Azénor la Pâle

The Pale Azénor

Dialecte de Cornouaille

  • Première publication, édition 1839 du Barzhaz Breizh.
  • La Villemarqué tient cette balade de Perrine (or Catherine) Le Picard de Kerhuill en Nizon (selon les tables A & B). Cette Marie-Catherine Le Picart née à Kerhuil en 1817 avait pour parents Sébastien et Marguerite Guivarc'h.
  • Un chant correspondant se trouve pp.74 et 83 à 85 du 1er carnet de Keransquer. Deux versions en plusieurs reprises de texte.
  • Chant souvent collecté:
    - par Madame de Saint-Prix: t. 92, 100 de la collection Penguern, "Renean ar Glas".
    - par De Penguern: t. 93,5,9,11; t. 95, 175, "Renean Glas".
    - par Lédan, MS IV, "Gwerz Reneic ar Glaz".
    - par Luzel, in "Gwerzioù", t. 1: "Renea ar Glaz", (2 fois: Plouaret, 1845 - 1847).
    - par Gourvil & Laterre, dans "Kanaouennoù Breiz Vihan", "Reneadik C'hlas", (Carhaix).

  • First published in the 1839 edition of Barzhaz Breizh.
  • La Villemarqué learnt this ballad from the singing of Perrine (or Catherine) Le Picard from Kerhuill near Nizon (according to tables A & B). This Marie-Catherine Le Picart was born at Kerhuil in 1817. Her parents were Sébastien and Marguerite Guivarc'h.
  • One equivalent found pp.74 et 83 à 85 in the first Keransquer collecting book. Two versions in several sets of writing
  • Several times collected:
    - by Madame de Saint-Prix: t. 92, 100 of the Penguern Collection, "Renean ar Glas".
    - by De Penguern: t. 93,5,9,11; t. 95, 175, "Renean Glas".
    - by Lédan, MS IV, "Gwerz Reneic ar Glaz".
    - by Luzel, in "Gwerzioù", t. 1: "Renea ar Glaz", (2 times: Plouaret, 1845 - 1847).
    - by Gourvil & Laterre, in "Kanaouennoù Breiz Vihan", "Reneadik C'hlas", (Carhaix).


  • Ton
    (Ré majeur. Même mélodie que le chant suivant!...)

    Français English
    I
    1. Pauvre Azénor qu'on fiança
    A celui qu'elle n'aimait pas! O!
    A celui qu'elle n'aimait pas!

    2. Pâle Azénor qu'on fiança
    Mais pas à son doux clerc, hélas! O!
    Mais pas à son doux clerc, hélas!

    II
    3. Ce jour-là, la pâle Azénor,
    En robe de soie couleur d'or,

    4. A la fontaine se trouvait
    Seule, à faire avec du genêt

    5. Un bouquet, un bouquet charmant
    Pour son doux clerc de Mezléan.

    6. C'est là donc qu'elle était assise
    Quand vint à passer seigneur Yves.

    7. Seigneur Yves qui chevauchait
    Au grand galop un cheval bai.

    8. Bien qu'il allât au grand galop
    Il l'aperçut au bord de l'eau:

    9. - Ma foi, que cette fille est belle!
    Je n'aurai d'autre femme qu'elle! -

    III
    10. Le clerc de Mezléan disait
    Au gens du manoir assemblés:

    11. - Il me faut un messager qui
    A ma douce porte ce pli.

    12. - Un messager, certainement.
    Mais arrivera-t-il à temps?

    13. - Ma petite servante, dis,
    Que vois-tu donc d'écrit ici?

    14. - Azénor, moi je n'en sais rien
    A l'école je n'étais point.

    15. Azénor, moi je n'en sais rien.
    Ouvrez donc et vous verrez bien. -

    16. Le pli posé sur ses genoux,
    A le lire de bout en bout

    17. Elle eut bien du mal, alors que
    Les larmes emplissaient ses yeux.

    18. - Cette lettre ne peut mentir:
    Il est sur le point de mourir! -

    IV
    19. Et tout en parlant de la sorte
    Elle descendit vers la porte.

    20. - Que se passe-t-il donc ici
    Qu'au feu deux broches l'on ait mis?

    21. Deux broches près de la marmite,
    La grande broche et la petite?

    22. Qu'y a-t-il? Ce n'est pas pour rien
    Qu'on voit venir ces musiciens

    23. Et qu'on a fait venir céans
    Tous ces pages de Kermorvan!

    24. - Ce soir il ne se passe rien.
    Mais vous vous mariez demain.

    25. - Si mes noces ont lieu si tôt,
    J'irai me coucher dès tantôt.

