Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne


Abbreviations: BD: Chaucer, Book of the Duchess, ed. Benson; DMF: Analyse et Traitement Informatique de la Langue Française Dictionnaire de Moyen Français; LGW: Chaucer, Legend of Good Women, ed. Benson; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis; Hassell: Hassell, Middle French Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; JRB: Machaut, Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne; JRN: Machaut, Le Jugement dou Roy de Navarre; OM: Ovide Moralisé, ed. Cornelis de Boer; RR: Roman de la Rose, trans. Dahlberg; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Benson.

1–40 Au temps pascour . . . . ne le porroire. This section draws explicitly on RR, in which the archetypal Lover similarly falls prey to the enticements of springtime. Here, however, Machaut radically transforms the structure by rejecting allegorical personages in favor of a confrontation between two human characters.

27 “Ocy! Oci!”. “Ocy” is not a sound that birds were, at least conventionally, thought to make in Middle French. The word, however, is the imperative form of the verb kill. Perhaps here the springtime birds sing out “Kill! Kill!” in acknowledgment of Love’s proverbial destructiveness, but it is difficult to pin down the precise meaning of the word in this context. It is also used in a number of sung virelais of this period that imitate birdsong (so-called “realistic” virelais).

28ff. Qu’en .i. destour . . . In Machaut’s hands, the idealized pastoral landscape familiar from RR becomes, as Ardis Butterfield explains, “a place of carefully defined seclusion” (“Pastoral,” p. 11). As in his other dits, Machaut’s “landscape is an isolated, wild area, difficult of access but placed within a courtly, civilized enclosure. Such a conjunction between the courtly and the wild is a characteristic pastoral relation and one exploited to the full by Spenser, for example, in his Bower of Bliss or in Froissart’s Paradys d’amours (“Pastoral,” p. 11).

41–1223 Mais tout einsi . . . . de ma partie. At this point, the narrator is displaced from his role as main character of the developing story and becomes, if only for a time, a clerkly witness (not himself of noble birth) to the debate between the two aristocratic figures. As part of a wider discussion connecting sight, power, and authorship, Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet describes the position of clerkly witness as passive, or impotent. She explains that it is the ear of the author that overhears conversations, the mouth of the author that relates them, and the hand of the author that records them, but the poet is denied sight, the most noble of the five senses. For a further discussion of the theme of a clerk listening from a concealed position, see Cerquiglini-Toulet, “L’ecriture louche,”pp. 25–27. It may be of interest to note that Jean de Luxembourg, himself was blind.

56ff. Mais quant amis . . . . This “first confrontation between the sorrowing knight and the equally distraught lady . . . leads to a second encounter scene between them and the poet, who finally brings about a third between them and the king as judge. In each situation the balance of social decorum subtly alters as the equally matched pair of grieving courtly lovers gives way first to the ingenuity of the clerical poet and then to the superior courtly authority of the king himself” (Butterfield, “Pastoral,” p. 10).

125 vij. ans ou .viij. entiers. The seven years marks the completion of the lover’s apprenticeship; the eighth year would start a new beginning, this time into rewards. Compare BD, lines 37–38, where the protagonist has suf fered sickness for “this eight yere” [eighth year], yet his “bote is never the nere” [unfulfilled].

125–205 Sire il a . . . . je me dueil. The debate proper begins at this point, with the lady’s long account of her experience with love.

126 sers et rentiers. The lady describes herself as the “serf and vassal,” a theme which frequently recurs in the poem (e.g., the knight’s description of himself as his lady’s “vassal” in line 279) and also in other works.

130–32 Cuer, corps, povoi . . . . En son servage. Compare Alceone’s vow to sacrifice herself “with good wille, body, herte, and al” (BD, line 116) to Juno for word of the missing king, Ceyx. Her sacrificial pledge of thralldom to Love is repeated by the Black Knight in, line 768, “with good entente” (line 766).

148–76 Et je l’amoie . . . . En nos amours. As William Calin notes, the lady and her lover’s relationship was “successful, honest and genuine . . . [and] could only be destroyed by powers beyond human control” (Poet at the Fountain, p. 44). Compare her story to the description of the knight’s account of his love affair, where we hear mainly of “frustration, anguish and protracted love-service”(p. 44).

156–59 Tous mes confors . . . . mes ressors. Compare Chaucer’s TC 3.477–81: he was “a wal / Of stiel and sheld from every displesaunce, / . . . she was namore afered.”

169–76 Tuit d’un acort . . . . en nos amours. Compare BD, lines 1288–97, on the lovers being so well-matched a pair. They suffered “oo blysse and eke oo sorwe bothe” (line 1293) and were both glad and upset as a single being.

177–208 Lasse, dolente . . . . Cheï com morte. Here, the sickness and longing for death caused by disappointed love is described in detail. It also recurs elsewhere in the poem (e.g., in line 719) and in other works, such as RR.

220–30 Qu’elle est pasmee . . . . par loiaument amer. In this section, the lady faints and the knight sprinkles dew on her face to revive her. Perhaps this implies a courtly “baptism,” especially considering the implications of love’s capacities of restoration. Such fainting scenes are common in courtly literatures for both women and men. Compare TC 3.1086–92 (Troilus’ swoon) and 4.1150–80. (Criseyde’s swoon).

259–880 Dont vous diray . . . . qui me martyre. Here the lover offers his account of the suffering inflicted by his faithless ladylove. James Wimsatt, Chaucer and His French Contemporaries, suggests that “in presenting a perfidious lady and stating that the knight suffered more . . . than the lady whose gentle lover had died, Machaut evidently stimulated a protest from at least one great lady, perhaps Bonne of Luxembourg” (p. 161), which prompted him to write JRN. The name of Bonneürté from JRN is “particularly suggestive” (p. 323n19). This problem is similar to that which Chaucer had with some noble ladies in his audience’s criticism of his portrayal of Criseyde (p. 161). For another explanation see Wimsatt’s “Preface” to this volume (pp. ix–xv).

As Katherine Heinrichs, Myths of Love, remarks that the formal structure of the poem is “odd.” Heinrichs accounts for this structural asymmetry by suggesting that it is here and in Reason’s later response to the knight (lines 1755–84) that the “real matière” of the poem is located: “Machaut’s emphasis is not really upon [the lovers] or the jugement, [they] merely furnish . . . the witty pretext for a discussion of the causes and consequences of misplaced spiritual allegiance” (pp. 184–88).

286–452 Si en choisi . . . . son dous viaire. The long portrait of the lady’s appearance, her dancing, laughter and song follow a love poetry convention, as much illustrative of the lover’s devotion as of the charms possessed by the object of his desire. As J. J. Anderson, “Man in Black,” makes clear, the description of White in Chaucer’s BD draws heavily on this passage. See BD, lines 847–54.

302–95 Car si cheveus . . . . maintien estoit paree. The lady is described in a “head-to foot- portrait,” a traditional rhetorical device in medieval descriptions of ideal beauty (Kibler and Wimsatt, “Question of His Personal Supervision”).

305 Blanc et poly. Compare the extrametrical riddling on the countenance of “the good faire White” in BD: “Hyt was whit, smothe, streght . . .” (line 942) and she “was whit, rody, fressh and lyvely hewed” (line 905).

319–35 Tous pleins de . . . . il cheoit proprement. Here love is described using the language of hunting, a trope that recurs several times throughout the poem (e.g., lines 428–35, 517–20, and 1237–39), as well as a reminder of the call of the birds in the opening stanza (line 27).

321–35 Et s’estoient clungnetant . . . . il cheoit proprement. On the piercing potential of the beloved’s eyes, see the opening lines of Chaucer’s “Merciles Beaute”: “your yen two wol slee me sodenly; / I may the beautee of hem not sustene.” The idea is echoed in lines 433–34. See RR, lines 1688–1718, where love’s darts pierce Amans through the eye, and strike deep into his heart.

409–27 Si que, dame . . . . plaire li deüsse. In this section, the knight claims that his lady’s beauty has left a physical impression on his heart. TC, RR and CA also describe wounds as a physical effect of love.

421 Othevien. Grandnephew of Julius Caesar, Octavian (63 BCE–14 CE), is better known as Augustus Caesar, the name he took after becoming the first emperor of Rome. His reign was marked by lavish expenditures on public buildings and the road system of the empire. Octavian was also a generous patron of the arts.

422 Galien. Galen, who lived c. 130–200, was the most noted physician of the ancient world. Born of Greek parents in Asia Minor, he moved in his early thirties to Rome, where he eventually became court physician to the emperor Marcus Aurelius. A remarkable polymath, Galen was the author of more than five hundred writings, mostly on human physiology, but on other topics as well, including philosophy.

457–82 Et d’autre part . . . . me faisoit esperer. In this passage, the knight refers to a number of allegorical figures, including Fair Welcome and Sweet Hope. However, unlike those who appear in the trial scene (see note to line 1484), they do not interact with other characters. Instead, “the Knight evokes these figures only to proceed to other matters . . . they serve but to underscore the Knight’s anguish” (Calin, Poet at the Fountain, p. 46). When drawing attention to the links between Machaut and John Gower, Peter Nicholson, shows how these figures are part of the heritage of the conventions of RR. Poets such as Machaut and Gower who were self-consciously departing from the tradition nonetheless retained elements such as these figures, the setting of the garden and so on. For more details, see Nicholson, Love and Ethics, pp. 3–40.

671–83 Et elle aussi . . . . et li rois. A euphoric interlude of mutual joy in new love before Fortune turns her wheel further. Compare TC 3.450–83.

684 Fortune. The figure of the goddess Fortune (Fortuna) derives from one of the best-known works of the Middle Ages, Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy (c. 525). The ancient Roman worshiped Fortuna, the personification of luck, but Boethius assigns her a more important role in human affairs, making her responsible for the apparently random and capricious distribution of goods to human beings. Those she favors climb up on the wheel she holds as a symbol of her power, but the wheel, ever turning, eventually throws them off into the mud, depriving them of the benefits that they had previously enjoyed.

725–860 Car il m’est . . . . D’ore en avant. See note to lines 457–82 above. Again, allegorical figures are mentioned but only in passing.

745–54 Chascun deçoit et . . . . seur li commandement. Instead of blaming his lady for his unhappiness, the knight chooses to blame Fortune who appears in this section as an allegorical character. The classic presentation of the jealous lover is Jean de Meun’s (RR lines 8425–9462), who is more violent than Machaut’s lover. Gower’s Amans is more akin to Machaut in the subtleties of his disappointment in CA 3.865–930; Gower’s Genius defines Jealousy in CA 5.455–578.

749–822 Le ferai je . . . . dolours ne doy. The lover demonstrates both his virtue and his intellectual finesse in his extend ed meditation on the cause of his suffering. Should he blame Love or his lady? He decides that neither is actually at fault, thereby showing his loyalty to both the divinity and his beloved.

881–928 Certes, sire, pas . . . . Selonc nature. Here the dialogue resumes and the lady responds to the knight’s story, explaining that she is more tormented than he is because there is the possibility that he can win his lover back, whereas for her, this is impossible.

963 Nés que feroit .i. estuef seur .i. toit. A tennis reference. The medieval game was played on indoor courts with roofed galleries. Balls hit on the roof that rolled back down were still in play.

1000–01 Car nourreture . . . . et passe nature. Proverbial; see Hassell N35. Also referred to by Froissart in Le trésor amoureux (lines 2649–53) and in Christine de Pizan’s Mutacions de fortune (lines 5801–02).

1002–03 Et toudis va . . . leux au bois. Proverbial. See Hassell L101. Also referred to by Froissart in Le joli buisson de jonece (lines 1380–87).

1007 serai matez en l’angle point. Literally “caught in the sharp angle . . .” This is a metaphor from chess.

1071 Et n’arreste ne que fueille de tramble. A very popular proverbial phrase. See Hassell F75.

1074 au feu, a la table. As Kibler and Wimsatt, “Question of His Personal Supervision,” note, this image “suggest[s] the conventional presentation of the month of January in medieval picture calendars, in which the dining table and the fire are the foci of activity” (p. 486).

1081–87 Einsi est il . . . . tost se part. The lover, understandably, here charges his lady with fickleness and instability, two of the conventional “truths” about women in the misogynistic traditions.

1185–98 Et quant je . . . . j’iroie a eaus. Long a silent witness to the debate between two people of higher rank, the narrator now feels summoned to action by the difficulty they are experiencing in finding a judge to decide between them. See Andreas Capellanus, The Art of Courtly Love, as a model for love debates requiring a judge. The literary genre is discussed in the introduction to this volume (pp. 14–17).

1204–13 Le petit chien . . . . paour son abay. Kibler and Wimsatt, “Question of His Personal Supervision,” point out that” there are very few small domestic dogs in medieval fiction. Tristan’s Petitcreu is one, but he is a fairy dog, quite unreal, whereas Machaut’s dog, as Chaucer’s after him, acts in a naturalistic manner” (p. 486). Compare the dog’s behavior to the bird in lines 25–32 who leads the narrator onto the solitary path where he overhears the conversation between the lady and the knight.

1267–84 Et je li dis . . . . chief en chief. Here, as Kevin Brownlee, Poetic Identity, notes, the re-telling of the beginning of the poem functions as “a process of textual self-authentification . . . The main narrative thread of the Behaingne thus becomes, in summary form, a secondary narrative embedded in itself. The process of what might be called narrative doubling will be repeated several times in the course of the poem” (pp. 161–62). See the introduction for further discussion on this point (pp. 29–30).

1293 .I. chevalier qui moult fait a amer. This laudatory portrait of Jean de Luxembourg, king of Bohemia, is one of several in Machaut’s works. See the extended passage devoted to Jean in Machaut’s Prise d’Alixandre, lines 989–1058 in Volume 6 of Guillaume de Machaut: The Complete Poetry and Music.

1297 Alixandre. Alexander the Great (356–323 BCE) was king of Macedon and conqueror of much of Asia Minor in the Middle East.

Hector. Hector, the son of Priam, king of Troy, is one of the principal characters of Homer’s Iliad, and in the tradition of Virgil, Godfrey of Monmouth, and Anglo-Norman literature, the hero of the poem.

1327 Ovides. Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BCE–18 CE), usually known as Ovid, was one of the most celebrated poets of ancient Rome. His works on love, particularly Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love), a guidebook for prospective lovers, exerted a great influence on the writers of the Middle Ages.

1337 roys de Behaingne. For further discussion of Jean de Luxembourg, king of Bohemia, see the introduction (pp. 3–4).

1362–442 Je respondi . . . . dist qu’il iroit. In this section the narrator switches back and forth between the clerkly witness of the story and an individual with “an explicitly extradiegetic dimension” (Brownlee, Poetic Identity, p. 162), where Machaut’s intimate knowledge of Jean, his habits, and his residence overlap with the story. Here, the speaking “I” is “simultaneously within and without . . . the narrative he recounts” (p. 164): the narrator is a participant as he leads the knight and the lady up to the castle door, but speaks as Machaut when he describes the customs of castle life.

1366 Durbui. Durbuy, one of Jean’s favorite residences, is now a small city in the Belgian province of Luxembourg. See also note to lines 1379–92 and 1394 below.

1379–92 Et quant il . . . . En la contree. The castle mentioned here had just been reconstituted by Jean when this poem was composed during the 1330s. The site, on an outcropping of limestone, was first fortified in the 900s and had been completely destroyed in local warfare in 1317, requiring Jean to rebuild it. The castle still stands and was thoroughly refurbished in 1882.

1394 iaue. The reference here is to the Durthe, which flows through the city of Durbuy, granted its charter by Jean in 1331.

1443 Mais tout einsi com de nou se partoit. At this point, the narrator ceases to play an active role in the plot and returns to his previous position of clerkly witness.

1474 .i. clerc que nommer ne saroie. Both Brownlee, Poetic Identity, pp. 165–66, and Kibler and Wimsatt, “Question of his Personal Supervision,” pp. 8–10, draw attention to the anonymous clerk in Jean’s entourage who is reading out loud to the king. Almost as soon as the narrator draws attention to him, he is immediately dismissed, which must be a self-referential and ironic moment of awareness on Machaut’s part.

1475 Qui li lisoit la bataille de Troie. Poets, such as Christine de Pizan, Froissart, and Machaut himself saw themselves as “advisors of princes and sages,” not as entertainers; the creators of “books, not performances.” Cerquiglini-Toulet, Color of Melancholy, reminds us of the status of books as texts to be read, as well as “beautiful objects” which were bought and collected by princes (pp. 40–41).

1484 Cil .xvj. Sylvia Huot compares these allegorical figures to those who appear in the JRN, lines 1152–54: “from a self-indulgent idealization of aristocratic life in terms of chivalric prowess, youthful pleasures, wealth, and leisure, we have moved to the arena of moral and spiritual virtues. In this context, what is valorized is not the persistence of desire in the face of rejection, but rather the constancy of love and devotion in the face of death (“Patience in Adversity,” p. 232).

1509–608 Ci pres a . . . . Vous en prions. Here is another example of narrative doubling. This time, the knight is summarizing the plot of the poem for the benefit of the king. See note to lines 1267–84.

1595–96 Si comme il . . . . Y ci dessus. The nobleman’s playful and, in the con text, nonsensical reference to the “written” text of his encounter with the lady, calls attention to the poem’s fictionality, to the fact that it does not represent “real” experience. Later, Reason makes much the same kind of metafictional reference in line 1782.

1626–59 Cils chevaliers qui . . . . bien le savez. Another example of narrative doubling. Now the king is re-telling the story of the knight and the lady to his allegorical jury. See note to lines 1267–84.

1665–723 je di que . . . . fuer la dolour. Reason’s argument to this point may be readily summarized: (1) because the lady’s lover is beyond recovery, Reason will work to make her forget him, an attachment to the dead being an unreasonable state; (2) Youth, preoccupied with jollity and the pleasures of the present, will also push the lady toward for get fulness; and (3) there is no love without sexual attraction and, in the absence of a body to love, it will disappear, especially since the soul is always ambivalent about the emotion, which is inherently sinful to some degree.

1668–69 Si com la . . . se degaste et empire. Proverbial. See Hassell C209.

1698–99 je ne donroie . . . une pomme porrie. Proverbial. See Hassell P232.

1724–79 Mai cils amis . . . . vous avez oÿ. Unlike the lady, so Reason argues, the lover is forced by Youth, Companionship, Beauty, Love, and Loyalty to continue in his affection for his faithless beloved, the constant sight of whom fills him with pain. And there is no relief possible since, even if his beloved took him back, he would no longer be able to trust her.

1782 Car en escript l’ay ci dessus trouvé. See note to line 1595–96 above.

1786–1811 Amours parla qui . . . . le fait doloir. Love agrees with Reason’s assessment of the lover’s suffering, but finds nothing extraordinary in the man’s inability to find secure happiness, for it is the fate of all lovers to serve without the expectation of meriting the reward of the lady’s favor.

1821–47 Loiauté se retrait . . . . dame a tort. Offended by the lady’s faithlessness, Loyalty sides with the nobleman, accepting Reason’s explanation of why his suffering is greater.

1848–91 Et quant Juenesse . . . . porte et soustient. At this point in the dispute, the question for which the court has been convened has been forgotten completely. Youth addresses instead the issue of the noble man’s situation and finds, much like Love, that it is hardly des per ate or regret table.

1892–1928 Lors s’avisa . . . . com moy samble. Though he himself admonishes Youth to allow the nobleman to abandon his attachment to an undeserving woman, the king reminds the court that they have other business to consider.

1929–56 Or estes vous . . . . Et de grevance. The knight is judged the winner in the debate, an indication, perhaps, of the greater power of male reasoning and discernment. It could be argued that the author who has created a fiction that so obviously favors men over women has insulted the gentler sex. Whether Machaut is guilty of this charge is the question that, with no little humor and irony, is debated in theThe Art of Courtly Love.

1968–88 Adont li rois . . . . de leur vie. After passing judgment, the king advises both the knight and the lady to avoid giving in to their grief. Wallowing in pain, he tells them, can lead to the death of the heart, as well as the self.

2012–43 Car Courtoisie . . . . gentil ne virent. The king’s entertainment of the knight and the lady has a number of points in common with King Sarpedoun’s hospitality to Pandarus and Troilus, and their leave taking in Chaucer’s TC, 5.435–48.

2040–51 Si se partirent . . . . a Durbui retournerent. The lady and the knight return to their homes after an eight-day stay with Jean. Although they both agree to accept the king’s judgment, Machaut leaves the question of whether they take his advice unanswered.

2052–54 Ci fineray . . . . a rimer ay. Here, for the first time, the narrator steps outside the poem to reveal himself as the poet, rather than as the character of a clerkly witness.

2055–66 Mais en la . . . . ne m’en prisera. Characteristically, Machaut signs his poems with an anagram to be solved by rearranging the letters of a verse or pair of verses. The solution to the anagram contained, as Machaut tells us, in the poem’s last line, is not straightforward. Once the required letters are removed to spell the invariable form Machaut, the ones which remain cannot spell Guillaume. However, as Ernest Hœpffner (“Anagramme,” p. 405) notes, the anagram can be successfully solved. He proposes the well-attested by-form Guillemin as a solution. In his article, he goes on to demonstrate that this same form is necessary to solve the similar anagram that closes Machaut’s Remede de Fortune.

