The miniatures images from MS A are not included in this digital edition, but are available in the print version. Barton Palmer Editor. Que di je? Et je les ay si bien apris Que puis en un seul ne mespris. Certes, et ce est bien drois, Car il li vient de droite ligne; Pour ce en ce cas pas ne forligne. Mais toudis, quant elle donnoit, Ses dons sagement ordonnoit Et savoit certeinnement quoy, Quant, comment, a qui, et pour quoy.
Et sa grant douceur a nul fuer Ne se departoit de mon cuer, Car sa demeure et son sejour Y faisoit de nuit et de jour. Et ce tenoit mon cuer en joie, Car quant ce Dous Regart veoie, En moy ne prenoit son repaire Riens qui fust a joie contraire. Nompourquant, quant de son regart Sentoie le tres dous espart, Je perdoie toute vigour Par sa force et par sa rigour, Et me faisoit teindre et palir, Fremir, trambler, et tressaillir. Mais la teste encline comme ours, Recevoie son dous voloir, Fust de joie, fust de doloir, Humblement comme amis parfais Amoureus par dis et par fais.
Car chanters est nez de leece De cuer, et plours vient de tristece. The man who thinks to master any art Must attend to twelve matters. First, he must choose something Toward which his heart most draws And his nature most inclines him. For he cannot bring to a satisfactory end Whatever he undertakes grudgingly Because Nature will be his enemy.
Let him love his master as well as his craft Above all else; and he is called upon To honor, obey, and serve them both, Not considering himself their slave, For should he love them, they will love him in turn, While enmity will only earn from them the same. Otherwise he cannot work to his profit. Let him receive instruction humbly, Taking care to follow that path, For it is difficult to retain knowledge Since it is easily forgotten When not put into practice. Let him be dedicated, thoughtful, and eager, And in this way wisdom will come his way. And let him begin this undertaking in youth Before his heart should turn toward sinfulness Through too much experience, For the true state of innocence Properly resembles a tablet White and blank that, offering No impediment, can receive Whatever one wishes to paint or portray.
And innocence is exactly like wax, Which allows one to write thereupon While retaining the image or imprint In the precise form inscribed.
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And surely it is just the same With the true form of human understanding, Which has the capacity to absorb Whatever one wishes and can conceive, Whatever task can be set for it: Arms, love, the other arts, or letters. Now nothing can be too difficult For understanding, so inclined, to master, Providing the man makes the effort and perseveres, According to what I have described here above.
My heart knew no stability; What I saw was all the same to me, Save that my heart and all my thoughts Were always fixed on My lady, whom every man reputes As superior to all other women. The whole world rightly grants her this title.
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And through her art, Love, who sets ablaze Many a noble heart, accomplished this, Namely that, when first I saw my lady, Her great beauty ravished my heart. And when set to burning with love for her, I was a young man who knew nothing, For there was much I needed to learn Should I decide to follow this course. What am I saying? And my heart wished that I were Completely hers, which was my wish too, And so I followed what those eyes advised.
These are the instructions and precepts Love announced and explained When putting me under her wing. And taking them very much to heart, I henceforth violated nary a one. Furthermore, my lady so sweet, Whom I desire and love upon my soul From the heart, with no improper thoughts, More than Paris did Helen, Was a mirror and exemplar to me For desiring and then doing all that is virtuous.
And because of the goodness I saw in her, I strove with all my might after the good And refrained, as much As I could, from improper Behavior, for her virtue gave me The heart and will to do so. And truly I can very well say She is the fountain and well of humility; No turtledove he or she , No lamb, pigeon, or little dove, No maiden or young girl Could be more free from pridefulness, Nor more graced with humility, And pity as well, Everywhere and at all times Than she. And her assured manner, Praised by all women and men, Her appealing demeanor, her noble bearing, Which have no equal in my view, Just as the master gives instruction to the child, These taught me how to conduct myself.
