1555  Lyon  Bonhomme

Sans pied ne main par dend ayguë & forte
Par globe au fort de porc & laisné nay:
Pres du portail des loyal se transporte
Silene luit, petit grand emmené.

Line 1. ‘ne’ is negative, sometimes derogatory. (1976, “Negation in Berinus: A contribution to the study of negation in the Fourteenth Century” by Malcom H. Offord) but as and-or it can be modifying or it is emphatic (like ‘does do, only one’ in English) whilst OF ‘ni’ indicates partial or full denial; or, nor, neither.

OF ‘par’ (by, through, it expresses a manner or a method) is a word for all seasons (it can also mean via or to but as an adverb, very) that morphs easily into Fr.Ltn ‘per’ (not only by and through, like ‘par’, but also during).

OF ‘dend’. Well, the eye-teeth are “dent de l’oeil” and wisdom-teeth are ‘dent de sagesse’, two expressions which might have produced a sound much like ‘dend’ but then so might the familiar ‘dans de/dedans’ and the Provencal Occitan ‘dens de’ meaning ‘teeth of’. In fact the word ‘dent’ reveived little or no literary attention in France in the Middle Ages and so we must work around for the meaning of this line as much as for the rest of the verse. ‘Sans pied ne main’ could be saying ‘without hands or feet’ and the phrase ‘dend ayguë & forte’ certainly suggests ‘sharp teeth pointed and strong’. (However, the English ‘dendrical/dendritic’ means branching like a tree or a river with its tributaries in a tree-branch pattern.)

Line 2, OF ‘porc’ is a boar or a pig (even a porpoise) whilst ‘au fort de porc’ could suggest the Roman ‘pig head’ military formation. OF ‘nay/naître’ means come into this world, be born, be alive. Line 2 presents us with a globular body (are the extremities removed?) or else the Earth whilst ‘porc’ is colloquial for a monk, which leaves ‘au fort de’ still to guess or otherwise explain. (The ‘forte’ in Line 1 is spelt differently from the ‘fort’ in Line 2.)

OF ‘laisné’ is a verb ‘to prepare wool’. OF ‘laisné nay’ appears to be the printer’s best mess as this is a kind of metalinguistic double negative and the acute accent is mistaken, as is its echo at the end of Line 4. If we divide it to end ‘….né nay’ then the remaindered ‘lais’ would be the laity. The liberated word ‘né’ could mean born, as in ‘nouveau-né’ a newborn-child. Usually, though, it’s OF ‘nay’. The English ‘nay’ was a strong refusal and came from Twelfth Century Norman (ne ei, never). If we work around theproto-French then ‘laisne’ would be cloth.

Line 4 perhaps starts mythologically. Silenes were companions of the aged satyr or god Bacchus. They apparently wore red woollen robes (which could suggest an alternative reading for Line 2). Here the silenes both small and big emit light or they emit light both small and large or else by a misprint this is ‘Silene (autour de) lui’ or ‘the silene next to the great paterfamilia’ or else ‘petit grand emmene’ could be about the great and small/the leader and the led.

OF ‘luit/luire’ is a shing light or to emit light, making ‘emmené’ seem much like the English ‘emanate’. However, the OF ‘emmener/enmener/mener’ has a feeling of movement be that pack animals or a train of events; to take along with one or to drive elsewhere or to lead a case to its conclusion. The tense should take an accent grave. ‘emmener/emmène’. The quotation ‘mener hors du lieu où l’on est, en quelque autre lieu’ (to lead out of the place where it is to some other place) is from ‘Roland’ in the Eleventh Century. Line 4 could be an oblique statement of the god’s subtle or indirect rulership over this globe (the text says from beyond a portal) that is at its most clarific to those who have transposed/transported/transferred their Self.

Translation 1:
Without foot or hand by its strong sharp-pointed teeth
Throughout the Globe by the strength of pork and cloth (monks and priests):
Near the gate, the compliant conform to transfer title to theirselves/their property
In the moonlight the little great one led off.

I have been present at a Church dining party to celebrate the handing over of a nice house to them. The old owner said he was worried because he had signed over the papers in anticipation of an immmigration deal suggested by a foreign government which had now fallen through because his own government had not agreed that he should leave. It seems the celebrants knew this even as they raised a toast to providence.

Translation 2:
Externally cut-off and crippled by the sphere of the stout monk and the new lamb
Yet inwardly acute and strong:
Nearby the portal those loyal to God translate their selfs
Small and great shine-out.

A curious piece. Multiple author intentions are a strong probability here. By working around, it appears to me to be about social-spiritual contrasts. My Translation 1 is about a global viper encircling the world through its priests and monks inveigling the hand over of any asset with a bankable value. The final line, at face value, reads like Gentle Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane being led away all over again. The inherent power in Christianity is not in the old Judaen notion of the Christ King who will lead them out of domination by Rome but the worldly failure and shameful death of Jesus at the hands of the Romans (not the Jews, I suspect, as that tale was very probably coerced propaganda). It seems that when Jesus was gripped by compassion for others he wrought miracles through His magnificent power. At all other times He seemed to eschew this all-powerful latency. Even challenged on the Cross He chose not to exercise His miraculous power. He cared something for the fate of His enemies yet trusted entirely in God to keep the worst at bay for His Self.

My Translation 2 is about those who can meditate to zero and the effortless power of those who attain this ability by grace of the Great God to move across or to throw-off effortlessly a world in which they appear outwardly to be the least powerful. They are neither religieuse nor half-baked scientists of spirit. These are loyal to God alone. To them Earthly knowledge of the ‘Passion of Christ’ is nothing compared to knowing the True Compassion emanating directly from the Great God. We can say that a portal stands between the Inherent Knowing of Existence Everlasting and a Scholarly Knowledge of Life and Death. Near to this portal the truly good and great, few as they are, may be seen to shine their influence upon our world.

All this could have proved too much for the Medieval printer and his assistant who may well have bodged the text somewhere. (Print type was often set from oral dictation back then.)

It was a popular point of view in France, played on by Rabelais, that Sixteenth Century monks and nuns were often fat and corrupt. This quatrain is either a spiritually-fired statement of the pre-eminence by Grace of relatively innocent folk over the materialistic masters of this World or should the stout party be Saturn’s stone born swaddled in woolcloth and tied with a cross** it was inspired by concentrating upon the deepest mythology.

*In modern Vietnamese, a language strongly affected by the officer French/soldier French of its imperial occupiers, the word ‘se’ indicates the future tense, ‘will’, and ‘nay’ means ‘this here’ both of which could fit surprisingly well in this quatrain. Have there been usages of French about which we now have only feeble knowledge?

** By First Century Roman Law the ‘paterfamilia’ held the right to destroy newborns – much like Saturn the god of Time who only ceased his practice of killing all he fathered once he had passed a stone swaddled with woollen bands that bore a cross upon its face. Jupiter then enters the story.

Translation 3:
Tied hand and foot by a branch-shape sharp and strong
Very round and hard like the Roman miltary pighead formation and born wrapped in wool:
Near the portal those proving to be authentic will give up whatever they possess
The child-like great ones to emit reflected sunlight.