Machaut makes his author ship part of the text, difficult either to ignore or to delete when copying or reading. For a similar example of an author riddling his name into the text, see John Gower’s Prologue to Book I of Vox Clamantis, lines 1.19–24, a device conceivably learned from Machaut.


Abbreviations: B: Paris, Bn,F fr. 1585; C: Paris, BnF, fr. 1586; D: Paris, BnF, fr. 1587; E: Paris, BnF, fr. 9221; F: Paris, BnF, fr. 22545; G: Paris, BnF, fr. 22546; H: Oeuvres de Guillaume de Machaut, ed. Ernest Hœpffner; J: Paris, Arsenal 5203; K: Berne, Burger-bibliothek 218; JRB: Machaut, Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne; JRN: Machaut, Le Jugement dou Roy de Navarre; M: Paris, BnF, fr. 843; MS: Paris, BnF, fr. 1584 [base text]; P: Paris, BnF, fr. 2166; Pm: New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, M. 396; R: Paris, BnF, fr. 2230; Vg: Cambridge, Parker Library, Ferrell 1 (formerly Vogüé Ferrell).

The JRN is found together with the JRB in eight Machaut manuscripts that contain only the works of the poet. These are, together with their customary sigla: Vg, B, D, E, F, M, MS, Pm. The JRB is found without the JRN in an additional twelve manuscripts (a complete listing can be found in Earp, A Guide to Research, p. 207). For a variety of reasons, one of these is an excellent, if early, witness to the JRB: C.

For reasons set out at some length in the introduction, this edition takes A (here MS) as an authoritative text for Machaut’s works, including the two dits and the lay included in this volume. Because of the unique authority of MS the practice has been to deviate from its readings only in clear cases of spelling error, scribal misinterpretation, and omissions or miswritings of various kinds (such as diplographies). In these cases, the reading of MS simply been corrected. In the case of the JRB, there are several passages of some length that have been neatly excised in MS’s version of the text; this “editing” can hardly be interpreted as other than deliberate, and since there is good reason to think that Machaut himself might have been involved in the preparation of this text (of the fair copy that was its basis), these lacunae, if that is what they are, have been supplied from C. In keeping with the minimal variant policy of this series, only semantically significant variants are here noted. Spelling variations or slight changes in word order are ignored. All deviations from the readings of MS, however, are accounted for here.

55 embuschiez. MS: embunschiez, due to spelling error.

61 que. MS: qui, due to spelling error.

114 avant. MS: avent, due to spelling error.

126 rentiers. MS: renties, due to spelling error.

187 durté. MS: dutte, due to spelling error.

202 Eimy. MS: einmy, due to extra nasal stroke.

287 solaus. MS: solans, due to spelling error.

323 pointure. MS: poiture, due to missing nasal stroke.

382 Que d’nature. MS: Quature, due to spelling error.

497 requerre. MS: requerir, due to spelling error.

525 annuy. MS: anny, due to spelling error.

627 qu’un. MS: cun, due to spelling error — homonym.

675 regnay. MS: resnay, due to spelling error.

688 Einsi. MS: Eins, due to spelling error.

742 qu’uns. MS: cuns, due to spelling error — homonym.

852 ç’a. MS: sa, due to spelling error — homonym.

933 ne pooie. So MS. M, C, B, D: ne savoie.

980–83 Quant je li . . . ne me marvoy. These verses are supplied from C.

994 venir. MS: veinr, due to spelling error.

1000–47 Car nourreture. . . pasmer me couvient. MS: omitted. These verses are supplied from C.

1065 espoir. MS: esporr, due to spelling error.

1158 pooir. MS: poir, due to spelling error.

1183 dites. MS: ditos, due to spelling error.

1187 refais. MS: refaie, due to spelling error.

1271 vraiement. MS: vraiemnt, due to spelling error.

1380 s’arrestoient. MS: arrestoient, due to spelling error.

1383 disoient. MS: disoiet, due to missing nasal stroke.

1402 Et l’aiue. MS: Etiaue, due to spelling error.

1437 aussi. MS: ossi, due to spelling error.

1453 aussi. MS: assi, due to spelling error.

1483 Jeunesse. MS: largesse, due to eyeskip. Reading supplied from C.

1530 c’iere. MS: siere, due to spelling error — homonym.

1538 durement. So MS. D, E: doucement.

1667 aimment. MS: amment, due to spelling error.

1682 Qu’une. MS: Cune, due to spelling error — homonym.

1816–19 Et qui vous. . . son guerredon pert. MS: omitted. These verses are supplied from C.

1831 haute game. So MS. F: fausse game.

1835 autrement. MS: autremnt, due to spelling error.

1861–84 N’iert ja partis. . . Qu’Amour ma dame. MS: omitted. These verses are supplied from C.

1899 n’amoit. So MS. C, B, D, E: avoit.

1906 recours. MS: recoues, due to spelling error.

1908 Car. MS: Ca, due to spelling error.

2015 durement. So MS. C, E: doucement, but gives inferior sense.

2043 Qu’eins. MS: Quenie, due to spelling error.

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Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne

Au temps pascour que toute riens s’esgaie,
Que la terre de mainte colour gaie
Se cointoie, dont pointure sans plaie
Sous la mamelle
Fait Bonne Amour a mainte dame bele,
A maint amant et a mainte pucelle;
Dont il ont puis mainte lie nouvelle
Et maint esmay,
A ce dous temps, contre le mois de may,
Par un matin cointement m’acesmay,
Com cils qui tres parfaitement amay
D’amour seüre.
Et li jours fu attemprez par mesure,
Biaus, clers, luisans, nés et purs, sans froidure.
La rousee par dessus la verdure
Si clerement que tout m’esbloïssoit
Quant mes regars celle part guenchissoit,
Pour le soleil qui dessus reluisoit.
Et cil oisel,
Pour la douceur dou joli temps nouvel,
Si liement et de si grant revel
Chantoient tui que j’alay a l’appel
De leur dous chant.
Si en choisi en l’air .i. voletant
Qui dessus tous s’en aloit glatissant:
“Ocy! Oci!” Et je le sievi tant
Qu’en .i. destour,
Sus .i. ruissel, pres d’une bele tour
Ou il avoit maint arbre et mainte flour
Souëf flairant, de diverse coulour,
S’ala seoir.
Lors me laissay tout belement cheoir
Et me coiti si bien, a mon povoir,
Sous les arbres, qu’il ne me pot veoir,
Pour escouter
Le tres dous son de son joli chanter.
Si me plut tant en oïr deliter
Son dous chanter, que jamais raconter
Ne le porroie.
Mais tout einsi, com je me delitoie
En son tres dous chanter que j’escoutoie,
Je vi venir par une estroite voie,
Pleinne d’erbette,
Une dame pensant, toute seulette
Fors d’un chiennet et d’une pucelette.
Mais bien sambloit sa maniere simplette
Pleinne d’anoy.
Et d’autre part, un petit long de moy,
Uns chevaliers de moult tres noble arroy
Tout le chemin venoit encontre soy
Sans compaingnie;
Si me pensay qu’amis yert et amie.
Lors me boutay par dedens la fueillie
Si embuschiez qu’il ne me virent mie.
Mais quant amis,
En qui Nature assez de biens a mis,
Fu aprochiez de la dame de pris,
Com gracïeus, sages, et bien apris
La salua.
Et la dame que pensee argua,
Sans riens respondre a li, le trespassa.
Et cils tantost arriere rappassa,
Et si la prist
Par le giron, et doucement li dist:
“Tres douce dame, avez vous en despit
Le mien salut?” Et quant elle le vit,
Si respondi
En souspirant que plus n’i atendi:
“Certes, sire, pas ne vous entendi
Pour mon penser qui le me deffendi;
Mais se j’ay fait
Riens ou il ait villonnie ou meffait,
Vuelliez le moy pardonner, s’il vous plait.”
Li chevaliers, sans faire plus de plait,
Dist doucement:
“Dame, il n’affiert ci nul pardonnement,
Car il n’i a meffait ne mautalent;
Mais je vous pri que vostre pensement
Me vueilliez dire.”
Et la dame parfondement souspire
Et dist: “Por Dieu, laissiez me en pais, biau sire,
Car mestier n’ay que me faciés plus d’ire
Ne de contraire
Que j’en reçoy.” Et cils se prist a traire
Plus pres de li, pour sa pensee attraire,
Et ha dit: “Tres douce debonnaire,
Triste vous voy.
Mais je vos jur et promet par ma foy,
S’a moy volez descouvrir vostre anoy,
Que je ferai tout le pooir de moy
De l’adrecier.”
Et la dame l’en prist a mercier,
Et dist: “Sire, nuls ne m’en puet aidier,
Ne nuls fors Diex ne porroit alegier
La grief dolour
Qui fait palir et teindre ma coulour,
Qui tient mon cuer en tristesse et en plour,
Et qui me met en si dure langour
Qu’a dire voir
Nuls cuer qui soit n’en porroit plus avoir.”
“Dame, et quels mauls vos fait si fort doloir?
Dites le moy; que je cuit recevoir
Si tres grief peinne,
Si dolereuse, si dure, si greveinne,
Si amere, que soiez bien certeinne,
Il n’est dame, ne creature humeinne,
Ne n’iert jamais,
Qui tele peinne endurast onques mais.”
“Certes, sire, je croy bien que tel fais
Ne portez pas a vo cuer que je fais.
Pour ce sarez
Ma pensee qu’a savoir desirez.
Mais tout avant, vos me prometterez
Que sans mentir la vostre me dirés.”
“Tenez, ma dame.
Je vous promet par may foy et par m’ame
Que le penser qui m’esprent et enflame,
Et qui souvent mon cuer mort et entame
Vous jehirai
De chief en chief, ne ja n’en mentiray.”
“Certes, sire, et je le vous diray.”
“Or dites donc; je vous escouteray
Moult volentiers.”

“Sire, il a bien .vij. ans ou .viij. entiers
Que mes cuers a esté sers et rentiers
A Bonne Amour, si qu’apris ses sentiers
Ay tres m’enfance.
Car des premiers que j’eus sa congnoissance,
Cuer, corps, povoir, vie, avoir, et puissance
Et quanqu’il fu de mi, mis par plaisance
En son servage.
Et elle me retint en son hommage
Et me donna de tres loial corage
A bel et bon, dous, gracïeus, et sage,
Qui de valour,
De courtoisie et de parfaite honnour,
Et de plaisant maintient avoit la flour,
Et des tres bons estoit tout le millour:
Et s’ot en li
Gent corps faitis, cointe, apert, et joly,
Juene, gentil, de maniere garny,
Plein de tout ce qu’il faut a vray amy.
Et d’estre amez
Par dessus tous estoit dignes clamez,
Car il estoit vrais, loiaus, et secrez,
Et en trestous fais amoureus discrez;
Et je l’amoie
Si loiaument que tout mon cuer mettoie
En li amer, n’autre entente n’avoie;
Qu’en li estoit m’esperence, ma joie,
Et mon plaisir,
Mon cuer, m’amor, mon penser, mon desir.
De tous les biens pooit mes cuers joïr
Par li veoir seulement et oïr.
Tous mes confors
Estoit en li; c’estoit tous mes depors,
Tous mes solas, mes deduis, mes tresors.
C’estoit mes murs, mes chastiaus, mes ressors.
Et il m’amoit;
Par dessus tout me servoit et cremoit;
Son cuer, s’amour, sa dame me clamoit.
Tous estoit miens; mes cuers bien le savoit;
Ne riens desplaire
Ne li peüst qui a moy dehust plaire.
De nos .ij. cuers estoit si juste paire
Qu’onques ne fu l’un a l’autre contraire;
Einsois estoient
Tuit d’un acort; une pensee avoient.
De volenté, de desir se sambloient;
Un bien, un mal, une joie sentoient
N’onques ne fu entre eaus .ij. autrement;
Mais c’a esté toudis si loyaument
Qu’il n’ot onques un villain pensement
En nos amours.
Lasse, dolente! Or est bien a rebours.
Car mes douceurs sont dolereus labours,
Et mes joies sont ameres dolours,
Et mi penser,
En qui mes cuers se soloit deliter
Et doucement de tous maus conforter,
Sont et seront dolent, triste, et amer.
En obscurté
Seront mi jour, plein de maleürté,
Et mi espoir sans nulle seürté,
Et ma douceur sera dure durté
Car sans faillir
Teindre, trambler, muer, et tressaillir,
Pleindre, plourer, souspirer, et gemir,
Et en paour de desespoir fremir
Me couvendra;
N’a mon las cuer jamais bien ne vendra,
N’a nul confort n’a joie n’atendra,
Jusques atant que la mort me prendra,
Qui a grant tort
Par devers moy, quant elle ne s’amort
A moy mordre de son dolereus mort,
Quant elle m’a dou tout tollu et mort
Mon dous amy
Que j’amoie de fin cuer et il my.
Mais aprés li, lasse! Dolente! Eimy!
Ne quier jamais vivre jour ne demi
En si grief dueil;
Eins vueil morir dou mal dont je me dueil.”
Et je, qui fui boutez dedens le brueil,
Vi qu’a ce mot la dame au dous acueil
Cheï com morte.
Mais cils qui fu de noble et gentil sorte
Souventes fois li deprie et enorte
Moult doucement qu’elle se reconforte,
Mais riens ne vaut;
Car la dame que grief doleur assaut
Pour son ami sent .i. si dur assaut
Qu’en li vigour et alainne deffaut.
Et quant il voit
Que la dame pas ne l’entent në oït,
Tant fu dolens qu’estre plus ne pooit.
Mais nonpourquant tant fait que bien parçoit
Qu’elle est pasmee.
Lors en sa main cueilli de la rousee
Sus l’erbe vert; si l’en a arrousee
En tous les liex de sa face esplouree
Si doucement
Que la dame qui avoit longuement
Perdu vigour, scens, et entendement
Ouvri les yeus et prist parfondement
A souspirer,
En regretant celui qui desirer
Li fait la mort par loiaument amer.
Mais cils qui ot le cuer franc sans amer
Dist: “Dame chiere,
Pour Dieu merci, reprenez vo maniere;
Vous vous tuez de faire tele chiere,
Car je voy bien que moult comparez chiere
L’amour de li.
Si n’aies pas le cuer einsi failly,
Car ce n’est pas preus, ne honneur aussi.”
“Vous dites voir, sire: mais trop mar vi
L’eure et le jour
Qu’onques amay de si parfaite amour,
Car je n’en puis eschaper par nul tour:
Eins y congnois ma mort sans nul retour.”
“Dame, or oiez
Ce que diray, et a mal ne l’aiez.
N’est merveille se vous vous esmaiez,
Car bien est drois que dolente soiés.
Mais vraiement
On trouveroit plus tost aligement
En vostre mal qu’en mien.” “Sire, et comment?
Dites le moy, et de vo sairement
Vous aquitez.”
“Moult voulentiers, mais que vous m’escoutez,
Et que vo cuer de tristece gettés,
Par quoy toute vostre entente metez
A moy oïr.”
“Certes, sire, po me puis resjoïr.
Mais j’en feray mon pooir, sans mentir.”
“Dont vous dirai quels maus j’ay a sentir,
Sans plus attendre.
Dame, tres dont que je me sos entendre
Et que mes cuers pot sentir et comprendre
Que c’est amer, je ne finay de tendre
A estre amez;
Si que lonc temps, pour estre amis clamez
Eins que mes cuers fust assis ne donnez
N’a dame nulle ottroiez n’assenez,
A Bonne Amour
Par maintes fois fis devote clamour
Qu’elle mon cuer asseïst a l’onnour
De celle en qui il feroit son sejour,
Et que ce fust
Si que loange et gloire en receüst
Et que, se ja mes cuers faire peüst
Chose de quoy souvenir li deüst
Ou desservir
Nul guerredon de dame par servir,
Qu’en aucun temps li deingnast souvenir
De moy qui vueil estre siens, sans partir,
Toute ma vie.
Tant qu’il avint qu’en une compaingnie
Ou il avoit meinte dame jolie,
Juene, gentil, joieuse, et envoisie,
Vins par Fortune,
Qui de mentir a tous est trop commune,
Si en choisi entre les autres l’une
Qui, tout aussi com li solaus la lune
Veint de clarté,
Avoit elle les autres seurmonté
De pris, d’onneur, de grace, et de biauté,
Et tant estoit humble et simple, a mon gré,
Car, a voir dire,
On ne porroit en tout le monde eslire
Sa pareille, ne tous li mons souffire
Ne porroit pas por sa biauté descrire
Car je la vi dancier si cointement
Et puis chanter si tres joliement,
Rire et jouer si gracïeusement
Qu’onques encor
Ne fu veüs plus gracïeus tresor.
Car si cheveus ressambloient fil d’or
Et n’estoient ne trop blont ne trop sor.
Son front estoit
Blanc et poly, ne fronce n’i avoit,
Sans vice nul compassé si a droit
Que trop large n’estoit, ne trop estroit;
Et si sorcil,
Qui estoient de taille tres gentil,
Dessus le blanc sambloient .i. noir fil,
Dont il fussent prisié entre cent mil.
Mais si .ij. oueil,
Qui de mon cuer vorrent passer le sueil
Par leur rigour et par leur bel acueil,
Pour moy donner le mal dont je me dueil,
Furent riant,
Nom pas moult vair, por estre plus pongnant
Et plus agu, dous, humble, et attraiant,
Tous pleins de las pour loier .i. amant
En amour pure;
Et s’estoient clungnetant par mesure,
Fendus a point, sans trop grant ouverture,
Tout acquerant par leur douce pointure;
N’a l’entrouvrir
Ne se peüst nuls homs qui soit couvrir
Qu’en mi le cuer ne l’alassent ferir
S’il leur pleüst, et pour euls retenir.
Mais leurs regars,
Merci donnant par samblant, aus musars
N’estoit mie folettement espars;
Car quant lancier voloit .i. de ses dars,
Si sagement
Le savoit faire et si soutivement
Que nuls savoir nel peüst bonnement,
Fors cils seur qui il cheoit proprement.
Net, odorant,
Lonc et traitif, de taille bien seant
Avoit le nés au viaire afferant;
Car il n’estoit trop petit, ne trop grant.
Mais sa bouchette,
Petite a droit, vermillette, grossette,
Toudis riant, savoreuse, doucette,
Me fait languir, quant mes cuers la regrette.
Quar qui l’oïst
Parler a point, et rire la veïst,
Et les douceurs par saveur recueillist,
Il la prisast seur toutes et deïst;
Que .ij. fossettes
En sousriant faisoient ses joëttes,
Qui estoient blanches et vermillettes,
Pour embelir, et un petit grassettes.
Et encor plus:
Les dens avoit blans, sarrez, et menus,
Et ses mentons estoit un po fendus,
Votis dessous et rondes par dessus.
Mais a merveille
Fu sa coulour, des autres nompareille,
Car elle fu vive, fresche, et vermeille,
Plus que la rose en may, eins qu’on la cueille;
Et, a briés mos,
Blanche com noif, polie, de biau gros
Fu sa gorge, n’i ot fronce ne os;
Et s’ot biau col dont je la pris et los.
Aussi est drois
Que je parle de ses bras lons et drois,
Qui estoient bien fais en tous endrois;
Car elle avoit blanches mains et lons dois.
A mon devis
Avoit le sein blanc, dur, et haut assis,
Pongnant, rondet, et si estoit petis,
Selonc le corps, gracïeus, et faitis.
Sans nul mestret
Avoit le corps par mesure pourtret,
Gent, joint, joly, juene, gentil, grasset,
Lonc, droit, faitis, cointe, apert, et graillet.
Tres bien tailliez
Hanches, cuisses, jambes ot, et les piez,
Votis, grossez, bien et bel enjointiez,
Par maistrise mignotement chauciez.
Dou remenant
Que pas ne vi, dame, vous di je tant
Que d’ nature tout estoit respondant,
Bien fassonné et de taille excellent.
Et ce seurplus,
Dont je ne vueil maintenant dire plus,
Devoit estre sans comparer tenus
A plus tres dous et a plus biaus que nuls.
Delié cuirien
Blanc et souëf avoit, sus toute rien
Resplendissant, si qu’on si mirast bien;
Vice, tache n’i avoit fors que bien.
Douce et serree
Avoit la char, tendrette de rousee,
Mais de maniere humble et asseuree
Et de tres biau maintien estoit paree.
Et vraiement,
Tant fu bele, que je croy fermement,
Se Nature, qui tout fait soutilment,
En voloit faire une aussi proprement,
Qu’elle y faurroit,
Et que jamais assener n’i saroit,
Se l’exemple de ceste ci n’avoit,
Qui de biauté toutes autres passoit.
Et se vous di
Qu’onques encor en ma vie ne vi
Corps de dame si tres bien assevi.
Mais elle avoit .xiiij. ans et demi
Ou environ.
Si que, dame, quant je vi sa fasson,
Qui tant estoit bele sans meffaçon,
Dedens mon cuer la douce impression
De sa figure
Fu telement empreinte qu’elle y dure,
Ne onques puis n’en parti, dont j’endure
Mainte doleur et meinte durté dure.
Et sans doubtance,
Eins que partis fusse de sa presence,
Dedens mon cuer se ficha si Plaisence,
En remirant sa douce contenance,
Que sachiez bien,
Se j’eüsse l’avoir Othevien,
Et sceüsse le scens de Galien,
Et avec ce tuit li bien fussent mien,
Je tout heüsse
Guerpi par si, que veoir la peüsse
A mon voloir, ou que faire sceüsse
Chose a son vueil, dont plaire li deüsse.
Mais Fine Amour,
Qui vit que pris estoie par le tour
De Plaisence, qui m’ot mis en sa tour,
En remirant son gracïeus atour,
Sans menacier
.I. dous regart riant me fist lancier
Parmi le cuer, et moy si enlacier,
Qu’il me sousmist en son tres dous dangier,
Sans repentir.
Si me plut tant cils dangiers a sentir,
Quant cils resgars se deingnoit assentir
A descendre sus moy que, sans mentir,
Je ne savoie
Qu’il m’avenoit, ne quele part j’estoie,
Car scens, vigour, et maniere perdoie;
Si durement par ses yex me sentoie
Adont desirs d’estre de li amez
En mon cuer fu si tres fort enflamez
Que puis m’en suis cent fois chetis clamez
En souspirant;
Car tel doleur sentoie en desirant
Que ma vigour en aloit empirant
Et meint penser avoie, en remirant
Son dous viaire;
Car volentiers li alasse retraire
Comment de cuer l’amoie, sans retraire.
Mais la paour d’escondire ce faire
Me deffendoit;
Et d’autre part Bel Acueil m’apelloit;
Son Dous Regart riant m’asseüroit,
Et Dous Espoirs doucement ce disoit
En loiauté,
Et m’affermoit qu’onques si grant biauté
Ne pot estre, qu’il n’i heüst pité.
Si m’ont cil troi tant dit et enorté
Que toutevoie
Je m’acorday que m’amour li diroie.
Helas! Einsi tous seuls me debatoie.
Mais quant mes maus retraire li cuidoie,
Si paoureus,
Si veins, si mas, si las, si engoisseus,
Si desconfis, si tramblans, si honteus
Estoit mes cuers, et dou mal amoureus
Si fort espris,
Qu’en li n’avoit scens, maniere, n’avis,
Einsois estoit com transis et ravis,
Quant bien veoir povoie vis a vis
Sa biauté pure.
Lors estoit mors d’amoureuse morsure
Mes cuers et poins de joieuse pointure
Et repeüs de douce norreture
Par Dous Penser,
Qui ma dolour faisoit toute cesser
Et garison me faisoit esperer.
Einsi souvent avoie pour amer
Joie et tourment.
Si demouray en ce point longuement,
Une heure lie et l’autre heure dolent,
Qu’onques n’osay requerre aligement
De ma dolour.
Mais nompourquant grant destresse d’amour,
Ardant desir, la crueuse langour,
Ou j’avoie demouré par maint jour,
Son Bel Acueil,
Esperence de terminer mon dueil,
Sa grant biauté, si dous riant vair oueil,
Et ce qu’en li n’avoit goute d’orgueil,
Le hardement
De requerre merci couardement
Me donnerent; si li dis humblement,
Moult tresmuez et paoureusement:
‘Ma chiere dame,
Vostre biauté mon cuer art et enflame,
Si que seur tout vous aim, sans penser blame,
De cuer, de corps, de vray desir, et d’ame.
Si vous depri,
Douce dame, qu’aies de moy merci;
Car vraiement je morrai d’amer ci
Se de vo cuer, qui a le mien nercy,
N’ay aligence.’