    26. Mon corps ne quittera mon lit
    Sinon pour être enseveli. -

    27. Dans sa chambre à l'aube suivante
    Entra sa petite servante,

    28. Laquelle en ouvrant la croisée,
    Tout étonnée, s'est écriée:

    29. - Je vois de la poussière au loin:
    Une cavalcade en chemin.

    30. A sa tête le seigneur Yves,
    - Qu'une chute nous en délivre! -

    31. Suivent chevaliers, écuyers,
    Des gentilshommes par milliers.

    32. Lui, juché sur un cheval bai
    Croulant sous un harnais doré,

    33. Un harnais doré tout du long
    Et un rouge caparaçon.

    34. - Maudits soient ceux qui l'ont mandé
    Mes père et mère les premiers!

    35. La jeunesse ici bas jamais
    Ne fait ce que son coeur voudrait. -

    V
    36. La pâle Azénor s'en alla
    A l'église en pleurs ce jour-là.

    37. Elle demandait en passant
    Près du manoir de Mezléan:

    38. - O mon mari, j'aimerais tant,
    Entrer ici juste un moment.

    39. - Aujourd'hui, certainement pas
    Demain, si tel est votre choix.

    40. Azénor ce jour-là pleurait.
    Personne ne la consolait.

    41. Personne ne la consolait.
    Seule la servante disait:

    42. - Madame, cessez de pleurer.
    Dieu voudra vous dédommager. -

    43. A midi devant la chapelle,
    Azénor pleurait de plus belle.

    44. Et, passé le seuil de l'église,
    Tous sentent que son coeur se brise.

    45. - Approchez ma fille, je dois
    Vous mettre cette bague au doigt.

    46. - D'amertume j'ai l'âme pleine,
    N'épousant point celui que j'aime.

    47. - C'est pécher que parler ainsi
    Quand on épouse un tel mari:

    48. Riche en or autant qu'en argent.
    Tout ce qui manque à Mezléan.

    49. - Et quand j'irais mendier mon pain?
    Cela ne vous regarde en rien! -

    VI
    50. Petite Azénor demanda
    Lorsqu'à Kermorvan elle entra.

    51. - Ma belle-mère, s'il vous plait,
    Dites, mon lit, où l'a-t-on fait?

    52. - A côté du chevalier noir
    Je vous y conduis. Venez voir. -

    53. A genoux soudain elle tombe
    Auréolée de boucles blondes,

    54. Puis jusqu'au sol, le coeur brisé:
    - Mon Dieu, n'avez-vous point pitié? -

    VII
    55. - Ma mère, dites-moi, madame,
    Savez-vous où donc est ma femme?

    56. - Elle est dans la chambre du haut.
    Consolez-la donc au plus tôt. -

    57. Quand dans sa chambre il est entré,
    Comme un veuf il fut salué.

    58. - Par la Vierge et la Trinité!
    Quoi? Pour un veuf vous me prenez?

    59. - Je sais, vous n'êtes point veuf, certes,
    Mais dans peu de temps allez l'être.

    60. C'est ma robe de fiançailles
    Trente écus, pensez-vous qu'elle vaille?

    61. Je la destine à ma servante
    Pour son obstination patiente

    62. A me porter de Mezléan
    Des lettres perdues...tant et tant.

    63. Et ce manteau neuf que voilà,
    Ma mère l'a brodé pour moi.

    64. Qu'aux prêtres on en fasse don
    Qui prieront Dieu pour mon pardon.

    65. Quant à ma croix, mon chapelet,
    Mon mari, veuillez les garder.

    66. Ils vous feront un souvenir
    De ces noces qui vont finir. -

    VIII
    67. - Au hameau que s'est-il passé
    Qu'on fasse ainsi le glas tinter?

    68. - Azénor est morte aujourd'hui
    Dans le giron de son mari. -

    69. Sur une table ronde on a
    Composé la gwerz que voilà,

    70. Près de Pont-Aven, au Hénan.
    Pour qu'on chante à jamais ce chant.

    71. Que le barde au manoir a fait,
    Qu'une demoiselle a copié.

    Traduction Christian Souchon (c) 2008
    I
    1. Engaged is Azénor the Pale,
    But her own choice did not prevail! O!
    But her own choice did not prevail!

    2. Engaged is the pale Azénor,
    Engaged is the pale Azénor! O!
    Not to her dear clerk, her lover!

    II
    3. Once she sat on the fountain sill
    Clad in a dress of yellow silk.

    4. Next to the well she sat her lone
    Arranging fresh blossoms of broom,

    5. So as to make a fine bouquet
    To give the Mezléan clerk that day.

    6. There she sat by the waterside,
    When the Lord Yves happened to ride,

    7. To ride that way upon a white
    Charger, as quickly as he might.

    8. Still he was not riding so fast
    As not, on her, his eyes to cast!

    9. - That's the girl I want to marry
    Except her I don't want any! -

    III
    10. The sick clerk of Mezléan told
    One day to the manor household:

    11. - I wish I had a messenger.
    To my love I'd write a letter.

