Medieval Verse: The Enuig

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November 24, 2014 by phicks2012

According to Wikipedia at

The enuig, enueg or enuech (Old Occitan [e’n?it?]; “complaint, vexation”) is a genre of lyric poetry practised by the troubadours. Somewhat similar to the sirventes, the enuig was generally a litany of complaints, few of them connect topically to the others. The word “enuig” appears frequently in such works. The Monge de Montaudon was the first master of the enuig.

Raymond Hill defined an enueg as “the enumeration in epigrammatic style of a series of vexatious things”. He finds the genre continued in later medieval Catalan, Italian, French, and Galician-Portuguese literature. Ernest Wilkins considered William Shakespeare’s Sonnet LXVI an example of an English enuig, citing also example from Petrarch. Richard Levin considers the anonymous English poem beginning “Whear giltles men ar greuously opreste” to be an enuig.


According to

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet LXVI (shown below) is an example of an English enuig.

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,
As, to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And guilded honour shamefully misplaced,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly doctor-like controlling skill,
And simple truth miscall’d simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.


Armed with that information, I naturally set forth to creat an Enuig of my own, and chose as my topic “Waste”, because very few things irritate or enrage me more.

While she was not the only one, I once had a house mate — years ago now — who ran the power bills sky-high by sitting up all night every night — after sleeping all day every day — and burning lights all over the house. She also messed with the thermostats, used up the LP gas by burning the gas brick in the fireplace, used up all of the firewood, and simply refused to economize in any way, shape or form — all while living under my roof (I was supposed to be helping her through a limited rough patch, and it just got out of hand) and paying not a cent toward any of the utilities. She is no longer a housemate, and will never be again, and while the problems she posed went far beyond over-consumption and under-compensation, those traits alone were — worthy enuig inspiration.


Behold the wastrel, evening’s candle lit
As dawn approaches and the night is done,
And sparing not the taper, leaving it
To gutter there, it’s flicker serving none.
The fire burns bright upon a summer hearth
Where no spit turns, nor simmering pot awaits,
And tinder wanes as Luna sinks to earth,
And candles all are gone like squandered fates.
He offers not a penny’s recompense
Nor hatchet lifts the kindling to replace.
She leaves the meal to spoil, and insolence
Leaves marks of scorn upon a sullen face.
They that spare not to serve a later grace,
Leave those to learn the consequence of waste.

[21 October, 2014]


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