Et quant einsi li os dit ma grevance,
Un pou muer vi sa douce samblance,
Ce me fu vis, dont je fui en doubtance
D’estre escondis.
Mais ses regars m’asseüroit toudis,
Et sa douceur et son gracïeus ris,
Si que par euls encor fu enhardis
De dire: ‘Helas!
Gentil dame, pour Dieu, n’ociez pas
Vostre loial amy, qui en vos las
Est si laciez qu’il en pert tout solas
Et toute joie.’
Lors se treï vers moy la simple et coie,
Pour qui Amours me destreint et maistroie,
Et dist: ‘Amis, certes, riens ne vorroie
Faire a nelui,
Dont il heüst grevence ne annuy;
Ne l’en ne doit faire chose a autrui
Qu’on ne vosist que l’en feïst a lui.
Et, biaus amis,
Il n’est nuls biens qui ne soit remeris,
N’il n’est aussi maus qui ne soit punis.
Si que, s’Amours vos a d’amer espris,
Son guerredon
Vous en rendra en temps et en saison,
Se vous l’amez sans penser traïson.
Et s’elle vous trouvoit autre que bon,
Ne doubtés mie
Qu’elle ne fust vo mortel anemie,
Ne que jamais garison ne aïe
Vous fust par li donnee, n’ottroïe
De vos dolours.
Si que, biau sire, alez devers Amours,
Si li faites vos plains et vos clamours;
Car en li gist vos mors et vos secours,
Nom pas en moy.
Et pas ne sui cause de vostre anoy,
Ce m’est avis, si que souffrir m’en doy.
Plus ne vous say que dire, en bonne foy.
Adieu vous di.’

Adont de moy la bele se parti
Qui de si grant doleur me reparti
Que par un po que mes cuers ne parti
De son depart.
Mais la douceur de son plaisant regart
Par son dous art fist que j’en os regart
Que au departir de moy, se Diex me gart,
Si doucement
Me regarda qu’il m’iert vis proprement
Que ses regars me disoit vraiement:
‘Amis, je t’aim tres amoureusement.’
Si que je fu
Tous confortez par la noble vertu
De ce regart qui puis m’a tant valu
Qu’il m’a toudis norri et soustenu
En bon espoir.
Et s’il ne fust, certeinnement j’espoir
Que je fusse cheüs en desespoir,
Mais riens qui soit ne me feïst doloir
Quant ses regars
Estoit seur moy en sousriant espars,
Si que, ma dame, einsi de toutes pars
Me confortoit et aidoit ses regars
De ma dolour.

La demouray tous seuls en grant frëour,
Si qu’en pensant commensai son atour,
Sa grant douçour, sa coulour, sa valour
A remirer,
Son biau maintieng, son venir, son aler,
Son gentil corps, son gracïeus parler,
Son noble port, son plaisant regarder,
Et son viaire,
Qui tant estoit dous, humble, et debonnaire
Que de toute biauté fu l’exemplaire.
Et quant j’eus tout remiré son affaire,
Certes, j’avoie
Moult grant deduit et moult parfaite joie,
Et pour tres boneüreus me tenoie,
Pour ce, sans plus, que loiaument l’amoie,
Si que depuis
A li servir sui si tournez et duis,
Qu’en li servir s’est mis tous mes deduis,
N’autre labour ailleurs faire ne puis.
Si la servi,
Amay, celay, doubtai, et oubeï
Moult longuement, que riens ne me meri.
Mais en la fin tant l’amay et chieri
Qu’elle vit bien
Que je tendoie a s’onneur et son bien,
Et que mes cuers l’amoit sus toute rien;
Si que tant fis qu’elle me tint pour sien
En tel maniere
Que de bon cuer riant, a lie chiere,
Me dist: ‘Amis, vesci t’amie chiere
Qui plus ne vuet envers toy estre fiere,
Qu’Amours le vuet,
Qui de bon cuer ad ce faire m’esmuet;
Et vraiement, estre autrement ne puet,
Car moult grant chose a en faire l’estuet;
Pour ce m’amour
Avec mon cuer vous doin, sans nul retour,
Si vous depri que vous gardez m’onnour,
Car je vous aim dessus tous et honnour.’
Et quant je vi
Que ma dame m’apelloit son amy
Si doucement, et que le dous ottri
M’avoit donné de s’amour, sans nul si,
Se je fui liez,
Douce dame, ne vous en mervilliez;
Car j’estoie devant desconsilliez,
Povres, perdus, despris, et essiliez,
Sans nul ressort,
Quant je failloie a son tres dous confort,
Mais recouvrez, ressuscitez de mort,
Riche au dessus, pleins de grant reconfort,
Et sans anoy
Fui, quant me dist: ‘Amis, a ti m’ottroy
De tres bon cuer.’ Et ce tres dous ottroy
Cent mille fois me fist plus grant qu’un roy,
Si que la joie
Ne porroit nuls raconter que j’avoie.
Car tant fui liez que je ne l’en pooie
Remercïer ne parler ne savoie.
Mais en la fin,
Com fins loiaus amoureus, de cuer fin,
Espris d’amer, sans penser mal engin,
Moult humblement li dis, le chief enclin,
Et sans effroy:
‘Dame que j’aim plus qu’autre, ne que moy,
En qui scens, temps, cuer, vie, amour employ,
Tant com je puis, nom pas tant que je doy,
Vous remercy
Dou noble don de vo douce mercy,
Quar tant m’avez puisamment enrichi,
Tant resjoï, si gari, tant mery,
Que vraiement
Se quanqu’il ha dessous le firmament
Et quanqu’il fu et sera, quittement
Me fust donnez pour faire mon talent,
Je ne l’amasse
Tant de cent pars que je fais vostre grace.
Si pri a Dieu que jamais ne mefface
Chose envers vous qui nostre amour efface,
Et que vo vueil
Puisse acomplir, einsi com je le vueil
Faire, humblement, sans hautesse, n’orgueil,
Car, se je puis, assez miex que ne sueil,
Vous serviray
Tres loiaument de cuer et ameray,
Et vostre honneur en tous cas garderay.
N’en dit, n’en fait, n’en penser ne feray
Chose envers vous,
N’envers autrui dont vous aies courrous.
Einsois serés ma dame et mes cuers dous,
Mes diex terriens, aourez dessus tous.
Et sans doubtance,
Se je fais riens contre vostre plaisence,
Ne dont vos cuers ait courrous ne grevence,
Sachiez de voir que c’iert par negligence.’
Ma dame, einsi
La merciay com vous avez oÿ,
Dou noble don de sa douce mercy.
Et elle aussi me jura et plevi
Moult durement
Qu’a tous jours mais m’ameroit loiaument
Sans moy guerpir et sans departement.
Einsi regnay en joie longuement
Que je n’avoie
Nulle chose qui fust contraire a joie,
Mais envoisiez et reveleus estoie,
Jolis et gais, trop plus que ne soloie.
Et c’estoit drois
Qu’a mon pooir fusse gens et adrois,
Car par cuidier estoie en tous endrois
Li miex amez des amans et li rois.
Mais quant Fortune,
La desloial, qui n’est pas a tous une,
M’ot si haut mis, com mauvaise et enfrune,
Moy ne mes biens ne prisa une prune;
Einsi fist la moe,
Moy renoia et me tourna la joe;
Quant elle m’ot assis dessus sa roe,
Puis la tourna, si cheï en la boe.
Mais ce fist elle,
La traïtre, toudis preste et isnele
De ceaus traïr qu’elle met dessous s’ele,
Pour ce que Diex et Nature la bele,
Quant il formerent
Celle que j’aim, si fort se deliterent
En la tres grant biauté qu’il li donnerent
Que loyauté a mettre y oublierent.
Et bien y pert!
Que je say bien et voy tout en apert
Que ma dame, qui tant a corps apert,
Que mes cuers crient, aime, obeïst, et sert,
A fait amy
Nouvelement, sans cause, autre que my.
Si que, dame, se je pleure et gemy
Parfondement et di souvent: ‘Aimy!’
N’est pas merveille
Quant sa fine biauté qui n’a pareille
Et sa colour vive, fresche, et vermeille,
Et son tres dous regart qui me traveille,
M’ont eslongié,
Et qu’elle m’a dou tout donné congié
Et de tous biens privé et estrangié.
Helas! Comment aroie je cuer lié?
Et a grant tort
M’a retollu ma joie et mon confort,
Et si m’a mis en si grant desconfort
Que je say bien que j’en aray la mort,
Ne riens deffendre
Ne m’en porroit, nés .i. seul confort rendre.
Mais ce qui fait mon cuer partir et fendre,
C’est ce que je ne me say a qui prendre
De mon anuy,
Car il m’est vis, se par Fortune sui
Jus dou degré ou jadis montez fui,
Par li en qui je ne me fi, n’apui,
A dire voir,
Que nul mal gré ne li en doy savoir,
Car elle fist dou faire son devoir;
N’elle ne doit autre mestier avoir
Fors de traïr
Ceaus qu’elle voit monter et enrichir,
Et de faire le bas en haut venir;
N’elle ne puet personne tant chierir
Que seürté
Li face avoir de sa bonneürté,
Soit de joie, soit de maleürté,
Que sus ou jus ne l’ait moult tost hurté.
C’est sa nature:
Si bien ne sont fors que droite aventure;
Ce n’est qu’uns vens, une fausse estature.
Une joie est qui po vaut et po dure.
C’est fols s’i fie!
Chascun deçoit et nelui ne deffie.
Et se je di que la mort qui m’aigrie
Puis demander a ma dame jolie,
Par quel raison
Le ferai je, ne par quel occoison?
Elle s’est mise en la subjection
D’Amours, a qui elle ha fait de li don
Et vuet qu’elle ait tres souvereinnement,
Com ses souvreins, seur li commandement
Si qu’el ne puet contrester nullement
A son plaisir;
Eins li couvient en tous cas oubeïr,
Dont, se ma dame ha plaisence et desir
De moy laissier pour un autre enchierir,
Ce fait Amour,
Nom pas ma dame, en qui tout a valour.
Car elle fait son devoir et s’onnour
D’obeïr a son souverein signour.
Si qu’il m’est vis,
Quant par Amour d’amer estoie espris,
Qu’en ce faisant Amours ha plus mespris
Par devers moy que ma dame de pris,
C’est a entendre,
S’Amours pooit par devers moy mesprendre.
Mais nullement je ne puis ce comprendre,
Car longuement, com douce mere et tendre,
M’a repeü
De ses dous biens au miex qu’elle ha peü,
Ne je n’ay pas encor aperceü,
Pour nul meschief que j’aie receü,
Que tout adés
Elle ne m’ait com amie esté pres
Et qu’el ne m’ait servi de tous mes més,
De plours devant et de souspirs aprés.
C’est ma viande;
Mon appetit plus ne vuet ne demande,
Ne, par m’ame, riens n’est a quoy je tende
Fors seulement a ce que mes cuers fende.
Einsi Amour
Croist en mon cuer au fuer de ma dolour,
Ne ne s’en part, ne de nuit, ne de jour,
Eins me compaingne en mon dolereus plour
Par sa bonté;
Si que je di que c’est grant amité
Qui m’a esté mere en prosperité,
Et encor est en mon adversité.
Si ne me puis
Pleindre de li, se trop mauvais ne suis,
Car sans partir de moy toudis la truis,
Ne je ne suis mie par li destruis,
Qu’elle ne puet
Muer les cuers, puis que Diex ne le vuet.
Car quant Diex fist ma dame qui me suet
Clamer amy, dont li cuers trop me duet,
S’il et Nature,
Quant il firent sa biauté fine et pure,
Plaisant a tous seur toute creature,
Heüssent lors en sa douce figure
Loyauté mis,
Je fusse encor appellez ses amis,
Et ses cuers qui tant bien m’avoit promis
N’eüst jamais esté mes anemis.
Pour ce di qu’en ce
Nature et Diex feïrent ignorance,
Sauve l’onneur d’eaus et leur reverence,
Quant il firent si tres bele samblance
Sans loiauté.
Car s’elle heüst cent fois meins de biauté,
Et elle fust loyal, la grant bonté
De loiauté l’eüst plus honnouré
Que s’elle fust
Cent mille fois plus bele, et miex pleüst,
Et en tous cas trop miex plaire deüst,
Pour ce qu’en li riens a dire n’eüst.
Si que je croy
Qu’a Bonne Amour, a Fortune, n’a soy
Riens demander de mes dolours ne doy.
Et en puis je riens demander a moy?
Certes oïl!
Car je me mis de richesse en essil,
De seürté en .i. mortel peril,
De joie en dueil, par son regart soutil,
Et de franchise
En servitute ou on n’aimme, ne prise
Moy, ne mes biens, m’amour, ne mon servise,
Ne ma vie vaillant une cerise.
Et nompourquant,
Il m’est avis que pas ne mespris, quant
Je l’enamai, qu’en ce monde vivant
N’avoit dame qui fust si excellent,
Ce disoit on.
Si devins siens en bonne entention,
Ne jamais n’i cuidasse, se bien non,
Pour la grandeur de son tres bon renon,
Qui m’a destruit.
Mais ce n’est pas tout d’or quanque reluit
N’on ne doit pas tant amer son deduit
Qu’on ne s’en puist retraire, quant il cuit.
Et se je fusse
Tous li mieudres dou mont, je n’esleüsse
Autre que li, ne miex je ne peüsse,
Se loiauté en li trouve heüsse.
Si ne m’en say
Que demander et a qui m’en penray
Des griés dolours et des meschiés que j’ay.
S’on m’en demande, a tous responderay
Que ç’a fait Dieus
Et Nature; dont c’est meschiés et diex,
Quant il firent son corps en trestous lieus
Si bel, si gent, si dous, qu’on ne puet mieus,
S’il fust loyaus.
Si me penray a eaus .ij. de mes maus?
Je non feray, car il me sont trop haus;
Eins soufferray, c’est mes milleurs consaus
D’ore en avant.

Or vous ay dit la maniere comment
Amours me fist estre loyal amant,
L’estat, la guise, et tout le couvenant;
Ce qui m’avint,
Comment pris fui, comment on me retint;
Comment de moy ma dame ne souvint;
Les biens, les maus qu’endurer me couvint
Jusqu’au jour de hui;
Comment je n’ay aïe de nelui;
Comment vengier ne puis mon grief anui,
Dont a par mi me mourdri et destrui,
Si que je di,
Se bien m’avez entendu et oÿ,
Que la doleur dont en morant langui,
Qui mon viaire a desteint et pali
Par sa rigour,
Est de vos maus cent mille fois gringnour;
Car fine joie et parfaite douçour
Sont vostre mal encontre la dolour
Qui me martyre.”
“Certes, sire, pas ne vous vueil desdire
Que vous n’aiez moult de dolour et d’ire,
S’einsi perdez ce que vos cuers desire.
Mais toutevoie,
Il m’est avis, et dire l’oseroie,
Consideré vo dolour et la moie,
Qu’il a en vous meins dolour et plus joie
Qu’il n’ait en moy.
Si vous en vueil dire raison pourquoy;
Vous m’avez dit que vous amez en foy
Ceste dame qui tant vous fait d’anoy
Et amerez
De loyal cuer, tant comme vis serez.
Et puisqu’il est einsi que vous l’amez,
Certes, je croy que s’amour desirez,
Car avenir
Voy po souvent qu’amours soit sans desir,
Ne que desirs d’amours se puist souffrir
D’esperence; et s’avez souvenir
Aucune fois
Dont, quant vos cuers est par desir destrois,
Il vous souvient de la bele aus crins blois,
Dont vous avez des pensers plus de .iij.
Si ne puet estre
Que vous n’aiez aucun penser qui nestre
Aucune joie face en vous, qui remestre
Fait la dolour qui si vous tient a mestre,
Si qu’a la fie
Par souvenir avez pensee lie
Qui vo dolour espart et entroublié.
Mais la mienne jour et nuit monteplie
Sans nul sejour,
Et toudis croist li ruissaus de mon plour,
N’avoir ne puis pensee par nul tour,
N’esperence de recouvrer m’amour.
Mais par servir,
Par honnourer, par celer, par cremir,
Par endurer liement et souffrir,
Par bien amer de cuer et oubeïr
Tres humblement
Povez encore avoir aligement,
Joie et l’amour de celle ou vos cuers tent.
Si que je di que j’ay plus de tourment,
Et moult visible
Est la raison, ce m’est vis, et sensible:
Car de ravoir vo dame, c’est possible;
Mais mon amy ravoir, c’est impossible
Selonc nature.”

“Dame, d’onneur, de sens, et de mesure
A plus en vous qu’en autre creature.
Car par vo sens mis a desconfiture
Moult tost seroie,
S’a vos raisons respondre ne pooie.
Car vraiement faire ne le saroie
Si sagement, com mestier en aroie.
Mais repeter
Vueil vos raisons se j’y puis assener.
Vous argüez que j’aimme sans fausser
Et amerai tant com porrai durer
Sans repentir;
Et puis que j’aim, il faut qu’aie desir
Qui ne se puet deporter ne souffrir
D’esperence; et si ay souvenir,
Qui esmouvoir
Me fait souvent a maint penser avoir.
Certes, dame, ce vous ottroi pour voir,
Fors seulement que je n’ay point d’espoir.
Mais sachiez bien,
Dame, comment qu’il n’ait partout que bien,
Qu’en ce vostre entendement et le mien
Ne se joingnent, ne acordent en rien;
Eins sont contraire,
Einsi com je le vous pense a retraire,
Quant poins sera. Mais ce ne vueil pas taire
Que vous dites qu’encor puis je tant faire
Par honnourer,
Par bien servir, par souffrir, par doubter,
Par oubeïr, par loyaument amer,
Qu’en joie puis ma dame recouvrer;
Mais ce seroit
Moult grant maistrie au garder qui l’aroit.
Car en .i. lieu son cuer n’arresteroit
Nés que feroit .i. estuef seur .i. toit.
Et vostre amour,
Qui tant avoit de pris et de valour,
Ne povez mais recouvrer par nul tour,
Dont vous avez veinne et pale coulour.
Si qu’einsi dites
Que mes dolours sont assez plus petites
Que les vostres, dont je ne suis pas quites,
Ne que pas n’ay acquis par mes merites.
Si respondrai
A ces raisons au mieus que je porrai,
Et sus chascune un po m’arresterai;
Si en dirai ce que j’en sens et say
De sentement.

