Laie de Mort de Tristan de Lennois

 1A similar expression occurs in Mr. Lockhart’s beautiful translation of the Spanish ballad of Don Rodrigo, “Amada enemiga mia!”
 
2Supposed to be Thomas of Ercildoune, the Rhymer.
 
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Laie de Mort de Tristan de Lennois

from: Specimens of the Early Poetry of France (Pp. 294 - 296)  1835

Je fis jadis chançons et laies.
Time was this harp could softly swell,
  Love tuned its strings in sweet accord,
But now they only wake to tell
  The sorrow of their lord.
 
Oh Love! a vassal true and tried
  This faithful heart has been to thee,
Why giv’st thou life to all beside,
  And only death to me?
 
The promised joys but sorrow bring,
  Like morning skies whose glories call
The flowers to bloom, the birds to sing,
  Then cast a cloud o’er all:
 
The lover all his danger knows,
  Yet shrinks not from the dread of ill,
We know that thorns surround the rose,
  Yet seek her beauties still.
 
Like one who nursed a sleeping snake,
  Enchanted with each glittering die,
I watched the hour that bade thee wake
  To find thy treachery.
 
Yseult, oh thou, my lovely foe!1
  When closed at length is all my care
Come to the tomb where I lie low
  And read engraven there:
 
“Here rests a knight in arms renown’d,
    Blush not a passing tear to shed,
No peer in faithful love he found,
  And yet by love is dead!”
 
 
 
 
  The account of the ‘miracle’ attending the tombs of Tristan and Iseult, who were buried near together, is very poetical, and may have suggested to Lord Byron his beautiful lines on the undying rose on the tomb of Zuleika: Gouvernail, the faithful tutor of Tristan, goes to visit the tomb, and there finds his favourite hound, Hudan, guarding it. “Ores veit il que la tumbe de Tristam yssoit une belle ronce verte et feuillée qui alloit par la chapelle et descendoit le bout de la ronce sur la tumbe d’Yseult et entroit dedans.” Mark, the king of Cornouailles, had it cut three times in vain: “le lendemain estoit aussi belle comme elle avoit ci-devant été et ce miracle étoit sur Tristan et sur Yseult a tout jamais advenir.                                                                      Rom. de Tristan
 
  I have been informed by M. Francisque Michel that the above passage does not exist in the original romance of Tristan, of which he is preparing an authentic version, which will doubtless be most valuable. The legend, however, is so pleasing that I cannot resolve to leave it unmentioned, if only for the association with Lord Byron’s exquisite poem. It may take its place, probably, in the opinion of competent judges, with the spurious poems of Clothilde the Surville, which lately created so much interest in France, although it required little knowledge to reject them altogether as fabrications.
  Warton says that Marie’s was not the only collection of British (Armorican) lais, as appears not only from the Earl of Thoulouse, but by the romance of Emare, a translation from the French, which has this similar passage :
 
Thys ys on of Brytayne’s layes
That was used of olde dayes.
 
  Chaucer, in his Dreme, has copied the lay of Elidue by Marie.
  Brangian, the favourite attendant of Yseult, is frequently mentioned in the romance: in Gower’s Confessio Amantis her name occurs:
 
In every man’s mouthe it is
How Trystram was of love dronke
With Beal Isowde, when they dronke
The drynk whiche Brangueyn him bytoke,
Er that king Mark, &c.
             fol. Caxton, 1493, lib. vi .fol .c.xxxix.
 
Roberte de Brunne, speaking of the romance of Sir Tristram, says that
 
Over gestes it has th’esteem:
Over all that is or was,
If men it said, as made Thomas2.