Thinking of them — and only that — urged Me oftentimes to improve my actions, manner, And behavior when I was distant from her And her qualities came to mind. And her gracious speech, Neither unfriendly nor foolish, Neither distant nor malicious, Not haughty, but carefully moderated, Showing good and proper judgment, Based completely on reason, So pleasant and sweet to the ear It made every man rejoice, Put a halter on my mouth To keep silent about everything That might be thought slanderous, But I was encouraged to speak what was worthy.
For no man should say of another What he does not wish to hear said of him.
She forbid me from blathering on, Asking that my talk be appropriate, Void of boasting and grandiosity, Falsehood and flattery. And Truth seeks out no calculating rhetoric And has no truck with foolish distortion. Her honor and impressive courtliness Barred me from vile behavior And guided me to honor Everyone, while valuing myself but little. For the man acting honorably obtains honor, Not the one honored by the deed.
And if the Gospel is no lie, He who exalts himself is the one humbled, And whoever humbles himself is exalted. She was unacquainted with foolish generosity, With the simplemindedness of cupidity, With the suffering brought on by avarice, Which in the human heart is a great vice. Always, instead, when she gave a gift, She was careful about what she bestowed, And, to be sure, in this giving she considered what, When, how, to whom, and for what reason. She gave unhesitatingly and from the heart, Which made her presents more valuable, For he who gives quickly, gives twice. Indeed no man ever possesses honor enough To preserve what he treasures from destruction If he consents to it and thereby forfeits Reason, honor, soul, good name, and reputation.
And at no time did her great sweetness Desert my heart, but there Found its home and resting place Both day and night. And just as sweet balm soothes The pain from a wound And eases it, her great sweetness Worked to alleviate the agony Love and Desire then caused me, For these launched many a hard assault, And I did not cry out, nor did I moan Because I felt no pain or distress; Instead I bore everything with humility, A good heart, and pleasantness. And her look, quite sweet and favoring, Drew my heart in that direction Through its delightful appeal, Just as the magnet pulls iron toward it.
And this kept my heart full of joy, For when I glimpsed this Sweet Look Nothing contrary to that joy Made its home within me. And her mode of dress, noble, beautiful, and fair, Which is, as everyone says, Unpretentious, stylish, elegant, and striking, Showed me and shows me still That my clothes should be attractive, Proper and refined, neither too fancy Nor too plain, for whoever over-dresses, Surely does not make an appealing appearance. For the best path to keep on, If you can do so, is the middle way. And so her exceptional virtuousness And her unblemished humility, Her manner, which was never flighty, Her sophisticated demeanor, her assured bearing, Her appealing speech, her sharp sense of honor, Her courtliness, lacking any flaw, Her unbounded generosity.
Her grace brimming with friendliness, Her sweet look, her unsullied beauty, And her appearance too manifested to me Both appealing doctrine and substantial goodness, And I took it all very much to heart. And even though I observed all her noteworthy Qualities and could match them but little, It could not be I found no profit there; Otherwise I should have fared quite badly.
But had I made these good qualities my own, I would not be willing to say much about it, For praise rings hollow in the mouth Of the one who speaks it of himself. Nonetheless, not boasting or speaking out of turn, And in order only to praise her, I intend to say the following: If in all my life I amount to anything, The source, to speak the truth, is the lady To whom I grant heart, body, and soul. Thus the very noble teaching, so precious And subtle, of that beautiful woman In whom all virtuous doctrine is to be found, Was what instructed me. And for a long time I served her From the heart and in a loving way, Attending to nothing else Save the love that drew me there.
And she was ignorant Of how she had taken me prisoner, For nothing could have led me to reveal The love in my heart, or speak of it, Nor could I have confessed this to her Even had I so wished or known how; Instead I bore this love in secret, Keeping it hidden, Uttering no moan or complaint, So smitten with love for her I was.