Dame, il est voirs que j’aim tres loiaument
Ce qui me het, c’est ma dame au corps gent,
Qui est ma mort et mon destruisement
Quant je li voy
Autrui amer, et n’a cure de moy,
Qu’elle deüst amer en bonne foy;
Si qu’a paine que tout ne me marvoy
De ceste amour.
Car, s’elle amast ma vie, ne m’onnour,
En la doleur ou je vif et demour
Ne me laissast languir l’eure d’un jour
Pour tout le monde.
Mais en vertu font monteplier l’onde
De la doleur qui en mon cuer habonde:
Amours premiers et ma dame seconde.
Pour çe ay desir.
Mais quels est il? Il est de tost morir,
Car il n’est riens qui me peüst venir
Dont je peüsse esperer le garir.
Et se j’avoie
L’amour de li miex que je ne soloie,
Ne sai je pas se je m’i fieroie.
Certes, nennil! Pourquoy? Je n’oseroie.
Car nourreture,
Si com on dit, vaint et passe nature,
Et toudis va, s’il ne se desnature,
Li leux au bois — c’est la verité pure.
Et par ce point
En mon desir d’esperance n’a point,
Mais a li joint desespoir si apoint
Que je serai matez en l’angle point
Dou souvenir,
Que vous dites, qui fait en moy venir
La pensee qui me fait resjoïr.
Certes, de li ne puis jamais joïr,
Ne n’en joï,
Ne ne le vi, ne senti, ne oÿ,
Puis que ma dame ot fait nouvel ami,
Car adonques se parti il de mi.
Si voeil prouver
Que c’est la riens qui plus me puet grever
Et qui plus fait mon cuer desesperer
Que souvenir. Vous savez (et c’est cler;
Chascuns le voit),
Que, se jamez il ne me souvenoit
De ma dame qui me tient moult destroit,
Que ma doleur oubliee seroit.
Et s’elle estoit
Oubliee, l’oubliance feroit
Qu’elle dou tout morroit ou cesseroit;
Et ce garir de tous maus me pourroit.
Mais qu’avient il?
Cils souvenirs, par son engin soubtil,
Me ramentoit le viaire gentil
Et le gent corps pour qui mon cuer exil;
Més engenrez,
Nez et fenis est, et continuez
Tous en dolour. Pour quoy? Pour ce qu’amez
Cuiday estre quant amis fui clamez
Tres doucement.
Helas! Dolens! Or est bien autrement
Quant ma dame aimme autre nouvellement.
Et puet on pis, dame, s’on ne se pent?
Certes, nennil!
Car c’est pour mettre un amant a essil;
N’eschaper hors de si mortel peril
N’en devroit pas un d’entre cinq cent mil,
Dont il avient
Par maintes fois, quant de ce me souvient,
Que mes las cuers dedens mon corps devient
Si dolereux que pasmer me couvient.
Et se pensee
Par souvenir est en moy engendree,
Quelle est elle? Elle est desconfortee,
Triste, mourne, lasse, et desesperee.
Et, par may foy,
Je n’ai penser qui ne soit contre moy;
Et se le pren au pis. Savez pour quoy?
Pour ce qu’aler ma dame en change voy.
Et se la joie
Que j’avoie, quant en sa grace estoie,
Ne fust plus grant que dire ne saroie,
Ne ymaginer ne penser ne porroie,
La grief dolour
Qui me destreint en fust assez menour.
Mais de tant plus que j’eus joie grignour,
De tant est plus crueuse ma langour.
Et que ravoir
Puisse ma dame, ou je n’ay nul espoir
— Ymaginer ne le puis, ne veoir.
Se vous diray ce qui m’i fait doloir:
Dame, y me samble
Q’une chose qui se part et assamble
En pluseurs lieus, et avec c’elle tramble
Et n’arreste ne que fueille de tramble,
Et n’est estable,
Eins est toudis changant et variable,
Puis ci, puis la, or au feu, a la table,
Et puis ailleurs, c’est chose moult doutable.
Car nullement
On ne la puet avoir seürement.
C’est droitement li gieus d’enchantement
Que ce qu’on cuide avoir certeinnement,
On ne l’a mie.
Einsi est il, dame, quoy que nuls die,
De ma dame, qui se change et varie,
Donne et retolt, or het, or est amie,
N’en une part
N’est tous ses cuers, et s’aucuns y repart,
Certes, je croy qu’il en ha povre part,
Et que de li celle part tost se part.
N’a droit jugier,
Amans ne puet avoir homme si chier
Qu’il le vosist avoir a parsonnier
En ses amours, sans plus nés par cuidier.
Et pour ce a plain;
Ne puis avoir son cuer, dont je me plein;
Car cuers qui va einsi de main en main,
S’on l’a ennuit, on ne l’a pas demain;
Et toute voie
Et vrais amans li drois oisiaus de proie,
Car il ne vuet avoir pour toute joie
Fors tout le cuer de celle ou il s’otroie.
Si que je di
Que vous rariés aussi tost vostre amy,
Comme on avroit mué le cuer de ly
Ad ce qu’il fust entierement en my
Mis sans retraire.
Car on ne puet le leu de sa piau traire
Sans l’escorchier, n’on ne puet d’un buef faire
.I. esprivier, ne aussi le contraire.
Et, douce dame,
La coustume est partout d’omme et de fame
Que, quant dou corps s’est departie l’ame
Et li corps est en terre sous la lame,
Qu’en petit d’eure
Est oubliez, ja soit ce qu’on en pleure.
Car nuls n’en voy ne nulle qui demeure
Tant en son pleur qu’a joie ne requeure
Eins que li ans
Soit acomplis, tant soit loiaus amans,
Ne excepter n’en vueil petis ne grans.
Et vraiement, je croy que ce soit scens.
Si en ferez
La coustume; pas ne la briserez
Car ja de nul reprise n’en serez,
Et de bon cuer pour l’ame prierez.
Mais en oubli
Ne puis mettre celle que pas n’oubli,
Car Souvenir la tient moult pres de mi
Sans departir jour, heure, ne demy;
Et si la voy
Assez souvent, dont tous vis me desvoy,
Quant longuement de mes yex la convoy,
Et je n’en ay joie, ne bien, n’avoy.
Eins voy autrui
Qui joie en a. C’est ce dont me destrui;
Car s’elle amer no vosist moy ne lui,
Les maus que j’ay ne pleingnisse a nelui,
Eins les portasse
Dedens mon cuer humblement et celasse,
Et en espoir de joie demourasse,
Si que meschief ne dolour ne doubtasse.
Ne departir
N’en vueil mon cuer, pour doubte dou partir,
Qui trop demeure en vie, et, sans mentir,
Je ne saroie amer a repentir.
Et si seroie
Faus amoureus se je me’en departoie,
Car sans nul ‘si’ li donnai l’amour moie.
Si l’ameray, que qu’avenir m’en doie;
Et, par ma foy,
Si loiaument l’aim que j’ay plus d’anoy
Cent fois pour li que je n’aie pour moy
Quant s’onneur voy amenrir; car au doy
La mousterront
Ceuls et celles qui ceste ouevre saront,
Et meins assez en tous cas la croiront,
Qu’a tous jours mais pour fausse la tenront.
Car de meffait
C’est un vice si villain et si lait,
Car qui le fait, ja de pooir qu’il ait,
N’iert de tous poins effacié ne deffait.
Pour ce conclus,
Dame, que j’ay de doleur assez plus,
Et que plus tost a garison venus
Seroit vos maus que cils dont sui tenus.
Et jugement
En oseroie atendre vraiement,
Se nous aviens juge qui loiaument
Vosist jugier, et veritablement.”
“Par m’ame, sire,
Et de ma part je vueil et ose dire
Que de mon cuer le jugement desire.
Or regardons qui nous volons eslire
Qui sans deport
Sache jugier li quels de nous a tort;
Car avis m’est que li maus que je port
Est si crueus qu’on ne puet plus sans mort.”
“Dame, je vueil
Que li juges soit fais tout a vo vueil.”
“Mais au vostre, biau sire, et si conseil
Qu’il ne soit fais fors par vostre conseil,
Car vous l’avez
Premiers requis; pour ce dire devez.”
“Certes, dame, or ne vous en lavez,
Mais vous, dites, pour ce que plus savez
Que je ne fais.”
Et quant je vi qu’il voloient que fais
Fust jugemens de leurs dolereus fais,
Mes cuers en fu de joie tous refais.
Si ne savoie
De .ij. choses la quele je feroie;
D’aler vers eaus, ou se je m’en tenroie.
Car volentiers mis les heüsse en voie
De juge prendre
Tel qu’a jugier leurs fais peüst entendre,
Si souffissant qu’il n’i eüst qu’aprendre,
Et qu’aprés lui n’i heüst que reprendre.
Si m’avisay
Moult longuement et pris mon avis ay
Que j’iroie a eaus. Lors sans delay
Je me levay et devers eaus alay
Tout le couvert
Parmi l’erbe qui estoit drue et vert;
Et quant je vins si pres d’eaus qu’en apert
Les pos veoir et tout a descouvert,
Le petit chien
Prist a glatir qui ne me congnut rien,
Dont la dame qui moult savoit de bien
En tressailli (je m’en aperçu bien),
Si l’apella.
Mais moult petit prisié son apel a,
Qu’en abaiant li chiennes m’aprocha,
Tant que ses dens a ma robe acrocha.
Si le hapay,
Dont il laissa de paour son abay.
Mais en mon cuer forment m’en deportay,
Pour ce qu’a sa dame le reportay,
Pour avoir voie
Et occoison d’aler ou je voloie;
Si que toudis son poil aplanioie,
Mais quant je vins ou estre desiroie,
Je ne fui mie
Mus, n’esbahis; einsois a chiere lie
Ay salué toute la compaingnie,
Si com faire le sos de ma partie.
Li chevaliers
Qui sages fu, courtois, et biaus parliers,
Grans, lons, et drois, biaus, et gens, et legiers,
Et d’onneur faire apris et coustumiers,
Sans plus atendre
Courtoisement me vint mon salut rendre.
Et la dame ou Nature volt entendre
Si qu’on ne puet sa grant biauté comprendre
Vers moy se trait
Moult humblement, doucement, et a trait.
Car elle avoit moult gracïeus attrait
Et le maintieng humble, dous, et parfait;
Et cheveus blons,
Les yex rians, plus vairs que nuls faucons,
Et ses corps fu gens, joins, gentils, et lons,
Et plus apers que nuls esmerillons;
Et s’ot l’entrueil
Grandet a point, maniere et dous acueil,
Mais son attrait et son gent appareil
Qui simples fu n’avoit point de pareil;
Et si fu blanche
Plus que la noif quant elle est sus la branche,
Sage, loial, courtoise, et de cuer franche,
Et si parfaite en toute contenance
Qu’en loiauté
Estoit assez plus bele que biauté;
N’en li n’avoit orgueil, ne cruauté,
Ne riens qui fust contraire a amité.
Mais esplouree
Fu moult forment sa face coulouree;
Et nompourquant de coulour esmeree
Et de fine douçour estoit paree.
Si m’apella
La dame, et puis m’enquist, et aparla
Moult sagement dont je venoie la.
Et je qui fu desirans d’oïr la,
La verité
De chief en chief li ay dit et compté
Comment la vins et ou j’avoie esté,
En tant qu’il ont leur meschief raconté.
Lors dist en bas
Li chevaliers par maniere de gas:
“Je croy qu’il ait oÿ tous nos debas.”
Et je li dis: “Sire, n’en doubtez pas,
Que voirement
Les ay je oïs moult ententivement
Et volentiers; mais n’aiez pensement
Que je y pense fors bien; car vraiement
Venus estoie
Sus .i. ruissel, par une herbue voie,
En ce vergier ou je me delitoie
Es oisillons que chanter escoutoie.
Et quant einsi
Y fui venus, sire, je vous choisi,
Et d’autre part ma dame venir vi.
Si vous dirai, comment je me chevi:
Je regardai
Le plus fueillu dou brueil; si m’i boutai,
Car de vous faire anui moult me doubtay;
Et la vos biens et vos maus escoutai
De chief en chief.
Or m’est avis que de vostre meschief,
Et ma dame qui tient enclin son chief
Dou sien, sauriés volentiers le plus grief
Par jugement.
Si ne volez penre premierement
Vostre juge, ne ma dame ensement.
Pour ce venus sui aviseement,
Pour vous nommer
.I. chevalier qui moult fait a amer;
Car de ça mer n’a pas, ne de la mer,
Plus gentil cuer, plus franc, n’a meins d’amer;
Car de largesse
Passe Alixandre et Hector de prouesse.
C’est li estos de toute gentillesse,
N’il ne vit pas com sers a sa richesse;
Eins ne vuet rien
Fors que l’onneur de tout le bien terrien,
Et s’est plus liés, quant il puet dire: ‘Tien,’
Qu’uns couvoiteus n’est de penre dou sien.
Dieu et l’eglise
Et loyauté aimme, et si bien justise
Qu’on le claimme l’Espee de Justise.
Humbles et dous est, et pleins de franchise
A ses amis,
Fiers et crueus contre ses anemis.
Et, a briés mos, de scens, d’onneur, de pris
En porte adés au dit des bons le pris
Quel part qu’il veingne.
Et s’il avient que son anemy teingne
A son dessous, Nature li enseingne,
Et ses bons cuers, que pité li en prengne.
C’est noble sorte,
Car Prouesse partout s’espee porte,
Hardiesse le conduit et enorte,
Et Largesse si li ouevre la porte
De tous les cuers.
A ceaus qui sont bon (je n’en met nuls fuers),
Avec euls est com sont freres et suers,
Grans et petis, moiens, et a tous fuers.
Sire, et d’Amours
Congnoist il tous les assaus, les estours,
Les biens, les maus, les plaintes, et les plours
Miex qu’Ovides, qui en sot tous les tours.
Et se son nom,
Qui tant est bons et de noble renom,
Volés savoir, dites le moy, ou non.”
“Certes, amis, dou savoir vous prion,
Car onques mais,
Si come je croy, ne fu, ne n’iert jamais
Home qui fust en tous cas si parfais
Comme cils est, et par dis et par fais.”
“Sire, s’enseingne
Crie Lembourc, et est roys de Behaingne,
Fils de Henry, le bon roy d’Alemaingne,
Qui par force d’armes, qui que s’en plaingne,
Comme emperere
Fu coronnez a Romme avec sa mere;
Dont s’il est bons, c’est bien drois qu’il appere:
Car il le doit de mere et de pere.
Si que, biau sire,
Un tels juges seroit bons a eslire
Qui vous saroit bien moustrer et descrire
Li quels de vous sueffre plus de martyre.
Et le prenez.”
Li chevaliers respondi com senez:
“Je croy que Diex nous ait ci amenez.”
Et dist: “Dame, s’a juge le tenez,
Je m’i ottroy.”
Et la dame respondi sans desroy:
“Sire, tant oy dire de bien dou roy,
Tant est sages, preus, et de bon arroy
Que je l’acort.”
“Grant merci, dame; or sommes en acort.
Si pri a Dieu que le bon roy confort
Et qu’il nous maint temprement a bon port,
Si que parler
Puissiens a lui, ou il nous faut aler.”
Je respondi: “Bien vous say assener
La ou il est et, s’il vous plaist, mener.
Certeins en sui,
Car vraiement, je mengay yer et bui
Avec sens gens en chastiau de Durbui.
Et il y est, ne n’en partira hui;
Ne ce n’est mie
Loing, qu’il n’i a ne lieue ne demie,
Nom pas de ci le quart d’une huchie.”
Li chevaliers d’aler la dame en prie
Sans plus atendre.
La dame dist: “Je ne m’en quier deffendre,
Mais je ne say quel part la voie prendre.”
Je dis: “Dame, bien le vous vueil aprendre.
Venés adés.
Je iray devant et vous venrez aprés.”
Si q’en chemin me mis, d’aler engrés,
Et quant il ont veü Durbui de pres,
Si s’arrestoient,
Et dou veoir forment se mervilloient,
Car onques mais en leur vie n’avoient
Veü si bel, ne si gent, ce disoient.
Et, sans doubtance,
Il est moult fors et de tres grant plaisence,
Biaus et jolis et de po de deffence.
Car se li rois d’Alemaingne et de France
Devant estoient,
Cil de dedens ja pour ce ne lairoient
Qu’il n’alassent hors et ens s’il voloient,
Toutes les fois qu’a besongnier aroient
En la contree.
C’est une roche en mi une valee
Qui tout entour est d’iaue environnee,
Grande, bruiant, parfonde, roide, et lee;
Et li vergier
Sont tout entour si bel qu’a droit jugier,
On ne porroit nuls plus biaus souhaidier.
Mais d’oisillons y a si grant frapier
Que jour et nuit
La valee retentist de leur bruit;
Et l’iaue aussi seriement y bruit,
Si qu’on ne puet en nul milleur deduit.
Et puis aprés
A grans roches tout entour, nom pas pres,
Eins sont si long dou chastel qu’il n’est fers,
Engiens, ne ars qui y getast jamés.
Mais la maison
Sus la roche est si bien qu’onques mais hom
Ne vit autre de plus belle façon,
Car il n’i a nesune meffaçon.
Et la fonteinne
Est en la court, qui n’est mie villeinne;
Eins est vive, de roche clere et seinne,
Froide com glace et plus douce que Seinne.
Mais le vaissel
Ou elle chiet est tailliez a cisel
D’un marbre fin, blanc, et bis, et si bel
Que tels ne fu depuis le temps Abel.
Sus la riviere
Est la pree large, longue, et pleniere,
Ou on trueve d’erbes mainte maniere.
Mais revenir m’estuet a ma matiere.
Quant la maison
Orent veü, je les mis a raison,
Et si leur dis: “De l’aler est saison.
Alons nous en: car ci riens ne faison.”
Si en alames
Tout le chemin et le pont trespassames,
Ne ça ne la, nulle part n’arrestames
Jusques a tant qu’a la porte hurtames.
Mais li portiers
La porte ouvri de cuer et volentiers.
Je qui hurtai et qui fui li premiers
Et de laiens estre assés coustumiers
Parlai einsi:
“Cils chevaliers et ceste dame aussi
Viennent parler au roy s’il est yci.”
Et li portiers tantost li respondi
Qu’il y estoit.
Je dis: “Amis, pren garde s’on porroit
Parler a li.” Et li dist qu’il iroit.
Mais tout einsi com de nous se partoit
Pour aler sus,
Uns chevaliers, biaus, et gens, et corsus,
Jolis et gais, en est a nous venus;
Honneur ot nom, et s’en sot plus que nuls.
N’il ne vint mie
Tous seuls a nous; eins li fist compaingnie
Une dame bele, gaie, et jolie;
Si ot a non la dame Courtoisie.
Bien y parut,
Car aussi tost qu’elle nous aperçut
Nous salua, et puis biau nous reçut.
Si fist Honneur, si com faire le dut.
Adont endoy
Courtoisement, en riant, sans effroy,
Prirent chascun l’un d’eaus .ij. par le doy.
Mais Courtoisie, einsi com dire doy,
Le chevalier
Acompaingna liement, sans dangier,
Et Honneur volt la dame acompaingnier.
Lors se prirent ensamble a desraisnier
Si s’en alerent,
Tout en parlant, la ou il les menerent,
Par les degrez de marbre qu’il monterent,
Tant qu’en la chambre au bon roy s’en entrerent.
Et li bons rois,
Qui moult estoit sages en tous endrois,
Loiaus, vaillans, liberaus, et adrois,
Et envers tous dous, humbles, et courtois,
En moult grant joie
Estoit assis sur .i. tapis de soie,
Et ot .i. clerc que nommer ne saroie
Qui li lisoit la bataille de Troie.
Mais Hardiesse
L’acompaingnoit, et sa fille Prouesse,
Et doucement tint par la main Largesse,
Une dame de moult grant gentillesse.
S’i fu Richesse,
Amour, Biauté, Loiauté, et Leesse,
Desir, Penser, Volenté et Noblesse,
Franchise, Honneur, Courtoisie, Jeunesse.
Cil .xvj. estoient
Avec le roy, n’onques ne s’en partoient.
Diex et Nature ottroie li avoient
Dés qu’il fu nez; pour ce tout le servoient.
C’estoit grant grace.
Et s’il y a nul ne nulle qui face
Chose dont nuls puist dire qu’il mefface
Raisons y est q’le meffait efface.
Einsi se sist
Li gentils rois, et quant la dame vist,
Il se leva, et par la main la prist,
Car Courtoisie a faire li aprist.
Aprés pris ha
Le chevalier, et forment l’esprisa
Dedens son cuer, et puis leur demanda
Moult sagement dont il venoient la,
Et leur enquist
De leur estre qui moult li abelist.
Li chevaliers a la dame requist
Qu’elle li vosist dire, et elle dist
Que non feroit;
Einsois deïst, que miex li afferoit.
Il respondi adont qu’il li diroit
De chief en chief tout einsi qu’il estoit,
Jusqu’a la fin.
“Sire,” dist il, “Ci pres a .i. jardin
Vert et flouri ou il a grant tintin
De rossignols; s’i vins hui a matin,
Pour escouter
Leur biau service et leur joli chanter,
Comment que po s’i peüst deporter
Mon cuer que riens ne porroit conforter.
Mais toute voie
Einsi venus d’aventure y estoie,
Pleins et pensis de maus qu’Amours m’envoie,
Si vi venir par une estroite voie,
Verde et herbue,
Ceste dame qu’avec moy est venue.
Si me sambla de maniere esperdue,
Si que tantost pris parmi l’erbe drue
Mon adresse ay,
Et mon chemin droit vers li adressai.
Et quant je fu pres, je la saluay,
Mais mot ne dist, dont je me mervillay,
Ne onques chiere
Ne fist de moy, ne de oueil, ne de maniere.
Et je qui fu mervilleus pour quoy c’iere,
Dis belement: ‘Tres douce dame chiere,
Pour quel raison
Ne volez vous entendre a ma raison?’
Et la tirai par le pan dou giron.
S’en tressailli, dont sa belle façon
Coulour mua.
Si respondi, que plus n’i arresta,
Et durement envers moy s’escusa
De son penser a quoy elle musa.
Et li enquis
Pourquoy son cuer estoit einsi pensis.
Finablement tant parlai et tant fis
Qu’elle me dist tout ce que je li quis,
Voire par si
Que par ma foy li juray et plevi,
Quant elle aroit son parler assevi,
Que le penser li diroie de mi.
Et dist einsi
Qu’elle soloit avoir loial amy
Qui loyaument l’amoit, et elle li.
Mais la mort l’a de ce siecle parti,
Et la valour,
Le scens, le pris, la prouesse, l’onnour,
Qui fu en li, si comme elle dist, flour,
Le fist estre des bons tout le millour.
Pour ce pensoit
Parfondement, në onques ne cessoit,
Et en pensant le plouroit et plaingnoit,
Si que son vis en larmes se baingnoit.
Pour ce maintient
Que la dolour est plus griés qui li vient
Pour son amy que celle qui me tient.
Sire, et je di, faire le me couvient,
Tout le contraire.

