‘Lying like an epitaph’ is one adage which cannot be adduced in the normal sense to Henry’s epitaph on the Meusan plates, because it was not written by others but by himself. As we saw in the elucidation of the Gesta Stephani, Henry Blois needs his legacy in history to be that of a good man. He is very vain in the way he wants to control his own legacy and genuinely feels others in posterity should see him as the benevolent Venerable Bishop.
We can say exactly the same for the following poetical piece as Henry’s vanity extended to being remembered well:
When the hastening light has withdrawn at the setting of the sun,
Henry, the noble Bishop, is dead.
The fading hours of his life worry us,
He has passed free from his bodily prison.
What is his death here but a passing or escape from death?
For whom after this life, will be everlasting?
The people without a pastor, over such a funeral for their father
Shall weep, senseless, and feel pain at having outlived him now.
The monks shall raise complaints, draw out sighs.
Henceforth the clergy shall bedew their faces and cheeks with tears.
Deadly rumour stirs each sex to mourn,
Everywhere casting down old sorrows,
Whatever age appears how much more mature.
As piety compels, is turned to tears.
All to be pained, recall a source of equal grief,
No one is believed to be equal to such a man.
He, renowned in morals, famous in life on birth,
He makes no one his pedigree with nobility.
Judge of justice, law, and patron of faith,
What is right, whatever is wrong he took long care to know.
Among priests, on the pulpit,
Exalted, he taught whomever, as seemed fitting.
How wise, how fluent he was in sermon
And brief in eloquence, scarcely either my reason
Or sermon shows, I double in this way, strong in gift:
He was the Cicero of our time,
Son of the generous stock of Kings, gem of parents,
And he was a glory of the world, the summit of religion.
The guide of the Kingdom, the defence and hope of the powerful,
Staff of the weak, loving covenant of peace.
Rome, head of the world, rich in foreign treasures,
Has been made wealthier by his gift.
The cities of Italy, which are from the Alps within,
Hold famous the name of Noble Henry,
But the land of his birth first was Gaul
He knew his plan and work for a long time.
His direction subjected to the direction of his kind.
In no part was he empty of the honour of his praise,
So that I may reveal the truth, which I have seen in our time,
All England obeyed his rule.
Shall I report each one? Which are greater in the narration,
Greater the series, by the purpose of the theme,
But how much this my brief letter requires an end.
I wish to add enough, few notes, to many.
Tell me the pontiff who functioned with so much honour,
How he conquered the flesh, how he overcame it?
A model of life, his radiance shines on in the world,
Free of blemish, by the ornament of modesty,
The fleeting seductions of pleasure do not tempt his mind.
A love of levity claimed none of that.
Honourably, he relieved hunger for the bread and thirst for drink,
What remains shall be cut short, he rejoices only to love.
In great wealth, in a heap of riches,
He was generous to the poor and sparing with himself.
Whatever he kept in his time, he raised prayer
For the utility of nature, reason alone the reigns.
He extended the habits of virtue to every condition
He thought that it were wicked to fall into vice.
Strict rest, humble sleep, continuous fast,
Press upon you lest your limbs swell from sleep.
Oh grief! He is your, Oh grace, rich foster son!
Ripped from us, the world pains at his loss.
Death has no rule over him, because it withdraws conquered,
Life rejoices that he is the victor.