La Belle Dame sans Mercy


1 And left me alone (i.e., deprived of my beloved), thus overcome and dejected

2 Which pleases neither me nor anyone else

3 [To] these sick (i.e., lovesick) lovers, I leave that [which] is their prerogative

4 My good fortune then had the same outcome

5 And there were some [men], perhaps the most recently arrived

6 He was at great pains to assume a glad expression

7 Not out of any desire, but [rather because of] proper modesty

8 None were near them [within] a certain range (distance)

9 You consider it of no importance, but turn it into a joke

10 Who think that God does not know the most grievous suffering of all

11 Lines 305-06: For my desire is only to labor for your gratification

12 His feigned expression is hard to keep under control (i.e., like a mewed hawk)

13 Painful in deed, in lying great delight

14 Lines 393-94: Entirely False Seeming (Pretense) they bear, and True seeming (outward appearance of truth); / Their names, their reputations, their tongues are only feigned (insincere)

15 Than to strangers, show them [a] friendly face (i.e., treat them in a friendly manner)

16 Who follows the opinions (whims) of others a great deal

17 Lines 505-06: He has too many hearts who wishes to give / A gift eagerly that is rejected (see note)

18 Who cannot with certainty double his odds (see note)

19 Who can merit [the name "faithful"] and pretend he did not know [i.e., that he deserved it]

20 For whoever petitions and sues (chases) in any case (i.e., indiscriminately)

21 Lines 613-14: For such an injury (a crime), there is no judge seated [in court] / By which one may rightfully be restored

22 Whether they should weep, laugh, or sing, this I assure you

23 [Even] the most discreet (taciturn) [of them] much desires that some man will say


Abbreviations: see Textual Notes.

1-28 These first four stanzas have no parallel in the French original. They are in rhyme royal (seven-line stanzas rhyming ababbcc), so called because it is the stanza form of The Kingis Quair, attributed to James I of Scotland. Chaucer makes use of the stanza in TC, PF, portions of Anel., and a number of the CT.
1-2 Half in a dreme . . . undre his whynge. The frame narrator's description of himself as half asleep describes a state not unusual in dream visions; compare Gower's CA, where Amans falls into a swoon near the beginning and end, but is not definitively asleep.

9 as part of my penaunce. As Brown points out (p. 121), the translator's penaunce resembles that of the narrator in Chaucer's Prologue to LGW.

11 maister Alyn. Alain Chartier, the author of the original French poem, dated 1424 (Piaget, p. vii), that forms the basis of Roos' translation.

12 Cheif secretary with the kyng of Fraunce. According to Sk, Chartier acted as secretary to both Charles VI and Charles VII (p. 517n11).

17 ff. Myn unconnyng and my gret simplesse. The narrator's modesty is a standard disclaimer. See Lydgate's CLL, explanatory note to lines 190 ff., for further dis-cussion of the convention.

22-25 I cast my clothes on . . . a gret plesaunce. Compare the opening lines of RR. Narrators of dream visions and love complaints often go to the woods, the fields, or a garden to wrestle with their problems. For more on the locus amoenus tradition, see the explanatory note to Clanvowe's BC, lines 58-60; compare also QJ, lines 19 ff.; and CLL, lines 15 ff.

29 ff. The translation is in 8-line stanzas rhyming ababbcbc, following the French. Piaget notes that this was a common form in fifteenth-century French poetry (p. viii).

39-40 Compare the French: il fault . . . que j'abandonne et delesse / Le rire pour le lermoyer, "it is necessary . . . that I abandon and forsake / Laughter for the shedding of tears" (lines 9-12). Here, as elsewhere, the longer length of the English lines allows for added details, such as the ful promisse (line 39) or clothes blake (line 40).

41-44 In these lines the narrator of the French poem refers back to his need to quit writing verse (lines 13-16):


La me fault le temps employer,
Car plus n'ay sentement ne aise,
Soit d'escrire, soit d'envoyer
Chose que a moy n'a autre plaise.
To that end it is necessary for me to use my time,
For I no longer have feeling or pleasure,
Either to write, or to address
A work that is pleasing neither to me nor to another.

In the English there is no further reference to the "ryme or dytees for to make" (line 38); instead the narrator complains that his happy time is finished, and now his fate should be recorded: Lete it be writen (line 43).

47-48 Compare the French, which emphasizes the cause and effect between what the pen writes and the tongue speaks: Ma plume n'y saroit attaindre, / Non feroit ma langue a les dire, "My pen would not have the capacity (know how) to reach those (i.e., joyful things), / Nor would it cause my tongue to speak them" (lines 19-20).

49-52 In the French (lines 21-24), the eye contradicts the mouth through the outwards signs of the heart's feeling, its tears:

Je n'ay bouche qui puisse rire
Que les yeulx ne l'en desmentissent,
Car le cuer l'envoyroit desdire
Par les larmes qui des yeulx yssent.
I do not have a mouth that might laugh
Without the eyes belying it,
For the heart would attempt to contradict it
By the tears that would pour from the eyes.
53 These seke lovers. Lovers are often depicted as suffering from illness (i.e., lovesickness). See explanatory note to lines 31-35 of BC. Compare the French: amoureux malades, "enamored patients" (line 25).

55-56 to make ballade or songes, / Every of heim as they fynde here grevaunce. Where the English suggests that the choice of poetic form corresponds to the lovers' pain, the French represents it as a matter of taste: Faire chançons, dis et balades, / Chascun a son entendement, "To make songs, poems and ballades / Each ac-cording to his preference" (lines 27-28).

57-76 For she that was my joy . . . hire tumbe igrave . . . myn hert shal never passe. The narrator explains the reason that he is no longer able to suffer from lovesickness: the lady he loves is dead. He therefore differs from other lovers in that his "sickness" is grief, which can now never be alleviated by granting of the lady's favor. In the French, it is simply the narrator's sentement, "feeling/love" (line 31), that accompanies her to the grave, rather than his wille and hertis ordenaunce (line 59), and he refers to her as la tresbonne, "the very good" (line 45), rather than she that was al my maistresse (line 73).

75-76 Compare the French: La mort m'assist illec la bonne / Qu'onques puis mon cuer ne passa, "Death placed for me there the limit (boundary) / That afterwards my heart never surpassed" (lines 47-48).

77-84 For discussion of the setting, see explanatory note to lines 58-60 of BC.

103-04 Were noon dud service within that place / But chosen men, right of the goodlyest. The French reads simply: Les plus gracieux les servirent, "The most gracious served them" (line 76).

106 there juges. I.e., the ladies whom they desire as lovers; the word is the same in the French (line 79).

111 As oon that hade ben ravisshed utterlye. The French is comme homme ravy, "like a man enraptured" (line 83).

114 his desire fer passed his reason. The French reads the same: desir passoit la raison (line 86). Desire was associated with will. For more on the opposition between will (desire) and reason, see explanatory note to line 197 of BC. The proverbial version of this is "love puts reason away" (Whiting L533). Here, the lover's inability to curb himself is made evident in the following two lines, where "For ever his ey went after his entent, / Ful many a time whan it was noo season" (lines 115-16, "Always his eye acted in accordance with his desire / Full many a time when it was out of season [i.e., inappropriate]).

120 For noo pleasaunce, but verrey shamefastnesse. Compare the French: Non pas pour plaisir, mais pour crainte, "Not for pleasure, but for fear (awe)" (line 92).

127-28 he was pale . . . in ferful wise. Some of the typical signs of lovesickness; see BC, explanatory note to lines 31-35, for details. In the French, the lover is Ennuyé, mesgre, blesve et palle, "Exhausted, thin, ghastly and wan" (line 99), and, as in the English, his voice trembles (line 100).

130 Alle blake he ware and noo devise, but playne. The lover's clothes are unmarked by any heraldic device that would reveal his identity. The knight encountered by the narrator of Chaucer's BD wears black to symbolize his grief, as does the knight in CLL (who more precisely wears "blake and white" [line 131]). The image comes from the French: Le noir portoit et sans devise, "He was wearing black and without emblem" (line 102).

132 His hert was noothing in his owne demayne. Compare the French: Et trop bien homme resembloit / Qui n'a pas son cuer en franchise, "And seemed very much like a man / Who did not have his heart free" (lines 103-04).

137 His scolemaister. I.e., the lady he desires; presumably she "teaches" him about love. Compare Chaucer's Complaint of Mars, where Mars "hath wonne Venus his love, / And she hath take him in subjeccioun, / And as a maistresse taught him his lessoun" (lines 31-33). In the French poem, the lady is his maistresse (line 109), and it is love that constrains him: Mais, a la fois, le contraignoit / Amours qui son cuer hardeoit / Pour sa maistresse qu'il veoit, "But, at the same time, Love, who assailed his heart, constrained him / On account of his mistress, whom he noticed" (lines 107-09).

145-46 of his eyn the shote . . . right humble requestis. The trope is that of the lover who, when gazing at the desired love-object, is shot through the eye with Love's arrow, which then lodges in the heart. See RR, lines 1679-2008 (Romaunt, lines 1715- 2100). Chaucer uses the image in TC 2.535 and 3.1086-88; and The Knight's Tale, where Palamoun "cast his eye upon Emelya, / And therwithal he bleynte and cride, 'A!' / As though he stongen were unto the herte" (CT I[A]1077-79; see also 1096- 97). The French poem uses the same imagery (lines 117-18).

150 ff. More signs of lovesickness; see explanatory note to lines 31-35 of BC.

153 he made his ordenaunce. According to the MED definitions, ordinaunce n. frequently occurs in contexts which refer to war or law. In the present case, the expression could be interpreted in a number of different ways, including "he marshaled his troops," "he prepared for war," "he decreed," "he organized him-self." Though the phrase refers to the lover's attempt to control his expression, it could also suggest figuratively his preparation for battle (in the sense of trying to win his lady's favor). The French reads: Puis reprenoit son ordonnance, "Then regained his composure." For more discussion of military imagery, see explanatory note to lines 175-80.

164 Whiche moost he dred of lyvyng creature. The French makes no mention of the lover's awe or fear of his lady: Dont sur toutes plus lui chaloit, "Which above all others was most necessary to him" (line 135-36).

174 Oon wise ner other, pryvé ner pert. The French uses a different opposition: Ne plus avant ne plus arriere, "Neither further before nor further behind" (line 146).

175-80 A garyson . . . a frounter for a lovers hert . . . the standart of Daungere. The narrator continues the terminology of military conquest from line 153, suggesting here that the lover will acquire a new fortress by defeating the garrison defending it beneath her standart of Daungere (line 180). The standart of Daungere might be said to represent the lady's proclaimed desire to keep herself aloof. RR similarly uses the language of war to describe the conquering lover (see explana-tory note to line 13 in CLL for discussion of Dangier, "Resistence" in RR); compare to CLL, lines 250-59. The French poem uses these same terms (lines 147-52).

183-88 Oute of the prese . . . noo man me aspye. The narrator's vantage point enables him to see without being seen, establishing his credibility in reporting the dialogue between the lover and his lady which follows. Such setups are commonplace in medieval poetry. See, for example, QJ and CLL, where the narrators similarly eavesdrop. Spearing (1993) takes an extensive look at this trope.

201 His leche. The beloved as the doctor or source of the cure for lovesickness is a common trope; compare line 473 of CLL. The French poem uses the same term (line 173).

204 in his hete to bringe him to the fire. Love is often portrayed as hot, with the beloved as the source of heat. See, for example, Romaunt, lines 3707-09, where Venus carries a burning brand "Wherof the flawme and hoote fir / Hath many a lady in desir / Of love brought, and sore het"; Chaucer's TC 1.977-78, "Was nevere man or womman yet bigete / That was unapt to suffren loves hete." Compare also descriptions of love as a fever (in this case both hot and cold) in BC, line 39, and CLL, lines 229-45. The association is also quite common in religious contexts; see, for example, Nicholas Love's Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ: "as þe self prophete seiþ, My herte verreyly hetede, with þe fir of cristes loue" (ed. Michael G. Sargent [New York: Garland Publishing, 1992], p. 204/19-20; italics in original). Compare the French poem, where the image is one of self-immolation: Car qui art ne se peut plus nuire / Qu'approchier le feu du tyson, "For whoever burns cannot do more harm to himself / Than to approach the fire of embers" (lines 175-76).

205-07 The hert . . . tobrest. Compare Chaucer's TC 2.607-09: "For man may love, of possibilite, / A womman so, his herte may tobreste, / And she naught love ayein [i.e., return his love], but if hire leste." In the French, the heart similarly threatens to break because of these dual constraints (line 179).

209 Desire was bolde but Shame it gan refrayne. In RR Shame (Honte), along with Foul Mouth and Fear, is one of the three companions of Resistance (Dangier); the four guard the roses from lovers' attempts to steal them. See explanatory note to lines 175-80. In the French poem, it is crainte, "fear/awe" that restrains the lover (line 181).

211-12 Compare the French, where the image is of one Qui porte en son cuer telle guerre, "Who carries in his heart such war (strife)" (lines 183-84).

214 But Shamefastnesse and Drede said ever "nay." The French poem has simply Se crainte ne l'eust destorné, "If fear (awe) had not deterred him" (line 186). In RR, Fear is one of four companions who guard the rosebushes from the attentions of lovers. See explanatory notes to lines 175-80 and line 209.

215 so sore he was constrayned. The French specifies that son cuer forsa, "his heart compelled [him]" (line 187).

218 With dredful voix, weping, half in a rage. The English poem has embellished the French considerably: Et dist bas en plorant adonques, "And said quietly while crying (lamenting) thus" (line 190).

220 I first hade a sight of youre visage. "Love at first sight" is proverbial (see Whiting L496); the same trope is used in the French (line 192). Compare the passage in Chaucer's TC where the narrator discusses how Criseyde first came to love Troilus:
Now myghte som envious jangle thus:
"This was a sodeyn love; how myght it be
That she so lightly loved Troilus
Right for the firste syghte, ye, parde?" (2.666-69)
222 In the French, the lover accuses the lady more directly by saying je muir pour vous bien vouloir, "I die because you very much wish it" (line 194).

227-28 Compare the French: Et si n'en povez pis valoir, / N'avoir mains honneur ne plus honte, "And so you could not value it any worse, / To have neither less honor nor more shame" (lines 199-200).

230 If that a man doo love you fastfully. Compare the French, where there is no mention of faithfulness: S'ung franc cuer d'homme vous veult bien, "If the free heart of a man desires you very much" (line 202).

236 To binde myself. I.e., because of his love for her. See explanatory note to line 243 for more on the idea that love binds. The French reads: Pour plus asservir ma franchise, "In order to subjugate my freedom further" (line 208).

