|Jaufre Rudel dies in the arms of Hodierna of Tripoli (MS of troubadour songs, 13C North Italian, Bib. Nat. Française)|
Rudel takes leave of the Countess of Tripoli
You are so beautiful, and yet the light
Ebbs fast and faster as I lie:
Outside 'tis noonday burning white
In that long-wished-for Southern sky.
I have no words now - I that made
So many songs for you. All's done.
I have reached to you: my life essayed.
Naught further, Lady of the Sun.
Bend down and kiss me, let your hair
Shut out the darkness for a space:
It may be death itself will spare
This Dream in which I see your face.
So, who are these people? Are they real? Imaginary?
My research led me to one Jaufre Rudel - a Provincial troubadour of the early mid-twelfth century and a Prince. The legend has it that Jaufre went on a Crusade after hearing about the great beauty and intelligence of the Countess of Tripoli - Hodierna. It is said that Jaufre was deathly ill when he reached Tripoli ( a small duchy north of Palestine) and the Countess came to him - permitting him to die in her arms. Ah, love and death - so painfully entwined.
Others have written poems in honor of Juafre's quest and his death - but none, I feel, as perfect in its simplicity as Ella's creation.
Reading about Jaufre Rudel reminded me of a favorite novel - A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay. Kay's fantasy brings to life this age of romance, courtly love, and troubadours.