    12. - Messengers will be found, galore,
    Yet betimes will they come no more.

    13. - My little maid, tell me, what is
    Written here, tell me, if you please.

    14. - Dear Azénor, don't be a fool
    How could I? I was not to school.

    15. Azénor, why do you ask me?
    Open it up and you will see. -

    16. She proceeded now to unwrap
    And read the letter in her lap.

    17. It was a toilsome proceeding,
    With eyes with tears overflowing.

    18. - O, if that letter tells the truth,
    He will soon die, in early youth! -

    IV
    19. She said, wiped off her eyes the tears
    And stood up and rushed downstairs.

    20. - There must be something afoot here
    Two turnspits have been set in gear!

    21. Over the fire two spits that run,
    The bigger and the smaller one!

    22. Why is the house all astir?
    Why do all these fiddlers confer?

    23. And what for did come these footmen
    In the livery of Kermorvan?

    24. - This evening there will be nothing.
    But tomorrow is your wedding.

    25. - If my wedding is tomorrow,
    Without delay to bed I'll go!

    26. And I shall not get off my bed,
    Till into a grave I am laid. -

    27. Early next day her chambermaid
    To wake her up came near her bed.

    28. The chambermaid entered the room.
    From the window saw something loom:

    29. - On the road clouds of dust that spray!
    Lots of horses coming that way!

    30. With the Lord Yves as their leader
    - I wish he might come a cropper! -

    31. With him many a knight and squire,
    Many a man in proud attire.

    32. The horse he rides, a white palfrey
    Is richly harnessed all the way:

    33. Gilded adornments all over.
    On its back a crimson cover.

    34. - A curse on this gathering I call
    And on my parents first of all!

    35. Never will they the youth allow
    Their inclination to follow. -

    V
    36. Azénor was sourly crying
    When she went to church that morning.

    37. She asked when they were in front
    Of the manor of Mezléan:

    38. - O my husband, you won't deny
    Me to enter here for a while.

    39. - Today, you will certainly not
    Tomorrow, as much as you want.

    40. Poor Azenor shed bitter tears
    Nobody did bothered her to cheer.

    41. Poor Azénor shed bitter tears.
    Only the maid told words of cheers:

    42. - Lady, be quiet, don't cry at all.
    God shall make good for this trial. -

    43. At midday before the altar
    Was still crying poor Azénor.

    44. From the altar to the church gate
    All heard how she was desperate.

    45. - My girl, to my side come nearer
    I'll slip this ring on your finger.

    46. - To come nearer I must be shoved
    Since I don't marry whom I love.

    47. - Azénor, such speech is a sin.
    An outstanding husband you win.

    48. With money overflows his house.
    Mezléan is as poor as a mouse.

    49. - And if to beg for bread I were?
    If it is with him, I don't care! -

    VI
    50. The little Azénor asked
    When Kermorvan house she entered.

    51. - Where is my bed, mother-in-law?
    Tell me please, I want to withdraw.

    52. - It's beside the black knight's chamber
    I'm going to see you up there. -

    53. And all of a sudden she knelt
    With her fair hair all dishevelled

    54. Heartbroken, she sunk on the floor:
    - God, help! I am distressed, so sore! -

    VII
    55. - My lady mother, if you please,
    Would you tell me where my wife is?

    56. - In the room upstairs, gone to bed.
    You must cheer her up. Go ahead! -

    57. He heard on entering the chamber:
    - Good evening, Mister widower!

    58. - Holy Mary and Trinity!
    As a widower you greet me?

    59. - I know you are not, still not far
    Remains the moment when you are.

    60. The wedding gown of the deceased
    I value thirty crowns at least:

    61. Be it devolved to the maid
    Whose stubborn, persevering aid

    62. Put mail from Mezléan on its way
    To me... that but for her would stray.

    63. Here is a coat that is brand new.
    On it mother embroidery sewed.

    64. It shall be a gift to the priests
    Who shall pray for my soul's relief.

    65. As for my cross, my rosary,
    My husband, for you they will be.

    66. I put these things in your keeping
    To atone for your vain wedding. -

    VIII
    67. - What happened here? What for, that bell?
    Say, why are they tolling the knell?

    68. - For poor Azénor who is dead
    In her husband's lap lay her head. -

    69. In Hénan manor were all those
    Verses on a round desk composed,

    70. Next to Pont-Aven, in Hénan.
    - That for ever they may be sung -

    71. By the old lord's bard. A spinster
    Has committed it to paper.

    Translated by Christian Souchon (c) 2008
    Brezhoneg

    Cliquer ici pour lire les textes bretons.
    For Breton texts, click here.