241-42 Bothe faithe . . . withoute any callyng. "Both faith and loyalty I give your ladyship, / And my service, without any demand/protest." The other MSS have ayein callyng for any callyng (see textual note), which would mean "revoking." The French reads somewhat differently: Je serviray sans desservir / En ma loyauté observant, "I will serve without profiting (or, recompense) / In my faithfulness compliant" (lines 213-14).

243 Love hath me bounde. "Love binds" is proverbial. Compare Gower's description of Venus in CA as "sche which mai the hertes bynde / In loves cause and ek unbinde" (ed. Peck, 8.2811-12); and BC, where the God of Love "can bynde and unbynde eke, / What he wole have bounde and unbounde" (lines 9-10). See Whiting L497 for further citations. The French poem does not use this metaphor: me fist asservir / Amours d'estre vostre servant, "Love makes me submit to being your servant" (lines 215-16).

247 Withoute chanching of coloure or courage. In other words, the lady does not fall in love with him, changing color being one of the signs of lovesickness (for more on this, see explanatory note to lines 31-35 of BC). This is one of the many signs that she is restrained by reason rather than under the sway of emotion. The French uses the same imagery: Sans muer couleur ne courage (line 219).

253 ff. In both the French and English versions, the lover continues to use the vocabulary of war, alluding also to the relationship between vassal and lord in words such as faithful truste and affyaunce (line 260). Describing the relationship between a lover and his lady in terms of vassal and lord is conventional, though the French poem does not use such language here (see the explanatory note to lines 257-60 for a detailed comparison to the French). CLL uses such language in line 551.

256 Be whiche I am defyde and put afarre. The MED cites this line under defien v. (1), 1 (b), "to despise (sth.), treat (sb.) with contempt, scorn; denounce (sth.)," and afere adv., meaning "in fear," which would render the line, "By which I am despised and put in fear." But defien v. (1), 2 (a), "to challenge (sb.) to fight, defy; declare war on (sb.)" and afer adv., (a) "at a distance, far off, afar" seem to fit the context better. The line then reads "By which I am challenged and put at a distance," which seems to be better supported by the French: Par quoy deffier me feistes, "By which you make me provoke a challenge." See explanatory note to lines 157-60, for further discussion of the MED's reading of this stanza.

257 my verrey lodesterre. A phrase that has no parallel in the French (see explanatory note to lines 257-60). Compare Troilus's apostrophe to the absent Criseyde in Chaucer's TC: "Who seth yow now, my righte lode-sterre?" (5.232). The phrase is often used in religious contexts. See, for example, Lydgate's Life of Our Lady 5.700: "To lyfe eterne be thou our lode sterre."

257-60 Rather than simply encouraging him to keep his own faith, in the French the lover claims that in her look the lady offers both a challenge and a promise of faith on her part (lines 229-32):
Et que Doubz Regart transmeistes,
Herault de celle deffiance,
Par lequel vous me promeistes
En deffiant bonne fiance.
And that you would send Sweet Regard,
Herald of this challenge,
By which you would promise me
In challenging good faith (trust).
The MED suggests that defyaunce (line 258) should be translated as "rejection" (see defiaunce n., [a]), but this line from BDSM is the only example cited for this meaning. In addition, the context in the English (with heraude, line 258) and evidence of the French original would seem to support the MED's meaning (b) "a challenge to combat; a declaration of war," which is how I have glossed it.

263 only for beholding of an eye. For discussion of "Love at first sight," see explana-tory note to line 220.

269-72 These lines are difficult and differ somewhat from the French; the sense of the English is probably something like:
If it be the case that one hurts another sorely
Through the fault of the one who feels the grievance,
Legitimately a man may do no more,
Even though reason wishes it to be taken into consideration.
Compare the French (lines 241-44):
S'aucun blesce autry d'aventure
Par coulpe de cellui qu'il blesse,
Quoy qu'il n'en puet mais par droitture,
Si en a il dueil et tristesce.
If one by chance wounds the other
Through the fault of the one he wounds,
While he cannot rightfully do any more about it,
Yet he has pain and sorrow of it.
273-75 The lover claims that Fortune alone cannot be blamed for his lovesickness, for the lady's beauty is also at fault. Because of a few minor changes, the reading in P and Th suggests Fortune is entirely to blame: "And sithe fortune onely by her chaunce / Hath caused me to suffre all this payne / By your beaute" (H has been corrected to follow this reading by a later hand). Compare the French: Et puis que fortune ou rudesce / Ne m'ont mie fait ce mehaing, / Mais vostre tresbelle jeunesce, "And since fortune or unkindness (ignorance) / Has not at all caused this wound (unhappiness) / But your very attractive youthfulness" (lines 245-47).
   See explanatory note to line 80 of QJ for more on Fortune. The lady repeatedly makes the Boethian argument that one must rely on philosophy for stability, not Fortune. For discussion of the lady's use of Boethian themes, see Brown.

288 That I am unware casten in youre chayne. The metaphor differs slightly from the French, where the lover falls rather than being thrown into the lady's power: Que je suy en voz las cheu, "That I have fallen into your shackles (chains)" (line 260). The MED cites similar uses of chaine, 4 (b) to signify "a bond or force that constrains or dominates." For other uses of "chain" to refer to the bonds of love, see explanatory note to CLL, line 290.

300 Lesse harme it were oon sorowful then twayne. The MED identifies this as proverbial (see twein num., 2 [e]).

303-04 Of oon sory . . . lyveth in distresse. The French makes clear that the oon sory refers to the lover not the lady, saying it is better D'un dolent faire deux joyeux / Que le dolent du tout desfaire, "From one sufferer to make two happy people / Than to demolish utterly the one who suffers" (lines 275-76). The lover is therefore appealing to the lady to transform the single sad person (himself) into two joyful ones (himself and her) by returning his affection.

308 In eschewing al manere of doublenesse / To make twoo joyes instede of oo grevaunce. The French makes no mention of doublenesse, but focuses solely on the exchange: Pour eschangier, sans riens mesfaire, / .Ij. plaisirs en lieux d'un mesaise, "In order to exchange, without destroying anything, / Two pleasures in place of one constraint" (lines 279-80). Compare Theseus' advice to Palamoun and Emelye in The Knight's Tale, where, conversely, he tells the lovers: "er that we departen from this place / I rede that we make of sorwes two / O parfit joye, lastynge everemo" (CT I[A] 3070-72).

315 To be rewled by manis goveraunce. In Chaucer's Man of Law's Tale Custance proclaims, "Wommen are born to thraldom and penance, / And to been under mannes governance" (II[B1]286-87); similarly the narrator of QJ describes women "lyving / Under thraldome and mannis subjectioun" (lines 199-200). But compare the French: Je suy franche et franche vueil estre, / Sans moy de mon cuer dessaisir / Pour en faire .j. autre le maistre, "I am free and free would like to remain so, / Without relinquishing my heart / In order to make another master of it" (lines 287-88).

324 dere bought is the rechace. The MED cites only this line for rechace n., "ransom, repurchase," suggesting the word is a calque on the French les rachas (line 296). Many of the English scribes evidently could not make sense of the line and transformed rechace into richesse, "wealth" (see textual note). The idea behind rechace seems to be that once a lover has declared his allegiance to Love, it costs him dearly to ransom himself from (or, buy himself out of) that bond. Compare the French: Bien chier en coustent les rachas, "The repurchases/ransoms of them (i.e., Les servans of line 293) are very expensive" (line 296).

325-32 Ladyes bith not so semple . . . thaire eres close. The lady suggests that women are too smart to be taken in by the insincere words of men who merely wish to seduce them. The falseness of the lover's words was a common concern of love poetry; see Benson's discussion, pp. 248-49, of courtly love and its scoundrels. The English poem corresponds closely to the French here.

329 The MED cites this line as an example of holden scole, "dispute" (see scole n., 2 [c]), but the context and comparison to the French would seem to require "conduct schools" (scole n., 1 [a]). The French reads: Confites en belles parolles, / Don't vous autres tenez escolles / Pour leur faire croire merveilles, "Concealed in pretty (i.e., deceitful) words, / Of which you others hold schools / To make them (i.e., the ladies) believe marvels" (lines 300-02).

338 His fayned chere is harde to kepe in mewe. The fayned chere, "feigned expres-sion," is a common image in discussions of love. Compare CLL, where the knight complains that Lies use their "feyned port" to "hynder Truthe" (lines 429, 434). The idea of the expression being kept in mewe like a hawk does not come from the French, which reads A peine sa faintise queuvre, "Through effort conceals his pretense" (line 310).

345-48 In the French (lines 317-20) Love reveals his cruelty (or, wrath) in the final line of the stanza, while in the English his rage exposes the lovers' own secrets, seemingly as a consequence for their interest in Love's "secrete governaunce" (line 344):
Il les fait a soy consentir
Par une entree de chierté,
Mais quant vient jusqu'au repentir
Alors desqueuvre sa fierté,
He makes them be in agreement with him
By an entry of affection,
But when he comes upon repentance
Then he reveals his cruelty (wrath).
353 Who hath noo colde, of hete hath noo deynté. Whiting lists as proverbial based on this passage (C366); compare also W231, "white seems more by black." The French uses the same proverb (line 325).

364 A will that stont enfeffid in fraunchese. To enfeoff is to "to grant (land, an estate, an office, rights, revenue, etc.) under the feudal system" (see MED enfeffen v.). Lines 364-65 would translate something like: "Neither strength nor force can encroach on (overpower) / A will that is granted the right of freedom."

389-94 A currysshe hert . . . tongis be bot fayned. Line 394 in particular seems to have confused the scribes, since the manuscripts offer a number of different readings, none of which makes complete sense without emendation (see textual note to line 394 for details). Lines 389-92 seem fairly clear, with the sense that the cur-like (mean) heart and courteous mouth, normally incompatible, are quickly reconciled by a false outward display and placed in the power of malice ("hostility, ill will, wickedness, sin, malignancy, power to injure/destroy," line 392). Compare the French rendering of this idea (lines 361-64):
Villain cuer et bouche courtoise
Ne sont mie bien d'une sorte.
Mais faintise tost les racoise
Qui par malice les assorte.
The base heart and noble mouth
Are not at all of one kind.
But pretense quickly reconciles them,
Which through wickedness binds them together.
Though the MED cites only this line from BDSM for currish adj., the general idea may be proverbial, as Whiting lists a number of sayings that similarly point to a pleasant exterior hiding something unpleasant or poisonous (see C177, G12, H433, P289, and V19), including several illustrating the capacity for the face to hide what is in the heart. In Of Content Dunbar makes a similar comment: "Defy the warld, feyn3eit and fals, / Withe gall in hart and hwnyt hals [honeyed throat]" (poem 53, lines 16-17). For details, see explanatory note to CLL, line 426.

393-96 In these lines the French poem reiterates from the first half of the stanza the idea of the false tongue at odds with what is hidden in the heart (lines 365-68):
La mesnie Faulz Semblant s'aporte
Son honneur en sa langue fainte.
Mais honneur est en leur cuer morte
Sans estre plouree ne plainte.
The household of False Seeming carries
Its honor in its false tongue.
But honor is dead in their heart
Without being mourned or regretted.
In contrast, the English poem focuses on the comprehensive nature of the pretense (Thaire name, thaire fame, thaire tongis be bot fayned - line 394), and describes honor as forgotten rather than dead (line 395).

401-04 In these lines the English differs considerably from the French (lines 373-76):
Car de ma mort ne de ma perte
N'a pas vostre doulceur envie,
Et, se vo grace m'est ouverte,
Vous estes garant de ma vie.
For my death or my loss
Your kindness does not desire,
And, if your grace is revealed to me,
You are the surety for my life.
408 that sekenesse. The word in the French is mal, which can also mean "sickness" or "suffering" (line 380). The lady refers here not to love, but to the "lightsum hert" and "foly of pleasaunce" of line 405.

414 That folowith him for love in every place. The French reads: Qui le suit, aime, craint et doubte, "Who follows, loves, fears and dreads him" (line 386).

418 withoute any chaunge. Compare the French: sans faintise et sans change, "with-out pretense and without fraud" (line 390).

421-24 Where in the English poem the lady states that she wants to avoid injury without specifying whether she means to herself or the lover, in the French she argues that her lack of welcome is an attempt to spare the lover pain (lines 393-96):
Se je fais bonne chiere a tous
Par honneur et de franc courage,
Je ne le vueil pas fair a vous
Pour eschiver vostre dommage.
Though I give everyone a warm welcome
In honor and out of a noble heart,
I would not wish to do so to you
In order to avoid your pain (injury).
436 That love by love were lawfull deservynge. Proverbial; see Whiting L506, "Love for love is skillful guerdoning." See also L273 and L543. Compare Chaucer's TC 2.392. The French reads similarly: Qu'amour soit par amour merie, "That love be by love earned/rewarded" (line 408).

443-44 Guerdoun constraynt . . . may not acord. The French reads: Guerredon, contrainte et renchiere / Et elle, ne vont point ensemble, "Recompense, coercion and bidding / And her (i.e., courtesy/benevolence), do not at all go together" (lines 415-16).

447 pardoun. In the French this is pur don, "sheer gift," i.e., one that requires no exchange (line 419).

454 That plesith on, another smertyth sore. The MED identifies this as proverbial (see plesen v., 4; on pron., 3 [e]; other pron., 8).

467 I have non yne, no wyt, nor mouth in store. The list in the French also includes cuer, "heart" (line 439).

491 worse it is to breke than bowe. Proverbial: "better bow than break" (see Whiting B484 for examples). See especially TC 1.257-58: "The yerde is bet that bowen wole and wynde / Than that that brest." The expression is the same in the French poem: rompre vault pis que ployer (line 464).

502-04 Where in the English la dame argues that one cannot honorably take back a gift that has been given, in the French she simply says she thinks nothing of a gift Ce qu'on offre a qui ne le prent, / Car le don est abandonné / Se le donneur ne le reprent, "That one offers to someone who does not accept it, / For the gift is left to one side / If the giver does not take it back" (lines 474-76).