J’aim loyaument de cuer et sans retraire
La plus tres bele et le plus dous viaire
Qu’onques encor Nature peüst faire,
Qui me donna
Jadis son cuer tout et abandonna.
Son cuer, s’amour, son amy me clama,
Et par son dit seur tous autres m’ama.
Or est ainsi,
Sire, qu’elle n’a mais cure de my;
Eins m’a guerpi, et fait nouvel amy.
Et, par m’ame, pas ne l’ay desservi.
Et d’autre part,
Mon guerredon ailleurs donne et depart,
Ne je n’en puis avoir ne part ne hart.
C’est ce, sire, pour quoy li cuers me part.
Si m’est avis,
Consideré mes raisons, que j’ay pis
Que la dame, comment que ses amis
Soit trespassés, Diex l’ait en paradis!
Sire, et cils clers
Qui me samble gais, jolis, et apers,
Fu atapis ou jardin et couvers
En plus espés dou brueil qui est tous vers.
Si sailli hors,
Quant li ot bien oÿ tous nos descors
Si nous loa que li drois et li tors
Fust mis seur vous, et ce fu nos acors.
Car longuement
Avoit duré de nous le parlement,
Et si aviens fait meint arguement,
Si comme il est escript plus pleinnement
Yci dessus.
Or sommes ci par devers vous venus
Par quoy li drois soit jugiés et sceüs,
Et que vos dis soit de nous .ij. tenus.
Si que ce plait
Povez tantost terminer s’il vous plaist;
Car nous avons de vous no juge fait.
Sire, or avez oÿ tout nostre fait
Si en vueilliez faire le jugement,
Car nous l’avons desiré longuement,
Et ceste dame et moy devotement
Vous en prions.”

Quant cils li ot moustrees leurs raisons,
Qui bien le sot faire com sages homs,
Li gentils rois qui moult estoit preudons
Li respondi:
“Se Diex me gart, vous avez pris en my
Juge ignorant et de scens desgarni,
Ne onques mais je n’oÿ, ne ne vi
Tel jugement.
S’en saroie jugier petitement.
Mais nompourquant le conseil de ma gent
En vueil avoir; car je l’ay bel et gent.”
Lors appella
En sousriant Loiauté qui fu la,
Amour, Juenesse, et Raison, qui parla
Premierement et puis leur demanda
Li gentils roys:
“Que diriés vous qui savez tous les drois?
Cils chevaliers qui gens est et adrois
Et ceste dame aussi a ces crins blois
Sont venu ci
Par devers moy, dont je les remercy,
Et jugement vuelent oïr de my,
Li quels a plus de mal et de sousci.
La dame avoit
Ami loial qui l’amoit et servoit,
Et elle lui, tant comme elle pooit.
Or est einsi que Mors, qui tout reçoit,
Li a tollu.
S’en a le cuer dolent et irascu,
Car a son temps ot il si grant vertu
Que nul milleur, ne nul plus bel ne fu.
Le chevalier
Sans repentir aimme de cuer entier
La plus bele qui vive, a son cuidier,
Et elle foy sans muer, ne changier
Li a promis,
Et retenus fu de li comme amis
Et bien amez; il en estoit tous fis.
Or a la dame en autre son cuer mis,
Et li guerpi
Dou tout en tout, et n’a cure de li.
Et a ses yex voit la belle et celi
Qui les dous biens a qu’il ha desservi.
Or vous ay dit
Pour quoy il sont venu oïr mon dit.
Et sans doubte, cuers qui ainsi languit
Se destruit moult, et a grant doleur vit.
Si m’en devez
Donner conseil au mieus que vous poez;
Car chascuns est mes drus et mes privez,
Et moult me fi en vous, bien le savez.
Dites, Raison.
Premiers oïr vueil vostre entention;
Car vous m’avez maint conseil donné bon.”
Raisons, qui fu bele et de bon renom,
Einsi respont:

“Sire, je di que cil .ij. amant sont
Moult engoisseus quant einsi perdu ont
Ce qu’il aimment, et que li cuers leur font
Si com la cire
Devant le feu se degaste et empire.
Mais qu’il soient tuit pareil de martyre
Et de meschief, ce ne vueil je pas dire.
Ce qui me muet
Vous vueil dire puisque faire l’estuet.
Ceste dame jamais veoir ne puet
Son ami vray einsi comme elle suet.
Si avenra
Einsi que puisque plus ne le verra,
Je ferai tant qu’elle l’oubliera,
Car le cuers ja tant chose n’amera
Qu’il ne l’oublie
Par eslongier. Certes, je ne di mie
Qu’une piece n’en ait peinne et hachie,
Mais Juenesse, qui tant est gaie et lie,
Ne soufferroit
Pour nulle riens qu’entroubliez ne soit.
Car Juenesse, sire, comment qu’il voit,
Met en oubli moult tost ce que ne voit.
Aprés je di
Qu’Amours n’a pas tant de pooir en li
Que soustenir se peüst sans amy
L’eure du jour, ne sans amie aussy.
Et se l’un faut
Des .iij., li .ij. autres aront deffaut;
Qu’Amour, ami, et amie estre faut
Tout ensamble, ou l’amour riens ne vaut.
Et puisqu’amie
Et Amours ont perdu la compaingnie
D’amy, certes, je ne donroie mie
De leur amour une pomme porrie.
C’est assavoir,
Quant a l’amour qui est mondeinne, avoir.
Car c’est tres bon de faire son devoir
Si que l’ame s’en puist apercevoir.
Mais il n’est ame,
N’homme vivant, qui aimme si sans blame
S’il est tapez de l’amoureuse flame,
Qu’il n’aimme miex assez le corps que l’ame.
Pour quel raison?
Amour vient de charnel affection,
Et si desir et sa condition
Sont tuit enclin a delectation.
Si ne se puet
Nuls, ne nulle garder qui amer vuet
Qu’il n’i ait vice ou pechié; il l’estuet,
Et c’est contraire a l’ame, qui s’en duet.
Et d’autre part,
Tout aussi tost com l’ame se depart
Dou corps, l’amour s’en eslonge et espart.
Einsi le voy partout, se Diex me gart.
Si que l’amour
De ceste dame, ou tant a de valour,
Apetise toudis de jour en jour,
Et aussi fait a ce fuer la dolour.
Mais cils amis,
Qui folement s’est d’amer entremis
Sans mon conseil et se s’i est si mis,
Li dolereus, qu’il en est tous remis,
Les maus d’amer
Sont en son cuer qui li sont trop amer
Qu’Amours le fait nuit et jour enflamer,
Ne il ne vorroit, ne porroit oublier
Son annemie.
Savez pourquoy? Pour ce que Compaingnie,
Amour, Biauté, et Juenesse la lie,
Et Loiauté, qu’oublier ne vueil mie,
En grant folie,
En rage, en dueil, et en forsenerie
Le font languir, et en grant jalousie,
Et en peril de l’ame et de la vie.
Car main et tart
Son dolent cuer de sa dame ne part,
Eins la compaingne en tous lieus sans depart;
Et cils qui est plus pres dou feu, plus s’art.
Et Loiauté
Si li deffent a faire fausseté.
Mais s’il heüst par mon conseil ouvré
Quant sa dame ot nuef ami recouvré,
Il n’eüst pas
Continué l’amour; car, en tel cas,
Se la dame chante en haut ou en bas,
On doit aler ou le trot ou le pas.
Aprés li dist
Biauté qu’il fait miex assez, s’il languist,
Pour li amer, que se d’autre joïst.
Si fait Amour. Juenesse le norrist
Avec folour
En ce meschief, en celle fole errour,
Car il en pert le sens et la vigour.
Einsi languist li dolens en dolour;
Car quant il voit
Que de s’amour, present li, autres joit,
Qui son amy appeller le soloit,
Il a le cuer si jalous, si destroit,
Que c’est merveille
Qu’il ne s’occist, ou qu’il ne s’apareille
D’occirre ce qui ainsi le traveille.
Et ce li met Jalousie en l’oreille.
Et s’il avoit
L’amour de li, einsi comme il soloit,
Qu’en feroit il? Certes, riens n’en feroit.
Car jamais jour il ne s’i fieroit.
Et pour ce espoir
N’a de jamais autre solas avoir,
Puisque mettre ne puet en nonchaloir
Ceste dame qui tant le fait doloir.
Si que je di
Qu’il ha plus mal que ceste dame cy,
Et que son cuer est en plus grant sousci
Par les raisons que vous avez oÿ.
Et, a mon gré,
Cils chevaliers en a moult bien parlé,
Car en escript l’ay ci dessus trouvé,
Et par raison s’entention prouvé.
Ce m’est avis.”

Quant Raisons ot moustré tout son avis,
Amours parla, qui fu biaus a devis,
Et gracïeus de maniere et de vis,
Et dist: “Raison,
Moult bien avez moustree vo raison.
Si m’i ottroy, fors tant que mesprison
Feroit d’oster son cuer de la prison
A la tres bele
Pour qui il sent l’amoureuse estincelle.
Si vueil qu’il l’aint et serve comme celle
Dont heü a mainte lie nouvelle,
Car s’il pooit
Vivre mil ans, et toudis la servoit,
Ja par servir il ne desserviroit
Les grans douceurs que faire li soloit.
Et se Plaisence,
Qui faire fait mainte estrange muance,
Li fait estre de sa dame en doubtance,
Doit il estre pour ce en desperence?
Certes, nanil!
Qu’en mon service en a encor cent mil
Qui aimment tuit pres aussi fort comme il,
Et si n’en ont la monte d’un fusil.
Et s’ay povoir
De li garir et de li desdoloir,
Mais il n’a mais fiance, ne espoir,
En moy; c’est ce qui plus le fait doloir.”
“Comment, Amours?”
Ce dist Raisons, “Est ce dont de vos tours
Qu’il amera sans avoir nul secours
Celle qui ha donné son cuer aillours?
Et qui vous sert,
Il n’a mie le luyer qu’il dessert?
Certes, fols est qui a servir s’ahert
Si fait maistre quant son guerredon pert.”
Aprés ce fait
Devers Amours, Loiauté se retrait,
Et dist einsi, que riens n’eüst meffait,
Se d’autel pain li eüst soupe fait.
“N’il n’est raisons
Pour ce, s’il est vrais, loiaus, et preudons,
Qu’il soit de ceuls qui batent les buissons
Dont li autre prennent les oisillons.
Car se la dame,
Q’je repren moult durement et blame
(Et c’est bien drois, car elle acuet grant blame
De muance faire en la haute game)
N’eüst osté son cuer de cest amant,
Qui tous estoit en son commandement,
Amours, Amours, je parlasse autrement.
Mais sans doubtance,
Quant il l’aimme de toute sa puissance,
Et sans cause le met en oubliance,
Il doit dancier einsi comme elle dance;
Nom pas qu’il face
Chose de quoi il puist perdre ma grace;
Car s’il la laist, et ailleurs se pourchace,
Je ne tien pas qu’envers moy se mefface.
Et si m’acort
Dou tout en tout de Raison a l’acort
(Car elle fait bon et loial raport):
Que cils a droit, et ceste dame a tort.”
Et quant Juenesse,
Qui moult fu gaie et pleinne de leesse,
Et qui n’aconte a don, ne a promesse,
Fors seulement que ses voloirs adresse,
Ot escouté
Ce que Raisons ot dit et raconté
Et Loiauté, pou y a aconté,
Car moult pleinne fu de sa volenté.
Et dist en haut:
“Certes, Raison, vostre science faut,
Et Loiauté, sachiés, riens ne vous vaut.
Car cils amis, pour mal, ne pour assaut
Qu’Amours li face,
N’iert ja partis de la belle toupasse
Qui de beauté et de doulceur tout passe,
Et de fine colour; ja Dieu ne place
Qu’il li avieigne
Que ja d’amer la belle se refraigne!
Car s’a present ne veult, ne n’adaigne,
Au moins l’aimme il, et son cuer la compaingne.
Dont n’est ce assez?
Doit il estre de li amer lassez?
Certes, nennil! Car on n’est pas amez,
Ne conjoïnz toudis, n’amis clamez:
Non est, sans doubte.
Raison, fols est amans qui vous escoute,
Ne qui ensuit vos dis, ne vostre route.
Et qui le fait, je di qu’il ne voit goute.
Et par ma foy,
Nous ferons tant, Amours, ma dame et moy,
Que son cuer yert si pris, et en tel ploy,
Que nuit, ne jour ne partira de soy.
Ne vos effors,
Ne doubtez pas, ne sera ja si fors
Que li fin cuer de cest amant soit hors
De la tres belle ou po treuve confors.
Qu’Amour, ma dame,
Qui son cuer art, teint, bruit, et enflame,
Et moy qui sui encor a tout ma flame,
En ceste amour le tenrons; car, par m’ame,
Il le couvient.
Et se des maus dolereus plus li vient
Qu’a la dame qui dalés lui se tient,
Fors est assez; bien les porte et soustient.”
Lors s’avisa
Li gentils rois, et bonnement ris a
De Juenesse, qui einsi devisa;
Mais onques meins pour ce ne l’en prisa,
Qu’elle faisoit
Tout son devoir de ce qu’elle disoit,
Et de son vueil plus chier denree avoit
Que .x. livres de son profit n’amoit.
Si dist: “Juenesse,
Bele dame, vous estes grant maistresse,
Qui cest amant tenés en grant destresse,
En povreté, en misere, en tristesse,
Vous et Amours.
Vez que li las a perdu tout secours,
Ne ses cuers n’a refuge, ne recours,
Fors a la mort, qui a li vient le cours.
Car travillier
Le volez trop, et dou tout essillier.
Or a trouvé, s’il vous plaist, consillier
Bon et loial; laissiez le consillier;
Si ferez bien.
Car il est pris en si estroit lien
Qu’il n’i scet tour d’eschaper, në engien.”
“Certes, sire, de ce ne faire rien.
Eins amera
La tres bele pour qui tant d’amer a.
Et, s’il y muert, chascuns le clamera
Martir d’amours, et honneur li sera
S’il muert pour li.”

Quant Juenesse ot son parler assevi,
Li rois parla a euls et dist einsi:
“Nous ne sommes pas assemble yci
Pour desputer
S’il doit amer sa dame ou non amer,
Mais pour savoir li quels a plus d’amer,
Et qui plus sent crueus les maus d’amer,
Si com moy samble.
Or estes vous en acort tout ensamble
Que plus de mal en cest amant s’assamble
Qu’en la dame; ne pas ne me dessamble
De cest acort,
Einsois m’i tieng dou tout et m’i acort,
Que cils amans est plus long de confort
Que la dame ne soit, que Diex confort.
Si en feray
Le jugement einsi com je saray,
Car tel chose pas acoustumé n’ay,

Et uns autres vraiement, bien le say,
Miex le feroit.
Je di einsi: consideré a droit
L’entention de Raison ci endroit,
Et les raisons de vous qui volez droit.
Et Loiauté,
Qui en a dit la pure verité,
Ne n’i chasse barat ne fausseté,
D’Amours aussi qui en a bien parlé,
Et de Juenesse —
Que cils amans sueffre plus de tristesse,
Et que li maus d’amours plus fort le blesse
Que la dame, ou moult a de noblesse,
Et que plus long
Est de confort, dont il ont bon besoing.
Et pour ce di mon jugement et doing
Qu’il a plus mal qu’elle n’a, plus de soing,
Et de grevance.”

Quant li bons rois ot rendu sa sentence,
Dont par Raison fu faite l’ordenance,
Li chevaliers iluec, en sa presence,
L’en mercia,
Et, en pensant, la dame s’oublia
Si durement que nul mot dit n’i a.
Mais nompourquant en la fin ottria
Qu’elle tenoit
Le jugement que li rois fait avoit,
Car si sages et si loiaus estoit
Qu’envers nelui fors raison ne feroit.
Adont li rois
En sousriant les a pris par les dois
Et les assist seur le tapis norois,
Long des autres, si qu’il n’i ot qu’euls trois.
Si leur enorte
Et deprie chascun qu’il se conforte,
Car se le cuer longuement tel mal porte,
Il en porroit mors estre, et elle morte
(Que ja n’aveingne!);
Mais chascuns d’eaus bon corage reprengne,
Car li cuers trop se destruit et mehaingne
Qui en tel plour et tel dolour se baingne;
Et recorder
Voit on souvent qu’on doit tout oublier
Ce qu’on voit bien qu’on ne puet amender,
Ne recouvrer par pleindre ne plourer.
S’einsi le font,
Vers Loiauté, ce dit, pas ne meffont;
Mais s’en ce plour pour amer se meffont,
Homicides de leur ames se font
Et de leur vie.
Aprés li rois appella sa maisnie;
Si vint Franchise, Honneur, et Courtoisie,
Biauté, Desir, Leesse l’envoisie,
Et Hardiesse,
Prouesse, Amour, Loiauté, et Largesse,
Voloir, Penser, Richesse, avec Juenesse,
Et puis Raison, qui de tous fu maistresse.
Si leur commande
Que chascuns d’eaus a honnourer entende
Ces .ij. amans, et qu’Amour leur deffende
Merencolie; aprés que la viande
Soit aprestee,
Car il estoit ja pres de la vespree;
Et il ont fait son vueil sans demouree,
Com bonne gent et bien endoctrinee.
Lors se sont trait
Vers les amans, sans faire plus de plait,
Et chascuns d’eaus a son pooir a fait
Ce qu’il pense qui leur agree et plait,
En estoient de bonne volenté.
Et li amant ont congié demandé,
Mais on leur a baudement refusé,
Car Courtoisie,
Franchise, Honneur, et Largesse s’amie,
Li gentils rois, qui pas ne s’i oublie,
Et chascuns d’eaus moult durement les prie
De demourer.
Et il estoit pres heure de souper,
Et a ce mot on prist l’iaue a corner
Par le chastel, et forment a tromper;
Si se leverent,
Et .ij. et .ij. en la sale en alerent;
Aprés leurs mains courtoisement laverent
Puis s’assirent, si burent et mengierent,
Selonc raison,
Car il y ot planté et a foison
De quanqu’on puet dire n’avoir de bon.
Aprés mengier, les prist par le giron
Li gentils rois
Et si leur dist: “Vous n’en irez des mois,
Car je vous vueil oster a ceste fois
Les pensees qui vous font moult d’anois.”
Le chevalier
Moult humblement l’en prist a mercïer,
Et aussi fist la dame qui targïer
Ne pooit plus, ce dit, de repairier.
Et finalment
Li rois les tint .viij. jours moult liement
Et au partir leur donna largement
Chevaus, harnois, joiaus, or, et argent.
Si se partirent
Au chief de .viij. jours et dou roy congié prirent,
Ou tant orent trouvé d’onneur qu’il dirent
Qu’eins si bon roy ne si gentil ne virent.
Mais compaingnie
Leur fist Honneur; aussi fist Courtoisie,
Juenesse, Amour, Richesse l’aaisie,
Et meint autre que nommer ne say mie.
Car il monterent
Sus les chevaus et tant les convoierent
Que chascun d’eaus en son hostel menerent,
Et puis au roy a Durbui retournerent.
Ci fineray
Ma matiere, ne plus n’en rimeray,
Car autre part assez a rimer ay.
Mais en la fin de ce livret feray
Que qui savoir
Vorra mon nom et mon seurnom de voir,
Il le porra clerement percevoir
En darrein ver dou livret et veoir,
Mais qu’il dessamble
Les premieres .vij. sillabes d’ensamble
Et les lettres d’autre guise rassamble,
Si que nulle n’en oublie ne emble.
Einsi porra
Mon nom savoir qui savoir le vorra,
Mais ja pour ce miex ne m’en prisera.
Et nompourquant ja pour ce ne sera
Que je ne soie
Loiaus amis, jolis, et pleins de joie,
Car se riens plus en ce monde n’avoie
Fors ce que j’aim ma dame simplet et quoie
Contre son gré,
Si ay j’assez, qu’Amours m’a honnouré
Et richement mon mal guerredonné,
Quant a ma dame einsi mon cuer donné
Ay a tous jours.
Et ce mon cuer conforte en ses dolours
Que, quant premiers senti les maus d’amours,
A gentil mal cuide humble secours.

