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Guillaume de Machaut, The Boethian Poems: Le Remede de Fortune


Abbreviations: BD: Chaucer, Book of the Duchess, ed. Benson; CA: Gower, Confessio Amantis, ed. Peck; Confort: Machaut, Le Confort d’Ami; CP: Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy, trans. Stewart, Rand, and Tester; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson; Hassell: Hassell, Middle French Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; HF: Chaucer, House of Fame; JRB: Machaut, Le Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne, ed. Palmer (2016); JRN: Machaut, Le Jugement dou Roy de Navarre, ed. Palmer (2016); LGW: Chaucer, Legend of Good Women, ed. Benson; OCD: Oxford Classical Dictionary, eds. Hornblower and Spawforth; OM: L’Ovide moralisé, ed. de Boer; OT: Old Testament, Douay-Rheims; Remede: Machaut, Remede de Fortune; RR: Roman de la Rose, trans. Dahlberg; TC: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, ed. Benson; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases.


1–25 Cils qui vuet . . . . malice son corage. More than any other Machaut dit, the Remede is deeply didactic, with the philosophizing of lady Esperence (Hope, a figure clearly modeled on Boethius’ Lady Philosophy) complemented by instruction in the love experience provided by the traditional figure of Amour. At stake is nothing less than the education of the youthful narrator, who passes from suffering to consolation, as he is brought to abandon misunderstanding for a sure knowledge about the most pressing of existential issues. This high theme is appropriately set by this remarkable opening passage, which meditates on learning, memory, and the maturing over time of the mind and feelings. The notion that any neophyte must attend to twelve related matters if he is to master any art seems traditional, but in fact no source for this material has been located, and it is likely original to Machaut. A brief allusion to this passage appears in BD, lines 794–96.

26–34 Car le droit . . . . en li empreinte. Machaut compares the wax tablet to youth and innocence. As Laurence de Looze describes it, the wax tablet represents “a pregeneric world ready to receive life’s writing but as yet uncontaminated by man’s scribbling . . . . the very opposite of a forme fixe,” (de Looze, Pseudo-Autobiography,” p. 85). See BD, lines 779–84, where Chaucer draws specifically on this passage.

45–386 Pour ce l’ay . . . . nul autre desir. Here, the narrator describes his lady love, highlighting how her virtuous and noble behavior inspired him. Ennobling love is a convention of love poetry. It is interesting to compare this account with that of the lover in JRB who prioritizes his lady’s physical beauty and grace (see especially lines 286–456), while the narrator of the Remede devotes only 23 lines to her appearance (lines 303–26) and spends much more time praising her virtues.

45–55 Pour ce lay dit . . . belle et bonne. Compare BD, lines 4–15 and 797–804. Machaut’s account of youth, idleness, and the unstable heart that under the influence Nature’s gifts makes all seem alike as the heart fixates on its lady might well factor into Gower’s invention of Amans and his persistent irrational (though much rationalized) behavior in the Confessio Amantis.

54–55 ma dame . . . . belle et bonne. Wimsatt and Kibler suggest that the reference in this passage to the lady as “bonne” (good) is the first of several punning references to Bonne of Luxembourg, the daughter of Jean of Bohemia. They argue that Bonne may well be not only the model for the lady in the Remede, but the patroness for whom it was composed (Roy de Behaingne and Remede de Fortune, pp. 33–35 and 492n54–56). This is an intriguing if unprovable possibility.

65–94 La veoie moult volentiers . . . . fais voloie entreprendre. On the power of the gaze in the love matters, compare Gower on sight as the “moste principal of alle” senses as the “firy dart / of love, which that evere brenneth” pierces the lover through the eyes and “into the herte renneth” (CA 1.304–24). Compare the Remede, line 97, on the interlocking of “mon cuer et a ses yex.” The beloved in Machaut, however, is much kinder to the lover than she is in Gower.

71 Amours. The allegorical figure here, unlike Youth and Nature, is a female force that is somewhat distinct from Cupid with his tyrannical arrows in RR, or the love figure that has “his dwellynge / Withinne the subtile stremes of [Criseyde’s] yen” (Chaucer, TC, 1.304–05).

107–27 Et certeinnement . . . . del tel affaire. The nine names Machaut cites here are traditional models of excellence. Of the Nine Worthies who were considered paradigms of chivalry, Alexander and Hector are two of the three Pagan Worthies (the third is Julius Caesar, not here mentioned). Godfrey de Bouillon is one of the three Christian Worthies (the second and third are Charlemagne and Arthur) . The catalogue of worthies or nonpareils (here five from the Bible and four from classical tradition) is a stock theme in medieval poetry. The less familiar are: Godfrey of Bouillon, leader of the First Crusade (1096–1099) and, after its successful conclusion, the first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem; Absalom, the third son of Solomon, who was reputed to be the most handsome of men (see 2 Kings 14:25); Judith, the main figure in the deuterocanonical book of Judith, who was famed for tricking an enemy general, Holofernes, then decapitating him and saving her people from being conquered; and Esther, who in the canonical book that bears her name, is a Jewish maiden who becomes queen of Persia and foils a plot to destroy her people.

116 la biauté qu’ot Absalon. Compare Chaucer, LGW, Prol F, line 249.

123–24 Et avec ce l’umilité / Qu’Ester ot. See Chaucer, LGW, Prol F, line 250: “Ester, ley thou thy meknesse al adown.”

136 pris fui et loiaus amis. The imagery of the lover as captive is conventional. See also line 362.

142–66 Comment ma dame . . . . seul ne mespris. The instructions given by Love are thoroughly conventional. The Remede does not interrogate the literary tradition of fin’ amors (refined love) that by Machaut’s time was two centuries old, though Machaut was certainly inclined to do so since fundamental love questions are the focus in the two poems of the debate (or judgment) series: the JRB and JRN.

170 Plus que Paris ne fist Heleinne. The reference here is to the Troy story, known to the Middle Ages through Latin recensions, not Homer’s two poems. The Trojan Paris, with the assistance of Venus, wins the love of Helen, wife of the Greek nobleman Menelaus, who assists his brother Agamemnon in leading an expedition against Troy. After the deaths of Paris and many warriors on both sides, the Greeks take the city, and Helen is then re-united with Menelaus.

187–88 Qu’onques turtre . . . . coulons, ne coulombelle. All these animals are traditionally associated with peace and meekness.

245–47 Et se l’Evangile . . . . s’umilie essauciés. This is a version of two oft-quoted passages from the New Testament: Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11.

268–69 masitresse bonne . . . . a bonne escole. According to Wimsatt and Kibler, this is another punning reference to Bonne of Luxembourg (Roy de Behaingne and Remede de Fortune, p. 495n268–69). See also the note to lines 54–55 above.

308 Douce Esperence. Esperence makes a dramatic entrance that is deliberately evocative of the sudden appearance of Lady Philosophy in CP 1.

345–46 Pour ce que löange assourdist / En bouche qui de li la dist. Proverbial. See Whiting P351.

363–70 Car pour riens . . . . de s’amour. For an amusing account of the importance of keeping love secret, see Andreas Capellanus’ c. 1170 De Amore (The Art of Courtly Love), book 2, chapter 7 on “Various Decisions in Love Cases.”

371–76 Nompourquant quant de . . . . trambler et tressaillir. The poet describes the physical suffering of lovers. Lovesickness or love madness (Latin amor hereos) was, according to medieval physicians, “a disorder of the mind and body, closely related to melancholia and potentially fatal if not treated” (Wack, Lovesickness in the Middle Ages, p. xi). The symptoms mentioned here, especially a pale complexion, were conventional (p. 40). Machaut explicitly names love as a sickness in his lay, line 626.

401–30 Et pour ce . . . . qu’on claimme lay. Here the fictional poet explains how he found an outlet for his feelings by composing songs and poetry inspired by his love. At the same time, the real Machaut is presenting both a theory of poetry that places the author at the center of a body of works, and also the structure of the Remede, which includes the types of lyric he mentioned in this section. Sarah Kay suggests that the different formes fixes allow the poet to “respond to and articulate [a] variety of feelings” and refers to the inset lyrics as a “portfolio” (Kay, “Consolation, Philosophy and Poetry,” pp. 35, 34).

431–680 Qui n’aroit autre . . . . la me confort. The intercalated lyric here is a lay, the most complex and in general one of the lengthier of the so-called formes fixes, the types of lyric verse that by Machaut’s time had become more or less standardized. This poem has twelve sections of irregular length, each of which divides into contrasting halves and has an unrepeated rhyme and metrical scheme (except for the first and last, which are identical). For more, see the Notes on the Music, pp. 555–58.

433–454 Fors Dous Penser . . . . son dous regarder. The allegorical figures — Dous Penser (Sweet Thought), Souvenir (Memory), Espoir (Hope), and Dous Regard (Sweet Regard) — in this passage are all drawn from the RR lines 2601–2734.

465–66 S’Amours tant chier / L’a que fichier. In classical myth, and later in the Middle Ages, Cupid (Greek Eros) is traditionally associated with Venus (Greek Aphrodite). Cupid shoots the arrow or desire into lovers, infecting them with the pleasant wound or malady of love.

647–48 dedens li entaille / Sa biauté fine par tel art. According to Eric Jager, “[t]he lover’s heart marked by his lady’s image was something of a commonplace” (Book of the Heart, pp. 69–70). In the troubadour and courtly love traditions, the heart took on the qualities of a text, able to be imprinted by images and words. His description of the phenomenon seems appropriate for Machaut’s lover: “the heart [was] imagined . . . in pictorial terms as a secular altar devoted to the memory of an earthly Madonna and decorated with her image” (Book of the Heart, p. 70). See also lines 2939–46 and the corresponding note below.

682 Ce lay qu’oÿ m’avez retraire. Here, Machaut blurs the boundaries between written texts and spoken texts. Laurence de Looze argues that “writing enables the poet to appropriate the discourse of lyric orality while dwelling in a world of temporal scripture . . . . A written text is passed off as oral utterance, the hand in effect eliding and replacing the mouth” (Pseudo-Autobiography, p. 86). Also discussing the dislocation which Machaut engineers in this section, Kevin Brownlee points to the way that the lay is offset by the term “lay” in the lines immediately preceding and proceeding the lyric (lines 430, 682). As well as specifically identifying the piece’s genre, “the tense structure of this frame suggests a conflation of two temporalities: the time in which the lay was composed and the time in which it was performed” (Brownlee, “Lyric Anthology,” p. 3).

704–70 Je n’eüsse dit . . . . qui ne ment. In this section, we see the “disjunction between the successful lover of the RR tradition and the faltering, cowardly, and cerebral men who populate his [Machaut’s] writings. These unlikely lovers must inevitably confront their failure to match up to the ideal, but Machaut offers them an alternative realm in which they may thrive” (McGrady, “Guillaume de Machaut,” p. 111). Compare the isolation of the poet here with the lonely garden he finds in lines 797–807.

710–12 L’amoureus mal . . . . les .v. sens. The poet has been deprived of all his faculties, a symptom of his lovesickness, but also a signal of the text’s engagement with CP, which begins with Boethius wallowing in self-pity and despair, thus making it impossible for him to think clearly until Lady Philosophy, noticing his crisis, appears in order to be his intellectual physician.

770 Roy qui ne ment. This game is mentioned in a number of texts from the thirteenth and fourteenth century. However each account differs in so many particulars that it is difficult to untangle a set of rules, leading some scholars to conclude that it may have been played in a variety of different ways. Played by young aristocrats — both male and female — one of the objects of the game seems to be the election of a pair of lovers who are asked a number of questions concerning love and courtship in general, or about their own personal experiences and feelings. In an extended discussion, Richard Firth Green describes the game as “stylized flirtation and erotic sparring” and argues that the purpose of the game was to provide “an acceptable vehicle for bringing young people of both sexes together and allowing them a degree of social, even sexual, intimacy” (“Aristocratic Courtship,” p. 213). On this game see Hœpffner, “Frage-und Antwortspiele.” It should be noted that the game is being played off-stage at the same time as the narrator is reading his love poem to the lady. William Calin suggests that this underscores the fact that “[a]lthough the youth has learned some of love’s theory and expressed his passion eloquently enough in the lay, he fails miserably when forced to act in the real world, indeed makes a total fool of himself” (Calin, Poet at the Fountain, p. 67). This juxtaposition also throws into relief some of the central questions of the text.

786 le Parc de Hedin. The huge 2000 acre Park of Hesdin in northern France, created by Robert of Artois in 1288, rivaled the great royal parks at Clarendon and Woodstock in England, founded by Henry I. These English parks could entertain 200 to 400 guests with features like “a menagerie, aviaries, fishponds, beautiful orchards, an enclosed garden named Le Petit Paradis, and facilities for tournaments. The guests were . . . beckoned across a bridge by animated rope-operated monkey statues (kitted up each year with fresh badger-fur coats) to a banqueting pavilion which was set amongst pools. The monkeys and the water-operated automata, although designed by a Frenchman, were perhaps based on the intricate automata known from Arab writings, and bring us back to the elusive Eastern origin of the idea of the park” (Landsberg, Medieval Garden, pp. 22–23).

799 un petit guichet. The small wicket that Machaut’s protagonist enters is perhaps the inspiration for the “wicket” at the end of part 1 of Chaucer’s House of Fame, which his Geoffrey squeezes through in hope of finding “any stiryng man / That may me telle where I am” (lines 478–79). But unlike Machaut’s protagonist who finds himself in a splendid garden of delight, Chaucer’s Geoffrey is confronted by “the desert of Lybye” (HF, line 488), a “large feld . . . Withouten toun, or hous, or tree, / Or bush, or grass, or eryd lond”(lines 482–85).

883–96 Car selonc ce . . . . come a destruction. Machaut here presents a general and thoroughly conventional image of Fortune, derived first-hand from CP 2 and, at second hand, from RR lines 3950–57. In the passages to follow, more specific references to books 1 and 2 of CP will be noted. For context and analysis of the poet’s use of Boethius see the General Introduction, pp. 20–35. For details on the conventional depiction of Fortune, see Patch, Tradition of Boethius.

905–1480 Tels rit . . . . Vueil rendre l’ame. The lover’s complainte (complaint) is modeled in general on two passages in CP: 1.m1 and 1.pr4. Boethius’ detailed indictment of his unmerited ill luck, in that second passage, follows the appearance of Lady Philosophy and is in response to her questioning about his despairing state of mind. She comes to aid her acolyte after his brief poetic lament, which begins the work and was, as Boethius reveals, composed under the influence of Muses whom Philosophy chases away. Similarly, Esperence (Hope) appears to console the lover here after hearing his complaint. Machaut gives the impression that the complainte is one of the standard formes fixes, but this seems not to be the case. The complaint here includes 36 stanzas of sixteen lines each. As with the lay that precedes it, the poet text is supplied with a musical setting. For further details see the Notes to the Music, pp. 558–59.

969–73 ij. seaus en . . . . L’autre descent. Proverbial. See Whiting B575.

982–84 Mais Boëces si . . . . De ses annuis. Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius (477–524) was a member of the senatorial class who was active in the politics of Rome after the city fell to the Ostrogoths in 493. As he tells the story in the Consolation of Philosophy, his most famous work, Boethius fell victim to a series of palace intrigues, was imprisoned by the Ostrogothic emperor Theodoric the Great, and eventually executed, with treason being the most serious of trumped-up charges. In the centuries following his death, the CP became the most revered and quoted text, except for the Bible, and this is even more surprising since even though Boethius himself was a Christian, there is no mention of Christian theology or doctrine. Instead, Boethius relies on an elaborate and persuasive synthesis of ideas gleaned from Aristotle and Plato, and also the Stoic thinkers who had gained a place of honor in late Roman culture. His theme is the meaning of unmerited misfortune, and the ways in which such tragedy is actually a blessing in disguise for those who would value what is of the highest good in human experience. The beauty and intellectual force of the work exerted a lasting appeal on western culture until the beginning of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. Chaucer and Jean de Meun (one of the two authors of the Romance of the Rose), produced translations in English and French; other English translators were the Anglo-Saxon King Alfred and Queen Elizabeth I. The General Introduction (pp. 20–35) includes a detailed discussion of the Boethian material in the Remede.

1001–1112 Nabugodonosor figure . . . . d’un seul assaut. This passage on the dream of Nebuchadnezzar is drawn from Daniel 2:31–45, which includes both a description of the statue from the king’s dream and the prophet’s interpretation of it, which emphasizes the succession of earthly kingdoms, all of which will be displaced and eventually destroyed, to be succeeded by the kingdom of God. Machaut adapts this material, with an emphasis on Daniel’s subsequent career, in the Confort lines 436–480. Machaut seems to have invented the elaborate allegorization of the statue presented here. Gower uses the same passage to illustrate the unreliable mutability of Time (CA, Prol, lines 585–624). Machaut handles this tale a bit differently from both the Old Testament and Gower’s version by explicitly identifying Fortune as the culprit from the beginning.

1191 Eschat et mat. Fortune as a chess player is conventional. See Chaucer, BD, lines 618–661.

1311 Seneques. Roman culture boasted of two writers named Seneca, members of the same clan (gens). Better known to modern literary and intellectual culture is Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE), known as Seneca the Younger, who made a reputation as a moral philosopher who popularized Stoicism and as a writer of “closet drama” tragedies. In this passage, Machaut is undoubtedly referring to his father, Marcus Annaeus Seneca (54 BCE–39 CE), generally known as Seneca the Rhetorician, whose major work, a multi-volume study of imaginary law cases (Controversiae), the presentation of which involved rhetorical issues, was known in part to the Middle Ages and served as what we would now call a university text for the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic).

1346 Cuer, corps, ame, vie, et entente. Compare Chaucer, BD: “With good wille, body, herte, and al” (lines 116 and 768).

1468 medecine. In CP Lady Philosophy functions, as she herself describes, as the physician who will heal the suffering Boethius; the medicine she provides him with is a series of arguments. It is their dialogue that provides his cure. In the Remede, on the other hand, Esperence, while providing a similar kind of intellectual medicine, can only prepare the lover to receive what will ultimately cure him: the acceptance by his lady of his love suit and her reciprocation of the affection he bears her.

1502–03 Mais je vi seoir . . . . la plus bele dame. The advent of Esperence, and her otherworldly quality, mirrors closely the corresponding passage devoted to Philosophy, who, as previously noted, appears to Boethius after listening to his self-pitying complaint in the first meter. As discussed at length in the General Introduction, Esperence speaks to the traditional trajectory of this love poem, which traces the lover’s suffering and sorrows, his encounter with the woman previously loved from afar, and the pseudo-marriage that cements their relationship under the auspices of Esperence and Amours. Philosophy, of course, plays a quite different role in the CP. Her task is to not to help Boethius recover what he has lost (wealth, freedom, and reputation), but rather to help him understand that he has not lost what matters most — himself and his unfettered mental pursuit of the highest good. The CP concludes not with a happy scene of reconciliation and restoration, but with an elaborate meditation on the most relevant of metaphysical and existential facts: that men, inhabiting a divinely ordained universe, nevertheless possess that most precious of gifts, a free will.

1519–26 Si clerement resplendissoit . . . seur mon visage. Compare CP 1.m3.1–2.

1533–39 Car tout aussi . . . . sa clarté premiere. Machaut’s elaborate simile is remarkably precise regarding cataract surgery. This catches a modern reader off guard, given that the first successful cataract surgery, by modern standards, was not performed until 1748, by the French surgeon Jacques Daviel. But recorded efforts at dealing with cataracts go back as far as a Sanskrit manuscript c. 800 BCE, in which an Indian physician named Maharshi Sushruta devised a system subsequently called “couching” that was performed with occasional success and remained in practice in some countries even into modern times. If Machaut knew of needle and thread removal or variations on couching practices, whereby a film (“une toie,” line 1537) that impeded sight was “subtly” removed to restore clearer vision, such practices must have been based on Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 29 CE) in his De medicina, 7.7.10–15. See On Medicine, trans. Spencer, vol. 3, which discusses use of needles and threads to lift and break up the cataract, or to “couch” the pupil into the vitreous area of the eye to let in light. Spencer includes diagrams of equipment and procedures for couching or cataract removal (3:651). But, perhaps, if we think metaphorically within Machaut’s simile, and imagine the lover’s self-pity and floods of tears to be cataracts, then it may be that Lady Philosophy in the guise of Dame Esperence, is the surgeon who removes the veil of blinding tears as he beholds the beauty of his lady. Compare CP 1.pr2.16–18.

1540–76 Tout einsi me . . . . savoir ma maladie. As part of her cure, Esperence restores both memory and sight to the narrator, which then activates each of his other senses that have been compromised since lines 710–12 (see note above). Smell is evoked from her fragrance (lines 1544–56), with touch following as she takes his hand into her own (lines 1574–75), hearing as she speaks to him, and finally speech (line 2123).

1544–58 un odeur . . . . je ne die. More than Lady Philosophy, Esperence is imagined as a beautiful woman, an appropriate stand-in for the poet’s lady in their early dialogue on his experience of love. One of her conventional attributes as the proper object of refined admiration and affection is her sweetness, here elaborated in terms of the savor of her presence, which is like a balm possessing healing powers.

1567–78 Mais nulle reins . . . . et veinne. Compare CP 1.pr2.9–11. It is typical of Machaut’s approach that he picks out from his source one of its most poignant details. Philosophy, at first unable to get the stupefied Boethius to speak, puts her hand on his chest in a manner that is both maternal and appropriate for the physician she claims to be. Adopting a softer tone, she pronounces him not stupefied but lethargic. Machaut’s version extends the physician trope, as Esperence takes the lover’s pulse. See especially lines 1603–04.

1585–1607 Et quant elle . . . . elle m’ot sentu. The identification of the beloved as a physician who can cure the male lover’s need is commonplace. It may be of interest, nonetheless, to know that there were women physicians.

1682–91 Franchise et Pité . . . . Charité et d’Umblesse. These RR-like allegorical figures represent aspects of the lady’s character. Compare to those in JRB and JRN. See also the note to lines 433–54 above.

1780–84 Ne riens ne . . . . blanches, rouges, jaunes, ou perses. Esperence describes these colors as inimitable signs of love. Colors are commonly used metaphorically by medieval writers. With regard to love, white usually designates innocence and purity; red denotes passion, emotive love, and the heart; yellow suggests radiance like the sun, joy, and fair welcome; while blue, the Virgin Mary’s color, connotes higher love and fidelity (see Ferguson, Signs and Symbols in Christian Art, pp. 151–53.) But as Ferguson also attests, colors may — when used with counterfeit intent — thereby suggest their opposites: white might imply hypocrisy; yellow, changeability, dissembling, or false behavior; and red, hatred, vengeance, and anger. These latter possibilities do not apply here, of course, given the lover’s sincerity. Compare lines 735–40, where poet does not want to lie to his lady. Machaut will further develop this theme of colors in his discussion of love’s heraldry (lines 1901–10).

1810–14 Homs ne diroit . . . . il se duet. This section describes one of the central concerns of the poem: it is a key element of medieval love lore that love suffering is inherently paradoxical. As Sarah Kay writes,“its only true expression is the one that cannot be expressed.” The poet needs to be able to suffer in order to give his work range and virtuosity, but not so much that it silences him (Kay, “Consolation, Philosophy and Poetry,” p. 35). See the opening and closing stanzas of the lay (lines 431–58 and 653–80) and Esperence’s chanson roial (especially lines 1987–93) for a further articulation of this theme.

1901–10 ces couleurs . . . . c’est fausseté. On the various colors and their function in medieval erotic lore, see Wimsatt, “Machaut and Chaucer’s Love Lyrics.” See also the note to lines 1780–84 above.

1950 Que de toy ci dessus propos. Esperence makes reference to what she had previously said as if it were a written text “here above.” Such frame-breaking metafictional gestures, which call attention to the status of this dramatic encounter as part of a written text, are not uncommon in Machaut’s poetry. See Palmer, “The Metafictional Machaut” for further discussion.

1985–2032 Joie, plaisence . . . . qui t’ont servi. The prosimetric form of CP suited Machaut’s aesthetic interests perfectly, as can be seen from his use of intercalated lyrics in his other dits where there is otherwise no Boethian influence. So it is impossible to say whether the chanson roial sung here by Esperence to the lover finds its source in similar lyrics (e.g., 1.m2) sung by Philosophy to Boethius. The chanson roial here consists of five stanzas with identical rhymes, each concluded by an envoy. It bears remarking that this lyric is much simpler, both formally and intellectually, than the lay and the complainte that precede it.

2039–2093 Comment t’est . . . . faire le doi. Compare CP 1.pr2 and 1.pr4.1–7.

2089 Et le fer chaut, on le doit batre. Proverbial. See Hassell F51.

2094 un anel. When Esperence lovingly gives the poet a ring, she provides a talisman of reassurance to protect him as long as he is faithful to her.

2151 Je sui li confors des amans. In her discussion of the Remede as a re-write of Boethius’ CP, Sarah Kay notes that Esperence “seeks to console rather than redress or punish the sufferer” (Kay, “Consolation, Philosophy and Poetry,” p. 32). Just as in Confort, she sympathizes with the lover, defending and protecting him from misfortune and assisting him in the courtship of his lady. As she observes, “[d]espite its title . . . the lexis of consolation is remarkably absent from Boethius’ text” (p. 22).

2173–77 Je les norri . . . . je les honneure. Compare CP 1.pr2.1–7.

2209 de la couleur d’une panthere. Jeremiah 13:23 is a possible source for this comment about the panther’s spots.

2317–18 En bien nombrer . . . . Pytagoras et Musique. Music and Arithmetic were two of the four subjects (the so-called Quadrivium) that formed the second part of the medieval university curriculum.

2318 Pytagoras. Pythagoras, a sixth-century Greek mathematician, famous for the “geometric theorem that still bears his name” (OCD, p. 1283–84).

2319 Michalus et Milesius. The two intellectual worthies mentioned here are, respectively, Michaelis Psellos, a Byzantine monk (fl. 1050) famed for his learning and author of numerous treatises devoted to such topics as medicine, astronomy, and history, which were translated into Latin and made available in Western Europe; and Thales of Milet (Thales Miletius in medieval Latin; fl. 575 BCE), the founder of a noted school of Greek philosophy and — like Psellos — a formidable polymath.

2320 Orpheüs. In Greek myth, Orpheus was a legendary singer, son of the god Apollo and a Muse, “whose song has more than human power” (OCD, p. 1078). Machaut tells the tale of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice in the Confort, lines 2277–84.

2348 ff. Mais je vous . . . . Here the narrator takes a more active role in the conversation. His more open engagement of Dame Esperence demonstrates more vigorous health, even as he asks how he should conduct himself in order to restore his welfare.

2403–2856 Biaus dous amis . . . . qui li nuise. Dame Esperence, like Lady Philosophy, reassures her patient with a disquisition on Fortune with her two faces (line 2408) and her bitter/sweet ways. Compare CP 2.pr1.33–34, which refers to Fortune’s two faces, a commonplace of medieval ideas about Fortune’s essential duplicity. See Patch, Goddess Fortuna for further details. Esperence uses key Boethian tropes of anxiety, such as surging waves (lines 2564–70, 2663–70) or indebtedness (lines 2639–42) to depict emotional turmoil, as part of his therapeutic process. She blames the lover for trusting in Fortune (lines 2560–62), which makes him a slave to her fickle ways. Ultimately, she proposes that Love, when ruled by Reason, is a viable alternative to trusting Fortune.

2467–73 La bonneürté souvereinne . . . . cil de Fortune. This passage offers a faithful, if somewhat simplified, version of the key conclusion of Philosophy’s argument about the nature of happiness, namely that the goods of Fortune are rendered insufficient by their inherent instability. As argued in the General Introduction, this central precept (whose ultimate sources are Aristotle and Plato) clashes with the ethos of love poetry, in which the lover always gains the lady’s affection, even though such success can, and often is, reversed when Fortune turns her unpleasant face in his direction. To be sure, the lover can internalize the image of his lady and contemplate her beauty and virtues in his mind, and in this sense love puts itself beyond the vagaries of Fortune. However, the generically correct and emotionally satisfying ending offered in RF depends on the physical union of the lovers, whose presence to one another is the source of ultimate satisfaction.

2489–94 Car bonneürtez vraiement . . . . a .i. estrange. Compare CP 2.pr4.62–66.

2531–40 S’elle estoit toudis . . . . mouvant soit estableté. Compare CP 2.pr1.59–62.

2539–42 Comment que sa mobilité . . . . c’est sa droiture. Compare CP 2.pr2.28–31.

2552–58 Car autant en fait . . . . et en cloister. Compare CP 2.pr2.45–47.

2577–80 Se tu estens . . . . vens la conduira. Compare CP 2.pr1.55–56.

2583–91 Einsi est quis . . . . de ses maisnies. Compare CP 2.pr1.58–59.

2613–27 Qu’a l’issir . . . . de son droit. Compare CP 2.pr2.9–13.

2630–38 Ne t’a . . . . de hui a demain. Compare CP 2.pr2.13–16.

2663–65 Tu vois la mer . . . . pleinne de tourment. Compare CP 2.pr2.25–27.

2675–77 Mais richesse . . . . nuls ne part. Compare CP 2.pr2.17–18.

2685–88 Volentiers! Elle t’a . . . . tu yes sires. Compare CP 2.pr4.27–30.

2702 Qu’aprés le lait il fera bel. Proverbial. See Whiting D417.

2705–07 Et aussi je . . . . maleürté a venir. Compare CP 2.pr1.44–45.

2717–18 Mais en tout . . . la fin des choses. Compare CP 2.pr1.45–47.

2754–55 Je ne di . . . . n’ait assez. Compare CP 2.pr5.44.

2787–90 Bonneürté est . . . . et Souffissance. Compare CP–83.

2791–96 C’est bien . . . . failli onques rien. Compare CP 3.pr10.37–38. Machaut Christianizes his version of the famous passage by substituting the three persons of the Holy Trinity for Boethius’ “most high God.” Dame Esperence borrows this one-in-three and three-in-one idea from Dante’s Paradiso 14.28–30, a Boethian concept that appealed to Chaucer as well a few years later in shaping his conclusion to TC 5.1863–65. Given the three poets’ debts to Boethius, the allusion is most appropriate in Hope’s heavenly apocalyptic vision on the nature of true love. Dante had just placed “l’anima santa” (the soul of Boethius, 10.125) as the eighth of his most revered teachers in the fourth circle of Paradise — the habitation of the sun.

2793 Qui est fin et commancement. This famous passage is from the Book of the Apocalypse 1:8.

2827–32 Se ce n’est . . . . aggreable la pointure. The gaze of the female beloved as a weapon that wounds the male lover is conventional. TC, RR, and CA also describe wounds as an effect of love. See also lines 3320–21 and JRB, explanatory note to lines 409–27. For more on what Suzannah Biernoff calls the “wounding gaze,” see Sight and Embodiment, pp. 48–53.

2857–92 En amer ha . . . . et d’amie. The baladelle is a special form of the balade, with stanzas of three parts rather than four. See further the notes to the music (pp. 561–62) and Poirion, Le Poète et le Prince for general commentary on the lyric genres and their subtypes. In this baladelle, Hope exalts love’s anguish over the joy of reciprocation and celebrates the hope of love over its actual realization.

2939–46 Et par maniere . . . . parchemin, n’en cire. The metaphor of memory likened to an inscription on a wax tablet is conventional. For more on the seal-in-wax model, see Mary Carruthers, Book of Memory, pp. 24–25 and 32–33. See also the note to lines 647–48 above.

3021–24 Cils dous espoirs . . . . cuer et resjoïr. Here, the narrator identifies his source of joy as Hope, rather than his lady. It is important to remember that it is Esperence who provides the provisional consolation (the first round of medicine) that enables the lover to seek out, merit through his speech and poetry, the consolation that finally relieves his suffering, which is of course the lady’s acceptance of his suit and her acknowledgment that she reciprocates his love for her.

3046–48 Mais trop durement . . . . riens de m’aventure. Discretion, or keeping love a secret, is a staple of courtly love — often because adulterous love affairs were encouraged. Andreas Capellanus, author of the twelfth-century Art of Courtly Love, advises that “the man who wants to keep his love affair for a long time untroubled should above all things be careful not to let it be known to any outsider, but should keep it hidden from everybody; because when a number of people begin to get wind of such an affair, it ceases to develop naturally and even loses what progress it has already made” (trans. Parry, p. 25). See also lines 3873–77 and 4199–4203.

3170 Qui plus est prés dou feu, plus s’art. Proverbial. See Whiting F193.

3205–3348 Amours . . . . et souffissance. The priere (prayer) uttered by the lover is not one of the conventional formes fixes of medieval lyric, and it is the only intercalated lyric in the poem that is not set to music. For further discussion, see the "Introduction to the Music,” p. 78.

3502–03 Diex, quant venra . . . . que j’aim si. These two lines might well be the refrain to a virelai, as Hœpffner opines (Œuvres de Guillaume de Machaut 2:liii-liv).

3771–72 Demander vient de . . . . löange de courtoisie. Proverbial. See Hassell D22.

3843–46 Mais quant Esperence . . . . de m’amour l’ottroy. After the lover’s confession, the lady grants him love, in the name of Hope, who presides, along with Love, at their exchange of vows and rings.

3891–944 Quant la fumes . . . . grant piessa cornee. This remarkable passage provides a rare account, in all its practical business, of the joy and bustle of preparing a hall for a feast, as people hustle to get the trestles and boards in place, furnish the tables with linens and place settings, wash their hands, cut the bread, clean up the crumbs all the while laughing and chattering in several languages — truly a marvel to witness.

3925–27 François, breton . . . . autre divers langage. An interesting note of realism in the poem is Machaut’s noting of the different languages spoken by the servants and courtiers at his fictional manor house, a diversity that undoubtedly reflects the social reality of the age.

3947 corset. For full discussion of fourteenth-century dress, see Piponnier and Mane, Dress in the Middle Ages.

3963–88 Car je vi . . . . en ce parchet. The catalogue of musical instruments here bears comparison with Machaut’s recycling of this motif in the La Prise d’Alixandre, lines 1147–76. See the forthcoming Volume 6: The Taking of Alexandria of this edition.

3964 Viële, rubebe. According to the Oxford Music Online database, a vielle can refer to various instruments like a “hurdy-gurdy and fiddle” (Oxford Dictionary of Music, “vielle”). A rebec is “a bowed instrument with gut strings, normally with a vaulted back and tapering outline” (Grove Music Online, “rebec”).

3970 Douceinnes. A douçaine is a medieval cylindrical shawm, or woodwind instrument with a double reed (Oxford Companion to Music, “douçaine”).

3975 Buisines. This is a “medieval name for a herald’s trumpet” with a tube over a meter long, with a flared bell, and made of brass or silver. They are “frequently shown bearing the banner of a noble person” (Grove Music Online, “buisine”).

3985 souffle. A bladder pipe is “a wind instrument in which a reed is enclosed by an animal bladder.” In the early Middle Ages, they were played in a “courtly context,” but “by the later 15th century [it] had become predominantly a folk instrument” (Grove Music Online, “bladder pipe”).

3987 penne. A plectrum is “a general term for a piece of material with which the strings of an instrument are plucked”; in this case, it is a “penna” or a quill (Grove Music Online, “plectrum”).

3989 Quant fait eurent une estampie. Originally a sung form of music, the estampie had become strictly instrumental by Machaut’s time (Oxford Companion to Music, “estampie”).

3997 parsons. There is no other surviving mention of a game called “parsons.”

4066–82 Et je vueil . . . . parfaire ceste alience. The exchange of rings here and the appearance of Hope as a kind of officiant to “fulfill our union” likens this ceremony to a wedding rite.

4257 Car qui bien aimme, a tart oublie. This line repeats the identifying first line of the Lay de plour, which immediately follows JRN. But this expression is also proverbial and might not be a literary self-allusion here.

4258–72 Mais en la . . . . plus ou mains. These lines contain an anagram/acrostic of Machaut’s name. See also JRB explanatory note to lines 2055–66 and Confort note to lines 27–44 below.

4276–97 Bonne Amour, je . . . . sera mes dis. The poet’s “devotion hinges on a wish addressed to Love: unlike the typical lover who might desire a future meeting with his lady, our narrator requests only that Love assure a reading of his work by his lady” (McGrady, “Guillaume de Machaut,” p. 111). Again, this emphasis on writing and reading is a running theme throughout the Remede.  


Abbreviations: A: Paris, BnF, fr. 1584 [base text]; B: Paris, BnF, fr. 1585; C: Paris, BnF, fr. 1586; D: Paris, BnF, fr. 1587; E: Paris, BnF, fr. 9221; F: Paris, BnF, fr. 22545; FP: Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Panciatiachiano 26; G: Paris, BnF, fr. 22546; H: Oeuvres de Guillaume de Machaut, ed. Hœpffner; I: Paris, BnF, n.a.f. 6221; J: Paris, Arsenal 5203; Jp: Le Jardin de Plaisance et Fleur de Rethoricque (Paris: Ant. Gérard, [1501]); K: Berne, Burger-bibliothek 218; Ka: Kassel, Universitätsbibliothek, 4° Ms. Med. 1; M: Paris, BnF, fr. 843; Mn: Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, 10264; P: Paris, BnF, fr. 2166; Pa: Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Fr. 15; Pe: Cambridge, Magdalene College, Pepysian Library, 1594; Pit: Paris, BnF, it. 568; Pm: New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, M. 396; PR: Paris, BnF, n.a.f. 6771; R: Paris, BnF, fr. 2230; Trém: Trémoïlle, Paris, BnF, n.a.f. 23190 [lost]; Vg: Ferrell-Vogue, private ownership of James E. and Elizabeth J. Ferrell; W: Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, 5010 C.

For reasons set out at some length in the General Introduction, this edition takes MS A as an authoritative text for Machaut’s works, including the two dits included in this volume. Because of the unique authority of A, and for the sake of consistency across a complete edition that must depend on the later omnibus MSS for the principal works of the author/composer’s later career, the practice has been to deviate from A’s readings only in clear cases of spelling error, scribal misinterpretation, and omissions, and miswritings of other kinds. Given medieval orthographical practices, which are far from consistent in the modern sense, we are aware that the category “spelling error” is occasionally a matter of interpretation.


A and C are the best witnesses to the text of the Remede, which offers little in the way of difficult or problematic passages. The notes here offer no variants from the other MSS; these variants can be found in Oeuvres de Guillaume de Machaut, Vol. 2, ed. Hoepffner and Roy de Behaingne and Remede de Fortune, eds. Wimsatt and Kibler.

131 retollir. So A. C reads retenir and H emends accordingly, but both readings mean about the same, hence there is no compelling reason to reject A here. The translation offered covers both possibilities.

151 peinne. A: peinme, a misspelling.

247 Et qui s’umilie essauciés. So C. A: Et qui s’essause humiliez. A confuses the familiar Scriptural quotation, so read with C.

248 noms. A: mons, a misspelling.

330 maintieng. A: maitieng. Missing nasal stroke.

507–10 Car en moy / Joye en croy / Pour de mon cuer vray / Remaint en soy. So C. A: car de moy / a lottroy / et de mon cuer vray / qui maint en soy, which is grammatically deficient and does not give good sense.

537 autrui. A: autrai, a spelling error.

611 M’est. A: met, a misspelling.

695 Eins. A: Enis, a misspelling.

733 despondre. So C. A: respondre is from line below.

740 qu’il le. So C. A reads qui le, an eyeskip error.

768 congnet. A: coingnet, a misspelling.

791 murs. A: imurs, a misspelling.

846 vausist. A: venrst, a misspelling.

873 clerement. A: clement, a spelling error.

892 fermeté. A: femeté, a misspelling.

996 aimme. A: aimne, a misspelling.

1049 Stanza break. So C. A has no stanza break here, though one seems indicated.
Les. So C. A: Es, a spelling error.

1053 aveugle. A: aungle, a misspelling.

1097 Je. A: Le, a misspelling.

1166 annemie. A: amiemie, a misspelling.

1169–70 Sa force est qu’en cheant est forte / En desconfort se reconforte. So A. In C and E, A's line 1170 is replaced by so foy est qua nul foy de porte, and this new line is placed before A's line 1169.

1185 est drois. So A, which may be an error or a revision. C: est voirs.

1199 remis. A: renus, a misspelling.

1213 estraingnis. So A, which may be an error or a revision. C: estranges.

1273 Einsi. A: Enisi, a misspelling.

1311 Lettre. A: lestre, which may be a clear spelling error or an attempt to turn a near rhyme intro a true rhyme.

1406 chace. So H. A: trace.

1477 s’einsi. A: senisi, a misspelling.

1549 odeur. A: oedeur, a misspelling.

1622 sanblance. A: sanlance, a misspelling.

1658 plus en a. So H. A: plus a, which is grammatically awkward.

1664 Quar. So H. A: Queir.

1737 langage. A: lagage, a misspelling.

1746 mauvais. A: mauais, a misspelling.

1776 homme. A: home, a misspelling.

1793 comment. A: commant, a misspelling.

1817 bien. A: bieni, a misspelling.

1843 le congnoistra. So C. A: la congnoistra, but the antecedent of the pronoun is the pretend lover, so the gender of the pronoun in A is incorrect.

1848 desloial. A: deloial, a misspelling.

1854 Par. So C. A: Pour.

1869 enmi. A: enmij, a misspelling.

1876 pleinnes. A: pleines, a misspelling.

1902 Comme. A: come, a misspelling.

1917 certeinnement. A: certeinnemet, a misspelling.

1977–78 douce . . . . clere. C: has clere for douce in line 1977 and douce for clere in line 1978.

2053 Je te pri. So A. C: or te pri.

2054 Que. A: Qu, a misspelling.
soles. A: soies, a misspelling.

2089 doit. A: droit, a misspelling.

2105 Ou sa. A: O sa, a misspelling.

2205 Pour la grant chaleur. So C. A: de la grant chaleur, which is awkward.

2216 greinne. A: greine, a misspelling.

2255 crostee. A: crotee, a misspelling.

2263 s’elle. A: celle, a misspelling.

2361 Et. So H. A: De.

2362 couleurs. So C. A: couleur, a spelling error.

2365 anelet. A: anenelet, a misspelling.

2383 plus griefment. So C. A: repeats plus asseure from previous line.

2392 commant. A: commat, a misspelling.