505-06 He hath hertis ful fele that list to make / A geft lightly that put is in refuse. This difficult passage has given rise to a number of variants amongst manuscripts and editors (see textual note to line 505). A literal translation of the emended lines would read: "He has too many hearts who wishes to give / A gift eagerly that is rejected." Perhaps having too many hearts suggests a kind of foolishness that is meant to contrast with "he is wise" in line 507. Some readings, such as Th's, which Sk also follows, make sense of the lines by placing hert in the singular and revising fele to fell, meaning "treacherous" or "base": "He has a very treacherous [base] heart who wishes to give / A gift lightly, which is rejected." Brown, using Sk's edition, glosses "ful fel" as "very rash" (p. 122), another possible reading.
   The corresponding lines in the French poem offer their own difficulties and help explain the confusion in the English: Trop a de cuers qui entreprent / D'en donner a qui les refuse, "He has too many hearts (too much courage/generosity) who ventures / To commit them to one who refuses them" (lines 477-78). The phrase Trop a de cuers would seem to be a kind of pun, with avoir de coeurs used both metaphorically, as a version of the idiom "to have courage/generosity," and literally, "to have too many hearts," since the plural anaphor, les, in the next line requires a plural referent, cuers. The phrase thus means both "he has too much courage/ generosity" and "he has too many hearts," an ambiguity that does not quite work in English, where scribes had to chose between fele, "many," and fel, "rash" or "cruel." In the following stanza the French offers a response by l'amant that plays on la dame's words through its reuse of use of entreprendre and cuers: Par qui Amours a entrepris / De tant de bons cuers la conqueste, "By which Love under-took / The conquest of so many good hearts" (lines 487-88).

524 That surely cannot sette his poyntis double. "Who cannot with certainty double his odds." A difficult line, which Sk translates as "who cannot thoroughly afford to double his stakes," adding "To set often means to stake" (p. 519n523-24). This reading is supported by the MED, which cites this line from BDSM as one of two examples of setten v., 14 (g): "to wager (sth.), stake; ~ ayenes." The line seems to use a gaming metaphor that no longer makes sense to modern readers, but the French has been helpful here: Et cellui pert le jeu d'attente / Qui ne scet faire son point double, "And he loses the next game / Who does not know how to double his winnings/advantage/odds" (lines 495-96). The lover who wants to woo two women would have to double himself (or divide himself in two) and do twice as much, as well as be duplicitous, since he would be wooing two different women at the same time. Compare Chaucer's Legend of Hypsipyle and Medea, where the narrator accuses Jason of double treachery: "There othere falsen oon, thow falsest two!" (LGW, line 1377).

526 better said than doon. Proverbial; see Whiting S73. The French reads similarly: mieulz dire qu'esploittier, "better to say than to do" (line 498).

540 Is lost and dede - clene oute of remembraunce. Compare the French: C'est de mourir en la poursuite, "It is to die in the pursuit" (line 512).

546-48 Shal dye so trewly . . . a fals lover. This is akin to the proverbial notion that it is "better to die with honor than live in shame" (see Whiting D239), an idea that Chaucer takes up in detail in LGW. Compare lines 160 in BC and 492-96 and 525-26 in QJ. The French conveys the same idea (lines 518-20).

553 Who sechith sorowe, his be the resceyte. Proverbial; see Whiting S523. The French reads: Qui se quiert le mal, si l'endure, "Whoever seeks unhappiness, thus he suffers it" (line 525).

559-60 devoure . . . deue raunson. Not uncommonly, the lover speaks of love in terms of feudal taxes and the tribute due a lord by his vassals. Compare lines 253 ff. In the French the lover similarly asserts that le devoir d'amours, "the tribute (tax) of love" must be paid, since love has prise et droit, "the right to levy taxes and a just claim," over free hearts (lines 531-32).

565-72 cases mervelous . . . entré is wonder perlous . . . the first asay. The lady describes the lover's venture as if it were a knight's perilous quest from which he might not safely return. In his discussion of courtly love, Benson shows that knights were undertaking actual feats of arms and other trials to prove their love (pp. 249-51). The French similarly uses the language of quest, detailing tant de cas merveilleux, "so many marvelous situations" (line 537), l'entrer en est perilleux, "the entering of [which] is perilous" (line 539), and l'essay, "the risk/ordeal," that costs so much (line 544).

585 who that prayeth and sueth in any cace. The lady here charges the lover with wooing indiscriminately. There are legal overtones in the English terms sueth and case (underscored by the phrase "no trouth is preved" in line 586) that do not occur in the French: Qui encor poursuit et requiert, "Whoever persistently chases and entreats" (line 557).

608-12 These corresponding lines in the French (lines 580-84) convey a stronger sense both of the lady's effect on the lover and of the lover's guilt in the hypothetical case presented:
Le don de grace et le bien fait
De sa dame qui l'a refait
Et ramené de mort a vie.
Qui se souille de tel meffait
A plus d'une mort deservie.
  The gift of grace and the good accomplished
By his lady who has revived him
And brought him back from death to life.
Who tarnishes himself with such wrong
Has deserved more than one death.
613-16 In the French (lines 585-88) the judge and court curse and condemn the lover:
Sur telz meffais n'a court ne juge
A qui on puisse recourir.
L'un les maldit, l'autre les juge,
Mais je n'en ay veu nul mourir.
Against such crimes there is neither court nor judge
To which one might appeal.
The one curses them, the other condemns them,
But I have not seen anyone die of it.
In contrast, the English suggests that lovers curse and threaten when they do not get their way in love: Oon cursith fast, another doith manace, / Yet dyeth noon, as for as I can se (lines 615-16).

634-35 reclaymed to the lure . . . hem to withholde. The MED cites this line and translates "brought under control" (see reclamen v., 2 [d]) Sk translates as "taught to come back; a term in falconry" and sees the phrase in opposition to "hem to withholde [line 635], i.e. to keep themselves from coming back" (p. 520n634), but welle lerned hem to withholde would seem to mean "well trained to hold themselves back" - in other words, hearts do not come and go as they please (see line 633), but are taught to return when called and trained to remain at Love's behest, though they change just when love should be strongest. The French differs slightly: Car ilz les ont bien reclamez / Et si bien apris qu'ilz retiennent / A changier desqu'ilz sont amez, "For they have well called them back / And [they are] so well taught that they stay / To become changed as soon as they are loved" (lines 606-08).

656 stille as stoon. This proverbial phrase does not occur in the French: Car nul d'eulx ne s'est rebellez, "For none of them is disobedient (rebellious)" (line 628). For extensive citations of the proverb in English, see Whiting S772 and the related "Stone-still," S772a.

657 Thaire wille and myn ben meduled al in oon. Compare the French: Ilz sont parmy desir meslez, "They are in the midst of desire mingled" (line 629).

666-68 I am alwey . . . to youre pleasaunce. Compare the French: Que je sui celle que je fus. / D'avoir mieulx ne vous affiez / Et prenez en gré le reffus, "That I am that which I was. / Do not expect (trust) to have better, / And take in good part the refusal" (lines 638-40).

671-72 But now, alas, it is shit up so fast / That Daungere sheweth on me his cruelté. In the English poem it presumably refers back to the lady's "pité" (line 670); compare the French, where it is the lady herself that is closed up in her fortress: mais elle est enfermee / Et lesse Dangier m'assaillir, "but she is fortified / And allows Resistance to attack me" (lines 643-44). For more on Daungere, see explanatory note to lines 175-80.

673-76 Compare the French (lines 645-48):
Et s'el voit ma vertu faillir
Pour bien amer, el s'en saudra.
Lors sa demeure et tart saillir
Et mon bien souffrir me vaudra.
And if she sees my virtue fail
For loving well, she will go out from there.
In that case her delay and late departure
And my much-endured pain will be profitable to me.
The English emphasizes the lover's suffering no matter what happens, whereas the French implies that the lover's pain is worthwhile if his failing virtue causes the lady to leave the metaphorical fortress where she is defended by Resistance, as presumably he then can get access to her (see explanatory note to lines 671-72).

697-98 If a lady wol doo so gret outrage / To shewe pité and cause hire owne debate. The MED cites line 698 as its only example of debate n., "lowering, degradation." Compare the French: Se dame est a autrey piteuse / Pour estre a soy mesme cruelle, "If a woman shows pity to another / In order to be merciless to herself."

714 pité manerlesse. This idea comes from the French: pitié sans maniere (line 686); the MED cites only this line under manerles adj.

717-24 O marble hert . . . chacith me alwey. The marble heart is proverbial and is listed in Whiting M370 under "as hard as marble (stone)"; compare the French: cuer plus dur que le noir marbre, "heart harder than black marble" (line 689). For the lover's suggestion that he will die if the lady does not comfort him, compare Troilus' speech in Book 5 of TC: "O lady myn, that I love and na mo, / To whom for evermo myn herte I dowe, / Se how I dye, ye nyl me nat rescowe!" (5.229-31). See also explanatory note to line 812. Lovers often claim hyperbolically that they will die for love, so it is not unusual for the lady to take this with a grain of salt. For more on this trope, see explanatory note to CLL, lines 512 ff.

741 Malabouche. "Foul Mouth" or "Slander." See explanatory note to lines 260-68 in CLL, for discussion of this allegorical figure. Though Foul Mouth's role is usually to spread tales about the lover to discredit him with his lady, the lady here uses Malabouche to refer to the lovers themselves as tale-bearers who cannot be trusted in what they say to the ladies they attempt to win.

750 playne. The phrase in the French is toute unie, "completely uniform" (line 722).

777 Fals Semblant. "False Seeming," i.e., a hypocrite. In RR (lines 12361-540) False Seeming tricks Foul Mouth into confessing to him, strangles him, cuts out his tongue with a razor, and tosses him into a moat. This allows the lover passage into the rose garden.

799-800 His woful hert, almoost it brast atwayne - / Ful like to dye. A conventional expression of sorrow. See line 576 in CLL (and explanatory note). Although the lover seems utterly vanquished by the lady's refusal, the narrator's use of words such as almoost and Ful like suggests that the situation may be exaggerated. Compare the French: A poy que son cuer ne creva / Comme a homme qui va mourant, "His heart was just a little short of breaking / Like to a man who is going to die" (lines 771-72).

809 oon tolde me this expresse. Unlike the witnessed conversation between the two potential lovers, the narrator reports news of the lover's death at second hand. See explanatory note to lines 799-800. (The French reads the same, line 781).

812 he was deed within a day or twayne. Compare Troilus' death in Book 5 of TC. See explanatory note to CLL, lines 512 ff., for discussion of lovers' claims that they will die for love. In the French, the lover gets so upset he dies de courroux, "of rage" (line 784).

813 ff. Addressing lovers and/or ladies (as at the beginning of line 821) at the end of the poem is typical of love complaints. Compare, for example, the apostrophes to lovers at the ends of CLL, lines 653 ff., and QJ, lines 582 ff.

829 ff. The narrator's expressions of poetic inadequacy, as at the beginning of the poem, are conventional. Compare such disclaimers at the ends of QJ (lines 584 ff.) and many of Chaucer's poems. See also the explanatory note to lines 17 ff. The final four stanzas, like the initial four, have no parallel in the French original. These lines are an envoy addressed to the poem, a practice, borrowed ultimately from classical poets, that is used by Chaucer at the end of TC: "Go, litel bok, go, litel myn tragedye" (5.1786). See explanatory note to lines 674 ff. of CLL, for further discussion.


Abbreviations: F = Bodleian Library MS Fairfax 16, fols. 50r-62v; Ff = Cambridge University Library MS Ff.1.6 (Findern MS), fols. 117r-134v; FJF = Frederick J. Furnivall; H = British Library MS Harley 372, fols. 61r-69v; L = Longleat House MS 258, fols. 120r-136v [base text]; P = Richard Pynson; Sk = Walter W. Skeat; T = Cambridge, Trinity College MS R. 3. 19, fols. 98r-108v; Th = William Thynne (1532).

title L: La bell dame sauns mercy (in later hand). F: Balade de La bele Dame san3 mercy. Ff: Chaucer's La belle dame sans mercy (in later hand; note that this contradicts the colophon). H: La belle dame san3 mercy translatid out of ffrenche by Sir Richard Ros (in upper right corner in scribe's hand). T: la bell dame saunce mercy and by Chaucer (added in two different, later hands). P: This boke called la bele Dame Sauns mercy was translate out of Frenche in to Englysshe by Geffray Chaucer flour of peotes in our mother tong. Th: La belle dame sans mercy.
In Ff, line 1 is preceded by Prologe. In P, the whole poem is preceded by the prologue followed by a plate at the top of the page.

1 nat. H: omits.

6 more. L: any more.

7 hem. L: him. F, Ff, H, P, Th: hem. T: hyr.
the whiche. H: to wham. Th: whiche.
dissobaye. H: sey nay.

8 this. Ff, T: þus.

9 as. L: was.

13 I. T: omits.

19 thus. L: this.

20 vexed. L: wexed.

26 bolded. T: voldyd. P, Th: boldly.

27 rede. T: to rede.

33 hire. F, Ff, H, T, P, Th: his.

34 The deth hath. T: Dethe hath fro me.

35 thus. T: thys.

36 in. L: omits.

39 And I, surely. T: And yet therwith.

41 is it. P, Th: dothe it.

42 fele. T: fynde.

43 I take. P, Th: (as I take).

47 My penne cowde never have knowlech. F: Myn eyn cowth haue no knowlych. H: Myn eyen coude haue knowlege, corrected by later hand in margin to My penn could neuer know. T: My pen cowde haue no knowlege. P, Th: My pen coude neuer knowe."Eyes" is a mistake, since the French has plume,"pen" (line 19).

53 heim. This is a common spelling by the scribe for hem, as noted by Hammond (1905), p. 78.
longes. L: longed.

56 fynde. F, Ff, H, T, P, Th: fele.

60 bethe. F, H, T, P, Th: lyth.
with hire undre hire. P, Th: here within this.
igrave. F, H: in grave.

64 now. T: nygh.

66 was speryd. F: were sprad. H: was spradde, with spradde corrected by later hand in margin to sparede.

72 causid neither joye ner. T: causeth no ioy but.

73 al my. F: my good. H, T, P, Th: my.

74 My good. F, H, T: Al my. P, Th: My.

75 sete. H: sette, corrected by later hand in margin to shette. P, Th: shette.

80 cast. H: purposid.

81 for to. H: forth to.

88 yet. F, Ff, H, T: omit.
I. F: omits.

95 ever, oon by oon. F, Ff, H: euereche be on and one. T: euery by oon and oone. P, Th: euery one by one.

96-97 T transposes these lines.

97 gret. T: theyr.

98 morne. T: mone.

103 Were. L: Where. T, P, Th: There were.
noon dud service within that. F, H: none that serued in that. Ff, T: non þat dide seruyse within þat. P, Th: no deedly seruauntes in the.

105 there were summe. F, H: some they were. Ff, T, P, Th: sum þer were.

106 sitting. P, Th: omit.

