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The Dream of Bernat Metge

Shortly after I had been put in jail –not for any crimes of which my persecutors and the jealous could convict me but, as it has since then been clearly shown to their shame, only because of the injustice done to me, or perhaps of some secret judgement of God- one Friday around midnight, I was studying in the room where I usually stayed and which was witness to my thoughts. At that time a great desire to sleep came over e, and so I stood a while and paced to and fro in that same room but, suddenly overcome by drowsiness, I had to lie down on the bed, and all at once, without undressing, I fell asleep, not in the usual way, but as the sick or the hungry sleep.

As I slept, it seems that there appeared to me a man of middling stature and noble visage, dressed in crimson plush embroidered with double crowns of gold, and with a red hat on his head. He was accompanied by two very tall men. One was young, very handsome, and he held in his hands a rota; the other was very old, with a long beard and no eyes, and he held a staff in his hand. And all around the two there were many falcons, goshawks and dogs of all kinds, crying and howling most hideously.

After I had had a good look at them, and especially at the man of middling stature, it seemed to me that I was seeing my lord King John of Aragon, of glorious memory, who had shortly before passed away from this life, and whom I served for a long time. But not knowing who this was, I was terribly afraid. Then, he said to me: ‘Leave off being afraid, for I am the one you think'. When I heard him speak, I recognized him at once. Then, still shaking, I said: ‘O my lord, how can you be here? Did you not die the other day?'

I did not die, ‘he said, ‘but only left the flesh to its mother, and returned the spirit to God who had given it to me.'

‘How so the spirit?' I said. ‘I cannot believe that the spirit is anything that can gob y a way other than that of the flesh.'

‘Well then,' he said, ‘what do you think I am? Don't you know that the other day I passed away from the life of the body, in which I was?'

‘I have heard it said, I answered, ‘but now I do not believe it, for if you were dead, you would not be here, and so I suppose that you are alive. But people will talk as much as they want to, for they always enjoy something new, and especially a new lord. Or else, for a bad joke that someone wanted to play, the rumour of your death was put about.'

‘The rumour', he said, ‘is true, that I have paid my debt to nature. And it is my spirit that s speaking with you.'

‘My lord, you can say to me what you will. But, speaking to you with all due respect, I shall not believe that you are dead, for dead men do not speak.'

‘It is true,' he said, ‘that the dead do not speak, but the spirit does not die, so it is no impossible for it to speak.'


Translated by Richard Vernier
, The Dream of Bernat Metge. The Dream of Bernat Metge, Translated with an introduction and notes by Richard Vernier, Burgington: Ashgate, 2002, 3-4.
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