    Résumé
    Azénor de Kergroadez aimait le clerc de Mézléan et non le riche Yves de Kermorvan que sa famille la contraignit à épouser. Selon cette complainte, elle mourut de chagrin le jour de ses noces en 1400 (ou 1385), mais elle est, en réalité, à l'origine d'une nombreuse descendance, dont les titres furent confirmés lors de la "réformation" de 1669 par le Parlement de Bretagne!
    Cette gwerz rappelle une fameuse ballade anglaise (?) Barbara Allen où la mort réunit deux amants.

    Spéculations de La Villemarqué
    Bien que la ballade situe l'histoire dans le Léon (Nord Finistère, le château de Kergroadès est à l'est de Brélès), le dialecte utilisé par La Villemarqué est celui de Cornouaille et il est dit effectivement à la strophe 70 qu'elle fut composée au château du Hénan (près de Pont-Aven) par le "barde du seigneur" qui l'a dictée à une demoiselle.
    Comme le note La Villemarqué lui-même, et s'il ne s'agit pas d'une transformation abusive du texte collecté, "comment se trouve-t-il encore en Bretagne à la fin du Moyen-âge un seigneur qui a son barde domestique?" Au terme d'une longue discussion, il énonce une hypothèse, difficilement défendable: il s'agirait d'un barde gallois qui, en butte aux ordonnances prises contre sa corporation par Edouard III (1312 - 1377) et ses successeurs, se serait réfugié en Armorique...

    La ballade de Renée Le Glaz
    Ces spéculations perdent tout intérêt quand on examine les versions de cette ballade collectées, tant par La Villemarqué (manuscrit N°1 de Keransquer), que par ses continuateurs et détracteurs, Luzel (versions 1 et 2) et F. Gourvil et H. Laterre (version 3):
    - Renea Ar Glaz, Version 1
    - Renea Ar Glaz, Version 2
    - Renea Ar Glaz, Version 3
  • Dans tous ces textes, l'héroïne s'appelle Renée Le Glaz (Renik An Glaz, Reneadig C'hlaz, Renea Ar Glaz) et son mari Yves Sélar (Ivonik Selar, Vonik Salaru, Ivonik Selin, Erwan(ik) Gelard, Youenn Sellar). L'amoureux de Renée est tantôt un clerc (kloarek), comme dans la version A de Keransquer et chez Gourvil, tantôt le fils aîné (map henañ) de sa famille (appelée "Kerversault", chez Luzel, "Kervalbret", chez Gourvil, ces noms désignant en outre la maison où il habite).
  • L'endroit où habite Renée n'est indiqué que dans le carnet de Keransquer et en relation avec le domicile du clerc: Il s'agit, respectivement du manoir de Penret et du bourg de Melzran (rendu dans le Barzhaz par "Mezléan") dans la version A; de Drésin et du bourg de Landevant, dans la version B.
  • Le lieu où réside Yves, n'apparaît que dans la version B de Keransquer, et encore de façon très ambigüe:
    - Les phrases
    "Evit lakaat un habit nevez, Vit mond da Germorvan da vale. Bar di Kermorvan pa oa digouet, 'de-bonjour ha joa' a lare..." (Afin de mettre un habit neuf pour aller me promener à Kermorvan. Chez Kermorvan quand [il/elle] arriva , [il/elle] dit 'bonjour et joie'...) semblent, si on se réfère aux autres versions, avoir trait à la visite que la servante rend au jeune malade. "Kermorvan" serait alors une variante du nom de la famille et de la résidence de l'amoureux malheureux, appelé ailleurs "Kerversault" ou "Kervalbret".
    - En revanche la phrase
    "Petra zo nevez en ti-mañ, p'erruaz sonerien amañ hag ar pajigoù Kermorvan?" (Que se passe-t-il en ce logis où sont arrivés les sonneurs et les pages de Kermorvan?), si elle n'est pas altérée, s'applique clairement au manoir d'Yves Sélar.
    C'est cette seconde interprétation qu'à retenue La Villemarqué.
    Comme on peut l'imaginer à la lecture de l'"argument", il a recherché ce nom dans un ouvrage historique, le procès-verbal de chambre établie par Louis XIV pour la "Réformation [= vérification des titres] de la noblesse de Bretagne" (1668). Parmi tous les Kermorvan, il en a cherché un qu'on puisse rapprocher de l'Yves Sélar de la ballade. Ce fut l'époux de l'héritière de la maison de Kergroadez qu'il épousa en 1400. Et c'est ainsi que Renée Le Glaz devint Azénor la Pâle ("glaz=pâle").
    Lithographie de 1851 représentant la pâle Azénor, personnage des 'Mystères du Peuple' d'Eugène Sue . L'Azénor-la-Pâle du Barzhaz devait inspirer le fameux auteur à succès, Eugène Sue (1804-1857) qui en fit une héroîne de son roman "Les Mystères du peuple" mis en vente à partir de 1849. Censuré par le gouvernement impérial, puis mis à l'index par l'Eglise, cet ouvrage subversif est interdit en 1867.

