Very Punny, Mister Rutebuef

Here is an example of the poet Rutebeuf playing with the humorous potential of his name (or possibly pseudonym), in the last 40 lines of La Vie de Sainte Elyzabel (the first text in the Rutebeuf section of BNF fr. 837). You can see the text as it appears in the manuscript, read a transcription of it and a translation of that transcription, and also listen to it being read aloud.

Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, fonds français 837 (pre 1300), f. 294v
Reproduced by courtesy of Bibliothèque nationale de France:

‘Se Rustebues rudement rime
Et se rudece en sa rime a,
Prenez garde qui la rima.

Rustebuef, qui rudement oevre
Qui rudement fet la rude oevre
Qu’assez en sa rudece ment,
Rima la rime rudement.
Quar por nule riens ne croiroie
Que bués ne feïst rude roie,
Tant i meïst len grant estude.
Se Rustebues fet rime rude,
Je n’i part plus, mes Rustebues
Est ausi rudes comme uns bues.’

If Rudebull rhymes crudely
And his rhymes are somewhat rudimentary
Then you should bear in mind who the rhymer is.

Rudebull, who works crudely,
Who crudely fashions the rude work,
And whose version of events is so rudimentary as to be wrong, sometimes,
crudely rhymed the rhymes.
For nothing would induce me to believe
That a bull would do anything but plough along crudely
However much effort he put into it.
If Rudebull makes crude rhymes
I won’t make any more of it, but Rudebull
is as rude as a bull.

Click here to listen to the recording (read by Karen Pratt)


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