2399 heüst. A: hest, a spelling error.
a moy. A: amo, a misspelling.

2451 porroies. So C. A: perdroies, an eyeskip from the next line, which ends with that word.

Before 2483 Here and elsewhere throughout this section of the poem A reads incorrect rubrics that mis-assign the speeches of Esperence and Amant. I read the rubrics here throughout with C.

2505 comment. A: coment, a misspelling.
plaingnes. A: plangnes, a misspelling.

2523 tesmoing. A: tesmong, a misspelling.

2524 tesmoing. A: tesmong, a misspelling.

2547 peinne. A: peimne, a misspelling.

2580 conduira. A: conduire, a spelling error.

2603 en sent. So C. A: omits.

2633 tiennes. A: tennes, a misspelling.

2665 pleinne. A: pleninne, a misspelling.

2794 Trebles. A: tresbles, a misspelling.

2797 Je. A: Le, a misspelling.

2900 me faisoit. C: men faisoit, which also gives good sense.

2950 j’ensieuisse. A: iesiusse, a misspelling.

3003 m’en. A: me, a misspelling.

3005 remembrance. A: ramembrance, a misspelling.

3009 qu’estoie. A: qustoie, a spelling error.

3019 Me fait cent fois. So C. A: font, which is grammatically awkward.

3027 ottroie. C: envoie, which also gives good sense.

3172 me departiray. C: men departiray, which also gives good sense.

3194 Qui. A: Qi, a misspelling.

3198 Qu’avant. A: Quavent, a misspelling.

3209 adurci. A: adouci, an eyeskip error.

3214 si. A: ci, which is a clear spelling error.

3225 Aprés les me fais esperer. So C. A: omitted.

3251 premereins. C: souvereins, which also gives good sense.

3279 D’onneur. A: Donner, a misspelling.

3314 Deingne. A: Deingnott, a misspelling.

3353 Bon Espoir. C: dous espoir.

3381 dame. A: dime, a misspelling.

3382 në ame. So C. A: ne jame, which gives inferior sense.

3449 chanson baladee. A: Chanson Balladee, here altered for literary reasons to make the spelling of this lyrical genre consistent with other forms of balade in the text.

3488 l’ardour. So C. A: omits, a scribal error.

3601 estreint. So A. C: destraint, which also gives good sense.

3631 S’estoit. So A. C: estoit, which also gives good sense.

3722 Comment. A: coment, a misspelling.

3723–24 Qu’onques mais . . . . je grant merveille. So C. A omits.

3837 Loiaus. A: Laiaus, a spelling error.

3843 Esperence. A: esperen. Missing letters.

3869 dessevrer. A: deserver. Missing letters.

3882 leurs aventures. So A. C: ses aventures also gives good sense.

3884 je pensoie. So A. C: je sentoie, which also gives good sense and fits the rhyme scheme.

3891 fumes. A: funes, a spelling error.

3895 plus. A: plous, a spelling error.

3936 crotes. A: cretes, a spelling error.

3973 de saus. C: de scens also gives good sense.

4062 Quant. A: Qunt. Missing a letter.

4135 duisoit. A: duison, a miswriting.

4163 Comme. A: come, a spelling error.

4175 Comment. A: Coment. Missing nasal stroke.

4268 couvient. A:couviert, a misspelling.

4271 ne. A: ni, a misspelling.


Abbreviations: see Textual Notes.

As detailed in the front matter, the following comments do not contain variants lists, but discuss the problems presented by the readings in MS A and the way they were solved in the editions supplied. Additionally, a concordance list, technical and structural data, and general remarks head each discussion. In the “text structure” sections, letters indicate single rhyme endings. Numbers indicate the syllable count of the line in question. Apostrophes indicate an unstressed appendage syllable not included in the syllable count. Further explanations of terminology and signification technique can be found in the “Music Glossary,” pp. 571–73.


Comments on the readings in MS A

signature The placing of the first fa-sign may suggest a signature accidental, but as only one B follows, I saw it as a specific instruction and did not reproduce it in the following lines.

m. 38 The second note of the measure is a brevis instead of a longa. As this does not work, the rhythm is corrected according to the repetition in m. 56.

m. 45 The placement of ‘tels’ in the first underlay and ‘par’ in the second is not clear. Each could also be moved one note earlier (but see also m. 63, where the underlay is clearer).

m. 54 The first note was originally a brevis rather than a longa, but as this does not work, the rhythm is corrected according to the first appearance in m. 36.

m. 55 The fa-sign does not necessarily have to signify a signature change, but as the next line has one in the signature, it is interpreted as such.

m. 81 The whole measure, which ends the line, was copied a third too low and subsequently corrected through the insertion of a new clef. Here the MS reading is erroneous and corrected in the edition. The next line continues with the normal clef as usual.

m. 96 The first note of the measure, which is the last note of the line in the manuscript, was written a third too low; compare the first iteration in m. 81. Here, though, no correction took place. The rest of the measure (appearing on the next line) duplicates the corrected earlier reading.

m. 103 The longa here is not followed by a dot or a rest (as in the repetition at m. 114), so in theory it should be imperfected by the next note. As this reading avoids a cadence at the end of the formal section, it is adjusted to chime in with the repetition (but without inserting a rest).

m. 120 The rhythm here is different from that of the repetition (m. 133–34). The change is due to the single inclusion or omission of a stem attached to the second note E (present here and missing in the repetition). While this may be a simple mistake (the stemmed version is supported by all other sources) both alternatives are kept here, as each is as technically and musically satisfactory as the other, and the difference can be supported by links to the text.

m. 224 Either the rest line was copied too long, or it was replaced by a separation line. As this is the ouvert cadence of this strophe, the intention is clear regardless.

m. 229–31 These measures were initially copied with a mistake at their beginning, but then erased and copied again correctly.

m. 255–60 The underlay is not clear here. The arrangement chosen mirrors that of m. 241–46. The last line of text in this strophe could also be made to start with the second ligature of m. 256.

m. 261–62 To enable a rhythmically satisfactory reading, a brevis rest is omitted between the second and third notes of m. 262 (following the reading of the repetition at m. 278). While being the most straightforward solution for the readings in this source, it is contradicted by virtually all concordances, which include a rest for both versions. Consequently, the full critical version of this work (to be found in Volume 10 of this edition) presents a different solution, by which the first brevis of each half strophe is taken as an upbeat.

m. 263 The positioning of the second syllable is not clear here or in the repetition at m. 279. The version here privileges ligature-spacing over vertical alignment of text and music.


Comments on the readings in MS A

signature It is possible to transcribe the complete Complainte in a one-flat signature throughout as virtually all Bs are appended by ficta (or appear later on in a line after a fa-sign). Still, as the distribution of signs was not consistent, single inflections rather than a signature are used.

m. 5 The rest was originally of a perfect longa (stretching over three spaces in the manuscript and lasting a whole measure in the transcription), but an erasure in the source corrected it to the right length.

m. 8 The F brevis was originally copied twice (once at the end of a line and again at the beginning of the next), but the second appearance was subsequently erased.

m. 12 The notation is a bit strange here. It might be that the original reading was [musical notation coming soon] and only later changed to plicated [musical notation coming soon].

m. 14 This measure reads [musical notation coming soon], followed by an erasure. Keeping the longa perfect though, would result in the ouvert and clos endings being syncopated (the final longae of this form part are also specified as perfect). The dot is therefore ignored, maintaining the rhythmic integrity of all line endings in this work, and following the readings given for the ending of the second form part.

m. 22 This measure signals the end of folio 55v. In the underlay of the second text, ‘gist’ appears only at the beginning of folio 56r. The manuscript reading, therefore, has only one syllable ‘qui’ in the second text of m. 22 and fits in three syllables (‘gist,’ ‘mas’, and ‘en’) in m. 23. As the first text organization is clear and all other appearances of this kind of fast rhythmic progression are contained within a single melisma, this reading was not adopted.

m. 33 The two ligatures in this measure, which appear at the end of a line, were copied a third too high in the manuscript, creating surprising melodic progressions which are ‘corrected’ here.


Comments on readings in MS A

title The original has ‘Chason roial’ as its title. The omission of the ‘n’ is taken as a simple mistake.

m. 5 The augmentation here, while making musical sense and respecting the ligature structure, goes against the notational rules. The manuscript has two breves followed by the ligature, so, technically, the second note of m. 5 should be halved and the last note of m. 6 doubled. The correction made respects the ligature structure and makes more rhythmic sense in the context of this song, both in terms of repeating musical rhythms and in terms of text delivery and arrangement.

m. 6 The syllable ‘-tu-’ of the second underlay is missing. The omission occurs over the line break in the manuscript.

m. 29–30 No dot appears after the longa in m. 29, which, strictly speaking, should call for its imperfection by the next brevis and the perfection of the remaining longa (G) in m. 30 to fill its entire length. This reading is not adopted, as the first longa in question ends a line in the manuscript, creating a visual separation between it and the following brevis. Musically, the regularity of the preceding sentence structure, the ending of the A-section, and the otherwise non-existence of brevis (half-note) upbeats in this song also support this reading. It is even possible to imagine a missing rest here, following the punctuation technique of the other text-lines.


Comments on the readings of MS A

repeats All the ouvert and clos endings have longae for their final notes in the manuscript, but all are transcribed as a single rather than a double measure (m. 12, 14, 30 and 32).

m. 3 triplum The second rest is not in the manuscript. Technically, one can read this measure as it stands, taking the rest out and augmenting the second C. The literal reading is not adopted in order to maintain the recurring rhythmic motive, prevalent throughout this voice (see also m. 8).

m. 4 contratenor The mi-sign (natural) may just as well refer to the C.

m. 7 cantus The second note could imperfect the first (move one position backwards), but spacing, positioning of the fa-sign, and the following rhythmic formula suggests the solution presented.

m. 11–12 triplum An erasure and correction occurred in the ouvert cadence.

m. 16 tenor The line break in the manuscript occurs between the second and third beat of the bar. Before the end of the line some erasures took place.

m. 20–21 contratenor There is no dot after the F8. A literal reading, therefore, would move the first note of m. 21 back to the end of the previous measure. While this is possible, the minor correction is adopted in order to facilitate a fuller cadence on m. 21.

m. 21–22 triplum These two measures do not work as they stand in MS A. The rhythm given: [musical notation coming soon] is two semibreves short, making it impossible to solve the problem using augmentation. For once, since so much is missing from MS A, the version presented is taken from another source, MS C.

m. 22, 29 tenor The E7 here were given as a key signature which does not include B7. As this is senseless in common practice, it seems more appropriate to move the inflections into the staff and attach them to the specific notes they affect.


Comments on the readings in MS A

m. 1–9 triplum The first line of the triplum was originally omitted and added later above the intended first line on a rather wavy staff. Interestingly, this new beginning received its own decorated initial (but not a new incipit).

m. 4–6 triplum A stem is missing from the first A ([musical notation coming soon] rather than [musical notation coming soon]). m. 4 was copied a second time with all the required stems, but notated a third too high. The erroneous transposition was maintained for the following two measures. This whole section appears in the middle of the added line, and cannot, therefore, be blamed on a line break in the source.

m. 9 triplum The last four notes of this measure (which correspond to the last four notes of the added line) were written a tone down in the musical concordances for this piece. While this may be a mistake, the variant is entirely acceptable and is maintained here.

m. 12 triplum An erasure occurred, but it is impossible to say what the second half of the measure originally contained.

m. 14 cantus An erasure occurred at the end of the measure, seemingly removing a B7 semibrevis which stood in the place of its last note.

m. 25–26 contratenor That no dot appears between the measures may suggest imperfecting the first rather than the second brevis. Due to the positioning of the rest and the rhythmic pattern of the voice as a whole, I decided not to adopt this reading.

m. 26–30 cantus In the manuscript, this line has no fa-signs in its signature, but as the two previous and five subsequent lines do have it, and it is clear that all the Bs in it are to be flattened (see specific indications kept in the score in m. 27 and 30), the signature is maintained throughout.

m. 32 all On the interpretation of the simultaneous rests in all voices, see the “Music Presentation” section, pp. 79–80. It should be noted that such signs are more commonly found before the beginning of refrains or at the end of other form parts.

m. 36 triplum The two minimae are notated a tone up in the other concordances of this work. While the alternative reading perhaps works better and the correction could be made on purely melodic grounds without recourse to the other sources, the unusual original reading still works, and is, therefore, kept.

m. 44–45 contratenor The last line of this voice is the only one to have a flat in its key signature, but a mi-sign appears before the only B it contains.


Comments on the readings in MS A

signature A one-flat signature was kept throughout, even though the signature does not appear in 4 of the 12 lines of music (m. 11–27). Of these four, the first and last places the appropriate fa-sign within the staff, the second specifies a mi-sign before the only B in it, and the third does not contain this pitch. The regularity of application led me to maintain the signature accidentals.

m. 13 The positioning of ‘mil-’ is hard to determine. It could also be placed a note earlier (but see the underlay in m. 24–25 and 45–46).

m. 18 The mi-sign was placed before the C in the source and may refer to it. The decision to refer it to the B instead is taken on melodic and modal grounds — both the F–C8 leap, and the strong directional pull to D in a work with such a strong modal center on F were deemed too surprising.

m. 23 In the manuscript, the B-section begins at the top of a new column, even though the penultimate line in the previous one contains only the last two notes of the A-section and the last line of the column is completely empty.

m. 25–26 Other sources present these measures a tone lower, but as this version works just as well, the variant is maintained.

m. 38 ‘-tre’ appears at the end of the previous line in the manuscript, but with the elision the intention here becomes clear.

m. 42–43 No dot appears after the rest, so according to the strict rules one should have a dotted G and push the remainder to the next measure followed by two eighth-notes E–F. The spacing and position of the rest, though, suggests that the intention here was to reproduce the rhythm given in the first version of the A-section (m. 10–11).

m. 50 This measure begins a line which has a fa-sign as part of its signature. Thus, the B9 specified in the parallel musical location in the refrain (and placed in brackets above the staff here) should perhaps not be reproduced.


Comments on readings in MS A

m. 9 tenor Originally [musical notation coming soon] rather than [musical notation coming soon]. As it stands, the last note of the measure should be tied over, forcing a syncopation lasting until the first A in m. 11 (which would then be shortened). This kind of progression does occur in Machaut’s works, but usually not in the tenor, and it seems unlikely that this was the intention here.

m. 12–13 cantus An erasure (or other damage) occurred here, but it is hard to determine its reason.

m. 24–29 cantus Some serious erasures took place here, most clearly between the middle of m. 25 and the middle of m. 27.

m. 27–39 tenor The signature fa-sign is missing for this line (which ends in the middle of m. 39, before the D), but it seems both Bs it contains should be flattened nonetheless, suggesting this was a simple omission. Wanting to mirror this in the edition without suggesting too strong a change, I silently omit the key signature from the line containing m. 29–34.

m. 32 cantus The rest is missing, but can easily be added from the polyphonic context.

m. 34 cantus The first note is seemingly written over an erasure, but may be part of the larger correction in m. 24–29 mentioned above.



fol. 49v














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fol. 52r









Ci commence Remede de Fortune

Cils qui vuet aucun art aprendre
A .xij. choses doit entendre:
La premiere est qu’il doit eslire
Celui ou ses cuers miex se tire
Et ou sa nature l’encline;
Car la chose envis bien define
Qu’on vuet encontre son cuer faire
Quant Nature li est contraire.
Aimme son maistre et son mestier
Seur tout; et ce li est mestier
Qu’il l’onneure, oubeïsse, serve;
Et ne cuide pas qu’il s’asserve,
Car s’il les aime, il l’ameront,
Et s’il les het, il le harront:

Pourfiter ne puet autrement.
Doctrine reçoive humblement;
Mais bien se gart qu’il continue,
Car scïence envis retenue
Est et de legier oublïee,
Quant elle n’est continuee.
Soing, penser, desir de savoir
Ait, si porra scïence avoir.
Et l’entreprengne en juene aage,
Eins qu’en malice son corage
Mue par trop grant congnoissance.
Car le droit estat d’innocence
Ressamble proprement la table
Blanche, polie, qui est able
A recevoir, sans nul contraire,
Ce qu’on y vuet peindre et pourtraire;
Et est aussi comme la cire
Qui sueffre dedens li escrire,
Ou qui retient fourme ou empreinte,
Si comme on l’a en li empreinte.

Einsi est il certeinnement
De vray humein entendement,
Qui est ables a recevoir
Tout ce qu’on vuet et concevoir
Puet tout ce a quoy on le vuet mettre:
Armes, amours, autre art, ou lettre.
Car chose ne puet si forte estre,
S’il vuet, qu’il n’en deveingne mestre,
Mais qu’il vueille faire et labeure
Ad ce que j’ay dit ci desseure.

Pour ce l’ay dit que, quant j’estoie
De l’estat qu’innocence avoie,
Que Juenesse me gouvernoit
Et en oiseuse me tenoit,
Mes ouevres estoient volages,
Varians estoit mes corages;
Tout m’estoit .i., quanque veoie,
Fors tant que toudis enclinoie
Mon cuer et toute ma pensee
Vers ma dame, qui est clamee
De tous seur toutes belle et bonne.
Chascuns par droit ce nom li donne;
Et de tous les biens que Nature
Puet ottroier a creature
Ha tant qu’elle est fleur souvereine
Seur toute creature humeinne.

Pour ce a li mes cuers s’enclinoit,
Et Nature li aprenoit,
Ce m’est vis, car certeinnement
Selonc mon juene entendement
La veoie moult volentiers.
Car mes voies et mes sentiers,
Mi gieu, mi penser, mi retour
Estoient en son noble atour
Tout adés; n’avoir ne pooie,
Sans li veoir, parfaite joie.
Et quant Amours vit qu’en ce point
Estoie, elle n’atendi point,
Eins s’i mesla par tel maniere
Que puis ne fu, ne jamais n’iere,
Que seur tout quanque Diex a fait,
Ne l’aimme de cuer et de fait,
Oubeïsse, serve, et honneure,
Et qu’en tous tans et en toute heure,
Ne soie tous siens sans demi
A loy de tres loial ami.
Car ca ha esté m’amour premiere,
Et si sera la darreniere,
Pour ce en li servant fineray,
Ne jamais autre n’ameray.
Or doint Diex que s’amour soit moie,
Qu’en ce monde plus ne vorroie.

Einsi fist Amours par son art,
Qui maint franc cuer doucement art
Que, quant premiers ma dame vi,
Sa grant biauté mon cuer ravi.
Et quant de s’amour fui espris,
Juenes estoie et desapris,
S’avoie bien mestier d’aprendre,
Quant tel fais voloie entreprendre.
Que di je? Eins l’avoie entrepris.
Qu’einc congié ne conseil n’en pris
Fors a mon cuer et a ses yex,
Qui en riant m’ont en mains lieus
Prié que par amour l’amasse
Si doucement que je n’osasse
Leur vueil refuser, ne peüsse.
Et mes cuers voloit que je fusse
Tous siens, et je aussi le voloie,
Et pour ce a eaus m’en consilloie.
Si qu’einsi fui, se Diex me gart,
Pris par Dous Ris et Dous Regart.
Et certeinnement, se j’eüsse
Tant de bien en moy que je fusse
Aussi sages com Salemons,
Et fust miens quittes tous li mons,
Et aussi preus comme Alixandres,
Ou comme Hector, qui gueres mendres
Ne fu de li quant a valour,
Et s’eüsse autretant d’onnour
Comme ot Godefroy de Buillon,
Et la biauté qu’ot Absalon,
Et de Job la grant pacience,
L’estableté et la constance
De Judit et de Socratés,
Qui en un point estoit adés,
Car pour gaaingne ne pour perte
Ne se mouvoit, tant fust aperte,
Et avec ce l’umilité
Qu’Ester ot, et la loiauté
D’Abraham, a verité dire,
Ne peüsse je pas souffire
Pour dame amer de tel affaire.
Mais Amours le me firent faire,
Qui m’i donnerent ligement
Quant je la vi premierement;
Si que siens sans riens retollir
Sui, que qu’il m’en doie avenir,
Et serai, tant com je vivray,
Ne jamais autre n’ameray.

Et quant Amours m’ot a ce mis
Que pris fui et loiaus amis,
Elle congnut bien ma juenesse,
Mon innocence, ma simplesse.
Et pour ce qu’estoie en enfance,
Me prist elle en sa gouvernance;
Si me moustra la droite voie:
Comment ma dame amer devoie,
Servir, oubeïr, honnourer,
Humblement croire et aourer,
Et cremir seur toute autre rien
Com m’amour et mon dieu terrien;
Et que toudis heüsse l’ueil
A faire son bon et son vueil,
En gardant s’onneur et sa pais;
Et que, se de l’amoureus fais
Me venoit peinne, ne dolour,
Ou merencolie, ou tristour,
Que tout humblement recueillisse,
Et que a grevez ne m’en tenisse;
Et aussi que bien me gardasse
Que ceste amour continuasse,
Et qu’adés, de prés et de loing,
Desir, penser eüsse et soing
De s’amour et sa grace acquerre,
Sans autre desirer ne querre;
Et que loiaus fusse et secrez.
Ce sont les poins et les degrez
Qu’Amours m’enseingna et aprist
Quant en gouverrnance me prist.
Et je les ay si bien apris
Que puis en un seul ne mespris.

Et aussi ma tres douce dame,
Que je desir et aim, par m’ame,
De cuer, sans pensee villeinne,
Plus que Paris ne fist Heleinne,
M’estoit miroir et exemplaire
De tous biens desirer et faire.
Et pour le bien qu’en li veoie,
De tout bien faire me penoie
Et me gardoie de mesprendre
Si qu’on ne me peüst reprendre,
A mon pooir, car sa bonté
M’en donnoit cuer et volenté.

Et son humilité parfaite
M’estoit escuz, defense, et gaite,
Qu’Orguiex ne me peüst sourprendre,
Qui mains maus norrist et engendre,
Et qu’envers tous tres doucement
Me maintenisse et humblement.
Et vraiement bien dire puis
Que d’umblesse est fonteinne et puis:
Qu’onques turtre ne turterelle,
Aingnaus, coulons, ne coulombelle,
Damoiselle, ne pucelette
Ne pot estre d’orgueil plus nette,
Ne plus pleinne d’umilité,
Acompaingnie de pité,
En tous cas et en tous endrois,
De li. Certes, et ce est bien drois,
Car il li vient de droite ligne;
Pour ce en ce cas pas ne forligne.
Et sa maniere asseüree,
De tous et de toutes loee,
Son biau port, son gentil maintieng,
Qui pareil n’ont si com je tieng,
Tout aussi com l’enfant le mestre
Aprent, m’aprenoient a estre.
Car, sans plus, de leur ramembrance
Maintieng, maniere, et contenance
Loing de li souvent me venoit
Milleur quant il m’en souvenoit:
Si que dont, quant je la veoie
Vis a vis et que remiroie
Son port, son maintieng, sa maniere,
Qui plus est estable et entire
Que nulle qu’onques mais veïsse,
Bien estoit drois qu’en retenisse
Aucun notable enseingnement
Quant dou souvenir seulement
Meintes fois par Douce Pensee
Ma maniere estoit amendee.
Et sa gracïeuse parole,
Qui n’estoit diverse ne fole,
Estrange, ne mal ordenee,
Hauteinne, mais bien affrenee,
Cueillie a point et de saison,
Fondee seur toute raison,
Tant plaisant et douce a oïr,
Que chascun faisoit resjoïr,
Me metoit un frein en la bouche
Pour moy taire de ce qui touche
A tout ce qu’on claimme mesdire,
Mais laisse avoit pour le bien dire,
Car nuls ne doit dire d’autrui
Ce qu’il ne vuet oïr de lui.
Le trop parler me deffendoit;
Parler a point me commandoit,
Sans baudour et sans venterie,
Sans mentir et sans flaterie;
Car c’est chose moult honnourable
D’estre en son parler veritable.
Et Verité ne quiert nuls angles,
N’elle n’a que faire de jangles.

S’onneur et sa grant courtoisie
Me deffendoient villonnie
Et voloient que j’honnourasse
Chascun, et que po me prisasse;
Car cils a l’onneur qui la fait,
Nom pas cils a qui on la fait.
Et se l’Evangile n’est fausse,
Humiliez est qui s’exausse,
Et qui s’umilie essauciés
Pour c’est li noms si exaussiez
De ma dame par tout le monde,
Qui en humilité habonde,
En honneur et en courtoisie,
Plus qu’en dame qui soit en vie;
Et comment que chascuns li donne
Le pris d’onneur et la coronne,
Estre cuide, tant a d’onnour
Entre les autres la menour.
Ne congnoissoit fole largesse,
Ne d’escharseté la simplesse,
Ne la destresse d’avarice,
Qui est en cuer humain grant vice.
Mais toudis, quant elle donnoit,
Ses dons sagement ordonnoit
Et savoit certeinnement quoy,
Quant, comment, a qui, et pour quoy.
Tost le faisoit, et volentiers,
S’en estoit ses dons plus entiers;
Car qui tost donne, .ij. fois donne.
De ce m’estoit maistresse bonne
Qui m’aprenoit a bonne escole
Que n’eüsse largesse fole,
Advarice, n’escharseté
Que largesse het sans pité,
Et seur tout qu’en moy fer ne fust
Dou dart d’Avarice ne fust,
Qui tout autre bien fait perir
Par tout ou il se puet ferir.
Car ja homs n’iert tant honnourez
Que ses biens n’en soit devourez
Et qu’il n’en perde, s’il a pris:
Scens, honneur, ame, los, et pris.

Et sa grant douceur a nul fuer
Ne se departoit de mon cuer,
Car sa demeure et son sejour
Y faisoit de nuit et de jour.
Et aussi com le dous entrait
La douleur d’une plaie trait
Et adoucist, sa grant douçour
Faisoit adoucir la dolour
Qu’Amours et Desirs me faisoient,
Qui maint grief estour me donnoient,
Des quels je ne me plein ne dueil,
Car je n’en ai peinne ne dueil,
Einsois les recueil humblement,
Bonnement, et joieusement.

Et son tres dous plaisant regart
Attraioit mon cuer de sa part
Tout aussi par son dous attrait,
Com l’aïmant le fer attrait.
Et ce tenoit mon cuer en joie,
Car quant ce Dous Regart veoie,
En moy ne prenoit son repaire
Riens qui fust a joie contraire.
Et sa biauté, qui toutes passe,
Enlaçoit mon cuer et enlasse
De plus en plus de jour en jour
En son service et en s’amour,
Et m’aprenoit, par sa puissance,
A congnoistre Douce Esperence,
Et a desirer la mercy
D’Amours, dont moult la remercy.
Car certes je ne congnoissoie
Espoir ne Desir quant en voie
Me mist sa biauté dou congnoistre
Pour m’amour et ma joie acroistre,
Qu’Amours croist Desir et enorte,
Et Esperance Joie aporte.

Et son noble atour bel et gent,
Qui est, au dit de toute gent,
Simple, faitis, apert, et cointe,
M’acointoit et encor acointe,
Que me tenisse cointement,
Nettement, et joliement,
Trop ne po; car qui se desguise,
Certes, ce n’est pas belle guise;
Mais qui puet au moien venir.
C’est le plus seür a tenir.

Einsi son exellent bonté
Et sa parfaite humilité,
Sa maniere qui n’est volage,
Son gentil port, son maintieng sage,
Son biau parler, sa haute honnour,
Sa courtoisie sans errour,
Sa franche liberalité,
Sa douceur pleinne d’amité,
Son dous regart, sa biauté fine
Et son atour belle doctrine
Me demoustroient et maint bien,
Se je les retenisse bien.
Et ja soit ce qu’en li veïsse
Tous biens, et po en retenisse,
Ne puet estre que miex n’en vaille,
Ou ce seroit mal fait sans faille.
Et se retenu les avoie,
Volentiers pas ne les diroie
Pour ce que löange assourdist
En bouche qui de li la dist.
Et nompourquant tant en vueil dire
Sans venterie et sans mesdire
A sa löange seulement,
Que de li venra proprement,
S’en toute ma vie riens vail,
A qui cuer, corps, et ame bail.

Einsi la tres noble doctrine,
Qui tant est precïeuse et fine,
De la belle me doctrina,
Qui toute bonne doctrine a.
Et je la servi longuement
De cuer si amoureusement
Qu’a nulle autre rien n’entendoie
Fors a s’amour ou je tendoie.
Mais de tout ce riens ne savoit,
Ne comment elle pris m’avoit;
Car pour riens ne li descouvrisse
L’amour de mon cuer, ne deïsse,
Ne descouvrir ne li peüsse,
Se je vosisse ne sceüsse;
Eins portoie couvertement
Ceste amour et celeement,
Sans faire en plainte ne clamour,
Tant estoie espris de s’amour.
Nompourquant, quant de son regart
Sentoie le tres dous espart,
Je perdoie toute vigour
Par sa force et par sa rigour,
Et me faisoit teindre et palir,
Fremir, trambler, et tressaillir.
Lors pooit bien apercevoir
Que l’amoie sans decevoir
Plus .vc. mille fois que my,
Sans feintise et de cuer d’amy.
S’usoie ensement ma jouvente
Pour ma tres douce dame gente
En Dous Penser, en Souvenir,
En Esperance d’avenir
A sa grace que tant desir
Q’je n’ay nul autre desir.

Si sentoie maintes pointures,
Une heure douces, l’autre sures,
L’autre plaisant, l’autre enuieuse,
L’autre triste, l’autre joieuse.
Car cuers qui sent d’Amours le point
N’est mie toudis en .i. point,
N’asseür de joie ou de peinne;
Einsois couvient qu’il se demeinne
Selonc la fortune d’Amours.
Mais la teste encline comme ours,
Recevoie son dous voloir,
Fust de joie, fust de doloir,
Humblement comme amis parfais
Amoureus par dis et par fais.
Et pour ce que n’estoie mie
Toudis en .i. point, m’estudie
Mis en faire chansons et lais,
Balades, rondiaus, virelais,
Et chans, selonc mon sentement,
Amoureus et non autrement.
Car qui de sentement ne fait
Son ouevre et son chant contrefait;
Ne moustrer aussi ne pooie
Les maus d’amours que je sentoie
A ma dame qui en chantant
Me va si bel comme enchantant.
Et tous les chans que je ditoie
A sa löange les faisoie
En pensant que, s’il avenist
Que mes chans devant li venist,
Qu’elle porroit savoir comment
Je l’aim et sui en son comment.
Et mes cuers moult s’i deduisoit
Quant ma dame a ce me duisoit
Qu’a sa löange et a s’onnour
Me faisoit chanter pour s’amour.
Car chanters est nez de leece
De cuer, et plours vient de tristece.
Et seur ce que Douce Pensee
S’est dedens mon cuer enfermee,
Souvenirs et Bonne Esperance
Et Loyauté, ou ma fiance
Ay si toute qu’ailleurs ne l’ay,
Fis je ce dit, qu’on claimme lay:
Here begins Remedy for Fortune.

The man who thinks to master any art
Must attend to twelve matters.
First, he must choose something
Toward which his heart most draws
And his nature most inclines him.
For he cannot bring to a satisfactory end
Whatever he undertakes grudgingly
Because Nature will be his enemy.
Let him love his master as well as his craft
Above all else; and he is called upon
To honor, obey, and serve them both,
Not considering himself their slave,
For should he love them, they will love him in turn,
While enmity will only earn from them the same.

Otherwise he cannot work to his profit.
Let him receive instruction humbly,
Taking care to follow that path,
For it is difficult to retain knowledge
Since it is easily forgotten
When not put into practice.
Let him be dedicated, thoughtful, and eager,
And in this way wisdom will come his way.
And let him begin this undertaking in youth
Before his heart should turn toward sinfulness
Through too much experience,
For the true state of innocence
Properly resembles a tablet
White and blank that, offering
No impediment, can receive
Whatever one wishes to paint or portray.
And innocence is exactly like wax,
Which allows one to write thereupon
While retaining the image or imprint
In the precise form inscribed.

And surely it is just the same
With the true form of human understanding,
Which has the capacity to absorb
Whatever one wishes and can conceive,
Whatever task can be set for it:
Arms, love, the other arts, or letters.
Now nothing can be too difficult
For understanding, so inclined, to master,
Providing the man makes the effort and perseveres,
According to what I have described here above.

And I’ve said this because when I was
Of an age that innocence was mine,
The time Youth governed me
And kept me in idleness,
The things I did were of no lasting worth.
My heart knew no stability;
What I saw was all the same to me,
Save that my heart and all my thoughts
Were always fixed on
My lady, whom every man reputes
As superior to all other women.
The whole world rightly grants her this title.
And of all the gifts Nature
Can bestow on any of her creations,
So many are hers she’s the sovereign flower,
Higher in rank than all other human creatures.

That’s why my heart was drawn to her,
And Nature taught me the same lesson,
So it seemed; for surely,
According to my youthful understanding
I was quite eager to lay eyes upon her;
For my ways and my paths,
My amusements, my thoughts, my recourse
Depended always and ever on her noble
Presence; nor could perfect joy
Be mine unless I was gazing upon her.
And when Love saw what a state
I was in, she hesitated not in the least,
But saw to it that I came to love
The woman from the heart, as I always will;
And above God’s other creatures,
In all my deeds and wholeheartedly
I will obey, serve, and honor her,
And at every moment and hour
I will be entirely hers, and not by half,
According to the rule of the very loyal lover.
And this was my first love affair,
And it will be the very last,
For in serving the lady I’ll live out my life,
And never love another.
Now may God grant me her love,
For in the whole world I’d wish nothing else.

And through her art, Love, who sets ablaze
Many a noble heart, accomplished this,
Namely that, when first I saw my lady,
Her great beauty ravished my heart.
And when set to burning with love for her,
I was a young man who knew nothing,
For there was much I needed to learn
Should I decide to follow this course.
What am I saying? I’d already decided
Before asking leave or advice
Other than from my heart and her eyes,
Which as they smiled unceasingly
Begged me to love her
With such sweet affection I did not dare
Spurn their request, nor could I.
And my heart wished that I were
Completely hers, which was my wish too,
And so I followed what those eyes advised.
The result was, God keep me, that right then
Sweet Laughter and Sweet Look took me prisoner.
And to be sure had I possessed such great
Virtue in my person that I was
Just as wise as Solomon,
And were the whole world mine to possess,
And were I as valiant as Alexander
Or even Hector, who was scarcely less worthy
Than him in regard to valor,
And if I had as much honor
As did Godfrey of Bouillon,
And the beauty that was Absalon’s,
And the boundless patience of Job,
The steadfastness and perseverance
Of Judith and of Socrates,
Who always held fast to one position,
Since for the sake of neither profit nor loss,
No matter how great, neither would budge,
And in addition the humility
Of Esther, and the faithfulness of
Abraham, if truth be told
Mine would not be merit enough
To love a lady of such rank.
But Love led me to do so,
Granting that I’d be the lady’s liegeman
The moment I laid eyes upon her,
And so I am now hers
With a whole heart, no matter what,
And will so remain my whole life,
Nor will I ever come to love another.

And even as Love arranged that I
Was made a captive and loyal lover,
She clearly recognized my youth,
My innocence, my naïveté,
And because I was still a young man,
She took me under her governance
And pointed out the right path to me:
How I should love my lady,
Serve, obey, honor her,
Humbly trust in and worship her,
And reverence her above all else
As my love and earthly divinity;
And I should always keep my eye
On acting to her good and benefit,
Guarding her honor and peace of mind;
And if from the affairs of love
Pain or sorrow should fall to my lot,
Or melancholy or sadness,
I was to receive these with humility,
Not considering myself ill-served;
And also I should take good care
That this love affair endure;
And always, both near and far,
I should desire, intend, and seek
To merit her love and good graces,
Never pining after or looking for some other;
And I was to be loyal and discreet.
These are the instructions and precepts
Love announced and explained
When putting me under her wing.
And taking them very much to heart,
I henceforth violated nary a one.

Furthermore, my lady so sweet,
Whom I desire and love upon my soul
From the heart, with no improper thoughts,
More than Paris did Helen,
Was a mirror and exemplar to me
For desiring and then doing all that is virtuous.
And because of the goodness I saw in her,
I strove with all my might after the good
And refrained, as much
As I could, from improper
Behavior, for her virtue gave me
The heart and will to do so.

And her perfect humility
Was my shield, defense, and guardian
So I’d not be taken unawares by Pride,
Who incites and nourishes many an evil thought,
And so with all people I maintained
A demeanor humble and kind.
And truly I can very well say
She is the fountain and well of humility;
No turtledove (he or she),
No lamb, pigeon, or little dove,
No maiden or young girl
Could be more free from pridefulness,
Nor more graced with humility,
And pity as well,
Everywhere and at all times
Than she. That’s surely fitting, coming
As it does through her proper lineage;
And so she does not betray her birth.
And her assured manner,
Praised by all women and men,
Her appealing demeanor, her noble bearing,
Which have no equal in my view,
Just as the master gives instruction to the child,
These taught me how to conduct myself.
Thinking of them — and only that — urged
Me oftentimes to improve my actions, manner,
And behavior when I was distant from her
And her qualities came to mind.
And it was the same when I looked upon her
Face to face and contemplated the presence,
The deportment, the style of this woman,
Who was more unwavering and constant
Than any other I’d ever laid eyes on,
It was certainly fitting that from her virtues
I retained some important teachings,
For from memory alone
Many times through Sweet Thought
I was more virtuous in what I did.
And her gracious speech,
Neither unfriendly nor foolish,
Neither distant nor malicious,
Not haughty, but carefully moderated,
Showing good and proper judgment,
Based completely on reason,
So pleasant and sweet to the ear
It made every man rejoice,
Put a halter on my mouth
To keep silent about everything
That might be thought slanderous,
But I was encouraged to speak what was worthy.
For no man should say of another
What he does not wish to hear said of him.
She forbid me from blathering on,
Asking that my talk be appropriate,
Void of boasting and grandiosity,
Falsehood and flattery.
For it’s a quite honorable virtue
To speak the truth.
And Truth seeks out no calculating rhetoric
And has no truck with foolish distortion.

Her honor and impressive courtliness
Barred me from vile behavior
And guided me to honor
Everyone, while valuing myself but little.
For the man acting honorably obtains honor,
Not the one honored by the deed.
And if the Gospel is no lie,
He who exalts himself is the one humbled,
And whoever humbles himself is exalted.
And this is why the name of my lady
Is so raised up throughout all the world,
For humility abounds in her,
As do honor and courtesy,
More than in any woman alive;
And although everyone accords her
The prize and crown of honor,
She’s so honorable the lady thinks herself
Among the least of women.
She was unacquainted with foolish generosity,
With the simplemindedness of cupidity,
With the suffering brought on by avarice,
Which in the human heart is a great vice.
Always, instead, when she gave a gift,
She was careful about what she bestowed,
And, to be sure, in this giving she considered what,
When, how, to whom, and for what reason.
She gave unhesitatingly and from the heart,
Which made her presents more valuable,
For he who gives quickly, gives twice.
In this she became a useful teacher to me,
Offering the valuable lesson
That I should not foolishly waste my money
Out of avarice or unthinking whim,
Which Generosity pitilessly detests;
And above all else that the point and shaft
Of Avarice’s spear should not penetrate
Me, for it destroys every virtue
Wherever finding the chance to strike.
Indeed no man ever possesses honor enough
To preserve what he treasures from destruction
If he consents to it and thereby forfeits
Reason, honor, soul, good name, and reputation.

And at no time did her great sweetness
Desert my heart, but there
Found its home and resting place
Both day and night.
And just as sweet balm soothes
The pain from a wound
And eases it, her great sweetness
Worked to alleviate the agony
Love and Desire then caused me,
For these launched many a hard assault,
And I did not cry out, nor did I moan
Because I felt no pain or distress;
Instead I bore everything with humility,
A good heart, and pleasantness.

And her look, quite sweet and favoring,
Drew my heart in that direction
Through its delightful appeal,
Just as the magnet pulls iron toward it.
And this kept my heart full of joy,
For when I glimpsed this Sweet Look
Nothing contrary to that joy
Made its home within me.
And her beauty, exceeding all others,
Bound up my heart more and more
Every day, constraining me
To serve and love her,
And through her power that beauty
And through her power that beauty
And desire Love’s mercy,
For which she has my great thanks.
Now truly I’d not made the acquaintance
Of Hope or Desire when her beauty
Put me on the path of getting to know them
So as to increase my love and joy,
For Love intensifies and heightens Desire,
And Hope is a companion to Joy.

And her mode of dress, noble, beautiful, and fair,
Which is, as everyone says,
Unpretentious, stylish, elegant, and striking,
Showed me and shows me still
That my clothes should be attractive,
Proper and refined, neither too fancy
Nor too plain, for whoever over-dresses,
Surely does not make an appealing appearance.
For the best path to keep on,
If you can do so, is the middle way.

And so her exceptional virtuousness
And her unblemished humility,
Her manner, which was never flighty,
Her sophisticated demeanor, her assured bearing,
Her appealing speech, her sharp sense of honor,
Her courtliness, lacking any flaw,
Her unbounded generosity.
Her grace brimming with friendliness,
Her sweet look, her unsullied beauty,
And her appearance too manifested to me
Both appealing doctrine and substantial goodness,
And I took it all very much to heart.
And even though I observed all her noteworthy
Qualities and could match them but little,
It could not be I found no profit there;
Otherwise I should have fared quite badly.
But had I made these good qualities my own,
I would not be willing to say much about it,
For praise rings hollow in the mouth
Of the one who speaks it of himself.
Nonetheless, not boasting or speaking out of turn,
And in order only to praise her,
I intend to say the following:
If in all my life I amount to anything,
The source, to speak the truth, is the lady
To whom I grant heart, body, and soul.

Thus the very noble teaching, so precious
And subtle, of that beautiful woman
In whom all virtuous doctrine is to be found,
Was what instructed me.
And for a long time I served her
From the heart and in a loving way,
Attending to nothing else
Save the love that drew me there.
And she was ignorant
Of how she had taken me prisoner,
For nothing could have led me to reveal
The love in my heart, or speak of it,
Nor could I have confessed this to her
Even had I so wished or known how;
Instead I bore this love in secret,
Keeping it hidden,
Uttering no moan or complaint,
So smitten with love for her I was.
Nevertheless, when I felt the sparks
From her glance, and this was so delectable,
What strength I had was overcome
By its insistence and power,
Which made me pale and flush,
Shake, tremble, and quake.
So it was then quite easy to see
How with no deception I loved her five hundred
Thousand times, and even more, than myself,
With no falseness and with a lover’s heart.
And this is how I spent my youth
In Sweet Thought, in Remembrance,
And in Hope I might attain
The favor of my lady, so very gracious and noble,
Whom I desire with such fervor
I feel no other desire at all.