    Variations sur un fait divers
    Le lieu d'où venait Yves Sélar est évoqué, tant dans la version B du manuscrit de Keransquer, que dans la deuxième version de Luzel et dans celle de Gourvil: pour se rendre chez Renée, son cortège de noces doit traverser un bois nommé "Koad an Dizez", "Koad an Diez" ou "Koad an Enez". Mais il venait de bien plus loin, lui qui "s'en fut chercher femme en ce pays-ci, quand il y avait bien assez de filles dans sa propre contrée" (Luzel, version 2).
    C'est un des éléments immuables qui semblent indiquer que cette gwerz a pour origine un fait précis, que les noms de Landevant et Melrand, trouvés dans le manuscrit de Keransquer localiseraient entre Lorient et Pontivy plutôt qu'en Léon ou en Cornouaille.
    Les divers épisodes de l'histoire: la préparation du festin, la robe de mariée, la servante messagère, la lecture de la lettre soit par Renée, soit par le jeune clerc, la mort de ce dernier, le cortège nuptial aperçu par la fenêtre, la malédiction de l'époux et des parents, l'entretien entre bru et belle-mère, le lit nuptial préparé dans la chambre d'études, le salut au "jeune veuf", le testament, la robe de mariée qui fait office de coffre-fort, les amants réunis dans la mort, etc. sont autant d'éléments d'un puzzle recomposé de façon différente dans chaque version.

    On remarque toutefois que le récit publié dans le Barzhaz comporte deux épisodes supplémentaires:
  • la rencontre du seigneur Yves et de la jeune fille, (qu'on peut raisonnablement supposer avoir été imaginé par le barde de Nizon sur le modèle de La Fontenelle)
  • et la conclusion évoquant le barde du manoir du Hénan qui composa le chant. Le long développement que La Villemarqué consacre à commenter ce deuxième élément exclut sans doute que celui-ci soit sorti de l'imagination de l'auteur.
    Cependant, pour Francis Gourvil (P. 449 de son "La Villemarqué"), il s'agit d'une invention destinée à permettre à l'auteur de disserter sur l'existence de bardes domestiques dans les châteaux bretons à l'aube du 15ème siècle comme il l'avait fait dans le Notes de Bran sur la présence d'un soi-disant harpiste à la cour du vicomte de Donges au 11ème siècle.

    La tête et le giron
    Une curieuse variation a trait à la mort de Renée.
    Dans la version de Gourvil, Renée "souch he benn war he barlenn", enfouit sa tête en son giron, ce qui constitue un tour de force si les deux adjectifs possessifs se rapportent à elle. Suivant les versions on trouve "he benn" ou "he fenn" pour "sa tête" et "he barlenn" ou "he varlenn" pour "ses genoux" (le manuscrit et le Barzhaz sont plus explicites et disent "war barlenn he fried", sur les genoux de son mari). Si la distinction "e" et "he" (à lui, à elle) est purement orthographique et assez flottante chez les auteurs du 19ème siècle (outre le fait que dans les versions de Luzel "he" - à elle - est remplacé par le mot dialectal "hi"), la "mutation" des consonnes initiales est un trait essentiel de la langue. Il détermine le sens de façon bien plus fiable.

    Les mots "penn" (tête) et "barlenn" (giron) mutent comme suit:
    - possesseur masculin: "e benn, e varlenn".
    - possesseur féminin: "he fenn, he barlenn".
    Or on lit:
    chez Luzel, version 1: he benn war hi barlenn, pour "e benn war he barlenn" ("war"=sur),
    chez Luzel, version 2: hi fenn war he varlenn, pour "he fenn war e varlenn",
    chez Gourvil, version 3: he benn war he barlenn, pour "e benn war he barlenn".

    En tout cas les textes manuscrit et imprimé de La Villemarqué qui reviennent à dire:
    "he fenn war e varlenn", sa tête (à elle) sur ses genoux (à lui)
    sont conformes à la grammaire et à l'anatomie! (Cf. texte anglais ci-contre).