Explicit le Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne.

The Judgment of the King of Bohemia

At Eastertide, when every creature rejoices,
When the earth with many a gay color
Adorns herself, when Good Love leaves no wound but
The breasts of many pretty ladies,
Lovers, and young girls
(And this brings them many
New joys and many cares),
At this sweet time, close to the month of May,
One morning I elegantly arrayed myself,
In the fashion of a man who loved most perfectly
With a constant love.
And the day was just balmy enough,
Beautiful, clear, sunny, crisp and pure, without a chill.
The dew on the greenery
Was shimmering
So brightly it completely blinded me
Whenever I looked upon it
Because of the sun shining down from above.
And the birds,
For the sake of the sweetness in that joyous new season,
Happily and with such grand celebration
Were all singing, so I moved to the call
Of their sweet song.
Then I spied one among them in flight
Who soared above the others crying:
“Ocy! Ocy!” And I followed him until
In a solitary byway
Above a stream, close by a beautiful tower,
Where there were many trees and flowers
Of different colors that smelled sweet,
He perched.
Then I simply dropped to the ground
And hid myself as well as I could beneath the trees
So that he could not see me,
In order to hear
The full sweet sound of his pleasant song.
It pleased me so to delight in hearing
His sweet singing that I could never
Describe it.
But as I was enjoying
His very sweet singing, on which I was intent,
I saw approach by a narrow path
Covered with grass
A lady deep in thought and all alone,
Save for a little dog and a serving maid.
But her forthright demeanor showed clearly
She was sorely distressed.
And on the other side, a short distance from me,
A knight of quite noble array
Came toward her right down the path
With no companions;
So I thought they might be lover and beloved.
Then I pushed myself into the leaves
And was so hidden they didn’t see me at all.
Now when that lover,
To whom Nature had granted considerable gifts,
Approached that worthy lady,
He greeted her like a gentleman gracious,
Wise, and well mannered.
And so oppressed by thought was the lady
She passed him by with no response.
And at once the man retraced his steps,
Took her
By the robe, and said softly:
“Sweet lady, do you scorn
My greeting?” And when she saw him,
With a sigh
She answered so he waited no longer:
“To be sure, sir, I did not hear you at all
Because my thoughts prevented me;
But if I’ve done
Something improper or wrong,
Please pardon me if you would.”
The knight, making no further argument,
Said softly:
“Lady, no pardon is needed,
For here there is no misdeed or ill will;
But I beg you please tell me
Your thoughts.”
Then the lady sighed deeply
And said: “For God’s sake, leave me in peace, fair sir,
Because I don’t need you to increase the grief
Or frustration
That they give me.” With this, he began moving
Closer to her to draw out her thoughts,
And said: “Sweet and noble lady,
I see you are sad.
But I swear to you and promise upon my faith
That if to me you reveal your trouble,
I’ll do all in my power
To put it right.”
And the lady undertook to thank him for this,
Saying: “Sir, no one can help me,
And no one save God could alleviate
The terrible grief
That mars and pales my complexion,
Binds my heart in sorrow and weeping,
Keeps me in such bitter misery
That, truth to tell,
There is no heart that could have more.”
“Lady, what misfortune makes your pain so great?
Tell me, for I think I suffer
A hurt so painful,
So miserable, so strong, so grievous,
So bitter that — of this you may be sure —
There’s no woman, no human being,
Nor was there ever one
Who endured such pain.”
“Surely, sir, I firmly believe you
Bear not the same burden in your heart that I do.
For this reason you shall learn,
These thoughts you wish to know.
Yet right away you’ll promise
To tell me all your own without any lies.”
“Agreed, my lady.
Upon my faith and soul, I promise
That the thought that scorches and inflames me,
Often eating at my heart and rending it,
I’ll reveal to you
Completely, and in nothing will I lie.”
“Agreed, sir, and now I’ll tell you.”
“Speak, then, and I’ll listen
Most willingly.”

“Sir, altogether now it’s seven years or eight
That my heart’s been serf and vassal
To Good Love, whose ways I’ve come to know
Since childhood.
For when I encountered Love the first time,
I gladly put heart, body, strength, life,
My goods and power, what I had,
At her disposal.
And as her vassal she retained me
And with a very loyal heart gave me
To a man handsome and good, gentle, wise, and gracious,
Who was
The very flower of courtesy,
Perfect honor, and pleasant demeanor;
Of the very good indeed he was the best.
And the man had
A noble body, elegant too, gracious, well-formed and pleasing;
Young, genteel, graced with charm he was,
Full of all that a true lover requires.
And he was acclaimed
Worthy of being loved above all others,
For he was true, loyal, and circumspect,
Discreet in what pertained to loving.
And I loved him
So loyally I devoted all my heart
To loving him (no other thought was mine);
So in him was my hope, joy,
And pleasure,
My heart, love, thoughts, and desire.
In every kind of goodness my heart could rejoice
Simply by seeing and hearing him.
All my comfort
Lay in him; he was all that pleased me,
All my solace, delight, and treasure.
He was my wall, my castle, and my refuge.
And he loved me;
Above all else he served and respected me.
He called me his heart, his love, his lady;
He was mine completely; my heart knew this well.
Nor could anything
Displease him that should please me.
So true a pair were our two hearts
That one never opposed the other;
Rather they were
Always in accord; one thought they shared.
They were the same in will and desire;
A single good, one ill, one joy they felt
And it was never otherwise for these two;
Instead our love was so faithful
It never gave rise to an immoral thought
Of any kind.
Alas! What sorrow! Now the opposite is true.
For my sweetness now is painful suffering.
My joys are bitter hurt,
And my thoughts,
In which my heart used to delight
And find sweet solace for every hurt,
Are, and will remain, painful, bitter, sad.
My days
Will be dark and filled with misfortune,
My hope will lack all certainty,
And my pleasure will become enduring sorrow,
For without fail
I will pale and tremble, startle with a change of mood,
Moan, cry out, sigh, and wail,
And in fear of despair
Even shudder;
Nor will my sad heart experience any good;
No comfort, no joy will ever touch it
Until death seizes me,
Death, who greatly
Wronged me by not bringing herself
To bite me with her painful bite
When of everything she stripped me and killed
My lover sweet,
Whom I loved with a pure heart, as he did me.
But alas — sorrow — what pain! I do not wish
To live on after him even a day or half of one
In such terrible grief;
I’d rather die from the pain that grieves me.”
And I, who lay hidden within the brush,
Saw that at this word the lady with the gracious manner
Fell down as if dead.
Now he who was a type gentle and kind
Many times begged and exhorted her
Quite tenderly to take comfort,
But to no avail;
For assaulted by a grievous pain, the lady
Felt such a severe attack for her lover’s sake,
Both breath and strength did fail her.
And when he saw
How the lady neither heard nor attended to him,
He was as pained as he could be.
Nonetheless the man realized
She had fainted.
In his hand he then gathered up some dew
From the green grass and sprinkled it over
Her tear-stained face
So gently
That the lady who for so long
Had lost strength, reason, and understanding
Opened her eyes and began to sigh
Bemoaning the man who made her desire
Death because of his faithful love for her.
But the man, whose noble heart lacked bitterness,
Said: “Dear lady,
For the mercy of God, get hold of yourself.
Carrying on like this will be your death
Since I see well that you pay most dearly
For loving him.
Yet let your heart not fail so.
It is neither worthy nor honorable.”
“You tell the truth, sir, but it was quite bad luck I saw
The hour and day
I ever loved with such a perfect love
Because in no way can I escape it.
Instead, I see a death with no respite.”
“Lady, now hear
What I will say, and please don’t take it ill.
No wonder you are distraught
Since you are saddened.
Yet truly
A person could much sooner find relief
For your troubles than for mine.” “Sir, how so?
Tell me, and you’ll fulfill
Your agreement.”
“Quite willingly, but listen to me
And abandon the sadness in your heart
So you can give all your attention
To hearing me.”
“Surely, sir, I can scarcely cheer up.
Still, I’ll do my best, and that’s no lie.”
“Then I’ll reveal to you what pains are mine
With no more delay.
Lady, from that time I knew myself
And my heart could feel and understand
What loving is, I’ve never ceased striving
To be loved;
So for a long time, to have the name of lover,
Before my heart was securely placed or given,
Or granted, or even inclined to one lady,
I many times
Devoutly requested that Good Love
Place my heart to the honor
Of a woman in whom it would find a home,
And that this would be
So she would receive glory and praise thereby;
And that if my heart could ever do
Anything to be worthy of attention
Or earn
Some reward from a lady through serving her,
Love might sometime deign to remember
Me, who would be her vassal, never to depart
For all my life.
Finally it happened that among a company
Including many pretty ladies
Who were young, noble, happy, and amusing,
I chanced by Fortune,
Whose custom is to lie to all,
And from the others I picked out one
Who, just as the sun surpasses the moon
In brightness,
Conquered all the others
In esteem, honor, grace, and beauty;
And she was so modest and unpretentious, to my taste,
That, truth to tell,
No one could in the entire world find
Her equal, nor could the whole world itself
Suffice to describe her beauty
For I saw her dance so debonairly
And then sing so very beautifully,
Laugh and play so graciously
That never yet
Was seen a treasure more elegant,
For her hair resembled golden threads,
And these neither too light nor dark.
Her forehead was
White and smooth, no wrinkle there,
Without a flaw, of such correct proportion
It was neither too broad nor narrow.
And her brows
Had a very noble shape
Beneath that whiteness and were like black thread,
And to be prized among a hundred thousand.
But her two eyes,
Intent on passing the threshold of my heart
By their strength and fair welcome
To give me the pain that grieves me so,
Were smiling,
Not really very gray, to be more piercing,
More striking, sweet, humble, and alluring,
All full of traps to snare a lover
In pure affection.
And they were modestly lowered,
Just big enough, not opened too wide,
Conquering all by their sweet piercing;
Nor as they opened
Could any man prevent
Their going to strike his heart a blow,
If it pleased them, and claim him for their own.
But their glance,
Seeming to grant mercy, to dawdlers
Was not at all unwisely parceled out,
For wishing to throw a dart,
So craftily
Could it do so — and so subtly —
No one could ever truly know
Save him upon whom it properly fell.
Flawless, dainty,
Long, and straight, of the proper shape
Was her nose, suited to her face,
For it was neither too big nor small.
But her little mouth,
Just small enough, rose in hue, somewhat rounded,
Always smiling, delicious, and sweet
Makes me languish whenever my heart sadly recalls her.
For whoever heard it
Speak so well and saw it laugh,
Received with pleasure its sweetness,
Would value it above all others and say as much;
For her smile brought
Two dimples to her cheeks,
So white and colored like a rose,
Making them prettier and rounder.
And there’s even more:
Her teeth were white, small, and even,
Her chin a little cleft,
Arched below and rounded all above.
Wondrously soft and clear,
Was her complexion, surpassing all others,
For it was vibrant, fresh, and pink,
More than any May rose before it’s picked;
And, in a few words,
White as snow, smooth, pleasantly plump
Was her throat, not wrinkled or bony;
Her neck was beautiful, for which I prize and praise her.
It’s also fitting
I speak of her arms long and straight,
Which were in every way well fashioned;
For her hands were white, her fingers long.
Just to my taste
Were her breasts — white, firm, and high-seated,
Pointed, round, and small enough,
Suiting her body, gracious and well shaped.
Without a flaw
In proportion was her body,
Noble, well-shaped, lovely, youthful, genteel, amply fleshed,
Long, straight, pleasing, resilient, agreeable, and svelte.
Very well shaped
Were the hips, thighs, and legs — the feet
Arched, plump, and well formed,
Cunningly shod with exquisite shoes.
Of the rest,
Which I did not see, lady, I’ll tell you this:
All answered the requirements of Nature.
It was well fashioned and elegant in form.
And this remainder,
Of which right now I’ll say no more,
Must be considered beyond compare,
Sweeter and more beautiful than any other.
Her delicate skin
Was white and soft; more than other women’s
Resplendent — and one marveled;
There was no flaw or fault, only goodness.
Sweet and firm
Was her flesh, tender with moisture,
But she was endowed with a manner humble
And assured — and she was beautifully groomed.
And truly
She was so beautiful, I strongly believe,
That if Nature, who makes all things craftily,
Intended to make another woman just like her,
She would fail;
And that she’d never know how to do so
Had she not for a model the one
Who surpasses all others in loveliness.
And so I tell you
I have never seen in all my life
A woman’s body of such perfect shape.
And she was aged fourteen and a half,
Or thereabouts.
So, lady, when I beheld her appearance,
Which was so beautiful, without any flaw,
Within my heart the sweet impression
Of her face
Was so imprinted it still endures,
Nor ever since has it departed, so I suffer
Many pains and enduring miseries.
And beyond all doubt,
Before I left her presence,
Pleasure so fixed itself within my heart
From marveling at her sweet face
You may be sure
If I possessed Octavian’s riches
And knew all Galen’s science,
If all goods were mine,
I would have thrown over
Everything in order to see her
As I wished, or to accomplish something
She might have liked that would please her.
But Noble Love,
Who saw me captured by the snare
Of Pleasure, who’d locked me in her tower
Because I’d marveled at the lady’s gracious presence,
Without threatening
Made a sweet and smiling look go
Straight through my heart to trap me
So I had to submit to her very sweet dominion
Without repenting.
So pleased was I to feel this domination
When her look deigned
To fall upon me that (I do not lie)
I didn’t know
What was happening to me or where I was
Since senses, strength, and bearing I had lost,
So forcefully through her eyes was I
Brought to love.
And thus the desire to be loved by her
Was so hotly inflamed within my heart,
I’ve since called myself ‘poor captive’ a hundred times
While sighing;
For such misery did I feel in my desiring
My strength began to fail me,
And many thoughts I had while marveling at
Her sweet countenance.
Now willingly I’d have gone to tell her
How with my heart I loved her with no hesitation.
Yet the fear of being refused prevented me
From doing so;
Still Fair Welcome beckoned me;
His Sweet Look, smiling, reassured me,
And Sweet Hope sweetly told me this
In faith
And affirmed that so great a beauty
Could never exist without pity.
So these three spoke and encouraged me so much
I agreed
After all to tell her of my affection.
Alas! In this fashion I declaimed all alone to myself.
But when I thought to rehearse my pains to her,
So fearful,
Weak, beaten down, so weary and full of anguish,
So troubled, trembling, and shamed
Was my heart, and with lovesickness
So grievously infected,
It lost all reason, composure, and wit.
In contrast, my heart was transformed and overwhelmed
When clearly, face to face, I could look upon
Her pure beauty.
Then my heart was stung
By an amorous sting, pierced with a joyful point,
And nourished with sweet nourishment
By Sweet Thought,
Who relieved all my pain
And gave me hope for cure.
Thus often for Love’s sake I experienced
Joy and torture.
And I remained a long time in this state,
One hour happy, sorrowful the next,
For I never dared seek relief
For my pain.
Nonetheless this great distress from love,
This burning desire, this cruel languor
In which I remained for many days,
Her Fair Welcome,
The hope of ending my pain,
Her great beauty, her sweet, smiling gray eyes,
And that no whit of pride was in her —
All this gave me
The strength to beg for mercy
Like a coward. And so I said humbly to her,
Flushed and fearful:
‘My lady dear,
Your beauty so burns, inflames my heart,
I love you above all else without impure thoughts,
With my heart, my body, with true desire and soul.
So I beg you,
Sweet lady, have mercy on me;
For truly, I will die of love
If from the heart that has turned mine black
I find no relief.’

And when in this fashion I dared tell her my grief,

I watched her sweet expression slightly change,
As I thought, so I feared
Being rejected.
Yet all the time her look assured me,
As well as her sweetness and gracious smile,
So by these I was emboldened enough
To cry ‘Alas!
Gentle lady, for God’s sake, don’t kill
Your faithful lover, who in your snares
Is trapped so tight he forfeits all joy
And comfort.’
Then she drew toward me, quiet and demure,
The woman on whose account Love tortures and abuses me,
And said: ‘Friend, surely I would never want
To do to anyone
What might pain or grieve him;
And no one should do to others
What he would not have done to him.
And, sweet friend,
No good deed goes unrewarded,
No evil one unpunished.
Thus if Love has urged you to love,
She will reward you
In her time and season
If you love her with no thoughts of trickery.
And if she found you other than good,
Don’t doubt at all
She would be your mortal enemy
And that no help or cure
Would ever be granted you by her, or given
For your pains.
Therefore, fair sir, present yourself to Love
And to her rehearse your moans and cries,
For your rescue and your death lie in her,
But not in me;
I am not the cause of your discomfort
(Or so it seems to me) and should not suffer for it.
In good faith I know not what else to tell you.
I say goodbye.’

At this that beauty took her leave from me,
She who had portioned out to me such pain
My heart nearly broke in two
At her leaving.
But the sweetness of her pleasant look
By its agreeable artfulness made me dare look upon her,
For as she left (may God protect me!)
So sweetly
Did she look my way it truly seemed
Her expression actually said:
‘Lover, I love you with great affection.’
Therefore I was
All comforted by the noble power
Of the look that since has proved so precious
It has always nourished and sustained me
In good hope.
And had it not been so, I certainly expect
I would have fallen into despair,
But nothing on earth could pain me
When her glance
In a smile had so settled on me
That, my lady, in every way
Her look consoled me, aided me
In my distress.

