Je hais mes jours et ma vië dolente, 

Here is a poem by Eustace Deschamps, on one of his bad days. It just goes to show that you could get the blues even in the fourteenth century, and turn it into art just as surely as Muddy Waters or T-bone Walker. Or compare this with “Born under a bad sign” by Albert King.

On a different note, I wonder if my fourteen year old daughter took literary inspiration from the first two lines of this poem in one of her episodes of teenage angst. Probably not, but at least I can tell her that her feelings are not new or unique.

So enjoy, if you can, Eustace Deschamps’ Ballad of the Miserable Life.


Je hais mes jours et ma vië dolente,
Et si maudis l’heure que je fus né,
Et à la mort humblement me présente
Pour les tourments dont je suis fortuné.
Je hais ma conception
Et si maudis la constellation
Où Fortune me fit naître premier,
Quand je me vois de tous maux parsonnier.

Car pauvreté chacun jour me tourmente :
Par son fait suis haï-z et diffamé ;
Chacun me fuit, ne nul ne me parente,
Les riches vois trop bien emparentés ;
Ceux ont indignation
De moi vëoir, de qui création
Je suis extrait, si suis plus bas que biers,
Quand je me vois de tous maux parsonnier.

Hélas ! il n’est nul, tant sage se sente,
Si riche n’est, qui jà soit honoré.
Mais d’un homme à trois cents livres de rente,
Tant soit cocart, chacun sera paré
En dissimulation
De lui faire grand inclination.
Or suis pauvre, je vi à grand danger
Quand je me vois de tous maux parsonnier.

From <;

The first stanza is a general rant against cruel fate , and a longing for life to end. The poet curses the star under which he was born, and claims to be a victim of all ills. The second stanza gets more specific – it is poverty which is his main complaint, and which makes everybody avoid him, particularly the rich who look the other way and treat him like dirt. The third stanza makes the point that if you are rich (with 300 pounds of income per year), even if you are an idiot everyone will admire you and honour you. But Deschamps is poor… (not sure how true that was, but it works for the poem).

Plus ca change…

The Poetry Dude


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