Many wounds kept me in pain:
One hour was delightful, the next unpleasant,
One pleasant, the next rife with misery,
One sad, the other filled with happiness.
For the heart sensing the shaft of Love
Never finds itself in just one state
And is assured neither joy nor suffering.
Instead it must trace the path
Laid out by the destiny Love determined.
And so, my head hanging down like a bear’s,
I accepted all that she graciously wished,
Whether pleasant or racked with pain,
In a humble fashion, like a lover flawless
In word and deed.
And since I never found myself
In one state, I set myself the task
Of composing chansons and lays,
Ballades, rondeaux, virelais,
And songs as my emotions inspired me,
As these were of love and nothing else.
For whoever does not compose from what he feels
Produces inauthentic writing and song;
Yet in my situation I could not
Reveal to my lady,
Who seemed so beautiful an enchanting presence
As I composed, those pangs of love I endured.
And all the songs I invented
Were written in her honor;
So I thought that if any of my works
Should come to her notice
She’d be able to discover how much
I loved her and how bent to her will I was.
And my heart sensed great pleasure
In writing a song to her praise
And honor, whenever my lady
Inspired me through the love I bore her.
For a song finds its source in the joy
The heart feels, and sadness makes tears flow.
And because Sweet Thought
Found itself enclosed within my heart,
Along with Memory, Good Hope
And Loyalty, in whom I placed all my trust
And nowhere else, I composed
The following verse, which is called a lay:

(see note)

(see note)

(see note); (see note)

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fol. 52v












fol. 53r











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fol. 55r
















fol. 55r













Qui n’aroit autre deport
          En amer
     Fors Dous Penser
     Et Souvenir
Avec l’Espoir de joïr
     S’aroit il tort,
          Se le port
     D’autre confort
     Voloit rouver;
Car pour un cuer saouler
     Et soustenir,
          Plus querir
     Ne doit merir
     Qui aimme fort.

Encor y a maint ressort:
     En dous plaisir
Sa dame veoir, oïr,
     Son gentil port,
          Le recort
     Dou bien qui sort
     De son parler
Et de son dous regarder,
     Dont l’entrouvrir
          Puet garir
     Et garentir
     Amant de mort.


Et qui vorroit plus souhaidier,
     Je n’os cuidier
     Si fol cuidier
Que cils aimme de cuer entier
Qui de tels biens n’a souffisance;
Car qui plus quiert, il vuet trichier
     S’Amours tant chier
     L’a que fichier
Deingne par l’ueil de son archier
En son cuer d’eaus la congnoissance.

Car on ne les puet esprisier,
     Ne trop prisier,
     Quant de legier
Puelent de tous mauls alegier
Et faire par leur grant puissance
Un cuer navré sain et legier
     Sans nul dangier,
     Et eslongier
De mal, et de joie aprochier.
Seulement de leur ramembrance.


     Et pour çe engendree
     S’est Douce Pensee
En mon cuer et enfermee,
     Qu’adés me souvient
     De la desiree,
     Dont ma joie est nee
Et l’esperence doublee
     Que de li me vient.

     S’en yert honnouree,
     Servie, loee,
Creinte, oubeïe et amee,
     Faire le couvient;
     Car s’il li agree,
     J’aray destinee
Bonne ou mort desesperee:
     Dou tout a li tient.


     Mais quant je voy
Le tres bel arroy
          Simple et coy,
          Sans desroy,
De son corps, le gay,
     Et que je l’oy
Parler sans effroy,
          Par ma foy,
          Si m’esjoy
Que toute joie ay.

     Faire le doy
Se je l’aim et croy;
          Car en moy
          Joye en croy
Pour ce mon cuer vray,
     Remaint en soy,
Dont tel bien reçoy
          Que puis n’oy
          Grief anoy
Que je l’enamay.


Et se par Desir recueil
Aucun grief, pas ne m’en dueil,
Car son tres dous riant oueil
     Tout adoucist
Le grief qui de Desir ist;
Si me plaist et abelist
Tant qu’au porter me delist
     Plus que ne sueil

Pour sa biauté sans orgueil,
Qui toutes passe, a mon vueil,
Et pour son tres bel acueil
     Qui toudis rist,
Si qu’en plaisance norrist
Mon cuer et tant m’enrichist
Qu’einsi vivre me souffist,
     Ne plus ne vueil,


Fors tant, qu’en aucune maniere
     Ma dame chiere,
Qui de mon cuer la tresoriere
     Est et portiere,
Sceüst qu’elle est m’amour premiere
     Et darreniere.
Et plus l’aim qu’autrui ne mon bien,
Nom pas d’amour veinne et legiere,
     Mais si entiere,
Que miex ameroie estre en biere
     Qu’a parsonniere
Fust, n’en moy pensee doubliere.
     Tels toudis yere,
Comment qu’elle n’en sache rien.

Car ne sui tels qu’a moy affiere
     Que s’amour quiere,
Ne que de son vueil tant enquiere
     Que li requiere;
Car moult porroit comparer chiere
     Tele prïere
Mes cuers, qui gist en son lïen.
Pour ce n’en fais samblant ne chiere
     Que je n’aquiere
Refus qui me deboute ou fiere
     De li arriere;
Car se sa douceur m’estoit fiere,
     Amours murtriere
Seroit de moy. Ce say je bien.


          Si n’est voie
          Qui m’avoie
Comment descouvrir li doie
          Par nul tour;
     Car sans retour
          Je morroie
          Se j’avoie
Refus, et, se je vivoie,
          Ma baudour
     Seroit tristour.

          Fols seroie,
          Se rouvoie
Riens plus, fors qu’en li emploie
          Corps, honnour,
     Cuer et amour;
          Qu’autre joie
          Ne devroie
Voloir s’assez remiroie
          Sa douçour
     Et sa valour.


     Dont la bonne et belle,
     Comment sara elle
     Que de li veoir
     En mon cuer s’ostelle
     Une amour nouvelle,
     Qui me renouvelle
     Et me fait avoir
     Joieuse nouvelle,

     De quoy l’estincelle
     Fait sous la mamelle
     Mon fin cuer ardoir?
     S’en frit et sautelle
     Qu’homs ne damoiselle,
     Dame ne pucelle,
     Ne le puet savoir
     Si le port et selle.


     Amours, que j’en pri,
     Qui volt et souffri
     Qu’a li, sans detri,
Quant premiers la vi, m’offri,
     Li porra bien dire
     Que pour s’amour fri
     Sans plainte et sans cri,
     Et qu’a li m’ottri,
Comme au plus tres noble tri
     Que peüsse eslire,

     Et qu’autre ne tri;
     Einsois ha l’ottri
     Qu’onc ne descouvri,
Dont maint souspir ay murtri
     Qui puis n’orent mire.
     Mais s’en mon depri
     M’est amours estri,
     Je n’en brai ne cri,
N’autrement ne m’en defri,
     Ne pense a defrire.


          Car ensement
          Vueil liement,
          Et gaiement,
En ma dame amer loiaument
     User toute ma vie
          Si franchement,
          Que vraiement,
          Se j’ay tourment,
N’en vueil, fors souffrir humblement
     Ma douce maladie.

          Et sagement,
          Et nettement
Iert et tres amoureusement
     Dedens mon cuer norrie;
          Car bonnement
          Et doucement,
          S’Espoirs ne ment,
M’iert ma peinne tres hautement
     A cent doubles merie.


Car comment que Desirs m’assaille
Et me face mainte bataille
Et poingne de l’amoureus dart,
Qui souvent d’estoc et de taille
Celeement mon cuer detaille,
Certes bien en vain se travaille,
Car tout garist son Dous Regart,

Qui paist d’amoureuse vitaille
Mon cuer et dedens li entaille
Sa biauté fine par tel art
Qu’autre n’est de quoi il me chaille,
Et des biens amoureus me baille
Tant qu’il n’est joie qui me faille
Que n’aie de li que Dieus gart.


Et pour ce, sans nul descort,
     Vueil et celer
     L’ardant desir
Qui vuet ma joie amenrir
     Par soutil sort;
          Si le port
     Sans desconfort
     Et vueil porter;
Car s’il fait mon cuer trambler,
     Teindre, et palir,
          Et fremir,
     A bien souffrir
     Dou tout m’acort.

Il me fait par son enort
     Servir, doubter,
     Et oubeïr
Ma dame et li tant chierir
     Qu’en son effort
          Me deport,
     Quant il me mort
     Et vuet grever,
Mais qu’a li vueil le penser
     Qu’aim et desir
          Sans partir,
     Ne repentir;
     La me confort.

Einsi me fist ma dame faire
Ce lay qu’oÿ m’avez retraire,
Ja soit ce que riens n’en sceüst
Qu’elle fait faire le m’eüst.
Mais selonc le sens que j’avoie,
A sa löange le faisoie,
Et si prés de mon sentement
Com je pooie bonnement,
Tant que par aventure avint
Qu’en sa presence cils lais vint,
Et venus y estoie aussi,
Dont j’os puis assez de soussi,
Qu’elle me commanda au lire.
Si ne li osay escondire,
Eins li lus tout de chief en chief,
A cuer tramblant, enclin le chief,
Doubtans qu’il n’i eüst meffait
Pour ce que je l’avoie fait.
Et quant je li eus tout leü,
Et elle l’ot bien conceü,
Me demanda qui fait l’avoit
Pour ce qu’elle ne le savoit.
Et si tost qu’elle dit le m’ot,
Je n’eüsse dit .i. seul mot
Pour toute l’empire de Romme.
Car nuls cuers ne penseroit comme
Je perdi maniere et vigour;
Car honte, amour, biauté, paour,
Et ce que celer li voloie
L’amoureus mal que je sentoie,
Me tollirent si le memoire
Et les .v. sens que ne puis croire
Qu’onques amans fust en tel point;
Ne de parler si mal a point.
Car je n’i savoie moien,
Tant estoit en estroit loien
Mes cuers qui de paour trambloit.
Et vraiement il me sambloit,
Se j’eüsse dit: “Je le fis”
Que trop me fusse desconfis
Et mis, espoir, en aventure
De mort crueuse, amere, et dure
Pour ce que li heüsse ouvert,
Comment je l’aim, et descouvert.
Et s’un po de duretté chiere,
Ou de regart, ou de maniere,
Ou de parler, ou autrement,
M’eüst fait, je say vraiement
Qu’eüsse esté mors en la place
Pour paour de perdre sa grace,
Nom pas pour ce qu’elle fust moie,
Mais en esperence en estoie;
Et pour ce n’osoie despondre
Sa demande, n’a li respondre.

Mais encor plus me deceüsse
Assez se menti li eüsse;
Car mentir ne doit a sa dame
Amans pour mort de corps ne d’ame,
Eins li doit toudis dire voir
Au plus prés qu’il le puet savoir.
Et certes, si bonne et si sage
Est ma dame, qu’a mon visage
Sceüst tantost se je bourdasse,
Ja si bien ne li coulourasse.
Et ce faisoit mon cuer defrire
Que ne savoie le quel dire,
De verité ou de mansonge.
Et pour ce aussi, com ce fust songe,
Ravi en parfonde pensee,
De devant ma dame honnouree,
Sans respondre et sans plus atendre,
Me departi, sans congié prendre,
En tel point que je ne savoie
Qu’il me failloit, ne ou j’avoie.
Et au partir soupiranment
Pris a plourer si fondanment
Qu’en plour et en larmes fondoit
Mes cuers qui tous s’en confondoit.
Et pour gaaingnier tout le monde,
Je n’eüsse retenu l’onde
De ce plour que par mi le vis
Ne me coulast a son devis.
Mais de ce fu trop eüreus
Que ame n’i avoit fors nous .ij.,
Qui s’en peüst apercevoir,
Ne qui riens en peüst savoir.
Car tuit li autre assez longnet
Estoient mis en .i. congnet
Et s’esbatoient bonnement
A jouer au “Roy qui ne ment.”

Einsi laissai ma dame chiere,
Et m’en parti a simple chiere,
Tristes, pensis, et souspirans,
Merencolieus, desirans
De venir en aucun destour
Ou finer peüsse mon plour
Tant qu’a moy fusse revenus.
Si m’en alay les saus menus
Pour ce que, s’aucun encontrasse,
Que tant ne quant n’i arrestasse,
Et par quoy on n’aperceüst
Qu’en moy plour ou tristece heüst.
S’alai einsi moult longuement,
Sans issir de mon pensement,
Tant que vi un trop biau jardin
Qu’on claimme le Parc de Hedin.
Lors celle part m’acheminay,
Et de cheminer ne finay
Tant que je y vins, mais je n’y pos
Entrer, car il estoit enclos
De haus murs et environnez;
Ne li chemins abandonnez
N’estoit pas a tous et a toutes.
Nompourquant je sieui les routes
Qu’a terre vi et les esclos
Jusqu’a un huis qui estoit clos,
Qui trop bel seoit et trop gent
En .i. destour et loing de gent.
S’i avoit un petit guichet,
De quoy je levay le clichet;
Et quant levé l’eus, j’entrai ens;
Mais je ne vi ame laiens,
Dont plus liez fu, car je voloie
Estre tous seuls, se je pooie.
Et quant j’eus mon vueil assevi
D’entrer ens, et tous seus me vi,
Le guichet fermai au verrueil.
Si m’en alai parmi le brueil,
Qui estoit si biaus qu’onques mais
Ne vi, ne ne verrai jamais
Si bel, si gent, si aggreable,
Si plaisant, ne si delitable.
Et les merveilles, les deduis,
Les ars, les engins, les conduis,
Les esbas, les estranges choses
Qui estoient dedens encloses
Ne saroie jamais descrire.
Et nompourquant je puis bien dire
Que homme ne saroit deduit querre
En l’air, en l’iaue, n’en la terre,
Qu’on n’i trouvast prest a toute heure
A son vueil, sans faire demeure.
S’alay tant amont et aval
Que je m’embati en un val
Ou je vi une fontenelle
Qui estoit moult clere et moult bele,
D’arbres et d’erbe environnee;
Et si estoit environ nee
Une haiette d’esglentier.
Mais n’i vi voie ne sentier
Qui fust froïe ne batue,
Fors l’erbette poingnant et drue.
Si pensay que petit repaire
Avoit la, pour ce m’i vos traire.
Si me mis outre la haiette
Sus la fonteinne clere et nette,
Ou mon vis lavay et mes yex.
Et puis je m’assis, car li liex
Ou einsi m’estoie arrivez
Me sambloit estre moult privez.

Lors pris a penser durement
En moy blasmant quant tellement
De ma dame estoie partis,
Car se li cuers me fust partis
Pour s’amour et en sa presence,
Y me vausist miex, sans doubtance.
Qu’avoir fait telle niceté,
Com j’ay ci devant recité,
Ce m’estoit vis, puis que ce fust
Pour li, et elle le sceüst.
Nompourquant je ne le peüsse
Amender se sires deüsse
Estre de quanque Diex a fait.
Si n’est pas si grant le meffait,
Car outre pooir ne puet nus;
Ne cils meffais n’est pas venus
De moy, car je ne le fis pas,
Eins le fist Amours, qui compas,
Regle, ordre, raison, ne mesure
Es cuers amoureus ne mesure.
Je m’en vois bien apercevant
Miex que n’avoie fait devant,
Car gueres n’a que je disoie
Qu’adés estoit amans en joie;
Or sen et voy tout le contraire
En moy, ne je n’en puis plus faire.
Mais pas n’avoie bien apris
Tous ses tours quant l’amer empris,
Si faurra que je les apregne
Et que le frein a mes dens prengne
Se je vueil vivre en son servage
Je n’y voy plus seür passage,
Car je sens et voy clerement
Par mon fait, et non autrement;
Que cuer d’amant qui aimme fort
Or a joie, or a desconfort;
Or rit, or pleure, or chante, or plaint;
Or se delite en son complaint;
Or tramble, or tressue, or a chaut;
Or a froit, et puis ne li chaut
D’assaut qu’Amours li puisse faire.
Or li plaist; or ne li puet plaire;
Car selonc ce qu’Amours le vuet
Deduire, il s’esjoïst ou duet,
Et selonc l’estat de Fortune,
Qui les amans souvent fortune;
L’un bien, l’un mal, l’autre a sa guise,
Selonc ce qu’elle se desguise.
Car sans faute ce qu’elle fait
Moult soudeinnement le deffait,
Car en li n’a estableté
Amour, pité, ne fermeté.
Einsois est toudis sa coustume
Que ceaus qu’elle fait tonde et plume
Et sousmette en subjection
Tele come a destruction.
Et en ce penser ou j’estoie
Je m’avisay que je feroie
De Fortune et de mes dolours,
De mes pensers et de mes plours
Un dit qu’on appelle complainte,
Ou il averoit rime mainte,
Qui seroit de triste matiere.
Si commensai en tel maniere:


He who finds no other pleasure
          In loving
     Save Sweet Thought
     And Memory,
Along with Hope of satisfaction,
     Would be mistaken
     If the haven
     Of some other consolation
     He thought to seek;
For to satisfy a heart
     And sustain it,
          The man who loves intensely
     Must not look for
     What he merits not.

And yet there are many sources of comfort:
     Looking upon or listening to
His lady in sweet pleasure;
     Her noble demeanor;
          The memory
     Of the goodness that comes
     From the words she speaks,
And from her sweet look,
     Which, as her eyes open,
          Can save
     A lover, preserving
     Him from death.


And as for any man wishing more,
     I’d not dare entertain
     The quite foolish thought
That anyone might love with his whole heart
And not be satisfied with these benefits;
Whoever seeks more is bent on deception
     Since Love holds him
     So dear she deigns to have her archer
Send him through the eye to his heart
An acquaintance with those goods.

For one cannot value
     Or prize them too much,
     As they readily offer
A remedy for every ill,
And through their great power rendering
A wounded heart whole and untroubled,
     With no conflict at all,
     Driving sadness into exile
And making joy draw near
Merely through memory of these goods.


     And in this way Sweet Thought
     Arose and found a place
Within my heart,
     And so I always hold in my thoughts
     The woman whom I desire,
     Who inspires my joy
And doubles the hope
     That flows from her to me.

     And she will be honored,
     Served, praised,
Respected, obeyed, and loved.
     It must be so;
     For depending on what she wishes,
     It’s either a fortunate destiny
Or a hopeless death;
     It’s all up to her.


     But when I lay eyes on
The very beautiful shape,
          Of her body, her dress
          Unassuming and elegant,
Not making a show, but striking,
     And when I listen to
Her quiet speech,
          Upon my faith
          I do rejoice,
For every joy is mine.

     This is what I must do
If I love and trust her;
          For within me
          Joy increases in response
Because my true heart
     Remains in her,
And from this I receive
          Such goodness that no miserable
          Suffering has been mine to endure
Since the moment I came to love her.


And if Desire forces me to suffer,
Somehow I make no complaint,
For her eye, so kind and laughing,
     Assuages completely
The misery Desire inflicts.
And I am quite pleased and delighted
As I rejoice in enduring it,
     More than I did before,

Because of her beauty without pride,
Surpassing all others to my mind,
And because of her very Fair Welcome,
     Never unsmiling;
And my heart is so nourished
And enriched in pleasure
That living on in this way suffices,
     Making me wish for nothing different,


Save that in no way has
     My beloved lady,
Who is the treasurer of my heart
     And its gatekeeper too,
Come to know she is both my first love
     And my last as well.
And I love her more than myself or my advantage,
Not with an affection vain and flighty,
     But so completely
I’d prefer lying on my bier
     To proving faithless toward her
Or harboring deceitful thoughts.
     And this will always be the case,
Though she knows nothing of it.

Now I’m not a man who merits
     Asking for her love,
Or even if she might allow me
     To make such a request,
For my heart, trapped in her snare,
     Might pay quite dearly
For such a demand.
And so I give no sign or hint
     So as not to receive
A refusal to send me packing
     Or drive me off;
For if her graciousness grew cold,
     Love would turn into
My killer, and well I know it.


          And so nothing
          Points out to me
How I should reveal myself
          To the woman;
     For beyond a doubt
          I should perish
          Were I to be
Rebuffed; and if I survived,
          My happiness
     Would turn to sorrow.

          I’d be a fool
          To request
More, beyond devoting to her
          My body, honor,
     Heart, and love;
          For no other joy
          Would I
Want if I might get my fill
          Of contemplating her graciousness
     And eminence.


     Yet then how will that lady, lovely
     And virtuous, discover
     That looking upon her
     Has made a new love take root
     In my heart,
     Revitalizing me
     And bringing
     Welcome news,

     Whose spark
     Sets my faithful heart
     To burning within my breast?
     In response, I tremble and shake,
     And so no man or maiden,
     No woman or young girl,
     Might discover my secret,
     I endure in silence.


     Love, to whom I offer my prayer,
     Who desired and inspired
     Me, unhindered, to devote
Myself to her at first sight,
     Could certainly tell her
     How aflame I am with love,
     Neither moaning nor complaining
     And that I have given myself to her,
As the most high-minded decision
     I could make;

     And that I choose no other woman.
     Instead Love has granted
     I should never make this known,
And thus many a sigh, finding
     No healer, has devastated me.
     But if Love refuses
     My request
     I’ll neither wail nor moan,
Or stew with anger,
     Or turn to rage.


          Instead, in this state
          I wish happily,
          And pleasantly
To spend the rest of my life
     Loving my lady faithfully,
          And with such sincerity
          That in truth,
          Though I feel tormented,
          I wish for
No relief beyond enduring humbly
     My pleasant sickness.

          And sensibly,
          And purely,
And with great affection
     It has been nourished in my heart;
          For appropriately
          And gently
          In due time,
          If Hope is no liar,
My pains will be richly
     Rewarded a hundredfold.


For though Desire assails me
And provokes unending battle,
Piercing me with his dart that infatuates,
Which often, and unnoticed,
Skewers my heart, from point to butt,
His efforts, no doubt, are wasted,
For Sweet Regard heals it all,

Nourishing my heart with love’s
Sustenance, imprinting therein
Her pure beauty with such artfulness
I occupy myself with nothing else,
And Sweet Regard brings me love’s benefits
In such profusion that no joy
Fails to be mine — may God protect her.


And so, making no trouble,
          My intention is
     To bear up under and keep hidden
     The flaming desire
That seeks to diminish my joy
     Through its subtle power;
          And I will suffer it
     With no discomfort.
     And this I am eager to endure.
For if it makes my heart tremble,
     Grow wan and pale,
          And tremble,
     I am firmly resolved
     To bear up under all that.

So I am heartened
          To honor,
     Serve, protect,
     And obey
My lady, cherishing her so much
     I take joy
          In the pain that comes.
     When pain tortures
     And would wound me,
Thinking of her is all I need keep in mind,
     For she’s the woman I love and desire,
          And I’ll never leave her side,
     And no regret will I feel on her account;
     This brings me comfort.

Thus my lady fair inspired me to compose
This lay you’ve heard me recite,
Even though she was not aware
How she’d led me to do so.
But, in accord with what was on my mind,
I composed this in her honor,
And it expressed my emotions as precisely
As I could properly manage;
And afterward it chanced
That this lay came before her,
Just as I had too,
Which brought me no end of anxiety,
For she ordered me to read it,
And I dared not refuse,
But recited it from start to finish,
My heart fluttering, my head bowed,
Fearing this was a misstep
Because I’d written the lay for her.
And after I got through the entire text,
And she’d listened intently,
She asked me who the poet was,
For this she did not know.
And as soon as she spoke,
I couldn’t have said a single word
Had the entire Roman Empire been given me.
For no good heart could imagine
How much of my composure and strength I lost;
For shame, love, beauty, fear,
And that my aim was to conceal
The lovesickness I felt,
So robbed me of memory,
As well as of my five senses, I couldn’t believe
A lover had ever found himself this distressed
Or so utterly unable to speak.
Yet I could find no way to manage doing so,
With my heart so sorely pressed
And trembling with fear.
And it truly seemed
That had I said “I composed it,”
I would have come completely undone,
Running the danger perhaps of being delivered
To a death cruel, bitter, and harsh
Because it would have been out in the open
And known to everyone how I love her.
And had her glance been bitter,
Or her look, or her manner,
Or the words she spoke, or anything else,
I truly think I should
Have expired right on the spot,
So terrified I was of forfeiting her favor,
Not because she then belonged to me,
But because I hoped she would.
And this is why I dared ignore
Her command and spoke nary a word.

But I’d have done myself
Even worse harm had I lied to her,
For a lover should speak no untruth to his lady
Even at the cost of body and soul.
Instead he should always be as forthright
As he can manage.
And surely, my lady is so virtuous
And wise that from my expression
She’d have recognized at once my dissembling,
No matter what front I put up.
And this made my heart so miserable
I was at a loss for words, unsure
Whether to speak the truth or tell some lie.
And so, as if in a dream,
I was borne away into deep thoughts
And departed from the presence
Of my honored lady, waiting no longer;
Not responding, I did not ask for leave,
For then I did not know either
Where I was or what I should do.
And, sighing at parting this way,
I began to cry with such abandon
My heart, completely undone,
Melted away in tears and weeping.
And for all the world, I could not
Have held back the wave
Of these tears from running
Of their own accord down my face.
Now in one way I was quite fortunate,
For, save us two, not a soul was present
To witness what took place
Or figure out what it meant.
For all the other people had moved off
Some distance to an alcove
Where they were having a fine time
Playing “The King Who Does Not Lie.”

And this is how I left my lady dear,
Walking off with my face a blank mask,
Woebegone, lost in thought, and sighing,
Depressed, eager to make my way
To any quiet spot where
I might finish my bout of weeping
And regain my composure.
I moved off at a quick pace
So that if encountering anyone
I would not stop even briefly,
Eager as I was for no one to witness
My tears and the gloominess I felt.
For some time I walked along in this state,
Never escaping my thoughts
Until I spied a quite attractive garden
Called the Park of Hesdin.
I made straight for the spot,
Never halting until I came up to
The place, but I was unable
To go inside because of the high walls
That encircled it all around;
And the path was not open
To every man and woman.
Even so I followed the trails
And walkways I noticed on the ground
As far as a gate (then closed),
Which was located in a byway quite lovely
And appealing, at a far remove from people.
And there was a small wicket,
Whose latch I lifted;
And, raising it, I entered in.
But I saw nary a soul inside,
Which pleased me, for my wish
Was to be entirely alone if I could.
Entering the place, as was my intention,
And observing I was all by myself,
I closed and locked the wicket.
And I strolled through the shrubbery,
Which was so beautiful I’d never seen
The like, and never will, none other
So attractive, so elegant, so agreeable,
None so pleasant or delightful.
And I’d never be able to describe
The marvels, the delights,
The artifices, the mechanical devices,
The piped-in water, the diversions,
The strange attractions the garden contained,
Nonetheless this I can certainly affirm:
No man might look for any entertainment
In the air, in the water, or on the land
Not found there ready for use at any time
With no delay, and as should please.
And I wandered across the rolling country
Until chancing upon a valley
Where I spied a fountain
Quite beautiful and clear-running,
Ringed by trees and grass;
And all around had grown up
A small hedge of wild roses.
But I noticed no walkway or path
That was well-used and beaten-down,
Nothing but thick, sharp-bladed grass.
And it seemed few people took shelter
There, and so I walked in that direction,
Passing beyond the little hedge
To the fountain clear and clean,
Where I washed my face and eyes.
Then I sat down, for this place
To which I had come seemed
Quite private to me.

At this point I fell into deep thought,
Blaming myself for deserting
My lady in the way I had,
For if my heart had failed me
In her presence from the love I bore her,
It’d been better for me, no doubt,
Than to blunder into such a foolish error
As the one I’ve recounted here,
Or so I thought, since it should have been
For her sake, as the lady would realize.
Nonetheless I could do nothing
To change things, even had I become master
Over all that God created.
Now the misdeed is not so regrettable,
For no one can do more than he can.
And I wasn’t responsible for this wrong,
Not having committed it,
Since Love had, who provides
Or measures out no rule, discipline, reason,
Or moderation to hearts in love.
And I began to understand this
Much better than before
Since I’d been maintaining earlier
That a lover is always joyful;
Now I witness and feel just the opposite
In my own case and cannot help it.
But I’d not then learned much about the ways
Of Love when first embarking on it,
And I needed to find out more
And take the bit between my teeth
If intending to spend my life in Love’s service.
I see no path more certain,
Perceiving and feeling clearly
Only because of my own experience;
That the heart of the man who loves intently
Is sometimes glad, sometimes in pain;
Sometimes laughing, crying, singing, or weeping;
Sometimes taking pleasure in complaint;
Now trembling, now sweating, now fevered;
Now cold, and afterward unconcerned
About how Love might attack him.
Now he’s pleased, now unable to be pleased;
For the man rejoices or sorrows
According to the whims
Of Love and the dictates of Fortune,
Who measures out luck to lovers;
Good here, ill there, to others as she wills,
According to her moods.
For unfailingly whatever she does
She quite abruptly undoes
Since in her lies no stability,
Love, pity, or permanence.
Instead her unwavering custom
Is to cut down and strip clean those she favors,
Reducing them to subjection,
To the very point of death.
And thinking along these lines,
I determined to compose
About Fortune and my own suffering,
From my thoughts and my sorrows,
A poem called a complaint
In which there are many rhymes
And whose theme is desolation.
I began as here follows:

(see note)

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Tels rit au main qui au soir pleure,
Et tels cuide qu’Amours labeure
Pour son bien qu’elle li court seure
     Et mal l’atourne;
Et tels cuide que joie aqueure
Pour li aidier qu’elle demeure.
Car Fortune tout ce deveure
     Quant elle tourne,
Qui n’atent mie qu’il adjourne
Pour tourner; qu’elle ne sejourne,
Eins tourne, retourne, et bestourne
     Tant qu’au desseure
Mest celui qui gist mas en l’ourne;
Le sormonté au bas retourne,
Et le plus joieus mat et mourne
     Fait en po d’eure.

Car elle n’est ferme n’estable,
Juste, loyal, ne veritable;
Quant on la cuide charitable,
     Elle est avere,
Dure, diverse, espouentable,
Traïtre, poignant, decevable;
Et quant on la cuide amiable,
     Lors est amere.
Car ja soit ce qu’amie appere,
Douce com miel, vraie com mere,
La pointure d’une vipere
     Qu’est incurable
En riens a li ne se compere,
Car elle traïroit son pere
Et mettroit d’onneur en misere

Se Fortune aimme, c’est de long.
Elle faut toudis au besoing,
N’elle n’a de personne soing,
     Soit vil ou monde.
Et pour si fausse la tesmoing,
Qu’elle porteroit faus tesmoing
Pour le mieudre amy mettre en coing
     Qu’elle ait en monde.
Plus escorche qu’elle ne tonde,
Et en mauvais malice habonde,
Par quoy sa norriçon confonde;
     .I. pourri coing
Ne prise chose qu’elle fonde,
Qui vuet que ses ouvrages fonde,
En ce n’a pareil ne seconde.
     Ce nom li doing:

“Lorde, borgne, fausse, et enfrune.”
De mal faire onques n’est geüne.
Tout le mont ne prise une prune,
     Eins le demeinne
A la samblance de la lune,
Qui ore est pleinne, clere, et brune,
Et fourme ne clarté nesune
     N’a en quinseinne
Fors tant que n’a mois ne semainne,
Jour prefix, në heure certeinne;
Eins est sa veingence soudeinne;
     Chose est commune,
Car quant la personne est plus pleinne
D’onneur, de richesse mondeinne,
De son tour a niant la meinne.
     Tele est Fortune.

Pren moy ij. seaus en .i. puis
Qu’assez bien comparer li puis.
Li uns est pleins, li autres vuis,
     Et se l’un monte,
L’autre descent; tout einsi truis
Que Fortune par ses conduis
Monte l’un, l’autre avale, et puis
     Rien n’i aconte
A roy, a duc, a per, n’a conte.
L’un donne honneur, et l’autre honte.
L’un desgrade; l’autre seurmonte.
     C’est ses deduis;
Tout orgueil amolie et donte.
Mais Boëces si nous raconte
Qu’on ne doit mie faire conte
     De ses annuis.

Fortune scet plus de pratique
Que ne font maistre de fisique,
De divinité, de logique,
     Et mendiant
Pour trouver une voie oublique.
Elle oint, elle point, elle pique,
Elle fait a chascun la nique,
     En sousriant.
L’un fait petit; l’autre fait grant.
L’un met arrier, et l’autre avant.
Or rit, or pleure, or ne scet quant
     Elle aimme, si que
Si attrait sont trop decevant.
Riens ne tient qu’elle ait en couvent,
Et, pour conclure, en trebuchant
     Toudis s’aplique.

Nabugodonosor figure
Qu’il vit en songe une estature
Grande et haute, qui la figure
     Horrible avoit,
Et la teste d’or riche et pure,
Les bras, le pis d’argenteüre,
Ventre, cuisses de la faiture
     D’arein portoit,
James de fer sus qu’elle estoit.
Des piez l’une part fer estoit,
L’autre terre. Et encor veoit
     Que d’aventure
Une pierre sans main venoit
Qui parmi les piez la feroit,
Si qu’en pourre la craventoit
     Et en ordure.

L’estature que ci propose
Estre ne me samble autre chose
Que Fortune qui ne repose
     Heure ne jour.
La teste a d’or, se dire l’ose,
Ou toute richesse est enclose,
Ce samble aus musars qu’elle alose,
     Qui en errour
Vivent tele qu’il n’est gringnour;
Qu’elle n’a pooir ne vigour
De donner, fors peinne et labour.
     Retien et glose:
Car ses joies ne sont que plour,
Et ses richesses glace en four.
Pour ce fait cils trop le millour
     Qui s’i oppose.

Car se tu yes en grant richesse,
Jamais n’avras vraie leesse,
Fors peinne, misere, et tristesse,
     Et en doubtance
Seras dou perdre, qui trop blesse,
Ou l’ardeur aras et l’aspresse
D’Avarice, qui est maistresse
     De pestilence.
Et se tu gis en mendience,
Tu n’avras mie pacïence,
Eins sera la main en balance
     D’estre larnesse.
Si ne pris riens telle puissance
Ou pais, seürté, souffissance
N’a, fors doleur et mescheance,
     Pleur et destresse.

Les bras et le pis a d’argent,
Mais ce n’est que decevement,
Car ce qu’il luisent clerement,
     Les yex esbloe
Et aveugle de mainte gent
Cui elle promet largement,
Et en son pis couvertement
     Traïson noe.
D’un des bras les met sus sa roe
Plus legierement c’une aloe;
De l’autre les fiert en la joe
     Si fierement
Qu’elle les trebuche en la boe,
Et puis elle leur fait la moe.
Einsi Fortune tous ceaus doe
     Qu’elle entreprent.

Ventre et cuisses porte d’arein;
Mais c’est pour moustrer plus a plain
A tous ceaus qui li sont prochain
     Qu’elle se change
En pis. Ci vois tu le certain,
Que d’or est son chief premerain,
Aprés d’argent, nom pas d’estain,
     Di le voir: men ge?
Or est d’arein vil et estrange.
Certes, ce n’est mie bon change.
Fols est qui a tels dons s’arrange,
     Ne tent sa main.
Car par tel change elle se vange
De ceaus qu’elle flate et losange,
Et leur oste honneur et löange
     D’ui a demain.

Seur james de fer est assise,
En moustrant que par nulle guise
Tempeste, orage, vent de bise,
     Fait ne parole,
Ne crient cils au elle s’est mise.
Mais c’est couverture et feintise,
Car les piez ha de terre glise,
     Gliant et mole.
Et quant sus pierre ne sus mole
N’est fondee, fors seur frivole,
Cils se honnist bien et affole
     Qui tant la prise
Qu’il retient riens de son escole;
Qu’adés ses escoliers rigole
Et partout leur meschief flajole,
     Et les desprise.

Je ne tien pas celui pour kaut
Qui vuet faire .i. ouvrage haut
Seur fondement qui riens ne vaut
     Sans grant damage.
Car quant il est en plus grant saut
D’ouvrer, li fondemens deffaut,
Dont trebuchier et cheoir faut
     Tout le meinnage.
Einsi Fortune la sauvage,
Quant elle a fait aucun ouvrage,
Et on est en plus haut estage,
     Fait en tressaut
Venir .i. vent et .i. orage
D’aversité qui tout esrage —
Fondement, comble, et massonnage —
     D’un seul assaut.

Fortune a plus de mil engiens,
Pour penre et decevoir les siens;
Mais la dolente, elle n’a riens
     Que donner puist;
Promettre assez puet de ses biens,
Mais tu yes trop fols se tu tiens
Qu’il en y ait nul qui soit tiens.
     En seant fuit;
Son droit lés est dous, l’autre cuit;
Le droit porte fleur, fueille, et fruit.
L’autre est desert, brehaingne, et vuit
     Des biens terriens.
Le droit moult clerement reluit;
L’autre samble a l’oscure nuit;
Et mi partie est par deduit
     D’or et de fiens.

Fortune est amour haïneuse,
Bonneürté maleüreuse.
C’est largesse advaricïeuse.
     C’est orphenté.
C’est santé triste et dolereuse.
C’est richesse la soufferteuse.
C’est noblesse povre, honteuse,
     Sans loiauté.
C’est l’orguilleuse humilité.
C’est l’envïeuse charité.
C’est perilleuse seürté;
     Trop est douteuse;
C’est puissance en mendicité.
C’est repos en adversité.
C’est famine en cuer saoulé.
     C’est joie ireuse.

C’est souffrance la rigoreuse.
C’est souffissance la couvoiteuse.
C’est pais dolente et rioteuse.
     C’est vanité.
C’est pacïence dongereuse.
C’est diligence paresseuse.
C’est oubliance la soingneuse
     Contre amité.
C’est l’arbre d’inhumanité,
Enraciné seur fausseté.
L’estoc est qu’en sa verité
     Soit mansongeuse.
Les fleurs sont de desloyauté,
Et les feuilles d’iniquité,
Mais li fruis est de povreté
     Dure et crueuse.

La teste a pelee a moitie.
D’un oueil rit, de l’autre larmie.
L’une joe a couleur de vie;
     L’autre est com morte.
Se une de ses mains t’est amie,
L’autre t’iert mortel annemie.
Un piet a droit, l’autre clopie,
     La droite torte.
Sa force est qu’en cheant est forte;
En desconfort se reconforte.
En riant mescheance aporte,
     Pleur et hachie.
En confortant se desconforte;
En foulant les siens entreporte.
En tous maus faire se deporte,
     Quoy que nuls die.

Fortune est par dessus les drois;
Ses estatus fait et ses lois
Seur empereurs, papes, et rois,
     Que nuls debat
N’i porroit mettre de ces trois,
Tant fust fiers, orguilleus, ou rois,
Car Fortune tous leurs desrois
     Freint et abat.
Bien est drois qu’elle se debat
Pour eaus avancier et combat,
Et leur preste honneur et estat,
     Ne sai quens mois.
Mais partout ou elle s’embat,
De ses gieus telement s’esbat
Qu’en veinquant dit: “Eschat et mat!”
     De fiere vois.

Einsi m’a fait, ce m’est avis,
Fortune que ci vous devis.
Car je soloie estre assevis
     De toute joie.
Or m’a d’un seul tour si bas mis
Qu’en grief plour est mué mon ris,
Et que tous li biens est remis
     Qu’avoir soloie.
Car la bele ou mes cuers s’ottroie,
Que tant aim que plus ne porroie,
Maintenant veoir n’oseroie
     En mi le vis.
Et se desir tant que la voie
Que mes dolens cuers s’en desvoie,
Pour ce ne say que faire doie,
     Tant sui despris.

Amours, Amours, ce m’as tu fait
Qui mas fait faire le meffait
Qui toute ma joie deffait!
     Car bien puis dire
Que si estraingnis de ton trait
Mon cuer, qu’on n’en eüst mot trait,
S’avoir deüsse sans retrait
     Toute l’empire.
Pourquoy me feïs tu eslire
Dame pour qui mes cuers soupire
Tant qu’il ne congnoist joie d’ire,
     Et tout a fait
Me vues pour s’amour desconfire?
Quant mon dolent cuer fais defrire
Et fondre en amoureus martire,
     Est ce bien fait?

Helas! Que me demandes tu?
Je t’aim de toute ma vertu.
Or me hez et m’as abatu
     De haut en bas,
Et de tes verges si batu
En ta chartre ou m’as embatu
Que je me rens dessous l’escu
     Veincus et mas.
Si fais trop mal se tu me bas,
Quant je me ren et que pris m’as,
Car prisonnier on ne doit pas,
     S’on l’a vaincu,
Batre ne ferir en nul cas;
Eins doit on voloir son respas.
Helas! Or me bas en tes las,
     Pris et rendu!

Ce n’est pas ton honneur, ce croy,
Quant je te ser en tele foy
Qu’humblement a morir m’ottroy
     Se c’est tes grez
Pour ma dame que plus ne voy.
Car doubte ay (dont je me marvoy)
Que ses gentis cuers envers moy
     Ne soit irez,
Dont je sui trop mal atournez,
Tristes, pensis, desconfortez,
Quant tous mes biens as destournez.
     Ne say pourquoy.
S’en est mes vis descoulourez
Et mes cuers de plours saoulez,
De griés souspirs entremeslez,
     Et tout par toy.

Nompourquant pas ne m’en merveil —
Quant le regart de son dous oueil
Et son cler vis blanc et vermeil
     Qui resplendist
De biauté plus qu’or en soleil
Et son corps gent qui n’a pareil
De douceur, de cointe appareil
     Vers moy guenchist —
Se mes regars s’en esbloïst,
Se la parole m’en tarist,
Se ma vigour en amenrist.
     Car par ton vueil
Nature en moy s’en esbahist,
Et mes sens s’en esvanuist,
Dont li cuers me tramble et fremist.
     De ce me dueil.