    L'art de l'écriture
    Comme dans l'héritière de Keroulas ou le chevalier Bran, on est frappé par le rôle quasi-mystique que jouent dans cette histoire le rituel de l'écriture et tout ce qui s'y rattache (la lettre, le messager, la salle d'étude, le testament...). On doit sans doute y voir le respect d'une population non alphabétisée pour un moyen de communication qui était l'apanage des nobles et des écclésiastiques. C'est ainsi que, dans la version du Barzhaz, le "Barde du seigneur" qui a composé le chant doit faire appel à une demoiselle pour le mettre par écrit. Contrairement à la petite servante de ce récit, dont on fait une messagère, mais qui, malgré sa bonne volonté, ne peut faire office de lectrice, Jeanne, devenue Héloïse chez La Villemarqué, sait lire et écrire, mais il s'agit là d'une transgression de l'ordre social, d'un acte maléfique qui contribue à faire d'elle une sorcière!
  • Résumé
    Azénor de Kergroadez loved the clerk of Mézléan and not the rich lord Yves de Kermorvan to whom she was married off by force by her family. According to this ballad she died of grief on her wedding day in 1400 (or 1385), but, in fact, she had countless descendants, whose titles were confirmed in the "Reformation act" passed by the States of Brittany in 1669!
    Like in the famous English (?) ballad Barbara Allen the two lovers in this gwerz are united in death.

    La Villemarqué's view on the origin of the ballad
    Though the song locates these events in Leon (East of Brest, Kergroades Manor is situated near the town Brélès), La Villemarqué noted it in the Cornouaille (Quimper area) dialect and verse 70 states that it was composed at Hénan Castle, near Pont-Aven by the bard of the lord, while a noble young lady committed it to writing.
    We may be astonished, as La Villemarqué himself (provided that he did not exceedingly transform the text he collected) "that a lord should have a bard of his own in late Middle-ages Brittany". Concluding a long discussion, he assumes, but this is not easy to admit, that this bard may have come from Wales, fleeing the harassment inflicted on his guild by king Edward III (1312 - 1377) and his successors and found refuge in Armorica.


    The ballad of Renée Le Glaz
    These wild imaginings will not stand a close examination of the ballad, as gathered by La Villemarqué himself and recorded in the first Keransquer collecting book, or by his rebellious offspring Luzel (versions 1 and 2) and F. Gourvil and H. Laterre (version 3):
    - Renea Ar Glaz, Version 1
    - Renea Ar Glaz, Version 2
    - Renea Ar Glaz, Version 3
  • In all these texts, the girl's name is Renée Le Glaz (Renik An Glaz, Reneadig C'hlaz, Renea Ar Glaz) and her husband's Yves Sélar (Ivonik Selar, Vonik Salaru, Ivonik Selin, Erwan(ik) Gelard, Youenn Sellar). Renée's lover is either a "clerk" (seminarist) as in Keransquer MS -version A and Gourvil's version, or "the eldest son" in his family, named "Kerversault" by Luzel, "Kervalbret" by Gourvil, these names also referring to his family's estate.
  • Renée's dwelling is named only in the Keransquer MS in connection with that of the clerk. It is, respectively, either Penret Manor and Melzran town (spelled "Mezléan" in the Barzhaz) in version A; or Dresin and Landévant town in version B.
  • The place where Yves comes from is named only in the version B of Keransquer MS, but in a very ambiguous way;
    - The sentences
    "Evit lakaat un habit nevez, Vit mond da Germorvan da vale. 'Barzh di Kermorvan pa oa digouet, 'de-bonjour ha joa' a lare..." (In order to put on a new dress and go for a stroll to Kermorvan. In Kermorvan mansion when [she/he] arrived, "Good morning and joy" [she/he] said) seem, when compared with the other versions, to refer to the visit paid by the maid to the sick youth. In that case, "Kermorvan" would be a variant of the family name of the unfortunate lover, elsewhere named "Kerversault" or "Kervalbret", as well as the name of the estate where he lives.
    - On the contrary, the sentence
    "Petra zo nevez en ti-mañ, P'erruaz sonerien amañ hag ar pajigoù Kermorvan?" (What happens in this house, if pipers and pageboys from Kermorvan have come?), as far as it was not tampered with, clearly refers to Yves Selar's manor.
    In his Barzhaz ballad La Villemarqué decided for the latter interpretation.
    As suggested by a note to his "argument", he looked up this name in the records of the Chamber summoned by King Louis XIV, in 1668, to "Check the authenticity of nobility titles in Brittany". Among all the Kermorvans he looked for one that could match Yves Sellar's story. He found the husband of the heiress to the House Kergroadez whom he married in 1400. Hence it came that Renée Le Glaz was changed into Azenor the Pale ("glaz"= pale).
    Eugène Sue en 1835, par François-Gabriel Lépaulle. The Pale Azénor of the Barzhaz inspired a famous and prolific author, Eugène Sue (1804-1857) who made of her one of the protagonists in his novel "Les Mystères du peuple" sold by instalments as from 1849. Censured by the imperial government, then blacklisted by the Catholic Church, this subversive book was forbidden in 1867.