There in great turmoil I remained alone,
And in my mind I began to marvel at
Her bearing, her great sweetness, her appearance,
Her courage,
Her fair looks, the manner of her comings and goings,
Her noble body, her gracious speech,
Her genteel carriage, her pleasant look,
And her expression,
Which was so sweet, so humble and elegant
She was the paragon of all beauty.
And having marveled at all she did,
I found, to be sure,
Much great delight and perfect joy
And considered myself quite fortunate
For no other reason than that I have since
Felt such love,
Been so bent and dedicated to her service
That in serving her I find all my delight;
I have been able since to perform no other labor.
And so I served her,
Loved, protected, respected, obeyed her
A very long time, and my reward was nothing.
At the last, however, I loved and cherished her so much
She saw well
I intended only honor for her and good,
And also that my heart did love her above all else;
Thus I did enough so that she took me for her own
In such a way
That with a good and happy heart, a pleasant face
She told me: ‘Lover, see here your own dear love
Who no longer will treat you haughtily,
Since this is the wish of Love,
Who with a good heart has directed me to do this;
And, in truth, it cannot be otherwise,
Because something grand moves me to do so
Since my love
And heart as well I present you, never to be returned,
And so I beg you guard my honor well,
For I love and honor you above all else.’
And when I saw
My lady called me her lover
So sweetly and had bestowed upon me
Without reservation the delightful gift of her love,
If I was happy then,
Do not marvel, sweet lady;
For until that moment I had been discouraged,
Forlorn, lost, exiled, and wretched,
With no recourse,
Lacking her quite sweet comfort,
But now I was recovered, brought back from death,
Enriched beyond belief, filled with great consolation,
And without tribulation
When she told me: ‘Lover, I give myself to you
Most willingly.’ And this quite sweet boon
Made me a hundred thousand times grander than a king,
So that no one
Could describe the joy I felt.
For I was so happy I could not
Utter my thanks, was not able to speak.
But in the end,
Like a lover loyal and pure, with a noble heart,
Inflamed to love, without a devious thought,
Very humbly, with lowered head, I told her
Without difficulty:
‘Lady, whom I love above all others, myself included,
To whom I devote reason, heart, time, life, and affection,
As much as I have power, but not as I should,
I thank you
For the noble gift of your sweet mercy
Since you have so greatly enriched,
So elated, so cured, so rewarded me
That truly
If everything beneath the sky
Or all that was or will be
Had been given me entirely to do my will,
I would not value it
A hundredth part as I do your mercy.
So pray God I never wrong you
In anything that might sully our love,
And also that I might fulfill
Your will as much as I intend,
Humbly, not haughtily, not proudly,
For, if I can, much better than has been my wont
I will serve you
Quite faithfully from my heart and love you;
And in all things I will guard your honor well.
Not in word, deed, or thought
Will I do anything
Against you or anyone that will make you angry.
Instead you will be my lady and my sweetheart,
My divinity on earth, adored above all others;
And without a doubt,
If I do something against your pleasure,
Whatever might anger or torment your heart,
Know truly it would be through oversight alone.’
My lady, in this manner
I thanked her, just as you have heard,
For the noble gift of her sweet mercy.
And she in turn pledged to me and swore
Quite adamantly
She would from this day forward love me loyally,
Never forsaking or deserting me.
And so for a long time I was crowned with joy.
Contrary to joy did I experience,
Instead was happy and full of celebration,
Much more jolly and gay than I had ever been.
And it was proper
I did my best to be kind and thoughtful,
Since it seemed in all ways I was
The best loved of lovers and their king.
But when Fortune,
The betrayer, who does not treat everyone the same,
Had lifted me up so high, in an evil and miserly fashion
She valued my goods and me no more than a fig;
Instead she frowned,
Denied me, turned her face away.
After she had seated me atop her wheel,
She turned it, and I tumbled into the mud.
But she did this,
That traitress quick and ready on all occasions
To undo those she puts beneath her wing,
Because God and beautiful Nature,
When they shaped
The woman I love, so greatly delighted
In the incredible beauty they bestowed upon her
They forgot to give her faithfulness.
And how evident it is!
For I know well and clearly see
That lady, whose body is so lovely,
Whom my heart respects, loves, obeys, and serves,
Has taken a new
Lover without cause, someone other than me.
And so, lady, if I moan and cry
Quite bitterly and often utter ‘Oh me!’
It is no wonder
Since her pure beauty without peer,
Her vibrant complexion, fresh and rosy,
And that sweet look that tortures me still
Have abandoned me,
And she has uttered her last goodbye
And, also, has deprived me of my every good.
Alas! How could my heart be happy?
And quite wrongfully
She has taken back my joy and comfort,
Putting me in such great distress
I know well it will be my death,
Nor might anything
Save me from this or provide a single comfort.
But what tears and breaks my heart
Is that I don’t know whom to blame
For my suffering
Since it seems that if I was shoved down
The ladder I once had climbed through Fortune,
Whom I do not trust or depend upon,
Then, to tell the truth,
I should feel no bitterness toward her,
Since in the deed she simply did her duty;
And she ought have no other task
But betraying
Those she watches mount up, grow rich,
As well as raising high those of low estate;
Nor can she love any person so dearly
She would issue
A guarantee for him to keep his luck,
Whether it is happiness or disaster,
And she would not suddenly move him up or down.
Such is her nature.
Her goods are but lucky happenstance,
Which is merely breeze, deceptive form.
They are a joy that hardly lasts and is worth little.
He’s a fool who trusts it!
She deceives and defies all,
And if I say that the death destroying me
I can blame on my pretty lady,
By what logic
Would I do so and for what cause?
She has become subject to the rule
Of Love, to whom she gives herself
And she is eager for Love to govern her
As her sovereign and to be under Love’s command.
So she cannot go against
The wishes of Love;
Instead she finds it always necessary to obey,
And so it is my lady’s pleasure and desire
To abandon me and cherish some other man,
Love does this,
Not my lady, who is completely worthy.
For she did her duty and the honorable thing
In obeying her sovereign lord.
And so, when Love
Inflamed me to love, I think
Love, so doing, wronged me more
Than my worthy lady did,
That is to say
If Love indeed could wrong me.
But that I cannot understand at all,
Since for a long time like a sweet and tender mother
She nourished me
As best she could with her sweet goods,
Nor have I yet perceived,
For any hurt I might have received,
That she has been
Less than a friend by my side,
Serving me with all her meals,
Tears for starters and sighing for a sweet.
Such is my meat;
My appetite does not wish or ask for more;
And, by my soul, I am not drawn toward anything
Save what breaks my heart.
And therefore Love
Grows in my heart in proportion to my pain,
Nor does she leave by night or day.
Instead she’s my companion in my painful weeping
Because of her goodness;
And so I maintain it is great friendship
To be my mother in prosperity
And in adversity the same.
Then I should be
Quite wicked if I complained of her,
For I find her always at my side,
Nor does she destroy me in the least,
For she cannot
Alter hearts since God does not wish it.
But when God made the lady who was wont to
Call me lover, for whom my heart feels such pain,
If He and Nature,
When they created her noble and pure beauty,
More pleasing to all men than that of any other,
Had they then in that sweet form
Put loyalty,
I would yet be called her lover,
And her heart, which promised me so much,
Would never have been my foe.
So in this matter I say
God and Nature did act in ignorance
(Saving their honor and the respect due them)
When they fashioned such a beautiful being
Without loyalty.
For if she had been a hundred times less beautiful
And yet faithful, the great virtue
Of loyalty would have done her more honor
Than if she had been
A hundred times more lovely — she’d then have pleased more;
And she should have been more kind-hearted
Because there would have been nothing to fault.
So I believe
That not Good Love, not Fortune, nor my lady
Should be blamed for my sorrows.
Then can I blame myself in any way?
Yes, certainly!
For I betook myself from riches to wretchedness,
From safety to mortal peril,
From joy to pain through her subtle look,
And from freedom
Into a servitude where no one loves or values
Me, my honor, affection, or service,
Or even my previous life as much as a cherry.
It seems I did no wrong
By falling in love with her, for in this world
There was no lady living as excellent,
So they said.
Thus with good intention I became hers
And never hoped for anything but good
Because of the grandeur of her most impressive fame,
Which has destroyed me.
But all that glitters is not gold,
And no one should love his delight so much
He cannot abandon it when he thinks to.
And had I been
The world’s greatest man, I would not have chosen
Anyone save her, nor could I have done better
Had I found loyalty in her.
So I do not know
Whom to blame or accuse
For the grievous pain and misfortune I suffer.
Were I asked, to all I would answer
That God and Nature
Did this; so it is misadventure and sorrow
They made her body so beautiful
In every way, so noble, so sweet no one could do better
Had it been faithful.
Should I call these two to account for my woes?
I will not because they are too exalted for me;
Instead I shall endure; that’s my best course
From this moment on.

Now I have told you how
Love made me a true lover,
The circumstances, the means, and all that was agreed;
What happened to me;
How I was taken, how I was held;
How my lady does not think of me;
The joys, the sorrows I have had to endure
Until this present day;
How I have help from no one;
How I cannot avenge my grievous hurt,
Which harms, destroys me so much
That I say
(If you have heard me well and listened)
The pain in which I languish, dying,
Which has made pale and wan my face
With its harshness,
Is a hundred thousand times greater than your pain;
For pure joy and perfect sweetness
Are your ills measured against the hurt
That tortures me.”
“Certainly, sir, I would not deny
You feel much pain and anger
To have lost her whom your heart thus desires.
But nonetheless
It seems to me, and I dare say it,
Considering your pain and mine,
You feel less hurt and more joy
Than do I.
And I will tell you the reason why.
You have said to me you love faithfully
The lady who gives you so much distress
And you’ll love her
With a loyal heart as long as you live.
Since you love her this way,
I certainly believe you desire her love,
For very seldom
Have I seen love exist without desire,
Or the desire for love to be able to last
Without hope; and memory comes to you
So whenever desire devastates your heart,
You remember the beauty with the blond hair;
Of whom you have more thoughts than three.
Then it cannot be
You never have a single thought to make
Joy grow within you and relieve
The pain so tightly binding you;
So in the end
Through memory you have happy thoughts
That shove the sorrow out and make you forget it.
But mine multiplies day and night
Without a rest,
And every day the stream of my tears increases,
And I cannot ever think about
Or have hope of recovering my love.
But by serving,
By honoring, remaining discreet, respecting,
By happily enduring and suffering,
By loving well from the heart and obeying
Quite humbly
You still might find relief, joy,
And the love of the woman your heart is drawn toward.
So I say I’m more tormented,
And quite evident
Is the reason, it seems to me, and sound;
For it is possible to have your lady back,
But to have my lover back, that is impossible
According to Nature’s law.”

“Lady, there’s more honor, wisdom,
And moderation in you than in anyone else.
Now by your reasoning I should be undone
Quite quickly
Could I not answer your arguments.
Yet truly I cannot accomplish this
With as much wisdom as required.
But I intend
To go over your reasons if I can manage it.
You argue I love without deceit
And will as long as I live
Without repenting;
And since I love, I must experience desire,
Which cannot do without or lack
Hope; and so I have memories
That often
Move me to thinking many thoughts.
Lady, I certainly grant all you say
Save only that I have no hope at all.
But mark well,
Lady, though our intentions here are only good,
In this your understanding and my own
Do not accord at all, agree in nothing;
Rather they are opposed,
As I think to make clear to you
When the time is right. But I will not pass over
In silence your statement that I can still do so much
By honoring,
By serving well, suffering, respecting,
By obeying, by loving loyally
That I can in joy get my lady back.
For it would be
Quite a trick to keep her, whoever could
Since her heart would not remain in one place,
No more than a ball on a roof.
And your lover,
Who was so strong and worthy,
You cannot recover in any fashion,
And so your color is wan and pale.
So you say
My pains are much less
Than your own; and thus I have not triumphed,
Nor have I earned the judgment by my merits.
For this reason I will answer
Your arguments as best I can,
And I will spend time on each one;
Also I will reveal what I think and know
About my feelings.

Lady, it’s true I love quite faithfully the woman
Who hates me, that is, my lady of noble form
Who is my death and destruction
When I witness her
Love another man and think no thoughts of me,
Whom she in good faith ought to love;
So I am almost driven mad
By this love.
For if she loved my life or honor,
She would not for all the world
Let me languish one hour of a day
In the state where I live and dwell.
But with great force they increase the tide
Of suffering that floods my heart:
Love first, and my lady second.
For this reason I feel desire.
But what for? To die swiftly,
For nothing could possibly happen
That would give me hope for cure,
And had I
A better love from her than I once had,
I don’t know if I would trust it.
Surely I would not! Why? I would not dare.
For nurture,
As they say, conquers and overcomes nature,
And always, if he doesn’t go against his kind,
The wolf makes his way to the woods — that’s the simple truth.
For this reason
My desire has no hope at all,
But despair is so confounded with it
I will be checkmated
By memory,
Which, you said, gives rise in me
To the thought that makes me rejoice.
Surely I’ll not be able ever to find joy in this thought,
Nor have I yet enjoyed it
And I have not seen, felt, or heard it
Since my lady took a new lover,
For that thought parted from me then.
So I intend proving
That this memory is what grieves me
More and makes my heart
Despair more. You know (it’s clear,
Everyone sees it)
That if I never thought about
My lady, who binds me so tightly to her,
My pain would be forgotten.
And were she
Forgotten, the forgetting would make
The pain die out completely or cease;
And this could cure me of all my sickness.
But what would happen?
This memory, by its subtle trickery,
Recalls to me the gentle face
And the noble body for whom my heart breaks;
Yet this memory is conceived,
Born and perfected, endures
All in suffering. Why? Because I considered myself
Loved when I was called lover
Quite sweetly.
Alas! Sorrowful! Now it is quite otherwise
When my lady has taken to loving another man.
And could one do worse, lady, unless he hanged himself?
Surely not!
For such a thing sends a lover into ruination,
And not one man in five hundred thousand
Is apt to escape such deadly danger,
And so it happens
Often when I remember this
That the weary heart in my body becomes
So full of pain I have to faint.
And if thought
Takes shape through memory in me,
What is it? It’s something with no comfort,
Sad, mournful, filled with sorrow, and despairing.
And, by my faith,
I have no thought that is not my foe.
So this makes it worse. Do you know why?
Because I witness my lady change her heart.
And if the joy
I had when in her grace
Had not been greater than I could describe,
Or was able to imagine or even conceive,
The grievous pain
Gripping me would be rather less.
But as much as I did once possess great joy
So is my suffering crueler.
And that I could
Get my lady back or have any hope of doing so
— This I cannot imagine or conceive.
And I’ll tell you what makes me suffer:
Lady, it seems
That something which separates and then unites
In several places and likewise is in motion,
Keeps no more still than an aspen leaf,
And lacks stability,
Instead is always variable and changing,
Now here, now there, at the hearth, at the table,
And then elsewhere, is something to be very wary of.
For in no way
Might any man possess it in security.
It must truly be the play of some spell,
For believing to have it for certain,
One does not at all.
So it is, lady, whatever anyone might say,
With my beloved, who changes and varies,
Gives and takes back, now hates, now is a friend,
And all her heart
Is not in one place, and if anyone shares in it,
I certainly believe his portion is a poor one
And will soon be taken from him.
Nor, to judge rightly,
Could a lover hold another man so dear
He would want that one to share
His loving, plain and simple — that’s not even in his thoughts.
And because I clearly cannot
Possess all her heart, I lament;
For a heart that goes this way from hand to hand,
Should some man own it at night, he won’t come morning.
And in any case,
The true lover is a proper bird of prey
Since he, as his joy, wishes nothing
But the whole heart of the woman to whom he is devoted.
And so I say
You will get your lover back as quickly
As her heart will be so transformed
It will be granted me completely,
Never to be withdrawn.
For no man can remove the wolf’s pelt
Without flaying him, nor can anyone turn
An ox into a sparrowhawk or vice versa.
And, sweet lady,
The custom is universal among men and women
That when the soul has departed the body,
And the body is in the ground beneath the tombstone,
It is forgotten
In a brief while, though wept over.
For no man or woman I have seen has remained
So long in mourning they fail to seek out joy again
Before a year
Has passed, however faithful the lover,
And I will except neither those of high or low degree.
And truly I believe this is reasonable.
So you will follow
This custom; you will not violate it at all,
For no one will reproach you;
And you will pray for the soul with a good heart.
But I cannot
Ignore the woman whom I do not forget
Because Memory keeps her very close to me
Without leaving for a day, an hour, not even half an hour,
And I see her
Rather often, which at once undoes me
Whenever I follow her with my eyes a long time
And I find no joy, no good, no guidance there,
Instead witness another man
Taking joy in her. This is what destroys me;
For if she would not love either him or me
I should have complained of my pains to no one;
Instead, I would have borne them
Humbly within my heart and kept them secret,
Enduring in the hope of joy,
And thus I would fear neither misadventure nor pain.
And because I fear desertion
I do not wish to take back my heart,
I who remain too long alive, and — it’s no lie —
I do not know how to repent of loving.
And I would be
A faithless lover if I left her,
Because with no ‘but’ I gave her my love.
And I will love her whatever happens to me;
And, by my faith,
So faithfully do I love her I feel a hundred times
More pain for her than for myself
Because I see her honor ruined; for with their finger
They will point her out,
The men and women who learn of this business,
And they will trust her much less in every way,
For they will always consider her false.
Now deception
Is a vice so base and ugly
That the person who indulges in it, however powerful,
Will never be completely cured or reformed.
So I conclude,
Lady, that I feel much more pain
And that your ill will come sooner
To a cure than the one that grips me tight.
And I would truly dare
To expect the judgment,
Had we a judge who would decide
Faithfully and according to the truth.”
“By my soul, sir,
I intend and dare to say for my part
That with all my heart I wish a judgment.
Let us look now to whom we would choose,
Some man who without foolishness
Could determine which of us is wrong;
For the trouble I bear, it seems to me, is so cruel
No one this side of death could endure more.”
“Lady, I want
The judge to be whom you wish.”
“I yield to you, fair sir, and so I counsel
He be chosen by your advice alone,
For you have
First sought him; so you must say.”
“Surely, my lady, don’t wash your hands of this now;
Please, you say because you know much more
Than do I.”
And when I saw they desired
A judgment rendered in their painful cases,
Joy flooded my heart.
And I did not know
Which of two things I would do:
Move toward them or restrain myself.
For I would have willingly put them on the path
Of finding a judge
Able to undertake ruling on their cases
So skillfully there would be nothing to do but learn from it,
And afterward there should be no cause for dispute.
So I deliberated
Quite a while and decided
I would go to them. Then I rose up
Without delay and made my way toward them,
All unseen
Through the grass so green and thick;
When I had drawn near enough
To see them all in the open,
The little dog,
Who did not know me at all, began to bark;
And because of this the lady, who knew much of virtue,
Startled (this I clearly witnessed)
And called him.
But he thought little of her summons
Since, barking, the dog drew nearer
Until he tore with his teeth at my robe.
So I picked him up,
And he stopped barking out of fear.
Now in my heart I secretly quite enjoyed this
Because I returned him to his mistress
And so to have the chance
And excuse to go where I wanted;
And all the time I stroked his fur,
But when I got where I wanted to be,
I was not silent
Or embarrassed at all; instead with a cheerful face
I saluted all the company,
As I knew how to do for my part.
The knight,
Who was wise, courteous, and well-spoken,
Big, tall and straight, handsome, noble and graceful,
Well taught and accustomed to do the honorable thing,
Without further delay
Graciously came forward to return my greeting.
And the lady, in whom Nature wished to make clear
How no man could comprehend her great beauty,
Drew toward me
Quite softly, quietly, and slowly,
For her appearance was very gracious
And her carriage meek, pleasing, and beyond reproach;
And her hair was blond,
Her eyes smiling, grayer than any falcon’s,
And her body noble, well-shaped, pleasing, and long,
Formed better than a hunting bird’s.
And attractively spaced
Were her eyes, her manner and bearing pleasant,
Yet while her demeanor and noble dress
Were simple, they were beyond compare.
Whiter she was
Than snow on the bough,
Wise, faithful, genteel, generous at heart,
And in all aspects of her character so perfect
Her loyalty
Was much more attractive than her beauty.
In her was neither haughtiness nor cruelty,
Nothing contrary to friendship.
Yet her face
Was stained by tears, much discolored by them;
Nonetheless she was endowed
With a perfect complexion, a pure sweetness.
And so the lady
Beckoned, then questioned me, asked
Very wisely how I had come to that place.
And I, eager to hear her,
Related and told
Her the truth from beginning to end
Of how I had come there and where I had been
While they were recounting their misfortunes.
Then the knight spoke
Softly, in a joking way:
“I think he has heard all our debate.”
And I said to him: “Sir, do not doubt it,
For truly
I listened to it most attentively
And willingly; but you must not think
My intentions are anything but good; for in truth
I came here
From above the stream by a grassy path
Into these woods, where I found delight
In the birds whose song I listened to.
And after coming
To this spot, I noticed you,
And from over there, sir, I saw this lady arrive.
And I will tell you what I did.
I searched out
The leafiest part of the greenery and hid,
For I greatly feared annoying you two;
And there I listened to your joys and sufferings
From beginning to end.
Now it seems to me you would
Eagerly learn through a judgment which one might be
The more grievous: your mischance or that of the lady
Whose head is bowed.
You did not wish to be the first
To select the judge, and neither did my lady.
So I have come forward here advisedly
In order to name for you
A knight who does much to make himself loved,
For on this side of the channel or the other
No heart is nobler, none more generous, none less cruel.
Because in generosity
He surpasses Alexander and in prowess Hector,
He is the pillar of all nobility,
Nor does he live as a slave to his wealth.
Instead he wishes nothing
Save the honor from every worldly good,
And he is happier when he can say ‘It’s yours!’
Than the greedy man is to take from his riches.
He loves God,
The Church, and loyalty, and governs so justly
He is called the Sword of Justice;
He is humble and pleasant, full of generosity
For his friends,
Fierce and cruel toward his enemies;
And to be brief, he always earns, so good men say,
The highest esteem for his intelligence, honor, and worthiness
Wherever he might go.
And if it happens he gets the upper hand
On his enemy, Nature teaches him,
As does his own good heart, to pity the man.
He sets a noble example,
For Prowess everywhere carries his sword,
Hardihood accompanies, encourages him,
And for him Generosity opens the door
Of every heart.
To the virtuous (I make no exceptions),
To those of all conditions, the great and small, those in between,
He is like a brother and sister.
Sir, of Love
He knows all the assaults, the skirmishes,
The joys, the pains, the sorrowing and moaning
Better than did Ovid himself, who knew all its intricacies.
And if his name,
So excellent and of such gentle renown,
You wish to know — or don’t — then tell me.”
“Certainly, my friend, tell us, we beg you,
For never yet,
So I think, has any man been,
Nor will ever be, as perfect in every way
As is this one in both word and deed.”
“Sir, his battle flag
Proclaims Luxembourg, and he is king of Bohemia,
Son to Henry the good king of Germany,
Who by force of arms, no matter who might bemoan it,
Was crowned
Emperor at Rome with his mother;
So if this man is good, it is surely right he appears so,
For this he owes to his mother and father.
And so, fair sir,
To choose such a judge would be wise,
A man who could with skill demonstrate and explain
To you both which one suffers greater pain.
So choose him.”
Like a wise man, the knight answered:
“I believe God has led us to this spot.”
And he said: “Madam, if you accept him as our judge,
I will agree to it.”
With no foolishness, the lady responded:
“Sir, I have heard so much good spoken of this king,
Who is so wise, so brave, of such magnificence
That I concur.”
“Many thanks, lady; now we are in agreement.
So I pray God may comfort the good king
And lead us safely to good harbor
So we might
Speak to him wherever we must go.”
I answered: “I know quite well how to tell you
Where he is, and, if you please, lead you there.
Of that I am certain,
For truly I ate and drank yesterday
With his entourage in Durbuy Castle.
There he yet remains and will not leave today;
Nor is it
Very far from here, not even a league, or half,
Not the quarter of a distance a voice will carry.”
The knight then asked the lady to set out
Without further delay.
The lady said: “I have no wish to refuse,
But I do not know which path to take.”
I said: “Lady, I am quite willing to show you.
Come on.
I will go ahead, and you follow along.”
And so I started out, eager to go,
And when they saw Durbuy Castle close at hand,
They stopped
And greatly marveled at the sight
Since never before in their lives had they
Seen any place this beautiful, this noble, so they said.
And, no doubt,
The place is quite secure and extremely pleasant,
Beautiful and attractive, easy to defend,
For if the kings of both Germany and France
Were before it,
Those inside need never give up
Going in and out as they wished,
Anytime they had cause to move
Into the countryside.
It is on a rocky mount in the middle of a valley
Thoroughly encompassed by a river
That is huge, noisy, deep, rough, and wide;
And the orchards
All around are so pretty that, to give them their due,
None prettier could ever be hoped for.
Within them, moreover, the birds make such a commotion
That night and day
The valley echoes with their song.
And the river too gurgles pleasantly,
So one could find no greater delight.
And then beyond
There are cliffs all around, but not too close,
Instead at such distance from the castle that no weapon,
No siege machine, no arbalest could ever shoot at it.
But the keep
Above the rocks is so ably fashioned
No man ever saw one of more beautiful form
Since it lacks faults of any kind.
And the spring
In the courtyard is by no means unpleasant;
Rather it flows free from clean and healthy rock,
Cold as ice, sweeter than the Seine.
But the fountain
Into which it falls was chiseled
From fine marble, white and gray-brown, so beautiful
There has been none its equal since the time of Abel.
Above the riverbank
The meadow is broad, long, and ample,
Where many kinds of grasses are found.
To my story, however, I must return.
After they had looked over
The residence, I advised them,
Saying: “It’s time to go.
Let us proceed; for we accomplish nothing here.”
So we walked along
The length of the path and crossed the bridge,
Halting neither here nor there
Until at last we knocked on the gate.
Now the porter
Opened the gate cordially and willingly.
I took the lead and knocked,
Being rather familiar with the place,
And I said:
“This knight and this lady too
Have come to speak with the king if he is here.”
And the porter answered me at once
That he was within.
I said: “Friend, please find out if one might
Speak with him.” And he said he would go.
Yet just as he was leaving us
To make his way above,
A knight who was handsome, noble, broad-shouldered,
Friendly, and attractive approached;
His name was Honor, and he knew more about it than anyone.
And in no way did he come
All alone to us; instead a beautiful lady,
Pleasant and friendly, was his companion,
And she was called Lady Courtesy.
And, truly, this she seemed to be,
For as soon as she spied us,
She offered a greeting, then received us graciously.
Honor did the same, just as he should do.
And then the two of them,
Courteously, smiling, without ado,
Each took one of the couple by the hand.
But Courtesy, I should say,
Accompanied the knight with no haughtiness,
And Honor intended to escort the lady.
Then they began to converse and in this manner
They set out,
Talking all the while, to where they were leading them,
Climbing some marble stairs
Until they at last entered the good king’s hall.
And the good king,
Who was wise in all circumstances,
Loyal, valiant, generous, and well-mannered,
Kind, unassuming, and courteous to all,
Was seated
In very great contentment on a silk rug,
And some clerk whom I cannot name
Was reading to him the battle of Troy.
But Hardihood
Was his companion, and Prowess too, that one’s daughter,
And quite gently he was holding the hand of Generosity,
A lady of quite great nobility.
Wealth was present,
Love, Beauty, Loyalty, and Happiness,
Desire, Thought, Will, and Nobility,
Liberality, Honor, Courtesy, Youth.
These sixteen were
With the king and never left his side.
God and Nature had bestowed them upon him
At birth; and so all did him service.
The favor was great.
And if a gentleman or lady ever did
Something that could be called misdeed,
Reason was present to erase the fault.
And in this way
Was the noble king enthroned, and seeing the lady,
He rose and took her by the hand,
For this was what Courtesy had taught him.
Afterward he received
The knight, and esteeming him greatly
In his heart, then asked these two
Quite wisely why they had come,
Inquiring about
How they were, which greatly interested him.
The knight asked the lady
If she would speak to the king, and she said
She would not do so;
Instead, he should explain, it being more fitting for him.
Then he answered that he’d tell him
Everything step by step, just how the matter stood
Right to the end.
“Sire,” he said, “close by is a garden
Green and flowery, where is a grand chorus
Of nightingales; I went there this morning
To listen to
Their beautiful service and pleasant singing,
Though my heart could take
Little pleasure because nothing can comfort it.
When I had come to that spot by chance,
Full of the pains Love provides and thinking on them,
I saw arrive by a narrow path,
Green and grassy,
This lady who has accompanied me here.
And I thought her manner distraught;
So at once I made my way
Through the thick grass,
Directing my steps toward her.
And, approaching, I greeted her,
But she said not a word, at which I wondered,
And took no notice
Of me, not with her eye or manner.
And, bewildered why this was so,
I said pleasantly: ‘So sweet dear lady,
Why is it
You will not heed my words?’
And at the panel of her skirt I tugged.
And she startled and her pretty face
Changed color.
Without further pause she responded,
Fervently apologizing
For the thoughts preoccupying her.
And I asked
Why she was so melancholy at heart.
At last I said and did enough
That she answered me
So truthfully
I swore upon my faith and pledged
That when she had finished speaking,
I would tell her my own thoughts.
And so she said
She once had a faithful lover
Who loved her loyally, as she did him.
But death took the man from the world,
And the valor,
The intelligence, the worthiness, the prowess, the honor
That, she said, had in him their flower —
These had made him the very best among good men.
For this reason she was deep
In thought and never ceased being so,
And, while thinking, cried for and bemoaned him,
Bathing her face in tears.
Therefore she maintains
The pain is more grievous that comes to her
On her lover’s account than the grief that grips me.
Sire, I maintain (and must)
Just the contrary.

