He’d Eaten Cheese His Whole Life Long

Here at Murray’s headquarters, we do a lot more than sell cheese. We teach classes about cheese, we age cheese, we make t-shirts about cheese, we devise the perfect pairings for cheese, we write about cheese….and the newest piece of writing comes from our own Rob Kaufelt. He put a spin on Renard the Fox, the 13th century French text that was translated in 1983 by Patricia Terry.

To set the scene: Renard has been injured by a trap and is attempting to eat Tiecelin the crow.

The crow uttered a mighty screech,
Attempting to get his voice to reach
Still higher, but the claw that gripped
The cheese relaxed, the treasure slipped.
It fell to the ground at renard’s feet,
But he, that master of deceit
Woe to the one he takes for prey!
Just simply left it where it lay,
Hoping, by this joy deferred,
That he’d also get to eat the bird.
The cheese in plain sight on the gound,
Renard the fox staggers around,
One foot behind the other drags,
His skin hangs off like tattered rags.
(although he’d only recently managed
to flee the trap, his leg was damaged).
All this for tiecelin’s benefit:
‘Alas, he says, ‘that god sees fit
To afflict poor me with miseries,
By saint mary, i swear that cheese
(God’s curse on it!), it smells so strong
Will do me in in before too long.
For everyone i know agrees
There’s nothing as bad for wounds as cheese.
It’s strictly forbidden in my diet;
I haven’t the least desire to try it.
I beg you, tiecelin, come down here.
If you don’t help, my end is near!’

Tiecelin takes pity on him, but realizes his mistake in getting too close, losing four feathers. he chides renard for his deceitful acting, and annoyed, tells him the cheese is all he’ll get that day.

Renard didn’t bother to insist,
He was busy making up for what he’d missed.
By eating the cheese to the very last bit
(but there wasn’t very much of it);
The way it went down would make you think
It was some kind of delicious drink.
You could look in any land you please
And never would you find such cheese;
He’d eaten cheese his whole life long
And certainly he could not be wrong.
So did renard add up the score,
And his injured leg did hurt no more.

Revised by Rob Kaufelt. Photo courtesy of reynaerts.be