Einsi sa parfaite biauté,
Fresche et douce com fleur d’esté,
Et la mervilleuse clarté
     De son viaire,
Dont je me vi enluminé,
Le ray de son oueil que plus n’é,
Mes .v. sens orent tost maté;
     Plus n’en pos faire.
Helas! S’en ay tant de contraire
Que je ne say quele part traire;
N’en moy joie plus ne repaire,
     Ne gaieté.
Car pour ce que j’aim sans meffaire,
Tu me vues de tous poins deffaire
Se la tres douce debonnaire
     N’en a pité.

En toy en est, bien t’en couveingne,
Car je sui tiens, comment qu’il prengne.
Mais je te pri qu’il te souveingne
     Comment je port
En mon cuer l’amoureuse enseingne
Dou mal d’amours qui me mehaingne,
Et qu’il n’est lieu dont il me veingne
     Aucun confort.
Et se ma dame est en acort
De moy grever, je te pri fort
Que tu li moustres qu’elle a tort
     Et qu’elle teingne
Tant de moy que, s’elle s’amort
A moy grever, elle m’a mort;
Et qu’elle est ma vie et ma mort,
     Que qu’il aveingne.

Je n’i say autre conseil mestre
Se je ne vueil l’amer demestre.
Mais c’est chose qui ne puet estre,
     Car sans mentir,
Se tous ceaus que Diex a fait nestre
Estoient tuit aussi grant mestre
Com Seneques d’art et de lettre,
     Li deguerpir
Ne me feroient pour morir,
Car seur toutes l’aim et desir
C’est celle ou sont tuit mi plaisir.
     C’est ma main destre.
C’est celle qui me puet garir
Et faire en joie revenir
Se de son regart mon desir
     Deingnoit repestre.

Las! Dolens! Or ne m’ose attendre
Qu’envers moy fust jamais si tendre
Qu’elle seur moy deingnast descendre
     Son dous regart,
Car tu me feïs tant mesprendre,
De moy partir sans congié prendre
Et sans nulle autre raison rendre,
     Que tempre et tart
Me fait ce dolereus depart
Pleindre, plourer, et par son art
Fait de cent mil a meins dou quart
     Mon espoir mendre.
Dont je morray, se Diex me gart,
S’elle par toy ne me depart
De ses douceurs aucune part
     Pour moy deffendre.

Car mes dolens cuers tant s’esmaie,
Pour ce que m’esperence vraie
N’est pas, qu’il n’est joie que j’aie.
     Ce me tourmente.
Ce me fait meinte mortel plaie.
Ce me confont; ce me deplaie,
Si qu’il n’est maus que je ne traie
     Qu’autre amis sente.
Car m’amour donnay en jouvente,
Cuer, corps, ame, vie, et entente
A ma tres douce dame gente,
     Plaisant, et gaie.
Las! Or langui en grief attente
Et vif en pensee dolente.
C’est le guerredon, c’est la rente
     Qu’Amours me paie.

Amours, ce n’est mie raison
De moy donner tristece en don
En lieu de joieus guerredon;
     Eins est pechiez
Quant je suis sans condition
Tous mis en ta subjection.
Or me mes a destruction
     Et entrepiez,
Qui deüsses estre mes chiés,
Et par toy m’est li dez changiez.
Et par toy de joie essilliez
     Sans occoison
Sui et de ma dame eslongiez.
Mais s’auques einsi dure m’iez
Confort n’espoir de mes meschiés,
     Ne garison.

Et quant Esperence ne joint
A mon cuer, einsois s’en desjoint,
Se Fol Espoir a li se joint,
     N’est pas merveille,
Puis que tu fais si mal a point
Que tu m’as maté et empoint
Par ton meffait en l’angle point,
     Vueille ou ne vueille.
La n’est il biens que je recueille.
La mon vis de larmes se mueille.
La n’est il riens qui me conseille,
     Ne qui me doint
Confort dou mal qui me traveille.
La sens je doleur nompareille.
La Pitez dort; la Desirs veille,
     Qui trop me point.

La suis je pis qu’en continue.
La sens je doleur qui m’argue.
La tramble mes cuers et tressue.
     La m’asseür
Que m’esperence est esperdue
Se la grief doleur continue
Qui tant s’est en mon cuer tenue
     Que bon eür
N’arai jamais; et se j’en jur,
Diex scet que je ne m’en parjur.
Pour ce toute joie forjur,
     Qu’estre perdue
Doit en moy quant j’aim de cuer pur.
Et tous adés me sont plus dur
Li mal que pour ma dame endur.
     Ce me partue.

Las! Dolens! C’est ce qui efface
En moy d’esperence la grace.
C’est ce qui a la mort me chace
     Et fait penser
Qu’ensement comme uns chiens de chace
Aprés sa beste fuit et chace
Et la sieut partout a la trace
     Pour li tuer.
Einsi Desirs de saouler
Mes fols yex d’assez remirer
De la bele et bonne sans per
     La douce face
Me berse et chasse sans cesser
Et me cuide a la mort mener.
Mais humblement vueil endurer,
     Quoy qu’il me face.

Mais il n’a pas si grant pooir
De moy faire doleur avoir
Com j’ay bon cuer dou recevoir.
     Or y parra.
Se pour ce que j’ay povre espoir
De ma douce dame veoir
Et qu’Amours m’a en nonchaloir,
     Qu’il me fera?
M’ocira il? Il ne porra,
Car ma loiauté m’aidera.
Qu’ai je dit? Einsois me sera
     Contraire, espoir.
Car puisqu’Amours me grevera
Et Fortune, qui honni m’a,
Ma grant loiauté m’ocira,
     Si com j’espoir.

Car mes cuers ne se porroit feindre
D’amer ma dame ne refreindre;
Einsois est toudis l’amour greindre
     Qui en moy meint,
Ne riens ne la porroit esteindre.
Car quant elle me fait plus teindre,
Dementer, gemir, et compleindre,
     Tant plus m’enseint.
J’ay oï recorder a meint
Que quant uns malades se pleint
Que sa doleur fait de son pleint
     Un po remeindre.
Las! Et c’est ce qui mon cuer teint.
C’est ce qui plus griefment l’ateint.
C’est ce qui tout mon bien esteint,
     Sans joie ateindre

Pour ce que riens de ma pensee
Ne scet ma dame desiree,
Seur toute creature amee
     Dou cuer de mi,
Ne la tres dure destinee
Qui m’est pour li amer donnee,
Et comment s’amour embrasee
     Est toute en mi
Mon cuer, qui est siens sans demi,
Ne comment je pleure et gemi
Souvent pour s’amour et fremi,
     Qui enflamee
Est en moy, dont je di “Aymi!
Occirez vous dont vostre ami
Entre les mains son annemi,
     Dame honnouree?”

C’est de Desir, qui mon cuer flame
Et point de si diverse flame,
Qu’en monde n’a homme ne fame
     Qui medecine
Y sceüst se ce n’est ma dame,
Qui l’art, qui l’esprent, qui l’enflame
Et bruïst d’amoureuse flame;
     N’elle ne fine.
Fortune est sa dure voisine,
Et Amours l’assaut et le mine,
Dont morir cuit en brief termine
     Sans autre blasme.
Mais s’einsi ma vie define,
A ma dame qu’aim d’amour fine,
Les mains jointes, la chiere encline,
     Vueil rendre l’ame.

Et quant a par moy debatus
Me fui assez et combatus,
Et fait ma pleinte et ma clamour
De Fortune amere et d’Amour,
Des grans doleurs et des meschiés
Dont j’estoie et sui entichiés,
(Qui m’orent volut travillier
De geüner et de veillier,
De soupirs en larmes noiez),
Aussi fui com tous desvoiez
De scens, de memoire, et de force
Et de toute autre vigour. Pour ce
Estoie je cheüs en transe
Aussi com cils qui voit et pense
Sa mort devant li toute preste.
Si tournay un petit ma teste
En gettant .i. plaint dolereus,
Comme homs veins, mas, et langoreus.
Et entrouvri l’un de mes yex
Un petit, — car je ne pos miex —
Pour ce que voloie veoir
Entour moy. Mais je vi seoir
Dalés moy la plus bele dame
Qu’onques mais veïsse, par m’ame,
Fors ma dame tant seulement.
Car tant estoit parfaitement
Bele, gente, et bien acesmee,
Que se Diex de ses mains fourmee
L’eüst; s’estoit elle d’affaire
Bel, bon, gent, dous, et debonnaire.
Mais il ne me fu mie avis
Quant je l’esgardai vis a vis
Que ce fust creature humeinne
De li, ne qu’elle fust mondeinne,
Dont j’avoie moult grant merveille.
Car sa face blanche et vermeille
Par juste compas faite a point
Si que meffaçon n’i a point,
Si clerement resplendissoit
Que sa clarté esclarissoit
Les tenebres, la nuit obscure
De ma dolereuse aventure,
Et de son ray persoit la nue
Qui longuement s’estoit tenue
Tourble, noire, anuble, et ombrage
Seur mon cuer et seur mon visage
Si que, comment qu’a meschief fusse
Tel que de mort paour heüsse,
Moult volentiers la resgardoie
Pour ce qu’en veoir me sentoie
Un petitet reconfortez
De mes dures maleürtez.
Car tout aussi com d’une drame
Le bon maistre garist et drame
L’ueil empeechié de catharacte,
Dou quel il couvient qu’il abate
Par soutil engien une toie
Qui la clarté tient et desvoie,
Et li rent sa clarté premiere,
Tout einsi me rendoit lumiere
De cuer, de memoire, et de l’ueil,
Et me metoit d’umbre en soleil
Sa clarté et sa resplendeur.
Et aussi venoit une odeur
De sa douceur tant precïeuse
Et de saveur si gracïeuse
Qu’onques ne fu plus douce chose
En ciel, en mer, n’en terre enclose,
N’onques odeur ne fu si fine,
Ne douceur, tant fust enterine,
Qui n’eüst encontre lui blasme,
Tel com le fiel contre le basme;
Si que li pourpris ou j’estoie
En estoit pleins et bien sentoie
Qu’odeur de li tant douce issoit
Que ma dolour adoucissoit,
Comment que nature esbahie
Fust en moy, plus que je ne die.

Lors, comme homs qui souvent souspir,
Gettay .i. plaint et .i. souspir
De parfont cuer, acompaingniés
De plours et en larmes baingniés;
Et tournai vers li a grant peinne
Ma chiere teinte, pale, et pleinne
De maniere desconfortee,
Triste, dolente, et esplouree.
Mais nulle riens ne li disoie
Pour ce que parler ne pooie,
Eins la regardoie a estat.
Et quant elle vit mon estat,
Si en sousrist moult doucement,
Lors se treï courtoisement
Vers moy pour savoir de mon estre,
Et si me prist par la main destre
De la sienne, blanche et polie,
Pour miex savoir ma maladie;
Si senti mon pous et ma veinne,
Qui estoit foible, mate, et veinne.
Mais sa main n’ostoit a nul fuer
De la veinne qui vient dou cuer,
Car bien savoit, la bonne et sage,
Que dou cuer me venoit la rage
Qui si griefment me demenoit
Et que d’ailleurs ne me venoit.

Et quant elle ot a son plaisir
Veü mon estre, et a loisir,
Et qu’elle sot sans couverture
De mon mal toute l’encloüre,
Et qu’en tele doleur estoie
Des maus d’amours que je sentoie,
Com celle qui la theorique
Toute savoit et la pratique
Qu’il failloit a ma medecine,
Et qui bien congnoissoit l’orine
Des yex dou cuer, qui fondanment
Estoit faite amoureusement
Et qui plus savoit de confort
Que Fortune de desconfort,
Et qui conforter me voloit
Des maus dont mes cuers se doloit,
Car il n’est viande si sade
Com bon confort a un malade
— Com fisicienne soutive,
Sage, aperte, et confortative,
D’une bele vois, clere et seinne,
Plus douce que nulle douceinne,
Me dist, quant elle m’ot sentu:
“Dous amis, comment te sens tu?
Et d’ou te vient ceste dolour
Qui einsi desteint ta coulour?
Certes, je croy qu’elle te teingne
Au cuer et que d’amer te veingne.
Si ne te dois pas desconfire
Einsi, ne toy mettre a martyre,
Car c’est grant honte et grans deffaus
Puis que tu n’ies mauvais ne faus
Envers ta dame que tu aimmes,
Quant pour li amer las te claimmes.
Je t’ay pluseurs fois öy dire
Que tu ne vosisses eslire
Autre bien n’autre souffissance,
Fors que de sa douce sanblance
Souvenirs et Douce Pensee
Fussent en toy sans dessevree,
Et que cil .ij. te garissoient
De tous les maus qui te venoient.
A qui tient il que ne les aies?
Il tient a toy qui trop t’esmaies,
Car ta dame, de jour en jour,
Croist en biauté sans nul sejour,
En douceur, et en tout le bien
Qu’on puet penser, ce sai je bien.
Et quant elle croist et abunde
Plus qu’en dame qui soit ou munde
En tout ce qu’on puet bon nommer,
Tu ne te dois pas las clamer
Se tu l’aimmes bien, n’esmaier
Qu’elle ne te doie paier
Plus mil fois que ne dessers
En ce que tu l’aimmes et sers.
Et aussi c’est chose petite
A li de rendre a toy merite.
Car tout le menre guerredon
De qu’elle te puist faire don,
Dont elle a sans fin et sans nombre,
Vaut .vc. fois, s’a droit le nombre,
Plus que desservir ne porroies,
Se tu l’amoies et servoies,
Nom pas tous les jours de ta vie,
Mais autant com la monarchie
De ce monde porra durer.
Et loiaument te puis jurer
Que tous les jours, en mil manieres,
Riches, precïeuses, et chieres,
Elle te guerredonneroit
Que ja plus povre n’en seroit;
Que biens en li tant s’abandonne
Que plus en a quant elle plus donne,
Mais que bonne Amour s’i consente.
Et quant Amours t’a mis en sente
De sa bonne grace esperer,
Tu ne te dois pas desperer
Pour un petit de mesprison,
Quar mauvaistié ne traïson
N’i ot, quant a la verité,
Fors paour, honte, et nisseté
Avec Amours qui s’i mesla,
Quant servis fus de ce més la
Qui te mist en cuer l’apostume,
Dont ta douceur en amer tume.

Encor dois tu penser aussi
Pour toy mettre hors de soussi —
Non mie penser, mais savoir,
Se tu vues pais et ioie ravoir —
Que puis qu’elle a parfaitement
Tous les biens qu’on puet bonnement
Ymaginer, dire, ou penser,
Qui croissent en li sans cesser,
Et qu’elle est des vertus paree,
Et de tous vices separee,
Qu’il couvient de neccessité
Qu’en li soit Franchise et Pité,
Humblesse et Charité s’amie;
Et pour ce tu ne te dois mie
Einsi mettre a desconfiture,
Car Pitez est dessus Droiture,
Qui jamais ne porroit souffrir
Toy veoir a la mort offrir
Pour amer, c’est chose certeinne,
Ne Franchise, qui moult procheinne
Est de Charité et d’Umblesse.
Et se tu dis qu’Amours te blesse,
Tu vues ressambler a celui
Qui ne se loe de nelui,
Eins se tourmente et se courresse
Quant sa besongne bien adresse.
Et certes tu li fais injure
De dire a li qu’elle t’est dure,
Et c’est pechiez d’ingratitude
Et maniere mauvaise et rude.
N’as tu mie dit en ton lay —
Si as, se bien retenu l’ay —
Qu’Amours, que tu en supplioies,
A ta dame que tu amoies
Porroit bien dire ton martyre
Car tu ne li savoies dire?
Et elle, com franche et honneste,
A oÿ et fait ta requeste,
Car elle a dit et descouvert
L’amour que tu as tant couvert
A ta dame si sagement
Et de si tres bon sentement
Qu’onques ne fu, ne jamais n’iere,
Personne qui en tel maniere,
Si bien, si bel, ne si a point,
Li peüst dire que dou point
De fine amour sens la pointure
Pour sa biauté plaisant et pure —
Ja soit ce qu’elle li deïst,
Sans ce que parole en feïst.
Mais bele chose oy tesmongnier:
Po parler et bien besongnier.
Si ne say que tu li demandes;
Qu’elle a acompli tes demandes
Et fait plus que tu ne voloies
De ce que tu li requeroies.
Mais chien qu’on nage, en lieu de paie,
Quant il est passez, il abaie.
Biaus dous amis, einsi fais tu,
Et tout ce ne vaut .i. festu,
Car il n’est chose si perdue
Com bonté qui n’est cogneüe.

Cuides tu que dame honnouree,
Sage, loial, et avisee,
Prise celui qui s’amour rueve
Par mos polis, pleins de contrueve,
Et qui en priant son langage
Farde pour miex faire le sage,
Ou qui la requiert baudement
De s’amour, et hardiement?
Certes, nennil! Ce ne puet estre,
Eins laisse tels gens a senestre
Com celle qui riens n’i aconte.
Mais il n’ont vergongne, ne honte,
Ne courrous s’il sont refusé;
Car si mauvais et si rusé
Sont qu’il ne doubtent ce qu’on dit
A eaus quant on les escondit;
Einsois ailleurs merci rouver
Vont pour les dames esprouver.
Mais quant une dame de pris
Voit l’amant qui est entrepris,
Qui n’use pas de faus samblant,
Eins a membres et cuer tramblant,
De paour desteint et nerci,
Quant il li vuet rouver merci;
Et qu’elle le voit si estreint
Qu’Amours de li par force espreint
La liqueur qui des yex degoute
Parmi sa face goute a goute,
Et qu’il li couvient recoper
Ses paroles et sincoper
Par souspirs puisiez en parfont
Qui mut et taisant le parfont,
Et qu’il l’estuet par force taire
Et de honte ensus de li traire,
Et qu’elle voit qu’en petit d’eure
Qu’Amours son visage couleure
De .iij. ou de .iiij. couleurs
Pour les amoureuses doleurs
Qu’il reçoit, dont ses esperis
Par force d’Amours est peris,
Saches que tantost a sa guise
Congnoist qu’il aimme sans feintise,
De vrai cuer d’ami. C’est la somme,
N’en monde n’a si soutil homme,
Tant soit apers, qui sans meffaire
Sceüst un amant contrefaire,
Qu’il n’i heüst trop a reprendre;
Ne riens ne me feroit entendre
Que il peüst soudeinnement
Sa couleur müer proprement
En .iiij. manieres diverses,
Blanches, rouges, jaunes, ou perses.
Mais Amours le fait a son vueil,
Et pour ce chastoier te vueil,
En toi moustrant que tu fais mal
Qui te pleins de l’amoureus mal,
Ne de chose qu’Amours te face;
Car elle t’a fait plus de grace
Que ne porroies desservir
En li .vc. mille ans servir.
Et si te vueil dire comment:
Amours t’a fait loial amant
A la milleur et la plus bele
Qui vive; mais encor t’a elle
Fait une moult grant courtoisie,
Laquele tu ne congnois mie,
Qu’elle li ha par sa puissance
Donné certeinne congnoissance
Par maniere sage et soutive
De l’amour qui en toy s’avive,
En approuvant par son decret
Que cuer as loial et secret,
Par la maniere dessus ditte,
Qui est celle qui plus profite
Et qui doit estre receüe
Plus en gré et plus chier tenue.
Car en ce cas, quoy que nuls die,
Homs ne diroit sa maladie
Jamais si proprement de bouche
Com fait cil a qui elle touche
Au cuer, si que dire ne puet
Qu’il a, ne de quoy il se duet.
Et einsi t’est il avenu.
Or dis qu’il t’est mesavenu,
Quant ta besongne bien te vient
Et qu’Amours t’amie devient,
Qui se dehüst miex de toy pleindre
Que tu ne t’en doies compleindre.

Aprés tu ne fais chose nulle
Dont joie en ton cuer tant s’anulle,
Ne dont tu aies tant d’irour,
Comme de vivre en telle errour
Que tu tiens ta dame pour fole.
Et ce te destruit et affole,
Que tu penses et ymagines,
Ce m’est vis, songes ou devines,
Qu’elle pas n’entende ou congnoisse
L’amour qui en ton cuer s’engroisse,
Et crois qu’elle ne voie goute.
Mais si fait — de ce ne te doubte
— Car elle est sage et parcevant
De congnoistre .i. cuer decevant
Au maintient et a la parole;
Ne ja si soutil parabole
Ne dira qu’elle ne l’entende;
Et s’elle en voit .i. qui se rende
En amours de vray sentement
Pour vivre et morir loiaument,
Si com tu le fais et as fait,
De cuer, de pensee, et de fait,
Legierement le congnoistra,
Comment que fort a congnoistre a
Cils qui vuet avoir sans doubtance
La juste et vraie congnoissance
Pour congnoistre le cuer loial
Dou mauvais et dou desloial,
Car c’est chose moult reponnue.
Mais ta dame, qui est tenue
Pour la millour et la plus sage
Des dames, scet tout ton corage
Qu’Amours li aprent et ensengne
Par la vraie et loyal enseingne
Que nuls faus amoureus ne porte;
Qu’en cuer desloial elle est morte,
Et en cuer loial liement
Regne et resplendist clerement.
La congnois tu? Certes, nennil!
Car tu n’ies mie si soutil.
Pour ce me vueil mettre a l’essay
Dou dire, si com je le say.

C’est .i. escut dont la matiere
Est de souffrir a humble chiere,
Et le champ est de fin asur.
Mais il est si monde et si pur
Qu’il n’i a d’autre couleur tache
Qui le descouleure ne tache.
.I. cuer de gueules ha enmi
Feru d’une flesche par mi
De sable; mais onques ne fu
Tel fer qu’elle a, qu’il est de fu
A cinc labiaus de fin argent;
Et trop y affiert bel et gent
Ce qu’il est tous semés de larmes.
Ce sont les droites pleinnes armes
Dou fin amant sans difference;
Mais enarmez est d’esperence.
Se tu ne scez que c’est a dire,
Monstrer le te vueil et descrire.

On recorde, et s’est avenu
Souvent, que pluseurs sont venu
A leur entente seulement
Par souffrir bien et humblement;
Que humblement souffrir a la fie
Maint dur cuer veint et amolie,
Et li proverbes qui recorde:
‘Qui sueffre, il veint,’ bien s’i acorde.
Aprés des couleurs de l’escu,
Pour ce que n’as pas tant vescu
Que tu en saches l’ordenance,
Te diray la signefiance.
Saches de vray qu’en tout endroit
Ou on descript armes a droit:
La couleur de pers est clamee
Asur, s’elle est a droit nommee,
Le rouge gueules, le noir sable,
Et le blanc argent, mais sans fable
Je te di qu’on appelle encor
Le vert sinople et le jaune or.
Or te vueil ces couleurs aprendre,
Comme en Amours les dois entendre:
Saches que le pers signefie
Loiauté qui het tricherie,
Et le rouge amoureuse ardure
Naissant d’amour loial et pure;
Le noir te moustre en sa couleur
Signefiance de doleur,
Blanc joie, vert nouveleté;
Et le jaune, c’est fausseté.
Mais retien les .iiij. premiers
Et laisse les .ij. darreniers.
Car s’en l’escu fussent posees,
Les armes en fussent faussees.
Mais le fer ardant de la flesche
Qui le cuer toudis art et seche,
Sachiés certeinnement qu’il art
Et bruïst par si soutil art
Qu’il n’i pert tache ne arsure,
Trace, plaie, ne blesseüre,
Et einsi se keuve et engendre
Com li charbons dessous la cendre.
Mais comment que cils feus sensibles
Soit au cuer, il est invisibles,
Et aussi est cils qui l’alume.
C’est Desirs qui lape et qui hume
Le sanc dou cuer et la substance
Qui en tel feu fait sa penance.
Nompourquant c’est chose certeinne
Qu’en ce feu n’a doleur ne peinne
Uns cuers qu’est de bonne nature,
Eins y prent douce norriture
Et s’i delite en tel maniere
Com li poissons en la riviere.

Or t’ay devisé et apris —
Se retenu l’as et compris —
Comment ta dame puet savoir
Que tu l’aimmes sans decevoir,
Car les armes portes entieres
En cuer, en vis, et en manieres,
Fors tant que les enarmes toutes
Sont sans cause en l’escut deroutes
Pour ce qu’Esperence te faut,
Ce te samble, par ton deffaut.
Mais se tu me vues avouer,
Je suis ci pour les renouer;
Si les ferai milleurs que nueves,
Ne qu’autres que saches ne trueves,
Mais que tu teingnes le propos
Que de toy ci dessus propos:
C’est qu’en toy n’aies si grant vice
Que ta dame cuides si nice
Qu’elle n’ait bien aperceü
Qu’Amours t’a pris et receü
En sa douce religion
Pour parfaire profession,
Sans penser avoir, ne remort,
Que n’i soies jusqu’a la mort,
Et qu’il li plaist bien que siens soies.
Pour ce te pri que tu me croies,
Car je te jur seur ma creance,
S’estre vues en ma gouvernance
Qu’a tous besoins te porteray,
Aiderai, et conforteray
Tres loiaument et de bon vueil,
Ne jamais laissier ne te vueil,
Sain, malade, lié, ne mari,
Ne que la femme son mari.
Or pren cuer et te reconforte,
Biaus dous amis, car je t’aporte
La santé dont tu as desir.
Et vraiement, je la desir.
Mais pour toy un petit deduire
Et pour tes maus a joie duire,
Te vueil dire un chant nouvelet.
Car chose plaist qui nouvele est.”


Lors d’une vois douce et serie,
Clere, seinne, en tel melodie
Commensa son chant dalés mi
C'un petitet m’i endormi,
Mais ne fu pas si fermement
Que n’entendisse proprement
Qu’einsi commensa par revel
Joliement son chant nouvel:

He laughs in the morning who weeps at night,
And a man trusts that Love labors
To his benefit though she launches an assault
     And does him an evil turn,
And he thinks Joy hastens his way
To help when in fact she never budges.
Now Fortune is the source of all this harm
     As she turns her wheel,
Not waiting for day to dawn
To start it in motion; rather she never rests,
But turns, turns again, and turns it all around
     Until she brings to the very top
The man lying defeated in the gutter;
The one on top she conveys to the bottom,
Distressing and discouraging in a flash
     Those who are most happy.

For she is neither fixed nor reliable,
Just, loyal, or truthful.
When thought charitable,
     She’s a miser,
Harsh, fickle, terrifying,
Traitorous, unpleasant, deceptive;
And when you think she’s being friendly,
     She’s hard-hearted instead.
For though she appears a friend,
As sweet as honey, true as any mother,
The sting of a viper,
     However incurable,
Compares not in the least to her,
For she would betray her own father,
Dump him from honor into incredible

If Fortune loves, it’s from a distance.
If needed, she never appears,
Nor does she show affection to anyone,
     Whether vile or virtuous.
And I testify she’s deceptive enough
To bear false witness and so put
In a tough spot the finest friend
     She has in the world.
She flays more than she shears,
And wickedness abounds in her,
For she destroys whomever she fosters,
     Never giving a rotten apple
For anything she brings to ruin,
Aiming to wreck her own works,
And in this she is unrivaled and without peer.
     Here’s the name I give her:

“Dull-witted, half-blind, faithless, and tawdry.”
Never doing enough ill to satisfy herself,
She doesn’t care a fig for the whole world,
     Instead dominating all
In the manner of the moon,
Which now is full, clear, and luminous,
And yet in two weeks’ time
     Loses shape and brightness,
Save that Fortune knows no month or week,
No fixed day, no dependable hour;
Instead her vengeance is unpredictable;
     As everyone knows,
For when someone is most possessed
Of the honor and riches of this world,
As she turns, she brings him down to nothing,
     Such is Fortune.

Consider two pails in a well,
For they provide an apt analogy.
One’s full, while the other’s empty,
     And if one goes up,
The other descends; just so I find
That Fortune, in what she does,
Brings up one, sinks another down,
     And is unconcerned if this is
A king, duke, nobleman, or count:
To one she gives honor, the other shame.
One she disgraces; the other she exalts.
     That’s her pleasure;
She undermines and dominates all pride.
But Boethius instructs
Us to pay no attention
     To the pain she causes.

Fortune knows more of practicalities
Than any master of physics,
Of divinity, or logic,
     Or even a beggar
In regard to finding some obscure path;
She flatters, she wounds, she stings,
Thumbing her nose at one and all,
     Smiling the whole time.
She makes one insignificant, another great;
She forces one back, advances the other.
She laughs one minute, weeps the next, knowing
     Not whom she loves, and so her
Appeals are quite deceptive.
She holds to nothing promised,
And, in sum, spends all her time
     Trying to make everyone fall.

Nebuchadnezzar recounts
How in a dream he saw a statue
Huge and tall, whose face
     Was horrifying,
Its head all of gold, pure and rich,
The arms and torso worked from silver,
The stomach, thighs that it featured were
     Made from bronze,
Standing on legs forged of iron,
With feet partly of iron
And the rest terracotta. And then he saw
     How, as it chanced,
A stone, not thrown by hand, flew down
And struck the statue between the feet,
Shattering everything to fragments
     And filth.

The statue he mentions here
Can be none other I think
Than Fortune, who never rests
     A day or hour.
Her head is gold, if I dare admit it,
Which encloses all wealth,
Or so think fools she strings along,
     Who live in an error
That could not be more mistaken;
For she hasn’t the power and strength
To do other than bestow pain and suffering.
     Retain this thought and gloss it:
For her joys are but weeping,
And her riches merely ice in an oven.
And thus whoever opposes her
     Acts most properly.

For if you live with great wealth,
You’ll never have true happiness,
Only pain, desolation and gloom,
     And you’ll fear
Losing those riches, a deep wound,
Or you’ll experience the bitterness and harshness
Of avarice, the mistress
     Of pestilences.
And if you’re mired in poverty,
You’ll lack the ability to endure it,
But every day find your hand at the point of
     Turning thief.
Therefore you should value no power
That lacks peace, security, and
Satisfaction, offers only pain and misfortune,
     Weeping and distress.

Her arms and chest are fashioned of silver,
But this is only deceptive show:
For it is their bright shining
     That dims the sight
And blinds the eyes of many
To whom she makes inflated promises,
While in her bosom secretly
     Nursing treason.
With one arm she lifts them onto her wheel,
More gently than any aloe;
With the other she strikes them on the cheek
     So brutally
They are tossed into the mud,
Mocking them then with her expression.
This is the endowment Fortune grants
     Those she adopts.

Her belly and thighs are all bronze,
But this is to signal with great clarity
To all those close to her
     How her changes are
For the worse. You see there certain proof,
For at the top her head is gold,
And then comes silver, not tin.
     Do I speak truth or am I lying?
Finally there’s bronze, ignoble and unfitting.
Surely, this is no good transformation.
Only a fool anticipates such gifts,
     Or holds out his hand,
For by this mutability she avenges herself
On those she flatters and deceives,
Robbing them of their honor and reputation
     Day after day.

On legs of iron she stands,
Demonstrating how in no way
Does the man who possesses her
     Fear storms, tempests, gales,
Or whatever anyone might do or say.
But this is mere false surface,
For her feet are made of clay,
     Slippery and fragile.
And since her foundation is not
Solid rock, but worthless sand,
The man shames and fools himself
     Who respects her enough
To take to heart any of her teachings,
For she plays tricks on her pupils
And everywhere bruits about their foolishness,
     Holding them in no esteem.

In my view no man is estimable at all
Who intends building something important
On a worthless foundation
     Without suffering disaster.
For when the work is furiously
Underway, its base collapses,
Causing the entire edifice
     To crumble and fall.
Just so savage Fortune,
When she’s been constructing some work
And the building has reached its highest stage,
     Makes the gale and storm
Of adversity hurl on through,
Laying waste to everything —
Foundation, roof, and masonry —
     With a single assault.

Fortune has more than a thousand tricks
To entrap and deceive her own;
But this wretch possesses nothing
     She can give them.
She can promise plenty of her goods;
But you are very much the fool to think
That any of these might belong to you.
     While sitting still she takes flight;
Her right side is gracious, the other hostile;
Her right hand bears flowers, leaves, and fruit.
The other is bare, empty, and devoid
     Of earthly goods.
The right quite brilliantly blazes forth,
The other most resembles dark night.
And she’s amusingly divided between
     Gold and garbage.

Fortune is hateful love,
Unfortunate good luck.
She’s a miserly generosity.
     She’s abandonment.
She’s sad and painful health.
She’s miserly wealth.
She’s a nobility poor and shameful,
     Void of loyalty.
She’s prideful humility.
She’s envious charity.
She’s a perilous safety.
     Too untrustworthy is she.
She’s power in poverty.
She’s repose in adversity.
She’s famine in a satisfied heart.
     She’s a raging joy.

She’s hard-hearted suffering.
She’s envious sufficiency.
She’s a peace pained and troubled.
     She’s vanity.
She’s a domineering patience;
She’s lazy diligence.
She’s considerate neglect
     Opposed to friendship.
She’s the tree of inhumanity,
Rooted in deception.
The tree trunk shows that there are
     Lies in her truth.
Her flowers are of faithfulness,
And the leaves of iniquity,
But the fruit comes from a poverty
     Hard and cruel.

Her head is half bald.
With one eye she laughs, the other pours tears.
One cheek is vivid with life,
     The other death itself.
If one of her hands is your friend,
The other’s your mortal enemy.
One foot is well-formed, the other clubbed,
     She twists what is straight.
Her strength is that in falling she’s strong;
She comforts herself in discomfort.
Laughing, she’s the bearer of desolation,
     Tears, and misery.
Comforting, she troubles;
She advances her own with bad treatment.
She delights in every kind of evil deed,
     No matter what anyone says.

Fortune is above justice;
She holds to her own statutes and laws
Over emperors, popes, and kings,
     And not one of these three
Can oppose her, however fierce
Haughty, or resolute he might be.
For Fortune breaks and beats down
     Whatever resistance they mount.
It’s certainly true that she struggles
And fights to advance men such as these,
And lends them honor and rank,
     For who knows how many months.
But everywhere she betakes herself,
She finds such great pleasure in playing tricks
That, winning the game, she utters “checkmate”
     In an arrogant tone.

And this is what Fortune’s done to me, I believe,
Just as I’ve recounted here;
For once I possessed every joy
     In abundance.
But now this turn of events has laid me so low
All my laughter has turned to bitter weeping,
And all the goods that once were mine
     Have vanished.
For just now I would not dare look
Upon the face of that belle to whom
My heart is pledged, and whom I love so much
     It could be no more.
And yet my desire to gaze upon her is so great
My miserable heart goes mad,
And so I don’t know what to do
     I am so undone.

Love, Love, you did this to me,
Making me fall into the error
That has completely ruined the joy that’s mine!
     For I can surely say
Your shaft so afflicted my heart
I could have said nothing at that moment
Even had I been granted forever
     The empire in its entirety.
Why did you compel me to settle on
A woman for whom my heart sighs
So profoundly it cannot tell joy from anger?
     And why is it your wish
To destroy me utterly through the love I bear her?
Since you set ablaze my sorrowful heart,
It has melted in the suffering love brings.
     Was this good to do?

Alas! What are you asking of me?
With all the power that’s mine I love you,
Now you show me hate, striking
     Me down from on high,
And beating me so fiercely with your whip
In the prison house where you’ve shoved me
That, my shield lowered, I surrender myself,
     Defeated and vanquished.
And so you go too far wrong assaulting me
When I surrender and am your captive,
For, having proved the victor,
     In no way should
You keep striking and beating a prisoner.
Rather you should wish for his recovery.
Alas! Trapped in your bonds I am pummeled,
     After giving up and being taken!

This does not redound to your honor, I believe,
When I serve you with such fidelity
I humbly agree to die
     Should it please you
For the sake of the lady I no longer look upon.
And so I fear (and it’s a marvel to me)
Her noble heart might be
     Angry with me.
And thus I am poorly treated,
Saddened, depressed, made miserable
Because you’ve taken away what advantaged me,
     And why, I do not know.
And this has robbed the color from my face,
Filling my heart to the brim with tears,
Mingled with painful wailing,
     And all because of you.

At the same time I do not wonder —
When the glance from her sweet eye
And her face, shining, pale and rosy,
With beauty, more than gold in the sunlight,
And her body, unrivaled
In its sweetness, graciously
     Turned in my direction —
If my vision went blurry
And words dried up in my mouth,
If strength drained from me.
     For it was by your wish
That Nature delivered my body a shock
And my senses deserted me,
Making my heart tremble and flutter.
     And so I lament.

And this is how her perfect beauty,
Fresh and sweet as any summer flower,
And the incredible glow
     Of her visage,
By which I saw myself illuminated,
The power of her glance, greater than all others,
Completely bewildered my five senses;
     I could do nothing more.
Alas! And from this I’ve felt so much distress
I don’t know what path to follow;
Neither joy nor happiness
     Remains now within me,
But since I love without doing wrong,
You’re intent on destroying me completely
Unless the lady, kind and noble,
     Takes pity on my situation.

And it depends on you, as is quite appropriate
For I’m yours, whatever might happen.
But remember, I beg you,
     How I bear
In my heart the loving sign
Of the lovesickness that wounds me,
And that there’s no place
     I might find any solace.
And if my lady intends
Me harm, I beg you passionately
To point out her error and tell her
     She possesses
Me so completely that, if her aim
Is to make me suffer, she’ll kill me;
For she’s my life and death,
     Whatever might happen.

I don’t know what else to do
Not wanting to get rid of the love I feel.
And yet that cannot happen,
     For, and no lie,
If all those whom God brought to life
Were each and every one as great a master
Of arts and letters as was Seneca,
     They could not persuade
Me to give her up even on pain of death,
For I love and desire her above all other women.
All my pleasure is in her;
     She is my right hand;
She’s the one who can heal me
And make my joy return
Should she agree to rekindle
     My desire with her look.

Alas! Wretched! Now I dare not hope
She might ever be so gracious
As to deign let fall upon me
     Her sweet look.
For you made me tumble into the terrible error
Of departing from her without taking leave
While offering no explanation,
     So that early and late
This sorrowful desertion makes me
Lament, weep, reducing with its power
My hope from a hundred thousand
     To less than one fourth.
Thus I’ll die, so God protect me,
If through you she does not share to me
Some portion of the sweetness she possesses
     To protect me.

Indeed my grieving heart feels such distress,
With my true hope now
Vanished, that I have no joy at all.
     This torments me;
This inflicts on me many a mortal wound;
This confounds me; this injures me,
And so there is no ill afflicting
     Other lovers I do not endure.
For in my youth I granted my love,
My heart, body, soul, life, and mind
To my lady, so sweet and noble,
     Attractive and filled with joy.
Alas! Now I languish in miserable expectation
And live on with painful thoughts;
That’s the reward, these the wages
     Love pays out to me.

Love, it makes no sense
To bestow on me the gift of sadness
Instead of a reward full of joy;
     Rather it is wrong
When making no conditions
I submit completely to your rule.
Now you bring me to destruction
     And walk all over me,
You who should have been my patron,
But have made the dice go against me.
And because of you I’m exiled from joy,
     Having done no
Wrong, and estranged from my lady.
But since you treat me so harshly,
I expect no assuaging of my miseries,
     Or any healing.

And since Hope is not one
With my heart, but rather has fled,
And Foolish Hope is the heart’s companion,
     That’s no surprise
Because you’ve gone so wrong
As to strike and beat me in this tight corner
Where your misdeed’s trapped me,
     Whether I wish or no.
There nothing good comes my way;
There my face runs with tears.
There nothing offers consolation,
     Or gives me any
Comfort for the ill that besets me.
There I suffer a pain worse than any other.
There Pity sleeps; there Desire is wakeful,
     Whose sting I too often feel.

There I’m worse off than running a constant fever.
There I feel pain attacking me.
There my heart trembles and shakes.
     There I feel certain
My hope is lost
Should this bitter pain endure,
So deeply rooted itself in my heart
     That happiness
Will never be mine; and if I swear to this,
God knows I’m not perjuring myself.
And so I abjure all joy,
     Which must be forsaken
In me since I love with a pure heart.
And always increasing in their harshness
Are the ills I suffer for the sake of my lady.
     That will finish me.

Alas! Wretched! This is what destroys in me
The grace of Hope.
This is what hectors me to the point of death
     And makes me think
That just as a hunting hound
Pursues and chases some wild thing,
Tracks it down wherever it goes
     In order to kill it,
So Desire, in order to sate
My foolish eyes with gazing sufficiently
On the sweet face
     Of that virtuous beauty unrivaled,
Assaults and pursues me, never halting,
But striving to drive me right to death.
Even so, I intend to suffer humbly
     Whatever he might put me through.

And yet his power to make me
Suffer pain is not as great
As the ability of my good heart to endure.
     And one thing becomes clear.
If I have but little hope
To see my lady
And Love’s indifferent to me,
     What can Desire do?
Will he kill me? He cannot manage it
Since loyalty will come to my aid.
What have I said? Instead that one will
     Perhaps oppose me.
For since Love tortures me,
And Fortune too, who’s shamed me,
My great faithfulness will kill me,
     Or so I expect.

For my heart can neither pretend to love
My lady nor refrain from doing so;
Rather every day the love within
     Me strengthens,
Nor can anything extinguish it.
But when she makes me grow even paler,
Go madder with grief, as I moan and complain,
     She entraps me ever more tightly.
I’ve often heard it said
That when a sick man complains,
His complaint makes his pain somewhat
     Easier to endure.
Alas! This casts a shadow on my heart.
This is what most grievously affects it.
This is what ruins all my happiness,
     Beyond expectation of joy:

That the lady I desire (loved above
All other creatures
By this heart of mine) knows nothing
     Of what is in my heart,
Or the quite bitter destiny
Meted out to me because I love her,
Or how love for her smolders
     Deep within
My heart, which is hers completely,
Or how I weep and moan
Often for her love, and tremble as well,
     How this love burns
Inside me until I cry “Woe is me!
Honored lady, will you then kill
Through the hands of his enemy
     The man who loves you?”

Desire does this, scorching and scarring
My heart with a flame so horrific
No man or woman in the world
     Can provide
The cure except my lady herself,
Who burns and sets it ablaze, who sears
And singes it with the love’s flame;
     Nor will she make an end.
Fortune is the cruel neighbor of the heart,
Which Love assaults and assails,
And so I expect death will soon seize
     Me with no further wrong committed.
But if my life ends thus,
To my lady, whom I love with a pure affection,
I’ll render up my soul,
     My hands joined, my head bowed.

