Eustache Deschamps (c1346-c1406)
The fourteenth century is slim pickings, but here are refrain lines from three of the twelve hundred ballades of Eustache Deschamps. He began the study of law at Orleans from about 1360, and in poetry, he was a student of Guillaume de Machaut. Despite his hatred of the English, he was also an admirer of Chaucer, to whom he sent one of his poems with a copy of his works. He was a dramatist, theorist, ballade writer, courtier, and agent of the King during the reigns of Charles V and Charles VI. This was a time when office might be gained by loyalty together with a facility in verse (plus a background legal understanding). Going a step beyond Rutebeuf, the work of Deschamps defines a new and incipiently cynical age: Deschamps' own acid temper made him many enemies at court at the end of his life. It is poetry still fresh, but with the morning dew burned off.
Car il n'est rien qui vaille franche vie
For nothing is better than living free
Qui pendra la sonnette au chat?
So which of us will bell the cat?
Il me suffit que je sois bien aise
Enough for me, to take mine ease
25 Dec 2005 / Contact The Project / Exit to French Index Page