Lays of Louchébem

A later school, valuing allusiveness above all other artistic effects, sought to deliberately conceal the substantive topics of their poems by the use of an intricate series of phrases which amounted to a second language within a language. Far from being obscure, this artifice depends on pedantic auxilliary phrases which are logically independent on one another for their resolution, a process which can be sustained in ambiguity for as long as the poet sees fit. For example, in one epic, the object of the phrase “bright faithful one” may refer to either the hero’s horse or his grandmother, an ambiguity which is not resolved until the twenty-first canto. A briefer example in the lyric mode follows.

Her voice (is) to (me)
As the whistling of (a female beast, unspecified)
After the (weather event, having occurred many times in the past and expected to reoccur without end).
Does her (outer integument) shine as beautifully as (female person, possibly that referred to in line 1, otherwise a local female deity connected with running fresh water)?
If not, then let me perish in the (weather event, having occurred many times in the past but expected to never occur again),
So bitter are the kisses of (female person referred to in line 1),
Far worse than the (claws or poisonous spines) of (female beast referred to in line 2)
Or the snares of (local deity from line 4).


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