And after I’d debated
All this, struggling fiercely and
Composing my lament and complaint
Against cruel Fortune and Love
For the great suffering and misfortune
That have continued to afflict me,
(And their intention was to tax me
With fasting and wakefulness,
With sighs drowning in tears),
I found myself drifting far away
From reason, memory, strength,
And all my other faculties. And this is why,
Like someone who sees and imagines
His death closing in on him,
I fell into a trance,
Turning my head a little
And letting out a lament full of pain
As if weakened and beaten down, bewildered.
Unable to manage more,
And I cracked open one eye,
For I was eager to look
Around. Now before me I saw
Sitting the most beautiful woman
I’d ever laid eyes upon, by my soul,
My lady alone excepted.
For she was as perfectly
Beautiful, genteel, and of refined appearance
As if God had shaped her with
His own hands; in manner she was
Attractive, virtuous, noble, sweet, and refined.
But, looking upon her face to face,
I did not think
She was a human creature,
Or even of this world,
And at this I much marveled;
For her face, pale and rosy,
In its proportions so perfect
There was no defect.
Shimmering quite brilliantly,
The glow from her brightened
The shadows, the dark night
Of my miserable adventure,
And its ray pierced the cloud,
Desolate, black, obscure, and gloomy,
That for so long had lowered over
My heart and countenance
And thus, though so distressed
I almost died from fear,
Quite eagerly I gazed upon her
Because in this looking I found
Some assuagement
Of my bitter suffering.
Just as a master physician heals
And cures with a precious stone
The eye distressed by a cataract,
From which he must remove
Through his subtle skill a film
That impedes and diverts the light,
Giving it back the clarity it once had,
So her brightness and glow similarly
Shed light on my heart,
My memory, and my eyes,
Took me from shadows to sunlight.
And also a fragrance then wafted up
From her, a sweetness that was so precious,
And of a scent so lovely,
Never was anything so delightful
To be found in the heavens, sea, or land,
And no aroma, however pure,
Was ever so excellent or sweet,
That just as balm surpasses gall
That other would prove inferior.
And so the enclosure where I was
Was soon redolent with it, and I very much felt
The scent emanating from her was so honeyed
It assuaged my suffering,
Though my body felt more distress
Than I can put into words.

Then, like a man used to sighing,
I let out from deep in my heart
A moan and sigh, accompanied
By weeping and bathed in tears;
And in great pain toward her I turned
My face, which was pale, tear-stained,
And sorrowful, as all could see,
Sad, pained, and running with tears.
But I spoke nary a word,
Finding myself speechless.
Instead I stared intently at her appearance.
And seeing the state I was in,
She smiled quite sweetly,
Then moved toward me gracefully
To make my acquaintance,
And with her own hand, white
And smooth, she took my right,
The better to gauge my illness;
She felt in my vein for a pulse,
Which was weak, feeble, and faint.
Never for a moment did she move her fingers
Off the vein running from the heart,
For, sharp and virtuous, she wisely thought,
That my heart, and nowhere else within me,
Was the source of the madness
Then driving me crazy.

And after to her satisfaction she’d
Examined how I was, taking her time
And learning the whole truth
Of my illness, so no mystery remained,
And how the painful state I endured
Resulted from the lovesickness I felt,
Like a woman who knows all the theory
And practical steps as well
That healing me required,
And who was well aware of the fluid
Flowing from the eyes of the heart,
Whose essence derived from loving,
And who knew more about consolation
Than Fortune does of misery,
And whose wish was to offer me comfort
For the ills afflicting my heart
Since there is no dish as satisfying
As welcome comfort for those who are sick
— Like a physician with a subtle mind,
Wise, perceptive, and consoling,
Her voice appealing, clear and soothing,
Sweeter than any flute,
She said to me, after taking my pulse:
“Dear friend, how do you feel?
And what is the cause of this painful suffering
That has so robbed your face of color?
Surely, I believe it grips
Your heart and love is its origin.
But you should not be this wretched,
Nor should you torture yourself,
For that’s quite shameful and a great mistake,
And do not consider yourself unfortunate for loving her
Since you’ve proven neither false nor ill-intentioned
Toward this lady you love.
Several times I’ve heard you say
You’d choose no other
Benefit or satisfaction,
Save that the Memory and Sweet Thought
Of her beautiful form
Might remain within, never to depart,
And that these two would heal
All the ills besetting you.
Whose fault is it that you lack these two?
It’s your fault you are so distressed,
Since your lady, from day to day,
Constantly increases in beauty,
In sweetness and every virtue
Imaginable, this I know well.
And since more than any other woman
In the world she grows blessed
With everything one could find good,
You should not consider yourself desolate
If you truly love her, nor be dismayed
That she’s not obligated to pay you
A thousand times more than what you deserve
For the love and service you offer her.
Moreover, it takes very little
For her to pay out what you’ve earned
Since even the tiniest grace
She might show you
(Which are hers in numberless infinity)
Is worth five hundred times, to calculate rightly,
What you’ve managed to merit
Through loving and serving her,
Not only all the days of your life,
But for as long as the kingdom
Of this earth manages to endure.
And, telling no lies, I can swear to you
That every day, and in a thousand ways
Rich, precious, and dear,
She’ll reward you
So you’ll no longer be poor.
For she possesses goods so abundantly
That she more she gives, the more she has,
Provided good Love consents.
And since Love has put you on the path
Of hoping to obtain her good mercy,
You should not slip into despair
Because of some small setback,
For there’s no evil or betrayal
In it, if truth be told,
Only fear, shame, and foolishness,
Along with Love, who was involved,
When you were served the dish
That fed this abscess in your heart,
Turning your sweetness bitter.

Here’s something else to remember
In order to relieve your anxiety —
Not just remember, but embrace
If you wish to regain joy and peace —
Namely that since she possesses perfectly
All the qualities one might properly
Imagine, speak of, or conceive,
And these endlessly increase in her,
And since she’s adorned with virtues
Yet is free from vice of any kind,
It clearly follows
She must also possess Generosity and Pity,
Humility, and her friend Charity;
And for this reason you ought never allow
Yourself to fall into despair,
For above Justice stands Pity,
Who could never endure watching
You embrace a martyr’s death
For the sake of love, that’s certain,
Nor could Generosity, who is quite close
To Humility and Charity.
And if you maintain Love harms you,
You make yourself out to be the kind of man
Who listens to no one,
But rather torments himself and rages on,
While all the time his affairs go swimmingly.
And certainly you do her wrong
To say she’s hard on you,
For this is the sin of ingratitude,
And an ill-mannered, evil-minded way to behave.
Haven’t you asserted in your lay
And you have, if memory serves me well —
That Love, whom you petition,
Could easily tell the lady
You love how much you suffer
Since you cannot tell her yourself?
And Love, noble and honest as she is,
Listened and did exactly what you asked,
For the very love you’ve kept so hidden,
She’s spoken of and made known
To your lady in such a cunning fashion,
And with such well-calculated sensitivity,
That there never was or will be
Anyone who in similar fashion,
So expertly, so properly, or so appropriately,
Could have told the woman how you feel
The sting of pure love’s sharp point
Through her beauty, pleasant and pure —
It being the case that Love told her this
Without having to utter a single word.
Now here’s a useful precept I’ve seen proven:
Say little, and you’ll succeed nicely.
So I don’t know what you’re asking,
For she’s fulfilled your requests,
Doing more than you wished for
Of what it is you asked to be done.
Now a dog forced to swim, making it
To the other bank, isn’t grateful, but yelps instead.
Friend sweet and fair, you do the same,
Which is worth less than a blade of grass,
For there’s nothing less appreciated
Than an unacknowledged good turn.

Do you think an honorable lady,
Who is wise, faithful, and considerate,
Values a man who seeks her love
With slippery words full of trickery,
And who, advancing his suit, measures
What he says so as to seem the wise man,
Or, further, another who demands
Her love rudely and by force?
Surely, not at all! This cannot happen;
Instead she shoves such men aside,
Treating them as nothing.
But they feel no shame, no chagrin,
No outrage when refused because they’re
So ill-intentioned and conniving
They fear nothing anyone might say
About their being rejected;
Instead they go looking elsewhere to find
Favor, putting other women to the test.
But when a worthy lady
Sees a lover who is dismayed,
Not pretending to be someone he’s not,
But whose limbs and heart tremble,
And he’s flushed and red-faced with fear
As he sets about seeking her favor.
And when she sees him so sorely pressed
That Love squeezes out from him by its power
The liquid flowing from his eyes
Down his face drop by drop,
And the man can do nothing but
Cut short his speech and punctuate it
With sighs forced out from deep inside,
Which render him speechless and silent,
And so he’s forced to hold his peace,
Shamefacedly shuffling away from her;
And when in the space of a few moments
She sees Love make his face
Change color three or four times
On account of love’s pangs, which
He feels, so that the power of Love
Devastates his spirit,
Know that through his manner she recognizes
At once how he loves without deception
And with a lover’s true heart. That’s the gist,
And in the world there is no man sharp enough,
However calculating, who, without failing at it,
Might be able to imitate a man in love
And avoid detection as well as reproach,
And nothing could lead me to credit
That he might prove able on the spot
To counterfeit convincingly
The four different colors of a lover:
White, red, yellow or blue.
But Love manages this as she wishes.
And so I teach you that it is an evident error
By explaining how you go wrong
In complaining about either lovesickness
Or anything else Love does to you.
For she has shown you more grace
Than you could merit
After serving her five hundred thousand years.
And here, I tell you, is the reason:
Love has made you the faithful lover
Of the finest and loveliest woman alive,
And yet she has shown you
An even greater courtesy,
Which you do not acknowledge in the least,
For through her power she has provided
The lady with a sure knowledge,
In a fashion wise and subtle,
Of the love that’s so vibrant in you,
Approving through her decree
How you possess a heart loyal and discreet,
Just as I’ve described above,
And this is what profits you most
And which you should accept with greater
Gratitude, valuing it more highly.
For in such a case, no matter what anyone says,
No man speaks as eloquently
Of his sickness with his own mouth
As when, touched to the very heart, he finds himself
Unable to put into words what ails him
Or what he suffers from.
And so this is what has happened in your case.
You play the fool, I say,
When your affair proceeds this smoothly
And Love’s become your ally,
And she’s the one who more rightly might
Lodge a complaint in the matter.

Furthermore, you do nothing
That so chases joy out of your heart,
Or in which you err so greatly,
As continuing in the great mistake
Of thinking your lady a fool.
And you’re devastated and enraged
As you conjure and conceive,
It seems, both dreams and fantasies of how
She neither understands nor acknowledges
The love growing stronger in your heart,
And you believe she sees nothing of it.
But she does — don’t doubt it
— Because she’s wise and sharp enough
To recognize through his words and manner
When a man’s heart is bent on deception.
And what he says will not be so deceptive
She doesn’t spot the truth of the matter.
And if she notices a heart surrendering
Itself to love out of true emotion
In order to live and die in faithfulness,
As you do and have done
In heart, thoughts, and deeds,
She’ll easily grasp the fact of the matter,
Even though it’s difficult for anyone
Who’s eager to learn beyond any doubt
In the proper fashion and for truth
How to distinguish the faithful
From the ill-intentioned and counterfeit heart,
For this is something not easily seen.
But your lady, who is considered
The best and wisest of women,
Knows everything in your heart
Because Love points out and shows this
Through the true and trustworthy ensign
No pretend lover manages to display.
For in the faithless heart this ensign has no life,
While in the loyal heart it holds sway
Joyfully and shines brilliantly.
Do you recognize it? Surely, not at all!
For you are not sufficiently versed.
And so I will try to explain it
From what I know.

It’s a shield whose decorative theme
Is to suffer with a humble demeanor,
And the field is pure azure.
But it is so pure and unsullied
There’s no trace of any other color
To deface or stain it.
In the middle is a heart all in red
Struck through by an arrow
In black; now there never was
A point such as this one, all of fire
With five tongues of pure silver;
And it is most fittingly attractive and noble,
Covered with a scattering of tears.
These are the true arms of the pure lover,
Simple in their design, lacking nothing.
But the shield-straps are fashioned from Hope.
If you don’t understand what this means,
I’ll offer a fuller account and description.

Memory suggests, and it has often
Happened, that many have achieved
Their goals in a simple fashion,
Through suffering properly and humbly;
For patient suffering softens
And overcomes many a hardened heart,
And the proverb that applies,
‘Whoever endures conquers,’ suits this well.
Now I’ll explain the arrangement
Of the colors on the shield
Since you haven’t lived long enough
To know what meaning they have,
Understand it as the truth about how arms
Are properly described:
The color ‘blue’ is called
‘Azure,’ to give it its proper name,
Red is called ‘gules,’ black ‘sable,’
And white ‘argent,’ but — and no lie —
I tell you further that green
Is called ‘sinople’ and yellow ‘or.’
Now I’ll instruct you about the colors,
How they should be understood in regard to Love:
Know that blue signifies
Loyalty, the enemy of betrayal,
And red the passionate burning
That comes from a love true and pure;
The color black shows you
How it stands for pain;
White means joy, green newness;
And yellow, why that’s falseness.
But keep just these first four in mind
And forget the last two;
For if they found a place on a shield,
The coat of arms would be ruined.
But the flaming steel tip of the arrow
That constantly sears and scorches the heart,
Burns and sizzles (know this
For certain) through such a subtle art
That no spot or singed place,
No trace, wound, or hurt appears.
And in addition it smolders and remains aflame,
Like charcoal under ashes.
But even though the heart is aware
Of this burning, it is as unseen
As the one who set the fire.
And that is Desire, who licks up and sucks
Blood from the heart and flesh
And does penance for this in the flames.
Nonetheless, it’s certain
That a heart whose nature is virtuous
Feels no pain or misery in this blaze,
But draws sweet nourishment
And takes as much delight there
As does a fish in a river stream.

Now in this description I’ve taught you —
If you’ve understood and retained it —
How your lady might discover
You love her yet intend no trickery,
For you bear all these arms
In heart, face, and demeanor,
Except that the shield straps, for no reason
Save that you lack Hope,
Because of what you think is a misdeed,
Have been severed on the shield.
But if you put your trust in me,
I’m here to make it right;
I’ll render these straps better than new,
Superior to any you might know or find,
If only you keep to the plan
I explained to you here above:
Namely that you harbor no vice so great
As to believe your lady foolish enough
Not to have clearly perceived
How Love has captured you
In order to induct you into her sweet religion
And complete your profession of faith
With no remorse or second thought;
And there you’ll remain till death.
And she’s quite pleased you would be hers.
So believe me, and I beg you
To remain under my rule,
For on my faith I swear
In your every need I’ll provide
Support, aid, and comfort too,
Faithfully and willingly,
And never will I abandon you,
Either sick or healthy, happy or miserable,
No more than a wife would desert her husband.
Now take heart and console yourself,
My sweet, handsome friend, for I’ll guide you
Toward the state of well-being you desire;
And in truth, this is what I want too.
But to entertain you a little
And transform your misery into happiness,
I intend to sing a new song;
For something new pleases.”


Then with a voice clear and soothing,
Sweet, consoling, she began her song
By my side with a melody
That soon set me to dozing,
But not so deeply
I did not properly attend to
How her new song
Began prettily and joyfully:

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Joie, plaisence, et douce norriture,
Vie d’onnour prennent maint en amer.
Et pluseurs sont qui n’i ont fors pointure,
Ardour, dolour, plour, tristece, et amer
     Se dient; mais accorder
     Ne me puis, qu’en la souffrence
     D’amours ait nulle grevance,
     Car tout ce qui vient de li
         Plaist a cuer d’ami.

Car vraie Amour en cuer d’amant figure
Tres dous Espoir et gracïeus Penser:
Espoirs attrait joie et bonne Aventure;
Dous Pensers fait Plaisence en cuer entrer;
     Si ne doit plus demander
     Cils qui a bonne Esperence,
     Dous Penser, Joie, et Plaisence,
     Car qui plus requiert, je di
         Qu’Amours l’a guerpi.

Dont cils qui vit de si douce pasture
Vie d’onneur puet bien et doit mener,
Car de tous biens a a comble mesure,
Plus qu’autres cuers ne saroit desirer,
     Ne d’autre merci rouver
     N’a desir, cuer, ne beance,
     Pour ce qu’il ha Souffissance;
     Et je ne say nommer ci
         Nulle autre merci.

Mais ceaus qui sont en tristesse, en ardure,
En plours, en plains, en dolour sans cesser
Et qui dient qu’Amours leur est si dure
Qu’il ne puelent sans morir plus durer,
     Je ne puis ymaginer
     Qu’il aimment sans decevance
     Et qu’en eaus trop ne s’avance
     Desirs; pour ce sont einsi,
         Qu’il l’ont desservi.

Qu’Amours, qui est de si noble nature
Qu’elle scet bien qui aimme sans fausser,
Scet bien paier aus amans leur droiture:
C’est les loiaus de joie saouler
     Et d’eaus faire savourer
     Ses douceurs en habundance;
     Et les mauvais par sentence
     Sont com traïtre failli
         De sa court bani.


Amours, je say sans doubtance
Qu’a .c. doubles as meri
   Ceaus qui t’ont servi.

Et quant elle ot son chant finé,
Vers moy a son chief encliné
En riant doucement com celle
Que je tieng pour vierge et pucelle;
Si mist sa main dessus mon chief
Et me demanda derechief:

“Comment t’est? Que me diras tu
Ay je ton chief bien debatu?
Que te samble de ma chanson?
Y a il noise ne tenson
Qui te plaise ou qui te desplaise
Ou dont tu soies plus aaise?
Que c’est? Ne me diras tu rien
Se je say chanter mal ou bien?
Se ce n’estoit pour moy vanter,
Je diroie de mon chanter
Que c’est bien dit. Quant tu ne vues
Respondre, ne say se tu pues.
Mais je pense que tu te feingnes
De parler et que tu ne deingnes.
Je te pri, biaus tres dous amis,
Que tu ne soies si remis
Que tu te laisses einsi perdre;
Car tu te dois penre et aërdre
A ce que j’ay dit ci devant,
Nom pas le temps tenir devant
En oiseuse et en trufferie.
Laisse toute merencolie
Et tout ce qui t’i puet mouvoir
Fors l’amer; qu’on ne puet avoir
De bon temps fors ce qu’on en prent.
Et s’est trop fols qui entreprent
Pour une fole oppinion
Sa mort et sa destruction
Puis qu’il le puet bien amender.
Et pour ce te vueil commander,
Deprïer, enjoinder, et requerre
Que pais faces de ceste guerre
Qu’empris as contre toy meesmes,
Car c’est fole emprise et fols esmes.
Et je te promet et te jur
Que je te feray asseür
De ce dont yes en si grant doubte.
Or te conforte et ne te doubte,
Car se tu vues, tu yes garis,
Et se ce non, tu yes honnis.
Pren le grain et laisse la paille;
De tristece plus ne te chaille,
Car cils qui bien voit et mal prent,
C’est a bon droit, s’il s’en repent.
Et je t’offre toute m’aïe,
Com ta bonne et parfaite amie.
Si ne dois pas ci tant muser
Que tu la doies refuser;
Qu’on dit: ‘Qui ne fait quant il puet,
Il ne fait mie quant il vuet;
Et le fer chaut, on le doit batre.’
A toy ne m’en quier plus debatre;
Mais je vueil bien que certeins soies
Que tes besongnes seront moies,
Car je t’aim et faire le doi.”

Lors prist un anel en son doy,
Bel, bon, chier, precïeus, et riche,
Et doucement en mien le fiche.

Et je qui encor sommilloie
(Nom pas fort, car bien entendoie
Ce qu’elle avoit chanté et dit
En rime, en musique, et en dit),
Senti la froideur de l’anel.
Et lors d’esperit po inel
Me tournai au miex que je pos
Vers li et laissai le repos
Ou sa belle vois clere et seinne,
Plus douce que nulle sereinne,
Qui les hommes scet enchanter
Par la douceur de son chanter,
M’avoit mis, si com dit vous ay.
Et en moy tournant arrousay
De larmes mon cuer et mes yex
Et ma poitrine en pluseurs liex,
En gettant .i. dolereus plaint
Com cils qui moult se duet et plaint.
Mais tout aussi com la clarté
De ceste dame l’obscurté
De mon cuer avoit esclarci
Qu’Amours avoit teint et nercy,
Et que sa douceur doucement
Avoit adouci mon tourment,
Tout einsi le tres dous parler
De li, quant je l’oÿ parler,
Me remist en cuer la parole,
Dont ci presentement parole,
Car de tous poins perdu l’avoie.
Lors parlai, si com je pooie,
Et li dis, sans faire demeure:
“Dame, ce fu a la bonne heure
Que fustes nee et conceüe
Et que vous estes ci venue,
Quant li bien dont estes garnie
M’ont rendu santé, joie, et vie.
Car presente m’estoit a Mors,
Dont vraiement j’estoie mors,
Ma dame, se vous ne fussiez
Et s’esgardé ne m’eüssiez
Des yex de vo cuer en pité.
Mais vous m’avez ressuscité.
Se vous depri devotement
Et tant com je puis humblement,
Ma dame, qu’il vous vueille plaire
Que je sache de vostre affaire,
Vostre nom et vostre venue,
Et comment estes ci venue,
Ne par ou; qu’onques mais, par m’ame,
Se ce n’est l’amour de ma dame,
Nulle riens tant ne desirai.”

“Amis, et je le te diray
Volentiers, sans faire lonc plait;
Car ce qui te plaist, il me plait.
Je sui li confors des amans
Qui font les amoureus commans;
Je les aide; je les conseil.
Je sui de leur estroit conseil.
Je les deffen. Je les deporte.
Je les secour. Je les conforte
Contre Desir qui les assaut
Et fait maint dolereus assaut.
Je leur sui chastiaus et fortresse.
Je leur sui servante et maistresse.
Je leur sui dame et chamberiere.
Je porte partout leur baniere.
Je les tieng jolis et en joie.
Je les met d’onneur en la voie.
Je leur doing cuer et hardement
D’entreprendre hardïement.
A haute honneur les fais venir.
Amoureus les fais devenir.
Je les fais sagement parler,
Rire, jouer, chanter, baler.
Je les tieng gais et envoisiez.
Je rapaise les despaisiez.
Je les norri; je les alaite.
Je leur sui mere, amie, et gaite.
Je leur sui phisicienne et garde;
De tous maus les deffen et garde.
Il m’aourent; je les honneure.
Il me prient, et je demeure.
Je sui leur ressort, leur recours
Par coustume et par entrecours.
A tous besoins me truevent preste
Par penser, sans autre requeste,
Car j’oubeï a leurs pensees,
Se trop ne sont desordenees.
Mais tant sont de foible marrien
Que sans moy il ne puelent rien.
Et quant il ont mestier de mi,
Je te di (comme a mon ami)
Qu’aler ne me faut ne courir,
Loing ne prés, pour euls secourir.
Et se te dirai sans attendre
Comment se tu y vues entendre.”

“Oïl, dame, et je vous en pri.”

“Oi dont — je ferai ton depri.
Je te di, et le moustre a l’ueil:
Que tout aussi com le soleil
De ses rais le munde enlumine
Et de sa clarté pure et fine;
Et qu’encontre le temps d’esté
La terre, qui moult a esté
En yver brehaingne et deserte,
De noif et de glace couverte,
Se resjoïst et se cointoie,
Germe, adoucist, et renverdoie
Pour la grant chaleur qu’elle sent
Dou soleil qui seur li descent,
Si qu’adont Nature la bele
Li vest une robe nouvele
De la couleur d’une panthere,
Dont contre le printemps se pere —
A dire est qu’elle est dyapree
De toutes coulours et paree —
Car racine n’est tant diverse
Qui a ce printemps ne s’ahërse
A geter, selonc sa nature,
Fleur, fruit, fuelles, greinne, ou verdure
(Se tele n’est que plus ne sime
Et qu’il n’i ait verdeur ne chime),
Et pour c’est la terre si cointe,
Si belle, si gente, et si jointe,
Qu’elle a sa robe despouillie,
De l’iver crotée et mouillie;
Et sans plus pour l’acointement
Dou printemps est si cointement
— Einsi di je, en samblant maniere
Que tout aussi com la lumiere
Dou soleil donne par le monde,
Tant comme il tient a la reonde,
Clarté, chalour, joie, plaisence
De ses rais, qui par leur puissance
Font que la terre qui s’esgaie
En rit et devient cointe et gaie,
Qu’ensement de moy li resplent
Qui ci presentement resplent
Donne clarté par tout le siecle,
Par tout s’espant et par tout siecle
Es amans vivans en amer
Tant deça mer com dela mer,
Et leur donne clarté, chalour,
Joie, et plaisence en leur amour.
Mais je qui sui leur droite mere
Leur doing une clarté si clere,
Si a point, si bien ordenee,
Que la racine qui entee
Est dedens leur cuer d’amours germe
Fleur, fueille, fruit, et nouviau germe,
Et les fais plus cointes vint temps
Que la terre n’est au printemps,
Si qu’einsi com le soleil donne
Sa clarté loing et prés, sans bonne,
Einsi fait mon resplent roial
Partout en cuer d’ami loial.
Et se Nature soutille ouevre
Dont la terre reveste et cuevre
(Pour ce que sa robe crostee
De l’iver tans li est ostee,
Et li donne robe a parer)
Trop bien me puis ci comparer
A li, car je fais .i. amant
Cointe et joli. Scez tu commant?
Tu le saras sans contredit.
Recorde ce qu’ay devant dit.
Et s’elle fait d’une racine
Yssir fleur, et rose d’espine,
Tout einsi fais je .i. cuer florir
En toute joie et fais morir
En li doleur; car je l’esserbe,
Si que de mal n’i demeure herbe.
Et de ma douceur que tu sens,
Qui moult est plus douce qu’ensens,
L’adouci, le conforte, et l’ong
S’il le dessert, soit prés soit loing.
Et pour ce que je te savoie
Desconforté et nut de joie,
Et qu’a conforter sui tenue
Les amans, suis je ci venue.
Mais c’est a ma propre personne,
Com ta certeinne amie et bonne,
Par tel maniere que veü
Ne m’avoies, n’aperceü
Pour ce que je sui invisible.
Et quant je vueil, je sui visible.
Et de mon nom que vues savoir,
De legier pues apercevoir,
Qu’a toy ne vueil estre celee:
Esperence sui appellee.”

Quant je vi que c’iert Esperence,
Je pris confort et espoir en ce
Plus que devant n’avoie fait,
Si que mes esperis a fait
Tous ensamble mis a force ay.
Et lors de parler m’efforsay,
Et li dis de plus vive chiere:
“Ma dame reverent et chiere,
Digne de löange et d’onnour,
Excellent en toute valour
Que cuers porroit ymaginer,
Yex veoir, oreille escouter,
Main figurer, ne bouche dire,
Soutils entendemens descrire,
Goust savourer, ne tast sentir,
Desirs, voloirs, cuers asentir,
De Dieu amie et de Nature
Et de toute autre creature,
Exemples vrais, miroirs de joie,
Estoile clere qui ravoie
Les cuers desvoiez a droit port,
Contre doleur, santé, deport,
Retour de mort et medecine,
Fleur, estoc, et droite racine,
Dont joie et toute douceur vient
Ou vo ramembrance seurvient
— Se tuit cil que Dieus a fait estre
Et cil qui sont encor a nestre
Estoient chascun plus soutil,
Nom pas une fois, mais cent mil,
En bien nombrer qu’Arismetique
Et Pytagoras et Musique,
Michalus, et Milesius,
Et que li soutils Orpheüs.
Et se vosissent encombrer
Des biens et des douceurs nombrer,
Dame, dont vous avez sans nombre,
S’abaieroient il leur ombre.
Car jamais n’i asseveroient,
Ne que la mer espuiseroient.
Et pour ce, dame de vaillance,
Qu’en moy n’a pas scens ou scïence
Pour vos biens et douceurs retraire —
Si com je le dehüsse faire
Et com volentiers le feroie,
Mais en vain me travilleroie,
Ma dame — tres humblement ren ge
A vous grace, mercis, löange
.C. mille fois, et vous salu.
Car je suis au port de salu,
Ce m’est vis, quant je vous regarde,
Si met dou tout en vostre garde
Cuer, corps, ame; car il n’est lieus
Ou mettre les peüsse mieus
Pour mon temps user lïement.
Et se vous promet loiaument
Qu’en vostre douce compaingnie
Vueil mon temps user et ma vie,
Quar je voy bien tout en appert
Que cils qui vous pert, il se pert.
Pour ce jamais partir n’en quier.
Mais je vous depri et requier,
Ma dame, qu’il ne vous desplaise,
Se de ce qui moult me mesaise
Vous fais encor une demande.”

“Nennil! Seürement demande!”

“Volentiers, dame. Dit m’avez,
Si com bien faire le savez:
Comment je me doy maintenir,
Se je vueil a santé venir;
Comment Amours m’a secouru;
Comment vous avez acouru
Pour moy aidier et conforter;
Les armes qu’amans doit porter;
Et quel fust la signefiance
Des couleurs et de leur samblance,
Dont moult bon gré sceü vous é;
Comment vous m’avez espousé
De vostre anelet savoureus
Et chanté vos chans amoureus;
Comment li amant riens ne puelent
Qui departir de vous se vuelent,
Car vous estes tous leurs effors,
Leurs murs, leurs chastiaus, leurs confors;
Comment vo clarté loing et prés
Esclarcist les amans; aprés
Comment vostre douceur, plus douce
Qu’autre douceur, leurs maus adouce;
Vostre venue et vostre non,
Qui est de moult noble renon,
Et quele chose est de merci;
Dont cent mille fois vous merci.
Mais riens n’avez dit de Fortune,
Qui einsi le monde fortune,
Qui n’est, n’onques ne fu seüre,
Mais quant les siens plus asseüre,
Ceaus sont qu’elle plus griefment bat
Et qu’en bas de plus haut abat.
Je m’en say bien a quoy tenir,
Car seulement dou souvenir
De ses assaus, de ses estours,
De ses faus ris, de ses faus tours
Ay tel paour que tuit mi membre
M’en fremissent quant il m’en membre.
Pour ce, dame, je vous demant:
Qu’a moy vueilliez dire commant
Je me porray de li deffendre,
Car si gieu sont pour .i. cuer fendre,
Mais qu’il soit de loial amant
Et fust plus dur que dyamant;
Et se aus autres est si diverse
Et de nature si perverse
Comme a moy, qu’elle heüst occi,
Se Dieus ne vous heüst tost ci
Amenee, pour moy destordre
Dou mors dont elle me volt mordre.”

“Biaus dous amis, que te diroie
De Fortune? Ne t’en saroie
Plus dire que tu en dit as
En ta complainte que ditas,
Fors tant que jadis fu usages
Que li ancien .ij. visages
Li faisoient ça en arrier:
L’un devant et l’autre darrier.
Ce te demoustre chose clere,
Que Fortune est douce et amere.
Car adont douce te sera
Quant elle te resgardera
Dou visage qu’elle a devant,
Et largement t’avra couvent,
Douceur, joie, bonneürté,
Affublez de maleürté.
Car einsi le dois tu entendre,
Ja soit ce que li mundes prendre
Ne le vueille mie ensement.
Mais c’est le droit entendement;
Dont maint ont esté deceü
Qui trop ont son couvent creü,
Et tant s’en faisoient afin
Qu’il s’en perdoient a la fin.

Et se resgardés yes de l’autre,
Garde toy; car lance seur fautre,
Se vient encontre toy combatre
Pour toy de toute honneur abatre,
Sans menasse et sans deffier;
Si que tu ne t’i dois fier,
Ne qu’en baston d’un champion.
Et, selonc mon oppinion,
Des biens qu’elle donne et envoie,
De l’un pren ne de l’autre joie,
Si qu’einsi vois par sa figure
La douce fortune et la sure.
Car tele fourme li donnoient
Li ancien qui la figuroient.
Et pour ce que je t’ai acquis,
Et que d’umble cuer m’as enquis
Quelle deffense il te faudra
Avoir quant elle t’assaudra
De l’ueil de sa darreinne face
Qui fiert einsois qu’elle menace
Si qu’il n’est homs qui amender
Le puist je te vueil demander;
A ton avis, le quel tu tiens
Estre milleur de ces deus biens:
Ou le bien que tu ne porroies
Perdre ou celui que bien perdroies?”

“Dame, la response est legiere.”

“Di la dont.”

        “Certes, dame chiere,
Le bien qu’on ne pert est milleur.”

“Dont est cils qu’on pert le pieur?”

“Dame, c’est voirs; je m’i acort.”

“Or sommes nous donc en acort;
Si te vueil moustrer clerement
Que tu as fait bon jugement.
Cuides tu, se prosperité
Est en li, que felicité
Avec la boneürté vraie
Y soient? De ce ne t’esmaie,
Car c’est chose qui ne se puet
Joindre. Et vez ci ce qui me muet:
La bonneürté souvereinne
Et la felicité certeinne
Sont souverein bien de Nature,
Qui use de Raison la pure.
Et tels biens, on ne les puet perdre.
Pour ce comparer ne aërdre
Ne s’i puelent cil de Fortune.
Car on voit (et chose est commune)
Que qui plus en a, plus en pert.
Si que je te moustre en appert
Que Fortune n’a riens seür,
Felicité ne boneür.
Et se de li garder te vues,
Je te dirai que faire pues.
Et pour estre boneüreus.
Dont n’as tu riens si precïeus
Comme toy?”

        “Ma dame, nennil!”

“Or tien dont son pooir si vil
Qu’aies de toy la signourie.
Garde que Raisons te maistrie
Et qu’aies en toy pacïence
Et la vertu de souffissance,
Car bonneürtez vraiement
Vient de souffrir pacïenment.
N’il n’est homme, a mon essïent,
Que quant il est impacïent,
Qui ne vosist avoir fait change
De son estat a .i. estrange.
Et ce le fait maleüreus
Et vivre en estat perilleus.
Aussi ne dois tu la puissance
De Fortune, ne sa muance
En ton cuer amer ne prisier,
Mais haïr, fuïr, desprisier,
Ne tels biens ne desire en toy.
Et se tu retiens mon chastoy,
Tu aras le bien sans faillir
Qu’elle ne te porroit tollir.

Et comment que moult fort te plaingnes
En ta complainte et que tu teingnes
Que Fortune t’a esté dure,
Amere, diverse, et obscure,
Et que maintes fois appellee
L’as fausse, traïtre prouvee
Et ton anemie en tous cas,
Je vueil estre ses advocas.
Et te vuel prouver par raison
Qu’onques ne te fist traïson,
N’onques ne te fu annemie.
Einsois t’a esté bonne amie
Selonc ce qu’elle scet amer
Et estre douce en son amer.
Et pour miex prouver ton contraire,
Te vueil ceste demande faire.
Fait cils mal qui fait son devoir?”

“Nennil, ma dame.”

        “Tu dis voir.
Mais encor avec ton tesmoing
Je di par raison et tesmoing
Que, se Fortune t’a osté
De la joie ou tu as esté,
Dont tu as receü maint mal,
Que traïson ne fait, ne mal.
Car elle fait ce qu’elle doit,
Et ce te mousterrai je au doit.
S’elle estoit toudis en un point
Et de raison usoit a point,
Si qu’envers tous fust juste et une,
Elle ne seroit pas Fortune.
Mais pour ce qu’elle ne sejourne,
Eins se change, mue, et bestourne
En fait, en dit, en renommee,
Est elle Fortune nommee.
Comment que sa mobilité
En mouvant soit estableté,
C’est ses estas, c’est sa nature,
Ce sont ses meurs, c’est sa droiture.
Dont, puis qu’elle fait son dehü,
Je di que tu has tort heü
De li laidengier, ne blasmer,
Ne de ses ouevres diffamer.
Car se tu yes cheüs en peinne
Par sa mutation soudeinne,
Estrange, diverse, et sauvage,
Qui fist chanseller ton corage,
Certes, amis, tu n’ies pas seuls.
Car autant en fait elle a ceuls
Qui demeurent en paiennime,
Sans resgarder raison ne rime,
Ne pour toy seul ne fu pas faite,
Ne pour toy ne sera deffaite
Sa roe qui se fait congnoistre
Entre les mondeins et en cloister.
Et quant tu bien la congnoissoies,
Di moy pour quoy tu y montoies.
Se tu en as le vis pali,
C’est plus par toy que n’est par li.
Car quant tu empreïs l’amer,
Tu te meïs enmi la mer
Entre les perilleuses ondes
Cornues et plates et rondes,
Qui se transportent en po d’eure,
L’une au dessous, l’autre au desseure,
Dont la mer s’engroisse et se trouble,
Si que toute l’iaue en est trouble.
Et si te meïs en servage
De Fortune, qui tant est sage
Que nuls ne devient de sa court
Qu’il ne couveingne brief et court
Qu’il face sa franchise serve
Puis qu’il face tant qu’il la serve.

Se tu estens au vent ton voile,
Fait de main de maistre et de toile,
Tu scez bien que ta nef ira
La ou li vens la conduira,
Pour ce, sans plus, que la franchise
De ta nef au vent sera mise.
Einsi est puis que tant t’assers
A Fortune que tu la sers
Et yes mis en sa servitute
Y couvient par force que tu te
Mettes a nagier et a rime,
Selonc ce qu’elle nage et rime,
Et qu’a ses meurs tu te conformes
En tous cas et en toutes formes
Puis que tu yes de ses maisnies.
Prouvé le t’ay se tu le nies.
Mais or me respon sans muser,
Car encor la vueil excuser
De ce que devant has prouvé
Que tu l’as amere trouvé;
Et ce a demander m’a meü.
Di, dou quel tu as plus heü
De li, ou de mal ou de bien?”

“Dame, de mal. Ce sai je bien.”

“Certes tu ne sces que tu dis.
Il m’est vis que tu arrudis,
Que tes cuers le contraire en sent,
Nom pas en .i. cas, mais en cent.”

“Fait, dame?”

        “Oïl, je le te prueve.”

“Je vous en pri, car je ne trueve
Riens en moy dont loer me doie
Fors dou bien et de la grant joie
Qui me vient de vostre presence.”

“C’est par deffaut de congnoissance;
Car se tu fusses bien apris,
En ton cuer heüsses compris
Qu’a l’issir dou ventre ta mere
Elle ne te fu pas amere,
Einsois te fu moult amiable,
Douce, courtoise, et charitable.
Si n’ies pas au blasmer tenus,
Car de tous biens estoies nus,
Et elle te prist erraument
Et t’alaita diligenment
De son lait — c’est de ses richesses,
De ses honneurs, de ses noblesses
— Et te fu norrisse et maistresse,
Favorable admenisteresse
De la gloire, t’environna
De tous les biens ou raison a,
C’est des biens qui sont de son droit.
Et tu t’en plains? Fais tu a droit?
Que vues tu qu’elle plus te face?
Ne t’a elle fait assez grace
Quant elle t’a (se bien le gloses)
Fait user des estranges choses?
Car elles ne sont mie tiennes
Einsois sont de son droit et siennes.
Et quant riens n’i a qui soit tiens,
Fols yes s’a mal paiez te tiens
S’elle vuet ravoir en sa main
Ce qui sien est, de hui a demain.
Tu sambles trop bien a celui
Qui a emprunté de l’autrui,
Et quant il est temps qu’il le rende,
Il a courrous s’on li demande.
Einsi fais tu, ne plus, ne mains.
Mais pour ce que tu yes es mains
De Fortune, dont je parole,
Je te pri, retien de m’escole:
Que la ou elle est, si bien sont.
Et s’elle s’en part, il s’en vont.
Et cui elle aide, il est aidiés,
Cui elle laist, il est laissiez,
Ce m’est avis; car par son cerne
Au jour de hui chascuns se gouverne.
Mais il samble, a bien discerner,
Que tu la vueilles gouverner
Et que tu la vueilles contreindre,
Si qu’estable doie remeindre,
Ou autrement tu t’en pleindras.
Mais certes, assés a pleindre as,
S’oster la vues de sa nature,
Qui tous jours a duré et dure,
Ne jamais autre ne sera
Tant com li siecles durera.
Tu vois la mer quoie et paisible
Aucune fois, et puis horrible
La vois et pleinne de tourment
Pour ce que le vent si forment
Y fiert que ce sont mons et vaus,
Plus tost courans que nuls chevaus;
Ne tous li mondes contrester
Ne porroit pas pour l’arrester.
Tout einsi Fortune se mue,
Ne jamais ne seroit tenue
Par force, ne par biau parler
Si tost qu’elle s’en vuet aler.
Mais richesse et honneur enporte,
Et tous biens qui sont de tel sorte
Com siens propres, ou nuls ne part
Se sa grace ne l’en repart.
Si ne t’en deheüsses pas pleindre.
Mais pour la verité ateindre
Dou mal que dis qu’elle t’a fait,
Je di que riens ne t’a meffait,
Einsois a fait assés pour toy.”

“Dame, comment? Dites le moy.”

“Volentiers! Elle t’a laissié
Ton sens qu’elle n’a point blecié,
Et ce qu’aimmes plus et desires,
C’est la vie dont tu yes sires.

