Mon fait savés, pourquoy le vous diroye ?
Cest par la Mort qui fait a tous rudesse,
Qui m’a tollu celle que tant amoye,
En qui estoit tout l’espoir que j’avoye,
Qui me guidoit, si bien m’acompaigna
En son vivant, que point ne me trouvoye
L’omme esgaré qui ne scet ou il va. ”


Aveugle suy, ne sçay ou aler doye ;
De mon baston, affin que ne fervoye,
Je vois tastant mon chemin ça et la ;
C’est grant pitié qu’il couvient que je soye
L’omme esgaré qui ne scet ou il va.

From <http://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/charles_d_orleans/en_la_forest_d_ennuyeuse_tristesse.html&gt;

I’ll try and give a synopsis. The poet is wandering disconsolately in the forest indicated in the title (forests being places of danger and uncertainty,) when he meets the goddess of love who asks him why he is there. He replies that his misfortune has exiled him there as a man who doesn’t know where he is going, and so he just wanders in the forest. The goddess of love is displeased and says she could help him if she knew why he is so lost and would happily put him back on the right path to love and happiness. The poet replies that it is the death of his loved one which has transformed him into a wandering lost soul.

The Envoi, or summing up, confirms that the poet doesn’t know where he is going, he is completely blind and disoriented, and everybody should pity him.

The Poetry Dude


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