    Variations on a trivial event
    The place where Yves Sélar came from is hinted at, in version B of the song in the Keransquer MSs, as well as in the second version collected by Luzel or in Gourvil's version: to repair to Renée's house, the wedding party that she spies from her window must cross a wood called "Koad an Dizez", "Koad an Diez" or "Koad an Enez". But they come from a still remoter land, since " he looked for a wife here, though there were enough girls to marry in his own country" (Luzel, version 2).
    This is one of the unchanging components that hint at a precise event giving rise to this ballad, which the place names Landevant and Melrand, recorded in the Keransquer MS, seem to locate between Lorient and Pontivy, rather than in Léon or Cornouaille.
    So do the diverse episodes of the story: the preparation of the feast, the bride dress, the messenger maid, the reading of the letter either by Renée or by the young clerk, the latter's death, the wedding cortège spied from the window, the curse on husband and parents, the dialogue between mother and daughter-in-law, the wedding bed in the library, the greeting of the "young widower", the bride's dress used as a safe for money, the two lovers united by death, etc. are as many pieces of a puzzle that fit together in a different way in each version.

    We remark however that the story as published in the Barzhaz encompasses two additional episodes:
  • the encounter of Lord Yves with the girl (which it is not illogical to suspect was imagined by the Bard of Nizon after the model of La Fontenelle),
  • and the conclusive verses about the bard of Hénan Manor who composed the ballad. Judging by the long essay La Villemarqué dedicates to the issue raised by it, this second element could hardly be the fruit of his imagination.
    However, Francis Gourvil (P. 449 of his "La Villemarqué"), considers that the author invented this passage to be able to elaborate on the existence of private bards in Breton manors at the dawn of the 15th century, as he did, in his Notes to Bran, on the alleged presence of a harper at the court of Viscount de Donges in the 11th century.


    Head and lap
    There is a strange variation in the way Renée's death is told.
    In Gourvil's version, Renée is said to "souch he benn war he barlen" (tuck his/her head into her/his lap) which is a very skilful trick if the two possessive adjectives refer to the same person. Depending on the version of the tale, we have "he benn" or "he fenn" for "his/her head", and "he barlenn" or "he varlenn" for "her/his lap" (the MS and the Barzhaz are more precise and read "war barlenn he fried", in the lap of her husband). Now, if the distinction between "e" and "he" (his and her) is observed only in spelling and is far from systematic in the 19th century texts (to say nothing of Luzel who uses the dialectal "hi", instead of "he", for "her"), on the contrary the shift of the initial consonant is an essential, far more reliable feature of the language.

    The correct shift for "penn" (head) and "barlenn" (lap) is as follows:
    - his: "e benn, e varlenn".
    - her: "he fenn, he barlenn".
    Now we read:
    In Luzel's version 1: he benn war hi barlenn, his head in her lap ("war"=on, in),
    in Luzel's version 2: hi fenn war he varlenn, her head in his lap
    in Gourvil's version 3: he benn war he barlenn, his head in her lap.

    Anyway, La Villemarqué's statement, in his handwritten and edited texts which are tantamount to:
    "hi lakae he fenn war e varlenn", she laid her head in his lap,
    is both correct grammar and correct anatomy!

    Writing skills
    Like in The Heiress of Keroulas or Knight Bran, it is a nearly mystical part that is played in this story by the different proceedings in connection with writing: composing a letter, choosing a messenger, the deathbed in the library, the last testament scene...). This undoubtedly reflects how much illiterate folks stood in awe of skills that were the prerogative of upper-class and clerics. Thus in the printed version of "Azenor", the "Lord's bard" who composed the song must ask a young lady to commit it to writing. Unlike the little maid in the present story, who becomes a messenger, but in spite of her willingness, would be of no avail as a reader, Joan, who was renamed Héloïse by La Villemarqué, can write and read, but it is the sign of her infringement of the social order, which made of her a witch!

  • . Source: Généanet - Généalogie de Carné)

    AZENOR THE PALE

    by Ginny DAVIS

    On a fair spring morn by the sacred well,
    Attired in amber hue,
    Sat lovely Azenor the pale
    Plucking blooms for her love so true.

    “I pick these flowers for you my love,
    My clerk of Mezlean.
    I bind them close as I would bind you
    And forsake my home and land.”

    The great Lord Yves was passing through
    The woodlands dark and green,
    And sitting by the waterside
    The maid by him was seen.

    From gallop down to steady walk
    He slowed his milk white steed,
    And turned his head
    To gaze awhile
    As eyes his heart did lead.

    “Such feeling she has stirred in me,
    It’s struck me deep within
    This lovely maid who sits so still
    Who are her kith and kin?”

    On a summers morn, bright solstice eve
    Fair Azenor awoke.
    The courtyard filled with fires and food
    Of festive feast it spoke.