Nevertheless, when I felt the sparks From her glance, and this was so delectable, What strength I had was overcome By its insistence and power, Which made me pale and flush, Shake, tremble, and quake. Many wounds kept me in pain: One hour was delightful, the next unpleasant, One pleasant, the next rife with misery, One sad, the other filled with happiness.
For the heart sensing the shaft of Love Never finds itself in just one state And is assured neither joy nor suffering. Instead it must trace the path Laid out by the destiny Love determined.
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And since I never found myself In one state, I set myself the task Of composing chansons and lays , Ballades , rondeaux , virelais , And songs as my emotions inspired me, As these were of love and nothing else. For whoever does not compose from what he feels Produces inauthentic writing and song; Yet in my situation I could not Reveal to my lady, Who seemed so beautiful an enchanting presence As I composed, those pangs of love I endured.
And my heart sensed great pleasure In writing a song to her praise And honor, whenever my lady Inspired me through the love I bore her.
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For a song finds its source in the joy The heart feels, and sadness makes tears flow. And because Sweet Thought Found itself enclosed within my heart, Along with Memory, Good Hope And Loyalty, in whom I placed all my trust And nowhere else, I composed The following verse, which is called a lay : see note see note see note ; see note see note see note see note see note see note t-note see note t-note see note see note see note see note t-note t-note see note see note t-note see note see note see note see note see note fol.
Seulement de leur ramembrance. Ce say je bien. Car tuit li autre assez longnet Estoient mis en. Et les merveilles, les deduis, Les ars, les engins, les conduis, Les esbas, les estranges choses Qui estoient dedens encloses Ne saroie jamais descrire. Si me mis outre la haiette Sus la fonteinne clere et nette, Ou mon vis lavay et mes yex.
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Si commensai en tel maniere: LAY I. And this will always be the case, Though she knows nothing of it. And this I am eager to endure. Yet I could find no way to manage doing so, With my heart so sorely pressed And trembling with fear. And had her glance been bitter, Or her look, or her manner, Or the words she spoke, or anything else, I truly think I should Have expired right on the spot, So terrified I was of forfeiting her favor, Not because she then belonged to me, But because I hoped she would. And this is why I dared ignore Her command and spoke nary a word.
Instead he should always be as forthright As he can manage. And this made my heart so miserable I was at a loss for words, unsure Whether to speak the truth or tell some lie. And so, as if in a dream, I was borne away into deep thoughts And departed from the presence Of my honored lady, waiting no longer; Not responding, I did not ask for leave, For then I did not know either Where I was or what I should do.
And, sighing at parting this way, I began to cry with such abandon My heart, completely undone, Melted away in tears and weeping. And for all the world, I could not Have held back the wave Of these tears from running Of their own accord down my face. Now in one way I was quite fortunate, For, save us two, not a soul was present To witness what took place Or figure out what it meant. I moved off at a quick pace So that if encountering anyone I would not stop even briefly, Eager as I was for no one to witness My tears and the gloominess I felt.
For some time I walked along in this state, Never escaping my thoughts Until I spied a quite attractive garden Called the Park of Hesdin. I made straight for the spot, Never halting until I came up to The place, but I was unable To go inside because of the high walls That encircled it all around; And the path was not open To every man and woman.
Even so I followed the trails And walkways I noticed on the ground As far as a gate then closed , Which was located in a byway quite lovely And appealing, at a far remove from people. And there was a small wicket, Whose latch I lifted; And, raising it, I entered in. But I saw nary a soul inside, Which pleased me, for my wish Was to be entirely alone if I could. Entering the place, as was my intention, And observing I was all by myself, I closed and locked the wicket. And I wandered across the rolling country Until chancing upon a valley Where I spied a fountain Quite beautiful and clear-running, Ringed by trees and grass; And all around had grown up A small hedge of wild roses.
But I noticed no walkway or path That was well-used and beaten-down, Nothing but thick, sharp-bladed grass.