117 good. P, Th: omit.
right. P, Th: omit.
he. Ff: omits.
payned. T: feynyd.

123 expresse. T: doutles.

124 forest. L: fforest.

126 noon. F, H: not.
like. F, H, T, P, Th: lyke hym.
as after. T: for soth to.

128 His speche also trembled. T: He spake also tremblyng.

132 noothing. T: then nat.

134 And. T: As

135 But. T: And.

136 done. L, F, Ff, H: doo.
noon other. T: no bettyr.

144 moost. T: euer.

145 And. P, Th: For.
shote. H: sight, corrected by later hand to shott in margin.
knewe. L: kewe.

146 fedred. P, Th: fearfull.

148 I, or that. F, H: ther that (H: corrected by later hand in margin to I or þat). Ff: or y that.
gestis. P, Th: iestes.

150 hevy. F: his heuy.

151 tendirly. H: tendirly, corrected by later hand in margin to wondersly. P, Th: wonderly.

155 for to juge his. T: to beholde with.
moost. F: omits.
rewful semblaunce. H: iuful semblance. P, Th: wofull penaunce.

156 it. F: is.

158 aboute. Th: aboue.

159 hevy. F, H, T: heuy louer. P, Th: heuy man he.

160 sumtyme. L: sutyme. There may be a suspension mark over the u to indicate an m.
with2. F, Ff, H, T: but with.

161 after. T: euer.

163 amonge. Ff: anone.

164 dred. T: louyd.

165 good. H: god, corrected by later hand above line to good.

170 thaire eyen, withouten. T: suche oon then without.

172 he. Ff: she.

173 as. Ff, T, P, Th: that.

174 wise. L, F, H: vise (H: corrected by later hand in margin to wise).

175 garyson. F, Ff, H: garnison. T: grainyson.

176 frounter. L: frente.

178 well. T: well with.
hire port. P, Th: of porte.
eke. F, Ff, H, T: eke hir. P, Th: eke of.

179 Well. T: Went.

184 alone. F, H: omit.

186 wetheys. P, Th: wrethes.
wonderlye. T: full wondyrly.

188 me. T: omits.

189 this. F, Ff, H, T, P: his.

190 he thought tyme. T: he hym thought.

191 Sith. H: Sithe, corrected by later hand in margin to Sett. P, Th: Set.

193 a certeyne of compace. T: a certayn space. P, Th: of a certayne compase.

198 nere. L, Th: more. The word in the French is prez,"near" (line 170).
sought. T: thought.

199 His. T: Whos.

204 hete. F, H: hert (H: corrected by later hand in margin to heat).

211 on. L: added by another hand in large gap between leyde and hym.

213 payned. T: feynyd.

213-20 Missing in F.

216 hade longe. Ff, H, T, P, Th: full longe hadde.

219 unhappy. T: happy.

221 hote. T: sore.

224 noon hede of it. T: therof hede.
kynnys. T: maner.

225 in. F, Ff, T: my.
advise. T: deuyse.

227 sue. L: suffre. T: shew.

228 youre. I have expanded the superscript abbreviation here and in lines 241, 668, 702, 734, 791, 793 with a final -e to reflect the scribe's spelling elsewhere.

230 fastfully. F, Ff, H, T, P, Th: faythfully.

231 youre. T: euery.
eschewing. F, H: escusyng (H: corrected by later hand in margin to eschewing).

233 chalang nought. T: shall nat. H: chalenge not, with not corrected by later hand in margin to nought.

235 right2. F, H: even. T: omits.

236 To. T: Do.

237 be so that I cannot. T: so be I can hit nat.

241 geve. Ff: 3e.

242 any. F, Ff, H, T: ayein.

245 his. F, H, P, Th: this.

249 la dame. Based on F, Ff, and H, which include speech markers, I have added la dame here and throughout to indicate when the lady is speaking. I have also added l'amant where appropriate to mark the lover's speech, starting at line 253.
youre thought is. F, H: ye do full. T: your hert ys.

251 and. Ff: an.

252 this. T: your.
pese. T: ese.

256 defyde. T: deferryd.
afarre. Ff, H, T: a fer. The MED cites H as an example of afere adv., meaning"in fear," but afer adv., (a)"at a distance, far off, afar" seems to fit the context better. See explanatory note for discussion of the French.

258 thilke same. T: thys saunce.

259 for to berre. F, Ff, H, T: to forbarre.

262 hath. P, Th: omit.

265 to beholde. P, Th: ye may beholde.

267 noo. T: in.

268 felyth smart. T: seketh harme.

270 the. Ff: no.

273 nat. H: marked for deletion. P, Th: omit.
his. H: his, corrected by later hand in margin to hir. P, Th: her.

275 But. H: But, corrected by later hand in margin to By. P, Th: By.

278 naught. F, H, T: neuer.

281 love. F, Ff, H: beleue (H: corrected by later hand in margin to loue). T: conseyte.

282 gret. F, H, P, Th: omit.
pleasaunce. P, Th: displesaunce.

283 make. T: mok.

285 thus. F, Ff, H: this.

286 me. T: omits.

287 chasid. T: enbrasyd.

297 now. H: nought. T: few.

301 it. F, H: I (H: corrected by later hand in margin to it).

302 Muche better were. T: Hyt were bettyr.

303 sory. F, H: sorow (H: corrected by later hand in margin to sory).
well. L: omits.

306 to. T: I.

310 Ner right gret love, ner gret affyaunce. F, H, T: Nor grete desire nor ryght grete affiaunce. P, Th: Nor haue therin no great affyaunce. The French reads: Ne grant espoir ne grant desir,"Neither great hope nor great desire."

311 doith. F: omits.

316 that. H: written in margin by later hand and marked for insertion.

318 al. F, H: omit.

319 hem. T: yow.
thaire. T: yowre.

321 nought hath of. H: not hath of, with not corrected by later hand in margin to nought. T: hath noon.

324 bought is the rechace. F: bought ys rychesse. H: his richesse bought has. P, Th: bought is the richesse. The French is les rachas (line 296), indicating the English should be rechace, not richesse; the explanatory note gives a more detailed comparison with the French.

329 moo. T: me.
holde scoles of. H: scoolys holden.
duly. H: dieulye, corrected by later hand in margin to daily. P, Th: dayly.

330 al. H: omits.
wondres. L: wondre is.

337 hole. T: nat sore.
sore. T: nat sore.

340 preveth. T: present.
sewe. H: sewe, corrected by later hand in margin to shew. T, P, Th: shew.

341 awayte. F, H: abayte (H: corrected by later hand in margin to awayte).

342 in gabbyng. L: and gabbyng.

345 hem. L: him.

346 him. Ff, T, P, Th: hem.

350 to. L: omits.

351 this. L, T, P, Th: thus.

352 Yet. F, H: It.
greveth. L: grveth.

354 axed. L: axex.

355 noon. T: nat.
the. P, Th: omit.
certaynté. Th: certeyne.

356 be wonne. Ff: wone. H: be wonnen, with wonnen corrected by later hand in margin to one. T: wonen be. P, Th: one.

357 As. L: And as.

358 to you is. L: thought is. F, Ff, H: yow is (H: is corrected by later hand in margin to thinke). P, Th: yow thinke.

360 love. T: lyve.
vayne. L: wayne.

361 chalange. T: shall.
never. T: men.

362 and. Ff, T: or.

363 ne. P, Th: and.
certayne. P, Th: omit.

366 as. P, Th: omit.

371 unrightfully. F, Ff, H, T: ryght wysly.

372 Oon. L: omits.

377 laugh. T: dysplesyn.

386 man of. P, Th: maner.

387 leyth. H: latith. T: lesyth.

389 currysshe. P, Th: cursed.

393 and. F, H: a.
Trewsemyng. H: trewe menyng, which Sk follows.

394 be bot fayned. L: be unfayned. F, H: be not feyned (H: not corrected by later hand in margin to but). P, Th: but fayned. Sk's emendation.

396 Nought. F: Not.

399 youre. T: hys.

401 whether. F, H: wher.

403 if. P, Th: of.

404 Then. P, Th: That.
sone. T: omits.

410 men. P, Th: me.

411 not. T: omits.

412 I. Ff: omits.
him. F, Ff, H: yt. P, Th: them.

413 bride. H: bridde, corrected by later hand in margin to bird.

415 him2. H: omits.

416 Oute. T: But.
him. H: omits.
enchace. L: final -e unreadable.

419 Am. H: And, corrected by later hand in margin to Am.

422 of. P, Th: for.

425 so. T: omits.

429-76 L: a lost folio means these lines are missing; the missing lines are supplied by Ff, whose readings are closest to L. Beginning here, F and H misorder the lines: 669-716, 325-72, 477-524, 621-68, 573-620, 429-476, 717-856.

432 heme. P, Th: hym.

433 is. T: ys to.

436 deservynge. P, Th: desyring.

438 tendurly. F, H: best and tendyrly.

444 may not. P, Th: can neuer.

445 case. T: place.

448 deth. Ff: omits.

450 a courteys. F, H: curteysy.

452 lovely. T: lowly.

454 another. T: and other.

456 all. P, Th: omit.

461 never formyd. P, Th: founded neuer.

468 But. H: That ne.

475 his. F, H: omit.

477 L resumes at this point.
eyen. L: owne eyen.
the prynte. T: theym present.

481 thus. P, Th: this.

485 se. L: so.

486 ye spende not youre season. F, H: your seson spend not.

489 refrayne. F, H: restreyn.

492 Better. F, H, T: And bettir.
falle to. P, Th: to fall.

494 his. F, H: your.

495 I1. T, P, Th: Hit.

502 it is. L: it written above line.

505 hertis ful fele. L: hertis ful fell. F, H: hert ful fele. T: hertis full fele. P, Th: an hert full fell. See explanatory note for further discussion.

505 list. L: list not.

506 in. L: omits. P, Th: to.

508 nother. F, H: neuer.

509 He. F: Who.

511 spende. L: spede.

514 Or. L: On.

517 counsaille. L: counsalle.

518 Sechith fairer. T: Secheth ferther.

523 lesith. H: hofithe or hosithe, though the letter in question looks more like the scribe's f than his s. Sk reads hosithe as a scribal error for leseth, but MED hoven v. (1), 2 (a),"wait in readiness or expectation," makes hofithe a possibility too.

527 Though. L: Thought.

529 it may not. F: omits not. P, Th: I ne may.

530 thing whiche. T: thynke that.

531 it are. H: it ar, with it corrected by later hand in margin to I see. P, Th: I se be.
fantasise. L: fantese.

532 of. Ff: omits.

533 folely. L: not folely. P, Th: no foly.

534 And whan him list. T: When he.
part therfroo. L: the part froo.

537-38 Ff: these lines are transposed and marked b and a in margin for reversal.

538 sowte. F, H: suerte (H: corrected by later hand in margin to sute).
desperaunce. T: esperaunce.

539 And alle. L: Alle.
good. T: goodys.

540 lost and dede. F: left as dethe. Ff, H: lefte as dede. T: left all deede.

542 may. P, Th: omit.
whatever be. T: what oon by.

544 That dethe shal doo me not noo. L: They shal doo me not noo. F: That deth shal do me no. H: That deth shal not doo me noo, with That corrected by later hand in margin to Than, and not marked for deletion. P, Th: Than dethe shall do me no.

545 ful. P, Th: omit.

551 nor maner. P, Th: no man.

553 his be. T: by. H: is by, corrected by later hand in margin to his be.

556 therto. H: þer to, with to corrected by later hand in margin to of. P, Th: therof.

557 assayed. H: saied, corrected by later hand to assaied by adding as above line.

559 devour. F, H: dewtis. P, Th: honour.

567 entré. P, Th: auenture.

568 commyng. L: connyng.
agayn. L: certayn.

571 barayn. P, Th: a barayne.

575 oute. H: ought, corrected by later hand in margin to out.

577 pref. P, Th: prise.

582 And so. L: so written above line.

583 deserve. P, Th: discerne.

585 sueth. P, Th: swereth.
cace. T: place.

586 no. F: omits.
trouth. L: th written before trouth and canceled.

587 grace. L: omits.

590 the contraye. F, Ff, H, T, P, Th: contrary.

591 that2. L: al.

592 lovely. T: lothely.

595 hire. H: here, corrected by later hand in margin to hir.

597 he. Ff, T: ye.

599 body, his thought. T: bodyes thought. F: body thoughty.
al awaye. T: alwey.

600 From. F: For.
hem. L: him.
sore. F, Ff, H, T: sorowe.

602 Love. T: omits.
gret. F, Ff, H, T: ryght grete.

604 so. F: omits. P, Th: full.

605 haveles. P, Th: harmlesse.

608 anything. L: any othing.
at. F: omits.

609 his lady. T: ys.

614 oon. H: one, corrected by later hand in margin to love. P, Th: loue.

617 thaire. L: hire.
oo degré. Ff: ordre.

618 evermore. F, H: euere newe.

619 gret. F, H: omit.

622 juyse. H: juyse, corrected by later hand in margin to justice. P, Th: no iustyce.

625 that ever is good. T: omits ever. P, Th: euer said god.

626 so. P, Th: omit.

627 high. F, H: her. T: theyr. P, Th: his.

629 Of. T: Yef.
gret. F, H: omit. (H: added by later hand above line - great).

632 for. P, Th: in.

641 remewe. T: renew.

643 As. F, H: omit.
that. F, H: al that.

645 ye. P, Th: it.

647 deceyved. F: deceyved that.

648 lyghtly. P, Th: light.

649 youre. F, H: this.

650 sumwhat have. P, Th: haue some.

651 better. F, H: sunner.
foule symplenesse. F, H: foly symplesse.

652 desesperaunce. L: deseperaunce. T: esperaunce.

654 oon. L: oooon.

656 stille. T: fall.

657 myn ben. Ff: mynd as.

659 as. F, H: is.

661 Who loveth not himself, whatever he be. P, Th: Ye loue nat your selfe what euer ye be.
loveth. T: leuyth.

662 In. P, Th: That in.
he. P, Th: omit.

665 in. P, Th: as in.

668 levyth. T: loueth.

670 faille. P, Th: lacke.

674 then she to. L: though she to. P, Th: though she do.

675 the. P, Th: my.

676 it. T: I.

677 Leve. T: Loue.
youre. F, H, P, Th: the.

678 thus. P, Th: is.

681 fayne. L: gayne.

682 founde asoted. T: bounde assured.
dotage. Ff: dotaye.

684 That. P, Th: omit.
Hope. L: omits.
thaire wage. Ff: your waye.

690 by. T: hygh.

694 of. P, Th: do no.

697 wol. F, H: omit.

700 dedly. T: dewly.

701 him. T, P, Th: theym.
lyve. T: byn.

702 worship. P, Th: conforte.

703 have. F, Ff, H, T: bere.

704 A faire body iformed to the same. P, Th: And a fayre lady I must affyrme the same.

705 defame. L: fame.

707 may al this. Ff: may not þis.

710 that. P, Th: well.

711 Ought. L: Ough.
wrothe, or. T: wrother.

712 as he. L: and.

714 marginalia. H: manerles pyte written in margin.
might. L: night.
manerlesse. P, Th: mercylesse.

717 yet more harde. T: more hardyr.

718 perce. T: parte.

724 chacith. T: calleth.

725 desease. L: dease.

726 overshake. T, P, Th: ouerslake.

727 ye. L: I.

728 heille. T: lyfe.

729 nyll not hate myn hert. H: corrected by later hand in margin to I will not hurt my selfe. P, Th: I wyll nat hurt my selfe.

730 laugh they. T: or lawgh.
singe. P, Th: syng they.
this. T: thus. P, Th: omit.

731 wol I. L: well to. Ff: wele I. I emend for sense, based on T, P, Th: wyll I. The French helps clarify: Mais, se je puis, j'y pourverray / Que vous ne autre ne s'en vante,"But, if I can, I will ensure / That you nor another can boast about it" (lines 703-04).

732 you. P, Th: them.

733 songe. P, Th: loue.

735 I1. P, Th: ye.

744 to bost. H: to boste, corrected by later hand in margin to best. P, Th: best.
to2. T: and.

745 well that. H: corrected by later hand in margin to ywis yet. P, Th: ywis yet.

746 partyse. H: party, corrected to partyes with addition of es by later hand.

747 to ladies, what men speke or pray. T: these louers whatsoeuer they say. P, Th: whan so men speke or say.
men. L omits.

748 noo. L: n unreadable.

750 erthe it is not playne. L erthe is playne. F, H: deth yt is not playn (H: corrected by later hand in margin to earth is not all). P, Th: therth is nat all playn.

753 distayne. H: disteryne, corrected by later hand in margin to distaine. The er com-bination looks as if it has been written over with a.

756 renomyd in thaire fame. T: renewyd in hys name.

760 Welle. L: Wolle. T: Wyll. P, Th: Wyll not.
noble. P, Th: none yll.

761 continue. L: conceyve.
good. P, Th: euery good.

763 thaire hartis. F: ther. H: theym. P, Th: the hertes.

768 banished. L: bannshed.

770 the ill. F, H, T: and ylle.
the vertu. Ff, T: vertu.

771 suche2. F, Ff, H, T: shal.

772 bith. P, Th: lyue.

774 doo ponysshe. T: promyse.

776 from. L: frendis.

777 visage. P, Th: face.

779 that we will. P, Th: we wyll here.

781 aloone. P, Th: nat one.

782 not. P, Th: nowe.

783 pele. T: speke.

784 so. T: omits.

788 He so soon. H: he corrected by later hand in margin to am. P, Th: so soone am.

789 noo. T: omits.

791 you. T: then.
owne. F, Ff, H, T: omit.

793 Ons for. L: Thus for. P, Th: Thus.

794 the. L: ye. T, P, Th: your.
rejoysed. P, Th: recouered.

795 al this. T: of your.

798 wepyng. T: heuy.
Marginalia in F: Verba auctoris ("words of the author").

800 a. L: written above line.

801 Now. T, P, Th: omit.
thyself. T: and thysylf.

803 shorter. F: short.

807 his. T: omits.

809 oon. T: and.
this. F: omits. H: it. T, P, Th: thus.

813 Ye. L, Th: The.
thus. F, H: this.

813 ff. P replaces the final six stanzas with his own, heading the section with Lenuoy de limprimeur ("envoy of the printer"). Thynne uses L from this point on.

814 Suche. T: All.
aventours. F, Th: aventures. H: aventure.
every. T: any.

817 L, Th: omit this line; supplied by Ff. There is a mark between lines 816 and 818 in the MS that seems intended to note the omission.

824 L, Th: omit this line; supplied by Ff. There is a mark between lines 823 and 825 in the MS that seems intended to note the omission.
have. H: omits.

825 folow. L: foule. F, H: folowe ye.

828-29 L'envoy. L: Lenvoy (written between stanzas). F: Explicit la bele dame san3 mercy. Ff: Explicit in margin next to a line drawn to separate lines 828-29. H: Explicit in margin between stanzas and Verba translatoris ("words of the translator") next to line 829.

830 Marginalia in F: Verba translatoris.

832 thy. T: in.

833 al. F, H: omit.

842 take. F: make.

845 Like. F, H: Wilde.

854 faitheful. Ff: faithfull of.

colophon F, Ff: omit. H ends the poem with Amen, below which is written Qui legit emen-dat scriptorem non reprehendat ("Let the reader emend, not reprehend, the writer") at the bottom of the page. Th: Explicit.

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La Belle Dame sans Mercy


















































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Half in a dreme, nat fully wele awaked,
The golden slepe me wrapt undre his whynge;
Yet not forthy I rose and, welny naked,
Alle soudenly myself remembringe
Of a matere, levyng al other thinge,
Whiche I shulde doo withouten more delaye,
For hem the whiche I durst not dissobaye.

My charge was this: to translat by and by
(Alle thing forgeve), as part of my penaunce,
A boke called La Belle Dame sans Mercy,
Whiche maister Alyn made of remembraunce,
Cheif secretary with the kyng of Fraunce.
And hereupon a while I stode musing,
And in myself gretly ymagenyng

What wise I shulde performe this said processe,
Considering by good avisement
Myn unconnyng and my gret simplesse,
And agaynwarde the streit commaundement
Whiche that I hade; and thus in myn entent
I was vexed and turned up and down;
Yet at the last, as in conclusion,

I cast my clothes on and went my way,
This forsaid charge havyng in remembraunce,
Tylle I came to a lusty grene valy
Full of floures, to se a gret plesaunce.
And so bolded, with thaire benyng sufferaunce
That rede this boke, touching this said matere,
Thus I began, if it please you to here.

Not long agoo, ryding an esy paas,
I felle in thought, of joy ful desperate
With gret disease and payn, so that I was
Of al lovers the moost unfortunate,
Sith by hire dart moost cruell, ful of hate,
The deth hath take my lady and maistres
And left me soul, thus discomfit and mate,1
Sore languisshing and in wey of distresse.

Than said I thus: "It falleth me to cesse
Either to ryme or dytees for to make,
And I, surely, to make a ful promisse
To laughe noo more, but wepe in clothes blake.
My joyful tyme, alas, now is it slake,
For in myself I fele noo manere ease;
Lete it be writen, suche fortune I take,
Whiche neither me nor deth noon other please.2

"If it were so, my will or myn entent
Were constrained a joyful thing to writte,
My penne cowde never have knowlech what it ment;
To speke thereof my tonge hath noo delite,
And with my moueth if I laughe muche or lite,
Myn ey shulde make a countenaunce untrewe;
Myn hert also wolde have thereof despite,
The weping teres have so large issue.

"These seke lovers, I leve that to heim longes,3
Whiche lede there lif in hope of alegeaunce,
That is to say, to make ballade or songes,
Every of heim as they fynde here grevaunce.
For she that was my joy and my pleasaunce,
Whos soule I pray God of His mercy save,
She hath my wille, myn hertis ordenaunce,
Whiche bethe with hire undre hire tumbe igrave.

"Fro this tyme forth, tyme is to holde my peas,
It weryth me this matere for to trete;
Lete other lovers put heimself in preas.
There season is, my tyme is now forgete.
Fortune by strenghe the forser hath unshete
Wherein was speryd al my worldly richesse,
And al the goodis whiche I have gete
In my best tyme of youthe and lustynesse.

"Love hath me kept undre his governaunce,
If I mysdud, God graunt me forgevenesse;
Yef I dud well, yet felt I noo pleasaunce,
It causid neither joye ner hevynesse.
For when she dide, that was al my maistresse,
My good welfare than made the same purchasse;4
The deth hath sete my boundes of witnesse,
Whiche for noothing myn hert shal never passe."

In this gret thought sore troubled in my mynde,
Alone thus rode I al the morowtide,
Tyll at the last it happed me to fynde
The place wherein I cast me to abide.
When that I hade noo further for to ride,
And as I went my logging to purvey,
Right sone I harde but litell me beside
In a gardyn, where mynstrellis gan to play.

With that anoon I went me bakkermore;
Myself and I, me thought we were inowe;
But twayne that were my frendis here-bifore
Hade me aspyed, and yet I wote not howe.
They came for me; awaywarde I me drowe,
Summewhat by force, sumwhat by ther request,
That in noo wise I cowde myself rescowe,
But nede I muste come in and see the fest.

At my commyng, the ladyes everychoon
Bade me welcome, God wote, right gentilly,
And made me chere ever, oon by oon,
A gret delle better than I was worthy;
And of thaire grace sewed me gret curtesy
With good disport, by cause I shulde not morne.
That day I bade still in thaire company,
Whiche was to me a gracious sojorne.

The bordes were sprede in right lityll space;
The ladyes sate, eche as heim semyd beste.
Were noon dud service within that place
But chosen men, right of the goodlyest:
And there were summe, paraventure moost fresshest,5
That sawe there juges, sitting ful demure,
Withoute semblant either to moost or lest,
Natwithstanding they hade hem undre cure.

Amongis al other oon I gan aspye,
Whiche in gret thought ful often came and went,
As oon that hade ben ravisshed utterlye,
In his langage nat gretly deligent;
His countenaunce he kept with gret trament,
But his desire fer passed his reason;
For ever his ey went after his entent,
Ful many a time whan it was noo season.

To make good chere right sore himself he payned,6
And outewardly he fayned gret gladnesse.
To synge also by force he was constrayned,
For noo pleasaunce, but verrey shamefastnesse,7
For the complaynte of his moost hevynesse
Came to his voix alwey withoute request,
Like as the sowne of briddis doith expresse
When they singe lowde in frith or in forest.

Other there were that served in the halle,
But noon like, as after myn avyse,
For he was pale and sumwhat lene withalle;
His speche also trembled in ferful wise,
And ever alone but when he dud servise.
Alle blake he ware and noo devise, but playne.
Me thought by him, as my witte cowde suffice,
His hert was noothing in his owne demayne.

To fest hem al he dud his diligence,
And wel he cowde, right as it semed me.
But evermore when he was in presence,
His chere was done; it wolde noon other be.
His scolemaister hade suche autorité,
That al the while he bode stille in the place,
Speke cowde he not, but upon hire beauté
He loked stille with a right pituous face.

With that, his hede he turned at the last,
For to beholde the ladies everychoon,
But ever in oon he sett his ey stefast -
On hire the whiche his thought was moost upon.
And of his eyn the shote I knewe anoon,
Whiche fedred was with right humble requestis.
Then to myself I said, "By God aloon,
Suche oon was I, or that I sawe these gestis."

Oute of the prese he went ful esely
To make stable hevy countenaunce;
And, witte ye well, he sighed tendirly
For his sorowes and woful remembraunce.
Then in himself he made his ordenaunce,
And forthwithal came to bringe in a messe;
But, for to juge his moost rewful semblaunce,
God wote it was a piteuous entremesse.

After dyner anoon they heim avaunsed
To daunce aboute, these folkis everychoon,
And forthwithal this hevy daunsed -
Summetyme with twayne and sumtyme with oon -
Unto hem al his chere was after oon;
Nowe here, now there, as fall by aventure,
But ever amonge, he drewe to hire aloon,
Whiche moost he dred of lyvyng creature.

To myn avise, good was his purveaunce
When he hire chase to his maistres alone,
If that hire hert were sette to his pleasaunce
As muche as was hire beauteuous persone.
For who that ever sete his trust upon
The report of thaire eyen, withouten more,
He might be deed and grave undre stone
Or ever he shulde his hertis ease restore.

In hire failled noothing, as I cowde gesse,
Oon wise ner other, pryvé ner pert;
A garyson she was of al goodnesse
To make a frounter for a lovers hert;
Right yonge and fresshe, a woman ful covert;
Assured well hire port and eke chere,
Well at hire ease, withouten woo or smart,
Alle undreneth the standart of Daungere.

To se the fest it wered me ful sore,
For hevy joy doth sore the hert travayle.
Oute of the prese I me withdrewe therfor
And sette me adowne alone behinde a trayle
Ful of leves, to see a gret mervaille,
With grene wetheys ibounde wonderlye;
The leves were so thikke withouten faille
That thoroughoute might noo man me aspye.

To this lady he came ful curtesly,
When he thought tyme to daunce with hire a trace.
Sith in an erbere made ful pleasauntly
They rested heim fro thens but a litell space.
Nigh heim were noon a certeyne of compace,8
But only they, as fer as I cowde see,
And sauf the trayle there as I had chose my place,
There was noo more betwix hem twayn and me.

I harde the lover sighing wondre sore;
For ay the nere, the sorer it him sought.
His inwarde payne he cowde not kepe in store,
Nor for to speke, so hardy was he nought.
His leche was nere, the greter was his thought;
He mused sore to conquere his desire;
For no man may to more penaunce be brought
Than in his hete to bringe him to the fire.

The hert began to swell within his chest,
So sore strayned for anguisshe and for payne
That al to peces almoost it tobrest
When bothe at oonys so sore it dud constrayne;
Desire was bolde but Shame it gan refrayne -
The toon was large, the other was ful close;
No litell charge was leyde on hym, certayne,
To kepe suche warre and have so many foose.

Ful often tyme to speke himself he payned,
But Shamefastnesse and Drede said ever "nay";
Yet at the last so sore he was constrayned,
When he hade longe put it in delay,
To his lady right thus then gan he say
With dredful voix, weping, half in a rage:
"For me was purveyd an unhappy day
When I first hade a sight of youre visage!

"I suffre payne, God wot, ful hote brennynge,
To cause my deth al for my trewe servise,
And I se well ye reke thereof noothinge,
Nor take noon hede of it in noo kynnys wise;
But whan I speke after in best advise,
Ye sette it nought, but make therof a game;9
And though I sue so gret an enterprise,
It peyrith not youre worship ner youre fame.

"Alas, what shulde be to you prejudice
If that a man doo love you fastfully,
To youre worship, eschewing every vise?
So am I youres and wol be verreily;
I chalang nought of right and reason why,
For I am hole submytted to youre servise;
Right as ye list it be, right so wol I
To binde myself where I was in fraunches.

"Though it be so that I cannot diserve
To half youre grace, but alwey lyve in drede,
Yet suffre me you for to love and serve
Withoute magré of youre moost goodlyhede;
Bothe faithe and trouthe I geve youre womanhede,
And my servise, withoute any callyng.
Love hath me bounde withoute wage or mede
To be youre man and leve al other thyng."

When this lady had hard al his langage,
She gave answere ful soft and demurely,
Withoute chanching of coloure or courage,
Nathing in hast but mesurably:
"Me thinketh, Sire, youre thought is gret foly.
Pourpose ye not youre laboure for to shese?
For thinketh nat, whiles that ye lyve and I,
In this matere to sete youre hert in pese."

"There may noon make the peas but only ye,
Whiche are the grounde and cause of al this warre,
For with youre eyen the leters writen be,
Be whiche I am defyde and put afarre;
Youre pleasaunt loke, my verrey lodesterre,
Was made heraude of thilke same defyaunce,
Whiche utterly behight me for to berre
My faithful truste and al my affyaunce."

"To lyve in woo he hath gret fantesye,
And of his hert also hath slepire holde,
That only for beholding of an eye
Cannat abide in peas, as reason wolde.
Other or me if ye list to beholde,
Oure eyen are made to loke - why shulde we spare? -
I take noo kepe neither of yonge ner olde;
Who felyth smart, I counsaill him beware."

"If it be so oon hurt another sore
In his defaute that felyth the grevaunce,
Of verrey right a man may doo no more,
Yet Reason wolde it were in remembraunce;
And sith Fortune nat oon by his chaunce
Hath caused me to suffre al this payne,
But youre beauté, with al the circumstaunce,
Why list you have me in so gret disdayne?"

"To youre persone ne have I noo disdayne,
Ne never hade, truly, ner naught wil have;
Ner right gret love, ner hatered, in certayne,
Ner youre counsaille to knowe, so God me save.
If suche love be in youre mynde grave,
That litell thing may doo you gret pleasaunce,
You to begile, or make you for to rave,
I wil not cause noon suche encomberaunce."

"Whatever it be that me hath thus purchasid,
Wenyng hath not deceyved me, certayne,
But fervent love so sore me hath chasid
That I am unware casten in youre chayne;
And, sith so is as Fortune list ordeyne,
Alle my welfare is in youre handis falle,
In eschewing of more mischevous payne,
Who sonnest deyeth, his care is lest of alle."

"This sikenes is right easé to endure -
But fewe people it causith for to dye -
But what they mene, I knowe it verrey sure,
Of more comfort to drawe the remedye;
Suche be there now, playnyng ful pituouslye,
That fele God wote nat alther gretest payne,10
And yef so be love hurt so grevouslye,
Lesse harme it were oon sorowful then twayne."

"Alas madame, if that it might you please,
Muche better were, by way of gentilnesse,
Of oon sory to make twayn well at ease
Than him to stroy that lyveth in distresse.
For my desire is neither more ne lasse
But my servise to doo for youre pleasaunce,11
In eschewing al manere of doublenesse
To make twoo joyes instede of oo grevaunce."

"Of love I seke neyther pleasaunce nor ease,
Ner right gret love, ner gret affyaunce;
Though ye be seke, it doith me noothing please -
Also I take noon hede to youre pleasaunce.
Chese whoso woll there hertis to avaunce -
Free am I nowe, and fre will I endure;
To be rewled by manis goveraunce
For erthely good, nay - that I you ensure!"

"Love, whiche that joy and sorowe doith depart,
Hath set the ladies oute of al servage
And largely doith graunt hem for thaire part
Lordship and rewle of every manere age.
The poure servaunt nought hath of avauntage
But what he may gete only of purchace;
And he that onys to love doith his homage,
Ful often tyme dere bought is the rechace."

"Ladyes bith not so semple, thus I meane,
So dulle of witte, so sotid of foly,
That for wordis whiche said ben of the splene,
In faire langage peynted ful pleasauntly,
Whiche ye and moo holde scoles of duly,
To make hem al gret wondres to supoose,
But sone they can away thaire hede wry,
And to faire speche lyghtly thaire eres close."

"There is noo man that jangelyth besily,
And sette his hert and al his mynde therfore,
That by reason may playne so pituously,
As he that hath muche hevynes in store.
Whos hede is hole and saith that it is sore,
His fayned chere is harde to kepe in mewe;12
But thought whiche is unfayned evermore
The wordis preveth as the werkis sewe."

"Love is sotill and hath a gret awayte,
Sharpe in worching, in gabbyng gret plesaunce,13
And him can venge of suche as, by deceyte,
Wolde fele and knowe his secrete governaunce;
And maketh hem to obey his ordenaunce
By chereful wayes, as in him is supposed;
But when they fallen into repentaunce,
Then in a rage thaire counsaill is disclosed."

"Sith for as muche as God and eke Nature
Hath avaunsed Love to so high degré,
Muche sharper is the poynt, this am I sure,
Yet greveth more the faute, wherever it be.
Who hath noo colde, of hete hath noo deynté
The toone for tother axed is expresse;
And of pleasaunce knoweth noon the certaynté,
But it be wonne with thought and hevynesse."

"As for pleasaunce, it is not alwey oon;
That to you is swete me thinke a bitter payne.
Ye may not me constrayne (ner yet right noon)
After youre list to love, that is but vayne.
To chalange Love by right was never sayne,
But hert assent, bifore bonde and promese;
For strenghe ne force may not atayne, certayne,
A will that stont enfeffid in fraunchese."

"Right faire lady, God mote I never please
If I seke other right, as in this case,
But for to shewe you playnly my desease,
And youre mercy to abide, and eke youre grace.
If I purpose youre honoure to deface,
Or ever dide, God and fortune me schende
And that I never unrightfully purchace
Oon only joye, unto my lyves ende."

"Ye and other that swere suche othes fast
And so condempne and cursen too and fro,
Full sycourly ye wene youre othes last
Noo lenger than the wordis ben agoo.
And God and eke His seintis laugh also;
In suche sweryng there is noo stedfastnesse,
And these wrecches, that have ful trist thereto -
After, they wepe and waylen in distresse."

"He hath noo courage of a man, truly,
That sechith pleasaunce, worship to dispise;
Ner, to be called forth, is not worthy,
The erthe to touche, the ayre in noo-kynde wise;
A trusty hert, a mouthe withoute fayntise:
These ben the strenghe of every man of name;
And who that leyth his faith for litell prise,
He lesith bothe his worship and his fame."

"A currysshe hert, a mouthe that is curtese,
Full well ye wote, they ben not according;
Yet Fayned Chere right sone may theim apeyse,
Where of malice is sete al here worching;
Ful Fals Semblant they bere, and Trewsemyng;
Thaire name, thaire fame, thaire tongis be bot fayned;14
Worship in hem is put in forgeting,
Nought repented, ner in noo wise complayned."

"Who thinketh ill, no good may him befalle;
God of His grace graunt eche man his desert.
But, for His love, amonge youre thoughtis alle
As thinke upon my woofull sorowes smert;
For, of my payne, whether youre tendre hert
Of swete pité be not therewith agreved?
And if youre grace to me were discovert,
Then, by youre meane, sone shulde I be releved."

"A lightsum hert, a foly of pleasaunce,
Ar muche better the lesse whille they abide.
They make you thinke and bringe you in a traunce,
But that sekenesse wol sone be remedide.
Respite youre thought and put al this aside;
Full good disportis weryth men al day.
To helpe ner hurt my will is not aplide -
Who troweth me not, I late him pas away."

"Who hath a bride, a fawcon, or an hounde
That folowith him for love in every place,
He cheryssheth him and kepith him ful sounde;
Oute of his sight he wol not him enchace.
And I, that set my wittes in this cace
On you alone, withoute any chaunge,
Am put undre, muche forther oute of grace,
And lesse sette by than other that be straunge."

"Though I make chere to every man aboute
For my worship and of myn owne fraunchese,
To you I nell doo so, withouten doute,
In eschewinge al manere prejudice.
For, wote ye well, Love is so lityll wise,
And in beleve so lightly wol be brought,
That he takith al at his owne devise
Of thing, God wote, that servyth him of nought."

"Iffe I, by love and by my trew servyse,
Lese the good chere that straungers have alway,
Wherof schuld serve my trouth in any wyse
Les then to heme that come and go al day,
Which hold of you nothyng, that is no nay?
Also in you is loste, to my semynge,
All courtesy, which of resoun will say
That love by love were lawfull deservynge."

"Courtesye is allied wondir nere
To worschip, which hyme lovyth tendurly,
And he will not be bound for no prayere,
Nor for no gifte, I say you verely,
But his good chere depart ful largely
Wher hyme lyketh, as his conseit wil falle;
Guerdoun constraynt, a gifte done thankefully -
Thes twayn may not acord, nor never schale."

"As for guerdoun, I seche none in this case,
For that desert, to me it is to hye;
Wherfor I asche your pardoun and your grace,
Sith me byhovyth deth, or your mercy.
To give the god wher hit wanteth, treulye,
That wer resoun and a courteys manere;
And to your awn myche bettyr were worthy,
Then to straungers, to schew heme lovely chere."15

"What call ye good? Fayn wold I that I wyste!
That plesith on, another smertyth sore;
But of his awn to large is he that liste
Gyve myche, and lese all his goode fame therfore.
On schuld not make a graunt, lytele nor more,
But the request were ryght wele acordynge;
Yif worschip be not kept and set byfore,
All that is lefte is but a lytell thynge."

"Into this world was never formyd non,
Nor undur heven creature ibore,
Nor never schall, saffe only your parson,
To whom your worschip touchith half so sore
But me, which have no sesoun, les ne more,
Of youth nor age, but styll in your servyse;
I have non yne, no wyt, nor mouth in store,
But all beth given to the same offyse."

"A full gret charge hath he, withouten fayle,
That his worschip kepyth in sykernesse;
But in daunger he settyth his travayle
That feffith hit with othyrs bysynesse.
To hym that longeth honneur and noblesse,
Upon non othir schuld not he awayte,
For of his awn so mych hathe the lesse
That of othir mych folouth the conseit."16

"Youre eyen have sette the prynte which that I fele
Within myn hert, that, wheresoever I goo,
If I doo thing that sowneth unto wele,
Nede must it come fro you, and fro no moo.
Fortune will thus: that I, for well or woo,
My lif endure, youre mercy abiding;
And verrey right will that I thinke also
Of youre worship, above al other thing."

"To youre worship se wele, for that is nede,
That ye spende not youre season al in vayne;
As touching myn, I rede you take noon hede,
By youre foly to put youreself in payne.
To overcome is good, and to refrayne
An hert whiche is deseyved folely;
For worse it is to breke than bowe, certayne -
Better bowe than falle to soudenly."

"Nowe, faire lady, thinke, sith it first began,
That love had sete myn hert undre his cure.
I never might (ner trewly I ne can)
Noon other serve whiles I shal here endure.
In moost fre wise thereof I make you suere,
Whiche may not be withdrawe - this is no nay -
I must abide al manere aventure,
For I may not put to, ner take away."

"I holde it for noo geft, in sothfastnesse,
That oon offrith when that it is forsake,
For suche geft is abandonnyng expresse,
That with worship agein may not be take.
He hath hertis ful fele that list to make
A geft lightly that put is in refuse;17
But he is wise that such conncept wol slake,
So that him nede nother stodye ner muse."

"He shulde not muse that hath his service spent
On hire whiche is a lady honourable,
And yef I spende my tyme to that entent,
Yet at the last I am not reprevable
Of fayled hert, to thinke I am unable,
Or me mistake when I made this request,
By whiche Love hath, of enterprise notable,
So many hertis geten by conquest."

"If that ye list to doo after my counsaille,
Sechith fairer and of more higher fame,
Whiche, in service of Love, wol you prefaylle
After youre thought, according to the same.
He hurtith bothe his worship and his name
That folely for twayne himself wol trouble;
And he also lesith his after game,
That surely cannot sette his poyntis double."18

"This youre counsaile, by ought that I can se,
Is better said than doon, to myn avise;
Though I beleve it not, forgyf it me
Myn hert is suche, so hole, withoute fantise,
That it may not geve grede in noo wise
To thing whiche is not sownnyng unto trouth;
Other counsaille - it are but fantasise,
Sauf of youre grace to shewe pité and routh."

"I holde him wise that worchith folely,
And whan him list can leve and part therfroo,
But in connyng he is to lerne, trewly,
That wolde himself condit and cannot soo.
And he that wol not after counsaille doo,
His sowte puttith he in desperaunce;
And alle the good that shulde falle him too
Is lost and dede - clene oute of remembraunce."

"Yet wol I sewe this matere faithfullye
Whils I may lyve, whatever be my chaunce,
And if it happe that in my trouth I dye,
That dethe shall doo me not noo displeasaunce.
But when that I, by youre ful herd sufferaunce,
Shal dye so trewly and with so gret a payne,
Yet shal it do me muche the lesse grevaunce
Then for to lyve a fals lover, certayne."

"Of me gete ye right naught - this is noo fable -
I nell to you be neither herde ne streite;
And right wol not, nor maner custumable,
To thinke ye shulde be sure of my conceyte.
Who sechith sorowe, his be the resceyte!
Other counsaille can I not fele ner see,
Nor for to lerne I cast not to awayte;
Who wol therto, lete him assay, for me."

"Onys it must be assayed, that is noo nay,
With suche as bethe of reputacion,
And, of trewe love, the right devoure to pay
Of fre hertis, geten by deue raunson;
For fre wule holdith this opynyon:
That it is gret duresse and discomfort
To kepe a hert in so streite a prison,
That hath but o body for his disport."

"I knowe so many cases mervelous
That I must nedis of reason thynke, certayn,
That suche entré is wonder perlous,
And yet wel more, the commyng bake agayn;
Good or worship thereof is selden sayn;
Wherfore I wol not make suche aray
As for to fynde a pleasaunce but barayn
Whan it shal cost so dere, the first asay."

"Ye have noo cause to doubte of this matere,
Nor you to meve with noo suche fantesyes
To put me fer al oute, as a straungere;
For youre goodnesse can thinke and wel avise
That I have made a pref in every wise
By whiche my trouth shewith opyn evydence;
My long abiding and my trewe service
May well be knowe be playne experience."

"Of verrey right he may be called trewe,
And so must he be take in every place,
That can deserve and let as he ne knewe,19
And kepe the good, if he it may purchace;
For who that prayeth and sueth in any cace,20
Right ye wote well in that no trouth is preved;
Suche hath there ben, and are, that gete grace
And lese it soon when they have it acheved."

"If trouth me cause, by vertu souverayne,
To shewe good love and alway finde the contraye,
And cherith that that sleith me with the payne,
This is to me a lovely adversarye.
Whan that Pité, whiche long aslepe doith tarye,
Hath sette the fyne of al my hevynesse,
Yet hire comfort, to me moost nessarye,
Shal sette my will more surer in stablenesse."

"The woful wight, what may he thinke or saye?
The contrary of al joy and gladnesse.
A seke body, his thought is al awaye
From hem that felen noo sore ner sekenesse.
Thus hertis ben of divers besynesse,
Whiche Love hath put to gret hinderaunce,
And trouth also put in forgetfulnesse,
When they so sore begyn to sighe askawunce."

"Now God defende, but he be haveles
Of al worship or good that may befalle
That to the worst turneth, by his lewdenes,
A geft of grace, or anything at alle,
That his lady vouchesauf upon him calle,
Or cherisshe him in hounourable wise;
In that defaute, whatever he be that falle,
Deserveth more than deth to suffre twise."

"There is noo juge isett of suche trespace,
By whiche of right oon may recoverd be.21
Oon cursith fast, another doith manace,
Yet dyeth noon, as for as I can se;
But kepith thaire course alway in oo degré,
And evermore thaire laboure doith increse
To bringe ladyes be thaire gret sotilbté,
For others gilt in sorowe and desease."

"Alle be it so that oon doith so gret offence
And be not dede, nor put to juyse,
Right well I wote, him gayneth noo defence,
But he must ende in full mischevesse wise.
And all that ever is good wille him dispice,
For falshode is so ful of cursydnesse
That high worship may never have entirpryse
Where it reyneth and hath the wilfulnesse."

"Of that have they noo gret fere nowadayes,
Suche as wille say, and mayteyne it thereto,
That stedfaste trouthe is noothing for to prayes
In hem that kepe it long for wele or woo.
Thaire besy hertis passyn to and froo,
They ben so well reclaymed to the lure,
So welle lerned hem to withholde also,
And al to chaunge when love shuld best endure."

"Whan oon hath sette his hert in stable wise,
In suche a place whiche is both good and trewe,
He shuld not flitt, but doo forth his servise -
Alwey withouten chaunge of any newe.
As soon as love begynnyth to remewe,
Alle pleasaunce goith anoon in litel space;
As for my party, that shal I eschewe,
Whilis that the soule abidith in his place."

"To love trewly thereas ye ought of right,
Ye may not be mistaken, doutelesse;
But ye be foule deceyved in youre sight
By lyghtly understanding, as I gesse;
Yet may ye wel repele youre besynesse,
And to reason sumwhat have attendaunce,
Muche better than to abide, by foule symplenesse,
The feble socoure of desesperaunce."

"Rason, Counsaille, Wisdam, and Good Advise
Ben undre Love arested every oon,
To whiche I can accorde in every wise,
For they ben nat rebelle, but stille as stoon;
Thaire wille and myn ben meduled al in oon,
And therewith bounden with so stronge a chayne,
That as in heim departing shal be noon
But Pité breke the mighty bounde atwayne."

"Who loveth not himself, whatever he be,
In love he stante forgete in every place;
And of youre woo yf ye have noo pité,
Others pité belove nat to purchace;
But bethe fully assured in this cace,
I am alwey undre oon ordenaunce;
To have better trusteth not after grace,
And al that levyth take to youre pleasaunce."

"I have myn hope so sure and so stedfast
That suche a lady shulde not faille pité,
But now, alas, it is shit up so fast
That Daungere sheweth on me his cruelté,
And yef she se the vertu faille on me,
Of trewe service, then she to fayle also
Noo wondre were; but this is the shorté:
I must suffre whiche way that ever it goo."

"Leve this purpose, I rede you for youre best;
For lenger that ye kepe it thus in vayne,
The lesse ye gete, as for youre hertis rest,
And to rejoise it shal ye never attayne.
When ye abide good Hope to make you fayne,
Ye shal be founde asoted in dotage,
And in th'ende ye shal knowe for certayne
That Hope shal pay the wrecchis for thaire wage."

"Ye say as fallith moost for youre plesaunce,
And youre power is gret - al this I see,
But Hope shal never oute of my remembraunce,
By whiche I felt so gret adversité.
For when Nature hath sett in you plenté
Of al goodnesse, by vertu and by grace,
He never assembled hem, as semyth me,
To put Pité oute of his dwelling place."

"Pité, of right, ought to be resonable
And to noo wight of gret disavantage;
There as is nede, it shulde be profitable,
And to the pitous shewing noo damage;
If a lady wol doo so gret outrage
To shewe pité and cause hire owne debate,
Of suche pité cometh dispitous rage,
And of the love also right dedly hate."

"To comfort him that lyve al comforlesse,
That is noon harme, but worship to youre name;
But ye, that have an hert of suche duresse,
A faire body iformed to the same,
If I durst say, ye wyn al this defame
By cruelté, whiche sitteth you full yll,
But yef Pité, whiche may al this tame,
In youre high hert may rest and tary styll."

"Whatever he be that saith that he loveth me,
And peraventure I leve that it be soo,
Ought he be wrothe, or shuld I blamed be,
Though I dydd not as he wol have me doo?
If I medelyd with suche or other moo,
It might be called 'pité manerlesse,'
And afterwarde, if I shuld lyve in woo,
Then to repent, it were to late, I gesse."

"O marble hert, and yet more harde, perdé,
Whiche mercy may not perce for noo laboure,
More stronge to bowe than is a mighty tre,
What vayleth you to shewe so gret rigoure?
Please it you more to se me dye this houre
Before youre eyen, for youre disport and play,
Then for to shewe summe comfort or socoure
To respite dethe, whiche chacith me alwey?"

"Of youre desease ye may have allegeaunce;
And, as for myn, I lete it overshake.
Also, ye shal not dye for my pleasaunce,
Ner for youre heille I can noo sureté make.
I nyll not hate myn hert for others sake,
Wepe thay, laugh they, or singe, this I warent,22
For this matere so wol I undretake
That noon of you shal make thereof avaunt."

"I can noo skille of songe, by God alone,
I have more cause to wepe in youre presence;
And wel I wote avaunter am I noone,
For certaynly I love better silence.
Oon shulde not love by his hertis credence
But he were sure to kepe it secretly,
For avaunter is of noo reverence
When that his tonge is his moost enemy."

"Malabouche in court hath gret commaundement:
Eche man studith to say the worst he may.
These fals lovers in this tyme now present,
They serve to bost, to jangle as a jay.
The moost secret wil well that sum man say23
Howe he mystersted is on summe partyse;
Wherfore to ladies, what men speke or pray,
It shuld not be belovyd in noo wise."

"Of good and ille shal be and is alwey;
The worlde is suche, the erthe it is not playne.
They that bith good, the pref shewith every day,
And otherwise, gret velany, certayne.
Is it reason, though oon his tonge distayne
With coursed speche to doo himself a shame,
That suche refuse shuld wrongfully remayne
Upon the good, renomyd in thaire fame?"

"Suche as be nought, when they here tidingis new
That eche trespace shal lightly have perdon,
They that purposith to be good and trew,
(Welle sette by noble disposission
To continue in good condicion),
They are the first that fallith in damage,
And ful frely thaire hartis habundon
To litill faith with soft and faire langage."

"Now knowe I well, of verrey certaynté,
If oon doo trewly, yet shal he be shent,
Sith al manere of justise and pité
Is banished oute of a ladis entent.
I cannot se but al is at o stent:
The good, the ill, the vise, and eke the vertu.
Suche as be goode, suche have the punisment
For the trespis of heim that bith untrew."

"I have noo power you to doo no grevaunce,
Nor to doo ponysshe noon other creature;
But to eschewe the more encombraunce -
To kepe us from you al - I hold it sure.
Fals Semblant hath a visage ful demure,
Lightly to cacche the ladyes in awayte,
Wherfore we moost, if that we will endure,
Make right good wacche; loo, this is my conceyte!"

"Sith that of grace o goodly worde aloone
May not be had, but alwey kept in store,
I pele to God, for He may here my moone
Of the duresse whiche greveth me so sore.
And of pité I playne me furthermore,
Whiche He forgate in al His ordenaunce,
Or ellis my lif to have endid bifore,
Whiche He so soon put oute of remembraunce."

"Myn hert, ner I, have doon you noo forfet
By whiche ye shuld complayn in any kinde.
There hurtith you nothing but youre owne conceyt;
Be jugge youreself, for so ye shal it finde.
Ons for alwey lete this synke in youre mynde -
That the desire shal never rejoysed be.
Ye noye me sore in wasting al this winde,
For I have said inought, as semeth me."

This wooful man rose up in al his payne
And so deperted, with wepyng countenaunce -
His woful hert, almoost it brast atwayne -
Ful like to dye, walking forth in a traunce,
And said, "Now deth come forth, thyself avaunce,
Or that myn hert forget his properté,
And make shorter al this woful penaunce
Of my pore lif, ful of adversité."

Fro thens he went, but whethire wist I nought,
Ner to what part he drowyth, in sothfastnesse.
But he noo more was in his ladys thought,
For to the daunse anoon she gan hire dresse.
And afterwarde oon tolde me this expresse:
He rent his heere, for anguissh and for payne,
And in hymself toke so gret hevynesse
That he was deed within a day or twayne.

Ye trewe lovers, thus I beseche you alle:
Suche aventours, fle heim in every wise,
And as people defamed ye heim calle;
For they, trewly, doo you gret prejudise.
Refuse hath mad, for al sich flateryse,
His castellis stronge, stuffed with ordenaunce,
For they have hade longe tyme, by thaire office,
The hole countré of Love in obeissaunce.

And ye, ladies, or what astate ye be,
Of whom worship hath chose his dwelling place,
For Goddis love, doo no suche cruelté,
Namly to hem that have deservyd grace.
Nor in noo wise ne folow not the trace
Of hire, that here is named rightwisly,
Whiche, by reason, me semeth in this cace,
May be called la belle dame sanz mercy.


Goo litel boke, God sende thee good passage;
Chese well thy way, be simple of manere,
Loke thy clothing be like thy pilgrymage,
And, specially, lete this be thy praiere
Unto heim al that thee wil rede or here,
Where thou art wronge, after thaire help to calle,
Thee to corecte in any part or alle.

Pray hem also, with thyn humble service,
Thy boldnesse to perdon in this cace;
For ellis thou art not hable in noo wise
To make thyself appere in any place.
And, furthermore, beseche heim of thaire grace,
By thaire favoure and supportacion,
To take in gre this rude translacion.

The whiche, God wote, standith ful deceytute
Of eloquence, of meter, and colours;
Like as a best, naked, withoute refute,
Upon a playne to abide al manere showres.
I can noo more but aske of heim socoures,
At whos request thou were made in this wise,
Commaunding me with body and servise.

Right thus I make an ende of this prosses,
Beseching Him that al hath in balaunce,
That noo trewe man be vexed, causeles,
As this man was, whiche is of remembraunce;
And alle that doon thaire faitheful observaunce
And in thaire trouth purpose heim to endure,
I pray God sende heim better aventure.

Here endith la Bell Dame sanz Mercy.
awakened; (see note); (t-note)
early morning sleep; wing
Yet nevertheless; nearly
matter, giving up everything else
should do; (t-note)
those whom; dared; (t-note)

translate; (t-note)
forgiven; (see note); (t-note)
The Beautiful Lady without Pity
master Alain [Chartier] recorded; (see note)
Chief; (see note)
on this point; stood considering; (t-note)
worrying over (pondering)

How; complete; narrative
My lack of skill; ignorance; (see note)
in turn the direct commandment
my mind; (t-note)
down; (t-note)

(see note)
keeping in mind
Till; pleasant; valley
flowers; see; delight
encouraged; kind tolerance; (t-note)
Who read; regarding; (t-note)

riding [at] an easy (a moderate) pace; (see note)
completely despondent
discomfort (suffering)
most unlucky
Since; her; (t-note)
Death has taken; mistress; (t-note)
Greatly suffering; (t-note)

Then; behooves me to cease
rhyme; works to compose
(see note); (t-note)
weep; black
time; over; (see note); (t-note)
feel no kind [of] pleasure; (t-note)
fate; suffer; (t-note)

pen could; knowledge; (see note); (t-note)
tongue; no delight
mouth; much or little; (see note)
eye should; duplicitous
heart; would feel resentful about it
weeping tears; [an] outpouring [over it]

(see note); (t-note)
Who lead their lives; relief
(see note)
Each of them; suffer their pain; (t-note)
delight (desire); (see note)

heart's government
is; tomb buried; (t-note)

From; [it] is; peace
I find it tiresome; subject; expound
Let; themselves into the crowd
[It] is their season; forgotten (past); (t-note)
coffer has opened
enclosed; riches (wealth); (t-note)
goods; I got

did wrong
If; did; nevertheless; satisfaction
nor sorrow; (t-note)
died, who; entirely my mistress; (t-note)
limits (boundaries); knowledge; (see note); (t-note)

(see note)
I happened to find
where I decided to stay; (t-note)
room to get
soon; heard only a short distance from me
minstrels began

right away; further away
it seemed to me; enough
two; friends previously
spotted me; know; how; (t-note)
Somewhat; their
in no way could I excuse myself
I must needs; feast

every one
knows; courteously (graciously)
entertained me constantly; (t-note)
A great deal; I deserved; (t-note)
their; showed; (t-note)
entertainment, so that; grieve; (t-note)

tables; set up in [a] very short time
sat; it seemed best to them
[There] were none [that] served; (see note); (t-note)
their judges; very grave; (see note); (t-note)
a sign of feeling; greatest or humblest
Although; them in their power

Amongst all [the] others one I did espy
one who had been utterly transported; (see note)
not very careful
he maintained his composure; torment
far surpassed; (see note)
eye acted in accordance with; desire
out of season (i.e., not appropriate)

simulated (feigned)
sing; perforce
(see note)
lament; greatest
voice; invitation
sound of birds; (t-note)
loudly; park (woodland); (t-note)

like [him], to my mind; (t-note)
lean besides; (see note)
fearfully; (t-note)
[he was] always alone except; served
black; wore; [heraldic] device; (see note)
understanding could
to no degree; control; (see note); (t-note)

entertain; exerted himself to the utmost
could; seemed [to]; (t-note)
face; down; (t-note)
schoolmaster; authority; (see note)


every one
on one; set; eye steadfastly
her whom; (t-note)
eyes; arrow; recognized right away; (see note); (t-note)
winged (feathered); petitions; (t-note)
[a] one; before; guests; (t-note)

crowd; softly
To compose [his] dejected; (see note); (t-note)
know; sadly; (t-note)
(see note)
immediately; course [of the meal]
judging from; sorrowful expression; (t-note)
pathetic between-courses entertainment; (t-note)

dinner right away they moved forward
people; (t-note)
at once; sorrowful [lover]; (t-note)
two; one; (t-note)
face was the same; (t-note)
[it] happened by chance
all the while; alone; (t-note)
feared (i.e., stood in awe of); living; (see note); (t-note)

my mind; foresight; (t-note)
chose her to [be] his mistress
committed; pleasure
body (appearance)

their eyes; (t-note)
dead; buried
Before; (t-note)

nothing was wanting; could perceive; (t-note)
[Neither] one way; another, covertly; overtly; (see note); (t-note)
stronghold (defense); (see note); (t-note)
border fortress; (t-note)
lively; reserved
Her bearing very self-assured; also expression; (t-note)
sorrow; hurt; (t-note)
underneath; standard; Resistance

feast; exhausted; completely
crowd; (see note)
trellis; (t-note)
leaves; marvel
pliant branches; skillfully; (t-note)
no one; notice; (t-note)

courteously; (t-note)
thought [it]; step; (t-note)
Afterwards; pleasure garden; (t-note)
themselves; thence only; time
Except; far; could
except the trellis where
the two of them

heard; sighing
ever the nearer; afflicted him; (t-note)
suffering; keep in reserve; (t-note)
bold; not
doctor (leech); nearer; greater; (see note)
strove greatly to subdue
suffering (punishment)
heat; (see note); (t-note)

(see note)
constrained; anguish
pieces; shattered
once did so severely pressure it
curbed it (held it back); (see note)
The one was undisciplined; restrained
No little; laid; (see note); (t-note)
war; enemies (foes)

Modesty; Fear; (see note)
utterly; compelled; (see note)
fearful voice, weeping, half insane; (see note)
ordained; (t-note)
(see note)

suffer; burning hot; (t-note)
loyal (faithful); (see note)
heed; in any way (i.e., at all); (t-note)
judgment (thought); (t-note)

undertake; (see note); (t-note)
harms; honor; (t-note)

faithfully; (see note); (t-note)
honor; vice; (t-note)
will; truly
dispute; (t-note)
completely submitted
desire; do I desire; (t-note)
a free agent (lit., in freedom); (see note); (t-note)

allow me to love and serve you
resentment; highest virtue
loyalty; give your ladyship; (see note); (t-note)
demand/protest (lit., outcry); (t-note)
payment (reward); (see note)
leave; thing

heard; language; (t-note)

changing; heart; (see note)
Not at all; haste; deliberately
Have you not made up your mind; cease
do not think; (t-note)
matter; set; peace; (t-note)

peace; (see note)
Who; war
eyes; letters are written
By; challenged; further away; (see note); (t-note)
true lodestar (guide); (see note)
herald; challenge (declaration of war); (t-note)
urges me; hold up (bear); (t-note)
allegiance (confidence)

misery; strong inclination
slippery (i.e., precarious); (t-note)
(see note)
Cannot; wills
If you want to look at me or [some] other; (t-note)
no heed; young nor; (t-note)
feels pain; (t-note)

be the case that one; (see note)
Through his fault who feels; (t-note)
wishes; taken into consideration
since; not only; (see note); (t-note)

But [also]; (t-note)
does it please you [to] hold

Nor; (t-note)
Neither . . . nor
Nor; secret
mind fixed; (t-note)
[a] little; pleasure; (t-note)
delude; become distraught [because of love]; (t-note)
any such trouble

has thus taken possession of me; (t-note)
Presumption; (t-note)
afflicted; (t-note)
unexpectedly thrown; chain; (see note)
since; chooses [to]
your care
miserable suffering
soonest dies; least

sickness; easy
Only a few

complaining; (t-note)

one; than two; (see note)

From one sorrowful (i.e., the lover); two; (see note); (t-note)

one; (see note)

seek neither
Neither . . . nor; pledge of loyalty; (t-note)
sick; does; (t-note)
Choose; will their hearts; thrust forward

ruled by man's; (see note)

bondage (servitude); (t-note)
generously; their portion; (t-note)
poor servant (i.e., lover); nothing; gain; (t-note)
once; pays his
dearly; ransom; (see note); (t-note)

are; simple; (see note)
are; in jest
others conduct schools; diligently; (see note); (t-note)
believe; (t-note)
swiftly; turn their heads away
quickly; ears close (refuse to listen)

chatters busily


is whole; (t-note)
(see note)
unfeigned (true)
prove genuine; works follow; (t-note)

subtle (clever); watchfulness/caution; (t-note)
can avenge himself on those who

(see note); (t-note)
cheering; assumed (expected); (t-note)

secret; revealed

promoted; (t-note)
hurts; lack (imperfection); (t-note)
heat; pleasure; (see note)
one; the other is expressly required; (t-note)
happiness none knows; real nature; (t-note)
Unless; won; (t-note)

pleasure; always the same; (t-note)
What; sweet; (t-note)
nor; anyone
According [to]; desire; futile; (t-note)
witnessed; (t-note)
Unless; marriage obligation (bond); (t-note)
nor; encroach on (overpower); (t-note)
is enfeoffed in freedom; (see note)

may God grant that I never please
seek; (t-note)
show; anxiety

reputation for purity to sully
punish me
[make sure] that; (t-note)
A single; life's; (t-note)

swear; oaths firmly
surely you realize
longer; have departed
saints; (t-note)

weep and wail

seeks pleasure (gratification), honor
earth; air; in no way (not at all)
strength; (t-note)
expends; little value; (t-note)

cur-like (mean); courteous; (see note); (t-note)
Counterfeit Expression; reconcile
in; placed; their working
(see note); (t-note)
Honor; forgotten about
Not at all regretted; lamented; (t-note)

[just] deserts

is it the case that your; (see note); (t-note)
sad (distressed)
shown; (t-note)
favor; (t-note)

merry; desire
Are; less time

sickness will at once; cured; (see note)
Give up; set
amusements tire; (t-note)
nor; directed (applied); (t-note)
believes; let; pass (i.e., ignore him); (t-note)

bird; falcon; (t-note)
out of; (see note)
takes good care of; keeps; safe; (t-note)
will; drive; (t-note)
(see note)
further; (t-note)
less valued; others who are unknown

welcome; (see note)
honor; generosity; (t-note)
will not do
[For the sake of] avoiding; injury
belief; will
as he likes
not at all

by; true; (t-note)
Lose; welcome
Why should my loyalty serve in any way
Less than to those who; (t-note)
is; in my opinion

for; reward; (see note); (t-note)

wonderfully close
honor; (t-note)
tell; truly
spreads very generously
it pleases him; fancy
Reward compelled; given gladly; (see note)
two; (t-note)

reward; ask none; (t-note)
too high (exalted)
ask; (see note)
Since death or your mercy is necessary to me; (t-note)
it is lacking
right (reasonable); (t-note)
much better would be

I really wish I knew
What; causes another severe emotional distress; (see note); (t-note)
too open-handed; desires [to]
much; loses; reputation; (t-note)
One; gift, little
Unless; appropriate to it

anyone; (t-note)
shall [be], except your person (i.e., yourself)

season, less

no eyes; in reserve; (see note)
all are given; duty; (t-note)

Who keeps his honor; secure possession
places (expends) his effort
Who joins; others' work (effort)
who possesses


eyes; imprint; (t-note)
[so] that
expresses (indicates) happiness
It must necessarily; other
weal or woe (i.e., for good or ill); (t-note)
life; awaiting

pay full attention; (t-note)
vain; (t-note)
advise; no heed

hold back; (t-note)
deceived foolishly
break; bend; (see note)
[to] bend; too suddenly; (t-note)

power; (t-note)


gift, certainly
offers; repudiated; (see note); (t-note)
[a] gift; [an] explicit surrender
Which with honor may not be taken back
(see note); (t-note)
[an] idea will let go
he need neither meditate anxiously; (t-note)


if; end; (t-note)
at least; blameworthy
did wrong; (t-note)
enterprising spirit

wish; i.e., follow my advice; (t-note)
Seek; (t-note)
will benefit you
conforming (agreeable)
foolishly; two
loses; second game; (t-note)
(see note)

as far as
done; my mind; (see note)
forgive; (t-note)
so honest; deceit (guile)
give credence; way; (t-note)
indicating loyalty; (t-note)
they are; lies; (t-note)
Except; show pity; compassion; (t-note)

who works foolishly; (t-note)
Yet when he desires; leave; (t-note)
understanding; must learn
i.e., follow advice; (t-note)
legal suit; at risk; (t-note)
fall to him; (t-note)
dead - completely forgotten; (see note); (t-note)

follow through with
happens; loyalty; die
displeasure; (t-note)
callous permission; (t-note)
(see note)

Than to live [as]

nothing at all
will not; harsh nor stern
neither law nor custom grants; (t-note)
frame of mind
receiving [of it]; (see note); (t-note)
understand (feel)
learn; plan; wait
Whoever wants to do that; try, for all I care; (t-note)

Some day; attempted; (t-note)
are respected
feudal tax; (see note); (t-note)
noble; gotten; customary tribute
will believes this

only one amusement

astonishing situations; (see note)

entrance; perilous; (t-note)
coming back (i.e., return); (t-note)
seldom witnessed
discover; barren; (t-note)
dearly; attempt

to trouble yourself; false suspicions
far; (t-note)
consider (think on)
offered confirmatory evidence; (t-note)
faithfulness shows clear proof

known by simple

understood; (t-note)
(see note); (t-note)
demonstrated; (t-note)
lose it right away; gained

the highest power
show; yet; contrary; (t-note)
cherish that which destroys; (t-note)
lovable; (t-note)
does tarry

person; (t-note)

those who feel; (t-note)
endeavors (concerns)
harm; (t-note)

insincerely; (t-note)

forbid; devoid; (t-note)
gift; (see note); (t-note)
condescend; (t-note)
treat; honorable
[case of] failure, whoever
than to suffer death twice

(see note)
One curses; threatens
none dies; far
the same; (t-note)
increases; (t-note)
ladies by; guile; (t-note)
others' sins

Although; someone does
dead; punished (brought to justice); (t-note)
it gains him
miserable (unfortunate)
all who; despise; (t-note)
falsehood (deceitfulness); wickedness; (t-note)
honor; control; (t-note)
it (i.e., falsehood) reigns; determination

fear; (t-note)
loyalty; unworthy of praise
those who; (t-note)
Their eager; go
brought under control (see note)
trained to hold themselves back

flee (fly away)
begins; vary (undergo change); (t-note)
goes right away in a short time
part; (t-note)
For as long as; remains

in those cases when you; (t-note)
deceived; (t-note)
carelessly; think; (t-note)
disavow; endeavor; (t-note)
ignorance; (t-note)
weak ministrations; despair; (t-note)

Reason; Judgment
restrained; (t-note)
defiant; at peace; (see note); (t-note)
mingled all; (see note); (t-note)

them there shall be no separating; (t-note)
Unless Pity breaks; to pieces

stands forgotten; (t-note)
your [own]
expect not
be; (t-note)
the same rule; (see note)

remains be pleased with; (t-note)

lack; (t-note)
shut; (see note)
Resistance exercises; cruelty
if; strength (virtue) fail in; (see note)
fail; (t-note)
wonder; sure thing; (t-note)
suffer; (t-note)

advise; (t-note)

attain; achieve
expect; happy; (t-note)
besotted (made a fool of); infatuation; (t-note)

wretches; (t-note)

speak; falls (agrees)

be forgotten
adversity (difficulty)
as [it] seems [to] me

person; harm; (t-note)
Where there is need
pitiful causing
harm; (see note); (t-note)
deadly; (t-note)

entirely without hope; (t-note)
disposition; hard-heartedness; (t-note)
formed; (t-note)
dare; dishonor; (t-note)
suits; ill
Unless; (t-note)
continue to tarry

believe; (t-note)
angry; (t-note)
Because; would; (t-note)
had sexual intercourse; more
unmannerly (ungracious); (see note); (t-note)

pardee (by God); (see note); (t-note)
pierce; (t-note)
good does it do you; hardness of heart
Does it please
eyes; entertainment (sport)
some; relief
put a stop to; pursues; (t-note)

disease (discomfort); relief; (t-note)
let; pass away; (t-note)
recovery; guarantee; (t-note)
will not; (t-note)
none; boast; (t-note)

know; (t-note)

boaster; none; (t-note)

[a] boaster; i.e., not deserving of respect

Slander; control (sway); (see note)

boast; chatter; (t-note)
distrusted; in some respects; (t-note)
believed; way; (t-note)

even surfaced (i.e., uniform); (see note); (t-note)
are; evidence shows
villany [shows]
reasonable; speaks vilely; (t-note)
cursed speech
rejection; devolve (remain)
known for their reputation; (t-note)

unworthy; hear tidings
transgression; easily (swiftly); pardon
prepared; disposition; (t-note)
character; (t-note)
fall into trouble
freely; hearts abandon; (t-note)

one rate (i.e., of equal value)
vice; (t-note)
those who are untrue (unfaithful); (t-note)

punish; (t-note)
avoid; encumbrance
safe (prudent); (t-note)
False Seeming; face; (see note); (t-note)
catch; ambush
must; (t-note)
watch; lo; opinion

one; (t-note)
appeal; hear; complaint; (t-note)
hardness; (t-note)

forgot; (t-note)

nor; done; injury; (t-note)

thought; (t-note)
sink into; (t-note)
attained; (t-note)
annoy; wind (i.e., breath); (t-note)

departed; (t-note)
broke in pieces; (see note)
trance (state of mental distraction); (t-note)
Before; propriety
distress (love-longing); (t-note)

where (whither) knew I nothing
withdrew, truly
right away; did direct herself
explicitly; (see note); (t-note)

dead; (see note)

(see note); (t-note)
boasters, flee them; (t-note)
Rejection; flatteries; (t-note)
castles; equipped; cannons
[for a] long time
whole; under [their] authority

whatever estate (rank)

follow; path; (t-note)

the beautiful lady without pity; (t-note)

poem; (see note)
choose; (t-note)
See [that]
prayer; (t-note)
those; will read or hear you; (t-note)
their help

otherwise; able
present yourself
receive with favor; unsophisticated; (t-note)

completely devoid
rhetorical elaboration
beast; shelter; (t-note)
plain; showers
you (i.e., the poem)

i.e., God
without cause
worthy to be remembered
do their; (t-note)
commit themselves

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