I love faithfully from the heart without desisting

The most beautiful woman, and with the sweetest face
Nature has ever been able to create,
Who once gave
And abandoned her heart completely to me.
She called me her heart, her love, her lover,
And said she loved me above all others.
But now,
Sire, she no longer cares for me:
Instead she has thrown me over and taken a new lover.
And, by my soul, I have in no way deserved this.
She bestows and shares out what was my reward,
Nor of this have I either share or portion.
For this reason, sire, my heart is breaking.
And so I think,
Considering my reasons, to have it worse
Than the lady, since, although her lover
Has died, he may be with God in paradise!
And, sire, this clerk,
Who seems friendly and merry and knowledgeable,
Was hidden in the garden and covered up
In the thickest brush, which is all green.
He emerged
After clearly hearing all our discussion
And advised us to put the right and wrong of it
Before you, which was our agreement.
For our talk
Had lasted a long time,
And we made many arguments,
Just as it is written more fully
Here above.
Now we have come before you
For the right to be judged and known
And your sentence kept by us both.
Therefore you can end
This debate at once if it pleases you;
For we have made you our judge.
Sire, now you have heard all our dispute
In full;
So please render a judgment
Because we have desired one a long time,
And this lady and I earnestly
Beg you for it.”

After putting their cases to him,

This man who knew well how to do so quite wisely,
The noble king, a very worthy man,
Answered him:
“So God keep me, you have chosen in me
A judge who is ignorant and lacks discernment;
And never before have I heard or seen
Such a case.
And I know little about judging it.
Nonetheless I wish to hear the counsel
Of my court; for mine is both noble and good.”
Then, smiling,
He summoned Loyalty, who was present,
As well as Love, Youth, and Reason, who was the first
Then asked them:
“What say you who know all the laws?
This knight who is noble and well-mannered
And also this lady with the blond hair
Have come here
Before me, for which I thank them,
And they wish to hear a judgment from me
As to which suffers greater pain and worry.
The lady had
A faithful lover who loved and served her,
And she him, as much as she was able.
Now Death, who receives everyone,
Has taken him from her.
So her heart is sorrowful and troubled,
For in his time he had such great virtue
There was none better, no man more handsome.
The knight,
Not repenting, loves with his whole heart
The most beautiful woman alive in his opinion,
And she pledged him her faith not to alter,
Not to change,
And she accepted him as her lover,
Loved him well — of this he was quite certain.
Now the lady has given another man her heart
And thrown him over
Completely in every regard, showing him no concern.
And with his very eyes he sees this beauty and the man
Who possesses the sweet goods he himself has deserved.
Now I have told you
Why they have come to hear my sentence.
And, doubtless, a heart languishing this way
Quite destroys itself and lives in much pain.
So you are to offer
Me advice in this matter, the best you can;
For each of you is my intimate and friend,
And I place much trust in you, as well you know.
Speak, Reason.
I want to hear your opinion first,
For you have given me much good advice.”
Reason, who was beautiful and of good repute,
Answered thus:

“Sire, I say that these two lovers are
Greatly anguished because they have lost
Those they love and so their hearts melt
Just as, before the flame,
The wax wastes away, grows smaller.
But that they are just the same in suffering
And misfortune — this I do not intend to say.
What sways me
I will state since it is necessary.
This lady can never see
Her lover true as she once did.
And so it will happen
Because she sees him no longer,
I will work to make her forget him,
For the heart will never love anything so much
Not to forget it
As time goes by. Of course, I do not say at all
She will not feel pain and torment for a time,
But Youth, who is so very gay and happy,
Will not allow
For any reason him not to be forgotten.
For Youth, sire, no matter what,
Makes one forget quickly what one does not see.
I state further
That Love does not have the power
To sustain itself without the lover
Or the beloved for a single hour of a day.
And if one of these three
Is missing, the other two will fail;
For Love, lover, and beloved must remain
Together or the affair is worth nothing.
And since the beloved and Love
Have lost the company of the lover,
I certainly would not give
A rotten apple for their love affair,
And here is the reason:
This love is a worldly thing.
For love is quite good at doing its job
So the soul can feel it.
But there is no soul,
No man alive, who loves this way without sin
When struck by the amorous flame,
Loving the body much more than the soul.
And why?
Love arises from fleshly attraction,
And its desire and nature
Are inclined completely toward satisfaction.
So no man
Or woman who intends to love can prevent
Vice or sin from being part of it; it must be so,
And this opposes the soul, which sorrows over it.
As soon as the soul departs
The body, love leaves and distances itself.
I see exactly this everywhere, may God preserve me.
And so this lady’s
Love, which has so much strength,
Diminishes day by day,
As her suffering does proportionately,
But this lover,
Who has rashly undertaken to love
Against my advice and embarked upon this course,
This unfortunate man, all weakened thereby,
The pains of love in his heart too bitter
Because Love makes him burn night and day,
And he would not or could not forget
His enemy.
Do you know why? Because Companionship,
Love, Beauty, and joyous Youth,
Loyalty too (whom I will not neglect)
Make him languish
In great madness, in rage,
In obliviousness, and in great jealousy,
And in the peril of his soul and life.
For early and late
His sorrowing heart never leaves his lady,
But without departing is everywhere her companion;
And the man closer to the fire gets more burned.
And Loyalty
Prevents him from proving false.
But had he acted on my advice
When his lady took a new lover,
He should not
Have continued the affair; for, in such a case,
If the lady sings high or low,
The man must trot or walk.
Afterward Beauty
Told him he would do much better languishing
In love for her than in finding joy elsewhere.
Love did the same. Youth fed him
On madness
In this misery, in this foolish error
So he lost strength and wit.
Thus the grieving man languished in pain;
But seeing that other man,
With him present, rejoice in his beloved,
In this lady who used to call him her lover,
His heart is so jealous, so distraught,
It’s a wonder
The man does not kill himself or set out
To kill the one who torments him so.
And Jealousy puts this in his ear.
And if he possessed
Her love as was his wont,
What would he do with it? Surely, nothing.
For never a single day would he trust it.
Therefore he has
No hope of ever having other comfort
Because he cannot cool in his affection
For this lady who hurts him so.
And thus I maintain
He feels more pain than this lady here,
And his heart experiences more anguish
For the reasons you have heard.
And, to my satisfaction,
This knight has spoken quite well to them,
As I found all in writing here above,
And with reason he has proved his contention.
Such is my view.”

After Reason had stated all her opinion,
Love spoke up, who was very good looking,
Gracious in manner and appearance,
And said: “Reason,
You have quite ably made known your reasoning.
And I agree, save it would be a grievous misdeed
To rescue the lover’s heart from its prison
Within the beautiful lady,
For whom he feels love’s spark.
So it is my wish he love and serve her as one
In whom he has found much happy news,
For if he could
Live a thousand years and serve her every day,
Never by service would he merit
The great sweetness she was wont to show him.
And if Pleasure,
Who has brought on many a strange alteration,
Makes him doubt his lady,
Must he then despair?
Surely not at all!
For in my service are a hundred thousand more
Who love almost as strongly as does he
And have for it not the price of a whetstone.
And I have the power
To cure him or worsen his pain,
But he no longer has trust or hope
In me, and that is what makes him suffer most.”
“How so, Love?”
Said Reason, “Is it then by your design
That the man will love without experiencing any relief
The lady who has granted her heart elsewhere?
And he who serves you
Receives in no way the reward he deserves?
Surely, he’s a fool to persist in serving
Such a master when he loses his wages.”
After this,
Loyalty drew herself up in front of Love
And said no wrong would have been done
Had he made a sop from such bread.
“And it’s not right
If he is true, loyal, and worthy
That he should be one who beats the bushes
From which others take the birds.
For if the lady,
Whom I blame and condemn quite harshly
(And quite rightly since she deserves
Much blame for proving fickle in this serious game),
Had not
First taken back her heart from this lover,
Who was completely under her control,
Love, Love, I would have spoken differently.
But there is no doubt,
Since he loves her with all his might
And she for no cause ignores him,
He ought to dance the same dance she does;
This wouldn’t be
Something that merits the loss of my favor,
But if he abandoned her and looked elsewhere,
I would not consider he had sinned against me.
So I concur
Completely with all of Reason’s conclusions
(For she has offered a good and true accounting):
The man is right, and this lady is wrong.”
And when Youth,
Who is very gay and full of happiness
And pays no mind to gifts or promises,
Only to what appeals to her,
What Reason had said and declared,
And Loyalty as well — she thought little of it
Because she was quite full of her own willfulness.
And she said loudly:
“Surely, Reason, your wisdom fails you,
And Loyalty, know that nothing is of any use,
For this lover, despite any pain, any assault
Love may inflict upon him,
Will never be parted from that lovely topaz
Who in beauty and sweetness surpasses all others,
In pure color as well; may it never please God
It comes to pass
He holds back from loving such beauty!
For if at present she does not want, will not bend to him,
At least he loves her and his heart is her companion.
And isn’t that enough?
Must he tire of loving her?
Surely not! For no one is loved,
Or treated kindly, or called lover every day;
That’s true beyond a doubt.
Reason, the lover is a fool who listens to you
Or follows your dictates or path.
And whoever does, I say he can see nothing.
And by my faith,
We will do much, Love, my lady, and I,
To so imprison his heart in such straits
That night or day it will not leave of its own accord;
Nor will your efforts —
Don’t doubt this — ever be strong enough
To make this lover’s pure heart abandon
The quite beautiful lady in whom it finds so little comfort.
Thus Love, my lady,
Who burns, pales, scorches, and inflames his heart,
As well as I who am still in my prime
Will hold him fast in this love affair; for by my soul,
So must it be.
And should more painful ills fall to his lot
Than to the lady standing beside him,
His strength is sufficient; he bears and suffers them well.”
Then the noble king
Took stock and laughed heartily at
Youth, who had said these things;
Even so he prized her none the less
Since she only did
Her duty by saying what she had,
And he valued her wishes much more dearly
Than he loved ten pounds of his own profit.
So he said: “Youth,
Beautiful lady, you are the great mistress,
Who holds this lover fast in such terrible distress,
In poverty, misery, sadness,
You along with Love.
You witness how the weary man has lost all help,
Nor does his heart find refuge or recourse,
Save in death, which quickly comes upon him.
But you would
Torment him too much, estrange him from everything.
Now he has found, if you please, a counselor
Good and true; let that person advise him.
In this way you will do well,
For he is caught in so tight a place
He knows no trick or scheme to escape.”
“Surely, sire, I will do nothing of the kind.
Instead he will love
The great beauty on whose account he feels such bitterness.
And should he die, everyone will call him
A martyr to Love, and it will do him honor
If he does die for her.”

When Youth brought her speech to an end,
The king spoke to them, saying:
“We have not assembled here
To dispute
Whether he should love his lady or not,
But rather to learn who feels greater unhappiness
And suffers more the cruel pangs of love —
Or so it seems to me.
Now you all agree completely
This lover feels much more pain
Than the lady; and in no way do I differ
From this conclusion,
But support it firmly in every way and concur
That this lover is further from consolation
Than this lady, may God console her.
So I will judge
This case according to my understanding,
For in these matters I have no experience.

And truly another man, well I know it,
Would do better.
I say this: in proper consideration
Of the opinion of Reason, here present,
And the arguments of you who are eager for justice,
And of Loyalty,
Who has spoken the pure truth in this matter
And does not resort to ruses or deception,
And also of Love, who has here argued skillfully,
And of Youth —
That this lover suffers more sadness
And love’s pains wound him more grievously
Than they do the lady, in whom there is great nobility;
And he is much further
From the consolation he truly needs.
And so I announce and render my judgment
That he feels more hurt than she, more worry
And distress.”

After the good king offered his decision,
Whose logic had been proposed by Reason,
The knight thanked him there,
In his presence,
And, lost in thought, the lady so forgot herself
She uttered nary a word.
Nonetheless in the end she granted
She would accept
The judgment the king rendered
Because he was so wise and loyal
He would do only right by everyone.
Then the king,
Smiling, took them by the hand
And seated them on the Norwegian rug
Far from the others, just the three of them.
And he urged
And begged them both to take comfort,
For should the heart long bear such pain,
He might die, and so could she,
(May it never happen!);
Instead they should regain their senses,
For the heart destroys and harms itself greatly
Wallowing in such weeping and pain;
And often repeated
Is the view that a man should forget
Whatever he cannot better
Or change by tears and lamentation.
And, so doing,
They should not sin against Loyalty, he said;
But crying so for love they did wrong,
Becoming the murderers of their own souls
And lives.
Afterward the king summoned his court.
So Liberality, Honor, and Courtesy,
Beauty, Desire, mirthful Happiness,
And Hardihood,
Prowess, Love, Loyalty, and Generosity,
Will, Thought, Wealth, along with Youth
And then Reason, mistress over all, came forward.
The king asked
That each strive to honor these two lovers
And Love should drive away melancholy
From them; and, afterward, a meal
Be prepared,
For it was quite close to vespers.
And without delay they carried out his wishes
Like a retinue good and well instructed.
They approached
The lovers, offering no more debate,
And to the best of his ability each did
What he thought would please and suit them,
For with good will
They were eager to do so.
And the lovers asked for leave to go
But were adamantly refused,
For Courtesy,
Liberality, Honor, and Generosity his friend,
The noble king, who did not forget himself at all,
And everyone else quite fervently begged them
To remain
Because it was nearly the dinner hour.
And as they talked, the call to wash sounded with horns
Throughout the castle accompanied by loud trumpeting;
So the company
Rose and entered the hall two by two;
There they politely washed their hands
And sat down to eat and drink
In moderation,
For there was a great abundance
Of whatever one could request or have that is good.
After the meal, the noble king took them
By the robe
And said to them: “You will not leave us for some time,
Because my intention now is to free you
From those thoughts that so trouble you.”
The knight
Began to thank him quite humbly,
And likewise did the lady, who could delay
No longer, she said, before returning.
Yet in the end
The king lodged them eight days quite happily
And at their departure bestowed generously upon them
Horses, harness, jewels, gold, and silver.
At the end of the eight days,
They parted, taking leave of the king,
In whom they found so much honor, so they said,
They had never seen a ruler this good or noble.
And Honor
Accompanied them, as did Courtesy,
Youth, Love, contented Wealth,
And many another I cannot name.
For they mounted
Their horses and escorted them far enough
To lead both back to their residences,
Afterward returning to the king at Durbuy.
Here I intend to end
My account; I will rhyme no more,
For I have enough other matters to put in verse.
But at the end of this book, I will see to it
That anyone
Eager to learn my name and surname
Will be able to recognize them clearly
In the book’s last verse, see them there.
Let him simply remove
The first seven letters from the whole
And reassemble them in another fashion,
Neglecting or omitting none.
In this way, whoever
Wants to learn my name can do so,
Though he will not esteem me more.
Nevertheless, it will never happen
I will not be
A lover loyal, pleasant, and full of mirth,
For if in this world I possessed nothing
But loved my lady, humble and demure,
Against her will,
Then I have enough, for Love has honored me
And richly rewarded my pain ever since
I bestowed my heart upon my lady
For all time.
What comforts my heart in its suffering
Is that when first I felt the pangs of love,
I expected a humble relief for a noble ill.

Here ends The Judgment of the King of Bohemia.

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