Aprés s’elle a sa face double,
Qui en fait et en dit se double,
Tourné vers toy a meins dou quart
Et fait de travers un regart,
T’en faut il einsi dementer,
Pleindre, plourer, et tourmenter?
Tu dehüsses en sa muence
Penre cuer et bonne esperence
De miex avoir se fusses sages.
Ne dist on que li homs sauvages
S’esjoïst quant il voit plouvoir,
Et chante? Qui l’i fait mouvoir?
L’espoir qu’il prent en son revel
Qu’aprés le lait il fera bel.
Ne tu n’as pooir de savoir
Que c’est joie sans mal avoir.
Et aussi je t’apreng et moustre
Que proprement Fortune est moustre
De maleürté a venir.
Si te deüst bien souvenir
Quant en si haut degré estoies,
Qu’en aucun temps descenderoies.
Mais Amour, qui maint cuer aveugle,
De yex et de cuer te fist aveugle
Si que tu ne pensoies mie
A mener jamais autre vie
Qu’elle ne te faisoit present,
Fors seulement dou temps present.
Mais en tout ce que tu proposes
Dois resgarder la fin des choses.
Et s’aucune fois en meschiet,
Pour une, cent fois bien en chiet,
Car il n’est regle qui ne faille.
Pour ce ce proverbe te baille:
Que d’ore en avant bien te gardes
Qu’a la fin des choses regardes.
Et se bien pris garde y heüsses,
Ja de Fortune ne te fusses
Einsi pleins, ne de bonne Amour,
Car ça esté pour ton millour
Quanqu’elles ont fait, et tout pour toy.
Pour c’escuser les vueil et doy,
Que donné t’ont par leur douçour
Cent joies pour une dolour.
Et tu meintiens tout le contraire,
Ce que pas ne deüsses faire.
Se te pri que plus ne t’aveingne,
Et qu’il te ramembre et souveingne
Que tu ne prises une prune
Desormais les biens de Fortune;
Ne te chaille s’il vont et viennent.
Et së avec toy ne se tiennent,
N’en dois estre liez ne dolens,
Car plus que oiselés sont volens.
Cils qui plus en a, plus li faut.
Dont ont li roy plus grant deffaut
Que n’ont la povre gent menue
D’or, d’argent, et de joiaus nue,
Et par deffaut de souffissance,
Car en leur cuer se boute et lance
.I. ardant rain de convoitise
Qui si les ambrase et atise
Qu’il les art jusques es entrailles.
Et si sont tous leurs esplois failles,
Tant comme il sont en telle ardure.
Je ne di mie que Nature
De po de chose n’ait assez.
Mais se li mondes entassez
Estoit dou ciel jusqu’a la terre
De quanque cuers porroit requerre,
Dire, et ymaginer d’avoir,
N’en y porroit il tant avoir
Qu’il peüst jamais, a droit dire,
A .i. cuer couvoiteus souffire,
Non certes .vc. mille mondes
Qui par .vc. mille fois combles
Fussent, si com je le devis!
Scez tu pour quoy? Il m’est avis
Que, selonc mon jugement nice,
Riens ne souffist a Advarice;
De quoy on voit tout en apert
Que qui tout couvoite tout pert.
Car on en pert l’ame et le corps,
Joie, honneur. Et c’est mes acors.

Encor te pri je trop de cuer
Que tu n’oublies a nul fuer
Les .ij. precïeuses vertus
Que je t’ay nommé ci dessus:
L’une est Souffissance la belle;
L’autre est Pacïence, s’encelle.
Se tu les as, tu n’as regart
De Fortune au double regart,
Car elles sont si vertueuses,
Si dignes, et si precïeuses,
Que riens ne prisent le dangier
De Fortune, ne son changier;
Eins mettent l’omme a seürté
En chemin de Bonneürté.
Bonneürté est, ce me samble,
Ce qui donne ces .vj. ensamble:
Gloire, Deli, et Reverence,
Puissance, Honneur, et Souffissance.
C’est bien parfait et souverain
Qui vient dou Maistre Premerain,
Qui est fin et commancement,
Trebles en .i. conjointement,
.I. en trois et .i. tout seul bien
Ou il ne failli onques rien.

Je ne vueil mie que tu penses
Que d’amer te face defenses.
Eins vueil et te pri chierement
Que tu aimmes tres loiaument,
Qu’amy vray ne sont pas en compte
Des biens Fortune, qui bien compte,
Mais entre les biens de vertu.
Et pour ce t’enseingne que tu
Aies cuer vray tant com vivras,
Car grant joie et gloire en avras;
Et loiauté ja ne despite,
Se ça jus n’en as la merite,
Qu’elle ne puet estre perdue
Qu’a cent doubles ne soit rendue.
Se ci ne l’est, c’est chose voire,
Se l’iert elle en sige de gloire.
Je t’ai dit ce que tu feras
Et qu’en verité trouveras.
Se tu le fais, bien t’en venra,
Et ce non, il le mescherra.
Je te lairay, si m’en iray.
Mais au partir tant te diray:
Que se tu has mestier de my,
Amie entiere, sans demy,
Me trouveras a toutes heures.
Si n’est pas bon que plus demeures,
Que vers ta dame ne te traies.
Mais garde bien que ne t’esmaies;
Car ja ne te sera si fiere
Qu’elle te laidenge ne fiere
Se ce n’est de ses tres dous yex
Rians, attraians, et soutiex.
Mais je les tesmogne pour tels
Que leurs cops ne sont pas mortels,
Car douce en est la blesseüre
Et aggreable la pointure.
Et se tu estoies si pris
De veoir ta dame de pris
Que ne peüsses endurer
Ses dous yex, ne contre eaus durer,
Et qu’entrepris de fine amour
Fusses, de honte et de paour,
Si que coulour et contenance
Perdisses, aies ramembrance
De moy toudis, comment qu’il aille.
Car ja n’iert si fort leur bataille
Qu’elles ne soient desconfies
Dou tout, mais que tu ne m’oublies,
Car onques mes amis n’oubli.
Et se tu me mes en oubli,
Soies tous seürs et tous fis
Qu’en l’eure seras desconfis.
A Dieu te commant; je m’en vois.
Mais einsois de ma clere vois
Te diray une baladelle,
De chant et de ditté nouvelle,
La quele tu en porteras,
Et en alant la chanteras,
Afin que tes cuers s’i deduise
S’il a pensee qui li nuise.

Joy, pleasure, and sweet nourishment,
A life of honor is what many discover in love;
And there are some who experience only suffering,
Pain, yearning, weeping, sadness, and displeasure.
     Or so they affirm; but I cannot
     Concur, for in the suffering Love brings
     There can be no misery
     Since all that comes from Love
         Pleases the heart of a lover.

Now true Love in a lover’s heart gives form to
Very sweet Hope and gracious Thought:
Hope attracts Joy and Good Luck;
Sweet Thought makes Pleasure enter the heart.
     Whoever possesses good Hope,
     Sweet Thought, Joy, and Pleasure
     Should request nothing further;
     For whoever asks for more, I say
         Love will throw him over.

So the man living with such sweet nourishment
Certainly can and should live his life honorably,
For his is every kind of benefit in abundance,
More than other hearts would even know to want;
     Nor should his be the desire, heart, or impulse
     To seek out some other form of favor
     Because he has Sufficiency;
     And it would be impossible for me
         To list here every other kind of mercy.

But those who are sad, filled with yearning,
Who weep and groan as they endure endless pain,
Saying Love is so hard on them,
They can, short of dying, go on no longer,
     I cannot conceive that those people
     Love yet intend no deception,
     Or that Desire has taken a firm hold
     Of them. They are only in these straits
         Because they have so deserved.

For Love, who is so noble in nature
She knows clearly who loves without pretense,
Can quite readily pay lovers their due:
Satisfying the faithful with joy
     And having them partake of
     Her sweet goods in abundance,
     While banishing the evil-minded
     From the court, condemning
         Them as wretched traitors.


Love, I know beyond any doubt
You’ve rewarded your servants
   A hundredfold and more.

And after finishing her song,
She turned her head toward me,
Laughing sweetly like a woman
Who seemed both virgin and maiden;
Then she put her hand on my head
And straightaway put me this question:

“How are you? What do you say?
Have I begun the debate with you in good style?
What do you think of my song?
Is there some theme or notion
That pleases or offends,
Or does this put you more at ease?
What about it? Say something, won’t you?
Can I sing well? Or poorly?
Were it not boasting to do so,
I’d say this about my song:
That what it said, it said well. Since you won’t
Answer, I wonder if you can.
Now I think you’re either slow
To respond or unwilling to do so.
So I beg you, fair sweet friend,
Don’t be so irresponsible
You let yourself perish this way.
For you should understand and take to heart
What I’ve said here above,
Rather than wasting what time you have
In idleness and nonsense.
Give up all this melancholy
And what causes it — save love.
For no one enjoys good fortune
Unless he seizes the chance for it.
And that man’s too stupid who decides
Out of some crazy notion
To bring about his own death and destruction
When he can change how he thinks.
It’s my intention to command,
Urge, enjoin, and request
You to make peace in the war
You’ve prosecuted against yourself,
A foolish thing to think of and do.
And I promise and swear
To provide assurance about what
You seem to doubt so much.
So take heart and abandon your fear,
For you’ll be healed if you wish,
And if you don’t, shame will be your fate.
Take the grain and leave the chaff.
Have no more truck with sadness,
For the man who is sharp enough
But makes bad decisions should rightly repent.
What I offer is all my assistance
As your good and true friend.
Now don’t get so lost in thought
You wind up refusing this offer;
For they say, “Whoever fails to act
When he can, cannot act when he will.
And if the iron is hot, you should strike.”
I won’t discuss this further;
But I’m very eager for you to be certain
I’ll help with whatever problems you have,
For I love you, just as I must.”

At this point she pulled from her finger a ring
Pretty, worthy, precious, and valuable,
Pushing it gently onto my own.

And I who was still dozing a bit
(Not deeply, for I heard clearly
What she had sung and recited
In rhyme and music, and words as well)
Felt the coolness of the ring.
And then, still somewhat drowsy,
As best I could manage I turned
Toward her, waking from the sleep
In which her voice, clear and soothing,
Sweeter than that of any siren
(Who is able to enchant men
With the beauty of her song),
Had put me, as I told you earlier.
And, facing her, I flooded
With tears my heart and my eyes,
My breast too here and there,
Letting out a sorrowful moan
Like someone in great anguish and misery.
But just as the bright glow
Emanating from the lady had dispersed
The darkness then clouding my heart,
Discolored and blackened by Love,
And her sweetness gently
Assuaged the torment I felt,
In the same way, the very sweet words
She spoke, as I heard them uttered,
Returned to my heart the power of speech,
Which I’m making use of now,
But had at that time completely lost.
So I spoke up, now able to do so,
Saying this to her without delay:
“Lady, it was great good fortune
You were conceived and born,
And have made your way here,
For the goodness that overflows in you
Has returned me to health, joy, and life.
For Death was staring me in the face,
And truly I should have died,
My lady, if you weren’t here
Looking with pity upon me
With the eyes of your heart.
But you have brought me back to life.
So this I beg you with as much devotion
And humility as I can muster,
My lady, might I please
Know something about you,
Your name too, and where you are from,
As well as your reason for coming here,
And how you did so: for never, upon my soul,
Save for the love of my lady,
Have I desired anything so fervently.”

“Friend, I’ll tell you
Willingly, and not make it a long story,
For whatever pleases you, pleases me too.
It is I who comfort lovers
Who obey the commandments of love.
I afford them help; I advise them.
I am their closest counselor.
I defend them. I raise their spirits.
I offer them assistance. I comfort them
By opposing Desire, who is aggressive,
Launching many a painful assault.
I am their castle and fortress.
I am their servant and mistress.
I am their lady and chambermaid.
I advance their banner everywhere.
I keep them happy and filled with joy.
I put them on a path of honor.
I give them the heart and courage
To act with boldness.
I bring them to a place of high esteem.
I make them fall in love.
I have them speak with wisdom,
Laugh, rejoice, sing, dance.
I keep them bright and happy.
I give peace to the restless.
I sustain them; I suckle them.
I am their mother, friend, and guardian.
I am their physician and watchman.
I defend and protect them from every misery.
They adore me, I honor them.
They petition me, and I stand by their side.
I am their resort and recourse
By custom and agreement.
In every tight spot they need make no appeal,
Keeping me in mind is all that’s required,
For I am the servant of their thoughts,
Providing these are not too off track.
For by nature lovers are too weak
To accomplish anything without me.
And when they require me,
I tell you (as if speaking to a friend)
I’ve no need to hasten or travel,
Near or far, in order to assist them;
And straightaway I’ll tell you
Why if you’re willing to listen:

“Indeed, lady, and I beg you please.”

“All right, then — I’ll do as you request.
Here’s the truth as an explanation:
In the same way that the sun
With its rays illuminates the world,
With its brightness pure and exalted,
And in response to summertime
The earth, which for a long time has been
Wasted and devoid of greenery in winter,
Covered with snow and ice,
Rejoices and adorns itself,
Bursts with new growth, turns luxuriant
And verdant again as it senses the heat
From the sunlight streaming down upon it,
And lovely Nature
Adorns it with a new robe
Colored like the panther,
Prettying it for the springtime —
And that beast is dappled
And decorated with every hue —
For there is no plant so strange
That does not in the spring bend itself
To producing, according to its nature,
Flowers, fruit, leaves, seeds, or greenery,
(Unless it is the sort that grows no more
Or brings forth no leaves or seed),
And as a result the earth is so gorgeous,
So pretty, so attractive, and bursting with life,
For she divests herself of her wretched winter
Raiment, moldy and stained with mud;
And for no reason other than the beauty
Of spring has it become so lovely
— And so, this is what I’m saying,
In a similar fashion and just as the light
From the sun produces throughout
The world, as much as it encompasses,
Brightness, heat, joy, pleasure
From its rays, which through their power
Make the earth grow merry
And smile, turning it gorgeous and elegant,
Just so the radiance that shines
From me at this very moment
Sheds light upon the whole world,
Reaching everywhere and enduring forever
In the lives of those who love
On this side and the other of the sea,
And this brings them splendor, warmth,
Joy, delight in their loving.
But I who am their proper mother
Lend them a radiance so shimmering,
So exalted, and belonging to them,
That the root planted
In their lovers’ hearts brings forth
Flowers, leaves, fruit, and new seeds,
Making them twenty times lovelier
Than the earth in springtime,
So that just as the sun sends forth
Its sparkle near and far with no limit,
So my regal splendor gleams
Everywhere in the faithful lover’s heart.
And if Nature in her subtlety urges
The earth to re-clothe and refit herself
(For her filthy winter dress
Has been discarded, and a new
One’s been presented her to don),
Then I can justly compare myself
To her because I turn a man who’s smitten
Attractive and gracious. Do you know how?
No question but that you’ll learn.
Bear in mind what I said before.
And if Nature prompts a plant
To bring forth fruit, and a briar to bear roses,
I do just the same when making a heart blossom
With every kind of joy, killing the anguish
Within; for I tend it so well
No trace of weedy distress remains.
And with the deliciousness you smell,
Sweeter than any incense,
I assuage, comfort, and anoint it,
If it so deserves, either far or near.
And because I know you’re
Disconsolate and denuded of joy,
And my task is to comfort
Lovers, I made my way to this place
In my proper role
As your faithful and good friend,
And in a way you didn’t see,
Not noticing I was there
Because I’m invisible.
And whenever I want, I can be seen.
And about your desire to learn
My name, this you can easily do,
As I will not keep it secret from you:
Hope is what I am called.”

When I knew she was Hope,
I felt consoled and more hopeful
About my situation than I had before,
And so I gathered my thoughts
As my senses recovered,
And I tried my best to speak,
Addressing her with more confidence:
“My lady, cherished and dear,
Worthy of praise and honor,
Excellent in every virtue
That a heart might imagine,
Eyes look upon, ears hear,
Hand portray, or mouth describe,
Keen intelligence delineate,
Taste savor, or touch feel,
Desire, will, or heart agree to;
Friend of God and Nature,
And of every other creature;
True exemplar, mirror of joy,
Bright star who conducts
Wretched hearts to their true port;
Pain’s remedy, well-being, happiness,
Reprieve from death, and medicine,
Flower, stalk, and true root
From which flow all joy and sweetness
Wherever anyone thinks of you
— If all those whom God has brought to life,
And too those yet to be born,
Were each and every one a hundred
Thousand times more skilled in accurate
Computation than were Arithmetic,
Pythagoras, and Music,
Michalus and Millesius
And artful Orpheus,
And these were eager to take on the task
Of counting the goods and sweet qualities,
Lady, that you possess beyond counting,
They would be howling at their own shadow.
For these people would never succeed,
No more than they could turn the ocean to desert.
And because, worthy lady,
I lack the discernment and wisdom
To describe your virtues and appealing qualities —
As properly as I should do
And willingly would do,
But in vain would I labor,
My lady — very humbly I offer you
Gratitude, mercy, and praise one hundred
Thousand times, saluting you.
For I arrived at a port of safety,
It seems, as soon as I laid eyes upon you.
So I surrender to your protection
My entire heart, body, soul; for nowhere
Might I better dispose them
If I wish to live a happy life.
And you have my faithful promise
To pass my days and life
In your sweet company,
For I see quite well and clearly
That whoever loses you is himself lost.
So I will never leave your side.
But please don’t be cross,
I beg and pray,
If I ask one more question
About what quite terribly afflicts me.”

“Not at all, don’t hesitate!”

“Gladly, lady. You’ve told me,
As you can do so well,
How I should conduct myself
If wishing to regain my health;
How Love has come to my aid;
How you’ve hastened
To assist and console me;
The arms that lovers should bear,
The meaning and import
Of their colors and shape,
For all of which I’m quite grateful;
How you wedded me
With your delightful little ring
And sang your song about love;
How lovers can manage nothing
If they choose to desert you,
For you are all the power they possess,
Their wall, their castle, their refuge;
How your brilliance sheds its glow
On lovers near and far; and then
How your graciousness, sweeter
Than any other sweetness, assuages their ills;
Your coming here, and your name as well,
Which is of very noble renown;
And what kind of thing mercy is, for all of which
I thank you one hundred thousand times.
But not in the least have you informed me about Fortune,
Who provides the world with its destiny,
Who is not, and who never was, stable;
For even as she assures her own the most
She most grievously assaults them,
Hurling them from high to low.
My mind is quite clear about this,
But just from the memory alone
Of her assaults, of the strife she fosters,
As well as her deceptive smiles and tricky deeds,
I feel such terror that all my limbs
Tremble whenever my thoughts turn to her.
And so, my lady, I ask you
Please tell me how
To defend myself against her,
For her sport is breaking hearts,
Even those of faithful lovers,
And she is harder than any diamond,
And to those like me so hostile
And perverse by nature
She would have destroyed me
Had God not brought you here
In the nick of time to deflect the sting
She’d have used to finish me off.

“Fair sweet friend, what can I tell you
About Fortune? I can hardly add
To what you’ve said yourself
In the complaint you recited,
Except that formerly the custom
Of the ancients in days gone by
Was to portray her with two faces,
One in front and the other behind.
This clarifies for you
How Fortune is both bitter and sweet.
For she’ll favor you
When gazing in your direction
With the face in front,
Generously promising
Pleasure, joy, lucky chances,
But these are all muffled in ill luck.
Now this is the point you should remember,
No matter who busies himself
Promoting something different.
My understanding is the correct one;
And many people have been deceived
By trusting too much to what she promises,
Considering her such a trusty ally
That they were destroyed in the end.

And if that other face looks toward you,
Watch out; for, lance at the ready,
She’s coming to attack you
And rob all the honor that’s yours,
Uttering no words of threat or defiance;
So you should trust no more to her
Than to some club-wielding tough.
And those goods she sends and bestows,
In my view you should
Take no joy in any one or the other.
And in her face you can observe
A destiny both hostile and friendly,
For it was this image the ancients
Crafted who depicted her.
And because I’ve made you one of my own,
And with a humble heart you asked
What kind of defense you must mount
When she launches an attack
With the eye of the face that’s behind,
Which strikes before making a threat,
So no man alive can do anything
To stop it. Let me put you this question:
In your view, which do you consider
The better of two goods,
The good you cannot forfeit,
Or the one you might readily lose?”

“Lady, the answer is easy enough to give.”

“Then speak it.”

        “Surely, dear lady,
The good you cannot lose is better.”

“And so the one you can lose is inferior?”

“Lady, that’s true enough, I agree.”

“So we are very much in accord;
And I intend to demonstrate clearly
That you’ve rendered a good judgment.
Do you believe, if prosperity
Lies in her power, that Fortune possesses
True happiness and felicity
As well? Don’t puzzle over it,
For these states cannot co-exist.
And here is what I consider the proof:
Sovereign happiness
And assured felicity
Are the sovereign goods of Nature,
Who is ruled by pure Reason.
And such goods no one can forfeit.
And those of Fortune cannot
Be compared to or equated with them.
For it appears (a commonplace)
That whoever possesses more, loses more.
With this I offer firm proof
There’s nothing secure in Fortune,
Neither felicity nor happiness.
And if you’d protect yourself from her,
I say that this is possible for you.
In order to achieve happiness.
Do you possess anything more precious
Than yourself?

        “Nothing at all, my lady.”

“Then consider her power so vile
That you claim lordship over yourself.
Make sure Reason is your master
And that you possess patience
And the virtue of sufficiency,
For happiness in truth
Comes from suffering patiently.
And there’s no man, to my knowledge,
Who, when he has run out of patience,
Would not wish his present condition
To change into something yet unknown to him.
And this sinks him into despondency
And makes him live on in a dangerous fix.
In a similar fashion, in your heart
You shouldn’t love or prize
Fortune’s power and mutability,
But hate, flee, and denigrate these things,
Never eager that her goods should become yours.
Heed my admonition and without fail
You’ll come to possess the good
She cannot steal from you.

And though you loudly bemoan what’s happened to you
In your complaint, and there affirm
How Fortune has treated you harshly,
Has been bitter, hostile, and dark-intentioned,
And you’ve often called her
False, and a proven traitor as well,
And your foe in every trial you’ve endured,
I think to act as her advocate
And using reason prove
She never acted as a traitor toward you,
Was never your enemy either.
Instead she’s been your good friend
In so far as she is able to show love
And proffer favor in her bitterness.
And the better to refute your view,
I want you to answer this question:
Does someone who does his duty go wrong?”

“In no way, my lady.”

        “You speak the truth.
Yet, with you before me as witness,
I affirm and testify in a reasonable fashion
That if Fortune has deprived you of
The joy that once was yours,
And that this has surely grieved you,
She committed no treason or wrong so doing.
For she does whatever it is that she must,
And I’ll indicate and demonstrate why this is.
If she always held firm to one position
And acted with reason,
Being both just and the same to all,
She would not be Fortune.
Now because she doesn’t remain at rest,
But rather changes, alters, and varies
In her deeds, speech, and reputation,
She is named Fortune.
Even though her variability
As she alters is her stability,
That’s her condition, that’s her nature.
Such is her custom, such her right.
And so, because she does what she should,
I maintain you’ve been wrong
To vilify and disparage her,
Or denigrate what she does;
For if you tumbled into misery
Through her mutability, which is unexpected,
Unexampled, unfriendly, and inhumane,
And this shocked you right to the heart,
Certainly, friend, you were not alone.
For she has done the same to people
Who live in pagan lands,
Paying no mind to rhyme or reason,
Neither was her wheel built for,
Or will it be wrecked by you,
And the wheel makes itself known
Among both the cloistered and the secular.
And since you know this well,
Tell me your reason for climbing on.
If you find your face pale,
The fault is more yours than hers.
For when you undertook to love,
You set out on the ocean
Between perilous waves,
As they swelled, crested, and broke,
Swirling to and fro,
One after another, as the sea
Loomed higher and grew troubled,
Roiling the water everywhere.
Just so you entered the service
Of Fortune, who is so wise
There’s no man of her court
Who’s not forced in a flash and quickly
To exchange his freedom for slavery
The moment he becomes her servant.

If you unfurl your sail to the wind,
A thing made by hand from broadcloth,
You know well your ship will travel
Wherever the wind drives it,
And the reason, simply enough, is that the freedom
Of your vessel has been surrendered to the wind.
And in similar fashion, having committed yourself
To Fortune, you become her servant
And, entering into servitude for her sake,
You’ll find yourself compelled
To sail and work your oar
Just as she sails and rows,
Conforming to her way of living
In everything and in all you do
Because you are of her household.
I’ve offered proof of this even if you dissent.
But now answer me, and no equivocation,
Because I intend to offer further explanation
Of what you experienced earlier,
Namely that you found her bitter;
And this prompts a question from me.
Tell me, what have you received
More of from her, good or bad?”

“My lady, it’s bad, as I so well know.”

“You surely don’t know what you’re talking about.
You’re ill-informed, as I see it,
For in your heart you feel the opposite,
Not just this time, but in a hundred other instances.”

“Is that so, lady?”

        “Yes, and I’ll prove it to you.”

“Please do, for nothing in my situation
Gives me cause to boast,
Save the goodness and great joy
That flow from your presence.”

“It’s a case of inadequate knowledge;
For were you sufficiently informed,
You’d have understood in your heart
How Fortune has not been harsh
Since you left your mother’s womb,
But has showed you friendship instead,
Sweetness, courtesy, and charity.
So you’ve no reason to blame her.
For, naked, you then owned no goods,
And she took you under her wing,
Nursing you diligently
With her milk, in other words with her riches,
With her honors and distinctions
And she was your guardian and mistress,
A governor who to your favor distributed
Glory, showering you with all
The goods of which reason approved,
In short, the goods she possesses by right.
And you complain? Are you right to do so?
What more do you want her to do for you?
Hasn’t she shown you favor enough
When she has (if you study this well)
Given you goods that are not yours?
For these are not yours in the least
But belong to her by right,
And since nothing is truly yours,
You’re foolish to think yourself ill-paid
When she decides to take back into her hands,
One day or another, what is hers.
You resemble too closely the man
Who, obtaining a loan,
Gets angry when asked
In due time to make repayment.
You’re doing the same — no more, no less.
But since you are in the hands
Of Fortune, whom I am describing,
Remember this lesson, I beg you:
Wherever she is, there are her goods;
And if she leaves, so do they.
Whomever she helps is helped,
And whomever she leaves is left,
In my view. For everyone must act
Day after day according to her wheel.
But it seems, if I’m right,
You’d like to be her sovereign
And make her endure the limitation
Of remaining stable;
If not, you’ll lodge a complaint.
But surely you’ll have enough to complain about
If you intend to alter her nature,
Which is now as it has always been,
Nor will it ever be otherwise
Until the world comes to its end.
The sea, as you look at it, is calm and peaceful
At times, and then you watch it turn
Terrifying and rough
Because of the wind that so mightily
Beats against it, making waves tower and crash,
Galloping faster than any racehorse;
Nor would the whole world suffice to
Compel them to remain at rest.
And so Fortune changes
And will never be restrained
By force or pretty words
From shifting at once when she wishes to move.
Then she takes riches and honor with her,
And all the goods of this sort
Belonging to her, in which no one shares
If not graced by her with this favor.
So you ought not utter complaints.
But, to come to the truth
Of the wrongs you say she’s done you,
She’s not mistreated you at all, so I say,
Yet has done much to your profit.”

“Lady, and how? Tell me.”

“Gladly. She’s left you your mind,
Not harming it in the least,
And what you desire most and love,
Which is the life of which you are master.

And if she then turned her double face,
Which is duplicitous in word and deed,
Just a bit in your direction,
Looking askance at you,
Are you forced to carry on this perversely,
Moaning, weeping, and torturing yourself?
Her mutability should give you
Heart and a good hope
To possess better, if you use wisdom.
Do we not say that the savage
Celebrates and sings loudly when he sees
Rain? What moves him to do so?
His merrymaking reflects a hope
That after ugly weather fair days will come.
Now you cannot discover what joy is
If you don’t suffer ill luck.
In turn, I instruct and demonstrate
That, properly speaking, good luck is the sign
Of misfortune yet to come.
So you should carefully remember
When you have risen up high
That at any time you might descend.
But Love, who blinds many a heart,
Has so dimmed your eyes and your heart
You didn’t consider
That she might at some time
Make you lead a life
Different from the one she makes you lead at present.
And yet in all the plans you make
You must look to how things might end up.
And for every time they go wrong,
There are a hundred others when they go well,
For there is no rule without exceptions.
And that’s why I mention this proverb:
Namely that from now on you look to
How things turn out in the end.
And had you kept this in mind,
You would never have complained
Of either Fortune or Good Love,
For whatever they have done for you
Has been for the best, it’s all to your good.
So I must and intend to excuse them,
For through their kindness they’ve bestowed
One hundred joys for every sorrow.
And you maintain the contrary.
And this is what you should not do.
So don’t let it happen again, I beg you,
For you should remember and keep in mind
Not to give a fig from now on
For the goods of Fortune;
Don’t be concerned as they come and go;
And if they do not remain with you,
You should be neither happy nor sad,
For they are flightier than any bird.
The more goods one has, the more one needs;
And so kings are needier
Than poor people of low degree
In regard to gold, silver, and precious gems,
And they lack a sense of sufficiency
Because a flaming torch of covetousness
Rampages through their hearts, injuring,
Inciting, and enflaming them,
Setting their very guts on fire.
And all their plans come to nothing
As long as they burn this way.
I don’t maintain in the least
That Nature is satisfied with only a little.
But if the world were piled high
From the heavens down to the earth
With the goods that hearts could demand,
Request, and imagine possessing,
Even that would not truly be enough
To suffice the heart racked by desire,
And that’s impossible:
Not even five hundred thousand
Such worlds, stocked five hundred thousand times,
Would be enough, or so I think!
And do you know why? I believe,
And this may be a naïve view,
That nothing can satisfy Avarice;
So you can see it’s obvious
That whoever wants everything loses it all.
On that path, you lose body and soul,
Joy, honor. That’s how I see it.

Also and from the heart I beg you fervently
Not to neglect at any time
The two precious virtues
Noted for you here above:
One is lovely Sufficiency,
The other Patience, her lady in waiting.
Possessing them, you need not worry
About double-faced Fortune,
For these two are so filled with virtue,
So worthy, and so precious
They think nothing of the domination
Of Fortune and her mutability;
But lead a man toward security
Down the path of Happiness.
Happiness, so it seems to me,
Is the source of these six goods altogether:
Glory, Delight, and Respect,
Power, Honor, and Sufficiency.
And the sovereign, perfect good is Happiness,
Which comes from the First Master,
Who is both end and beginning,
Three in one conjointly,
One in three, and one single good
In whom nothing is lacking.

I don’t want you to think
I forbid you to love.
Instead I wish and beg you,
To love very faithfully;
For a true lover is not numbered
Among Fortune’s goods, if we think rightly,
But among the goods pertaining to virtue.
And so I admonish you
To have a faithful heart as long as you live,
For great joy and glory will be yours;
Do not scorn faithfulness
Even if here below you get no reward,
For your merit will not be forfeit but repaid
A hundred fold and more,
If not on earth, then in heaven’s
Seat of glory, and that’s true enough.
I’ve told you what to do
And what you’ll discover is the truth;
If you act accordingly, good will come your way;
And if not, misfortune will fall to your lot.
I leave you now to go my way.
But in parting I’ll say this much:
If you need me,
You’ll find me at all times
A true friend, and not by half.
You should not remain here
And fail to approach your lady;
But take care not to let yourself be discouraged,
For she’ll never be so haughty
To heap reproaches or blows on you
Unless it’s from her delightful eyes,
Smiling, appealing, and seductive.
But I bear witness that by nature
Their blows are not fatal.
For the wound is sweet,
The stab agreeable.
And if you are so consumed
With looking upon your worthy lady,
That you cannot endure under
Her sweet eyes, or withstand them,
And you are so overcome by pure
Love, by shame and fear as well,
You turn pale and lose composure,
Keep me always in mind,
No matter what might happen.
But their assault will never be so fierce
The eyes won’t find themselves overwhelmed
Completely, if you don’t neglect me,
For I never forget my friends.
And if you do forget about me,
Be absolutely sure and certain
You’ll be vanquished within the hour.
I commend you to God as I take my leave.
But first with my clear voice
I’ll recite a baladelle,
Its words and music newly composed,
Which you’ll take with you
To sing as you go along
In order to delight your heart
Whenever some thought troubles you.

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fol. 69r




fol. 69v














fol. 70r
















En amer ha douce vie
        Et jolie,
Qui bien la scet meintenir,
Car tant plaist la maladie,
        Quant norrie
Est en amoureus desir
Que l’amant fait esbaudir
        Et querir
Comment elle monteplie.
C’est dous maus a soustenir,
Fait cuer d’ami et d’amie.

Qu’Amours par sa signourie
L’amoureus cuer a souffrir,
Et par sa noble maistrie
        Le maistrie
Si qu’il ne puet riens sentir,
Que tout au goust de joïr
        Par plaisir
Ne prengne, je n’en doubt mie.
Einsi saous de merir,
        Sans merir,
Fait cuer d’ami et d’amie.

Si doit bien estre cherie
        Et servie,
Quant elle puet assevir
Chascun qui li rueve et prïe
        De s’aïe,
Sans son tresor amenrir.
De la mort puet garentir
        Et garir
Cuer qui de santé mendie;
De souffissance enrichir
        Et franchir
Fait cuer d’ami et d’amie.

Quant elle ot finé sa balade,
Qui moult me fu plaisant et sade
Dedens le cuer et a l’oïe,
Pour ce qu’onques mais armonie
Si tres douce n’avoie oÿ,
Moult durement m’en esjoÿ.
Mais se li dous chans m’en plaisoit,
Tel joie le dit me faisoit
Que ne savoie auquel entendre.
Si mis moult grant peinne a l’aprendre,
Et la sceus en si po d’espace
Qu’eins qu’elle partist de la place,
Ne que toute l’eüst pardit,
Je la sceus par chant et par dit.
Et pour ce que ne l’oubliasse,
Failloit il que la recordasse.
Mais si com je l’imaginoie
En mon cuer, et la recordoie
De si tres bonne affection
Que toute l’inclination
Des .v. sens que Diex m’a donné
Y estoient si ordonné
Que n’avoie cuer ne penser
Que lors peüsse ailleurs penser
(Fors tant qu’adés me souvenoit
De celle dont mes biens venoit).

La dame fu esvanoïe.
Mais onques en jour de ma vie
Ne vi chose si tost perdue;
Car j’en perdi si la veüe
Que je ne sceus qu’elle devint.
Lors plus de .x. fois ou de vint
Resgardai entour la haiette,
Mais je ne vi riens fors herbette,
Arbres, fueilles, fleurs, et verdure.
Car il n’i avoit creature
Fors moy seulet. Et quant je vi
Qu’Esperence avoit assevi
Tout ce que dire me voloit,
Et qu’einsi elle s’envoloit
Soudeinnement a recelee,
Je cheï en moult grant pensee
Et par ordre a recorder pris
Tout ce qu’elle m’avoit apris
De point en point, car bien pensoie
Qu’encor grant mestier en aroie.
Et par maniere de memoire
Tout le fait de li et l’istoire,
Si com je l’ai devant escript,
Estoit en mon cuer en escript
Par vray certein entendement
Miex .c. fois et plus proprement
Que clers ne le porroit escrire
De main en parchemin, n’en cire.
Et c’estoit chose necessaire
Puis que je me voloie traire
Vers celle que Raisons doctrine
Que j’ensieuisse sa doctrine,
Et que souvent m’en souvenist,
Par quoy, se li cas avenist
Qu’Amours fust vers moy dongereuse
Et Biauté Fine desdaingneuse,
Honte dame, Paour maistresse,
Et Dous Resgars en tele aspresse
Fust qu’il ne me deingnast veoir,
Qu’encontre leur puissant pooir
Fusse viguereus et vassaus
Pour recevoir tous leurs assaus,
Pour tout souffrir en pacïence.
Car grant vertus et grant vaillence
Est de vaincre son adversaire
Par souffrir de cuer debonnaire.

Quant j’eus tout recordé par ordre,
Si qu’il n’i avoit que remordre,
Et en mon cuer la douce empreinte
De ses enseingnemens empreinte,
Je m’en senti trop plus seür,
Plus fort, plus rassis, plus meür.
Lors en mon estant me dressay
Et vers le guichet m’adressay
Par ou j’estoie la venus.
Mais je m’aperçu bien que nuls
N’estoit alez par ceste voie,
Depuis que venus y estoie,
Qu’en riens n’i estoit depassee
L’erbe poingnant, et la rousee,
Clere et luisant seur l’erbe drue,
N’estoit pas encor abatue.
Et cil oisillon qui miex miex
En plus de .xxx. mille liex
Tout aussi com par estrivees
Chantoient, les gueles baees,
Si qu’il faisoient restentir
Tout le vergier. Et sans mentir,
Eins qu’Esperence viseté
M’eüst en ma neccessité,
Mes scens estoit si pervertis
Qu’encor ne m’estoie avertis
Des oisillons, ne de leur noise,
Ne comment chascuns se degoise.
Mais ce a mal ne me doit tourner,
Car .ij. choses font bestourner
Le scens et müer en folour:
Ce sont grant joie et grant dolour.
Et grant dolour tel m’atournoit
Que mon memoire bestournoit
Et qu’a nulle riens n’entendoie,
Fors au grief mal que je sentoie.
Si m’abelli tant leurs dous chans
Qu’einsois qu’il fust soleil couchans,
Je m’en senti a volenté
De cuer, de corps, et de santé,
Tant pour la douce remembrance
Que j’avoie en Bonne Esperence,
Comme de ce que je pensoie
Que briefment ma dame verroie.
Et pour ce qu’estoie au retour
De veoir son tres noble atour,
Tantost fis en dit et en chant
Ce ci que presentement chant:

When you love, life
        Is sweet and merry
If you can keep it so,
For this sickness pleases so much
        When nourished
By amorous desire
It makes the lover eager
        To look
How it might increase.
It’s a sweet ill to endure,
        Which brings joy to
The hearts of lover and beloved.

For with its domination Love
The lover’s heart through suffering,
And with noble lordship
        Masters it,
So it does not fail to find
In anything it senses
        The joyful taste
Of pleasure, of this I have no doubt.
Thus she makes sated
        With unmerited reward
The hearts of lover and beloved.

So Love must be cherished
        And served
Since she can come to the aid of
Every man who begs and requests
        Her aid,
Not drawing on her treasure.
She can prevent his death
        And cure
The heart begging for health.
What she bestows is sufficient
        As she frees
The hearts of lover and beloved.

When she’d finished her ballade,
Which my heart found pleasant
And appealing as I listened,
Because I had never heard
A harmony that was so sweet,
I was quite overcome with joy.
But if the sweet notes pleased me,
The lyrics gave me such delight,
More than anyone could imagine.
And so I took great pains to learn it,
And did so in such a short time
That before she took her leave,
Or ended her performance,
I’d memorized the words and tune.
And in order not to forget,
I needed to burn it into my memory.
But while learning the ballade
By heart and there recording it,
My admiration was so strong
For this song that all the faculties
Of the five senses God had given me
Were so directed toward this end,
I had no intention or thought
Of concentrating on anything else
Save that I was remembering her
From whom all my blessings come,

The lady disappeared.
Surely I have never seen
Anything vanish so quickly.
For I so completely lost her from sight
I did not know what had become of her.
Then at least ten, maybe twenty times,
I searched around the hedge
Yet saw nothing but shrubbery,
Trees, leaves, flowers, and greenery.
For there was no person there
Save me alone. And when I realized
That Hope had told me
All she intended to impart
And had then flown off
Suddenly and unobserved,
I fell into a very deep study,
And point by point began mulling over
All the instructions she’d delivered,
One after another, being quite certain
I would later have need of them.
And through the workings of memory,
Everything about her and her story,
Just as I’ve written it down,
Was imprinted on my heart
Through true and certain understanding
One hundred times better and more properly
Than any clerk might copy it
By hand on parchment or wax.
And this was quite necessary
Since I intended to draw toward
Her whose teachings, as Reason
Instructs, I should follow,
Often bringing them to mind,
Because if it came to pass
That Love turned haughty toward me
And Pure Beauty disdainful,
Shame a grand lady and Fear a mistress,
And Sweet Look so harsh
As to refuse to meet my gaze,
I should be strong and courageous enough
Against their awesome power
To withstand all their assaults,
To suffer everything patiently.
For it is quite virtuous
And rather brave to defeat an enemy
By enduring with a patient heart.

After I had committed everything to memory
In proper order, omitting nothing,
And the gracious imprint of her teachings
Had been inscribed on my heart,
I felt much more confident,
Stronger, more self-assured, more mature.
I got to my feet
And made my way to the wicket
Through which I’d walked there,
But I marked well that no one
Had gone down that same path
Since I had passed along it,
For the sharp-bladed grass was nowhere
Tramped down, and the dew,
Clear and shining on the greenery,
Had not been disturbed.
Now the birds in more than
Thirty thousand places were
Chirping away, as if competing with
One another, their throats opened wide,
And they made the whole garden
Resound with their song. And, it’s no lie,
Before Hope came to me
In my time of great need,
My senses had been so dulled
I’d taken no notice
Of the birds or of their sound,
Or how they were making so merry,
But this should not be held against me
Because two things shake up the senses
And dispose them to folly:
These are extraordinary joy and melancholy.
And great sadness then so oppressed me
My mind was quite confused
And I paid heed to nothing
Save for the miserable pain I felt.
Now their sweet music so pleased me
That before the sun sank to its rest,
I seemed myself again
In heart, body, and proper state of mind,
As much for the lovely memory
I had of Good Hope
As for my expectation
Of seeing my lady before too long.
And because I was returning
In order to gaze upon her very noble presence,
On the spot I composed the words and music
For what I will now put into song:

(see note)


(see note)






fol. 70v



fol. 71r












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fol. 72r













fol. 72v
















fol. 73r














fol. 73v
















fol. 74r




Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient,
Je ne vous puis trop amer, ne chierir,
N’assés loer, si com il apartient,
Servir, doubter, honnourer, n’obeïr;
      Car le gracïeus espoir,
Douce dame, que j’ay de vous veoir,
Me fait cent fois plus de bien et de joie,
Qu’en cent mille ans desservir ne porroie.

Cils dous espoirs en vie me soustient
Et me norrist en amoureus desir,
Et dedens moy met tout ce qui couvient
Pour conforter mon cuer et resjoïr;
      N’il ne s’en part main ne soir,
Einsois me fait doucement recevoir
Plus des dous biens qu’Amours aus siens ottroie,
Qu’en cent mille ans desservir ne porroie.

Et quant Espoir qui en mon cuer se tient
Fait dedens moy si grant joie venir,
Lonteins de vous, ma dame, s’il avient
Que vo biauté voie que moult desir,
      Ma joie, si com j’espoir,
Ymaginer, penser, ne concevoir
Ne porroit nuls, car trop plus en aroie,
Qu’en cent mille ans desservir ne porroie.

