Collection of Letters: Detail
- Baudri, abbot of Bourgueil and archbishop of Dol
What I seek, what I have sought: that you, Adela, give me a cope
which would suit the giver and the receiver.
No woman is greater to me, none better,
for you would be to me a queen from a countess,
and our songs will make you even greater,
by our song you will be spread through the wide world,
that Cyprus and the far Thule [Iceland?] may know you,
Ethiopians, Indians, Moroccans, and any island.
I say great things, but I know how to say greater,
from the matter that I have taken up about the countess.
You yourself suggest my song to me, my reed/pen,
you will give the breath, you will fill the gaping mouth,
you pay the deserved rewards to poets,
you who compel taciturn bards to speak.
Therefore, countess, look again at your speaking bard,
and give, o ruler/lady, the cope as reward to the writer.
The cope which shining Phrygian gold surrounds,
the cope which honors the breadth of the chest with gems,
let the chest have you, the limbs be clothed,
the cope which carries the worth of the countess,
which deservedly I may be able to call the countess’s cope.
As you excell queens and countesses,
so the mantles of queens and countesses,
are excelled by this work, which gives you life beyond the stars.
I ask great things, but you know how to repay greater;
you scorn the pusillanimous who ask for little.
I ask not too high, I do not slip too low.
With whatever adornment you should adorn ministers,
and enrich the treasuries of churches,
it is mine to have sought, yours to offer.
So respond to me by right that you may favor both,
and make sure the cope is not missing its fringe.
Quam peto, quam petii, si reddas Adela cappam
Quas deceat dantem, deceat simul accipientem.
Nulla mihi major, melior mihi femina nulla,
Nam regina mihi tu fies ex comitissa
Te quoque majorem formabunt carmina nostra,
Carmine tu nostro latum spargeris in orbem,
Ut te nosse queat et Ciprus et ultima Tile,
Aethipes, Indi, Getulus et insula quaeque.
Grandia dico quidem, sed grandia dicere novi,
Ex quo materiam mihi sumpsi de comitissa.
Ipsa mihi carmen, calamum mihi suggeris ipsa,
Ipsa dabis flatus, os ipsa replebis hiulcum,
Emeritas solvis mercedes ipsa poetis
Tu cogis vates taciturnos esse loquaces.
Ergo tuum vatem, comitissa, revise loquentem,
Et refer, O domina, scribenti praemia cappam,
Cappam quae Frigium rutilans circumferat aurum,
Cappem quse gemmis ambitum pectus honestet,
Ut te habeat pectus haec dum super induet artus,
Cappam quze precium comitissae praeferat instar,
Quae merito valeam comitissae dicere cappam.
Sicut et excellis reginas et comitissas,
Sic reginarum comitissarumque lacernas
Hoc excellat opus, quod te super astra perennet.
Magna peto, si non majora rependere nosses.
Ipsa pusillanimes fastidis parva petentes.
Non nimis alta peto, non ad nimis alta relabor.
Quolibet ornatu debes ornare ministros,
Et ditare simul thesauros ecclesiarum,
Id petiisse meum est, id te praestare tuum sit.
Sic mihi responde juri ut faveas utriusque,
Et cave ne desit etiam sua fimbria cappae.
Baudri’s second poem to Adela is a much shorter request for the same cope as in his other letter to her, accompanied by elaborate praise.
Le Epistole Metriche di Baldericus Burguliensis, ed. M. Teresa Razzoli (Milano: SAE Dante Alighieri, 1936), 69-70, and Les Oeuvres poétiques de Baudri de Bourgueil, ed. Phyllis Abraham (Paris: Slatkine, 1926, repr.1974), 153-54.