    “Pray what is happening here?” she asked,
    “And why is the fiddler come?
    What reason for this merriment,
    To celebrate the sun?”

    “Why not, fair maid” was their reply.
    “You jest and ask in play!
    For the next morn when the sun comes up
    T’will be your wedding day!”

    At this she stilled in silence
    And ashen turned her cheeks.
    “From bridal bed to grave I’ll go.
    No marriage I will seek.”

    The night it passed so slowly.
    The hours were dark and dim.
    Her little page with news so sore
    Through her window crept within.

    “My lady, I bring tidings.
    A great company arrives:
    Your new Lord with his entourage
    Upon a white steed he rides.

    Behind him comes a train of knights,
    Fine gentleman as well,
    With reins of gold and banners bright,
    Your wedding ranks to swell.”

    “Oh, Unhappy be my father!”
    She cried “And my mother too!
    Unhappy be the hour that comes.
    Of this their hearts will rue!”

    And when the morn was broken
    And Azenor dressed so fine,
    Upon the crupper she was placed
    Her old life left behind.

    Down her face the tears ran sore,
    Whilst travelling to the church.
    As people lined the path they rode
    For her lover's face she searched.

    They came upon his dwelling place.
    She begged her Lord for leave
    To rest awhile within the walls
    Pleading deep fatigue.

    “That may not be today” he said
    “Wedded we must be.
    But on the morrow, if you wish,
    Him you may come and see”

    Her face it was a ghostly pale
    As to the church they rode.
    Her little page beside them walked
    To help her bear her load.

    The aged priest he stood there.
    The ring held in his hand.
    “Step forward now Pale Azenor
    To be wedded to this man!”

    “But, Father, I do not love him.
    Have pity on my heart!
    I beg you do not force me.
    It tears me deep apart.”
    “Hush my fairest daughter,
    For he has land and gold.
    Fair manorhouse and meadowlands
    For you to have and hold!”

    "I’d rather dwell a beggar
    Beside my humble clerk
    Than live a life of luxury
    With my heart within the dark!"

    No heartfelt protestation,
    No tears would turn them around.
    Their hardened hearts denied her
    And to him she was duly bound.

    They travelled back to her husband's hall,
    That place so fair to see.
    “I grieve this day and so will die.”
    She told her husband Yves

    Upon the steps his mother stood
    To greet the new made bride.
    “I bid thee greetings, daughter.
    Come you step inside!”

    But only one thing passed her lips
    As her voice it did fade:
    “Tell me, O my mother,
    Tell me, where is my bed made?”

    “Follow me, tired Azenor!
    Your cheeks are wan and pale.
    Come rest awhile your weary head,
    Return refreshed and hale!”

    Once within her chamber,
    She fell down on her knees.
    “Dear God", she cried, "I am wounded deep.
    Have pity now on me!”

    Her husband sought pale Azenor
    “Pray, wither my wife went?”
    “She lies abed upstairs, my son,
    Wan and pale and spent.”

    “Go to her, she is sorely wrought!
    Needs must you may console!
    Sad indeed her fair face seemed.
    Only love will make her whole.”

    Up the stairs, Lord Yves he trod
    Up to his Lady's bower,
    And up she spoke:
    “Good morrow, Lord! You are a widower.”

    “What mean you, love, why words so cruel?
    Why say you that to me?
    When from the first I’ve you loved,
    So plainly for to see.”

    “Take the dress I wore today
    And give it to my page!
    He carried letters twixt my love and me
    And him I would repay.”

    “My broidered cloak, take to the priest
    Who’ll speak masses for my soul!
    And you, my lord, keep crown and ring
    As tokens un-despoiled!”

    And with these words her eyes they closed.
    She slipped the leash of life
    And left behind a world of pain
    Of being the Lord's new wife.

    The darkened shadows of the day
    Stretched out to meet the night.
    The Clerk of Mezlean arrived
    To beg with all his might.

    The page he spoke with heavy gaze:
    “Sad news I must impart.
    No more does live pale Azenor.
    She died of a broken heart”

    “She died of love for you today.
    No wife to him she’d be.
    She closed her eyes and with her last breath
    Sighed “It was not meant to be”

    On a fair summer morn, by the sacred well
    There stood a lowly clerk.
    “I pick these flowers for you, my love,
    For you too have broke my heart!”

    Upon her grave in the forest green
    He placed his plucked bouquet.
    “Farewell, sweet love, we will meet soon,
    And beside you I will lay.”

    Beside a well, in the forest green
    Where Azenor once dwelt,
    There lies a tomb with flowers around
    That speaks of love unspent.

    Poème composé par Ginny Davis. compositeur-interprète
    Poem penned by Ginny Davis, writer and performer.



    Ginny Davis



    Wedding girdle The young men of Plouyé