Einsi fis mon chant et finay
Et au guichet m’acheminay
Par le chemin qui fu tout vert;
Mais ne le trouvay pas ouvert,
Car einsi com je le fermay,
Estoit; adont le deffermay.
Quant ouvers fu, je passay outre
Et le refermay bien au ploutre.
Ce fait, je me mis a la voie.
Mais trop durement liés estoie
De ce que nulle creature
Ne savoit riens de m’aventure.
Si m’en aloie tout chantant
Et deduisant en mon chant tant
Que je vi en assez po d’eure
Le lieu ou ma dame demeure.
Quant je le vi, je m’arrestay,
Et pensé en mon arrest ay,
.I. petitet, que je feroie,
Ne comment je me cheviroie.
Car li cuers en corps me trambloit
Si tres forment qu’il me sambloit
Qu’en .ij. partir deüst ou fendre.
Si n’en savoie conseil prendre,
Car j’estoie tous estahis
Dou veoir, et si esbahis,
Que vraiement retournez fusse
S’Esperence avec moy n’eüsse.
Mais Esperence, qui ha song
D’aidier ses amis au besong,
Et qui ne dort pas ne sommeille
Pour eaus conforter, einsois veille,
A celle heure ne dormi pas,
Eins me dist: “Biaus amis, mi pas
Ne sont pas ci endroit perdu.
Di: qui t’a einsi esperdu?
Que te faut? Ne que te demandes?
Il couvient que raison m’en rendes,
Dont viennent ces pensees veinnes,
Que sans cause einsi te demeinnes.”

“Je ne say, dame, par ma foy,
Fors que je sui en grant effroy,
Et en doubte m’estuet manoir,
Pour ce qu’ay veü le manoir
Ou mes cuers et ma dame meint.
Si pri Dieu qu’a joie m’i meint,
Car se je n’ay milleur conduit
Que de Paour qui me conduit,
Je ne voy pas comment je y aille.”

“Comment? Crois tu que je te faille
Et que je fausse le couvent
Que je t’ay heü en couvent?”

“Dame, nennil.”

        “Certes, si fais,
Ce m’est avis, quant einsi fais.
Di moy dont te vient la paour
Que tu as, ne celle freour.
Has tu doubtance de ton ombre?
Je croy que c’est ce qui t’encombre.”

“Dame, sauf vostre reverence,
De mon ombre n’ai pas doubtance.
Mais je ne say quele chalour
Qui s’est convertie en froidour
M’a seurpris et me tient au cuer
Si soudeinnement qu’a nul fuer
Ne porroie dire en quel point
Sui, ne comment elle me point.
Car j’ay chaut et froit si ensamble
Que tout a .i. cop sue et tramble,
Et s’ay toute vigour perdue;
Et aussi comme beste mue
Sui estahis enmi ces chans;
Dont mes ris, ma joie, et mes chans
Sont si feni, ne say pourquoy,
Qu’il me couvient taire tout coy,
Se ce n’est pour ceste raison
Que j’ay veüe la maison
Qui trop plus belle est de tout estre,
Que ne soit paradis terrestre.
C’est li lieus ou ma douce amour
Et mes cuers aussi font demour.
Autre raison n’i say trouver.
Et pour ce vous vueil je rouver,
Dame, que vous me consilliez,
Ou perdus suis et essilliez,
Qu’en monde riens tant ne desir
Com veoir ma dame a loisir.
Mais je n’i voy tour ne ateinte
Sans vous, dont ma coulour est teinte.”

“Et comment te conseilleroie?
Pour neant me travilleroie
Car je pers en toy mon langage.
Uns oiselés en une cage
N’a pas l’entendement si dur
Com tu as! Juré t’ay, et jur,
Qu’a tous besoins me trouveras
Preste quant mestier en aras,
Biaus amis, et tu ne m’en crois,
Dont tes maus durement acrois.
Tu le vois par experïence,
Car pour alegier la grevence
Qui moult te grieve et a neü,
Aussi tost com je l’ay sceü,
Tu m’as plus tost pour toy aidier
Que ne peüsses soushaidier.
Je t’avoie dit et enjoin
Que ton cuer fust a moy si joint
Qu’adés de moy te souvenist
Loing et prés, quoy qu’il avenist.
Or voy bien qu’il ne t’en souvient,
Et pour ce estre einsi te couvient,
Car s’il t’en fust bien souvenu,
Ja ce ne te fust avenu.
Pren cuer et va seürement
Vers ta dame, que vraiement
Gaite, escuz, defense, et fortresse
Te seray bonne, et la promesse
Que je t’ay promis te tendrai;
Et sans prïere a toy venray,
Com celle qui serai tes chiés
En tes biens et en tes meschiés.
Si dois estre moult asseür,
Quant partout einsi t’asseür
Et la chalour qui en froidure
Est couvertie, c’est l’ardure
Qui s’est moult longuement couverte
En ton cuer: or est descouverte
Et parmi ton corps espandue,
Dont a .i. cop tramble et tressue.
Et pour ce que le feu aproches
D’Amours, qui te point de ses broches,
Pers tu maniere et contenence,
Scens, joie, vigour, et puissance.
Et aussi retien de mon art;
‘Qui plus est prés dou feu, plus s’art.’
Orendroit plus ne t’en diray.
A Dieu, je me departiray,
Sans ce que de toy me departe.
Car il couvient que je me parte
En plus de cent mille parties
Qui aus amans sont departies.
Et quant de ci departiras,
Droitement celle part iras
Que tu verras ta dame gente,
Et tu yes en la droite sente.”

Lors s’en parti; je demouray
Et moult doucement savouray
En mon cuer ce que dit m’avoit;
Et si tres bon goust me savoit,
Que je fui tous asseürez
Des mouvemens qui figurez
Estoient en mon cuer si fort
Qu’en moy ne savoie confort.
Et quant riens plus ne ressongnay,
A .ij. genous m’agenouillay
Emmi la sentelette estroite,
Les mains jointes, la face droite
Vers le lieu precïeus et digne
Qui m’estoit apparence et signe
A l’esperence que j’avoie
Que la ma dame trouveroie.
Et pour ce qu’il n’afferoit pas
Qu’avant alasse .i. tout seul pas,
Que ne me meïsse en la garde
D’Amours et d’Espoir, qui me garde
De cuer devost, a humble chiere,
Encommensai ceste prïere,
En eaus merciant doucement
De leurs biens tout premierement:


“Amours, je te lo et graci
Cent mille fois et remerci,
Quant mon cuer qu’avoies nerci,
Tourblé, desteint, et obscurcy,
Et en ton martire adurci,
      Par ta puissance,
As amé et vues amer si
Que de ta douceur adouci
Et de ta clarté esclarci
L’as et fait dous son amer si
Que desirer me fais merci
      En Esperence.

Amours, je te vueil aourer
Com mon dieu secont et douter,
De toutes mes vertus loer,
Servir, oubeïr, honnourer
De cuer, de corps, et de penser.
      Car en m’enfance
Me feïs loiaument amer,
Et les biens de toy desirer;
Aprés les me fais esperer,
Et si doucement savourer
Qu’en vraie foy te vueil porter

Amours, je ne savoie rien,
Nés differer le mal dou bien,
Quant a mon vrai cuer, que je tien,
Sans riens retenir, pour tout tien,
Donnas par ton soutil engien
      La congnoissance
D’amer et d’estre en ton lien,
Et le presentas sans moien
Avec le corps et tout le mien
A ma dame, ce say je bien.
Car tout li ottriay com sien
      Pour sa vaillance.

Et se folement me sui pleins,
En moy dementez et compleins
De toy et des amoureus pleins,
Dont j’estoie chargiez et plains,
Je te depri a jointes mains
      Que a grevence
Ne me tourt, et que plus ne meins
Ne t’en soit, car tiens suis remeins.
Si m’en dois estre plus humeins;
Et se vois bien et yes certeins
Que tu es mes chiés premereins,
      Et ma creance.

Aussi doi je, se trop ne fail,
Loer Esperence, a qui bail
De moy et de mon cuer le bail,
Et mercïer. Car se riens vail
Et s’a bien faire me travail,
      C’iert sans doubtance
Par li; car en mortel travail
Fui entre le coing et le mail,
Si que je ne donnasse .i. ail
De ma vie. Mais soustenail
Me fu, dame, amie et murail,
      Tour et deffense.

Douce Esperence, c’est le port
De ma joie et de mon deport.
C’est ma richesse, mon ressort.
C’est celle en qui je me deport.
Car es maus d’amours que je port
      Ay tel plaisence
Car, quant il font plus leur effort
De moy grever, plus me confort.
Et tout par son noble confort
Suis je respitez de la mort,
Qui m’eüst, s’elle ne fust, mort
      Sans deffiance.

Elle m’a fait trop plus d’amour,
De courtoisie, de douçour,
D’onneur, de profit, de tenrour,
Qu’a nul autre; car nuit et jour
Contre Desir soustient l’estour,
      Qui point et lance
Mon cuer d’une amoureuse ardour.
C’est ce qui garit ma dolour.
C’est ce qui me tient en vigour.
C’est mon refuge; c’est ma tour.
C’est celle ou sont tuit mi retour.
      C’est ma fiance.

C’est celle qui m’a congneü
Par tout ou elle m’a sceü
Nu de joie et depourveü.
La doucement m’a repeü
De tous les biens qu’elle a peü,
      Et d’aligence.
C’est celle qui a descreü
Mon mal, et ma joie acreü;
De dous confort m’a pourveü,
Sans salaire avoir ne treü,
Et des yex de son cuer veü
      En ma souffrance.

Et quant par vous tel bien recueil
Que de toute joie en l’escueil
Sui, plus assez que je ne sueil,
D’umble cuer et d’amoureus vueil
Vous pri, com cils qui aimme et vueil
      Vostre acointance,
Que vous me menez jusqu’au sueil
Ou je verray le Dous Acueil
De ma dame; et se lors me dueil,
Se vous n’avez le cuer et l’ueil
Vers moy, je serai mors de dueil
      En sa presence.

Et se ma dame, que Diex gart,
Deingne descendre son regart
Seur moy, a moitié ou a quart,
Je vous pri qu’aie scens ou art
Pour congnoistre de son espart
      La difference,
S’il vient d’amours ou d’autre part.
Car se son dous oueil me repart
Par amours de l’amoureus dart,
De riens n’arai jamais regart.
Se non, en moy sera trop tart

Vous savez aussi que humblement
L’aim, serf, crein, desir loyaument
Plus qu’autre, ne moy proprement,
Et que siens sui si ligement
Que c’est sans nul departement
      Et sans muence.
Si devez mouvoir doucement
Son cuer et amoureusement
Pour moy donner aligement,
Et li faire avoir sentement
Tel com je l’ay, ou autrement
      C’iert decevence.

Or en soit a vostre plaisir,
Car sans vous ne puis avenir
A la joie que tant desir.
Mais je vous vueil tant oubeïr
Que pour ma dame vueil morir
      En pacïence,
Se c’est vos grez; et se merir,
Sans l’onneur ma dame amenrir,
Me volez, vueilliez me enrichir
D’assez li veoir et oïr.
S’arai pais, merci, mon desir,
      Et souffissance.”

Et quant j’eus finé mon depri,
La ne fis pas moult lonc detri
Eins me levay en mon estant.
Si m’aloient amonnestant
Amours, Desir, et Bon Espoir
De ma chiere dame veoir,
Tant que tantost m’acheminay
Par la sente et mon chemin ay
Pris en bon espoir vers la tour
Ou maint ma dame au gent atour.
Mais n’alay pas le trait d’un arc
Que prés de la tour vi un parc
Ou preaus ot et fonteneles,
Dames, chevaliers, et pucelles,
Et d’autre gent grant compaingnie,
Moult joieuse et moult envoisie,
Qui dansoient joliement.
N’il n’avoient la instrument,
Ne menestrels fors chansonnettes
Deduisans, courtoises, et nettes.
Quant je les vi, moult m’esjoÿ,
Et plus, quant je les entroï.
Lors alai tantost celle part.
Mais Amours, qui de moy ne part,
Ne Esperence, ma douce amie,
De moy ne s’eslongierent mie,
Eins me tenoient par le frein.
Et je, qui pas ne me refrein
D’aler vers euls, si me hastay
Qu’outre une haiette hatay,
Et puis tantost fu en la place
Ou Diex me fist si belle grace
Que je vi que c’estoit ma dame.
Mais je n’os corps, ne cuer, në ame,
Ne sanc qui ne fremist en mi,
Quant je la vi; car si fremi,
Que, se Diex de li me doint joie,
Grant paour de cheoir avoie.
Mais d’Esperence me souvint;
Et vraiement, adont couvint,
Se je voloie avoir victoire,
Que je recourisse au memoire
Que j’avoie escript en mon cuer,
Et que je ne gettasse en puer
Nuls de ses dous commandemens,
Ne de ses bons ensengnemens.
Si recordai si ma leçon
Qu’eins qu’on heüst dit la chanson
Que une pucelette chantoit,
Mes cuers plus seürs se sentoit.
Car Douce Esperence asseür
Le faisoit d’aucun bon eür.
Si me trei prés de la danse
Com cils qui a sa dame pense.
Mais la bonne et bien enseignie,
Que Raison gouverne et maistrie,
Qui tant scet, tant puet, et tant vaut
Que riens de bien en li ne faut,
De sa bonté tant m’enrichist
Que ses dous yex vers moy guenchist.
Mais ce fu si tres doucement
Qu’il me sambla, se Diex m’ament,
Qu’elle m’amast de fine amour.
Et quant elle ot fait demi tour
Que plus de moy fu aprochie,
En riant de sa courtoisie,
Moult courtoisement m’apella,
En disant: “Que faites vous la,
Biau sire? Danciez avec nous!”
Et tantost me mis a genous
Et humblement la saluay.
Mais coulour pluseurs fois muay,
Einsi com je parloie a li,
Dont j’eus le vis teint et pali.
Et vraiement, y me fu vis
Qu’elle congnut bien a mon vis
L’amour, le desir, et l’ardure
De moy, et toute l’encloüre:
Comment siens a tous jours estoie
Et comment par amours l’amoie.
Si me rendi courtoisement
Mon salu, et assez briefment,
Pour ce qu’on ne s’aperceüst
Que pour s’amour einsi me fust.
Si me tendi son petit doy.
Et je, qui faire vueil et doy
Son voloir, ne fui pas remis
Dou penre et a dancier me mis.
Mais dancié n’os pas longuement
Quant elle me dist doucement
Qu’il couvenoit que je chantasse
Et que de chanter m’avisasse,
Car venu estoit a mon tour.
Je li respondi sans demour:
“Ma dame, vo commandement
Vueil faire; mais petitement
Me say de chanter entremestre.
Mais c’est chose qui couvient estre,
Puis qu'il vous plaist.” Lors sans delay
Encommensai ce virelay
Qu’on claimme chanson baladee.
Einsi doit elle estre nommee.

Lady, source of all my joy,
I cannot love or cherish you too much,
Or praise you enough, or properly
Serve, respect, honor, and obey you.
      For the gracious hope,
Sweet lady, I have of seeing you,
Affords me joy and goodness a hundredfold more
Than I could deserve in a thousand years.

This sweet hope sustains my life
And nourishes me in amorous desire,
Providing all that’s needed
To comfort and bring joy to my heart.
      Never to desert me day or night,
But instead makes me receive graciously
More of the sweet goods Love sends her own
Than I could deserve in a thousand years.

And since Hope, which remains within my heart,
Makes such great ecstasy come to me when I am
Far from you, my lady, if it happened
I could look upon your beauty, as I greatly desire,
      I think no one could
Imagine my joy, comprehend
Or conceive it, for I’d come to have much more
Than I could deserve in a thousand years.

And so I composed and sang my song
While making my way to the wicket
On a path that was solid green;
But I did not find the gate open,
For it was closed, just as I had left it;
So I unlocked it,
And, once it was open, passed through
And relocked it carefully.
This done, I set out on my way.
That no one at all knew
Anything of my adventure
Made me quite happy.
So I walked along, singing the whole time,
And taking such delight in my song
That in just a brief time I spied
The dwelling where my lady was staying.
Catching sight of the place, I halted,
And while resting mulled over,
For a while what to do
And what plan I would follow.
For in my chest my heart beat
With such violence it seemed
About to break or even split in two.
And I had no idea how to proceed,
But found myself completely flustered
On glimpsing the place, and so dumbstruck
I truly would have beaten a retreat
Had Hope not then been my companion.
But Hope, who devotes herself
To helping her friends in times of need,
And who does not doze or nap
But is always awake to comfort them,
At that moment was not asleep,
And she spoke these words: “Sweet friend, I’ve not
Wasted my steps coming here.
Tell me: what has so upset you?
What do you need? What is troubling you?
You must explain to me
Where these foolish thoughts come from
That, with no reason, disturb you so much.”

“I don’t know, my lady, upon my faith,
Except that I feel great terror
Even as fear has rooted me to the spot
Because I’ve caught sight of the manor house
Where my heart and my lady now reside.
So I pray God leads me there in joy
Because with no better guide
Than Fear, who now is my companion,
I don’t see how I can make my way there.”

“What’s this? Do you think I’d disappoint you
By reneging on the promise
I agreed to uphold?”

“My lady, never.”

        “Indeed, you do,
As I think when you act this way.
Tell me then the source of the fear
And anxiety you feel.
Are you afraid of your own shadow?
That’s what bothers you, I believe.”

“My lady, with all due respect,
I’m not afraid of my shadow.
But I don’t know what kind of fever
Since become a chill
Has so unexpectedly seized
My heart there’s no way
I could tell you what’s wrong
Or what it is that afflicts me.
For I feel cold and heat so commingled
I sweat and shiver at the same time,
While strength fails me utterly;
And just like some dumb beast in the meadow
I was struck speechless in the midst of singing,
And so laughter, joy, and song
Have abandoned me, and I’m reduced
To silence, why I don’t know,
Unless the reason is that I’m now
Gazing upon a manor house
Lovelier than all places in every respect
Than the earthly paradise itself.
There my sweetheart and my love
Are now together in residence;
I can find no other explanation.
And so I’m prompted to make this request,
My lady, please advise me,
Or I am lost and ruined,
For in this world I desire nothing more
Than seeing my lady as I’d like.
Now you, as I see it, offer my only chance and path,
And this has drained the color from my face.”

“And what advice should I offer?
I labor in vain because on you
My words are wasted.
Not even a caged bird
Has a brain as thick
As yours! I swore to you, and I swear now
You’ll find me in your every need
Ready for whatever you require,
Sweet friend, and yet you don’t trust me,
And so your difficulties painfully increase.
What has happened makes this clear,
Since to assuage the misery
That troubled and now greatly pains you,
As soon as I discovered this
I was at your side to help, faster than you
Could have wished me to appear.
I instructed and enjoined you
To bind me so tightly to your heart
You would always remember me
Far and near, no matter what happened.
You didn’t remember, as I now see,
And were thus reduced to this state;
Now if you’d held tightly to this memory,
This would never have happened.
Take heart and make your way with confidence
To your lady because for you I’ll truly be
A worthy guide, shield, defense,
And fortress, and I’ll fulfill
The promise I made;
And without being summoned I’ll come
To guide you in good times
And when things go amiss.
So you should feel quite confident
With my offering such assurance, no matter what.
And the fever that turned into
A chill is the burning passion
So long concealed in your heart.
And no longer confined, this
Has spread through your body
And makes you tremble and shiver at the same time.
And because you draw near the fire
Of Love, which singes you with its brands,
Composure and bearing fail you,
As do sense, joy, strength, and power.
Also keep in mind what I now say:
‘The one closest to the fire is the most burned.’
At this moment I have nothing to add.
Farewell, I’ll take my leave,
Though I will never part from you,
For I must divide myself
Into more than a hundred thousand parts
To be shared out to those who love,
And once you leave here,
You’ll go right to the place
Where you’ll catch sight of your noble lady,
For the path you follow is the right one.”

Then she left; I stayed behind
And it gave my heart much pleasure
To savor the words she’d spoken.
And their flavor was so pleasing
I felt completely reassured
About the rumblings then welling up
So forcefully in my heart
I could not alleviate them.
And since I no longer feared anything,
I got down on my two knees
Right in the middle of that small path,
My hands joined together, facing
Straight toward the place precious and worthy
That for me was a revelation and sign
Of the hope I entertained
Of finding my lady there.
And, it not being fitting
I should advance even one step
Without putting myself under the protection
Of Love and Hope, then escorting me,
I began the prayer that here follows
With devout heart and humble demeanor,
Thanking them in all humility most especially
For what they had done to my benefit:


“Love, I praise you gratefully,
Thanking you a hundred thousand times
Because in your power you have loved my heart,
(After making it black, troubled, discolored,
And dim), and you strengthened it
      Through the suffering
You sent, determined to show
My heart so much love your sweetness mollified it,
Making it glow with your brilliance
And healing its bitterness so much
That you made me wish for mercy
      From Hope.

Love, I intend to adore
And worship you as my second divinity,
Praising, serving, honoring, and respecting
You with all the strength that I possess,
With heart, body, and mind.
      For from childhood
You’ve led me to love faithfully
And to desire your blessings;
Later you made me hope for
And with such delight rejoice in them
That in true faith I wish to render you

Love, I knew nothing,
Not even how to tell good from bad,
When to my true heart, which I affirm
Is yours with nothing held back,
Through your subtle art you provided
      Me with an understanding
Of love and of living in its bonds,
And you presented my heart, and not by half,
Along with my body and all that’s mine,
To my lady, as I know well.
For as her man I granted her everything
      Because of her virtue.

And if I was crazy to have complained,
Lamenting and railing against
Lamenting and railing against
That filled me to the brim and more,
With hands joined I beg you
      Don’t hold this against me,
But think no more or less about it,
For yours I remain. So you should
Show me more goodwill;
For you see well and are certain
You’re my sovereign lord
      And source of my faith.

Also, if I’m not to fail miserably, I must
Praise Hope, to whom I grant sovereignty
Over myself and my heart,
And thank her too. For if I’m worthy at all
And take pains to do what’s right,
      She will be
The reason why because I was in deadly straits,
Between the hammer and the wedge,
And wouldn’t have given a garlic clove
For my life. But you were my sustainer,
My lady, my friend and rampart,
      Tower and bulwark.

Sweet Hope, she’s the harbor
Of my joy and my happiness.
She’s my store of wealth, my refuge.
She’s the one in whom I take pleasure;
For in these pains of Love I endure
      I find such pleasure
Because, when they do their worst
To afflict me, I’m that much more consoled.
And by the noble comfort she alone affords
I am saved from death, who, had she
Not been there, would have killed me
      Without warning.

She has bestowed on me more love,
Courtesy, graciousness,
Honor, profit, tenderness
Than on any other; for night and day
She holds firm in the battle against Desire,
      Who stabs and pierces
My heart with love’s passion.
She’s the one who heals my pains.
She’s the one who keeps me strong.
She’s my refuge; she’s my tower.
She’s where I find all my recourse.
      She’s my faith.

She’s the one who has always
Acknowledged me wherever she learned
I lacked and was deprived of joy.
At those times she nourished me graciously
With all the blessings she could muster,
      And with relief as well.
She’s the one who has lessened the pain
I feel, making my joy increase;
She provided me with sweet comfort,
Taking no payment or tribute,
And with the eyes of her heart she gazed on
      My suffering.

And when I receive such blessings from you
Joy of every kind overwhelms me,
More than I ever knew before,
With humble heart and a lover’s will,
I beg, as one who loves and desires
      Your acquaintance,
That you will convey me to the threshold
Where I’ll catch sight of the Sweet Welcome
Of my lady; and if this pains me,
That misery will be my death
In her presence if you don’t look after me
      With heart and eye.

And if my lady — may God protect her!
— Should deign to let her look fall
On me, if only somewhat or even less,
I pray you have the sense or skill
To discern clearly from her glow
      If it
Expresses love or otherwise.
For if her sweet eye affectionately shoots
Me with the shaft of love,
I’ll never have eyes for any other.
If not, despair will be too slow
      Overtaking me.

You know also how I love, serve,
And respect her humbly, desire her faithfully
More than any other, more than myself,
And am so loyal her servant,
She shares me with no one,
      And I will never change.
So you should gently and lovingly
Persuade her heart
To grant me relief,
And make her reciprocate
My feelings, for otherwise
      I will feel cheated.

Now let this proceed as you wish,
For without you I cannot gain
The joy I desire so much.
But I shall obey you so strictly
That I’d willingly die for my lady
      Without a murmur
Should you wish; and if you would
Reward me without diminishing my lady’s
Honor, please enrich me
By letting me look upon and listen to her often,
And mine will be peace, mercy, desire,
      And satisfaction.”

And finishing my prayer,
I stayed there no longer
But got up from my knees.
Love, Desire, and Sweet Hope
So admonished me, continually and fervently,
To see my sweet lady dear
That I began walking straightaway
Along the path and set out
In good hope toward the tower
Where then dwelt my lady in her fine array.
But I had gone no further than a bowshot
When by the tower I spied a park
With fountains and green spaces,
Ladies, knights, and maidens,
And a great company of others as well
Who were quite jolly and full of fun,
Dancing happily away;
There were no instruments
Or minstrels, only pleasant, but refined
And lively, little songs.
Noticing all this, I felt quite happy,
Even more so when I heard them.
Then I hastened to the spot.
But Love, who never leaves my side,
And Hope, my dear friend,
Did not flee at all,
But held me by the bridle.
And I, who did not hesitate
From walking toward the group, hurried on
And moved quickly beyond a hedgerow,
And in a flash I’d arrived
Where God blessed me so sweetly
By letting me see this was my lady.
But my body, heart, soul,
And blood were in turmoil.
And I trembled so much
Laying eyes upon her, so God give me joy,
I greatly feared falling.
But my thoughts turned to Hope;
What was then needed,
If I intended to succeed,
Was to have recourse to the memory
Of what Hope had told me with good heart,
And not throw into the garbage
Her gracious commandments
Or useful instruction.
So I went over my lesson,
And before a young girl finished
Singing her song
I felt more confident at heart.
For sweet Hope assured me
That all would turn out well.
And I strolled close to the dancing,
My lady uppermost in my thoughts,
But that virtuous and courtly damsel,
Governed and ruled by Reason,
So wise and capable and virtuous,
No good quality lacking,
Enriched me so much by her excellence
As her dear eyes fell upon me.
But this was done with such finesse
That it seemed, so God help me,
She loved me with pure affection.
And when she turned around a bit,
Approaching me,
She laughed politely
And quite courteously called out to me with these words:
“What are you doing there,
Fair sir? Come dance with us!”
And at once I fell to my knees
To greet her humbly.
Blushing and growing wan several times
As I spoke to her,
Which left me ashen, then flustered.
And truly it seemed
She clearly recognized in my face
The love, desire, and passion
I felt, and what that meant:
How every day I was her man
And loved her in love’s way.
And she courteously returned
My greeting, and quite quickly,
So no one might take notice of the state
I was in because I loved her.
She offered me her little finger,
And I, eager and obligated to do
Her will, was not slow
To take it, and joined in the dancing.
But I’d not been dancing very long
When she graciously told me
I had to sing and should
Ready myself to do so,
For it was now my turn.
Not hesitating, I answered her:
“My lady, my intention is to follow
Your command; but I know little
About the singing of songs.
Even so, I must now join in
Since it pleases you that I do.” Not delaying,
I began with this virelai,
Also referred to as a dance-song;
And that’s what it should be called.


(see note)


(see note)

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fol. 74v
















fol. 75r
















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fol. 76r















fol. 76v
















fol. 77r
















fol. 77v
















fol. 78r
















Dame, a vous sans retollir
Dong cuer, pensee, desir,
        Corps, et amour,
Comme a toute la millour
        Qu’on puist choisir,
Ne qui vivre ne morir
        Puist a ce jour.


Si ne me doit a folour
Tourner, se je vous aour,
        Car sans mentir,
Bonté passés en valour,
Toute flour en douce odour
        Qu’on puet sentir.
Vostre biauté fait tarir
Toute autre et anïentir,
        Et vo douçour
Passe tout; rose en coulour
        Vous doi tenir,
Et vos regars puet garir
        Toute dolour.

Dame, a vous sans retollir
Dong cuer, pensee, desir,
        Corps, et amour,
Comme a toute la millour
        Qu’on puist choisir,
Ne qui vivre ne morir
        Puist a ce jour.


Pour ce, dame, je m’atour
De tres toute ma vigour
        A vous servir,
Et met sans nul villain tour
Mon cuer, ma vie, et m’onnour
        En vo plaisir.
Et se Pité consentir
Vuet que me daingniez oïr
        En ma clamour,
Je ne quier de mon labour
        Autre merir
Qu’il ne me porroit venir
        Joie gringnour.

Dame, a vous sans retollir
Dong cuer, pensee, desir,
        Corps, et amour,
Comme a toute la millour
        Qu’on puist choisir,
Ne qui vivre ne morir
        Puist a ce jour.


Dame, ou sont tuit mi retour,
Souvent m’estuet en destour
        Pleindre et gemir,
Et, present vous, descoulour
Quant vous ne savez l’ardour
        Qu’ay a souffrir
Pour vous qu’aim tant et desir
Que plus ne le puis couvrir.
        Et se tenrour
N’en avez, en grant tristour
        M’estuet fenir.
Nompourquant jusqu’au morir
        Vostre demour.

Dame, a vous sans retollir
Dong cuer, pensee, desir,
        Corps, et amour,
Comme a toute la millour
        Qu’on puist choisir,
Ne qui vivre ne morir
        Puist a ce jour.

Aprés ma chanson commansa
Une dame qui la dansa,
Qui moult me sambloit envoisie,
Car elle estoit cointe et jolie,
Si prist a chanter sans demeure:
“Diex, quant venra li temps et l’eure
Que je voie ce que j’aim si?”
Et sa chanson fina einsi.
Quant finé l’ot, ma dame dit:
“C’est bien et joliement dit,
Mais il est temps de nous retraire.”
Et lors se mirent au repaire
Vers le manoir tuit aprés li.
N’il n’ot en la place celi
Ne celle qui contredeïst
Chose que ma dame dëist.
Si laissierent tuit le dancier
Et s’en alerent sans tancier,
Ci .i., ci .ij., ci .iij., ci iiij,
Pour eaus soulacier et esbatre.
Et ma dame m’arraisonna
Et d’encoste li me mena,
En demandant de mon affaire,
Einsi comme elle soloit faire,
Et m’enquist moult dont je venoie,
Et comment tant tenus m’estoie
Que je ne l’avoie veü,
Et aussi que j’avoie heü
Quant je parti darreinnement
De li. Car moult soudeinnement
M’en parti, sans penre congié,
Ne onques mais si eslongié,
Ce dist, ne me vit de raison
Com la, et pour quele occoison
Ce fu que ne li vos despondre
Sa demande, n’a li respondre,
Et que toute la verité
Li deïsse, ou j’avoie esté,
Sans mentir et sans couverture,
Et dont venoit ceste aventure.

Quant elle m’ot fait sa requeste,
Qui fu raisonnable et honneste
(Car dame a loy de demander
Seur amant et de commander)
Je, qui souvent de cuer souspir,
Gettai un plaint et .i. souspir,
Car bien vi qu’il me couvenoit
Respondre, et il appartenoit.
Lors recouri je sans paresse
A Esperence, ma deësse,
Qui me mist en cuer et en bouche
De dire ce qui plus me touche.
Si que moult paoureusement
Respondi assez simplement:
“Ma dame, refuser ne puis
Vostre commandement, et puis
Qu’il vous plaist, je vous en diray
Le voir, ne ja n’en mentiray,
Qu’a vous verité n’iert couverte
De moy pour gaaing ne pour perte;
Mais volentiers m’en deportasse,
S’il vous pleüst, dame, et je osasse.
Si vous pri, ma dame, pour Dieu,
Que se je di en aucun lieu
Chose qui vous puist anuier,
Vueilliés mon deffaut supplier,
Et vous pri qu’escusez en soie;
Car volentiers pas ne diroie
Chose qui vous deüst desplaire.
De ce Dieu vueil a tesmong traire.

Ma dame, tout premierement
Vous dirai le commencement,
L’estat, le fons, et la racine
Qui la verité determine
De ce que vous me demandez,
Puis que vous le me commandez.
J’estoie juenes et petis,
Nices, enfes, et enfantis,
Nus de scens et pleins d’innocence,
D’assez petite congnoissance,
D’estre en oiseuse coustumiers,
Dame, quant je vous vi premiers,
Ja soit einsi qu’encor en soie
Miex garnis que je ne vorroie.
Si que l’imagination
De moy et l’inclination
Si mis et toute ma plaisence
En vous, dame; que sans doubtance
Vous m’estiés exemplaire et voie
De tout ce que faire devoie;
Në il ne m’estoit mie avis
Que sans vous veoir fusse vis,
Et en vous si toute m’entente,
Mon cuer mettoie, et ma jouvente,
Que vostre oueil, vos fais, et vos dis
Estoient mon droit paradis.
Si m’avisay que je feroie
Selonc ce que je sentiroie
Pour vous et a vostre löange
Lay, complainte, ou chanson estrange;
Qu’a vous n’osasse, ne sceüsse
Dire autrement ce que j’eüsse,
Et me sambloit chose plus bele
De dire en ma chanson nouvelle
Ce qui mon cuer estreint et serre,
Que par autre guise requerre.
Si fis .i. lay dou sentement
Que j’avoie au commancement,
Et fu devant vous aportez,
Dont puis fu si desconfortez
Que je cuidai bien que la mort
M’eüst sans remede la mort.
Car, ma dame, vous m’apellastes
Et lui lire me commandastes.
Si le vous lus de point en point,
Rudettement et mal a point,
Comme cils qui en grant frisson
Fu qu’il n’i heüst mesprison.
Et pour ce que nuls ne savoit
Encor qui ce lay fait avoit,
Ma dame, vous me demandastes
Qui l’avoit fait, et me priastes
Que sans mentir le vous deïsse.
Et je, qui jamais ne feïsse
Riens qui desplaire vous deüst,
Fors ce qui plaire vous peüst,
Et qui mentir ne vous voloie
— Et aussi, dame, je n’osoie
Dire que ce fust de mon fait
Pour ce que je l’avoie fait
Et que je vous eüsse ouvert
L’amour que tant vous ay couvert
Que plus ne la vous puis couvrir,
Einsois la m’estuet descouvrir
— S’estoit mes cuers en fait contraire
Ou de respondre ou de moy taire.
Car lequel faire ne savoie.
Pour ce pris la moienne voie
Et me parti de present vous
En tel dueil et en tel courrous
Qu’a po que mes cuers ne partoit,
Quant mes corps einsi s’en partoit.
Et certes, pour tres tout l’avoir
Qu’on porroit desirer n’avoir,
Ne vous heüsse respondu,
Tant me senti je confundu
De scens, de force, et de parler.
Et pour ce m’en couvint aler
Plaingnant, plourant, et soupirant,
La mort querant et desirant,
Tant que je vins par aventure
En une trop belle closture.
Si m’en alai en .i. destour,
Et la fis je de ma tristour
Et de Fortune une compleinte,
Par qui ma joie estoit esteinte.
Et vraiement, j’estoie mors
Sans avoir de vie remors.
Mais Douce Esperence acouri,
Qui au besoing me secouri,
Et vint en trop plus belle fourme
Mil fois que Nature ne fourme.
Car, a briés mos, elle fu telle
Qu’elle sambla esperituele,
N’onques mais riens si bel ne vi,
Ne si cler. Et la me plevi
Amour, loiauté, compaingnie,
Foy, secours, confort, et aïe,
Se je la voloie ensuïr
Et desesperence fuïr.
La doucement me conforta.
La me gari; la m’aporta
Pais, joie, honneur, santé, richesse,
Et m’osta doleur et tristesse.
Les armes qui sont en l’escu
Des vrais amans et la vertu
Des coulours m’aprist a congnoistre,
Sans oublier ne descongnoistre,
Et comment Fortune a constance
En li mouvant; ceste doubtance
M’osta et dist par raison clere
Comment en douceur est amere.
Aprés, dame, elle m’a si duit
Qu’elle m’a jusqu’a vous conduit,
Car, par m’ame, jamais n’i fusse
Venus, s’avec moy ne l’eüsse.
Se vous suppli de cuer devost,
Chiere dame, puis qu’elle vost
Et vuet, encor que sans partie
Aiés mon cuer, mon corps, ma vie
Que vous ne la vueilliez desdire
De ce qu’elle m’a volu dire.
Car, dame, se vous l’avouez,
La serai ou je sui vouez;
Et ce non, il faurra partir
Mon cuer et morir com martir
Pour vous tres dolereusement,
Qu’a moy n’apartient nullement,
Dame, que je face depri
A vous de joie ne d’ottri.
Car refus de dame perit
En amant cuer et esperit,
Chiere dame, et se je l’avoie,
Certes, bien sai que je morroie.
S’aim miex qu’elle soit refusee
Que moy, et s’elle est avouee,
J’arai quanque mes cuers desire;
Si me devra plus que souffire.
Et s’il vous plaist, ma dame chiere,
A resgarder la darreniere
Chansonnette que je chantay,
Que fait en dit et en chant ay,
Vous porrez de legier savoir
Se je mens ou se je di voir.
Se vous pri qu’il vous en souveingne
Et que pité de moy vous preingne,
Car si vostres sui et serai
Que jamais autre n’amerai.”

Quant j’os parfiné ma response,
Ma dame, qui rest et qui ponse
Mes maus, mes anuis, mes durtés,
Et toutes mes maleürtez
Seulement de son dous regart,
Me respondi: “Se Diex me gart,
Ceste aventure est gracïeuse,
Comment qu’elle soit mervilleuse,
Qu’onques mais n’oÿ la pareille.
Et pour ce en ai je grant merveille.
Mais de ce lay que vous me distes,
Est ce voirs que vous le feïstes?”

“Certeinnement, ma dame, oïl.”

“Vous aida nuls?”

          “Dame, nennil,
Fors vous seule en qui je prenoie
Chant, rime, et matere de joie.”

“Et pour qui le feïstes vous?”

“Pour vous, dame, a qui je sui tous.”



          “C’est fort a croire.”

“Par m’ame, c’est parole voire,
Einsi comme est la patenostre,
Que le fis et que je sui vostre,
Ma dame, et vostre honneur soit sauve
Que j’aim, vueil, desir, quier, et sauve,
Com celle que je vueil sauver
Tant com m’ame qu’ay a sauver.”

“Et veïstes vous Esperence
En la fourme et en la semblance
Que ci le m’avez devisé?”

“Ma dame, oïl. Et se visé
Y avoie et pensé .c. ans,
Ne diroie je de .c. tans
Sa bonté, ne sa grant biauté,
Ne la parfaite loiauté
Qu’elle m’a promis a tenir.
Et pour ce m’a fait ci venir
Et m’a promis vie joieuse,
Et qu’a moy seriés gracïeuse.
Si vous devez moult aviser
Que sa requeste refuser
Ne vueilliés; et mentir n’en quier.
Se riens vous depri ou requier,
C’est de par li et en son nom,
Qui est de si noble renom
Qu’en monde n’a païs ne regne
Qu’elle n’i soit, qu’elle n’i regne,
Et que chascuns ne se resjoie,
Que de li vuet avoir la joie.
Nompourquant vous estes si sage,
Dame, et de si noble corage,
Que veoir pouez a mon plaint
Qu’assez rueve qui se complaint.
Mais riens demander ne vous ose,
Amour, merci, në autre chose,
Qu’a moy n’apartient nullement,
Et on dit que communement
Demander vient de villonnie,
Et löange de courtoisie.”

“Vous dites voir; c’est ce qu’on dist.
Et aussi cils qu’on escondist
Doit estre honteus, s’il est sages,
Soit grans, petis, vallés, ou pages.
Il couvient que pour fol se rende
Qui ne s’avise, eins qu’il demande.
Et aussi vient souvent contraire
De parler quant on se doit taire,
Car on dist que trop parler cuit.
Et vraiement, si com je cuit.
Qui plus couvoite qu’il ne doit,
Sa couvoitise le deçoit.
Et demander de couvoitise
Est engenrez contre franchise;
N’on ne doit pas si haut monter
Qu’on ait honte dou desvaler.
Eins doit on le moien eslire.
Car meintes foys ay oï dire
Qui plus haut monte qu’il ne doit
De plus haut chiet qu’il ne vorroit.
Pour ce fait bon parler a point
Par scens, par avis, et par point,
Doucement, sans maniere ruste,
Et demander ce qui est juste,
Car encontre bon demandeur
Appartient bon escondisseur.
Et, biau sire, Bonne Esperence,
Qui moult a valour et puissance,
Comme sage et bien doctrinee,
Loial, juste, et bien avisee,
Vous a consillié sagement,
Ce m’est avis. Et vraiement,
Tant vaut, tant scet, tant a pooir,
Tant puet aidier, tant puet valoir,
Tant est pour chascun neccessaire,
Tant est courtoise, debonnaire,
Bonne, gentil, franche, amiable,
Loial, noble, honneste, creable,
Large de joie et de confort,
Abandonnee en reconfort,
A bien faire et raison encline,
Tant par est nette, pure, et fine
En fais et en meurs que son oeuvre
Bonne appert partout ou elle ouevre.
Tant est bonne en condicion
Et vraie, qu’a m’entention
On ne deveroit riens escondire
Qu’elle vosist faire ne dire.
Si ne seroie pas vaillant
Se je li estoie faillant,
Ne s’en riens la desavouoie.
Pour ce dou tout mes cuers s’ottroie
A son plaisir et a son vueil,
Car tout ce qu’elle vuet je vueil;
N’a ce mon cuer n’iert anemi
Qu’elle a dit et promis de mi,
Eins yert bonnement avouee,
Sans penre terme ne journee.
Si que, biaus dous loiaus amis,
Tout ce qu’elle vous a promis
Aveu, ratefi, et tenray,
Si que ja contre ne venray.
Pour ce vous pri que desormais
Soiez cointes, jolis, et gais,
Loiaus, secrez sans venterie,
Car vous avez loial amie.
Et certes, amis, bien pensoie
Que la vostre amour estoit moie
Comment que riens n’en deïssiez
Et que samblant n’en feïssiez.
Mais quant Esperence s’en mesle,
Je ne doy pas estre rebelle
A son voloir, eins vous ottroy
Loiaument de m’amour l’ottroy,
Qu’elle m’a dit que vous m’amez
Et vuet qu’amis soiez clamez.”

Adont me mis sans detrïer
A genous pour li mercïer.
Mais elle tantost s’abaissa
Vers moy et pas ne m’i laissa,
Einsois volt que je me dressasse
Et qu’en alant a li parlasse.
Si que je me levay tous drois
Et la merciay, ce fu drois,
Nom pas einsi com je devoie,
Mais si com faire le savoie.
Et quant je l’os remercïé
Cent mille fois et gracïé
De l’onneur qu’elle me faisoit,
Quant mon cuer einsi appaisoit
(Comment que, sans riens retenir,
Siens fusse et siens me vueil tenir,
Einsi com ci dessus dit l’ay),
Encores li renouvelay
Et li donnay le cuer de my,
Corps, foy, et loiauté d’amy
A tousjours mais sans dessevrer,
Tant que mors m’en fera sevrer.
Et elle les reçut et prist,
Dont mon cuer de grant joie esprist.
Et pour ce qu’on n’aperceüst
Riens de nos amours ou sceüst,
Une damoiselle appella,
Qui tost oÿ son appel a.
Si li parla d’autre matiere;
Et lors je me treï arriere
Devers dames et damoiselles,
Qui enquirent de mes nouvelles
Et me firent pluseurs partures
D’amours et de leurs aventures.
Certes, et je leur respondoie
Moult long de ce que je pensoie,
Car toudis leur fis dou blanc noir,
Tant que nous fumes au manoir
De quoy nous estiens assez prés.
Si y venimes tuit aprés
Ma dame, qui devant aloit.
Drois fu, car Raisons le voloit.

Quant la fumes, ce fu mes grez.
Si montames par les degrez
En une chapelle moult cointe,
D’or et de main de maistre pointe
Et des plus tres fines coulours
Qu’onques mais veïsse que lours.
Si fu la messe apparillie,
Devotement ditte, et oÿe.
Et la fis je mes orisons
A Dieu, et mes afflictions,
Qu’il me vosist sauver ma dame
En honneur, en corps, et en ame,
Et qu’eür, scens, grace, et vigour
De garder sa pais et s’onnour
Me donnast, et de li servir
Pouoir si com je le desir;
Et qu’elle heüst com raisonnable
Mon petit service aggreable.
Ce fu la fin de ma prïere.
Quant la messe fu ditte entiere,
J’oï sonner une trompette
Dont uns chambellains haut trompette.
Qui adont veïst gent de court!
Chascuns a son office accourt,
L’un devers la paneterie
Et l’autre en la boutillerie;
Li autre vont en la cuisine
Selonc ce que chascuns cuisine.
Messagiers et garsons d’estables
Dressent fourmes, trestiaus, et tables.
Qui les veïst troter et courre,
Herbe aporter, tapis escourre,
Braire, crïer, et ramonner,
Et l’un a l’autre raisonner,
François, breton, et alemant,
Lombart, anglois, oc, et norment
Et meint autre divers langage,
C’estoit a oïr droite rage.
Qui d’autre part veïst pingnier,
Polir, cointoier, alignier
Vallés tranchans et eaus parer,
Et pour leur maistre pain parer,
Faire tailloirs, demander napes
Et de leurs mains oster les rapes,
L’un seoir jus, l’autre troter,
Et l’autre ses crotes froter,
Laver et nettoier leurs mains,
A l’un plus et a l’autre mains,
Einsois qu’on alast asseoir
— C’estoit merveilles a veoir.
Car il menoient moult grant noise,
Einsi com chascuns crie et noise:
“Faites tost; la messe est chantee,
Et l’iaue est grant piessa cornee.”

Quant on ot chanté tout attrait,
Chascuns ala a son retrait,
Qui dut son corset desvestir,
Pour le seurcot ouvert vestir.
Aprés vint chascuns en la sale,
Qui ne fu vileinne ne sale,
Ou chascuns fu, ce m’est avis,
A point honnourez et servis
Einsi de vin et de viande
Com corps et appetis demande.
Et la pris je ma soustenance
En regardant la contenance,
L’estat, le maintieng, et le port
De celle ou sont tuit mi deport.
Mais qui veïst aprés mengier
Venir menestrels sans dangier,
Pingniez et mis en puré corps.
La firent mains divers acors,
Car je vi la tout en un cerne
Viële, rubebe, guiterne,
Leü, morache, michanon,
Citole, et le psalterion,
Harpes, tabours, trompes, naquaires,
Orgues, cornes, plus de dis paires,
Cornemuses, flajos, chevrettes,
Douceinnes, simbales, clochettes,
Tymbre, la flaüste brehaingne,
Et le grant cornet d’Alemaingne,
Flajos de saus, fistule, pipe,
Muse d’Aussay, trompe petite,
Buisines, eles, monocorde,
Ou il n’a c’une seule corde,
Et muse de blef tout ensamble.
Et certeinnement, y me semble
Qu’onques mais tele melodie
Ne fu veüe ne oïe,
Car chascuns d’eaus, selonc l’acort
De son instrument, sans descort,
Viële, guiterne, citole,
Harpe, trompe, cornc, flajole,
Pipe, souffle, muse, naquaire,
Taboure, et quanquë on puet faire
De dois, de penne, et de l’archet
Oÿ j’et vi en ce parchet.

Quant fait eurent une estampie,
Les dames et leur compaignie
S’en alerent, ci .ij., ci .iij.,
En elles tenant par les dois,
Jusque en une chambre moult belle.
Et la n’ot il celui ne celle
Qui se vosist esbanier,
Dancier, chanter, ou festier
De tables, d’eschaz, de parsons,
Par gieus, par notes, ou par sons
Qui la ne trouvast sans arrest
A son vueil l’esbatement prest.
Et si ot des musicïens
Milleurs assez et plus scïens
En la viez et nouvele forge
Que Musique qui les chans forge,
N’Orpheüs, qui si bien chanta
Que tous ceaus d’enfer enchanta
Par la douceur de son chanter,
Devant eaus ne sceüst chanter.
Quant on ot rusé longuement,
Uns chevaliers isneslement
Hucha le vin et les espices.
Bien croy que ce fu ses offices,
Car en l’eure, sans delaier,
Y coururent li escuier.

Quant on ot espices eü
Et de ce vermillet beü,
Midi passa. La nonne vint
Pour ce penre congié convint;
Si le prist chascuns et chascune
Selonc la maniere commune.
Mais j’atendi tous des darriens,
Com cils qui ne pensoie a riens,
Fors a ma douce dame gente
Que je veoie la presente.
Et quant je vi qu’il fu a point
D’aler vers li, n’atendi point,
Einsois m’alai recommander
A li et congié demander.
Si li dis d’une vois bassette
Et de maniere assez simplette:
“Moy et mon cuer vous recommant,
Ma dame, et a Dieu vous commant,
Com cils qui vivre ne porroie,
Se par amours ne vous amoie,
Car l’amour de vous me soustient
En vie et en joie me tient.”
Elle, com vaillant et courtoise,
Bonne et sage, sans faire noise,
Me respondi:

          “Mes chiers amis,
Puis qu’Amours ad ce nous ha mis
Que nos .ij. cuers ensamble joindre
Vuet sans partir et sans desjoindre,
Et que faire vuet .i de .ij.,
Pour Dieu, ne faisons paire d’euls.
Car il sont perdu et honni
Se si pareil et si onni
Ne sont qu’en bien et mal commun
Soient, et en tous cas comme un,
Sans pensee avoir de maistrie,
De haussage ou de signourie,
Qu’adés a tençon et rumour
Entre signourie et amour.
Et seurtout que chascuns regarde
Qu’onneur et pais a l’autre garde.
Et pour ma pais je vueil savoir
Dont cil annelés vint, qu’avoir
Ne vous vi onques mais anel.”

Je dis: “Ma dame, ce m’est bel
Que le sachiés; si le sarez,
Et se vous volez, vous l’arez.
Esperence le me donna
Quant a moy tant s’abandonna
Que foy et amour me promist,
Et de son doi en mien le mist.”


     “Ma dame, oïl, vraiement.”

“Et je vueil qu’amiablement
De vostre anel au mien changons,
Et que ce soient nos changons.”

Et je, qui de ce grant joie eus,
Li respondi com moult joieus:
“Chiere dame, Dieus le vous mire!”
Lors prist doucement a sousrire
Et de sa blanche main polie,
Poteleuse, nette, et onnie,
En signe d’eüreus amant
Me mist .i. trop biau diamant
En mon doy et prist l’anelet
D’Esperence, tel comme il est.
Mais tout einsi qu’elle tenoit
Mon doy soudeinnement venoit
Entre nous .ij. Douce Esperence
Pour parfaire ceste alience,
Dont moult lié et moult joieus fumes
Quant a nostre conseil l’eümes,
Pour ce que, se li uns deïst
Riens contre l’autre ou meffeïst
Qu’elle le peüst corrigier
Et selonc son meffait jugier
Avec Amour et Loiauté,
Qui ont la souvereinneté
Et qui sont des amoureus juge
Pour ce que chascuns a droit juge;
Et qu’elle peüst tesmongnage
Porter que de loial corage
Me donna s’amour et je li.
Si que de nous n’i ot celi
Qui adont par dit et par fait
Ne l’acordast de cuer parfait.
Atant de ma dame parti.
Mais d’un regart me reparti
Si vray et d'un si dous langage
Qu’elle retint mon cuer en gage,
Dont si liez fu et si joians
Quant Esperence ot assevi
Si bien ce qu’elle m’ot plevi;
Et pour la joie que j’avoie
Ce rondelet fis en ma voie:

My lady, to you without reservation
I grant heart, mind, desire,
        Body, and love,
As to the finest woman
        Any man might choose
And who is alive or has died
        In this present age.


And it should not seem
Madness if I adore you,
        For, and no lie,
You’re worthier than goodness itself
And surpass in fragrance any flower
        You might smell.
Your beauty makes all other blooms
Dry up and wither,
        And your delicacy
Surpasses every other; your complexion
        I think is like a rose,
And your glance could heal
        Any ill.

My lady, to you without reservation
I grant heart, mind, desire,
        Body, and love,
As to the finest woman
        Any man might choose
And who is alive or has died
        In this present age.


And so, my lady, I ready myself
To serve you with all
        The strength that’s mine,
And I surrender, intending no impropriety,
My heart, life, and honor
        To your pleasure.
And if Pity consents,
And you deign hear
        My appeal.
I do not seek through my efforts
        To merit more,
For no greater joy
        Could come my way.

My lady, to you without reservation
I grant heart, mind, desire,
        Body, and love,
As to the finest woman
        Any man might choose
And who is alive or has died
        In this present age.


My lady, in whom is all my recourse,
Often in some byway I’m driven
        To moan and complain,
And, with you present, I grow pale
Since you know not the passion
        That’s mine to suffer
On account of you, whom I love so much
And desire, more than I can conceal.
        And if there were
No tenderness in you, I must
        End in great sadness.
Even so, until my death
        I will remain yours.

My lady, to you without reservation
I grant heart, mind, desire,
        Body, and love,
As to the finest woman
        Any man might choose
And who is alive or has died
        In this present age.

After I began my song
A lady who was dancing there
And seemed full of fun,
Being delightful and pretty,
Right away began to sing:
“Dear God, when will come the day and time
I see the one I love so much?”
And with this line she ended.
After this, my lady said:
“That’s well and properly sung,
But it’s time we should withdraw.”
Then the company made ready to trail
After her to the manor house.
For no man or woman in that party
Would offer a contrary opinion
To whatever the lady might say.
And so they abandoned their dancing
And set off without a murmur,
Some singly, others in pairs or threesomes,
Or groups of four to divert and enjoy themselves.
And my lady kept me close,
Leading me along as she spoke,
And asking for my news,
As was her custom.
And she was eager to learn where I’d come from
And why I’d stayed away
And had not seen her,
As well as what had made me
Depart her company not long ago,
For all of a sudden
I’d disappeared, not taking leave,
And never before, she said, had she
Seen me depart so hastily for any reason,
And could I offer some explanation
For not wanting to answer
Her question, or otherwise respond,
And that the whole truth is what I should tell her,
Where I had been,
Not dissembling or concealing anything,
As well as the reasons for such goings-on.

After she made this request,
Which was reasonable and straightforward
(For a lady enjoys the right to question
Her lover and command him),
Sighing often in a heartfelt way,
I let out a moan from deep inside,
For I realized clearly I was obliged
To give an answer, for it was fitting.
At this moment I quickly resorted
Without hesitation to my goddess Hope,
Who inspired my heart to feel
My innermost emotions and give them voice.
With much trepidation,
I responded rather simply:
“My lady, I cannot refuse
Your command, and since you’re
So pleased, I’ll tell you the fact
Of the matter with no dissembling,
So the truth will not be kept
From you, to my profit or loss.
I’d much prefer refusing to speak of this,
If it pleased you, my lady, and if I dared.
So I beg you, my lady, for God’s sake
Please forgive my failings
If at any point I say something
That causes you annoyance,
And I pray you’ll excuse me.
For I’d never willingly say
Anything to displease you.
I call upon God as my witness.

My lady, I will first say something
Of how this situation arose,
Its nature, background, and origin,
Everything that pertains to the truth
Of the answers you seek
Since this is what you command.
I was young and not yet mature,
Foolish, childish, and inexperienced,
Devoid of good sense, yet filled with ignorance,
Possessed of little if any knowledge,
Accustomed to indolence,
My lady, when first I laid eyes upon you,
And even now I’m more inclined
To be this way than I’d wish.
And so I devoted to you
My thoughts, my enthusiasm,
And my inclination toward pleasure,
My lady; and beyond any doubt,
You’ve been the model and inspiration
For all I have since felt my life should be;
And I’d find it impossible, I think,
To manage living without seeing you,
And you are what I strive for,
While my heart and youth are dedicated to you,
So that your regard, what you do and say,
There constitute my true paradise.
And from these emotions
I determined to compose for you
And in your praise a lay,
Complaint, or new song;
For I did not dare or know how
To otherwise express what I felt,
And it seemed better
To express in a new song
What gripped and weighed on my heart
Than to contrive some other way of doing so.
So I composed a lay that drew on the emotions
I’ve experienced from the outset,
And this lay made its way to you,
Which so completely devastated me
I was convinced death would make
An end of me, with no recovery.
For, my lady, you called upon
And commanded me to recite it.
And so I read it, from beginning
To end, if in a bumbling and artless fashion,
Like a man so seized by terror
Everyone present would take note.
And because no one there knew
Who had authored the lay,
My lady, you asked me
Who was its composer, begging
Me for a clear answer.
And I, who would never do
Anything to annoy you,
Only what you might find pleasing,
I who had no wish to lie to you
— I dared not confess
To being the author;
For my having written it,
Would reveal to you the love
I’ve kept quite hidden,
And so this would no longer remain secret,
But rather be made public
— And in my heart I could not decide
Whether to answer or hold my peace.
Uncertain as to which course to follow,
I chose the middle path.
And I made my way from you
In such sorrow and confusion
My heart almost broke
As I withdrew from your presence.
And surely, for all the treasure any man
Could either desire or possess,
I’d not have answered you
With my senses, thoughts,
And power of speech in such turmoil.
And so I had to steal away
Lamenting, weeping, and sighing,
Eager for and desirous of death,
Until by chance I entered into
A quite beautiful enclosed garden.
And I strolled over to a lonely spot,
There composing a complaint
From the sadness I felt, whose theme was Fortune,
Who had wrecked my happiness.
And truly my death was close,
And I had little expectation of living longer.
But Sweet Hope quickly was on the scene,
And helped me in this time of trouble,
And she appeared in a form a thousand
Times lovelier than what Nature creates.
Indeed, to put this briefly,
She seemed a spiritual being,
For I’d never seen anyone else so lovely
Or radiant. And on the spot she pledged
Me love, loyalty, and companionship,
Faith, help, consolation, and assistance
If I would follow her
And abandon despair.
There she graciously comforted me;
There she healed me; there she made me the gifts of
Peace, joy, honor, well-being, wealth,
Delivering me from pain and sorrow.
She taught me to recognize,
Without slighting or misinterpreting,
The significance of the shield
Of true lovers, as well as the power of colors,
And how Fortune attains to constancy
Through her mutability; she extinguished my
Fear of Fortune, explaining with persuasive reasons
How in her sweetness lies bitterness.
Afterward, my lady, she was my guide
And conducted me to you, for upon my soul
Never would I have made my way
Here without her by my side.
So with a devout heart I beg
Dear lady, since it was and is her desire still,
That you, and you alone,
Should possess my heart, my body, my life,
Please raise no objections
To all I have said, for she wished it so.
Now, my lady, if you consent,
I’ll remain right where I have so pledged.
And, if not, I must abandon my heart
And die a martyr’s death
In terrible pain and all for you,
Since it’s improper, my lady,
For me to ask you for
Either joy or favor.
In the event a lady’s refusal destroys
The lover’s body and soul,
Dear lady, and should you refuse me,
It would certainly mean my death.
I’d rather Hope be refused
Than me, and if she finds favor
I’ll possess all that my heart desires,
Which should more than satisfy.
And if it pleases you, my lady dear,
To look over that last
Little song I sang,
Whose words and music I composed,
You can readily see
Whether I lie or speak the truth.
So give this some thought, I beg you,
And let pity for me take root,
For I am so truly yours, and will always be,
I’ll never fall in love with another.”

After I finished responding,
My lady, who heals and alleviates
My ills, my troubles, my hardships,
And all that disturbs me
Through her sweet look alone,
Answered me thus: “So God help me,
This is a quite happy accident,
However strange it might seem,
For I’ve never heard the like
And so am quite amazed.
But about this lay you recited for me,
Is it true that you composed it?”

“Truly, my lady, yes.”

“No one helped you?”

          “No one, my lady,
Except for you, who inspired
The song, the rhymes, and the joyful theme.”

“And for whom did you compose it?”

“For you, my lady, to whom I am completely devoted.”

“You are?”


          “That’s difficult to believe.”

“By my soul, these words are every bit
As true as the Our Father:
I am the author, and I am yours,
My lady, and may your honor be preserved,
Which I love, care for, desire, seek, and protect,
And which I intend to keep safe as much
As I seek salvation for my own soul.”

“And did you see Hope
In the very form and shape
You’ve described to me here?”

“Indeed, my lady. And even after considering
And thinking about it for a hundred years,
I’d prove unable to describe the hundredth part
Of her goodness or great beauty,
Or the perfect faithfulness
She swore to bear me.
And this explains why she led me here
With the promise of a joyful life
And gracious treatment from you.
And you should mull it over a bit
Before deciding to turn down this request.
I’ve no wish to lie about the matter;
If I request or ask for anything from you,
It’s on her behalf and in her name,
Which is of such noble renown
That in this world there’s no country or realm
Where she is not, where she does not rule,
And where everyone eager to possess
The joy she brings does not rejoice.
Nevertheless, my lady, you have
Such wisdom and noble courage,
My plaint will convince you
That he who laments wants much.
But I don’t dare ask anything from you,
Not love, favor, or whatever else
Might not be appropriate,
For one and all maintain
That making requests is bad form,
But praise is pure courtliness.”

“You speak the truth; one does hear this said.
And, further, a man who’s refused,
If wise enough, should feel shamed.
Whether of high degree or low, a valet or a page,
He must consider himself foolish
For not thinking carefully before petitioning.
Moreover, words often give offense
When silence is what’s called for,
For too much talk is a mistake.
And truly, I believe
That whoever desires what he shouldn’t
Is often fooled by his own covetousness.
And to press a suit out of covetousness
Is to act against generosity.
No one should climb so high
That, descending, is chagrined.
Instead he should choose the middle way.
For I’ve heard it said many times:
Whoever climbs higher than he should
Slips even further than he would.
And so it’s good to speak appropriately,
With common sense, forethought, and directness,
With grace and not in some rude way,
And to request what is fitting,
For whoever seeks what is inappropriate
Properly receives a just refusal.
And, fair sir, Good Hope,
Who is possessed of such virtue and strength
And is so wise and well-informed,
Faithful, fair-minded, and considerate,
Has counseled you wisely;
Such is my view. And truly
She is so worthy, knowledgeable, mighty,
So able to help, such a shining example,
So indispensable to one and all,
So courtly and poised,
Virtuous, noble, generous, friendly, so loyal,
Of good stock, so honest, trustworthy,
Generous with good cheer and consolation,
Freely providing comfort,
Inclined toward right and reasonable action,
So unblemished, pure, and upright
In her manner and demeanor that all she does
Also shows her goodness wherever she asserts herself.
By nature she is so filled with virtue
And truth that, as I see it,
No one should oppose anything
She might choose to state or assert.
So I’d hardly be worthy
If I disappointed her
Or said no to anything she proposed.
And so with all my heart I surrender
Myself to her pleasure and will,
For what she desires, I do as well;
Nor will my heart offer opposition to
Whatever she’s said and promised to me,
But will graciously accept it,
Imposing no terms or conditions.
And so, my fair, precious, and loyal lover,
Everything she has promised you
I accept, ratify, and uphold,
Never disagreeing.
Therefore, I beg you henceforth
To be merry, pleasant, and happy,
Loyal, discreet but not boastful,
For you possess a faithful sweetheart.
And surely, my friend, I was convinced
You were in love with me
Though you said nothing about it,
And made as if it were not so.
But since Hope has taken a hand
I ought not struggle against
What she wishes, but rather grant you
In true faith the bestowal of my love,
For she’s said you are in love with me
And wants you to bear the name of lover.”

Then, not hesitating, I got down
On my knees to thank her.
But she at once stooped
Toward me and would not allow it,
Wishing instead that I’d get to my feet
And speak with her while we walked.
So I stood up right away
And thanked her, as was proper,
Not as I should have done,
But as ably as I knew how.
And after I expressed my gratitude
A thousand times and thanked
Her for the honor she had done me
By putting my heart at ease,
(Even though, holding back nothing,
I had been hers, and hers I intended to remain,
Just as I have said here above),
I renewed these pledges to her,
Bestowing upon her my heart,
My body, my good faith, and my lover’s loyalty
For all time henceforth, never to depart,
Until death should separate me from her.
And she accepted and acknowledged all this,
Which set my heart to burning with joy.
And so that no one might take notice
Of our love affair, or find out about it,
She summoned a damsel,
Who quickly answered the call.
And she spoke to her of some other matter.
Meanwhile I strolled back
Toward the ladies and damsels,
Who asked me for news
And sang for me some songs
About love as well as its twists and turns.
Surely what I said to them in response
Was not in the least what I was thinking,
For over and over I made white black for them
Until we arrived at the manor house,
Not far distant from where we were then.
And we all made our way there following
My lady, who walked in front.
That was proper, for Reason wished it so.

When we arrived, I found myself pleased
And mounted the staircase
To a chapel that was quite splendid,
Painted in gold by the hand of a master
And with colors more beautiful
Than any I’d ever seen.
There was celebrated a mass
That was devoutly recited and attended,
And, while doing my penance,
I also prayed God
To preserve the honor,
Body, and soul of my lady;
To afford me the good chance, perspicacity,
Grace, and strength to guard her honor
And her peace, as well as the strength
To serve her as I wished to do;
And to make sure she’d find appropriate
The small, pleasant services I intended to perform.
That’s how my prayer ended.
After the mass had been said to its end,
I heard ring out a trumpet
That one of the chamberlains blew loudly.
What a sight then of all the servants!
Everyone rushed to do his office:
One toward the pantry,
Another to the wine cellar,
While others went to the kitchen,
To the places where they did the cooking.
Messengers and stable boys
Set up the benches, trestles, and tables.
You should have seen them racing here and there,
Bringing hay, laying out carpets,
Yelling, shouting, and pushing brooms,
Chatting with one another
In French, Breton, and German,
Lombard, English, Occitan, and Norman,
And many other odd tongues,
And this was quite a babble to hear.
And to see elsewhere in the room the carvers
Polishing, setting up, and cleaning
Even as they set about readying the water,
And slicing the bread for their master,
Getting the platters ready, calling for tablecloths,
And removing the cheesecloth covers by hand,
Here a man sitting, there one running,
Yet another brushing off crumbs,
People washing and drying their hands,
Some more, others less,
Before they go sit.
— That was a marvel indeed to witness.
For they made a great deal of noise,
With everyone shouting and yelling:
“Make it quick! Mass has been sung,
And the call for washing sounded some time back.”

Once mass had been duly sung,
Every man went off to his room
To remove his corset
And don an open surcoat instead.
They all then proceeded to the dining hall,
Which was hardly inelegant or ill-appointed,
And there, I believe, the whole company
Received fine treatment and was served with
As much wine and meat
As body and appetite demanded.
And while taking my meal,
I took stock of the demeanor,
The manner, the bearing, and the carriage
Of the woman in whom all my pleasure is found.
What a sight when after the meal,
Minstrels came freely forward,
With hair elaborately done and fancy dress.
There they played many a tune.
For gathered in a circle I caught sight of
Vielle, rebec, gittern,
The lute, which came from Arabia, “halved” psaltery,
Citole, and psaltery,
Harp, tabor, straight trumpets, nakers,
Portative organs, more than ten pairs of horns,
Bagpipes, one-handed flutes, smallpipes,
Douçaines, cymbals, small bells,
The tambourine, the transverse flute, as the Bohemians play,
And the great cornett from Germany,
Willow flutes, fife, pipe,
The Alsatian bagpipe, small trumpet,
Buisines, the harp-psaltery, monochord,
With its single string,
And the pan-pipes — all of these together.
And, to be sure, never before
Had such a melody
Been heard or attended to,
For in that little park I heard and noticed
Each of them according to the pitch
Of that instrument with no disharmony:
Vielle, gittern, citole,
Harp, straight trumpet, horn, whistle,
Pipe, bladder pipe, smallpipe, nakers,
Tabor, and whatever one might play
With finger, plectrum, or bow.

After they had performed an estampie
The ladies and the rest of the company
Went off in pairs and threesomes,
Holding each other by the hand,
To a quite lovely room,
And no man or woman present
Was not then eager for entertainment,
Dancing, singing, or making merry
With backgammon, chess, and parsons,
With games, singing, and music,
And who did not find ready the opportunity
To do so as they wished with no trouble.
And there present were musicians
More skilled and practiced
In established and new styles,
Better singers among that company
Than Music, the origin of songs,
Or Orpheus, who sang so ably
He enchanted all those in Hell
With the sweetness of his song.
Such amusements proceeded for some time
Before one of the knights suddenly
Called for wine and spices;
I certainly think this was one of his offices,
For at once, without delay,
Squires were in haste.

After all present had taken pleasure in
The spices and the light red wine,
It was past midday. The hour of three approached,
And time for those in the company to take their leave,
So every man and woman said goodbye
According to the usual custom.
I waited among the very last,
Like someone with nothing on his mind
Except my sweet and noble lady,
Whom I was gazing at before me.
And sensing the moment had come,
I made my way to her,
Strolled over to commend myself
And ask for leave to depart.
And, in a whisper, and without
Any fuss, I said to her:
“I give you my heart and my person,
My lady, and commend you to God,
For I’m a man who could live no longer
If not loving you with passion
Since my love for you sustains
My life and keeps me full of joy.”
She, worthy and courtly,
Virtuous and wise, not making a scene,
Answered me in this way:

          “My dear friend,
Since Love has brought you to this point
And wishes our two hearts joined together,
Never to part and never to separate,
Eager as she is to turn two into one,
For God’s sake let us make them equal;
For they are lost and shamed
If, so similar and united,
They do not feel in common both good
And evil, and are not in all matters as one,
With no thought of claiming mastery,
Higher rank, or dominion;
For love and lordship together
Make for constant argument and quarrels.
And especially let each
Protect the other’s honor and peace.
And for my own peace of mind I want to know
Where this ring comes from since I
Never noticed before that you have one.

I said: “My lady, I’m happy to
Have you know; and if you so desire,
You will learn the truth of the matter.
Hope gave it to me
When she granted so much
In promising me her faith and love,
Then she placed it on my finger.”

“She did?”

     “Truly, my lady, yes.”

“Well, I’d like to exchange
Your ring for the one I wear,
As a sign of our bond.”

This gave me great joy, and so I
Answered her with much pleasure:
“Dear lady, may God look down upon you!”
Then she began to smile sweetly
And with her smooth, pale hand,
Plump, soft, and unwrinkled,
She put a very elegant diamond
On my finger as a sign that I was
A fortunate lover, and she accepted Hope’s
Ring when it was offered.
But as she took hold of
My finger, Sweet Hope suddenly
Appeared between us
In order to establish our union,
And we were ecstatic and delighted
To have her as our counselor
Since if one of us should say
Or do anything to displease the other
She could remedy it
And judge the misdeed
Before Love and Loyalty,
Who wield sovereignty
Over lovers and act as their judges,
Because Hope judges everyone justly
And can bear witness
That the lady faithfully gave me
Her love as I presented her with mine,
And so neither of us failed
To uphold this agreement wholeheartedly
From that moment, in word and deed.
At this I departed from my lady,
But she gave me a look that was
So full of truth and of such sweet expression
She took my heart hostage.
And thus I was so happy and jubilant,
For Hope had fulfilled her promise
About everything she’d pledged;
And in response to the gratitude I felt
I composed this rondelet as I went my way.


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fol. 78v



fol. 79r
















fol. 79v
















fol. 80r






Dame, mon cuer en vous remaint
Comment que de vous me departe.
De fine amour qui en moy maint,
Dame, mon cuer en vous remaint.
Or pri Dieu que li vostres m’aint,
Sans ce qu’en nulle autre amour parte.
Dame, mon cuer en vous remaint,
Comment que de vous me departe.

Quant j’eus finé mon rondelet,
Je me mis en un sentelet
Qui me mena en une marche
Ou toute joie maint et marche,
D’armes, d’amours, de festoier,
De jouster, et de tournoier,
Et de toute autre bonne vie.
Si me mis en la compaingnie
Et fis a mon petit pooir
Selonc ce que je pos veoir
Que li autre se demenoient,
Et vos faire ce qu’il faisoient,
Comment qu’a droit ne le feïsse;
Mais il failloit que j’aprenisse,
Car qui n’aprent en sa juenesse,
Il s’en repent en sa vieillesse,
S’il est tels qu’il le sache entendre:
Car trop noble chose est d’aprendre.
Pour ce mes cuers s’i deduisoit,
Car ma dame ad ce me duisoit.
La demouray longuettement
En joie et en esbatement,
Tant qu’il fu temps de repairier
Vers celle ou sont mi desirier.
Si me mis briefment au retour
Vers son gent et faitis atour
Cointe et bel; s’i vins a tele heure
Que je cuidai, se Diex m’onneure,
Que li cuers me deüst partir.
Car je vi de moy departir
Ses tres dous yex et autre part
Traire et lancier leur dous espart.
Et ne sceus se ce fu a certes;
Mais j’en fui prés de morir, certes.
Car de samblant et de maniere,
De cuer; de regart, et de chiere
Qu’amis doit recevoir d'amie,
Me fu vis qu’elle estoit changie,
Et pensay qu’elle le faisoit
Pour autre qui miex li plaisoit.
Lors renouvela ma pesence,
Et cheï en une doubtance
Si grief, si pesant, et si pesme
Que de joie ne que de cresme
Dedens mon cuer ne demouroit
Pour la doubte qui l’acouroit.
Lors fu en grant merencolie
Comme cils qui pense et colie,
Contrepense, estudie, et muse,
S’a certes estoit, ou par ruse,
Ou se ses cuers einsi plaier
Me voloit pour moy essaier.
Mais si tres aviseement
Le faisoit et si soutieument
Que je ne pos onques le voir
De la mansonge concevoir.
Si m’avisai que je feroie,
Et pensai que je li diroie:
“Ma chiere dame, vous savez
Comment moy et mon cuer avez,
Comment je vous aim sans retraire,
Comment vous me poez deffaire
Et mettre a mort, se vous volez,
Se vo dous regart me tolés.
Dame, et se vous avez corage
D’autre recevoir en hommage,
Ou de moy tenir en penser
Qu’envers moy daingnissiés fausser,
Ou de moy de vous estrangier,
Qui sui en vostre dous dangier,
Pour Dieu, dame, tant vous fïez
De moy, las! que vous m’ocïez
En moy disant sans couverture
Que vous n’avez mais de moy cure.
Car y me vaut trop miex morir
Pour vous a .i. cop que languir.”
Si que tout einsi, sans attente,
Li dis tout mon cuer et m’entente.

Si m’escouta diligenment
Et me respondi erranment:
“Biaus dous amis, soiez en pais
De tout ce que je di et fais;
Car je le fais pour le millour
Et pour miex celer nostre amour,
Car qui en amours ne scet feindre,
Il ne puet a grant joie ateindre,
N’il n’a pooir de bien celer
Ce qu’il ne vorroit reveler.
Car li mondes est si divers,
Si mesdisans, et si pervers
Et pleins de si fausse contrueve
Qu’au jour de hui on dit et contrueve
Ce qui onques ne fu pensé.
Amis, et pour ce ay je pensé
De faire un samblant general
A tous, sans riens d’especial
Fors a vous seul quant poins sera;
Ne ja vos cuers ne trouvera
En moy, dont doiez avoir doubte
Que m’amour ne soit vostre toute,
En honneur et en loiauté,
Sans nul rain de desloiauté.”

Ma dame einsi m’asseüra
Et de ce moult fort me jura.
Comment que puis mainte paour,
Maint dur assaut, et maint estour,
Meinte dolour, meinte morsure,
Et meinte soudeinne pointure,
Maint grief souspir, mainte hachie,
Et mainte grant merencolie
M’en ait couvenu soustenir,
Nompourquant je me vos tenir
De tous poins a fermement croire
Qu’elle disoit parole voire.
Car cils qui encontre lui pense
A par lui se riote et tense,
N’a droit ne se puet resjoïr,
Qu’il ne puet de joie joïr.
Et d’autre part, Loiauté pure,
Bonté, Raison, Scens, et Droiture,
Bonté, Raison, Scens, et Droiture,
Honte, Verité, et Noblesse,
Avec toutes bonnes vertus
Dont ses gens corps est revestus,
Qui a toute heure l’acompaignent,
Gardent, nourrissent, et enseingnent;
Ne se deingnassent assentir
Qu’en riens la laissassent mentir.
Et aussi qui aimme sans blame
En tous cas doit croire sa dame,
Einsi comme il vuet qu’on le croie.
Si que pour ce je la creoie,
Et qu’il m’iert vis qu’en amité
Me disoit pure verité,
Que j’estoie en sa bonne grace.
Or doint Diex que jamais ne face
Chose de quoi perdre la puisse,
Et qu’amie et dame la truisse,
Einsi com je li suis amis,
Qui a li sui donnez et mis
Sans partir en, n’a mort, n’a vie:
Car qui bien aimme, a tart oublie.

Mais en la fin de ce traitié,
Que j’ay compile et traitié,
Vueil mon nom et mon seurnom mettre,
Sans sillabe oublier ne lettre.
Et cils qui savoir le vorra
De legier savoir le porra.
Car le quart ver, si com je fin,
Commencement, moien, et fin
Est de mon nom, qui tous entiers
Y est sans faillir quars ne tiers.
Mais il ne couvient adjouster
En ce quart ver lettre, n’oster,
Car qui riens y adjousteroit,
Mon nom jamais ne trouveroit,
Qu’il n’i eüst ou plus ou mains.
Et pour ce que je suis es mains
De loyal Amour que j’aim si,
Li fais hommage et di einsi:

“Bonne Amour, je te fais hommage
De mains, de bouche, de corage,
Com tes liges sers redevables,
Fins, loiaus, secrez, et estables,
Et met cuer, corps, ame, vigour,
Desir, penser, plaisence, honnour
Dou tout en tout avec mon vivre,
Com cils qui vueil morir et vivre
En ton service, sans retraire.
Et certes, je le doi bien faire,
Quant tu me donnes tel espoir
Qu’adés mieus recevoir espoir,
Et que ma douce dame chiere
De bon cuer et a lie chiere
Verra ce dit qu’ai mis en rime,
Comment qu’assez nicement rime.
Et cils espoirs qui en moy maint
Qu’encor ma chiere dame m’aint
Mon cuer si doucement resjoie
Qu’en grant santé et en grant joie
Li change mal, u tu me dis
Que pris en gré sera mes dis.
Or doint Dieus qu'en bon gré le pregne,
Et qu’en li servant ne mesprengne.”

Explicit Remede de Fortune.

Lady, my heart remains with you
Though I am leaving you behind.
Along with the pure love residing there,
My lady, my heart remains with you.
Now I pray God your heart loves me,
Not sharing with any other lover.
My lady, my heart remains with you,
Though I am leaving you behind.

After finishing the rondelet,
I turned onto a narrow path
That led me into an open space
Where with great pleasure people
Were indulging in arms, love talk,
And other merriment, with jousting,
Tourneying, and all manner of fine diversions.
And I joined that company
And did my, albeit limited, best,
To participate in all that I observed
The others engaged in there,
Intending to do what they were doing,
Trying to act as they did, even if I did it wrong,
For I needed to learn how,
For whoever does not learn when young
Repents when old age comes
If he could have done otherwise.
For learning is a very worthy enterprise.
Now my heart took such pleasure there
Because my lady had filled me with inspiration.
At that place I remained a long time
In happiness and pleasure
Until the time came to return
To the lady who is the object of all my desires.
In haste I made my way back
To her sophisticated and lovely presence,
Attractive and pretty; but the moment I arrived
It suddenly seemed, so God give me honor,
My heart might break in two;
For, as I watched, her eyes so sweet
Turned away from me
And sent their sweet glow elsewhere.
If this was done on purpose, I did not know,
But I surely found myself close to death,
For in appearance and manner,
In the friendliness, way of looking, and demeanor
That a beloved should show her lover,
She seemed to have altered,
And I thought she was acting this way
For the sake of another man who pleased her more.
Then I felt weighed down by sadness
And fell into a state of uncertainty
So painful, oppressive, and dark
No gratification or balm
Remained in my heart
Because of the pain then assaulting it.
I slipped into a deep melancholy, became
A man given to obsessive thoughts and suffering
Who ponders, meditates, and broods
Over whether this was the truth or some ruse,
Whether in her heart she thus intended
To wound my own in order to test me.
But this was compassed with such subtlety
And such craftiness
I could not tell whether it was
Some false front or her true feelings.
So I mulled over what to do,
Formulating what to say:
“My dear lady, you are aware of
How you possess my heart and person,
How I love you without reservation,
How you are able to destroy
And kill me, should you wish,
By withholding your sweet look from me.
My lady, if it is in your heart
To accept the homage of another man
Or to keep me uncertain,
If you are determining to play me false
Or to put distance between you and me,
Who find myself under your sweet dominion,
In the sight of God, my lady, you show me
Such a lack of affection, alas, that you’re killing me
When you signal so unmistakably
You care nothing about me;
Better for me to expire
At a single blow than to languish.”
This was how with no hesitation
I told her what was in my heart and mind.

And she heard me out attentively,
Offering a quick reply:
“Fair sweet friend, please calm yourself
About what I say and do
Because it’s all for the best
So I can conceal the love I feel for you;
For a man in love who fails to feign
His feelings cannot attain joy,
Nor is he strong enough to conceal properly
All he would not wish to have revealed.
For people are so undependable,
So given to gossip, and so evil-minded
And filled with such deceit and falseness
That these days they make up and say
Things that no one had even thought.
Friend, for this reason I’ve determined
To wear a single face for one and all,
Not showing favor to anyone
Save you alone at the proper time.
And your heart will never sense anything
From this that will make you doubt
You are the one who possesses all my love
In honor and in faithfulness,
Beyond any hint of pretense.”

This was how my lady reassured me,
Swearing a very strong oath.
Even though I have had
To suffer through many terrors,
Numerous difficult assaults and attacks,
Great pain, many aching torments,
And constant, sudden pangs,
Many grievous sighs, great anxiety,
And much deep melancholy as well,
Even so I would not give up on
Believing firmly what she had said
At that moment was the whole truth.
For whoever thinks badly of his lady
Quarrels and argues with his own self,
And he’ll have no real reason to rejoice
Since his joy will afford him no pleasure.
Moreover, spotless Loyalty,
Virtue, Reason, Good Sense, and Justice,
Generosity, Honor, and Gentility,
Shape, Truthfulness, and Nobility,
Along with all the exalted virtues
With which she has been endowed,
At all times her companions,
Protect, sustain, and instruct her,
These would never debate themselves
By allowing her to be false.
And furthermore whoever loves blamelessly
Should trust to his lady at all times,
Just as he would be trusted himself.
And so I believed what she said,
And it was my view she had told
Me in friendship the pure truth,
Namely that I’d enjoy her good graces.
Now God grant I never do anything
To forfeit her good opinion
And that I find she’s my lady and beloved
Just as I am her lover,
For I’ve given and devoted myself to her,
And will never abandon her in life or death,
For whoever loves well forgets slowly.

Now at the end of this treatise
That I’ve compiled and written
My intention is to include my name and surname,
Omitting no letter or syllable,
And whoever would like to learn my names
Can do so with ease.
Now the fourth verse before I conclude,
Holds its beginning, middle, and end
And my whole name can be found there
Lacking neither a third nor quarter.
Now you don’t need in this fourth verse to add
Or omit any letter. You cannot
Find my name there
After making such a change,
So that there are more or fewer letters.
And because I am in the hands
Of loyal Love, for whom my love is great,
I do homage and say as follows:

“Good Love, I render you homage
With hands, mouth, and heart
As your loyal and obedient servant,
As a man pure, truthful, discreet, and reliable,
And to you I devote heart, body, soul, and strength,
Desire, wit, joyfulness, honor,
Everything including my life,
As a man who wishes to live and die
In your service, never withdrawing.
And I should surely do so
Because you give me such hope
I always expect things to be even better
And because my dear lady
With a good heart and good cheer
Will see this poem I’ve put in rhyme,
However inexpertly I managed it.
And the hope I feel within me
That my dear lady will keep on loving me
Makes my heart rejoice so sweetly
That what it suffers will turn to
Comfort and gladness as soon as you tell
Me the poem has been well received.
God grant she accepts this work with pleasure
And that I serve her with no missteps!”

Here ends Remedy for Fortune.




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Go To Le Confort d'Ami

Additional Information:

The miniatures (images) from MS A are not included in this digital edition, but are available in the print version. To view these images, see also the Bibliothèque nationale de France's digital edition on Gallica: