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Le Jugement dou Roy de Navarre




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

1–458 Au departir dou . . . . en terre mis. Instead of evoking the springtime setting that is such a conventional element of love poetry, this section takes place during the autumn and describes the events surrounding the outbreak of the Black Death. For further discussion, see the introduction to this volume (p. 21).

9 hoqués. The term hoqués is interestingly ambiguous here since its two commonly at tested senses, a musical form and a musical style characterized by rapid alternation of fragments of melody between the voices, giving a hiccupping effect, are each meaningful here. In the Prologue Machaut uses the term to denote a kind of musical work, so I have translated with that sense in mind here. But the line could alternatively be rendered: “held their service with notes and rests.”

62 Jehans li Ermites. Likely a reference to St. John the Silent (d. 558), who was appointed bishop of Colonia in his native Armenia at age twenty-eight. After serving in that office for nine years, he retired to a monastery where he eventually had himself walled up, there to live as a recluse. Later, for some years, he lived as a hermit in the desert.

109–42 Et pour ce . . . . plus grant merencolie. The reference to the Book of Ecclesiastes is a commonplace element in the topos mundus senescit or “the world grows old.” Machaut’s pessimism and world-weariness here are thoroughly conventional.

151–80 Car ce fu . . . . en fu perie. The astrological and meteorological events mentioned here are attested in the various chronicles of the period. Machaut is likely following one of them closely. See also lines 214–56.

158–62 De lune esclipce . . . . clarté et couleur. The most notable of the heavenly signs, including various astrological configurations, and seen as predicting the coming epidemic, was the lunar eclipse on 17 January 1348.

172 La terre trambla de paour. This devastating earthquake occurred on 25 January 1348.

175 Quarenteinne. Carinthia or Kärnten is the southernmost province in Austria.

189–228 Car les batailles . . . . ceste mortel descouvenue. Machaut’s point about human destructiveness is a general one, but he is also likely to be referring in particular to the depredations of the ongoing struggle between France and England known to modern historians as the Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453).

212–28 une merdaille . . . . Ceste mortel descouvenue. By the early fourteenth century a population of Jews numbering at least 100,000 had settled in northern France, with an especially strong and vibrant community in Machaut’s native Champagne. Persecutions and expulsions followed the spreading of rumors that the Jews, secretly in the service of the Muslim ruler of Granada, were plotting to poison the wells and murder the Christian population. At the outbreak of the plague in 1348, these rumors of a Jewish plot were revived and credited by many in the Christian community, including educated men like Machaut. Persecution and murder followed, and in 1394 the Jewish community in France was again expelled, this time definitively for some centuries.

241–56 En ce temps . . . . chans estoit herisie. The flagellant movement, a distortion of a more widespread Christian practice, did not begin, as Machaut suggests, at the time of the plague’s outbreak. Originating in thirteenth-century northern Italy, this group, which amounted to a rival Christian sect with its own preachers and devotions, was officially condemned by Pope Clement IV in 1349. By that time, it had spread northward across the Alps to Germany, Bohemia, and Poland. With the outbreak of the epidemic, itinerant bands of adherents made their way from the east to northern France and traveled from town to town. In public places they would strip down and beat themselves and each other bloody with, among other instruments, leather whips studded with small nails designed to tear the flesh. Their preachers would exhort the townspeople to repent of their sins, which, they maintained, had brought down God’s wrath, like many at the time endorsed. Those devotions included the singing of hymns, as Machaut indicates.

406 De cent n’en demorroit que nuef. Modern historians estimate that between a quarter and a half of the population died from the disease in northern France. As Machaut indicates, “scientific” explanations for the epidemic ranged from the poisoning of the wells to meteorological conditions (a deadly “miasma”) to unusual astrological conjunctions.

431–58 Et quant je . . . . en terre mis. If this part of the poem is accurate autobiography, then Machaut is probably referring to his residence in Reims as the “house” where, far from the rest of the city, he sat out the ravages of the epidemic. See Bowers, “Canonry of Reims,” for a different view.

459 Si qu’einsi fui lonc temps en mue. Here, the historical Machaut makes way for his textual counterpart, the bumbling and ungracious Guillaume who resembles the real-life poet only in some particulars. As Calin notes, the timidity and misogyny displayed by Guillaume are “traditionally ascribed to the clergy.” He continues that it is “appropriate that a canon at Reims should be afflicted with them, but incongruous that a master in the doctrine of love and potential lover should fear or dislike the object of love” (Calin, Poet at the Fountain, p. 117).

480 Je n’os mie cuer esperdu. At this point, the poem leaves behind history, with its sadness, death, and political turmoil, for the conventional setting of love poetry, as a new spring time appropriately turns the narrator’s thoughts to the outdoors and, after some coaxing, to matters of love.

507–19 Or porroit aucuns . . . . chose ne pensoie. Hare-hunting in the courtly texts of the period is often a slyly oblique way of referring to the pursuit of women (based on an obscene double entendre). Ma chaut does not reproduce the double entendre here, so it is not certain whether he meant the passage to be read in other than a literal sense. It is known from other sources that he did possess a horse named Grisart (line 489) and owned some hunting dogs; this means that a literal, autobiographical meaning may well be intended here.

611–12 Si fais estas . . . homme en valeur. The grammar of these lines is very obscure. The translation offered here is not certain, hardly more than an educated guess.

760–68 Guillaume, mervilleussement . . . . les dames prisiez. After the extended opening section discussing the plague and Guillaume’s encounter with the lady, this is the first mention of the main subject matter of the poem.

779–801 Guillaume, que vous . . . . devez bien escuser. Note that the gender politics of the failed-greeting motif from JRB are reversed here. In the earlier poem, it was the lady who, lost in grief, ignored the nobleman’s salute, while here it is Guillaume, preoccupied with his hunting, who does not acknowledge the lady’s presence. See JRB, lines 56–74. Perhaps Guillaume protests too much about his innocence of the lady’s initial charge of failing to pay her proper attention. In JRB, the lady is overcome with grief when she first crosses paths with her nobleman, but here Guillaume’s excuses are weaker: preoccupation with his pursuit of hares and the unlikeliness that he would deliberately wish to offend her.

811 Vers les dames estes forfais. As this line indicates, the infidelity versus death debate is quickly forgotten and the dispute becomes one of men against women: a battle of the sexes to decide who loves best (Calin, “Contre la fin’amor,” pp. 76–77).

827–34 je le doubtay . . . . mainnent bonne vie. Guillaume’s overconfidence about his own innocence is evidenced by his admission here that he fears only the malevolence of lying gossips, not any error he might have made. Yet his failure to notice the presence of his lady suggests that the poet’s monitoring of his own behavior, particularly toward women whom he should respect, might be less than reliable.

844–47 Pour faire certein . . . Amener a conclusion. Another indication of the main theme of the poem.

884–95 J’ay bien de . . . . longuement y metteroie. “Behind the humor of this passage we can clearly see Machaut’s pride in the number and diversity of his poetic works. At the same time, the entire discussion stresses that these disparate works are united as the work of a single individual. Properly arranged, they would create a coherent composite picture of his poetic craft and his doctrine of love” (Huot, From Song to Book, p. 248). Huot goes on to discuss Machaut’s possible involvement with manuscript production as part of the creation of a larger corpus, and draws a parallel between the sentiments of the fictional Guillaume and those of the real-life poet (pp. 248–59).

929–1030 Une question fu . . . . avez griefment meffait. Though it is not named, it is clear from the summary that this is JRB, where the king’s decision about who suffers more, a betrayed man or a bereaved woman, becomes the issue debated by Guillaume and the lady, later revealed as Happiness. See note to JRB, lines 1267–84, for more on narrative doubling.

1037 Car li contraires, c’est li drois. Guillaume, as it turns out, never embraces the “opposite view,” as his lady puts it, but simply acknowledges that he has been defeated in the debate and, impressed by the great nobility of his erstwhile opponent, agrees to complete the assigned penance.

1071–88 Nous penrons un . . . . Q’vaurront auques jugemens. Note that Guillaume, rejecting the lady’s accusation of his shortcomings, demands that their case be presented to a man for judgment. Appropriately enough, he gets his wish when the King of Navarre agrees to decide the question. Ironically, though, the king chooses as advisers three of the lady’s female courtiers: Discernment, Moderation, and Reason, who are hardly predisposed to Guillaume’s point of view.

1096–114 Navarrois . . . adés en parloie. This very flattering description of Charles de Navarre can be compared to that of Jean de Luxembourg in JRB, lines 1291–348. The laudatory portrait was an essential part of the patronage system.

1151 N’i fu Margot ne Agnesot. The literal translation here is “there was no Maggie or Agnes present.”

1155–328 La premiere estoit . . . . passoit sa biauté. Here follows a long catalogue and “characterization” of twelve allegorical figures who embody different aspects of the lady’s character. Compare those introduced in lines 1476–85 in the JRB. Just what the twelve are varies somewhat, though the idea comes mainly from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics 4.2–5, which had strong bearing on Aquinas and most medieval analyses of moral behavior. Machaut’s twelve figures that define the character of his lady are: 1) Understanding manifesting with Discretion; 2) Reason; 3) Temperance; 4) Peace with Concord; 5) Faith; 6) Constancy; 7) Charity; 8) Honesty; 9) Prudence, with Wisdom in her heart; 10) Generosity, who condemns Avarice; 11) Wariness of Misdeed, being perpetually on guard, protected by Shame and Fear (compare RR, see Intro, pp. 16–17); and 12) Sufficiency, who places her beyond Fortune’s grasp. Aristotle’s catalogue, defining virtue as consciousness of choice, is as follows: 1) Courage; 2) Temperance manifesting self control; 3) Liberality or generosity; 4) Magnificence; 5) Magnanimity or high-mindedness; 6) Ambition, modified by balance toward the mean; 7) Gentleness or mansuetude; 8) Friendship and Courtesy; 9) Honesty or truthfulness about oneself; 10) Wittiness and Jocularity; 11) Modesty, with a sense of shame; 12) Justice and Fairness, righteous indignation that deserves a separate chapter unto itself. Spenser initially appears to have planned The Faerie Queene to be in twelve books, each defined by one of the virtues (see his Prologue), though he completed only six: Holiness, Temperance, Chastity, Friendship, Justice, and Courtesy.

1374–92 Ma chiere dame . . . . j’en parleray. Once again, Guillaume fails here to be guided by his lady’s pleasure, preferring to wait until the (male) judge arrives rather than presenting his case to her female courtiers.

1385–89 Et si croy . . . . supposant sans prejudice. Here, as throughout the debate, the technical language of scholastic debate is invoked to describe the proceedings, creating an ironic disjunction between the formality of the language (and the intellectual procedure it is meant to control) and the often comic tone of the disputation.

1462–9 Ma dame chiere . . . . moult se debatirent. The mini-debate between the King of Navarre and the lady is filled with class humor, satirizing the fine points of polite behavior and distinctions in rank that hardly seem significant, a perhaps excessive concern on the part of these noble characters.

1515–44 Car de cause . . . . protestation dou contraire. Again the story of JRB and the lady’s subsequent displeasure is repeated.

1565–66 que j’esliray / Tel conseil, comme je vorray. Navarre’s decision to use consultants in making his choices is admirable, especially if he were “to take counsel from all sides” (line 1571). However, they all come from the lady’s entourage, such as Understanding (line 1583), Discretion (line 1585), Reason (line 1589), and Moderation (1597), which may not work much to Guillaume’s advantage. He should be accompanied by the same virtues which are, of course, not gender specific.

1619–28 Se fourmerez vostre . . . . le puis savoir. Setting the tone of the trial, the King of Navarre suggests that each party should air their general concerns, rather than once again describing the specific details of the case in JRB. In the section that follows, the lady’s speech (lines 1629–1702) follows the king’s command by setting out the terms of the debate with considerable rhetorical flourish in the form of an extended metaphor: the turtle dove and the stork are both birds conventionally associated with faithfulness and loyalty to a single mate. In her opinion, they are a fitting description of the feminine experience of love. With the lady’s formal presentation of her complaint, the debate — or perhaps the trial — begins here.

1696–1700 Mais la dame . . . . amans ne sent. The lady’s point is that men, with more control over their lives than women, have at their disposal many courses of action to remediate romantic sorrow, including that caused by a lover’s betrayal.

1809–25 Vous avez . . . . en lui venir. Surely Temperance is correct in pointing out that Guillaume is arrogant to claim victory, having only proven that, when faced with a lover’s betrayal, a man cannot claim his lot by surrendering to violence, a mortal sin.

1857ff. S’en compteray .i. petit compte . . . . In order to argue their cases, Guillaume and the allegorical prosecution use a series of exemplary stories which illustrate the points that they are attempting to make. Thus, the narrative turns away from the original catalyst for the trial: “the Jugement Navarre [sic] moves very quickly beyond the parameters of the earlier poem[JRB], becoming an extended meditation on the intertwined phenomena of love and pain, as experienced by men, on the one hand, and women, on the other” (Huot, “Consolation of Poetry,” p. 180). In contrast to the tales in the Confort d’ami (see volume 2), which are biblical and classical, the stories in this text include some which are specifically French and seem near-contemporary. See also the episode of the clerk from Orleans (lines 2215–314) and that of the Chatelaine de Vergy (lines 2836–38).

1863–2010 Il n’a pas . . . . en fu tourmentee. This first story told by Temperance outlines the feminine response to suffering that will be upheld by the lady and her counselors throughout the debate. Huot describes this reaction as “characterized by bodily reactions of illness or death, whether by suicide or simply from the effects of grief and emotional trauma” (“Consolation of Poetry,” p. 180).

1903 Premiers s’orine resgarderent. Examination of the patient’s urine is the first diagnostic step in matters of internal medicine, picked up frequently in literature to indicate a doctor’s competence. Compare the Ellesmere drawing of Chaucer’s Physician holding a urine flask on high even as he rides his horse, with the mockery of such a gesture by the Host in the prologue to the Pardoner’s Tale: “God so save thy gentil cors, / And eek thyne urynals and thy jurdones” (CT VI [C] 304–5). See also The Croxton Play of the Sacrament, where, when another Jonathas is sorely afflicted, those in attendance call “the most famous phesycyan / That ever sawe uryne” (lines 535–36).

1929 li bons philosophes. The “good philosopher” is likely Galen, the Greek thinker and physician (c. 130–200) whose opinions of medicine and human physiology were rarely challenged during the Middle Ages.

1933 Sont curees par leur contraire. According to Hippocrates, “Diseases caused by repletion are cured by depletion; those caused by depletion are cured by repletion, and in general contraries are cured by contraries” (Hippocrates, Aphorisms section 2, ch. 22). The concept became proverbial; see Whiting C414, and Hassell C287.

2055–58 La est il . . . . la le delivreroit. The meaning of these lines is fairly clear, but the relevance of the ideas contained therein is questionable. This may well be another example of Guillaume’s “ineffective” argument. See lines 1750–62 and the corresponding note above for a similar lapse of good rhetoric.

2095–132 Dydo roïne de Cartage . . . truis en l’istoire. The Middle Ages knew the tragic story of the love affair between the Trojan Aeneas and his beloved Carthaginian Dido from Virgil’s epic poem, the Aeneid, and from the writings of Ovid. Machaut may have drawn on the long twelfth-century romance based on Virgil’s epic, the Roman d’Eneas, but it seems more likely that his main source was the monumental early-fourteenth-century French translation of Ovid’s works, the Ovide Moralisé, for the details of the story, including Dido’s pregnancy, which is not mentioned in Virgil. After the murder of her husband Sychaeus, Dido has fled her native Phoenicia for Carthage, where, remaining faithful to the dead man, she establishes a powerful kingdom. When the shipwrecked Aeneas makes his way to her palace, Dido is seduced into loving him by the man’s divine mother, the goddess Venus. This love affair shames her in the eyes of her people and neighboring rulers. Summoned by the gods to reestablish the Trojan kingdom in Italy, Aeneas abandons Dido, who commits suicide rather than face the wrath of the gods and the ignominy of this betrayal. See OM 14.302–602. In this context, the story serves to highlight the depths of feminine grief when a woman’s love has been betrayed. For other reworkings of this story, see Chaucer, LGW, lines 924–1367, and Gower, CA, 4.77–137. Machaut’s extensive borrowings from OM are discussed in more detail in the introduction to Volume 2 of Guillaume de Machaut: The Complete Poetry and Music.

2215–314 A Orliens . . . . mesjugier vous gardez. The story of the clerk from Orleans is an example of the masculine response to suffering, according to Huot. Here the clerk “escape[s] it entirely through the amnesia of madness”(“Consolation of Poetry,” p. 180). It is interesting that the protagonists of this story are neither members of the nobility, nor are they drawn from classical sources, but come from Machaut’s own social and economic milieu.

2362–76 Aussi de vostre . . . . le sache diter. Faith’s counter-argument.

2377–80 Damoiselle vueilliez laissier . . . . le cuer doloir. Guillaume’s defensiveness seems humorously out of proportion to the “threatening” to which he suggests he has been subjected.

2434–532 Uns riches homs . . . . plaist a dire. Machaut also draws upon the story of the nobleman and the tree in the Lay de Plour, lines 33–37.

2434–70 Un riche homs . . . . Plaisanment et esbanier. This passage plays on the fact that French has grammatical gender; ente is feminine, while arbre is masculine. The French term for a “graft” has multiple resonances — scion, offshoot, flowering branch, new growth and fruitfulness (see DMF, ente (n.1), sense B). Figuratively, it can mean descent or “stock,” which might apply here too. The grafting as she matures proclaims a rich and worthy descent, that appeals to her lord and those who love her.

2561 L’ACTEUR. Here, the authorial speaker narrates the actions of two characters, rather than speaking as the character, Guillaume. The speech heading here is from the base MS (as are all the speech headings). These speech markers may have been copied for in vivo reading to an audience, so “l’acteur” can be understood as either author or performer (reader). “L’acteur” appears twice more as a speech heading, at lines 2693 and 3725.

2654 verbi gracia. That is, “thanks for the words.”

2699–706 On a veu . . . . a ma matire. As in JRB, the debate here widens in scope from the agreed-upon question of relative suffering to the more general issue of whether it is men or women who love more faithfully and deeply.

2707–822 Quant cil d’Athennes . . . . fame ne sent. Like that of Dido and Aeneas, the story of Theseus was well known to the Middle Ages, especially through the writings of Ovid. Machaut’s source for the legend is here again OM (7.1681–2038). Minos, King of Crete, is married to Pasiphaë, who has borne him a son, Androgeus, as well as two daughters, Ariadne and Phaedra. Because of a slight to his dignity, the god Poseidon causes the woman to develop a fatal passion for a bull; the result of their coupling is the Minotaur, a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. King Aegeus of Athens kills Androgeus, and Minos then imposes a deadly yearly tax on the citizens of the city of seven young men and seven young maidens, who are sacrificed to the Minotaur. Theseus is chosen by lot to be one of those sacrificed, but he proves able to win the affections of Ariadne who provides him with a ball of thread with which to escape from the labyrinth where the monster lives. Theseus then kills the beast and escapes from Crete with Ariadne and her sister, Phaedra. Stopping at the island of Naxos, he leaves Ariadne behind and makes his way to Athens with Phaedra, whom he subsequently marries. Ariadne, however, does not fail to prosper; the god Dionysus falls in love with and then marries her, and she is made immortal by Zeus. Though Frankness narrates the myth in detail, it is the story of Ariadne’s desertion by Theseus that is most relevant to her argument. A popular theme in art and literature; for other examples, see Ovid, Heroides letter 10 and Chaucer, LGW, lines 1886–2227.

2770–800 Aussi dirai je . . . . par l’air fuitive. The story of Jason’s pursuit of the Golden Fleece, though treated in Greek epic, was better known in the Middle Ages in the Roman poet Ovid’s shortened version. Machaut’s sources, as for all the classic tales retold inThe Art of Courtly Love, is OM (7.8–682), though he may also have known a Latin version of the Troy story in which the tale of Jason appears, the Historia Destructionis Troiae of Guido delle Colonne. Jason and his companions, the Argonauts, journey to Colchis to obtain a great treasure, the Golden Fleece. Medea, the king’s daughter, falls in love with Jason and helps him to obtain the fleece. After several harrowing adventures, in which Medea’s command of the black arts figures significantly, the two establish themselves in Corinth, there to rule together until Jason attempts to divorce Medea so that he can marry Creusa. Medea sends the unfortunate woman a poisoned robe that delivers her to a horrible death and, to gain further vengeance on her betraying husband, murders their children, afterwards escaping the city in a chariot drawn by dragons. For other examples of a sympathetic portrayal of Medea, see Chaucer, LGW, lines 1580–1671 and, especially, Gower, CA 5.3247–4237.

2810–11 On ne porroit . . . . comme en femme. These classical exempla, of course, also provide histories of well-known faithless, conscienceless men: Jason and Theseus.

2836–40 Chascuns scet bien . . . . vit pour s’amour. The reference is to the thirteenth-century French romance, La Chatelaine de Vergy, which traces the misery and pain that result from, first, a young wife’s betrayal of her husband and, second, a jealous woman’s betrayal of her husband’s trust. The chatelaine’s lover is approached by the Duchess of Burgundy, his lord’s wife, and he refuses her love, protesting that he loves another, although no one knows of their affair. The knight has promised the chatelaine never to reveal their relationship, but he is forced to break his word when the duchess complains to her husband that the man has insulted and lied to her. Only by telling the duke of his affair, his meetings arranged by the little dog the chatelaine lets into the garden to signal she is alone, does he free himself from his lord’s anger and probable exile. The duke promises never to reveal the knight’s secret, but he in turn breaks the promise when the duchess extorts the truth from him, though he does enjoin her on pain of death never to reveal the secret. The jealous woman does so, however, causing the deaths of the chatelaine and her lover, who stabs himself when a servant tells him the truth. The duke exacts a terrible revenge on his wife, killing the woman, and then he departs on a crusade. It might be pointed out that this is a particularly inept example for Guillaume to adduce, since the story involves the betrayal of a sworn trust by two otherwise morally irreproachable men, the lover and the duke. A translation of this work is included in Palmer, Medieval Epic and Romance, pp. 799–824.

2841 Lancelos et Tristans. These famed lovers were involved in tragic relationships with the wives of their sovereigns, Tristan with Iseut, the wife of King Marc, and Lancelot with Guinevere, the wife of King Arthur. As incorporated within Arthurian legend in the thirteenth century, Tristan’s story ends with the young man, estranged from his beloved, dying on a battlefield of his wounds and despair. Iseut finds his body and dies herself from grief. In that same tradition, likely known to Machaut, the illicit affair between Lancelot and Guinevere leads in part to the destruction of Arthur’s kingdom. “Virtuous” Lancelot and Tristan, of course, are both involved in adulterous affairs with the wives of their lords — perhaps yet another instance of Guillaume’s inattention to detail in the case he makes in support of men. Machaut also points to Tristan and Lancelot as examples of ideal lovers in Confort, line 2803 and Lyon, line 1321. For other references to this story, see Oton de Granson’s «J’ay tout perdu; le festu est rompu», «A Dalida, Jhezabel, et Thays» and Le Livre Messire Ode (Poems, ed. Nicholson and Grenier-Winther, pp. 54, 60–62, 212–326 respectively).

2851–98 Une dame sans . . . . qu’elle y mist. According to Huot, the story of the knight who cut off his finger stages “a masculine response to suffering” by transforming it into a heroic gesture (“Consolation of Poetry,” p. 180). See the story of the clerk from Orleans (lines 2215–314) for a masculine response to emotional turmoil.

2920–95 Est loiez s’il . . . . po a debatre. The theme of moderation reflects the advice that the narrator gives Charles in lines 1675–78 of the Confort. However, Guillaume makes himself an unintended butt of humor by praising the power of moderation after telling the story of a man who cuts off his own finger to demonstrate his obedience to his lover’s commands.

3009–10 Certes Franchise vous . . . . bien dire savez. Guillaume here responds to Franchise, pointedly ignoring what Prudence had just said.

3019–46 Il est certain . . . . seroit encor reprouvez. Guillaume’s description of the fickleness of a woman’s heart is a common topos in misogynist literature, in which the voice is that of a frustrated male. See, for example, the Chaucerian lyric “Against Women Unconstant” (Benson, Riverside Chaucer, p. 657). The motif is prominent in Jean de Meun’s treatment of a jealous husband and his dissatisfaction with women who are disobedient to his wishes (RR lines 8425–9462).

3055–89 Ce que je . . . . paier la lamproie. In the course of returning the debate to its original issue — who suffered more, the man or the woman — Guillaume manages as well to broaden it, introducing by way of defense the anti-feminist view that women are more fickle and changeable than men. He thereby ensures that he will lose the debate, providing strong evidence that he does harbor misogynist thoughts even if, technically speaking, he buttresses his “published” view that the betrayed nobleman is in more pain than the bereaved lady, for her “fickleness” will ensure that her grief will soon end.

3112–13 Et s’avez esté a l’escole . . . d’aler en change. The meaning here is somewhat obscure, perhaps a confusing reference to the stereotypical anti-feminist of the late Middle Ages, the university scholar.

3141–67 Lors etroÿ une . . . . Doubtance de meffaire. The debate shifts. Although many of the characters have had their say, Guillaume remains stubbornly unconvinced, and they are beginning to get angry.

3170 Et commensa par tel maniere. Offended by Guillaume’s obstinate declaration that women are fickle and hence do not suffer long in love, the female courtiers offer a series of classical exempla to prove the persistence unto death of women in love.

3171–212 Que fist Tysbé . . . . a mort comparer. The story of Pyramus and Thisbé has likely also been borrowed by Machaut from OM (4. 219–1169). The two grow up as neighbors in the city of Babylon, prohibited by their parents from communicating with one another. But they find a crack in the wall that divides their two houses and, one day, make plans to meet outside the city, close to the tomb of Ninus. Thisbé arrives before the young man and, as she waits for him, is frightened by a lion. She flees in haste, dropping her veil, which the beast, its jaws bloody from a recent kill, mouths before dropping. When Pyramus arrives, he finds the bloody veil, thinks that his lover has been killed because of his negligence, and stabs himself. Thisbé returns to find him dead and, wishing to live no longer, kills herself with the same sword.

3221–307 Leandus li biaus . . . . fiel encontre baume. The story of Hero and Leander is also taken from OM (4.3150–731). In Greek mythology, Hero is the priestess of Aphrodite (Venus) in Sestos, with whom Leander, who lives across the Hellespont in Abydos, falls in love. At night he swims across the watery passage to visit her, but one night during a storm the light that Hero holds for him as a guide blows out. Leander loses his way and drowns. Discovering his body the next day, Hero, despairing, throws herself into the sea and is drowned as well.

3365–69 Adont la dame . . . . tout en oiant. Here the lady returns to the debate.

3398–412 Or ne sceus . . . . plus a repos. Machaut inserts a strikingly plausible explanation of how Guillaume was able to find out about the Judge’s private deliberations. According to Nicholson, Machaut’s later dits show a shift to an increasingly realist setting and tone, of which this is a good example. See Nicholson, Love and Ethics, pp. 15–18.

3414–26 Je suis commis . . . . nous avons loisir. The Judge, like a wise man, calls upon counselors — both male and female — to accord with his deliberations. Compare Prudence’s advice in Chaucer’s Tale of Melibee (CT [B2] 2191–203). Here, unlike Melibee who demands advice from flatterers, enemies and false counselors, the lady’s judge invokes advice from Reason’s company — Discretion, Understanding, and Moderation — who weigh Guillaume’s arguments objectively, without personal bias.

3441–4001 Ce jugement avez . . . . tous les poins. In summing up the case (which is another example of the type of narrative doubling that frequently occurs in this text), Moderation and Reason outline the reasons why Guillaume should be condemned. Calin identifies four different points in their argument: Guillaume has pleaded his case badly using inappropriate evidence and false reasoning, he has spoken out against ladies and Love, he has not shown the lady proper courtesy and, finally, that it is wrong to view jealousy as worse than grief. Calin’s main point is that condemning Guillaume on the basis of carelessness and his poor rhetorical skills means that Machaut’s own argument put forth in JRB remains intact (Poet at the Fountain, pp. 111–13).

3609–14 Dont Guillaumes est . . . . pour li punir. The point is that Guillaume offended against the dignity of the noble lady by arguing with her when she rightly upbraided him for his insults against women.

3649–838 Dont ma dame . . . . de sa poësté. In addition to arguing with a lady whose views he should accept unconditionally, Guillaume is convicted for both advancing an incorrect opinion (death is the worst of all human misfortunes) and conducting himself incompetently. Guillaume, we learn, would have been made to suffer a more dire punishment had it not been for the mercy shown him by the lady, whom Guillaume, lost in his self-concern, has failed to identify properly or even inquire about. Abashed and ashamed, Guillaume now asks Reason who his benefactress is.

3851 Bonneürté. Meaning, happiness. This is the first time that the lady is referred to as Bonneürté. An alternative translation of the name would be Good Fortune, and indeed the lady, with her metaphysical powers and presence, partakes of some of the qualities conventionally assigned to the goddess Fortuna in the Middle Ages, following the influential portrayal in Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, one of the central texts of the era and an important source for Machaut. At the same time, the lady, in her humanity and good humor, undoubtedly recalls as well Bonne (“Good”) de Luxembourg, daughter of Jean de Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, and Machaut’s generous patroness before her death during the plague.

4093 li changes. The DMF defines chainse (n., sense a) as “longue tunique de femme, à manches, robe faite de toile de lin ou de chanvre” [a long tunic for women, with sleeves; or a dress made of linen or hemp].

4177–89 de .iij. amendes . . . . une balade. This judgment, punishing the author by demanding more writing, provides a reasonable conclusion to the debate. See, for example, Chaucer’s Prologue to LGW, where the poet must go back to his library and write more (lines F.548–77).

4182 .i. lay. Of the three assigned lyric penances, only a lay seems to have been composed, and this piece follows directlyThe Art of Courtly Love, itself in three early manuscripts of Machaut’s works, but (except for E) not in the later ones that are generally regarded as more authoritative by modern scholars because the poet likely supervised their production. It may be that some years after writing the poem Machaut decided not to include the lay.









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

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

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

235 furent. MS: furent furent, due to diplography.

386 sejours. MS: secours, due to spelling error.

391 la. So MS. F: le also gives good sense.

461 qu’une. MS: cune, due to spelling error — homonym.

485 lors. So MS. F: hors. Either gives good sense. Hors would render the line’s sense as “so that I went out of that prison.”

667 Venrez. MS: Verrez, due to spelling error.

756 parfaire. So MS. F, M, B, D, E: faire.

870 yvres. MS: yures, due to spelling error.

874 forfaites. So F. MS repeats parfaites from previous line.

894 Dont je me vorray bien garder. Line missing in MS, which repeats line 893. Line supplied from F.

902 invisible. So MS. F, M, B: nuisible, giving an interesting reading here. Nuisible would render the line’s sense as “your annoying thought.”

1078 ferez. MS: feirs, due to spelling error.

1081 Einsi. MS: Eins, due to spelling error.

1149 accompaingnié. A: accompaignie, due to missing nasal stroke.

1214 s’ahonte. MS: lahonte, due to spelling error.

1227 setisme. MS: sisieme, due to miswriting.

1257 oeuvres. MS: ouvres, due to spelling error.

1265 Aprés Prudence se seoit. Line missing in MS, which repeats line 1264. Line supplied from F.

1372 m’agenoillai. So F. MS: agelongnai, due to miswriting.

1421 m’avoit. MS: mavoit mavoit, due to diplography.

1487 si. MS: ci, due to spelling error — homonym.

1493 assis. So F. MS: rassis, the rhyme word of the next line. Eyeskip error.

1564 tant vous. So F. MS: omits tant.

1630 avons. MS: avos, due to missing nasal stroke.

1640 on scet. So MS. F, M, B, D, E: ou soit.

1647 trieges. MS: rieges, due to spelling error.

1734 LE JUGE. So F. MS omits heading.

1813 Comment. MS: commene, due to spelling error.

1821 face. MS: facent, due to spelling error.

1846 querir. So H, who emends metri causa. MS: querre, due to spelling error.

1891 Fusicien. MS: Fusitien, due to spelling error.

1913 jugoit. MS: jugent, due to spelling error.

1929 philosophes. MS: philophes, due to spelling error.

1983 oy. MS: jos, due to spelling error.

2014 prouver. So F, H. MS: trouver, repeated from line 2013 due to eyeskip error.

2045 est. MS: en, due to spelling error.

2108 Que heü. So F. MS omits heü.

2151 fourches. MS: fouches, due to spelling error.

2161 Aussi. MS: Iussi, due to spelling error.

2162 point. MS: poit, due to missing nasal stroke.

2170 par. MS: par par, due to diplography.

2173 Que a moy. So MS. All manuscripts except M give Qu’ami, which also gives good sense.

2189 qu’Amours. So MS. F, M, B, D, E: qu’amis, which gives inferior sense.

2195 Pais. MS: Pas, due to spelling error.

2213 prouver. So all other manuscripts. MS: premier.

2276 fent. MS: fant, due to spelling error.

2330 confonderay. MS: confimderay, due to spelling error.

2341 Amis. MS: Ainis, due to spelling error.

2349 honnourablement. MS: honnourablemmt, due to spelling error.

2371 nullement. MS: nullemet, due to missing nasal stroke.

2381 s’avisa. So MS, B, D. All other manuscripts give savanca, which also gives good sense.

2448 S’estent. MS: se sent, due to spelling error.

2465 Et en. MS: Est en, due to spelling error.

2476 S’elle. MS: Celle, due to spelling error — homonym.

2573 par voie. MS: pa voie, due to spelling error.

2628 le. So MS. All other manuscripts, me, which renders the line’s sense as “listen to me.”

2674 martire. So MS, E. All other manuscripts give matire, which also gives good sense.

2688 Dont je vous di que la pointue. MS repeats this line.

2695 vueil. MS: voult. The grammar of the sentence requires a noun form.

2700 loiaument. MS: loiament, due to spelling error.

2785 Quanqu’elle. MS: Quenquelle, due to spelling error.

2924–25 L’ACTEUR. MS: omits heading here, which is supplied from F, per H.

2932 Chastelainne. MS: chastolainne, due to spelling error.

2982 Apparent. MS: appernt, due to spelling error.

3045 retrouvez. So MS. F, B, D, E: recouvrez.

3172 nus. MS: mus, due to spelling error.

3214 aidier. MS: aididier, due to spelling error.

3215 nostre. So MS. All other manuscripts give vostre. Either reading gives good sense.

3249 tourbla. So MS. All other manuscripts give senfla, which gives good sense and yields a richer rhyme.

3315 couchié. So MS. F, M, D, E: touchié, which gives inferior but possible sense.

3386 de retraire. So H. MS: le contraire, which gives poor sense. F, M, B, D, E: le retraire, which also gives poor sense.

3389 nostre. So MS, B. All other manuscripts give vostre. Either reading gives good sense.

3420 notre. So MS. All other manuscripts give vostre.

3426 Tandis com. MS: toudis.

3435 s’il vient. MS: il bien, due to spelling error.

3475 Juges. MS: Jugiez, due to spelling error.

3590 poins fort me. So F. MS: poins ci me, which as H points out, gives inferior sense.

3749 bien le savez. So MS. All other manuscripts give vous le, which gives equally good sense.

3887, 3889 Elle. MS and all manuscripts give Il. These masculine pronouns to the lady must be miswritings.

3891 nul tort. So all manuscripts except MS. MS: accort, probably due to a miswriting.

3913 des dames. So all manuscripts except MS. MS: which was des des due to diplography.

3914 honneur. MS: bonneur, due to spelling error.

3948 la voie. MS: la vie, due to spelling error.

3984 dou prouver. So all manuscripts except MS. MS: dou premier, a miswriting.

4058 estoient. MS: estioient, due to spelling error.

4089 Beniveillance. MS: bniveillance, due to spelling error.

4121 chaucié. MS: chauciet, due to spelling error.

4124 sont. MS: son, due to spelling error.

4127 espuisier. MS: espursier, due to spelling error.

4134 oeuvre. MS: ouevre, due to spelling error.

4155 apperent. MS: apperet, due to spelling error.

4185 a un. MS: aa un, due to spelling error.







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Le Jugement dou roy de Navarre

Au departir dou bel esté
Qui a gais et jolis esté,
De fleurs, de fueilles faillolez,
Et d’arbrissiaus emmaillolez,
Arrousez de douce rousee,
Sechiez par chaleur ordenee
Que le soleil li amenistre,
Et qu’oisillons ont leur chapitre
Tenu de sons et de hoqués,
Par plains, par aunois, par bosqués,
Pour li servir et honnourer
Que tout ce couvient demourer
Pour le temps qui, de sa nature,
Mue sa chaleur en froidure
Un po aprés le temps d’autonne,
Que chascuns vandange et antonne
Qui a vingnes a vandangier,
Et qu’on a a petit dangier
Pesches, moust, poires, et roisins,
Dont on present a ses voisins,
Que li blez en la terre germe
Et que la fueille chiet dou cherme,
Par nature, ou dou vent qui vente,
L’an mil .ccc. nuef et quarente,
Le .ixe. jour de novembre,
M’en aloie par mi ma chambre.
Et se li airs fust clers et purs,
Je fusse ailleurs; mais si obscurs
Estoit que montaingnes et pleins
Estoient de bruines pleins.
Pour ce me tenoie a couvert
Quar ce qu’estre soloit tout vert
Estoit mué en autre teint,
Car bise l’avoit tout desteint,
Qui mainte fleur a decopee
Par la froidure de s’espee.

Si que la merencolioie
Tous seuls en ma chambre et pensoie
Comment par conseil de taverne
Li mondes par tout se gouverne;
Comment justice et verité
Sont mortes par l’iniquité
D’Advarice, qui en maint regne
Com dame souvereinne regne,
Com maistresse, comme roÿne
(Qu’Advarice engenre haïne,
Et largesse donne et rent gloire,
Vraiement, c’est parole voire,
Qu’on le scet et voit clerement
Par vray et juste experiment);
Comment nuls ne fait son devoir;
Comment chascuns quiert decevoir
Son proisme; car je ne voy pere,
Fil, ne fille, ne suer, ne frere,
Mere, marrastre, ne cousine,
Tante, oncle, voisin, ne voisine,
Mari, mouillier, amy, n’amie
Que li uns l’autre ne cunchie;
Et s’un en y a qui s’en garde,
Chascuns de travers le regarde
Et dist on qu’il est ypocrites,
Et fust sains Jehans li Ermites;
Come li signeur leur subgés pillent,
Roubent, raembent, et essilent,
Et mettent a destruction
Sans pitié ne compation,
Si que grans meschiés, ce me samble,
Est de vice et pooir ensamble.
Et on le voit assez de fait,
Ne riens tant cuer felon ne fait
Com grant pooir qui mal en use.
Or voy que chascuns en abuse,
Car je ne voy homme puissant
Qui n’ait puis .x., puis .xx., puis .c.
Tours, manieres, engiens, ou ars
Pour pillier hardis et couars.
Car couvoitise les atrape,
Si que nuls de leurs mains n’eschape
S’il n’est dont tels qu’il n’ait que perdre.
A tels ne s’ont cure d’aerdre,
Car qui riens n’a, riens ne li chiet.
De tels gens riens ne leur eschiet,
Mais couvoiteus ont tel defaut
Que quant plus ont, plus leur deffaut,
Et quant plus sont puissant et riche,
Tant sont li plus aver et chiche
Qu’avarice ardant qui d’euls vist,
Com plus vivent, plus rajonnist.
Et de ce la vient la tempeste
Qui destruit le monde et tempeste,
Les merveilles et les fortunes
Qui au jour d’ui sont si communes
Qu’on n’oit de nulle part nouvelle
Qui soit aggreable ne belle;
Car il a plus grant difference
Dou temps que je vi en m’enfance
A cestui qui trop est divers
Qu’il n’ait des estés aus yvers.
Mais la chose qui plus me grieve
A souffrir, et qui plus m’est grieve,
C’est rendre a Dieu po reverence
Et ce qu’en riens n’a ordenance,
Et qu’au jour d’ui chascuns se pere
De ce qu’on claimme vitupere.
Pour ce en moy, plus que dire n’ose,
Estoit merencolie enclose.
Car qui le sceüst a demi
Assés meins en tenist de mi.

Et pour ce que merencolie
Esteint toute pensee lie,
Et aussi que je bien veoie
Que mettre conseil n’i povoie,
Et que, s’on sceüst mon muser,
On ne s’en feïst que ruser,
Laissay le merencolier
Et pris ailleurs a colier,
En pensant que se a Dieu plaisoit
Qui pour le milleur le faisoit.
Si cheï en autre pensee,
Pour ce que folie esprouvee
Est en tout homme qui se duet
De chose qu’amender ne puet;
Et me pensai que se li temps
Estoit encore pires .x. temps,
Voire cent fois, voire cent mil,
N’i a il conseil si soutil
Comme de tout laissier ester,
Puis qu’on ne le puet contrester,
Et de faire selonc le sage
Qui dit et demoustre en sa page
Que, quant il a tout conceü,
Tout ymaginé, tout veü,
Esprouvé, serchié, viseté
Le monde, c’est tout vanité,
Et qu’il n’i a autre salaire
Fors d’estre liez et de bien faire.
Et tout einsi com je cuidoie
Laissier le penser ou j’estoie,
Il me sourvint une pensee
Plus diverse, plus effree,
Plus enuieuse la moitié
Et de plus grant merencolie.

Ce fu des orribles merveilles
Seur toutes autres despareilles
Dont homme puet avoir memoire,
Car je ne truis pas en histoire
Lisant nulles si mervilleuses,
Si dures, ne si perilleuses
De .iiij. pars, non de .x. temps
Comme elles ont esté de mon temps.
Car ce fu chose assez commune
Qu’on vit le soleil et la lune,
Les estoiles, le ciel, la terre,
En signefiance de guerre,
De doleurs, et de pestilences,
Faire signes et demoustrances.
Car chascuns pot veoir a l’ueil
De lune esclipce et de soleil
Plus grant et plus obscur assez
Qu’esté n’avoit mains ans passez,
Et perdre en signe de doleur
Longuement clarté et couleur.
Aussi fu l’estoile coumee
En samblance de feu couee
Qui de feu et d’occision
Faisoit prenostication.
Li ciel, qui de leur haut veoient
Les meschiés qu’a venir estoient
Au monde, en pluseurs lieus plourerent
De pitié sanc et degouterent,
Si que de leur mervilleus plour
La terre trambla de paour
(Ce dient pluseurs qui ce virent)
Dont villes et citez fondirent
En Alemaingne, en Quarenteinne,
Assez plus d’une quaranteinne,
Dont je n’en say mie la somme.
Mais on le scet moult bien a Romme,
Car il y a une abeÿe
De Saint Pol qui en fu perie.
Mais li Sires qui tout a fait
Par experïence de fait,
Com sires souvereins et dignes
Seur tous de ces mervilleus signes
Nous moustra la signefiance,
Et nous en mist hors de doubtance
Si a point et si proprement
Que chascuns le vit clerement.
Car les batailles et les guerres
Furent si grans par toutes terres
Qu’on ne savoit en tout le monde,
Tant comme il tient a la reonde,
Païs, regne, ne region,
Qu’il n’i heüst discention;
Dont .v.c mil hommes et femmes
Perdirent les corps et les ames
Se cils qui a tous biens s’acorde
Ne les prent a misericorde,
Et maint païs destruit en furent,
Dont encor les traces en durent.
Et des prises et des outrages
Et des occisions sauvages
De barons et de chevaliers,
De clers, de bourgois, d’escuiers,
Et de la povre gent menue
Qui morte y fu et confondue,
De rois, de duz, de bers, de contes
Seroit lons a faire li contes.
Car tant en y ot des perdus
Qu’on en estoit tous esperdus,
L’un par feu, l’autre par bataille.
Aprés ce, vint une merdaille
Fausse, traïtre, et renoïe:
Ce fu Judee la honnie,
La mauvaise, la desloyal,
Qui het bien et aimme tout mal,
Qui tant donna d’or et d’argent
Et promist a crestienne gent
Que puis, rivieres, et fonteinnes
Qui estoient cleres et seinnes
En pluseurs lieus empoisonnerent,
Dont pluseurs leurs vies finerent
Car trestuit cil qui en usoient
Asses soudeinnement mouroient
Dont, certes, par .x. fois cent mille
En morurent, qu’a champ, qu’a ville
Einsois que fust aperceüe
Ceste mortel descouvenue.

Mais cils qui haut siet et long voit,
Qui tout gouverne et tout pourvoit,
Ceste traïson plus celer
Ne volt, eins la fist reveler
Et si generaument savoir
Qu’il perdirent corps et avoir.
Car tuit Juïf furent destruit,
Li uns pendu, li autres cuit,
L’autre noié, l’autre ot copee
La teste de hache ou d’espee.
Et meint crestien ensement
En morurent honteusement.

En ce temps vint une maisnie
De par leur dame Ypocrisie
Qui de courgies se batoient
Et adens se crucefioient
En chantant de la lopinelle
Ne say quelle chanson nouvelle,
Et valoient miex par leurs dis
Que sains qui soit en paradis.
Mais l’Eglise les entendi
Qui le batre leur deffendi,
Et si condempna leur chanson
Que chantoient li enfançon,
Et tous les escommenia
Dou pooir que Diex donné li a,
Pour itant que leur baterie
Et leurs chans estoit herisie.

Et quant Nature vit ce fait
Que son oeuvre einsi se desfait,
Et que li homme se tuoient
Et les yaues empoisonnoient
Pour destruire humeinne lignie
Par couvoitise et par envie,
Moult en desplut la belle et gente,
Moult se coursa, moult fu dolente.
Lors s’en ala sans atargier
A Jupiter et fist forgier
Foudres, tonnoirres, et tempestes
Par jours ouvrables et par festes.
Car ceste ouevre tant li tardoit
Que jour ne feste n’i gardoit.

Aprés Nature commanda
Aus .iiij. vens qu’elle manda
Que chascuns fust aparilliés
Pour tost courir, et abilliés,
Et qu’il issent de leurs cavernes
Et facent leurs mervilleus cernes,
Si qu’il n’i ait resne tenue,
En ciel, en terre, er mer, n’en nue,
Qu’il ne soient a l’air contraire;
Et facent pis qu’il porront faire.
Car quant ses ouevres voit derompre,
Elle vuet aussi l’air corrumpre.
Et quant li vent orent congié,
Et Jupiter ot tout forgié,
Foudres, tempestes, et espars,
Qui lors veïst de toutes pars
Espartir mervilleusement
Et tonner tres horriblement,
Vanter, gresler, et fort plouvoir,
Les nues, la mer esmouvoir,
Bois trambler, rivieres courir,
Et, pour doubtance de morir,
Tout ce qui a vie seur terre
Recept pour li garentir querre.
C’estoit chose trop mervilleuse,
Trop doubtable et trop perilleuse.
Car les pierres dou ciel cheoient
Pour tuer quanqu’elles ataingnoient,
Les hommes, les bestes, les fames;
Et en pluseurs lieus a grans flames
Cheirent li temps et la foudre
Qui mainte ville mist en poudre;
N’au monde n’avoit si hardi
Qui n’eüst cuer acouardi;
Car il sambloit que decliner
Vosist li mondes et finer.
Mais nuls endurer ne peüst,
S’auques durer cils temps deüst.
Si que ces tempestes cesserent,
Mais tels bruïnes engendrerent,
Tels ordures et tels fumees
Qui ne furent gaires amees;
Car l’air qui estoit nés et purs
Fu ors et vils, noirs, et obscurs,
Lais et puans, troubles et pus,
Si qu’il devint tous corrompus;
Si que de sa corruption
Eürent les gens opinion
Que corrumpu en devenoient
Et que leur couleur en perdoient.
Car tuit estoient mal traitié,
Descoulouré, et deshaitié:
Boces avoient et grans clos
Dont on moroit, et a briés mos,
Po osoient a l’air aler
Ne de pres ensamble parler,
Car leurs corrumpues alainnes
Corrompoient les autres sainnes.
Et s’aucuns malades estoit,
S’uns siens amis le visetoit,
Il estoit en pareil peril
Dont il en morut .v.c mil
Si que li fils failloit au pere,
La fille failloit a la mere,
La mere au fil et a la fille
Pour doubtance de la morille.
N’il n estoit nuls si vrais amis,
Qui ne fust adont arrier mis
Et qui n’eüst petit d’aïe,
S’il fust cheüs en maladie.
Ne fusicien n’estoit, ne mire
Qui bien sceüst la cause dire
Dont ce venoit, ne que c’estoit
(Ne nuls remede n’i metoit)
Fors tant que c’estoit maladie
Qu’on appelloit epydimie.

Quant Dieus vit de sa mansion
Dou monde la corruption
Qui tout partout estoit si grans
N’est merveilles s’il fu engrans
De penre crueuse vengence
De ceste grant desordenance;
Si que tantost, sans plus attendre,
Pour justice et vengence prendre,
Fist la mort issir de sa cage,
Pleinne de forsen et de rage,
Sans frein, sans bride, sans loien,
Sans foy, sans amour, sans moien,
Si tres fiere et si orguilleuse,
Si gloute et si familleuse
Que ne se pooit saouler
Pour riens que peüst engouler.
Et par tout le munde couroit,
Tout tuoit and tout acouroit
Quanqu’il li venoit a l’encontre,
N’on ne pooit resister contre.
Et briefment tant en acoura,
Tant en occist et devoura,
Q’tous les jours a grans monceaus
Trouvoit on dames, jouvenceaus,
Juenes, viels, et de toutes guises
Gisans mors parmi les eglises;
Et les gettoit on en grans fosses
Tous ensamble, et tous mors de boces,
Car on trouvoit les cimatieres
Si pleinnes de corps et de bieres
Qu’il couvint faire des nouvelles.
Ci a mervilleuses nouvelles.
Et si ot meinte bonne ville
Qu’on n’i veoit, ne fil, ne fille,
Femme, në homme venir n’aler,
N’on n’i trouvoit a qui parler,
Pour ce qu’il estoient tuit mort
De celle mervilleuse mort.
Et ne gisoient que .iij. jours
Ou meins; c’estoit petis sejours.
Et maint en y ot vraiement
Qui mouroient soudeinnement;
Car ceuls meïsmes qui les portoient
Au moustier pas ne revenoient
(Souvent la vit on avenir),
Eins les couvenoit la morir.
Et qui se vorroit entremettre
De savoir ou d’en escript mettre
Le nombre de ceuls qui moururent,
Tous ceuls qui sunt et ceuls qui furent
Et tous ceuls qui sont a venir
Jamais n’i porroient venir,
Tant s’en sceüssent encombrer;
Car nuls ne les porroit nombrer,
Ymaginer, penser, ne dire,
Figurer, moustrer, ne escrire.
Car pluseurs fois certeinnement
Oÿ dire et communement
Que, mil .ccc. .xlix.,
De cent n’en demorroit que nuef,
Dont on vit par deffaut de gent
Que maint bel heritage et gent
Demouroient a labourer.
Nuls ne faisoit les chans arer,
Les blez soier, ne vingnes faire.
Qui en donnast triple salaire,
Non, certes, pour .i. denier vint
Tant estoient mort; et s’avint
Que par les champs les bestes mues
Gisoient toutes esperdues,
Es blez et es vingnes paissoient,
Tout partout ou elles voloient,
N’avoient signeur, ne pastour,
Ne homme qui leur alast entour,
N’estoit nuls qui les reclamast,
Ne qui pour siennes les clamast.
Heritages y ot pluseurs
Q’demouroient sans signeurs;
Ne li vif n’osoient manoir
Nullement dedens le manoir
Ou li mort avoient esté.
Fust en yver, fust en esté;
Et s’aucuns fust qui le feïst,
En peril de mort se meïst.
Et quant je vi ces aventures
Si diverses et si obscures,
Je ne fui mie si hardis
Que moult ne fusse acouardis.
Car tuit li plus hardi trambloient
De paour de mort qu’il avoient.
Si que tres bien me confessai
De tous les pechiez que fais ay
Et me mis en estat de grace
Pour recevoir mort en la place,
S’il pleüst a Nostre Signeur.
Si qu’en doubtance et en cremeur
Dedens ma maison m’enfermay
Et en ma pensee fermay
Fermement que n’en partiroie
Jusques a tant que je saroie
A quel fin ce porroit venir;
Si lairoie Dieu couvenir.
Si que lonc temps, se Diex me voie,
Fui einsi que petit savoie
De ce qu’on faisoit en la ville,
Et s’en morut plus de .xx. mille,
Cependant que je ne sceüs mie,
Dont j’eüs meins de merencolie.
Car riens n’en voloie savoir,
Pour meins de pensees avoir,
Comment qu’assés de mes amis
Fussent mors et en terre mis.

Si qu’einsi fui lonc temps en mue,
Si comme un esprevier qu’on mue,
Et tant qu’une fois entroÿ
(Dont moult forment me resjoÿ)
Cornemuses, trompes, naquaires,
Et d’instrumens plus de .vij. paires.
Lors me mis a une fenestre
Et enquis que ce pooit estre;
Si que tantost me respondi
Uns miens amis qui m’entendi
Que ceuls qui demouré estoient
Einsi com tuit se marioient
Et faisoient festes et noces.
Car la mortalité des boces
Qu’on appelloit epydimie
Estoit de tous poins estanchie;
Et que les gens plus ne moroient.
Et quant je vi qu’il festioient
A bonne chiere et liement
Et tout aussi joliement
Com s’il n’eüssent riens perdu,
Je n’os mie cuer esperdu,
Eins repris tantost ma maniere
Et ouvri mes yex et ma chiere
Devers l’air qui si dous estoit
Et si clers qu’il m’amonnestoit
Que lors ississe de prison
Ou j’avoie esté la saison.
Lors fui hors d’esmay et d’effroy,
Se montai seur mon palefroy
Grisart, qui portoit l’ambleüre
Moult souëf et de sa nature
S’alay aus champs isnellement
Chevauchier par esbatement,
Pour moy jouer et soulacier
Et la douceur a moy lacier
Qui vient de pais et de deduit
Ou cuers volentiers se deduit
Qui n’a cure de cusenson
Qui touche a noise, n’a tenson,
Mais bien vorroit cusensonner
Ad ce qui puet honneur donner.
En celle cusençon estoie
Pour honneur a quoi je tendoie.
Cusençon avoie et desir
Que je peüsse, a mon loisir,
Aucuns lievres a point sousprendre,
Par quoy je les peüsse prendre.
Or porroit aucuns enquester
Se c’est honneur de levreter.
A ce point ci responderoie
Que c’est honneur, solas, et joie;
C’est uns fais que noblesse prise,
Qui est de gracïeuse emprise,
Et tres honneste a commencier,
Dont il s’en fait bel avencier;
S’est en faisant plaisans a faire,
Et li honneurs gist ou parfaire,
Dont en celle perfection
Avoie si m’entention
Qu’a autre chose ne pensoie.
Et li bon levrier que j’avoie
Renforçoient si mon solas
Que je n’en peüsse estre las
Quant le les os mis en conroy,
Et je les vi de tel arroy
De courir a point sus les chans,
Et puis des oisillons les chans
Qui estoient melodïeus,
Et li airs dou temps gracïeus
Qui tout le corps m’adoucissoit.
On puet bien croire qu’einsi soit
Q’se pluseurs gens chevauchassent,
A fin que point ne m’araisnassent,
Et aucuns bien en congneüsse,
Que ja ne m’en aperceüsse,
Tant y avoie mis ma cure.
Se m’en avint une aventure
Qui me fu un petit doubteuse,
Mais briefment me fu gracïeuse,
Si comme tantost le diray
Ci aprés; point n’en mentiray.

Tandis que la m’esbanioie
Que en moy oublié avoie
Toutes autres merencoliés,
Tant les dolentes, com les liés,
Une dame de grant noblesse,
Bien acesmee de richesse,
Venoit a belle compaingnie.
Mais je ne les veoie mie,
Car dou chemin estoie arriere,
Et, d’autre part, pour la maniere
De ce que j’estoie entendus
Et tous mes engins estendus
A ma queste tout seulement.
Mais la dame premierement
Me vit eins que nuls me veïst,
Ne que nuls samblant en feïst,
C’est assavoir d’ycelle gent
Qui conduisoient son corps gent.
Lors .i. escuier appella
Et li dist: “Vois tu celui la
Qui bel se deduit et deporte?
Va a lui et si me raporte
Qui il est, et revien en l’eure
Sans la faire point de demeure.”
Li escuiers n’en failli pas,
Eins vint a moy plus que le pas
Et hautement me salua.
Mes propos de riens n’en mua.
Si li dis: “Bien veingniés, biau sire.”
S’il s’en retourna, sans plus dire,
Au plus tost qu’il pot a la dame:
“Dame,” dist cils, “Foi que doi m’ame,
C’est la Guillaumes de Machaut.
Et sachiez bien qu’il ne li chaut
De riens fors que de ce qu’il chace,
Tant est entendus a sa chace.
Bien croy qu’il n’entent a nelui
Fors qu’a ses levriers et a lui.”

Quant la dame ces mos oÿ,
Samblant fist de cuer esjoÿ,
Nom pas samblant tant seulement,
Mais de fait enterinement,
De cuer joiant, a chiere lie,
Comme dame gaie et jolie.
Nom pourquant, ce ne di je point;
Eins y avoit .i. autre point,
Pour aucune cause certeinne
Dont sa volenté estoit pleinne.
Si le me voloit pronuncier
Pour li deduire et soulacier
Et moy mettre en merencolie.
A ce point ne failli je mie,
Car je fui de li galïes,
Ramposnes, et contralïez,
Aussi com se j’eüsse fait
Encontre li un grant meffait.

Quant li escuiers ot compté
De moy toute sa volenté,
La dame dist tout hautement:
“Or veons .i. petit, comment
Guillaumes est faitis et cointes.
Il m’est avis qu’il soit acointes
De trestoute jolieté
Apartenant a honnesté.
De nuit, en estudiant, veille,
Et puis de jours son corps traveille
En travail ou li bons s’atire
Qui a honneur traveille et tire.
Einsi va son corps deduisant
Toutes heures en bien faisant.
Si fais estas donne couleur
De maintenir homme en valeur.
Mais je li osterai briefment
Grant part de son esbatement,
Car je li donrai a ruser,
Pour li bonne piece muser.
Lonc temps a que je le desir:
S’en acomplirai mon desir.

Or t’en reva a li tantost,
Car je me merveil qui li tost
A ci venir. Si li diras
Par plus briés mos que tu porras
Qu’il veingne ci apertement.
Et se li di hardiement
Que ce soit sans querir essoingnes,
Non contrestant toutes besongnes,
Et que c’est a mon mandement.”
“Dame, a vostre commandement,”
Dist li escuiers, “Sans nul ‘si,’
Je li vois dire tout einsi
Com vous dites, ou au plus pres
Que je porrai; j’en sui tous pres.”

Lors li escuiers chevaucha
Devers moy tant qu’il m’aprocha.
Et quant il me vint aprochant,
Il m’appella en chevauchant,
En galopant d’uns pas menuz
Tant qu’il fu pres de moy venuz.
Et si tost com j’oÿ sa vois,
Erraument devers lui m’en vois
Car de lonc temps le congnoissoie.
Et il, en signe de grant joie,
Me salua de Dieu le pere
Et de sa douce chiere mere.
Et je li respondi briefment
En saluant courtoisement.
Puis li demanday quels nouvelles
Pour moy seront bonnes et belles,
Se ma dame est preus et haitie,
En pais, sans estre courrecie.
“Guillaume, de riens n’en doubtez,
Car ma dame est de tous costez
En pais, preus, et haitie, et seinne;
Et que ce soit chose certeinne,
Assez tost savoir le porrez,
Selonc ce que dire m’orrez.
Il est bien voirs qu’elle vous mande,
Nom pas qu’elle le vous commande,
Mais d’un mandement par tel guise
Qu’il vaut auques pres commandise;
Non prier et non commander.
Einsi li plaist il a mander,
Entre le vert et le meür.
Mais tenez ceci pour seür:
Que c’est bien de s’entention
Que, sans point d’excusation,
Venrez a li moult liement;
Elle le croit fiablement,
Dont, s’il vous plaist, vous y venrez,
Ou vo plaisir responderez.”

Aprés ces mos li respondi:
“Tres chiers amis, ytant vous di
Qu’a ma dame, ne quars, ne tiers
Ne sui, mais mes pooirs entiers
Est tous siens, sans riens retenir.
Se ne me porroie tenir
D’aler a li, ne ne vorroie,
Pour tant que de vray sentiroie
Que ma dame le penseroit.
Dont quant elle me manderoit,
Ce seroit bien folie a croire
Que point en vosisse recroire.
Mais un po vous vueil demander,
Afin qu’il n’i ait qu’amender:
Combien ma dame est loin de ci?”
“Guillaume, je respon einsi:
Qu’il n’i a pas bien trois journees.
Bel soient elles adjournees!”
Dis je: “Or alons sans sejour,
Si chevauchons et nuit et jour
Pour les bons ma dame acomplir.
Je ne me puis miex raemplir
De joie que son plaisir faire;
Se n’useray point dou contraire.”

“Guillaume, j’ay bien entendu
Ce que vous avez respondu.
Je vous vueil un po apaisier
D’autre chose que de baisier.
Resgardez en celle grant pleinne
Un po dela celle versainne:
C’est ma dame a grant chevauchie
Qui pour vous s’est la adressie.
La vous atent, soiez certeins.
Or ne soit point vostres cuers teins
De paour pour trop loing aler;
Car la porrez a li parler.”
A ces mos ma chiere dressay,
Et puis mon regart adressay
D’icelle part ou cils disoit.
Et quant je vi qu’einsi gisoit,
Que mes chemins yert acourciez,
Je n’en fui mie courreciez,
Eins en fui liez; s’en pris a rire,
Et puis a celui pris a dire:
“Biaus amis, par merencolie
M’avez tenté de moquerie,
De bourde, et de parole voire,
Quant vous me donnastes a croire
Ma dame long par bel mentir.
Y me plut moult bien a sentir
Le vray de ce que vous mentites
En ce qu’aprés le voir deïtes,
Que ma dame estoit assez pres.
Je m’en vois; or venez aprés,
Ou vous demourrez, s’il vous plaist.”
“Guillaume, bien heure de plait
Est encor; ne vous hastez point.
Vous y venrez assez a point
Se ma dame y puet adrecier.
Se vous saviés un po tencier,
Bon seroit et pour certein cas
Ou vous devenez advocas;
Car on vous porra bien sousprendre
Se vous ne vous savez deffendre.”
De si fais mos nous debatiens,
Par gieu si nous en esbatiens;
Dont tout en parlant chevauchames
Que la gent la dame aprochames.
Lors m’avansai, et quant je vi
Son gentil corps amanevi
D’onneur, de grace, et de science,
En signe de grant reverence
Vos jus de mon cheval descendre;
Mais tantost le me va deffendre.
En disant debonnairement:
“Hola, Guillaume, nullement,
Pour certein, n’i descenderez.
A cheval a moy parlerez.”
Quant je l’oÿ, je m’en souffri,
Et si bel salu li offri
Comme je pooie et savoie,
Et comme faire le devoie,
Einsi comme j’avoie apris
A honnourer gens de tel pris.
Et elle aussi, sans contrefaire,
Sceut moult bien le seurplus parfaire,
En respondant par amisté,
Gardant honneur et honnesté.
Puis me dist moult rassisement:


“Guillaume, mervilleusement
Estes estranges devenus.
Vous ne fussiez pas ça venus,
Se ce ne fust par mes messages,
Je croy que vous estes trop sages
Devenuz, ou trop alentis,
Mausoingneus, et mautalentis,
De vos deduis apetisiez,
Ou trop po les dames prisiez.
Quant je fu la dessus montee
En celle plus haute montee
Mon chemin tenoie sus destre,
Et je regardai vers senestre,
Tout de plain vous vi chevauchier,
Vos levriers siffler et huchier.
Tels ouevres faire vous ooie
Tout aussi bien com je veoie
Vous et vostre contenement.
Dont je croy bien certeinnement,
Guillaume, que vous nous veïtes.
Et pour quoy dont, quant vous oïtes
Nos chevaus passer et hennir,
Et se ne daigniés venir,
Jusqu’a tant que je vous manday
Einsi com je le commanday?
Dont je vous merci tellement
Com je doy, et non autrement.”

Lors li dis je: “Pour Dieu merci,
Ma dame, ne dites ceci.
Je respon, sauve vostre honneur,
Car foy que doy Nostre Signour,
Je ne vi riens, ne riens n’oÿ,
Tant avoie cuer esjoÿ
De ma chace a quoy je pensoie,
Pour la fin a quoy je tendoie.
S’estoie einsi comme ravis.
Ma dame, je feroie envis
Riens encontre vostre voloir.
Et que me porroient valoir
A faire tels menuz despis?
Bien say que j’en vaurroie pis.
Si m’en devez bien escuser.”


“Guillaume, plus n’en vueil ruser.
Puis qu’einsi va, mes cuers vous croit.
Mais d’une autre partie croit
Moult durement une autre chose
Encontre vous qui porte glose.
Se vous donray assez a faire
Et se vous ferai maint contraire
Se pour confus ne vous rendez.
Guillaume, oëz et entendez:
Vers les dames estes forfais,
S’en avez enchargié tel fais
Que soustenir ne le porrez
Ne mettre jus quant vous vorrez.”
Avec ces paroles diverses,
En leurs diversetez perverses,
Me moustra elle une maniere
Aspre, crueuse, male, et fiere,
En signe de grant mautalent
Pour moy faire le cuer dolent
Et mettre ma pensee toute
En effroy, en song, et en doubte.
De ce se mettoit en grant peinne
Qu’ele se tenoit pour certeinne
Que de tant bien la priseroie
Q’son courrous moult doubteroie.
Et si fis je; je le doubtay,
Quant ces paroles escoutay,
Nom pas pour cause de meffait
Qu’endroit de moy heüsse fait;
Mais je doubtay pour mesdisans
Qui sont aucunes fois nuisans
Par fausseté et par envie
Aus bons qui mainnent bonne vie.
Si doubtay si faite aventure.
Mais seürs fui qu’enforfaiture
N’avoie fait en ma vie onques
Envers nulles dames quelsquonques.
Se li respondi par avis.

“Dame, fait avez .i. devis
Ou ma grant deshonneur moustrez,
Mais li procés n’est pas outrez
Ne mis en fourme justement.
Pour faire certein jugement,
Vous me deüssiez dire en quoy
J’ay forfait et tout le pourquoy
Amener a conclusion.
Or est en vostre entention
Secretement mis en enclos.
S’il ne m’est autrement desclos,
Je n’en saveroie respondre.
Or vueilliez, s’il vous plaist, espondre
Le fait de quoy vous vous dolez;
Et s’einsi faire le volez
Vous ensieurez la droite voie
De droit, ou je ne saveroie
Le fait congnoistre ne niër.
Ce non, vous devez ottriër
Que je m’en voise frans et quittes
De ce forfait que vous me dites;
J’en atenderoie bien droit.”

“Guillaume, sachiés orendroit
N’en arez plus de ma partie.
Car la chose est einsi partie.
Se je le say, vous le savez,
Car le fait devers vous avez
En l’un de vos livres escript,
Bien devisié et bien descript.
Si regardés dedens vos livres.
Bien say que vous n’estes pas yvres
Quant vos fais amoureus ditez.
Dont bien savez de vos dittez,
Quant vous les faites et parfaites,
Se vous faites bien ou forfaites
Dés qu’il sont fait de sanc assis
Autant a un mot comme a sis.
S’il vous plaist, vous y garderez
Qu’autre chose n’en porterez
De moy, quant a l’eure presente.
Soiez certeins que c’est m’entente.”

“Dame, qu’est ce que dit avez?
Selonc le bien que vous savez,
Trop mieus savez que vous ne dites:
J’ay bien de besongnes escriptes
Devers moy, de pluseurs manieres,
De moult de diverses matieres,
Dont l’une l’autre ne ressamble.
Consideré toutes ensamble,
Et chascune bien mise a point,
D’ordre en ordre et de point en point,
Dés le premier commancement
Jusques au darrein finement,
Se tout voloie regarder,
Dont je me vorray bien garder,
Trop longuement y metteroie.
Et d’autre part, je ne porroie
Trouver ce que vous demandez
S’a vos paroles n’amendez.
Pour tel chose ne quier ja lire,
Dame, nom pas pour vous desdire,
Mais ce n’est pas chose sensible
Q’vostre pensee invisible
Pëust venir a ma congnoissance,
Fors que par la clef d’ordenance
Dont vostres cuers soit deffermiés,
Et que si en soie enfourmés
Que vostre bouche le me die.
Lorsqu’a respondre contredie,
Quant de bouche le m’arez dit,
J’en vueil moult bien, a vostre dit,
Estre blamez et corrigiez.
Dame, s’il vous plait, or jugiez
Selonc la vostre opinion,
Se j’ay tort a m’entention.”

“Guillaume, puis qu’il est einsi,
Je m’acort bien a ce point ci.
Orendroit me rens je vaincue;
Mais de vostre descouvenue,
Qui est contre dames si grande,
Afferroit bien crueuse amende
S’il estoit qui la vosist prendre.
Or vueilles dés or mais entendre
Ad ce que je diray de bouche,
Car moult forment au cuer me touche.
Et quant dit le vous averay,
En tel lieu le reprocheray
Que vous en serez moult blasmez
Et vers les dames diffamez.

Une question fu jadis
Mise en termes par moult biaus dis,
Belle et courtoisement baillie,
Mais aprés fu trop mal taillie.
Premierement fu supposé,
Et en supposant proposé,
C’une dame de grant vaillance
Par tres amiable fiance
Ameroit .i. loial amant
Si que toudis, en bien amant,
Seroit de cuer loial amie.
Se il, en gardant courtoisie,
Toudis de bon cuer l’ameroit
Et son pooir estenderoit
En li chierir et honnourer.
Et pour li miex enamourer
Il maintenroit toute noblesse:
Honneur, courtoisie, et largesse.
Biaus homs seroit, a grant devis,
De membres, de corps, et de vis
Renommez, de grace parfais,
Et si bien esprouvez par fais
D’armes, comme nuls homs puet estre
Qui a mis sa vie et son estre
En sieuir joustes et tournois,
Et tous amoureus esbanois.
Cependant qu’einsi s’ameront
Et toudis bien se garderont
Les courtois poins de loiauté
En raison et en verité,
Leur avenroit tele aventure,
Par violence ou par nature,
Que li amans devieroit.
Et celle, quant le saveroit,
Demouroit lasse et esgaree,
Loyal amie non amee.
Car ses cuers demorroit espris,
Et li cuers de l’amant de pris
Seroit selonc nature esteins,
Dont li siens cuers seroit plus teins
Pour cause de la departie.
Plus n’en di de ceste partie.
Eins vorrai d’une autre compter
Pour a ceste ci adjouster,
En faisant ma comparison.
Guillaume, or entendez raison:

Uns autres amans debonnaires,
Aussi vaillans en ses affaires
Comme cils de qui j’ay compté
Tant en grace comme en bonté,
Et de toutes autres parties
En honneur a point departies,
Amera aussi une dame
Sans mal penser et sans diffame,
Et se li fera a savoir.
Et quant elle en sara le voir,
Volentiers le recevera
Et s’amour li ottriera
Liement, sans faire dangier.
Pas ne vueil ce ci prolongier;
Car cils l’amera loyaument
Et se la croira fermement
Sans erreur et sans nulle doubte
Car il cuidera s’amour toute
Avoir acquis toute sa vie
Sans jamais faire departie.
Mais il ira bien autrement.
Quant il sera plus liement
Conjoins a li et affermez
En la fiance d’estre amez,
Elle li jouera d’un tour
Outreement sans nul retour,
Ou il trouvera fausseté
Contre lui, et desloiauté,
Et se ne le porra nïer.
Si doit bien celui anuïer,
Ce n’est mie moult grant merveille.
Mais ce n’est pas chose pareille
Au fait d’amours qui me remort,
Qui se defenist par la mort.
Guillaume, s’entendu m’avez,
Assés legierement devez
Vostre meffaçon recongnoistre
Pour vostre deshonneur descroistre.
Vous avez dit et devisié
Et jugié de fait avisié
Par diffinitif jugement
Que cils a trop plus malement,
Grieté, tourment, mal, et souffraite
Qui trueve sa dame forfaite
Contre lui en fausse maniere,
Que la tres douce dame chiere
Qui avera son dous amy
Conjoint a son cuer, sans demy,
Par amours, sans autre moien.
Puis le savera en loien
De la mort ou il demourra
Si que jamais ne le verra.
Et comment l’osastes vous dire,
Ne dedens vos livres escrire?
Il est voirs qu’einsi l’avez fait,
Dont vous avez griefment meffait.
Si vous lo que vous tant faciez
Que ce jugement effaciés,
Et que briefment le rapellez.
Guillaume, se vous tant valez,
Vous le pouez bien einsi faire
Par soustenir tout le contraire.
Car li contraires, c’est li drois
En tous bons amoureus endrois.”

“Dame, foi que doi Sainte Eglise,
En qui ma foy est toute assise,
Pour nulle rien ne le feroie;
Eins iray tout outre la voie
Dou fait puis que j’y suis entrez.
Dés que mes jugemens outrez
Est de moy, je le soustenray,
Tant que soustenir le porray.
Mais qui vorroit avant venir
Pour le contraire soustenir
Moult volentiers oubeïroie
A quanqu’oubeïr deveroie.
Car je ne suis mie si fors,
Ne si grans n’est pas mes effors,
Ne de science mes escus,
Que je ne puisse estre vaincus.
Mais se je puis, je veinqueray;
Se je ne puis, je soufferay.
Or voit einsi, qu’on puet aler;
Je n’en quier autrement parler.
Et nompourquant, ma dame douce,
Q’vostres cuers ne se courrouce
A moy, nous ferons une chose
Ouvertement, nom pas enclose,
Ou vostre pais soit contenue
Et m’onneur y soit soustenue.
Car ce seroit a ma grant honte,
Selonc vostre meïsme conte,
S’endroit de moy contredisoie
Le fait que jugié averoie,
De mon bon droit, tel et si fait
Que tout par moy avroie fait.
Nous penrons un juge puissant,
De renommee souffissant,
Q’soit sages homs et discrez.
Se li soit comptés li secrez
Entierement de la besongne
Qui a vous et a moy besongne.
Or soit einsi fait par acort;
Mais vous en ferez le recort
Dou prendre tel que vous vorrez.
Contredire ne le m’orrez,
Einsi y sui acordans dés ci
A vostre plaisir, sans nul ‘si.’
Mes cuers y est ja tous entiers,
Car ce sera uns biaus mestiers
De oïr les raisons repeter
Et les parties desputer
Soutilment, par biaus argumens
Q’vaurront auques jugemens.”

A ces moz prist la dame a rire
Et en riant tantost a dire:
“Guillaume, bien suis acordans
Ad ce qu’estes ci recordans;
S’en parlerai, comment qu’il aille.
Et nompourquant, vaille que vaille,
Je nomme et pren celui qui rois
Est appellez des Navarrois.
C’est uns princes qui aimme honnour
Et qui het toute deshonnour,
Sages, loiaus, et veritables,
Et en tous ses fais raisonnables.
Il scet tant et vaut, qu’a droit dire,
Nul milleur ne porroie eslire.
Li fais li sera savoureus
Pour ce qu’il est moult amoureus,
Sages, courtois, et bien apris.
Il aimme l’onneur et le pris
Des armes, d’amours, et des dames.
C’est li roys par cui uns diffames
Ne seroit jamais soustenus.
De toute villenie est nus
Et garnis de toute noblesse
Qui apartient a gentillesse.
Trop de biens dire n’en porroie,
S’ui mais tout adés en parloie.”

Einsi fumes nous acordé,
Comme devant est recordé.
Dont puis d’amors assés parlames,
Et en parlant tant chevauchames
Que nous entrames es drois las
De pais, de joie, et de solas,
C’est a savoir en .i. dous estre
Ou il faisoit si tres bel estre
Qu’on ne porroit miex, a mon gré:
C’estoit en souverein degré,
A mon avis, de bon propos,
De deduit, et de bon repos,
Ou uns cuers se puet reposer
Qui a point se vuet disposer.
La avoit il un bel manoir
Ou elle voloit remanoir.

Assés fu qui la descendi
Et qui entour li entendi;
Et, sans atendre, fu menee
Dedens une chambre aournee
Si bien, si bel, si cointement
Et de tout si tres richement,
Qu’onques mais, dont j’eüs grant merveille,
N’avoie veu la pareille.
Et briefment tuit, grant et meneur,
Li faisoient feste et honneur.
Mais bien sambloit estre maistresse,
Car elle fu par grant noblesse
Entre coussins de soie assise.
Mais moult estoit sage et rassise,
Et fu d’aage si seür
Qu’entre le vert et le meür
Estoit sa tres douce jouvente,
Plus qu’autre simple, aperte, et gente.
Moult bien estoit acompaingnié
De belle et bonne compaingnie.
N’i fu Margot ne Agnesot,
Mais .xij. damoiselles ot
Qui jour et nuit la norrissoient,
Servoient, et endoctrinoient.

La premiere estoit Congnoissance,
Qui li moustroit la difference
D’entre les vertus et les vices
Et des biens fais aus malefices,
Par Avis, qui la conduisoit,
Jusqu’a .i. miroir qui luisoit,
Si qu’onques plus cler miroir
Ne pot on tenir ne veoir.

Raisons le tenoit en sa destre,
Une balance en sa senestre,
Si que la dame s’i miroit
Plus souvent qu’on ne vous diroit.
La veoit elle clerement,
Sans obscurté n’empecshement,
Quanque Diex et Nature donne
A bonne eüreuse personne.
C’est le mal laissier et bien faire,
Et non voloir autrui contraire.
Car fols est qui autrui pourchace
Chose qu’il ne vuet qu’on li face.
Et s’il heüst en son atour,
En son gentil corps, fait a tour,
Et en son cuer tache ne vice
Ou pensee d’aucun malice,
Ja ne fust si fort reponnue
Qu’en miroir ne fust veue.
Et la veoit elle, sans doubte,
La guise et la maniere toute,
Comment Raison justement regle
Par bele et bonne et loial regle.
Si que la prenoit exemplaire
De tout ce qu’elle devoit faire.
Et aussi la juste balance
Li demoustroit signefiance
Qu’elle devoit en tous cas vivre
Aussi justement com la livre,
Ou on ne puet, par nulle voie,
Mettre n’oster qu’on ne le voie.

La tierce avoit nom Attemprance,
Qui .i. chapelet de souffrance
Avoit sus son chief par cointise;
Et avec ce, dont miex la prise,
Estoit de maniere seüre
Et, en parlant, sage, et meüre,
N’en fait, n’en port, n’en contenence
N’ot vice, ne desordenance.

La quarte, se bien m’en recorde,
Estoit Pais, qui tenoit Concorde
Par le doy amiablement,
Et li disoit moult doucement,
De cuer riant, a chiere lie:
“Ma douce suer, ma chiere amie,
Se nous volons vivre en leesse,
En pais, et repos, en richesse,
De tout ce qu’on puet faire et dire,
N’en metons a nos cuers point d’ire,
Et ne nous chaille dou dangier
Qu’on appelle contrevangier,
Car tels cuide vangier sa honte
Qui l’accroist et qui plus s’ahonte.
Tenons les bons en amitié,
Et des mauvais aions pitié
Car onques homs ne fu parfais
Qui volt vangier tous ses tors fais.”

La cincisme fu appellee
Foy, qui richement endestree
Estoit de Constance la ferme,
Qui si l’affermoit et afferme
Que riens ne la bransle n’esloche;
Eins estoit com chastiaus sus roche,
Fort et ferme et seürement,
Sans variable mouvement.

La setisme fu Charité,
Qui avoit si tres grant pité
Des besongneus qu’elle savoit
Que leur donnoit quanqu’elle avoit.
Mais ja tant donner ne sceüst
Qu’assez plus a donner n’eüst.

Aprés Honnestez doucement
Se seoit moult honnestement,
Qui paree par grant noblesse
Estoit d’un mantel de simplesse.
Mais nette estoit, sans nul reproche,
De cuer, de corps, de main, de bouche.

La estoit Prudence.
En son cuer portoit Sapience,
Et si fermement la gardoit
Qu’aprés li d’amours toute adroit.
Bien savoit la cause des choses
Qui sont ou firmament encloses,
Pourquoy li solaus en ardure
Se tient, et la lune en froidure;
Des estoiles et des planettes
Et des .xij. signes les mettes;
Pourquoy Diex par Nature assamble
Humeur, sec, froit, et chaut ensamble;
Et pourquoy li .iiij. element
Furent ordené tellement
Qu’adés se tient en bas la terre,
Et l’iaue pres de li se serre,
Li feus se trait haut a toute heure,
Et li airs en moien demeure.
Brief des oeuvres celestiennes
Et aussi des choses terriennes
Savoit tant qu’elle estoit experte,
D’engin si vive et si aperte,
Q’nuls ne le porroit despondre.
Car a chascun savoit respondre
De quanqu’on voloit demander
Si qu’on n’i sceüst qu’amender.

Aprés Prudence se seoit
Largesse, qui riens ne veoit
Einsois donnoit a toutes mains,
A l’un plus et a l’autre mains,
Or, argent, destriers, oisiaus, terre,
Et quanqu’elle pooit acquerre,
Contez, duchez, et baronnies,
A heritages et a vies.
De tout ce riens ne retenoit
Fors l’onneur. Ad ce se tenoit.
Noblesse li avoit apris.
Et avec ce, dont miex la pris,
Elle reprenoit Advarice
Comme de tout le pieur vice.

L’autre, dont pas ne me vueil taire,
Estoit Doubtance de Meffaire,
Qui tant se doubtoit de mesprendre
Qu’a peinne pooit elle entendre
A riens, fors estre sus sa garde.
En tous ses fais estoit couarde;
Car Honte et Paour la gardoient,
Qui en tous lieus l’acompaingnoient.

La dousieme estoit Souffissance,
Qui de tres humble pacïence
Estoit richement aournee
Et abondanment saoulee
Et pleinne de tous biens terriens.
Elle n’avoit besong de riens,
Ne li failloit chose nesune.
Hors estoit des mains de Fortune
Et de son perilleus dangier.
De po se paissoit au mengier
Car plus refaite estoit d’un ouef
Que ne fust un autre d’un buef.
Tant par estoit bonne eüreuse
Et parfaitement vertueuse.
Encor est et toudis sera,
Tant com li mondes durera,
Que c’est, a droit considerer,
Li biens qu’on doit plus desirer.

Mais aussi com pluseurs rivieres
Arrousent, et pluseurs lumieres
Radient et leur clarté rendent
En tous lieus ou elles s’estendent,
Ces .xij. nobles damoiselles,
Qui de tous biens furent ancelles,
Chascune selonc sa nature,
En meurs, en maintieng, en figure,
Embelissoient ceste dame
De cuer, de corps, d’onneur, et d’ame.
Car tant estoit d’elles paree,
Arrousee et enluminee,
Que chascune l’embelissoit
De quanque de li bel issoit,
Et chascune la repartoit
De la vertu qu’elle portoit.
Et encor des biens de Nature
Avoit la noble creature:
Gente maniere, loiauté,
Faitis port, debonnaireté,
Grace, douceur, et courtoisie,
Dont elle estoit moult embellie.
Mais sa souvereinne bonté
De trop long passoit sa biauté.

Quant je la vi si hautement
Assise et si tres noblement
De grans richesses acesmee,
Et si servie et honnouree
Chierement de tous et de toutes,
Dedens mon cuer venirent doubtes
Qui y entrerent par folie
Et par droite merencolie.
Car j’estoie trop esbahis
Et aussi com tous estahis
Et d’erreur telement temptés,
Que je cuiday estre enchantés.
Mais en si fait amusement
Ne demourai pas longuement;
Car je usai dou conseil d’Avis,
Qui fist retourner mon avis
Justement par devers Raison,
Qui est tout adés en saison
Des loiaus cuers remettre a point
Qui sont issu hors de leur point.
Adont Raison me resgarda
Si que depuis en sa garde a
Mon cuer, mon sens, et mon penser,
Pour resister et pour tenser
Aus fausses cogitations
Et oster les temptations
Qui cuidoient avoir victoire
A moy faire faussement croire.

Or fui hors de celle pensee.
Mais la dame bien apensee
Moult sagement m’araisonna,
Et en parlant scens me donna
De respondre aprés son parler;
S’en sceüs miex et plus biau parler.

Se me dist: “Guillaume, biau sire,
Au primes fust il temps de dire
Ce que sus les champs avons dit.
S’en rafreschissons nostre dit,
Present ces .xij. damoiselles,
Qui sont sages, bonnes, et belles,
Et pluseurs gens qui y seront.
Volentiers nous escouteront.”

Je ne fis pas longue demeure.
Einsois m’agenoillai en l’eure.
Et humblement li respondi:
“Ma chiere dame, tant vous di:
Pleüst a Dieu de Paradis
Que cils qui doit oïr nos dis
Fust ci endroit presentement,
Li bons rois qui si sagement
Saveroit oïr et entendre,
Taire a point, et puis raison rendre,
Quant il averoit escouté
Ce qu’on li averoit compté.
Bien saveroit examiner
Et encor miex determiner.
Et si croy bien qu’il jugeroit
Selonc les parlers qu’il orroit.
Et non pour quant, puisqu’il vous plait,
Bien en poez dire hors plait,
En supposant sans prejudice.
Et je qui point n’i pens malice
Volentiers vous escouteray,
Et, se bon m’est, j’en parleray.”

“Guillaume, moult bel respondez.
Mais .i. bien petit m’entendés.
Levez vous, car il plaist a nous
Que plus ne parlez a genous.
Et se plus ci aprés parlez,
Parlez einsi, com vous volez,
Ou en seant, ou en estant,
Car il nous souffist bien a tant.”

Lors me levay hastivement
Pour faire son commandement
Quant elle ot sa parole dite.
Et puis tout droit a l’opposite
De li m’en alai asseoir,
Pour li en la face veoir.
Car qui voit personne en la face
Qui de parler doit avoir grace,
Le parler trop miex en entent
A quel fin sa parole tent.
Lors prist la dame une maniere
Able, diligent, et maniere
De parler par si bel devis
Qu’il estoit a chascun avis
Qu’elle veïst tout en escript
Ce qu’elle disoit et descript.
Dont miex diter nuls ne porroit
Nés que ses parlers atiroit.
Elle ordena son parlement
Dés le premier commancement,
Qu’elle m’avoit envoié querre,
Et puis secondement requerre,
Et comment j’alai devers li;
Et comment elle m’assailli
De parole cusensonneuse.
Et comment elle fu crueuse
De moy rudement ramposner
Pour moy seulement agoner
Et en merencolie mettre,
Dont bel se savoit entremettre.
Que vous iroie je comptant?
Elle y mist de biaus parlers tant
Qu’elle mena l’entention
Dou fait a declaration,
De point en point, de tire a tire,
Si bien qu’il n’i ot que redire,
Par quoy les damoiselles toutes
Furent tantost, sans nulles doubtes,
Dou fait sages et avisees
Et entierement enfourmees
De quanqu’on avoit recordé
Dessus les chams et acordé.

Aprés ces paroles moustrees,
Bien dites et bien ordenees,
Eüs tantost le cuer esjoÿ,
Car tant escoutay que je oÿ
Chevaus venir et gens debatre,
Dont en l’eure se vint embatre
Devers nous cils bons rois de pris
Que nous aviens a juge pris.
Et la dame qui resgardoit
Devers l’uis et ne s’en gardoit,
Le vit et congnut a l’entree;
Se s’est tantost en piez levee,
S’ala a l’encontre de lui
Et se n’i atendi nelui.
Quant il la vit, il s’avansa
Et .i. bien petit l’embrassa,
Et elle lui moult humblement,
En saluant courtoisement,
Liement, et a bonne chiere.
Et il li dist: “Ma dame chiere,
Moult me poise quant sa venites.
Pour quel cause ne vous tenistes
En vostre siege toute coie?”
“Tres chiers sires, se Diex me voie,
Jamais ne l’eüsse einsi fait,
Car trop pensasse avoir meffait.
Car on dit — et c’est chose voire
Qu’il est assez legier a croire —
Qu’entre les grans et les meneurs
A tous seigneurs toutes honneurs.
Mais laissons ces parlers ester.
Petit y devons arrester.
S’alons en cest siege seoir.
La me vorrai je pourveoir
De vous compter une merveille
D’autres merveilles nom pareille.
Alez devant; je iray aprés,
De vous me tenray assez pres.”
“Par Dieu, ma dame, non ferai.
Aussi tost com je y monterai,
Tout d’encoste moy monterez.
Ja a ce point ne me menrez
Qu’embedeus n’en alons ensamble.
Encor fais je trop, ce me samble.”
De ce point si bien s’acorderent,
Si qu’ensamble tous .ij. monterent.
Et quant il furent haut monté,
Encor, par grant humilité,
D’asseoir moult se debatirent.
Toutes voies il se seïrent.
Et quant il furent la assis,
La dame dist de sens rassis:
“Sire, entendez un bien petit.
Et se prenez vostre apetit
A diligenment escouter
Ce que je vous vorray compter.
Vez la Guillaume de Machaut.
C’est uns homs a cui il ne chaut
A tort ou a droit soustenir.
Tout aussi chier s’a il tenir
Vers le tort comme vers le droit,
Si com vous orrez orendroit.
En un debat sommes entré
Dont nous devons de fait outré,
Sire, devant vous plaidïer,
Mais qu’il ne vous doie anuier.
Moy bien meüe et il meüs,
Pour juges estes esleüs;
Dont c’est pour nous belle avenue,
Biau sire, de vostre venue.
Et vous en estes eüreus,
Se de riens estes amoureus.
Car de cause avons nostre plest
Fourme qui aus amoureus plest
C’est d’amors, d’amant, et d’amie,
Et de leur noble signourie.
Guillaumes dit, tient, et afferme
Pour vray, et que c’est chose ferme,
Quant homs qui ha tout son cuer mis
En dame, tant qu’il est amis
Et celle s’amour li ottrie,
Si qu’il la tient pour vraie amie,
Puis est de lui si esprouvee
Qu’il la trueve fausse prouvee,
Qu’il a de ce plus de grieté
C’une dame qui loyauté
En son vray ami trouvera;
Et elle aussi tant l’amera
Comme dame puet homme amer,
Entierement, sans point d’amer.
Or avenra il que la mort,
Qui soutilment sus la gent mort,
Torra a son ami la vie.
Et quant elle scet qu’il devie,
Ou qu’il est dou tout devïez,
Il est a la mort marïez,
Lors est finee leur querelle,
Aroit cils aussi grief com celle?
Nennil! Il ne puet avenir;
Cils poins ne se puet soustenir,
Dont j’ay fait, et fais, et vueil faire
Protestation dou contraire.
C’est auques nostres plaidïez.
Pour ce volons que vous soiez
Juges; si en ordonnerez
Selonc le plait que vous orrez.”

“Je vous respons, ma chiere dame,
Par la foy que doy Dieu et m’ame,
Selonc la mienne entention,
Que d’estre en la perfection
De juge est moult noble chose,
Voire qui entrepenre l’ose
Si hautement comme en Amours.
Mais pour les tres douces clamours
Qui y sont, j’entrepren l’office,
Sans mal penser et sans malice.
Se j’ay petit sens, j’apenray
Parmi les parlers que je orray;
Et s’estre puis bien consilliez,
Je ne seroie pas si liez
D’avoir acquis .v.c mars d’or.
Et pour tant vous dis je desor,
Chiere dame, que j’esliray
Tel conseil comme je vorray
De vostre bele compaingnie,
Qui a vous est acompaingnie.
Car a .i. bon juge apartient
Qui jugemens en sa part tient
Qu’il ait conseil en tous endrois.
Prenons, qu’il soit ou non soit drois.
Se vous requier je qu’on le face,
Soit par courtoisie ou par grace.
Et d’autre part, quoy que nuls die,
Bons drois a bon mestier d’aïe
Par quoy grace ait adés son cours
Pour aidier droit en toutes cours.”

“Biau sire, de vostre recort,
Que ce soit drois, bien m’i acort.
Or prenez cui que vous volez,
Par quoy de riens ne vous dolez.”

“Ma dame, je pren Congnoissance,
Qui est de bon conseil sustance;
Avecques li sera Avis,
Li quels n’i sera pas envis
Pour ce que c’est sa bonne amie;
Volentiers li tient compaingnie.
Et se me plaist, qu’aussy y soit
Raison, qui nelui ne deçoit,
Eins est adés en sa partie
De bon conseil apareillie.
Si entendra les parlemens
Pour raporter aus jugemens.
La me sara bien consillier;
Pas ne m’en faurra resveillier.
Avec li sera Mesure;
Quar qui jugemens ne mesure,
Il ne puelent venir a point
Afin qu’il soient en bon point
Pour les parties delivrer
Et chascune son droit livrer.”
La Dame bien s’i acorda
Et hautement li recorda:
“Biau sire, bien avez ouvré
D’avoir bon conseil recouvré!”

“C’est bon pour moy, ma dame gente;
Dont a mon cuer bien entalente
Que j’en soie einsi bien garnis.
Qui n’est garnis, il est honnis.
Juges sui par commun acort
Especiaument d’un descort
Qui est ci entre .ij. parties,
Pour atendre droit de parties.
Or est la court garnie et pleinne;
Se puet on bien par voie pleinne,
Ce m’est avis, aler avant.
Dame, vous parlerez devant,
Se fourmerez vostre demande,
Nom pas pour ce que je demande
Que li fais me soit refourmez,
Car j’en suis assez enfourmez;
Mais d’aucuns membres dou procés
Me moustreroient les excés
Qui vous en font doloir et pleindre;
Et aussi pour Guillaume ateindre
En son tort, se tort doit avoir;
Autrement ne le puis savoir.”

“Sire, ceste raison me plait.
Dés qu’entamé en avons plait,
Mon fait moustrerai par figure
Selonc les ouevres de Nature,
Tout pour Guillaume, qui se tort
De verité dont il ha tort.
Vous savez que la turterelle,
Qui est faitice, gente, et belle,
Cointe, gaie, douce, et jolie
Tant com ses males est en vie,
Et s’il avient qu’elle le pert
Par mort, on scet tout en appert
Que jamais joie n’avera,
Et par signes le moustrera.
Tant est li siens cuers pleins d’ardeur,
Jamais ne serra sus verdeur;
Eins quiert tout adés obscurtez,
Divers lieus et pleins de durtez,
Aubres sés, verseinnes, et trieges.
En tel lieus est souvent ses sieges
Quant elle se vuet reposer.
Autrement ne vuet disposer
Son cuer qu’en vie dolereuse,
Tant est de son male grieteuse.
Tout autel d’une dame di ge
Qui est rendue a Amours lige.
Quant elle ha son amy perdu
Par mort, le cuer si esperdu
Ha que jamais n’avera joie,
Eins quiert lieu, temps, et gens, et voie,
Ou il ait tout adés tristece,
Humble habit en lieu de richesse
Tenebres en lieu de clarté,
Et en lieu de joliveté
Pour porter chapelés de flours,
Ist de son chief larmes et plours.
Et s’elle quiert aucun repos,
Il est pris en humble propos.
Einsi la dame se maintient
Que le dueil de son amy tient,
En cas qu’elle soit vraie amie.
Or dirai de l’autre partie.

Quant la secoingne se fourfait,
Et ses males en scet le fait,
Je croy bien que moult s’en aïre
Et qu’il en ait au cuer grant ire.
Mais trouver en puet aligence
En ce qu’il en atent veingance.
Car il s’en va tantost en serche.
Par les nis des oisiaus reverche
A ceuls qui sont de sa samblance
Tant qu’il en ha grant habondance;
Puis entour son nif les assamble,
Et quant il sont la tuit ensamble,
Il y tiennent .i. grant concire,
Puis mettent celui a martire
De mort qui l’a, ce dit, forfaite.
La est devouree et deffaite.
Or ha cils ses maus alegiés
Qui en ce point en est vengiés.
Tout autel di je que li homs
Doit estre fiers comme uns lions
Contre aucun tort, s’il li est fais.
Et cils puet trouver moult de fais
Aus quels il se puet encliner
Pour son mal faire terminer,
Par pluseurs manieres de tours.
Mais la dame n’a nuls recours
Es quels elle se puist garir,
Qui son amy verra morir.
Dont elle sent pour .i. mal cent
Que cils autres amans ne sent.
Guillaume, aprés moy respondés;
Se tort avez, si l’amendez.”

Aprés ces raisons me dressay
Et mes paroles adressay
Au juge, qui bien entendi
Ce qu’elle ot dit et que je di.
Et je li dis: “Sire, sans faille
Ma dame a bien, comment qu’il aille,
Son fait moustré, et sagement,
Et de soutil entendement
Bien baillié par vives raisons,
Pour fourmer ses comparisons
Bien faites et bien divisees
Et si justement exposees
Que qui amender y vorroit
Je croy moult bien qu’on ne porroit.
Et ce qu’elle en a devisé
Vous l’avez tres bien avisé,
Oÿ, senti, et entendu.
Car de sa bouche est descendu
En vostre cuer par escouter;
Si ne le faut pas repeter.
Et si croy bien certeinnement
Que c’est de droit vray sentement,
Ce qu’elle en a yci compté,
Gardant sa grace et sa bonté,
Sans point de vainne entention.
Et j’ay une autre oppinion
Qu’elle n’a; s’en dirai m’entente,
S’il li plaist et il vous talente,
Nom pas pour le sien fait punir,
Mais pour ma cause soustenir.
On puet bien sa cause prisier
Sans autrui fait apetisier.”

“Guillaume, ne vueil contredire.
Dites ce qu’il vous plaist a dire,
Hastivement ou a loisir;
Ouvrez en a vostre plaisir.
Je vueil bien oïr et entendre,
Et s’ay assez loisir d’atendre.”

“Grant merci, sire. Je diray,
Et croy que point n’en mentiray.
Je vous di que la forfaiture
De dame est si aspre et si dure
En cuer d’amant, et si perverse,
Que, quant elle y est bien aherse,
Jamais jour ne s’en partira.
Or ne scet cils quel part ira
Pour querir son aligement;
Se prendre en voloit vengement
Par mort, et bien le peüst faire,
Il trouveroit tout son contraire
En la fourme de grant folour,
En l’attrait de toute dolour,
.I. feu pour toute ardeur ateindre,
Une yaue pour douceur esteindre,
Norrissemens de tous meschiés;
Car dou faire seroit pechiés.
Et pechiez qui en cuer remort
Est uns commencemens de mort,
De mort qu’on claimme mortel vie.
Car qui languist, il ne vit mie.
En mon fait que ci vous present
Maintenant, en vostre present,
Ha plus de griés et plus d’ardure
Qu’en l’autre fait, et trop plus dure.
Dont je vous requier orendroit
Sus ce point ci que j’aie droit.”

Adont se leva Attemprance,
Qui tenoit par la main Souffrance.
Si parla attempreement
En disant: “Guillaume, comment
Droit pour vous demander osastes?
Je me merveil que vous pensastes
Quant vous en fustes si hastis:
Ou vostres scens est trop petis,
Ou outrecuidiers vous demeinne.
Ne savez vous pas bien qui mainne
Le droit quant parties y tendent
Qui le desirent et attendent?
Je vueil moult bien que vous sachiez
Que Raisons en est li drois chiés
Et avec li sa compaingnie;
Chascune y a bonne partie
D’entre nous damoiselles toutes.
De ce ne faites nulles doubtes,
Que drois ne se puet delivrer,
Se toutes ne sont au livrer,
Afin que fait soit bonnement,
Se cils qui fist les drois ne ment.
Je meïsmes y ai office
Pour resister a tout malice
Qui maintes fois le droit destourne;
Et je d’office le retourne.
Quant uns bons procés vient en fourme,
Et je perçoy qu’on l’en deffourme,
Je y puis bien tellement ouvrer
Qu’il puet sa fourme recouvrer.
Se trop y a, j’en puis oster,
(Or vueilliez bien ce point noter),
Et se po y a, je y puis mettre
Quant je m’en vueil bien entremettre.
Et se la chose est en bon point,
Je la puis garder en ce point.
C’est d’Atemprance li mestiers
Toutes fois qu’il en est mestiers.
Or vueil je dire d’autre chose
Qui contre vostre fait s’oppose.

Vous avez .i. point soustenu
Dont po d’onneur vous est venu,
En ce que ma dame de pris
Avoit seur la segongne pris:
Comment elle est a la mort traite
Quant envers son male est forfaite.
Cuidiés vous qu’elle vosist dire
Qu’on meïst la dame a martyre
De la mort, qui se mefferoit
Envers celui qui l’ameroit?
Nennil! Voir, ce seroit folie.
Ne ma dame ne maintient mie
Qu’il la face tuer ne tue.
Mais elle tient qu’il s’esvertue
Encontre les temptations
Des fausses cogitations
Qui porroient en lui venir.
Encor s’el pooit avenir,
Qu’elle fust de bonne mort morte,
Se vaurroit il miex (drois la porte)
Qu’elle demourast toute vive.
Car tant com la personne vive
Qui se mefferoit par folour,
On n’en a peinne, ne dolour,
Grieté, souffrance, ne meschief,
Dont on ne veingne bien a chief.
Quant il sent aucune grieté,
Il doit penser par verité,
Dés qu’il a loiaument servi,
Qu’il ne l’a mie desservi.
C’est une pensee valable,
Pour lui conforter profitable.
Que vous yroie je comptant?
De remedes y a autant
En amours, com de griés pointures,
Soient aspres, pongnans, ou dures.
Chascune son remede enseigne.
Or en fait bon querir l’enseigne.
Mais une dame qui verra
Que se tres dous amis morra
En cui en nul jour de sa vie
N’ara trouvé que courtoisie,
Estre porra si fort ferue,
Si griefment, et si abatue,
Que jamais n’en porra garir;
Einsois la couvendra morir.
En l’escripture est contenu
Que pluseurs fois est avenu.
S’en compteray .i. petit compte
Qui vous fera avoir grant honte
Et a ma dame grant honnour,
Et grant clarté a mon signour,
Dont il verra plus clerement
Comment vous errez folement.

Il n’a pas lonc temps qu’il avint
Q’une grant dame a Paris vint,
S’amena une sienne fille
Qui, sans penser barat ne guille,
Amoit .i. chevalier gentil,
Sage, courtois, gay, et soutil,
Preu aus armes, fort, et puissant,
De toutes graces souffisant.
De lui nouveles li venirent
Q’forment au cuer la pongnirent,
Qu’il estoit a .i. tournoy mors.
‘Lasse!’ dist elle, ‘Quel remors
Puis avoir de ceste nouvelle!’
A cest mot cheÿ la pucelle
A la terre, toute estendue.
Adont sa mere y est venue
Acourant moult dolentement;
S’en prist a plourer tenrement
Et la fist porter en .i. lit.
La prist elle povre delit
Car au cuer estoit fort atainte,
Et eu viaire pale et tainte,
Et si de son corps amatie,
Et de ses membres amortie,
Qu’einc puis ne s’en pot soustenir,
Ne des mains nulles riens tenir.
Et n’ot ainc puis tant de victoire
Qu’elle peüst mengier ne boire.
Fusicien furent mandé,
Et la leur fu il demandé
S’elle averoit de la mort garde,
Et que chascuns y prenist garde
S’on li porroit donner santé,
Et qu’il demandassent planté
Hardiement de leur avoir,
Tant comme il en vorront avoir.
Et il en peinne s’en meïrent
Et moult volentiers le feïrent
Pour trouver son aligement,
S’il peüssent, diligenment.
Premiers, s’orine resgarderent,
Et puis aprés si la tasterent;
Li uns aprés l’autre tastoient
Partout ou taster la devoient,
Les piez, le pous, et puis les temples;
Et puis si moustroient exemples
Des cures qu’il avoient faites
En pluseurs lieus et bien parfaites;
Et que plus d’exemples moustroient,
De tant plus esbahi estoient.
L’orine la jugoit haitie,
Et li tasters ne jugoit mie
Cause froide, ne de chalour,
En quoy il prenissent coulour
D’ou ne de quoy cils maus venoit,
Ne quel remede il couvenoit,
Pour li un po assouagier
Ou dou tout ses maus alegier,
Fors tant que li uns s’avisa
Et sagement le devisa:
‘Signeurs, j’ay veü en s’orine
Aussi comme un po de racine,
Qu’elle est en l’esperit troublee.
Or nous est la science emblee
De ce point s’on ne s’en avise.
Et nous savons une devise
Que li bons philosophes dist;
Il afferme, et je croy son dist,
Que les maladies quelconques —
Et qu’autrement il n’avint onques —
Sont curees par leur contraire.
Or ne poons a ce point traire
De ceste maladie cy
Tant seulement que par un sy.
Car si hastives maladies
Puelent venir de .ij. parties:
C’est assavoir, se Diex me voie,
De grant dueil ou de trop grant joie.
Et cause de joie desire
Qu’on la courresse et qu’on l’aïre,
Et celle de dueil autrement:
Faire couvenra liement,
Present li, ce qu’elle vorra
Et quanqu’elle comandera;
Et qu’on li ait admenistres,
Pour faire feste, menestres.
Or couvenra il qu’elle die
Dou quel li vient la maladie
Pour li donner certein conseil.
Je le lo einsi et conseil.
Se voit li uns tout simplement
Parler a li secretement.’
Seur ce point furent acordans;
Dont li uns li fu demandans
Ce que devant avez oÿ.
Point n’en ot le cuer esjoÿ,
Eins en respondi moult envis,
Et toute voie vis a vis
Pure verité l’en conta,
Si bien que point n’i arresta.
Lors li fist cils une requeste
Au mieus qu’il pot par voie honneste:
‘Fille, respondés moy d’un point
Que je vous dirai bien a point:
Vorriés vous de ci en avant
Que vous le veïssiez vivant,
Mais que ce fust par tel maniere
Q’jamais ne vous moustrast chiere,
Parole, ne samblant d’amy?’
Et elle respondi: ‘Aymy!
Sire, se Diex me doint santé,
Que c’est bien de ma volenté
Que volentiers le reverroie
Vivant, et fust par tele voie
Qu’il heüst fait une autre amie,
La quele fust de moy servie,
Mon vivant, jusqu’au deschaucier.
Ne m’en vueilliez plus enchaucier;
Car tous li cuers de dueil me font
Si aigrement et si parfont
Toutes fois que j’en oy parole.
Si ne vueil plus qu’on m’en parole.’
Aprés ce mot, cils s’en depart
Et s’en ala de celle part
Ou cil estient qui l’atendoient,
Qui desiroient et tendoient,
Savoir quel fin celle feroit.
Et il leur dist qu’elle morroit:
‘Je n’i puis veoir nul retour.
Ses cuers est fermez en la tour
D’Amour sous la clef de Tristesse,
Ou elle sueffre grant destresse,
Si que morir la couvenra
Briefment; ja n’en eschapera.
Pour quoy nous nous departirons
De ci; plus n’i arresterons.’
En l’eure de la se partirent,
Et puis a la mere deïrent:
‘Ma dame, on n’i puet conseil mettre.
Mais vueilliez vous bien entremettre
De li garder et tenir pres.’
Euls departis, tantost aprés
Elle cria a haute vois:
‘Hé! Douce mere, je m’en vois.
A Dieu vous commant, douce dame!’
Et droit a ce point rendi l’ame.
Elle fu de la gent criee,
Et sa mere en fu tourmentee.
De ce ne tieng je pas mon compte,
Car a mon propos riens n’en monte.
Guillaume, ou porrés vous trouver
Comment vous peüssiez prouver
Qu’uns homs seroit a mort menez
De ce point que vous soustenez,
Dou forfait de sa bien amee,
Et que ce fust chose prouvee
Qu’elle heüst fait la villenie
Et qu’adés demourast en vie?
De la pucelle est chose voire,
Mais ce seroit trop fort a croire
Que plus grans fust li siens meschiés
Que de celle. Bien le sachiez!”

“Attemprance, moult bel parlez
Toutes les fois que vous volez.
Ci endroit especiaument
Avez parlé moult sagement.
Et quanqu’avez ci dit, je croy,
Ne dou croire point ne recroy.
Car c’est pour moy en aucun point
Qui vient a mon propos a point
Quant celle damoiselle gente
Ot mis en chevalier s’entente,
Et il estoit ses vrais amis
Et puis se fu a la mort mis,
Dont Amours si fort l’atrapa
Que la mort tantost la hapa,
Amours en fist pour li assez
Car cils cops fu tantost passez.
Aussi a morir avoit elle:
Nuls contre ce point ne rebelle
Cui la mort ne veingne haper;
Nuls ne li porroit eschaper.
Quant uns hons est grieteusement
Tauxés a mort par jugement
D’un bon juge sans mesprison,
Et il le met en grief prison
D’enfermeté en lieux divers,
Ou estre puet mengiez de vers
Et de planté d’autre vermine,
Et il y est un lonc termine,
Chargié col et les bras de fers
Et les jambes — c’est bien enfers.
La est il de foy en destour
Pour renoier son creatour;
Volentiers le renieroit
Qui de la le delivreroit.
Mais en celle heure qu’il est pris,
Jugiés a mort par juste pris,
Trop miex li vaut qu’on l’en delivre
Par la mort qu’en tel doleur vivre.
Einsi est il d’un vray amant
Qui est trahis en dame amant,
A tel fin com devant est dit.
J’aferme et se di en mon dit
Que nuls meschiés ne s’apartient
Aus grietez que ses cuers soustient
Tant come il dure et elle dure.
Et si say moult bien que Nature
Ha de son bon droit establi
Qu’on mette celui en oubli
Qui est mors et n’en puet ravoir
Pour grant peinne, ne pour avoir.
Seur ce point droit atenderoie;
Miex estre jugiés ne vorroie.”

Aprés ces mos s’est Pais levee
Et dist, comme bien avisee:
“Guillaume, assez souffissanment,
Selonc le vostre entendement,
Avez vostre propos baillié;
Mais vous l’avez trop court taillié
Pour avoir droit pour vous si tost.
Car uns autres poins le vous tost.
Vous avez de Nature trait
Pour prouver .i. assez biau trait,
Lequel on ha bien entendu.
Mais j’ai un autre las tendu
Contre celui, de plus grant pris,
Par lequel vous serez sourpris,
D’un exemple aucun de fait
Qui bien a ramentevoir fait.
Et pour ceci le vous propos,
Car il sert bien a mon propos.

Dydo, roïne de Cartage,
Ot si grant dueil et si grant rage
Pour l’amour qu’elle ot a Enee,
Qui li avoit sa foy donnee
Qu’a mouillier l’aroit et a femme.
Et li faus l’appelloit sa dame,
Son cuer, s’amour, et sa deesse,
Et sa souvereinne maistresse.
Puis s’en ala par mer nagent
En larrecin, lui et sa gent,
Qu’onques puis Dydo ne le vit.
Oïez comment elle se chevit:
Quant failly li ot dou couvent
Que heü li avoit en couvent,
Einsi com pluseurs amans font
Qui l’amant loial contrefont,
La desesperee, la fole,
Qu’amours honnist, qu’amours afole,
L’espee de Eneas trouva
Et en son corps si l’esprouva
Qu’onques ne se pot espargnier
Qu’en soy ne la feïst baingnier.
Dont elle morut a dolour
Pour amer, et par sa folour.
Mais elle ne morut pas seule,
Einsois a .ij. copa la gueule,
Car de Eneas estoit enceinte,
Dont moult fu regretee et plainte.
Mais einsois qu’elle s’oceïst,
Elle commanda qu’on feïst
Un ardant feu en sa presence.
Et quant en sa desesperence
S’ocist, si forment s’envaÿ
Qu’avec le cop en feu chaÿ
Dont tantost fu arse et bruïe.
Einsi fina Dydo sa vie.
Bien croy que ce fu chose voire,
Car einsi le truis en l’istoire.

Si que, Guillaume, vraiement,
Il me samble tout autrement
Veües et considerees
Mes raisons devant devisees.
Car on puet veoir clerement
Que grieté, peinne, ne tourment
Ne se porroient comparer
Ad ce que celle comparer
Volt pour le grief de son amy.
Et fust uns homs trestout enmy
Grant planté de ses annemis,
Qui tuit li heüssent promis
La mort et tuer le porroient
A leur plaisir quant il vorroient,
Lui vivant en celle paour,
Non obstant grieté ne freour,
Se trouveroit il reconfort.
Encoy y a un point plus fort:
Qui le menroit aus fourches pendre
En celle heure, sans plus attendre,
Si seroit il reconfortez
Et soustenus et deportez
En esperence d’eschaper;
Lors ne le porroient taper
Male errour, ne desesperence,
Tant comme il aroit Esperence;
Qu’Esperence le conduiroit
Jusqu’a tant qu’il trespasseroit.

Aussi avez vous dit d’un point.
Encontre Amour trop mal a point:
C’est que Nature a commandise
Seur la gent d’Amour a sa guise,
Et se Nature le commande,
Nuls n’obeïst a sa commande.
Elle comande qu’on oublie
Et mort d’amant et mort d’amie
Pour ce qu’on n’i puet recouvrer
Par grant avoir, ne par ouvrer.
Commande; assez nous le volons.
De ce point pas ne nous dolons,
Que a moy riens n’en apartient.
Car Bonne Amour en sa part tient
Un cuer d’amant tant seulement
Sans naturel commandement.
Qui ne vuet, nuls n’i est contrains;
Mais on est d’Amours si estrains,
Qu’obeïr y couvient par force;
S’est fols qui contre li s’efforce.
Guillaume, se vous loeroie
A laissier ceste povre voie
De dire que Nature ait grace
Que propre commandement face
En amours, qui soit de valeur,
Nature donne bien couleur
A amy d’un plaisant cuidier
Qui li fait folement cuidier
Acomplir ce qu’Amours desprise.
Et par si faite fole emprise
Sont fait maint incouvenient
Qui valent trop meins que nient.
Plus desclairier ne m’en couvient
Pour ce que point d’onneur n’en vient.
Pais sui, qui volentiers feroie
Adés bien et si defferoie
Le mal; aussi feroit Concorde;
Car quanque je vueil, elle acorde,
Toutes heures, et soir et main.
Pour ce la tien je par la main,
Et pour faire ce qu’il li plait.
Alés avant a vostre plait,
Guillaume, par voie dehüe,
Sans naturel descouvenüe.
S’ensieuez d’Avis les usages,
Par mon los, si ferez que sages.”

“Pais, damoiselle, pour vous croire
Viennent tous biens, c’est chose voire.
Si me garderay de mesprendre.
Mais je vueil ma cause deffendre
Tant avant, comme je porray.
Dont .i. exemple compteray
Qui s’ensieut, a mon fait prouver
Et a vostre tort reprouver.

A Orliens ot .i. cler jadis
Qui estoit renommez et dis
Nobles clers, vaillans homs et riches,
Et si n’estoit avers ne chiches,
Sires de lois, et de decrez
Maistres, et uns homs bien discrez
De bien moustrer ce qu’il savoit
Et la vaillance qu’il avoit.
S’avoit esté nez en Prouvence,
Et bien enlignagiez en France
Estoit de princes et de contes
Que veritables soit mes comptes.
De gentils gens estoit servis,
Preus et apers a grant devis,
Et avoit en sa compaingnie
De moult noble chevalerie,
A qui riches robes donnoit.
Cils poins moult bien li avenoit,
Car pour sa grace desservir
Se penoient de lui servir.
Or estoit moult d’amer espris
D’une damoiselle de pris
Qui demouroit vers Montpeslier,
Fille d’un vaillant chevalier,
Attrait de moult noble lignie.
S’estoit la besongne lignie
D’entr’eus .ij. si entierement
Qu’on ne peüst mieus autrement.
Il s’estoient entrepromis,
Il comme ses loiaus amis,
Et elle comme vraie amie;
A tousjours mais, toute leur vie
Maintenroient en verité
Les courtois poins de loiauté.
Mais si loing devins leur loiens,
Qu’il s’en vint manoir a Orliens
Et elle en Prouvence manoit.
Mais si bien, comme il couvenoit,
Les secrez d’amours maintenoient
Des lettres qu’il s’entr’envoioient
Par leurs especiaus messages,
Honnestes gens, secrez et sages.
Einsi le feïrent grant piece.
Mais Fortune, qui tost depiece
Maint honneur aval le païs,
Fist tant que cils fu esbahis,
Plus que perdre .V.c mars d’or,
Si comme je diray dés or.

Il avint a une journee,
Male pour celui adjournee,
Qu’a lui s’en vint uns messagiers
De Prouvence, preus et legiers,
Qui li aportoit lettres closes,
En .i. petit coffret encloses.
Il les prist, si les resgarda
Et de haut lire se garda,
Car pluseurs secrez devisoient.
Et ou darrein point contenoient
Que s’amie estoit mariee
Au plus vaillant de la contree
Et estoit ja grosse d’enfant.
‘Haro!’ dist il, ‘Li cuers me fent.
Hé! Mors, que ne me viens tu prendre?
A po que je ne me vois pendre!’
Lors prist ses cheveus a tirer,
Et puis sa robe a dessirer.
Quant sa gent einsi le verrent,
Isnelement avant saillirent,
Dont chascuns forment l’agrapa.
Mais par force leur eschapa.
Aval la ville se fuï.
Il devint sours et amuÿ,
Car des lors qu’il parti de la,
Ainc puis de bouche ne parla
Parole qu’entendre peüst
Homs vivans, tant le congneüst;
Ne dés lors que ce li avint,
Onques puis a li ne revint,
Et ne dormoit que sus fumiers,
Et de ce estoit coustumiers.
Et quant si ami le prenoient
Qui en aucun lieu le lioient,
Jamais n’i beüst ne menjast.
Eins est certein qu’il enrajast,
Si qu’il le laissoient de plain
A son voloir aler a plain.
Mais il ne faisoit a nelui
Nul mal, fors seulement a lui.
En ce point fu .xx. ans tous plains;
S’estoit moult regretez et plains
De la gent qui le congnoissoient,
Dont li pluseur forment plouroient.
Si fu bien mis de haut au bas.
Se nafferroit pas grans debas
A jugier verité certeinne,
Qu’il ot de grieté et de peinne
Plus que cent dames n’averoient
Qui leurs amis morir verroient.
Quant il vous plaist, si resgardez,
Et de mesjugier vous gardez!”

Adont s’est Foy en piez drecié
Comme sage et bien adrecié
De droit, de coustume, et d’usage;
S’a dit: “Guillaume, le musage
Avez bien paié ci endroit,
Par dehors la voie de droit,
Au mains en aucune partie.
S’en vorray faire departie,
C’est assavoir, devision
Par voie de distinction
Des choses qui ne font a croire
Et d’aucunes qui la victoire
Puelent avoir d’estre creües
Ou pour possible soustenues,
Dont les unes essausseray
Et les autres confonderay,
Au los de m’amie Constance,
Qui a tous mes contraires tense
Et me soustient et fortefie
Vers chascun qui en moy se fie.
Que cils clers fust de grant vaillance,
Gentils homs, et de grant puissance,
Renommez de haute noblesse,
Et de temporelle richesse
Tres habundamment assasez,
Espris d’amours et embrasez,
Amis de cuer, amez d’amie,
Et en l’estat de courtoisie
Heüssent fait leur aliance
Par tres amiable fiance,
Si que les secrez garderoient
D’amours, tant comme il viveroient;
Qu’a Orlïens fust amainnagiez,
En France bien enlinagiez
De gens si honnourablement
Qu’on ne peüst plus hautement —
Ce sont toutes choses possibles.
Et dou mal qui fu si horribles,
Qui si soudennement li vint
Qu’en lisant lettres li avint
Et si grandement li dura,
Que .xx. ans entiers l’endura —
Encor di je qu’il pot bien estre.
Car Diex en ce siecle terrestre
A mains jugemens si enclos
Qu’estre ne porroient esclos
D’omme mortel par sa science.
Aussi de vostre conscience
Avez vous presentement dit
De ces lettres par vostre dit
Que plus secrez contenoient.
Or ne scet on dont il venoient.
Dont j’ay en droit .i. point trouvé
Que vous n’avez mie prouvé,
Que de s’amie li venist.
Ceste raison ci defenist
Qu’on n’en puet faire nullement
A vostre profit jugement.
Et se say bien des autres choses
Qui seront, se je puis, escloses,
Pour vous dou tout suppediter,
S’il est qui le sache diter.”

“Damoiselle, vueilliez laissier,
S’il vous plaist, vostre menassier;
Car ce ne vous puet riens valoir,
Et il me fait le cuer doloir.”

Charitez adont s’avisa,
Si a dit: “Foy, entendés sa!
Je vous vueil dire une merveille.”
Lors li conseilla en l’oreille
Ce qu’elle volt, secretement.
De quoy Foy debonnairement
Prist un bien petit a sousrire,
Et en sousriant prist a dire:
“Charité, damoiselle chiere,
Liement, de bonne maniere,
Ceste besongne conterez.
Trop miex conter la saverez,
Pour certein, que je ne feroie.
Vous en estes ja en la voie;
Car en vous en sentez le fait,
Se vous pri qu’il soit einsi fait.”

“Foy, ma tres douce chiere amie,
De ce ne vous faurai je mie,
Eins en diray ce qu’il m’en samble.
Car de .ij. personnes ensamble
Les oppinions en sont bonnes,
Quant loiaus sont les .ij. personnes.
Si qu’a Guillaume en parleray
Et tel chose li moustreray
Qu’il se tenra pour recreans,
S’il n’est trop fols ou mescreans.

Guillaume, or entendés, amis:
La puissance qui m’a commis
A estre Charité nommee
Fait que par ouevre sui prouvee,
Dont on en voit les apparans
En tous mes plus prochains parans.
Ce sont li gentil cuer loial
Qui entrent en la court roial
De Bonne Amour qui n’a nul per.
Or entendez en quoy j’aper:
J’aper en souffissans promesses
Et en raisonnables largesses,
Especiaument par donner
Et d’aucuns meffais pardonner;
Dont eüreus sont cil qui donnent,
Et aussi sont cil qui pardonnent.
Or regardons qu’Amours demande
Qu’on li doint, et plus ne commande:
Elle demande expressement
Les cuers des bons entierement.
Se demande elle qu’on li doint,
Et se vuet aussi qu’on pardoint
Aucuns fais, selonc le propos
Pourquoy ces raisons ci propos.
Se le moustreray par figure
Que Bonne Amour en moy figure,
Assés briefment, sans prolongier.
Uns riches homs ha .i. vergier
Ou il a arbres grant planté.
Enseurquetout y a planté
Une moult tres gracïeuse ente
Qui au riche homme miex talente
Et li est trop plus avenans
Que ne soit tous li remenans;
Et est einsi de lui amee,
Tant comme elle est ente clamee.
Or avient que li temps trespasse
Tant que li petis jouvens passe;
Se montent ses branches au vent
Pour entrer en secont jouvent
Qui est moiens temps appellés;
S’estent ses branches de tous lés,
En eslargissant sa biauté
Et en acroissant sa bonté
Pour traire a la conclusion
Qui est dite perfection,
Pour li deduire et deporter,
Fleurs, fueilles, et bon fruit porter.
Or di je einsi qu’il avenra
Que li sires demandera
Comment celle ente se maintient
Et que qualité elle tient.
Li jardiniers puet dire: ‘Sire,
Pour verité, vous en puis dire,
Ce m’est avis, bonne nouvelle;
Ne demandez plus que fait elle,
Mais demandez me bien qu’il fait,
Car vostre ente .i. arbre parfait,
Et en tel guise se deporte
Que flours, fueilles, et bon fruit porte,
Dont perdu a d’ente le nom,
Et d’aubre a recouvré le nom,
Sous qui on se puet ombroier
Plaisanment et esbanier.’
Or vueil je chanter et respondre
Pour miex m’entention espondre,
Dont je vueil faire une demande:
Se de la chose qui amende
On doit avoir cuer esperdu,
S’elle a .i. petit nom perdu
Pour .i. plus grant nom recouvrer,
Par nature ou par bien ouvrer?
Je respon qu’einsi n’est il mie;
Car ce seroit grant derverie.
Mais ce qu’on aimme chierement
Ou a acheté chierement,
Qui le verroit dou tout perir,
Si que ja ne peüst garir,
Venir en porroit tel meschief
Qu’on y metteroit bien le chief
Et tout le corps entierement.
Je le say bien certeinnement
Que pluseurs einsi l’i ont mis,
Tant amie com vrais amis.
Or vueil dou propre fait parler
Pour quoy j’ay meü mon parler.
Celle damoiselle jolie
Qui estoit a ce clerc amie.
C’estoit li ente faitissette
Comme une douce pucelette
En grant vergier d’Amours plantee.
La pot estre si eslevee
Et de branches si estendue
Et de fueilles si bien vestue,
De fleurs si cointement paree,
Comme estre aus milleurs comparee.
Si me vueil .i. po aviser
Pour les parties deviser:
Branches de bonne renommee,
Fueilles d’estre bel emparlee,
Fleurs d’avoir la condition
D’onneste conversation,
Tant d’abit comme de maintien.
En cest estat dist: ‘Amis, tien;
Je te doing, pour toy deporter
Grace dou fruit d’onneur porter.’
Lors pluseurs pensees li viennent
Qui de neccessité couviennent:
Pour li entrer en mariage
Par le conseil de son linage.
S’elle le fait, ce n’est pas fais
Dont cils doie enchargier tel fais
Comme de lui desesperer.
Eins doit penser et esperer
Qu’elle y a profit et honneur
Quant en la grace dou signeur
Seroit de droit nommee dame.
Ceste raison bon cuer enflame
D’amer miex assez que devant.
Pourquoy je di d’ore en avant
Que cils ne l’amoit pas pour bien.
Vraiement, il y parut bien
Quant Bonne Amour li volt souffrir,
Son corps a tel martire offrir.
Plus n’en di, Guillaume, biau sire.
Dites ce qu’il vous plaist a dire.”

“Charité, se Diex me doint joie,
Bien avez par soutille voie
Pluseurs propos par biaus mos dis.
Mais je ne voy pas en vos dis
Que vous m’aiez de riens puny.
J’ay mon procés aussi uny
Comme devant et aussi ferme
En son estat; par quoy j’afferme
Que ja ne sera abatus,
Se d’autres mos ne suis batus.
.I. point y a qui gist en prueve,
Par quoy il convenra qu’on prueve
Le contraire de mes paroles,
Ou je ne tenray qu’a frivoles
Ce que devant avez compté,
Nonobstant vostre grant bonté
Et que pour grant bien l’avez fait,
Pour auctorisier vostre fait
Et pour le mien suppediter.
Se vueil un petit reciter
De ce clers qui fu vrais amis
Et puis en tel grieté sousmis,
Comme j’ay dit, .xx. ans entiers.
Or prouvez seulement le tiers:
Qu’onques nulle dame souffrist,
Tant son corps a la mort offrist;
Prouvez ce point tant seulement,
Mais vous ne porriés nullement.”

Charitez volt aprés parler,
Et pour apointier son parler,
Elle avoit ja la bouche ouverte.
Mais Honnesté fu si aperte
Que tantost fu aparillie
Et dist: “Charité, douce amie,
Que je die, mais qu’il vous plaise;
Que je ne seray jamais aaise
Se n’aie je dit mon talent
Pour lui faire le cuer dolent.”
Charitez bien s’i acorda,
Et puis Honnesté recorda
S’entention par voie honneste,
Dont toute la court fist grant feste.

S’a dit: “Guillaume, or entendez:
Pour la fin a quoy vous tendez,
Fondez estes petitement.
Se vous dirai raison comment.
Voirs est que grans grief li avint
Et en petit d’eure li vint.
Mais tantost, celle heure passee,
Sa grant grieté fu trespassee.
Car combien que lonc temps dura,
Onques puis grieté n’endura
Qui point fëist a son cuer touche.
Et s’aucuns griés au cuer li touche,
Il n’i a point de sentement,
Dés qu’il n’i a consentement.
C’est chose assez legiere a croire.
Il avoit perdu sa memoire,
Sens, maniere, et entendement;
Dont on puet veoir clerement
Qu’il n’avoit point de volenté,
Fors que le cuer entalenté
Des grans soties qu’il faisoit.
Quant en .i. fumier se gisoit,
C’estoit sa pais; c’estoit ses lis;
C’estoit de tous poins ses delis,
Ou il dormoit a grant repos.
Encor y a autre propos
Que vous meïsmes dit avez.
C’est certein, et bien le savez,
Que, quant si amy le prenoient
Et en aucuns lieus l’enfermoient,
Jamais n’i beüst ne mengast,
Einsois trestous vis enragast,
Qui le retenist malgré lui;
Il n’en feïst rien pour nelui
Et vivoit a plain comme beste.
C’estoit vie trop deshonneste,
Honteuse s’il en tenist conte;
Mais point ne congnoissoit de honte.
Dont j’ay assez mon fait prouvé
Et vostre tort bien reprouvé
Par .i. seul point qui me remort.
De dame qui savera mort
Son amy, sera plus cent tans
En .i. jour que cils en cent ans,
De grieté par .i. si fait trait
Com ci devant avez retrait.
Guillaume, se vous soufferrez,
Ou d’un autre point parlerez
Car de cestui estes vaincus,
Ne vous y puet valoir escus.”

“Honesté, pour voir, non feray.
Encor .i. po en parleray,
Car je m’ay bien de quoy deffendre
Mais que vous le vueilliez entendre.
Quant tout le sens de lui perdi
Pour le mal qu’a lui s’aërdi
Qui dou tout le deshonnoura,
Plus perdi, meins li demoura.
Vous dites que mal ne sentoit,
Pour ce que desvoiez estoit
De maniere et d’entendement;
Mais il est bien tout autrement:
Car avant que homs son sens perde,
Ne que forsens a lui s’aërde,
Le prent et seurprent maladie
Qui le trait a forcenerie.
Si vueil faire .i. po d’argument
Qui vous moustrera vivement
Comment m’entente prouveray
Dou droit que pour moy trouveray.
Quant .ij. causes sont assamblees
Qui se sont a .i. corps fermees,
Celle qui vient premierement,
Elle attrait le commancement
Dés ce point par la premerainne,
Pour ce que c’est la souvereinne.
Et qui la premiere osteroit,
La seconde s’en partiroit.
Or puelent dire tel y a:
‘Guillaume, verbi gracia,
A entendre si comme quoy?’
Vesci en l’eure le pourquoy:
Nous veons .i. chien qui enrage,
De quel cause li vient la rage?
D’un ver qui la langue li perse.
Or est la cause si desperse
Qu’il pert le boire et le mengier,
Et puis le couvient enragier.
Or est dont li commencemens
De quoy vient li enragemens.
Et quant il en pert l’abaier,
Adont se puet on esmaier
Dés ce point que la gent ne morde.
Et que de ce miex nous remorde,
Je vous en diray qu’il avint
D’un chien qui enragiez devint,
Amez en l’ostel d’un riche homme.
Or entendez s’orrez la somme.
Li riches homs ot oÿ dire
Dont venoient si fait martire
S’en volt veoir l’experience
Pour miex avoir en congnoissance.
Se fist son chien par force prendre,
Loier, bersillier, et estendre
Et sa langue sachier a plain,
Tant qu’on vit le ver tout a plain.
Lors fu li vers fors esrachiez;
Et quant il fu a plain sachiez,
Les mains celui prist a lechier
Cui il ot senti atouchier;
Et fu la garis de tous poins.
Aussi di je que cils clers poins
Fu d’une maladie obscure;
Dont je vous di que la pointure
Dou grant mal que ses corps sentoit
Le tenoit en point qu’il estoit.
Dont mes drois est assez prouvez
Et vostres grans tors reprouvez.”

Aprés s’est Franchise levee
Q’ne fu pas trop effraee;
Et s’ot bon vueil et bonne chiere,
Et tres gracïeuse maniere.
Si encommensa a parler
Et dist einsi en son parler:

“On a veu generaument
Toudis en amer loiaument
Que les dames se sont portees
Miex et plus loiaument gardees
Que les hommes en tous endrois.
Je le vueil prouver — and c’est drois —
Par exemples que je vueil dire
Pour ce qu’il font a ma matire.

Quant cil d’Athennes eurent mort
Androgeüs, si grant remort
En ot Minos, li rois de Crete,
Que par voie sage et discrete,
Par force d’armes et de guerre
Fist essillier toute leur terre.
Et les mist tous pour cest outrage
Minos en si mortel servage,
Que tous les ans li envoient
.I. homme; mais il sortissoient,
Et cil seur qui li sors cheoit
Trop mortelment li mescheoit.
Car li rois Minos devourer
Le faisoit la sans demourer
Par un moustre trop mervilleus,
Trop felon, et trop perilleus.
Mais nuls ne se doit mervillier
Se Minos volt ad ce veillier,
Ne s’il en fu fort esmeüs,
Car peres fu Androgeüs.
Or avint que li sors cheï
Seur Theseüs, qui esbahi
Pluseurs; car il fu fils le roy,
Preuz, vaillans, et de bel arroy.
Mais pour la mort Endrogeüs
Ala en Crete Theseüs
Pour lui faire estrangler au moustre
Se sa prouesse ne li moustre
Si qu’envers lui se puist deffendre;
Autrement puet la mort attendre.
Et se Diex li donne victoire,
Il acquerra honneur et gloire,
Car ceuls d’Athennes franchira
Et le servage acquitera.
Mais riens n’i vausist, fer ne fust,
Se belle Adriane ne fust,
Qui oublia Minos, son pere,
Et Androgeüs, son chier frere,
Sa terre et ses charnels amis
Pour Theseüs, ou elle a mis
Son cuer, si qu’elle li moustra
Comment occis le fier moustre a
Pour lui delivrer dou servage;
Et li donna son pucelage
Par si qu’a femme la penroit
Et qu’en son païs l’en menroit
Avec Phedra, sa chiere suer,
Qu’elle ne lairoit a nul fuer.
Theseüs, qui se parjura
Ses diex et sa loy, li jura
Que jamais ne li fausseroit
Et qu’envers li loiaus seroit.
Il se menti, li renoiez.
Pour quoy ne fu en mer noiez?
Quant sa besongne ot assevie,
Il les charga en sa navie.
Mais vers li mesprist si forment
Qu’Adriane laissa dormant
Seulette en estrange contree,
Lasse, dolente, et esgaree,
Et en mena la juene touse,
Phedra sa suer, s’en fist s’espouse.
Ci a trop mortel traïson.
Aussi dirai je de Jason,
Qui conquist par l’art de Medee
En Colcos la toison doree,
Et sormonta, li bourdereaus,
L’ardant soufflement des toreaus,
S’endormi le serpent veillable,
Seur toute beste espoventable,
Et desconfit les chevaliers
Armez, a cens et a milliers.
Mais nuls ce faire ne peüst
Se Medea fait ne l’eüst.
Son païs laissa et son pere,
Et fit decoper son chier frere.
Pelie occist a grant desroy,
Et tout, pour Jason faire roy.
Quanqu’elle ot, li abandonna;
S’amour et s’onneur li donna.
Mais Jason Medea laissa
Pour Creusa, dont moult s’abaissa,
Et mervilleusement mesprist
Quant la laissa et autre prist.
Et quant elle sot la nouvelle,
Qui ne li fu plaisant ne belle,
Elle fu si desesperee,
Si hors dou sens, si forsenee,
Que .ij. enfans qui sien estoient
Pour ce que Jason ressambloient,
Occist en despit de Jason,
Puis mist le feu en sa maison.
Aprés s’en ala la chetive
O ses dragons par l’air fuitive.
Mais puis en estranges contrees
Furent roïnes coronnees.
Car roys d’Athennes Egeüs
Fu de Medee deceüs;
Bacus Adriane honnoura
Fort, car en li grant amour a.
Cil dui les dames espouserent
En leur païs et coronnerent.

Si que, Guillaume, c’est la somme:
On ne porroit trouver en homme
Si grant loyauté comme en femme,
Ne jamais d’amoureuse flame
Ne seroient si fort espris
Comme seroit dame de pris.
Car quant il y a meins d’amour,
Il y a tant meins de dolour
Puis que ce vient a mal sentir.
Ne je ne me puis assentir
Qu’en endurant les maus d’amer
Que homs ait tant com dame d’amer.
Et si a de remedes cent
Li homs tels que fame ne sent.”

“Damoiselle, la traïson
De Theseüs ne de Jason
Ne fait riens a nostre matiere,
Ne ce n’est mie la premiere
Ne la darreinne fausseté
Qui es amoureus ha esté,
Autant es fames comme es hommes.
Ne je ne donroie .ij. pommes
De vostre entention prouver
Par si fais exemples trouver.
Car se mon fait prouver voloie
Par exemples, j’en trouveroie
Plus de .x., voire plus de .xx.
Chascuns scet bien ce qu’il avint
De l’amy a la Chasteleinne
De Vergi: d’amours si certeinne
L’ama qu’il s’ocist sans demour
Quant morte la vit pour s’amour.

Li bons Lancelos et Tristans
Eurent plus de peinne .x. tans
Que femme ne porroit souffrir,
Tant se peüst a peinne offrir,
Et cent fois furent plus loiaus
Que Jason ne fu desloiaus,
Ne Theseüs, qui trop mesprist
D’Adriane quant Phedra prist.
Encor vueil d’un autre compter
Se vous me volez escouter.

Une dame sans villonnie
D’un chevalier estoit amie,
Si li donna .i. anelet
Trop gent (ne fu villein ne let),
Par si qu’adés le porteroit
Et que jamais ne l’osteroit
De son doy s’elle ne l’ostoit.
Et li chevaliers, qui estoit
Tous siens, bonnement li promist,
Et la dame en son doy le mist.
Or avint qu’elle avoit mari
Qui ot le cuer triste et mari;
Car l’anel a recongnëu
Pour ce qu’autre fois l’ot vëu.
Si l’ala tantost demander
A la dame et li comander
Qu’elle li baille en la place
Seur peinne de perdre sa grace.
La dame dist qu’elle l’avoit,
Mais ou, pas bien ne le savoit.
Si fist samblant de l’aler querre
Et, en deffermant une serre,
Comme dame avisee et sage,
Dist a un sien privé message:
‘Va sans arrest a mon ami
Et se li di que mal pour my
Se mon anel ne me renvoie.
Et ne demeure pas seur voie,
Car mon signeur le vuet avoir
Sans nul essoinne recevoir.
Di li bien qu’il n’en faille mie.
Car s’il en faut, je sui honnie
Et en peril de perdre honneur
Et la grace de mon signeur.’
Li messages n’atendi pas,
Eins s’en ala plus que le pas
Au chevalier et tout li conte
Ce que devant ai dit en conte.
Quant li chevaliers l’entendi,
A po li cuers ne li fendi,
Car il ot paour que sa dame
Honte pour li n’eüst ou blasme.
Si dist: ‘Amis, foy que li doy,
Avuec l’anel ara mon doy,
Car ja par moy n’en partira.’
Si que lors .i. coutel tira,
Son doi copa, et li tramist
Aveques l’anel qu’elle y mist.
Puet on faire plus loiaument
Riens, ne plus amoureusement?
Certes, nennil! Ce m’est avis.
Car trop fu loiaus ses amis,
Si que bien oseroie attendre
Vray jugement sans plus contendre,
Qu’on les doit plus auctorisier
Et en tous estas plus prisier
Que les dames, de qui parole
Tenez que je tien a frivole,
Qu’on dit — et vous le savez bien —
Que par tout doit veincre le bien.
Et cil furent bon et loial
Tenu en toute court roial,
Comment que les dames feïssent
Moult pour leurs amis et souffrissent.
Mais on dit — et c’est veritez —
Qu’adés les .ij. extremitez,
C’est trop et po. Einsi l’enten ge:
Ne doivent recevoir loange;
Mais qui en l’amoureus loien
Est loiez s’il tient le moien
Il ouevre bien et sagement.
Et li sages dist qui ne ment
Qu’adés li bonneüreus tiennent
Le moien partout ou il viennent.”

A ce Prudence respondi,
Qui riens n’enclot ne repondi
A la matiere appartenant,
Et dist: “Guillaume, maintenant
Voy je bien vostre entention;
Mais j’ay contraire opinion
Qui de la vostre est trop lonteinne.
On scet bien que la Chastelainne
Fu morte pour .i. bacheler
Pour ce qu’il ne la sot celer.
Car il dist toute leur besongne
A la Duchesse de Bourgoingne.
Et la Duchesse moult mesprist,
Qu’a une feste li reprist
Qu’elle savoit bien le mestier
Dou petit chiennet affaitier.
S’en morut en disant ‘aymi’
Par le deffaut de son ami.
Et quant li amis vit s’amie
Par sa gengle morte et perie,
S’il s’ocist, il fist son devoir,
Qu’autre mort deüst recevoir,
N’il ne fist fors meins que justice.
S’il s’ocist pour punir son vice;
Qu’avoir le dehüssent detrait
Chevaus enragiez pour ce trait.
Si m’est vis que la Chastelainne
Ot plus de meschief et de peinne
Quant sans cause reçut la mort,
Que n’ot cils qui se fu la mort
Qui avoit desservi le pendre;
Et pour ce en fu sa dolour mendre.
Et se Tristans ou Lancelos
Furent vaillans, bien dire l’os
Que leur vaillance et leur prouesse
Leur fu gloire, honneur, et richesse;
N’il n’est homs qui peüst acquerre
Tels biens, sans avoir peinne en terre.
Si que, Guillaume, j’ose dire
Que plus de peinne et de martyre
Cent fois les dames soustenoient
Que leurs amis qu’elles faisoient,
Qu’elles avoient les griés pensees
Et les paours desordenees,
Les paroles de mesdisans.
Et s’il demourassent .x. ans,
Ja n’eüssent parfait joie;
Car qui atent, trop li anoie,
N’a cuer humain riens tant ne grieve
Com mesdis et pensee grieve.
Ne autre bienfait n’en portoient
Que un po de joie qu’elles avoient.
Einsi est il de pluseurs dames
Qui mettent les cuers et les ames
Et quanqu’elles ont en leurs amis,
Et quant tant chascune y a mis
Qu’il sont en vaillance parfait,
Apparent par ouevre et par fait,
Elles n’en ont autre salaire
Fors un petit de gloire au faire.
Ils ont le grain; elles ont la paille;
Car l’onneur ont, comment qu’il aille.
Et s’aucune fois leur meschiet,
Tout premiers seur les dames chiet.
Certes, c’est mauvais guerredon.
Quant pour bien ont de guerre don.

De l’autre qui son doy copa,
Vraiement fait .i. lait cop a.
Car Guillaume, quoy que nuls die,
Je le tien a grant cornardie,
Si m’en pense po a debatre.
Car il y avoit .iij. ou .iiij.
Voies qui deüssent souffire,
Et il prist de toutes la pire.
Et d’autre part, je ne croy mie
Que celle qui estoit s’amie,
S’elle l’amoit d’amour seüre,
N’eüst trop plus chier l’aventure
De son mari et son courrous,
Et deüst estre entre’eaus .ij. rous
Li festus jusqu’a une piece,
Qu’oster de son ami tel piece,
Qu’a tous jours fu desfigurez,
Meins prisiés, et plus empirez.”

“Certes, Franchise, vous avez
Bien dit, que bien dire savez.
Mais je say sans nulle doubtance
Que c’est contre vo conscience,
Et que dit avez le contraire
De ce qui en vo cuer repaire.
Mais je vous requier, s’il vous plest,
Que nous abregons nostre plet,
Car trop alongons la matiere
Qui meüe a esté premiere.
Il est certein — et je l’afferme —
Qu’en cuer de femme n’a riens ferme,
Rien seür, rien d’estableté,
Fors toute variableté.
Et puis qu’elle est si variable
Qu’elle en rien n’est ferme n’estable
Et que de petit se varie,
Il faut que de po pleure et rie,
Dont grant joie et grant tourment
N’i puelent estre longuement,
Car sa nature li enseingne
Que tost rie et de po se pleingne;
Tost ottroie, tost escondit.
Elle a son dit et son desdit,
Et s’oublie enterinement
Ce que ne voit legierement.
Et puis qu’elle ne puet ravoir
Jamais son ami pour avoir,
Pour pleindre, ne crier, ne braire,
Ne pour chose qu’elle puist faire,
Et aussi que de sa nature
Oublie toute creature
Legierement quant ne la voit,
On puet bien penser, s’elle avoit
De ses amis damage ou perte,
Que briefment seroit si aperte
Que d’un perdu .ij. retrouvez
Li seroit encor reprouvez.
Mais cuers d’omme est ferme et seürs,
Sages, esprouvez, et meürs,
Vertueus et fors pour durer,
Et humbles pour mal endurer.
Et quant de l’amoureuse ardure
Est espris, tellement l’endure
Qu’einsois morroit dessous l’escu
Qu’on le veïst mat ne veincu.
Ce que je di n’est pas contrueve,
Car chascuns le dit et apprueve;
Et pour ce que chascuns le dit,
L’ai je recordé en mon dit.
Se di en ma conclusion
Que, vëu la condicion
D’omme et de feme, nullement
Feme ne puet avoir tourment,
Tant braie ne se desconforte,
Comme uns homs en son cuer le porte,
Qu’estre ne puet en sa nature.
Raison s’i acorde et droiture.
Et aussi li maus qui termine
Est mendres que cils qui ne fine
Einsois dure jusqu’a la mort,
Tant qu’il a son malade mort.”

Largesse, qui aprés seoit,
Parla, car moult bien li seoit,
Et dist: “Guillaume, vraiement,
Je sui mervilleuse comment
Vous osez des dames mesdire,
Car ce ne deüssiez pas dire.
Et de ce qu’avez dit, li blames
Est plus seur vous que seur les dames.
Vous avez dit en vostre dit —
Dont, certes, vous avez mal dit —
Que chascuns tient pour veritable
Que toute dame est variable,
Et que ce n’est de leur couvent
Nés que d’un cochelet au vent.
Mais toute ceste compaingnie
Tient le contraire et le vous nie.
Et pour ce bien dire pouez
Que vous n’estes pas avouez;
Si devez paier la lamproie.
De ce plus dire ne saroie,
Qu’on ne puet bon argüement
Faire seur mauvais fondement.”

“Et je ne m’en porroie taire,”
Ce dist Doubtance de meffaire,
“Eins en diray ce qu’il m’en samble,
Car tous li cuers me frit et tramble
Quant einsi sans cause blamer
Oy les dames et diffamer.
Or entendez a ma demande:
Biau Guillaume, je vous demande,
Se celle change ne varie
Qui est tous les jours de sa vie
Loial amie, sans fausser,
N’en fait, n’en desir, n’en penser?”

“Certes, damoiselle, nennil!
Mais je croy qu’entre .v.c mil
N’en seroit pas une trouvee;
Car tel greinne est trop cler semee.”

“Mon biau sire, se Diex me gart,
Moult avez estrange regart,
Et s’avez diverse parole!
Et s’avez esté a l’escole,
Si com je croy, d’aler en change;
Et pour ce que li cuers vous change,
Vous cuidiez que chascuns le face
Si com vous; mais ja Dieu ne place!
Car je prouverai le contraire
De fait, cui qu’il doie desplaire.”

“Damoiselle, ne vous desplaise,
Se je vous resgarde a mon aaise,
Car pas ne vous hé si forment
Com je vous regart laidement;
Et se ma parole est diverse,
Bons cherretons est qui ne verse.
Mais je cuide verité dire,
Comment que m’en vueilliez desdire;
Si me sui ci mal embatus
Se pour voir dire sui batus.”

Adont se leva Souffissance
Et dist: “Guillaume, sans doubtance,
Vous estes or mal emparlez.
Resgardez coment vous parlez;
Car nuls homs qui vueille voir dire
Ne porroit des dames mesdire,
Qu’en elles est, ce scet on bien,
Tout quanqu’on puet dire de bien.
Si que je vous lo et conseil
Que plus ne parlez sans conseil;
Car vous estes trop juenes homs
Pour dire si faites raisons.”

Lors entroÿ une murmure,
Que chascune d’elles murmure
De ce que si fort soustenoie
Ce que des dames dit avoie;
Et vi que chascune faisoit
Samblant, qu’il li en desplaisoit.
Et quant j’aperçu la maniere
De leur parler et de leur chiere,
Et que meües furent toutes
Pour bouter le feu es estoupes,
Au juge fis une requeste
Qui me sambloit assez honneste,
Et humblement li depriay
Et requis en mon depri ay
Qu’elles parlassent tout a fait,
Si averoient plus tost fait.
Si firent elles, ce me samble;
Qu’elles parloient tout ensamble;
Dont li juges prist a sousrire
Qui vit que chascune s’aïre.
Et certes, j’en eus moult grant joie,
Quant en tel estat les veoie.
Mais li juges, qui sagement
Voloit faire son jugement,
Tantost leur imposa silence,
Fors seulement a Souffissance
Et a Doubtance de meffaire.
Et lors prist Doubtance a retraire
.I. conte propre a sa matiere,
Et commensa par tel maniere.

“Que fist Tysbé pour Piramus?
Quant elle vit que mors et nus
Estoit pour li, sans nul retour,
A doloir s’en prist par tel tour,
Que d’une espee s’acoura
Seur le corps et la demoura;
Car aprés li ne volt pas vivre,
Eins fina s’amour et son vivre
En pleins, en plours, et en clamours.
Certes, ce fu parfaite amours;
Car il n’est dolour ne remort
Qu’on puist comparer a la mort.
Ne nuls ne me feroit entendre
Q’nuls homs vosist son cuer fendre
Si crueusement, n’entamer,
Comme Tysbé fist pour amer.
Et qui diroit uns homs est fors
Pour souffrir d’amours les effors,
Et s’a cuer plus dur qu’aÿmant
Ou que ne soit .i. dÿamant,
Je ne donroie de sa force
Le quart d’une pourrie escorce,
Ne je ne pris riens sa durté,
Sa vertu, ne sa mëurté,
Ne chose qu’il endure aussi.
Mais quant une dame a soussi
Qu’en son cuer secretement cuevre,
Par tel guise le met a ouevre
Qu’elle y met le corps et la vie.
Mais, Guillaume, je ne croy mie
Que on veïst onques morir
Homme par deffaut de merir
Et qui tost ne fust confortez,
Tant fust ses cuers desconfortez;
N’il n’est doleur qui se compere
A mort, com grieve qu’elle appere,
Ne que li feus, fais en peinture,
Encontre le feu de nature.
Car Nature ne puet pas faire,
Tant soit a corps humein contraire;
Ne cuers ne puet riens endurer
Qu’on peüst a mort comparer.”

“Doubtance, laissiez le plaidier,
Car .i. petit vous vueil aidier,
Pour mettre nostre entention
A plus vraie conclusion,
Comment qu’aiez si bien conclus
Selonc raison, qu’on ne puet plus.
Adont commensa Souffissance
Et dist ainsi en audiance:

“Leandus, li biaus et li cointes,
D’une pucelle estoit acointes
Qui bele Hero fu nommee;
N’avoit en toute la contree
Nulle si cointe damoiselle,
De trop si gente, ne si belle;
N’en Abidois n’avoit, n’en Crete
Nulle amour qui fust si secrete,
Car nuls ne savoit leur couvine,
Fors seulement une meschine
Qui belle Hero norrie avoit;
Celle seulement le savoit.
De moult parfaite amour s’amoient;
Mais a grant peinne se veoient,
Qu’entre Hero et Leandus
Fu un bras de mer espandus
Qui estoit larges et parfons,
Si qu’on n’i preïst jamais fons;
Et ce leur faisoit trop d’anuis.
Mais Leandus toutes les nuis
Passoit le bras de mer au large,
Tous nus, seuls, sans nef et sans barge.
Belle Hero au gent atour
Ot en sa maison une tour
Ou toutes les nuis l’atendoit,
Et .i. sierge ardant la tendoit,
Auquel Leandus se ravoie
Souvent quant la mer le desvoie.
Or avint que la mer tourbla
Pour le fort vent qui y souffla
Si qu’elle en devint toute tourble
Pour le vent qui l’esmuet et trouble.
Leandus se tient a la rive,
Qui fort contre son cuer estrive;
Qu’Amours li enjoint et commande
Et ses cuers, qu’a passer entende,
Et la plus belle de ce mont
Voit d’autre part qui l’en semont;
Si que li las ne sot que faire,
N’il ne voit goute en son affaire.
Car il voit la mer si orrible
Que de passer est impossible.
Et de sa tempeste et son bruit
Toute la region en bruit.
Mais finalment tant l’assailly
Amours, que en la mer sailli,
Dont briefment le couvint noier,
Car a li ne pot forsoier.
Et certes, ce fu grans damages,
Car moult estoit vaillans et sages.

Bele Hero ne scet que dire;
Tant a de meschief, tant a d’ire,
Qu’en nulle riens ne se conforte.
Elle vorroit bien estre morte
Quant son dous amy tant demeure.
Dou cuer souspire, des yex pleure;
La nuit ot plus de mil pensees,
Par .v.c mille fois doublees.
Elle ne fait que reclamer
Nepturnus, le dieu de la mer,
Et li promet veaus et genices,
Oblations et sacrefices
Mais que la mer face cesser
Par quoy Leandus puist passer.
Einsi toute nuit se maintint
Et l’ardant sierge en sa main tint
Jusqu’a tant qu’il fu adjourné.
Mais mar vit pour li ce jour né,
Qu’entre les flos vit Leandont,
Qui floteloit a abandon.
Et quant de pres le pot veoir,
Seur le corps se laissa cheoir
Au piet de sa tour droitement;
Si l’embrassoit estroitement,
Forcenee et criant: ‘Haro!’
Einsi fina belle Hero,
Qui de dueil fu noïe en mer
Avec son ami pour amer.
Si qu’il n’est doleurs ne meschiés
Dont cuers d’amant soit entechiez
Qui soit de si triste marrien
Com celle qui n’espargna rien,
Que Hero ne meïst a mort
Pour son amy qu’elle vit mort,
Ne nuls n’en porroit par raison
Faire juste comparison,
Ne que de fiel encontre baume.
Et pour ce je vous lo, Guillaume,
Que cils debas soit en deport,
Car vraiement, vous avez tort.”

“Damoiselle, se tort avoie,
Bien say que condempnez seroie
Nom pas par vous; car l’ordenance
Ne doit pas de ceste sentence
Estre couchié en vostre bouche,
Pour ce que la chose vous touche.
Eins la doit pronuncier le juge,
Qui a point et loyaument juge.
Mais j’ay le cuer moult esjoÿ
De ce que j’ay de vous oÿ;
Car c’est tout pour moy, vraiement.”

“Pour vous, biau Guillaume? Et comment?”

“Damoiselle, or vueilliez entendre,
Et je le dirai sans attendre;

Quant Amours si fort enlassoit
Leandus, que la mer passoit
A no, sans batel n’aviron,
A la minuit ou environ,
Li fols qui tant y trespassa
Que d’amer en mer trespassa,
Il fist trop plus et plus souffri
Que Hero, qui a mort s’offri,
Considerés les grans peris
Ou il fu en la fin peris,
Que ne fist Hero pour s’amour,
Non contrestant mort ne clamour.
Car cils qui fait premierement
Honneur, on dit communement
Qu’il a la grace dou bien fait,
Nom pas cils a qui on le fait.
Et plus va a Amour tirant
Cils qui preste que cils qui rant.
Einsi est il de tous services,
Et aussi de tous malefices:
Car qui d’autrui grever se peinne,
Certes, il doit porter la peinne.
Si que, ma chiere damoiselle,
Qui moult amez honneur la belle,
Vous devez bien, a dire voir,
De ce cop ci honneur avoir.
Car bien et bel et sagement
L’avez dit; et certeinnement,
Diex pour moy dire le vous fit,
Car j’en averai le profit.

Si que, gentils dame de pris,
Je croy que bien avez compris
L’entention des .ij. parties.
Et se celles qui ci parties
Sont contre moy vuelent plus dire,
Ce ne vueil je pas contredire,
Mais j’en ay dit ce qu’il m’en samble,
Present elles toutes ensamble,
Et tant, que je ne doubte mie
Que n’aie droit de ma partie.”

Adont la dame souvereinne,
Des .xij. droite cheveteinne
Qui avoient parlé pour li,
Dont au juge moult abelly,
Prist a dire tout en oiant;
“De riens ne me va anoiant
Ce qui est fait de nostre plait,
Mais moult souffissanment me plait,
Et bien m’en vueil passer atant.
Sires juges, jugiez atant
Que sentence sera rendue.
Je suis de moult bonne attendue
Pour attendre vostre jugier
Quant il vous en plaira jugier.
Bon conseil avez et seür,
Bien attempré et bien meür.
S’alez, s’il vous plaist, a conseil,
Je le lo einsi et conseil.
Et vous conseilliez tout a trait.
Faire ne pouez plus biau trait
Que de traitablement attraire
Bon conseil et puis de retraire
Les articles dou jugement,
Selonc le nostre entendement,
En gardant toudis nostre honneur.
Faire le devez, mon signeur.
Et vous estes bien si vaillans
Que point n’en serez defaillans.”

Li juges, qui bien l’escouta
Ses paroles, si bien nota
Qu’a entendre pas ne failly.
Tantost son conseil acueilly,
Et puis de la se departirent.
Or ne sceus je pas qu’il deïrent
En leur secret quant ad present,
Mais assez tost m’en fist present.
Uns amans qui tant bien m’ama
Que de tous poins m’en enfourma,
Non pas par favourableté,
Mais de sa debonnaireté,
Afin que point ne variasse
Et que de riens ne m’esmaiasse,
Par quoy je preïsse maniere
Uniement toudis entiere;
Qu’autel samblant devoie faire
Dou droit pour moy com dou contraire.
Or me fonday seur ce propos;
S’en fu mes cuers plus a repos.

Quant a conseil se furent mis,
Li juges dist: “Je suis commis
A estre bons juges fiables,
Aus .ij. parties amiables
Justement a point sans cliner.
Si doy moult bien examiner
Trestout le fait par ordenence
Qui appert en notre audience
Afin que loiaument en juge.
Einsi doivent faire bon juge.
Et vous vous devez travillier
De moy loyaument consillier.
S’en die chascuns son plaisir,
Tandis com nous avons loisir.”
Dont Avis dist tantost aprés,
Qui fu de Congnoissance pres:

“Avis sui qui doy bien viser
Comment je vous puisse aviser,
Car on puet faire trop envis
Bon jugement sans bon avis.

Je vous avis que bien faciés
Et que le contraire effaciés.
S’il vient par devant vostre face,
Afin que point ne se parface,
En avisant seur .iiij. choses
Qui ne sont mie si encloses
Qu’on ne les puist assez veoir,
Qui un po s’en vuet pourveoir.
Ce jugement avez a rendre,
Premierement devez entendre
De savoir quels est li meffais
Et a qui il a esté fais.
Et si devez aussi savoir
Et enquerir, par grant savoir,
Quant vous saverez le forfait
Et a cui cils l’avera fait,
Que vous sachiez dou tout l’affaire,
Quel cause l’esmuet ad ce faire.
Or avez de .iiij. les trois.
Et li quars est li plus estrois
Au quel on doit bien regarder
Comment on le puist bien garder:
C’est que vous metés vostre cure
A sieuir les poins de nature
Ou coustume attraite de droit.
Se jugerez en bon endroit.
Plus n’en di. Qui vuet, si en die.
J’en ay assez dit ma partie.”

Congnoissance, qui avisa
Les poins qu’Avis bien devisa,
Dist en haut: “Avis, mes amis,
Ha orendroit en termes mis
Aucuns poins qu’il a devisé,
Les quels j’ay moult bien avisé,
Pour quoy dont je sui Congnoissance,
Qui donne a bon Avis substance
Pour deviser ce qu’il devise,
De quoy la bonne gent avise.
Je fais le scens d’Avis congnoistre,
Et il fait Congnoissance croistre
Par le courtois avis qu’il donne
De son droit a mainte personne.
Juges se vous apointerez
Comment seürement tenrez
D’Avis les poins et les usages.
Faites le, si ferez que sages.
Et de moy qui sui sa compaingne
Entendez que je vous enseingne.
On a ci ce plait demené
Tant qu’on l’a par poins amené
Jusques au jugement oïr.
Resgardez qui en doit joïr.
Jugiez selonc le plaidïé
Qu’on a devant vous plaidïé.
Par ce point ne poez mesprendre;
Car s’on vous en voloit reprendre,
Li plaïdiers aprenderoit
Le scens qui vous deffenderoit.
Jugiez einsi hardiement
Et le faites congnoissanment
Au condempné bien amender.
Vous le pouez bien commander.
Je, Congnoissance, m’i acort.
Et s’en preng aussi le recort
De Mesure, qui la se siet
Lez Raison, et moult bien li siet,
Et Raison aussi en dira
Ce qui bon li en semblera.”

Adont s’est Mesure levee,
En disant: “Ma tresbien amee
Congnoissance, dire ne vueil
Riens qui soit contre vostre vueil,
Eins sui moult tres bien acordans
Ad ce qu’estes ci recordans.
S’en parleray a vostre honneur
Au juge, ce noble seigneur
Qui est courtois et amiables,
Sages, vaillans, et honnourables.”
Lors tourna devers li sa chiere
De si amoureuse maniere,
Qu’il ne s’en pot tenir de rire.
Et Mesure li prist a dire:
“Biau sire, bien eüreus fustes
Dou conseil que vous esleüstes.
Vous avez tout premierement
A Avis si bel commencement,
Qu’on faurroit bien en court roial
D’avoir conseil aussi loial.
Je ne di pas qu’aucune gent
Ne moustrassent bien aussi gent
Conseil et aussi bien baillié,
Et d’aussi bel parler taillié.
Mais veons la condition
D’Avis selonc s’entention:
Il donne conseil franc et quitte
Et n’en attent autre merite
Fors ce que li juges tant face
Qu’il en ait pais, honneur, et grace.
Et Congnoissance, sa compaingne,
A tel salaire s’acompaingne,
Sans demander nulle autre chose;
Dont loiaus juges se repose
Qui de tels gens est consilliez.
Sire, s’en devez estre liez.
Comment qu’il aient dit a point,
Se passerai je oultre d’un point
Qu’Avis avoit bien avisé —
Et se ne l’a pas devisé —
Et Congnoissance congnëu.
Mais il s’en sont en cas dëu
Pour moy porter honneur, souffert;
Dont de moy vous sera offert,
Pour ce que j’ay bien entendu
Qu’il s’en sont a moy attendu.
Mais einsois averai ditte
D’un petit de ma qualité.

Je suis Mesure mesuree,
En tous bons fais amesuree,
Et aussi sui je mesurans,
Ferme, seüre, et bien durans
A ceuls qui vuelent sans ruser
Justement de mesure user;
Et qui non, aveingne qu’aveingne.
De son damage li souveingne.
Dont uns maistres de grant science
Et de tres bonne conscience
A un sien deciple enseingne
Et li moustre de moy l’enseingne,
Disant; ‘Amis, je te chastoy;
Se tu ne mes Mesure en toy,
Elle s’i mettra maugré tien.
Ceste parole bien retien:
S’elle s’i met, tu es peris;
Se tu l’i mes, tu es garis.’
Or vueil passer les poins tout outre
Qu’Avis et Congnoissance moustre.
Il ont servi courtoisement
De leur bon conseil largement,
Si comme on sert a un mengier,
Sans rien d’especïal jugier.
Et de ce qu’il ont bien servi,
Dont il ont grace desservi,
J’en vorray l’escot assener,
Et a chascun son droit donner.
Guillaumes, qui en ses affaires
Soloit estre si debonnaires,
Si honnestes et si courtois,
Enclins aus amoureus chastois,
A attenté contre Franchise,
Et tout de sa premiere assise,
Quant ma dame a point l’aprocha
Dou fait qu’elle li reprocha,
Et il s’en senti aprochiez
A juste cause et reprochiez.
Il ala avant par rigueur,
Et se mist tout sa vigueur
Pour lui deffendre encontre li.
Cils poins fort me desabeli,
Pour ce qu’il se desmesura:
Par ces raisons de Mesure ha
Les regles et les poins perdus,
Dont il sera moult esperdus
Quant a moy le retourneray;
Car d’onneur le destourneray
Quant Congnoissance li dira
Le meffait que fait avera.
Il deüst avoir mesuré
L’estat dou gent corps honnouré
De celle dame souvereinne;
Qu’en tout le crestien demainne
N’a homme, s’il la congnoissoit,
— C’est bon a croire qu’einsi soit —
Qui hautement ne l’onnourast
Et qui de li ne mesurast
Humble et courtoise petitesse
Au resgart de sa grant noblesse.
Dont Guillaumes est deceüs
Quant il ne s’en est perceüs.
Car trop hautement commensa,
Dont petitement s’avansa.
Pour bien sa cause soustenir;
Eins est assez pour li punir.
Or veons au fait proprement
Dés le premier commencement,
Pour bien deviser les parties,
Comment elles sont departies,
A savoir la quele se tort.
Je di que Guillaumes a tort,
Car de tous les crueus meschiés
La mort en est li propres chiés;
A dire est que tous meschiés passe,
Et pour ce que nuls n’en respasse.
Car on se puet trop miex passer
De ce dont on puet respasser.
Plus de vueil de ce fait espondre,
Car j’ay assez, pour lui confondre,
D’autres choses trop plus greveinnes,
Simples, foles, vuides, et veinnes.

Sires juges, or m’entendez;
Pour la fin a quoy vous tendez,
De rendre loial jugement,
Je vueil un po viser comment
On a alligué de ce plait.
Et vous meïsmes, s’il vous plait,
.I. petit y resgarderez
Si que miex vous en garderez
De jugier autrement qu’a point.
Car vous congnoisterez le point
De quoy justice est a point pointe
Quant juges sus bon droit s’apointe.
Je vueil que vous soiez certeins
Que Guillaumes doit estre attains
De son plait en celle partie
Ou sa cause est mal plaidoïe,
Non obstant ce qu’en tous endrois
Par tout est contre lui li drois;
Dont ma dame a tout sormonté,
Tant dou plait com de la bonté
De sa querelle, qui est toute
Mise en clarté et hors de doubte.
Ma dame, par ses damoiselles,
A alligué raisons tres beles
Et toutes choses veritables,
Fermes, seüres, et estables,
Toutes traites de l’escripture
Et ramenees a droiture.
Mais qui tout vorroit deviser,
Trop y averoit a viser.
Et, d’autre part, chose est certeinne:
Que la court en est assez pleinne
De tout ce qu’on a volu dire
De par ma dame sans mesdire;
Si que de ma dame me tais.
Et de Guillaume, qui entais
A esté d’alliguer s’entente,
Parleray — car il me talente —,
De son plaidïé seulement.
Et se m’en passerai briefment,
Foy que devez tous vos amis.
Veons qu’il a en terme mis:
Dou clerc qui hors dou sens devint,
A il prouvé dont ce li vint,
Que ce li venist de sa dame?
Sires juges, foy que doi m’ame,
Il n’en a nulle riens prouvé;
Se li doit estre reprouvé.
Et dou chevalier qui par ire
Pour ce qu’il ne se volt desdire
Copa son doi a tout l’anel,
Il fist en s’onneur .i. crenel
De honte pleinne de sotie
Avec tres grant forcenerie
Quant a sa dame l’envoia.
Car bien croy qu’il li enuya;
Au mains li dut il ennuier
D’un si fait present envoier.
Car quant dame son amy aimme,
Dou droit d’Amours pour sien le claimme
Et puet clamer, ce m’est avis.
Or resgardons sus ce devis
Comment li chevaliers meffist:
Ce qu’elle amoit, il le deffist,
Q’estoit sien dou droit d’Amour;
Dont je fais ci une clamour
Contre Guillaume de ce fait,
Que avis m’est qu’il n’a riens fait,
Car cils poins qu’il a mis en prueve
Sa cause punist et reprueve.
Et aussi de la Chastelainne
De Vergi, a petite peinne
Assez reprouver le porray
Par les raisons que je diray:
Li fais que Guillaumes soustient,
Sire, vous savez qu’il contient
Qu’amans, garnis de loiauté,
Truist en sa dame fausseté.
Et sus ceste devision
Il fait une allegation,
Pour prouver par .i. fait contraire.
La chasteleinne debonnaire
N’avoit son ami riens meffait.
Mais il meïsmes fist le fait
Pour quoy elle se mist a mort.
Quant il le sceut, il se remort
Et se mist en la congnoissance
Qu’il y apartenoit vengence;
Dont il meïsmes se juga,
Punist dou tout et corriga,
Dont Guillaumes a par son dit
Pour son profit meins que nient dit.
Plus n’en di; mais Raisons dira
Ci aprés ce qu’il li plaira.”

A ces mos s’est Raison drecié
Comme sage et bien adrecié,

Disant: “Raions en consistoire.
La porrons par parole voire,
Ce m’est vis, bon jugement rendre,
S’il est qui bien le sache entendre.”
Atant de la se departirent.
Es propres lieus se rasseïrent
Ou il avoient devant sis.
Lors dist Raisons par mos rassis:
“Sire juges, certeinnement
Chose n’a sous le firmament
Qui ne tende a conclusion:
Les unes a perfection
Pour pluseurs cas de leur droit tendent;
Et si a autres qui descendent
De haut ou elles ont esté
En declinant d’un temps d’esté
En l’iver qu’on dit anientir.
Dont cils plais desire a sentir
De droit conclusion hastive
Par sentence diffinitive,
Pour ce qui est bien pris parfaire
Et ce qui est mal pris deffaire.
Et il est temps, bien le savez,
Que desormais dire en devez,
Ou ordener qu’on en dira.”

“Raison, dame, ne m’avenra
Que j’en die, quant ad present.
Mais je reçoy bien le present
D’ordener. Et de m’ordenance,
Mais qu’il soit a notre plaisance,
Dites en et tant en faciez
Que le tort dou tout effaciez
Et metez le droit en couleur
De toute honnourable honneur,
Qui savez en tels couleurs teindre
Ou nuls fors vous ne puet ateindre.”

Lors Raisons .i. po s’arresta
Et puis sus destre s’acota,
En regardant devers senestre,
Pour miex aviser de mon estre.

Se me dist: “Guillaume, biaus sire,
Vous avez piessa oÿ dire
Que c’est folie d’entreprendre
Plus que pooirs ne puet estendre.
Et toute voie, s’on emprent
Aucun fait de quoy on mesprent,
S’on s’en repent au moien point,
Encor y vient il bien a point.
Mais qui son forfait continue
Et dou parfaire s’esvertue
Jusqu’a tant qu’il vient au darrain,
Et a ce point ne trueve rien
Fors que son dueil et son damage,
Se lors recongnoist son outrage,
ll vient trop tart au repentir.
Guillaume, sachiez sans mentir,
Qu’ensement avez vous ouvré.
S’en avez un dueil recouvré
Q’vous venra procheinnement,
Et se vous durra longuement,
Voire, se ne vous repentez.
Mais je croy que vous estes, telz
Que vous ne le deingneries faire.
Car trop fustes de rude affaire,
Quant la dame vous aprocha
D’un fait qu’elle vous reprocha
Que fait aviés en temps passé.
Se vous heüssiez compassé
En vous aucune congnoissance
Qui fust signes de repentence
De ce que vous aviez mespris
Contre les dames de haut pris,
Vous heüssiez fait moult que sages.
Car d’Amours est tels li usages
Que s’aucuns des dames mesdit,
S’il ne s’en refreint et desdit,
Amender le doit hautement
Ou comparer moult chierement.
Or de ce meffait premerein
Vous di de par le souverain
Amours, q’est maistres et sires,
Des plaies amoureuses mires:
Jugemens en est ordenez
Dou quel vous estez condempnez.
Si qu’amender le vous couvient;
Hastivement li termes vient.
Encor vous puis je commander
Si qu’il vous couvient amender
Un autre fait qui me desplait,
De ce q’vous prenistes plait
Contre dame de tel vaillance
Et de si tres noble puissance,
Que je ne say haute personne,
Tant com li siecles environne,
Prince ne duc, conte ne roy,
Qui osast faire tel desroy,
Guillaume, comme vous feïstes
Dou plait qu’a li entrepreïstes.
Et meïstes force et vigueur
En aler avant par rigueur;
Einsi l’avez continué;
S’avez vostre sens desnué
De courtoisie et d’ordenance.
Se ce ne fust la pacïence
Qui est en li, vous perdissiez
Tant qu’a meschief le portissiez.”

Quant j’oÿ ce, je fui dolens;
Mais je ne fui feintis ne lens
De li demander humblement
Qu’elle me devisast briefment
De la dame la verité
D’un petit de sa poësté.

Lors dist: “Guillaume, volentiers.
Mais je n’en dirai hui le tiers,
Non mie, par Dieu, le centisme.
Car dés le ciel jusques en bisme
Ses puissances par tout s’espandent,
Et de ses puissances descendent
Circonstances trop mervilleuses,
Et sont a dire perilleuses,
Qui s’apruevent par leur contraire.
Par ces raisons s’en couvient taire
Pour les entendemens divers
Qui sont aucune fois pervers.
La dame a nom Bonneürté,
Qui tient en sa main Seürté
En la partie de Fortune.
Car il n’est personne nesune
Cui Fortune peüst abatre,
Se la dame le vuet debatre.
Et quant elle vuet en Nature
Ouvrer par especial cure,
La la voit on sans nul moien
Voire li astronomien
Qui congnoissent les nations
Parmi les constellations,
C’est assavoir és enfans nestre
De quel couvine il doivent estre.
Dont, quant la chiere dame regne
Et uns enfés naïst en son regne,
Se Bonneürtez l’entreprent,
Nature point ne l’en reprent,
Eins l’en laist moult bien couvenir,
Comment qu’il en doie avenir.
Voirs est que Nature norrit
Par quoy li enfés vit et rit.
Et Bonneürtez le demeinne
Tout parmi l’eüreus demainne,
Tant qu’il est temps qu’en lui appere
Que de Bonneürté se pere.

Or sont celle gent si parent,
Dont elle est en euls apparent
Parmi le bien qu’il en reçoivent,
Afin que ne lui n’en deçoivent.
Or vous vueil je dire en appert
En quels manieres elle appert,
En aucunes, non pas en toutes;
Et si ne faites nulles doubtes
Des paroles que j’en diray,
Car de riens ne vous mentiray.
Elle appert en prosperité
Et en issir de povreté;
Elle appert en acquerre amis
Et en punir ses anemis
Par victoire, sans nul tort faire.
Elle appert en tout bon affaire,
Et quant elle appert en amours,
C’est quant amans, par reclamours,
Par servir ou par ses prieres
Et en toutes bonnes manieres,
Puet en pais de dame joïr
Dou droit especial joïr,
Qu’Amours donne de sa franchise.
La est Bonneürtés assise
Entre ami et loial amie
Qui ne vuelent que courtoisie
Et ont par certeinne affiance
Li uns a l’autre grant fiance.
La les tient elle en moult grant point.
Elle est a tous biens mettre a point.
S’en est moult plus gaie et plus cointe.
Elle est de tous les biens acointe.
Elle appert en mains esbanois,
Tant en joustes comme en tournois,
Pour chevalerie essaucier
Et les fais des bons avancier
A la congnoissance des dames.
La croist honneur; la chiet diffames.
Car tels a esté diffamez
Qui puis est chieris et amez
De ceuls qui ains le diffamoient,
Pour ce qu’apertement veoient
Qu’il met son corps en aventure;
Dont tels fois est qu’il aventure
Dou fait d’armes qu’il a empris,
Tant qu’il vient au souverein pris.
Einsi Bonneürtez avance
Les siens de sa haute puissance.

Se Bonneürtez par nature,
Par fortune ou selonc droiture,
Appert en la chevalerie,
Elle appert aussi en clergie.
La tient elle honneur en ses mains.
A l’un plus et a l’autre mains
En fait ses larges departies;
S’en donne les plus grans parties
A ceuls qui tiennent miex l’adresse
Ou Bonneürtés les adresse.
Aussi appert elle en science,
Et se s’enclot en conscience,
Pour garder ceuls aucune fois
En cui est pais et bonne fois,
Qui n’ont pas par voie autentique
Mis leur scens en fourme publique,
Eins sont sage secretement.
La se tient elle closement;
La li tiennent grant compaignie
Loiaus Secrez et Bonne Vie.
La se vuet elle reposer
Et les cuers a point disposer
En la vie contemplative.
Or revient par la voie active
Pour esmouvoir ceuls de parler
Qui tiennent volentiers parler
Des biens de contemplation;
Dont maint, par bonne entention,
S’enlcinent si a sa doctrine
Que chascuns par soy se doctrine
D’estre diligens et hastis
De devenir contemplatis.
Que vous iroie je contant?
En Bonneürté a de biens tant
Que jamais n’aroie compté
Le centisme de sa bonté.
Dont au monde n’a grant signeur
Ne dame, tant aient d’onneur,
Qu’il ne leur fust et bel et gent,
S’estre pooient de sa gent.
Atant m’en tais; je n’en di plus,
Mais que venir vueil au seurplus
Des .ij. poins dont condampnés estes.
Et s’ay mes raisons toutes prestes
Dou tiers point que je vous diray,
Dou quel je vous condempneray.

Il est bien veritable chose
Que s’aucuns a .i. plait s’oppose
S’il se trait a production
Et il vient a probation,
Se s’entention bien ne prueve,
Verité de droit li reprueve
Qu’il en doit estre condempnez.
Cils drois est de si lonc temps nez
Qu’il n’est memoire dou contraire.
Or veons a quoy je vueil traire,
Et s’entendez bien a mon dit:
De quanque la dame vous dit
De son fait, vous vous opposastes
Et dou prouver vous avansastes.
Mais vous avez si mal prouvé
Qu’il vous doit estre reprouvé
A vostre condempnation,
Selonc la mienne entention.
Vous n’avez ci dit que paroles
Qui sont aussi comme frivoles.
Belles sont a conter en chambre,
Mais elles ne contiennent membre
Dont pourfis vous peüst venir
Pour vostre prueve soustenir.
Et si avons si bien gardé
Com nous poons, et regardé,
Pour querir loyal jugement.
S’il vous plaist a savoir comment,
On vous en dira les parties,
Comment elles sont departies.
Et de vostre erreur tous les poins.
Et se vous veez qu’il soit poins
Qu’on vous die vostre sentence,
Se nous dites que vos cuers pense.
Qu’il vous en plaist, on le fera
Si a point que bien souffira.”

“Dame, bien vous ay entendu,
Et s’ay bonne piece attendu
Que je fusse sentenciez.
Se vous pri que vous en soiez
Diligens de moy delivrer,
Quant a ma sentence livrer.
Dés que mes fais est si estrois
Que je doy des amendes trois
Et qu’autrement ne puet aler,
Je n’en quier plus faire parler.”

“Guillaume, soiez tous certeins
Que de droit y estes ateins;
Se n’en serons point negligens.
Or soiez aussi diligens,
Et puis maintenant vous levez
Pour faire ce que vous devez
Vers celui qui pour juge siet.
S’en fera ce que bon l’en siet.
Dés or mais a lui appartient,
Car tout le droit en sa main tient.”

A ce mot au juge en alay
Et d’un genouil m’agonouillay.
La li presentai je mon corps
Par si couvenable recors,
Comme je peüs et li sceüs dire;
Dont il prist un petit a rire.
Lors pris mes gans, si li tendi;
Dont il qui bien y entendi
Les prist, et puis si les laissa.
Aprés .i. po se rabaissa,
Si que secondement les prist,
Puis les laissa, puis les reprist,
En signe de moy moustrer voie
Que troie amendes li devoie.
Moult bien le me signefia,
Et pour verité m’affia
Qu’il les me couvenroit paier.
Lors me dist il, sans delaier,
Que je me ralasse seoir,
Car il se voloit pourveoir
Quel penitence il me donroit,
Et que brief m’en delivreroit.

Lors pres de la dame se trait,
Et Raison aussi, tout attrait,
A leur secret conseil se mist
Et de bas parler s’entremist.
Mais a leur parler bassement
Pris un petit d’aligement,
Pour ce que je bien percevoie
Que leurs consaus estoit de joie,
Car d’eures en autres rioient,
Et a ce droit point qu’il estoient
Au plus estroit de leur conseil,
Avis me dist: “Je vous conseil
Que ceste dame resgardez
Et songneusement entendez
Aus drois poins de sa qualité.
La verrez vous grant quantité
De sa grace et de son effort.
S’en averez le cuer plus fort
Pour endurer et pour souffrir
Ce que drois vous vorra offrir.”
Lors li dis je: “Biaus dous amis,
Mais vous m’en faites le devis
Qui congnoissez de moult de choses
Les apparans et les encloses.
Souvent en estes a l’essay,
C’est une chose que bien say.”

Adont dist Avis: “Ce vaut fait.
Or entendez bien tout a fait:
Quant aus parties deviser,
Se bien vous volez aviser,
Elle ot vestu une chemise
Qui est appellee Franchise
Pour secrés amans afranchir
Et de Sobreté enrichir
En la partie de Silence
Parmi l’acort de Congnoissance.
Car pour tant qu’elle n’est veüe
Sa cause doit estre teüe.
Et sa pelice, c’est Simplesse
Si souëf que point ne la blesse,
Car elle est de Beniveillance,
Orfroisié de Souffissance,
A pelles de Douce Plaisance
Qui bons cuers en tous biens avance.
Et li changes qu’elle a vestu
Par tres honnourable vertu
Fu fais de Loial Acointance
Et ridez de Continuance
A pointes de Perseverence
Egalment, sans desordenance.
Or est cils changes biaus et lés,
Et est de son droit appellés
Pour certainne condition
Honneste Conversation.
Et la sainture qu’elle ha sainte
N’est pas en amours chose fainte,
C’est propre loial Couvenance,
Cloee de ferme Fiance.
Quar qui couvenances affie,
Necessité est qu’on s’i fie.
Et li mordans, pour ce qu’il poise,
Sert d’abaissier tençon et noise,
Si que jusqu’a ses piez li bat.
Et si piet deffont maint debat
Entre amie et loial amy,
Quant aucuns amans dit: ‘Aimy!
De ma dame sui refusez;
Mais mes drois n’est pas abusez,
Car je croy bien qu’elle le fit
A s’onneur et a mon profit.’
Einsi si piet la gent demainne,
Cui elle tient en son demainne;
Car il sont chaucié d’Aligence,
Lacié a laz de Diligence.
Et s’a mis blans gans en ses mains,
Li quel sont fait ne plus ne mains
Entre Charité et Largesse,
Dont elle depart la richesse
D’Amours qu’on ne puet espuisier
Ne par nul jour apetisier.
Plus en prent on, plus en demeure
De jour en jour et d’eure en heure.

Dou mantel vous vueil aviser
Comme il est biaus a deviser,
Et mieudres que biaus qui s’en cuevre
Par dit, par maintieng, et par ouevre.
Lainne de bons Appensemens
Avecques courtois Parlemens,
Scienteuse Introduction,
Et amiable Entention
Furent ensamble compilees,
De Bonté proprement drapees;
Et de ses choses asamblant
Fu fais li dras de Bon Samblant,
Tains en une gaie couleur
De tres honnourable valeur
Qui est appellee Noblesse,
Et est fourrez de Gentillesse.
Or est Bonneürtez couverte
Dou mantel, et est chose aperte
Que par dessous tous biens enclot.
Mais veritablement esclot
Quanqu’il a sous sa couverture
Li apparans de sa figure,
Si comme en sa fisonomie
Li bien de toute courtoisie
Tres souffissanment y apperent,
Dont ses damoiselles se perent.
Et elle est aussi bien paree
D’elles, sans estre separee
D’elles et de leur bon arroy.
Car elles souffissent pour roy
Et pour souvereinne roÿne.
Pour ces raisons vous determine
Que Bonneürtez dou tout passe
Toutes roÿnes et trespasse.
Se je voloie sa coronne
Deviser, qui est belle et bonne,
Trop longuement vous en tenroie;
Car je voy bien la droite voie
Que leur consaus va a declin.
Atant pais de ce vous declin.”

Quant leur consaus fu affinez,
Li juges s’est vers moy tournés,

En disant: “Guillaume, par m’ame,
Ytant vous di de par ma dame
Et de par Raison ensement,
Et je sui en l’acordement,
Que de .iij. amendes devez
Devisees, et eslevez,
Lesqueles vous devez sans faille
Par jugement, comment qu’il aille.
Il vous couvient, chose est certeinne,
Faire .i. lay pour la premereinne
Amiablement, sans tenson;
Pour la seconde une chanson
De .iij. vers et a un refrein
— Oëz, comment je le refrein —
Qui par le refrein se commence,
Si comme on doit chanter a dance;
Et pour la tierce, une balade.
Or n’en faites pas le malade,
Eins respondez haitiement
Aprés nostre commandement
De tous poins vostre entention.
Je fais ci ma conclusion.”

Et pour ce que trop fort mespris,
Quant a dame de si haut pris
M’osay nullement aastir
De plait encontre li bastir,
Je, Guillaumes dessus nommez,
Qui de Machau sui seurnommez,
Pour miex congnoistre mon meffait,
Ay ce livret rimé et fait.
S’en feray ma dame present,
Et mon service li present,
Li priant que tout me pardoint.
Et Diex pais et honneur li doint
Et de paradis la grant joie
Tele que pour moy la voudroie.
Mais pour ce que je ne vueil mie
Que m’amende ne soit paié.
Pour la paier vueil sans delay
Commencier .i. amoureus lay.

Explicit le Jugement le Roy de Navarre
contre le Jugement dou Roy de Behaingne.

The Judgement of the King of Navarre

At the passing of a beautiful summer
That had been pleasant and joyful,
Ornamented with flowers and leaves,
Adorned with shrubbery,
Drenched by sweet dew,
Dried by the seasonable heat
That the sun provided it,
A summer when the birds
Held their assemblies with song and hockets
Through meadows, arbors, and glades
In the season’s service and honor
So all should linger
Despite the weather that, by its nature,
Changes summer’s warmth into cold
A little after autumn comes,
When everyone who has vines to pick
Does his harvest and puts it into casks,
When, with little trouble, there is to be had
Drink made from peaches, must, pears, and grapes,
Which is shared with neighbors,
When the wheat sprouts in the ground
And the leaf falls from the oak
Because of nature or a gusting wind,
In the year thirteen hundred forty-nine,
On the ninth day of November,
I was walking about my room.
And had the air been clear and pure,
I’d have been elsewhere; but it was
So dark that the mountains and plains
Were full of haze.
And so I sheltered indoors.
For all that ordinarily was all green
Had been changed into another hue
Because the north wind had robbed everything of color,
Cutting down many a flower
With the coldness of its sword.

So there I suffered sadness
All alone in my room and thought
How the world in every way
Was ruled by barstool wisdom:
How justice and truth
Have been murdered by the iniquity
Of Greed, which in many realms
Rules as sovereign lady,
As mistress, as queen
(For Greed spawns hatred,
While Generosity gives, bestows glory;
Truly that’s an irrefutable notion,
Which one can prove and clearly see
Through just and accurate experience);
How no one does his duty;
How everyone seeks to deceive
His neighbor, for I see no father
Or son, no daughter, sister, or brother,
No mother, stepmother, or cousin,
No aunt, uncle, or neighbor, man or woman,
No husband, wife, lover, or beloved
Such that one does not deceive the other,
And if anyone refrains from this,
Every man regards him suspiciously
And says he’s a hypocrite,
Were he even St. John the Hermit;
How the lords pillage their subjects,
Rob, despoil, and mistreat them,
Put them all to death
Without pity or compassion
So that great misfortune, I think,
Comes from joining vice and power.
And one indeed often sees just this,
And nothing makes a heart so criminal
As great power when used for evil.
Now I witness everyone abusing it
Because I see no powerful man
Without ten, now twenty, now a hundred
Towers, troops, catapults, or arbalests
To despoil brave men and cowards.
For avarice captures them
So no one escapes their grasp
Unless he’s one of those with nothing to lose.
They have no desire to rob men like these,
For the man with nothing does not interest them.
Such men are never troubled,
But the greedy have a failing, which is that
The more they have, the more they want,
And the more powerfully rich they are,
They are that much more greedy and miserly,
For the burning avarice feeding on them
Grows younger the longer they live.
And from this comes the tempest
That destroys the world and rages on,
The strange events and misfortune
That today are so commonplace
No one hears news from anywhere
That might be agreeable or pleasant;
For there’s a greater difference
Between the conditions I witnessed in my youth
And those that now are so unpleasant
Than there is between winter and summer.
But what grieves me more
To endure, and troubles me more too,
Is that God is accorded little reverence
And that there is no order to anything;
And today everyone ruins himself
With what is called vituperation.
Therefore, more than I dare say,
Melancholy had taken hold of me,
But whoever knew the half of it
Would think much less of me.

And because melancholy
Extinguishes every happy thought,
And also because I saw well
I could do nothing about this,
And because if anyone had discovered
My state of mind he’d only have mocked it,
I abandoned my sad meditations
And tried to concern myself with other matters,
Thinking that he pleases God
Who makes the best of things.
And then another thought occurred
To me because it is proven folly
For any man to be saddened
By something he cannot better;
And I determined that if the weather
Were even ten times worse,
Even a hundred times, or truly a hundred thousand,
There would be no counsel wiser
Than to let all this be
Since it cannot be changed,
And instead to act like the wise man
Who says and demonstrates in his writing
That, when he has considered everything,
Imagined everything, seen all there is,
Tested, examined, observed
The world, it is all vanity,
And there is no other course
But to be happy and do good.
And just as I was at the point of
Abandoning the reverie I was in,
A thought occurred to me
Even more bizarre and frightening,
More troubling by half
And much more filled with sadness.

This was of those horrible, uncanny events
Unlike the others
That anyone might remember,
Since in reading history I have not
Discovered any so unusual,
So hard to bear, or so threatening
By a fourth or even a tenth part
As these of my own time have been.
For it has been a rather common occurrence
That the sun and the moon, the stars,
The sky and earth have been seen
Displaying the signs of war,
Misery, and pestilence,
Offering tokens and manifestations,
For everyone could see with his own eyes
Eclipses of the moon and sun
Much fuller and darker
Than others had been for many years past,
And as a sign of misfortune these two bodies lost
For a long time their color and light.
Furthermore, there was a star with tresses
That seemed to be fire with a tail,
And it prognosticated
Murder and conflagration.
The heavens, which saw from their heights
The evil fortune to come
Into the world, wept in many places
And cried tears of blood from pity,
And because of the strange rain issuing from them,
The earth trembled with fear
(So said several who saw this),
Because of which villages and cities were destroyed
In Germany and Carinthia,
Somewhat more than forty altogether,
Although I cannot tell their exact number.
But the event is well known in Rome
Because an abbey there
Of St. Paul’s was brought to ruin by it.
But the Lord who made everything
Through His direct intervention,
Like a sovereign gracious ruler
Over all things, showed us the meaning
Of these marvelous tokens
And dispelled our doubts
So directly and properly
That every man saw it clearly.
For the battles and the wars
Were so great throughout every land
That no one knew in all the world,
As much as it encompasses,
Any country, kingdom, or region
Where there was no strife;
For this reason five hundred thousand men and women
Would have lost their bodies and souls
If He who is in harmony with all good
Had not taken pity on them,
And many countries were destroyed by it,
And the results endure still.
The story would be long to tell
About captures and outrages,
The savage killings as well
Of noblemen and knights,
Of clerks, townspeople, squires,
And of poor people of little note
Who died as a result or were brought to ruin,
Of the kings, dukes, lords, and counts,
For so many of them perished in this way,
Some by fire, others in war,
That everyone was completely confounded by it.
After this appeared a group of scoundrels
Who were false, traitorous, and heretical:
This was shameful Judea,
The evil, the disloyal,
Who hate good and love evil of all kinds,
Who gave and promised so much
Gold and silver to the Christian people
That they in many places
Poisoned the wells, streams, and fountains
That had been clear and healthy,
And so many lost their lives
Because all who used them
Died quite suddenly, and in this way
Ten times a hundred thousand certainly
Perished in the countryside and towns as well
Before this deadly affliction
Was taken notice of.

But He who sits on high and sees far,
Who governs everyone and provides all things,
Did not wish for this treason
To be hidden any longer; instead He revealed
And made it known so widely
They lost their lives and goods.
For all the Jews were put to death,
Some hanged, others burned alive,
One drowned, another beheaded
By the axe’s blade or sword,
And likewise many Christians
Died a shameful death because of this.

At this time a company came together
At the urging of Hypocrisy, their lady,
And these people beat themselves with whips
And crucified themselves flat on the ground
While singing to a catchy tune
Some new song or other;
And according to them they were worthier
Than any saint in Paradise.
But the Church dealt with them
By forbidding them to whip themselves
And condemning their song,
Which little children were singing,
And by excommunicating all of them
Through the power granted it by God
Because their self-abuse
And song were heresy.

And when Nature saw what was happening,
That her work was in these ways destroying itself
And men were killing each other
And poisoning the waters
In order to annihilate the human race
Because of greed and envy,
She, beautiful and noble, was much displeased,
Quite vexed, greatly pained.
So she made her way without delay
To Jupiter and had forged
Lightning, thunder, and storms
On working days and feasts.
Because she was so eager for the task,
She paid no mind to either weekday or holiday.

Afterward Nature ordered
The four winds over which she had command:
That each should make ready
And prepare to race off
And issue from their caverns
To give rise to raging cyclones
So that there should be no king’s realm,
Nowhere in heaven, the earth, sea, or clouds
Where the air would not be troubled;
And they should do the worst they could.
For when she saw her works destroyed,
She wished the air corrupted as well.
And when the winds had taken their leave
And Jupiter had forged everything,
Lightning, storms, and turbulence,
Then one might have seen them
Marvelously disperse in all directions
And thunder quite horribly,
Blow in gusts, let fall hail and rain in torrents,
Disturb the clouds, the sea,
Shake the woods, make the rivers flood,
And force all things that live
On the earth to seek shelter
To save themselves because they feared death.
This turn of events was quite remarkable,
Terrifying, and filled with peril!
For stones fell from the sky,
Killing whatever they touched,
Men, beasts, women;
And in many places lightning and tempests
Descended with great flames
And turned a multitude of villages into dust;
Nor was there anyone in the world so brave
Who didn’t then have a coward’s heart;
For it seemed that the world
Was about to fall into ruin and end.
But no one could have survived
Had this weather lasted long,
And so these storms came to an end,
But they gave rise to such haze,
Such filth, and such vapors
As were hardly loved;
For the air that had been clear and pure
Was now vile, black, and cloudy,
Horrible and fetid, putrefied and infected;
And so it became completely corrupted;
And about this corruption
Men held the view
It was corrupting them in turn
And they were thus losing their health.
For everyone was badly afflicted,
Discolored, and made ill;
People had buboes and large swellings
From which they died, and, to be brief,
Few dared to venture into the open air
Or talk at close quarters with one another
Because their infected breath
Corrupted others who were healthy.
And if anyone fell ill,
And some friend visited him,
That man faced the same peril
From which five hundred thousand died
So that father failed son,
Mother failed daughter,
Son and daughter failed mother
From fear of this plague;
And no one was so true a friend
He was not thereupon ignored,
The recipient of little help
If he fell ill with the disease.
And there was no physician or healer
Who knew enough to name the cause
Of its appearance, or even what it was
(And none of them applied any remedy),
Beyond that this was a disease
One called an epidemic.

When from His house God saw
That the corruption in the world
Was this great everywhere,
It is no wonder He was eager
To take a cruel revenge
For the great disorder;
And so at once, waiting no longer,
In order to have His justice and vengeance,
From his cage He released Death,
Full of rage and anger
And lacked any check, bridle, or rein,
Any faith, love, or moderation,
So very proud and arrogant he was,
So gluttonous and famished
He could not be satisfied
By anything he could consume.
And he hastened throughout the world,
Killing and running down one and all,
Whomever he chanced upon,
Nor could he be resisted.
And, in short, he undid so many,
Struck down and devoured so great a multitude
That every day could be found
Huge heaps of women, youths,
Boys, old people, those of all degrees,
Lying dead inside the churches;
And they were thrown together
In great trenches, all dead from the buboes.
Because the cemeteries were found to be
So full of corpses and biers
It was necessary to lay out new ones.
These were strange new tidings.
And so there was many a fine town
Where no boy or girl, no man or woman
Was seen to come and go,
Nor was anyone found there to talk to
Because all of them had died
This unbelievable death.
And they lay ill no more than three days,
Sometimes less; the time was short.
And there were certainly many
Who died of it suddenly;
For those same men who bore them
To the church did not return
(This was often witnessed),
But instead were to die right there.
And whoever wished to undertake
Discovering or putting down in writing
The number of those who died,
Those who are still here and once were,
And all those to come,
Never would he be able to compass it,
However hard he might labor.
For no one could count them,
Imagine, conceive, or tell of them,
Compute, make known, or record them.
And, to be sure, many times
I have heard it said and openly
That in thirteen hundred and forty-nine,
Only nine survived of every hundred,
And so one saw that, because people were lacking,
Many a fine, noble estate
Lay idle without those to work it.
No man had his fields plowed,
His grain sowed, or his vines tended
Though he’d have paid out triple wages,
No surely, not even for twenty times the rate,
Because so many had died; and thus it happened
The cattle lay about
The fields completely abandoned,
Grazing in the corn and among the grapes,
Anywhere at all they liked,
And they had no master, no cowherd,
No man at all to round them up;
And there wasn’t anyone who might call them back,
No one to claim them as his own.
There were many estates
That remained without owners;
Nor did the living dare to stay
Any time at all inside the houses
Where the dead had been
Either in winter or summer.
And if anyone did so,
He himself then risked dying.
And when I witnessed these events
That were so strange and ominous,
I was not at all so brave
I did not become quite cowardly.
For all the most courageous trembled
From the fear of death that overcame them,
And so I quite thoroughly confessed myself
Of all the sins I had committed,
Putting myself into a state of grace
In order to accept death where I was
If it should please Our Lord.
Therefore with uncertainty and fear,
I closed myself up inside the house
And determined resolutely
In my mind I’d not leave
Until the time when I should learn
What conclusion this might come to;
And I would leave it for God to decide.
And so for a long time, may God help me,
There I remained, knowing little
Of what was happening in the city,
And there more than twenty thousand died,
Though of this I knew nothing
And so felt less sadness;
For I did not wish to know anything
So that my sorrows would be fewer,
Even though many of my friends
Had died and been put in the ground.

And so I remained long in hiding,
Just like a hawk in moult,
Until at last one time I heard
(Which made me greatly rejoice)
Bagpipes, trumpets, kettledrums,
And more than seven pairs of instruments.
Then I went to a window
And asked what this might be,
And at once one of my friends
Who had heard me answered
That those who remained were acting
Just as if all of them were getting married,
Feasting, and celebrating weddings.
For the deadly plague of the buboes
That was called an epidemic
Had completely ceased everywhere;
And people were no longer dying.
And when I saw them celebrating
Joyfully and with good cheer,
And all just as merrily
As if they had lost nothing,
I wasn’t troubled in the least,
But regained at once my composure,
Turning my eyes and face
To the air that was so sweet
And clear it encouraged me
Then to leave the prison
Where I had passed the season.
At that moment, I was beyond grief and worry,
And I mounted on my palfrey,
Grisart, who moved at a pace
Quite calm, as was his nature.
And I went quickly to the fields
In order to ride for pleasure,
To entertain and solace myself,
And to claim as my own the sweetness
That comes from the peace and from the enjoyment
In which the heart willingly delights
That feels no concern for the pain
Arising from either trouble or strife,
But would instead pursue
Whatever might bestow honor.
I was very excited about
The honorable thing I was bent on.
I had the desire and the urge
(If, in my good time, I could manage it)
To catch some hares by surprise
And then be able to hunt them down.
Now, someone might ask
If hare hunting is honorable.
My answer to this question would be
That it’s an honor, diversion, and delight;
It’s a sport that the nobility value,
Something of a gracious enterprise
And quite advantageous to undertake
Because it improves one nicely;
Certainly, the activity itself is pleasant enough,
And honor comes with accomplishing it,
So at this time I had so directed
My attention toward that end
And was thinking of nothing else.
And the good hare hounds I had
So multiplied my enjoyment
I could not have felt weary
After releasing them
And watching them run off
Just so in a pack across the fields,
And then there were the songs
Of birds, lovely to hear,
As well as the air of the mild weather
Soothing my whole body.
One could easily believe that if
Some people were to ride up
So that they might speak to me,
Even if I should benefit thereby,
I should indeed not notice,
So much had I to this sport devoted my attention.
It was then that an adventure befell me
Which frightened me somewhat,
Yet quickly became pleasant enough,
Just as I will relate immediately
Hereafter; I’ll not lie about it at all.

While I was disporting myself there —
I who had forgotten all
Those other melancholic thoughts,
As much the sad as the pleasant ones —
A lady of great nobility,
Nicely decked out with rich clothes,
Appeared with a beautiful company.
Yet I didn’t see them at all
Because I was back from the road
And, moreover, because of how
I was attending to
And had concentrated all my attention on
My hunting alone;
But the lady was the first to take notice
Of me before anyone else spied me there
Or before anyone made a sign of doing so,
That is, from among the company
Escorting her noble person.
Then she summoned a squire
And said to him: “Do you see that man there
Pleasantly disporting and enjoying himself?
Go to him and then report to me
Who he is, and return quickly
Without delaying there at all.”
At this the squire did not fail,
But came to me in some haste
And loudly said hello.
I didn’t stop what I was doing,
And I said to him: “You’re welcome, fair sir.”
He returned, without saying any more,
As fast as he could to the lady:
“Lady,” he said, “By the faith I owe my soul,
That’s Guillaume de Machaut over there.
Know well that nothing interests him
Save what he is pursuing.
He is so involved with his hunting
I believe firmly he has no time for anything but
His hounds and himself.”

When the lady heard these words,
She seemed to rejoice at heart,
And this was no simple outward show,
But the absolute truth,
Because her heart was joyful, her manner happy,
Like a woman gay and merry,
Not for my sake, I don’t mean that at all,
But rather for another reason entirely,
Because of a particular matter
In which she took much interest.
And she was eager to bring to my attention
In order to delight and entertain herself
And, in turn, to sink me into melancholy.
This I did not fail to do,
For I was mocked by her,
Reproached and contradicted
Just as if I had sinned
Quite grievously against the woman.

After the squire related
All he wished about me,
The lady said in a loud voice:
“Now let’s see just how
Agreeable and sharp Guillaume is.
As far as I know, he is knowledgeable
About all kinds of merriment
According with morality.
By night, he stays awake studying,
And then by day he labors his body
With the work the good man looks for,
Who seeks what brings and confers honor;
And so he goes around amusing himself
At all times by doing what is proper.
Such activities do cultivate the demeanor
To maintain a man in worthiness.
But shortly I will take from him
A large part of his enjoyment
Because I will have some fun at his expense
That will puzzle the man a good while.
I have been eager to do that for a long time;
So in this fashion I will fulfill my wish.

Now return to him as fast as possible
Because I am quite anxious
He be brought over here. So tell the man
In as few words as you can manage
To proceed here directly.
And say to him firmly
It must be with no excuse
And no matter what other business he has,
And it is at my command.”
“Lady, as you order,”
Said the squire, “Without any ‘but,’
I will go tell him just what
You have said, or as close to it as
I am able; I am quite ready to do this.”

Then the squire rode off
In my direction until he approached me
And as he drew near,
He called out to me while still riding,
Galloping at a quick pace
Until he came fairly close.
And as soon as I heard his voice,
I quickly went toward him
Because I had known the man a long time.
And as a token of his great joy,
He saluted me by God the Father
And by His sweet dear mother.
And I responded at once,
Greeting him courteously.
Then I inquired what news,
Good and pleasing, there might be for me,
If my lady were hale and happy,
At peace, not annoyed by anything.
“Guillaume, have no fear at all
Because my lady is in every way
At peace, in good health, happy, and well;
And that this is certain
You will be able to learn rather quickly
From what you’ll hear me say.
For it’s quite true she summons you,
Not really commanding you to go to her
But asking in such a fashion
It counts the same as an order,
Neither begging nor commanding.
Instead it pleases her to request,
Somewhere between ‘green’ and ‘ripe.’
Yet mark this point for certain:
It is her intention beyond any doubt
For you to come to her willingly
Making no excuses;
She trusts you will do so,
And thus, if you please, you’ll go to her
And there express your pleasure.”

After these words, I answered him:
“My very dear friend, this much I will tell you,
Regarding my lady, neither a fourth nor even a third
Of what I am, but my entire being
Is completely hers, with nothing held back.
And I could not restrain myself
From going to her, nor would wish to,
Inasmuch as I would truly sense
What my lady would think about it.
And so when she sends for me,
It would surely be madness to believe
I would ever think twice about it.
But I do want to ask you about a small point,
Just so there will be nothing to remedy:
How far is my lady from this spot?”
“Guillaume, here is my answer:
It is not quite three days’ travel.
And may those days dawn brightly!”
I said: “Let us go on now without delay,
And let us ride night and day
To do what is good for my lady.
I cannot better replenish myself
With joy than by doing her pleasure;
And so I will offer no resistance at all.”

“Guillaume, I have listened attentively
To what you’ve said in response.
And I would like to appease you a little
With something other than a kiss.
Look toward the broad clearing
A bit below that fallow field:
That’s my lady with a great troop,
And she has drawn herself up there for your sake.
At that spot she attends you; be certain of it.
Now let your heart be not at all troubled
By any fear of having to travel too far
Because you can speak to her over there.”
At these words, my face brightened,
And I turned my eyes toward
The place he had indicated.
And when I saw her waiting there,
That my journey was shortened,
I was scarcely annoyed,
But pleased instead; and I began to laugh
And started to say to him:
“Good friend, you have nearly made me
Melancholy with your jokes,
Your trickery, and your true words
When you gave me to believe
Through a clever lie that my lady was far away;
It has pleased me much to realize
The truth of what you lied about
Because you afterward spoke the truth,
Namely that my lady was rather close by.
I’m on my way; come along now,
Or stay here as you please.”
“Guillaume, there is still time
For a discussion; no need to hurry.
You will get there soon enough
If my lady can arrange it.
And if you have some skill in debating,
It will be good in this situation
Where you will play the lawyer’s role;
For you could be taken by surprise
If you prove unable to defend yourself.”
We bandied about these words
And with such game amused ourselves;
Thus absorbed in talk we rode on
Until nearing the lady’s entourage.
Then I went on ahead, and seeing
Her noble person replete
With honor, grace, and learning,
As a sign of great reverence
I made to get off my horse.
But at once she started to forbid it,
Saying quite politely:
“Oh no, Guillaume, this will surely not do.
You must not dismount.
Speak to me from your horse.”
And when I heard this, I obliged
And gave her as fine a greeting
As I could and knew how to,
And in the manner I should have,
Just as I had learned
To honor people of such rank.
And without dissembling, she in turn
Knew how to take care of the rest,
Responding in friendship,
Guarding her honor and integrity.
Then she spoke to me quite firmly:v

“Guillaume, you have acted
Too much the stranger.
You would not have come here
Had it not been for my messenger.
You have become, I think,
Too wise or too backward,
Inattentive and disagreeable,
Eager for your sport,
Or else you value ladies too little.
When I climbed the ground over there
On that highest rise,
I took the path on the right
And looked toward the left;
Quite clearly I saw you riding,
Whistling up and calling your hounds.
I heard you doing this
And likewise saw
You and your goings-on.
So I believe quite surely,
Guillaume, you must have seen us.
And why, then, when hearing
Our horses pass by and whinny
Did you not deign come forward
Until I gave you the order,
Just as if I made it a command?
So I thank you just as much for this
As I should and no more.”

Then I said to her: “For God’s sake,
My lady, don’t say so.
I will reply to that, saving your honor,
For by the faith I owe our Lord
I saw nothing and heard nothing either,
So much was my heart enthralled
By the hunting I was intent on,
By the goal I wanted to attain.
And so I was spellbound.
My lady, only involuntarily would I do
Anything against your will.
And how would it profit me
To do something so petty and spiteful?
I know well I would be demeaned by this.
And so you should excuse me.”

“Guillaume, I don’t want to fool with this further.
Because it is so, my heart believes you.
But on the other hand a different matter
Has arisen — and very seriously —
To your discredit, and it needs explaining.
And I will keep you very busy
And offer much argument against you
If you do not admit your error.
Guillaume, listen and pay attention:
You have sinned against women,
And so you have taken on a burden
You will not be able to hold up under
Or put down when you would like.”
With these strange words,
Perverse in their severity,
She showed me a manner
Bitter, cruel, hurtful, and haughty
As a sign of her great anger
In order to make my heart heavy,
And also to make fearful, hesitant,
And full of uncertainty my every thought.
She took pains in doing so
Because she was convinced
That, valuing her so highly,
I should fear her anger greatly.
And this I did; I started to fear her
When I heard these words,
Not because of any misdeed
I myself had supposedly committed;
Rather because I feared those gossip-mongers
Who are at times harmful
Because of their falseness and envy
To good people who lead decent lives.
And so I dreaded this turn of events.
Yet I was certain I had done
No harm in my whole life
To any woman whomsoever,
And with this in mind I answered her:

“Lady, you have brought up something
That heaps great dishonor upon me,
But the trial is not yet arranged
Or begun in proper form.
For a certain judgment to be rendered,
You must tell me how
I have erred and also explain in detail
All the facts of the matter.
At present your purpose here
Remains secret and hidden
If not divulged to me,
I will not be able to respond.
Now please, if you will, expound upon
That matter troubling you;
And if you agree to do so,
You will be following the proper path
Of the law, for otherwise I would not be able
To learn what the issue is and dispute it.
If not, you ought to grant
I should go free and clear
Of the allegation you have made against me.
I expect proper justice in this matter.”

“Guillaume, you already know
And will hear nothing more from me.
Instead this is how things stand.
If I know about it, you know too,
Because the case against you is something
You have written down in one of your books,
Something well laid out and described therein.
So look through your books.
I know well you are not drunk
When you compose your love poems.
And so you know well, with regard to your own tales,
When you compose and complete them,
If you did right or wrong there
Because into these works you put your heart
As much in a single word as in six.
If you please, go look there
Because you will get nothing more
From me for the present.
Be sure this is my intention.”

“Madam, what have you said?
As you are very well aware,
You know much more than you admit.
I have all sorts of written texts
In front of me, of various kinds,
Devoted to very different themes,
Each of which is quite unlike every other.
Examining all these at the same time,
And each one rather thoroughly,
Section by section and sentence by sentence,
From the beginning of the first
To the very end of the last
If I wished to look through all of them:
This I should indeed like to avoid,
All this would take too long.
And in addition I might not
Come across what you are taking issue with
If you do not tell me more.
For I would never seek to read such a thing,
Madam, except to contradict you.
Yet it is hardly to be expected
That I would prove able to decipher
A hidden thought of yours
Except through the proper key
That might unlock your heart;
And so I might be informed about this,
Let your mouth tell it to me.
If I refuse to respond
After you have told me yourself,
Then I’d certainly agree to whatever
Condemnation and reproof you utter.
Madam, if you please, now decide
If my view here is mistaken
According to your own opinion.”

“Guillaume, since this is how things stand,
I agree completely with this point.
At the moment I admit myself defeated;
But this matter of your transgression,
Which is so grave against women,
Would call for a severe punishment
Should someone wish to exact it.
So from this point listen carefully
To what I will say from my own mouth
Because the issue touches me right to the heart.
And after I have told you about it,
I will reproach you in such a place
Where you will be much blamed for this,
Losing your reputation among ladies.

One time an issue was
Advanced in a very pleasant poem,
Prettily embellished and with refinement,
But afterward quite unfortunately developed.
At first it was supposed,
And, in supposing, proposed
That a lady of great worthiness
Through a very loving bond
Did love a faithful lover
So that at all times, in loving well,
She was at heart a loyal beloved.
And he, obedient to courtesy,
Always loved her with a good heart
And expended his energy
In cherishing and honoring her.
And in order to deepen her love
He upheld everything noble:
Honor, courtesy, and generosity.
He was a handsome man, strikingly so,
Renowned for his limbs, body,
And countenance, perfect in grace,
And as well proven in deeds of arms
As any man could be
Who had spent his life and energy
Devoted to tournaments and jousting,
As well as all other pursuits pertaining to love.
Though they loved each other in this fashion
And always closely observed
The courtly rules of faithfulness
In both reason and truth,
Such a chance befell them,
Whether through nature or violence,
That the lover did pass away.
And the lady, when she learned this,
Lived on sorrowful and abandoned,
A true beloved no longer loved.
Because her heart was still aflame
And the heart of the worthy lover
Had been undone by nature,
Her heart was the more afflicted
By the fact of his demise.
I will say no more about the matter.
Instead I would like to bring up another
In order to set it beside this one,
In order to make my comparison.
Listen now, Guillaume, and learn.

Another lover of high degree,
As worthy as the one
I have already mentioned in his deeds
In grace as much as in virtue,
And in all other respects
Rightly and honorably endowed,
Also loved a lady
With no thought of evil or infamy,
And this he made known to her,
And when she had learned the truth,
She received him willingly
And granted the man her love
Joyfully, offering no refusal.
I have no intention of drawing this out,
But he loved her faithfully
And trusted her very much,
Without any hesitation or doubt
Because he thought he had acquired
All her love for the rest of his life
And would never have to share it.
Yet his path was quite different.
When he was the most happily
Joined to her and confident
In the promise of being loved,
She did him wrong,
Outrageously and with no excuse,
And in this he discovered her falseness
Toward him, her disloyalty as well,
And it could not be denied.
If this gave him much pain,
That’s hardly much of a surprise.
But it’s not the same at all
As what causes me to sorrow, the love affair
That death brought to an end.
Guillaume, if you have listened to me,
You should very readily
Acknowledge your misdeed
In order to lessen your shame.
You have stated and recounted,
And also decided, advised of these facts,
In a conclusive judgment
That this man experiences much more misfortune,
Grief, torment, ill, and suffering,
— The one who found his lady false
To him through her double dealing —
Than does the gracious, dear lady
Whose sweet lover had been joined
Irrevocably to her heart
Through love and not otherwise.
Then she learned he was in the grasp
Of death and should there remain
So she will never see him again.
And how did you dare say this
Or write it down in your book?
It’s true that you have done so,
And thus you have grievously erred.
Therefore I advise you to do what you can
To void this judgment
And overturn it at once.
If you are truly a worthy man, Guillaume,
You could do so rather easily
By affirming exactly the opposite.
For the opposite view is the correct one
Wherever people esteem proper loving.”

“Madam, by the faith I owe Holy Church,
Where all my trust lies,
I would do so for no reason;
Instead, I will pursue the matter
To the very end now that I am involved.
Since my judgment was made public
By me, I have upheld and will uphold it,
As long as I can.
Yet whoever might come forward
To defend the other side
Quite willingly I will submit
To whatever I must submit.
For I am hardly powerful enough,
And my endurance is scarcely so great,
Or my storehouse of knowledge, for that matter,
That I could not be overcome.
But if I can, I will prevail.
Should I prove unable, I will pay the price.
Let’s look now to how we should proceed.
I don’t want to banter more about the issue.
But nevertheless, my sweet lady,
So your heart will not be cross with me,
We will deal with this matter
Openly, not in secret,
In a way that will preserve your peace of mind
And uphold my honor as well.
For it would be to my great shame,
As you yourself have admitted,
If on my own I should reverse myself
About this case I judged,
As was my right, having done so in such a way
That I accomplished it all alone.
We will find ourselves a powerful judge,
Someone of sufficient renown
Who would be a wise and discreet man;
And he shall be told from beginning to end
The private details of this affair
Involving you and me.
Let it be done as we agree.
Yet you should assume the responsibility
For selecting such a man as you’d prefer.
You will hear me voice no opposition,
Rather I am in agreement on this point from now on
With whatever pleases you and no ‘buts’ about it.
Truly, my heart is already in this,
Because it will be a pleasant task
To hear the arguments rehearsed
And the parties dispute
With subtlety, with impressive reasoning
That will merit some kind of judgment.”

At these words the lady began to laugh
And at once, while laughing, to speak:
“Guillaume, I very much agree
With what you’ve just said;
And I will speak to it, no matter what.
And so, for whatever it’s worth,
I nominate and choose the man named
The king of Navarre.
He is a prince who loves honor
And hates dishonor of every kind,
A man wise, loyal, and truthful,
Reasonable too in all his doings.
He knows so much, is so worthy
I could choose no one better, to speak the truth.
The case will appeal to him
Because he is quite romantically inclined,
Wise, courteous, and well taught.
He loves the honor and the glory
Of arms, love, and ladies.
He is the king who would never
Support any kind of infamy.
He is devoid of all uncouthness
And graced with all the nobility
Belonging to high rank.
I couldn’t say enough of his virtues
If speaking of them all day long.”

In this way we came to an agreement,
Just as it is recorded above.
Then we spoke much about love
And, as we talked, rode on
Until we fell into the righteous bonds
Of repose, joy, and solace,
Which means into a sweet state
Whose conditions were so pleasant
They could be no better, to my taste;
It was of the highest degree,
Full of good sense, so I think,
Delight, and sweet leisure too,
Where a heart that seeks to act accordingly
Might discover peace.
A handsome manor stood at the spot
Where she wished to halt.

Many there helped her dismount
And attended to the lady;
And, without delay, she was led
Inside a room decorated
So well, so beautifully, so expertly,
And in all things so richly
That never before (which made me greatly marvel)
Had I ever laid eyes on anything similar.
And, quickly, everyone, high and low alike,
Made her welcome and honored her.
And she very much seemed to be mistress there
Because in great nobility she was
Seated on cushions made of silk.
Yet she was very wise and self-contained,
And of such a confident age
She was quite pleasantly youthful,
Being neither “green” nor “ripe.”
More than any other, she was meek, friendly, and noble.
Very well attended the lady was
By a virtuous and beautiful entourage.
None was a country girl;
Twelve damsels there were instead
Who attended to her day and night,
Served and instructed her as well.

The first was Understanding,
Who showed her the difference
Between virtues and vices,
Between good deeds and evil ones as well,
With the help of Discretion, who escorted her
To a mirror that gleamed so brightly
No one could ever grasp
Or gaze on a clearer reflecting glass.

Reason held this in her right hand,
A scale in her left,
Where the lady looked at herself
More often than anyone could say.
There she saw clearly,
With no obscurity or impediment,
What God and Nature might grant
A truly fortunate person.
And that is to abandon evil and do good,
And not to wish to cross anyone.
For the man is a fool who does something
To another he does not wish done to him.
And if there might be in her person
Or noble body, of such beautiful shape,
Or in her heart any fault or vice,
Or malicious thought of any kind,
It could never be so well hidden that
It could not be seen in the mirror.
And there without doubt she gazed on
The nature and manner of all things,
How Reason justly rules
Through fair, good, and loyal precept.
And so there she found an example
Of everything she ought to do.
Moreover the scales of justice
Showed to her the truth
That she should in every instance live
As correctly as the scales,
To which one in no way can add
Or take from and not have it noticed.

The third was named Temperance,
Who wore a garland of endurance
On her head as an adornment;
And with this, to increase her worthiness,
She had a confident manner
And was wise in her speech, mature too,
Not in deed, or in her behavior, or her countenance
Was there any vice or impropriety.

The fourth, and well I remember her,
Was Peace, who held Concord
By the finger out of friendship
And spoke to her quite sweetly,
With a laughing heart, a happy face:
“My sweet sister, my dear friend,
If we intend to live in joy,
Peace, leisure, and wealth
In regard to all we say and do,
Let us allow no anger into our hearts,
And let us have no truck with the arrogance
Bearing the name of revenge,
For whoever intends avenging the shame done him
Makes it increase, further disgracing himself.
Let us hold to good people in friendship,
And let us take pity on evildoers
Because no man ever attained perfection
Who was eager to avenge the wrongs done him.”

The fifth among them was called
Faith, who was escorted in grand style
By steadfast Constancy,
Who so strengthened and strengthens her
Nothing disturbs or worries the lady;
Instead she was like a castle built on rock,
Strong and secure on its foundation,
Free from unpredictable change.

The seventh was Charity,
Who felt such great pity
For those she knew to be in need
She gave them whatever she possessed.
But she could never give so much
She did not have much more to share.

Afterward Honesty seated
Herself quietly and with much politeness,
And this lady was adorned in great nobility
With the mantle of simplicity,
For she was proper, beyond reproach
In her heart, body, hand, and speech.

The ninth was Prudence.
In her heart she bore Wisdom,
Whom she guarded so closely
She burned with fierce love for her.
She knew well the reason why heavenly bodies
Are suspended within the firmament;
Why the sun endures
In conflagration and the moon in ice;
All about the stars and the planets,
As well as the limits of the twelve signs;
Why God through Nature did assemble
Wet, dry, cold, and hot together;
And why the four elements
Were ordered in such a fashion
That earth always remains below
And water clings quite closely to it;
Fire always rises to the heights,
And air remains in the middle.
In short, of celestial movements
And also of earthly matters
She knew so much she was a master,
Possessed of such a lively and able wit
No one could explain it.
For she could answer
Any question a person might ask,
And no one could improve on what she said.

Right next to Prudence sat
Generosity, who sees nothing
But rather gives with both hands,
More to one and less to another,
Gold, silver, chargers, hunting birds, estates,
And whatever else she might acquire,
Counties, duchies, and baronetcies
In perpetuity and for life.
She has kept nothing from any of these
Save honor. This she has clung to.
Nobility has so instructed her,
And furthermore, which increases her worthiness,
She condemned Avarice
As the worst vice of all.

The next, about whom I’ll not be silent,
Was Wariness of Misdeed,
Who was so afraid of error
She could hardly attend
To any matter save for being on her guard.
In all her doings she was a coward,
But Shame and Fear protected her
And were everywhere her companions.

The twelfth was Sufficiency,
Who in quite humble tranquillity
Was richly turned out
And gorged to overflowing,
Full too of all earthly goods.
There was nothing she needed
Nor did she lack a thing.
She was beyond the grasp of Fortune
And her most fearsome domination.
She ate little at her meals
Because she was more sated by an egg
Than another might be by a cow.
She was as happy as could be
And perfect in her virtue.
She still is and always will be
As long as the world endures,
For she is, to judge rightly,
The blessing one should most desire.

But just as many rivers
Provide water and many lights
Glow and give off their brightness
To every place they reach,
These twelve noble damsels,
Who were the servants of all good things,
Each one according to her nature,
In customs, manner, and appearance,
Embellished this lady’s
Heart, body, honor, and soul.
So adorned by them was she,
Nurtured and enlightened,
That each improved the lady
With whatever good flowed from her
And shared with the lady
The virtue she bore within.
And the noble creature, in addition,
Possessed endowments from Nature:
A cultivated manner, loyalty,
Noble bearing, good breeding,
Grace, pleasantness, and courtesy,
And these much improved her.
But her sovereign goodness
Surpassed by a great deal her beauty.

When I saw her enthroned

In such exalted fashion and so very nobly
Adorned with great riches,
And, too, served and honored
With such affection by all the men and women,
My heart filled with doubts
That made their way there through folly
And genuine melancholy.
For I was taken much aback,
And also struck completely dumb,
At the same time so tempted by error
I thought I had been enchanted.
But in this state of bemusement
I did not long remain
Because I followed the advice of Discretion,
Who made my presence of mind return
In the proper fashion through Reason,
Who is always ready at the right moment
To bring back to themselves the true hearts
Who have wandered too far off the mark.
Then Reason fixed me with a look
And ever since has maintained in her keeping
My heart, senses, and thoughts,
So I could resist and struggle
Against misbegotten notions,
And, too, expel the temptations
That intended to enjoy the victory
Of making me think incorrectly.

By then, I had gotten beyond this thought,
And the lady, her ideas well considered,
Addressed me quite wisely
And, as she talked, inspired me
To respond after she finished talking;
Thus I could speak better and with more flourish.

And she said to me: “Guillaume, fair sir,
What we said out in the fields
Is what we should discuss first.
So let’s repeat our argument
In the presence of these twelve damsels,
Who are wise, good, and beautiful,
And also of the many good people who will be present.
They will listen to us willingly.”

I did not hesitate long at all,
But fell to my knees straightaway
And answered her humbly:
“My dear lady, I have already said enough.
Would that it please God in Paradise
The man who is to hear our pleadings
Were in this place right now,
That is, the good king who will know how
To listen and pay attention quite intelligently,
To keep silent, and then judge
After he has heard
What will be told him.
He will know well how to deliberate
And then, even better, what to decide.
And I believe firmly he will judge
According to the testimony he should hear.
Yet nevertheless, since it pleases you,
You can certainly speak before the debate,
Making suppositions without any prejudice.
And I, intending no malice,
Will listen willingly to you,
And if I think it good, I will respond.”

“Guillaume, you answer quite eloquently;
However, listen to me just a little.
Get up now, for it pleases us
That you say no more while kneeling.
And if you have something else to say,
Speak whatever way you please,
Either seated or standing,
For this much is all we require.”

Then I quickly got up
To carry out her command
Once she had spoken her mind.
And then right opposite her
I proceeded to sit down
In order to face her directly.
For whoever looks a person in the face,
Intending his speech to find favor,
He will hear much better what is said
And the point being made as well.
Then the lady assumed a manner
That was forceful, assured, a way of
Speaking with such pretty eloquence
Everyone thought
She was looking at the written text
Of what she said and recounted.
For no one could speak better
Even if planning his words in advance.
She organized her discussion,
Starting from the very beginning
When she sent to have me searched out
And then, the second time, fetched;
Also how I’d made my way to her and how
She had attacked me
With angry words;
And how she’d been cruel,
Reproaching me roughly,
Only to make me squirm
And sink me into melancholy,
Which she knew quite handily how to do.
Shall I go on telling you about it?
She expended so much fine talk
She brought out the facts
Of the matter fully in a declaration,
Point by point, step by step,
So ably that nothing needed correction.
And in this way all the young ladies
Were quickly, and beyond any doubt, rendered
Knowledgeable and enlightened about this case,
Completely informed as well
Of all that had been discussed
And concluded below in the fields.

After these explanatory words,
Which were ably spoken and well organized,
My heart suddenly felt joy
Because, while listening, I heard
Horses come up and people talking;
For at that very hour the good and worthy king
Had come, for pleasure, into our presence,
The man we had chosen for a judge.
And the lady, who was looking
At the door and was not slow to do so,
Saw and recognized him as he entered;
And she rose to her feet at once,
Proceeding to greet him
And waiting for no one to do so.
Seeing her, he stepped forward
And embraced her lightly,
As she did him with much humility,
Welcoming the man courteously,
Joyfully, and with a pleasant look.
And he said to her: “My dear lady,
I am quite unhappy you came forward.
Why did you not remain
With propriety on your throne?”
“Dear sir, so God guide me,
I should never have done what
Would seem quite improper to me
But it is said — something true enough
And rather easy to credit — that in the case of
Those of exalted rank and lesser persons,
All honor should be paid to every great lord.
But let’s drop the matter.
It should delay us but little.
Instead, let us take our seats on the throne.
There I would like to see about
Telling you an extraordinary thing
Quite unlike other marvels.
Go on ahead; I’ll follow along,
Keeping quite close to you.”
“By God, my lady, I shall not do so.
At the very moment I ascend
You will go up right by my side;
Never will you make me agree
That we should not proceed together.
I believe I have already been too forward.”
On this point they easily concurred
And then ascended together.
And after going up,
Again, in their great humility,
They argued about sitting down.
But in the end they sat,
And once they were seated,
The lady spoke, her thoughts composed:
“Sire, listen to me a little while
And take some pleasure
In attending diligently to
What I would like to tell you.
You see there Guillaume de Machaut.
He’s a man indifferent
To whether he upholds wrong or right.
In fact, he would just as soon defend
The wrong as the right,
As you will presently hear.
We have entered into a debate
About an outrageous deed,
And this argument, sire, we should put before you,
But only if you would not be annoyed.
By his wish and my own,
You were chosen to be the judge.
And so for us it is a happy chance,
Fair sir, that you have arrived here.
And you’ll find this a happy chance
If you have any interest in love.
For the issue of our disagreement concerns
Something that pleases the romantically inclined
Since it’s about love, the lover, and the beloved,
And of their noble governance.
Guillaume says, maintains, and affirms
As true and unassailable fact
That when a man has given all his heart
To a lady, thus becoming her lover,
And she grants him her affection,
And so he thinks the woman a true beloved,
But then he has the experience
Of finding her proven false;
This man, he says, feels more pain
Than a lady who discovers
Faithfulness in her true lover,
And she in turn loves him as much
As any lady can love a man,
Completely and without bitterness.
But then it chances that death,
Which with stealth stings mankind,
Takes the life from her lover.
And when she learns he has passed away,
Has been completely undone,
Has been married to death,
And their affair has thus ended,
Would that first man grieve like this woman?
Not at all! It could not happen.
This view is indefensible,
And so I have made, do make, and wish to make
A protest to the contrary.
That is the gist of our dispute.
And we would like you to be its
Judge; thus you would decide
According to the disputation you’d hear.”

“I will answer you, my dear lady,
By the faith I owe God and my own soul,
From my own perspective
That to occupy the privileged position
Of a judge is a very noble thing,
Especially for someone who risks so much
As to judge questions of Love.
But because the petitions offered here
Have greatly pleased me, I will undertake the office
Without improper thoughts or malice.
If I have but a little sense, I will learn
From the speeches I hear;
And if I can be well counseled,
I would be much happier than if
I received five hundred marks of gold.
And yet I do inform you,
Dear lady, I will choose
Such advisers as I desire
From among your splendid entourage,
Which has accompanied you.
Truly, it is fitting for a competent judge
Weighing a decision
To take counsel from all sides.
We’ll take it, whether this is correct or not.
So I ask you for this to be done,
Either with courtesy or grace.
And yet, no matter what anyone says,
Proper justice most certainly needs help
So that it may at once proceed with grace
To assist the rendering of judgment in every court.”

“Fair sir, concerning your request,
I certainly agree it is proper.
Choose now whomever you wish,
And you will have nothing to complain about.”

“My lady, I choose Understanding,
Who is the very substance of good counsel.
Discretion will be at her side,
And he will not protest at all
Because she is his good friend;
Willingly he will accompany her.
And I should also be pleased for Reason
To be present, who deceives no one
But instead is always for her part
Ready with good advice.
So she will listen to the testimony
In order to make it part of the judgment.
She will know how to advise me well.
I will never need to review anything.
Moderation will stand by her;
For whoever does not moderate his judgment
Will not be able to proceed correctly
And come to the proper point
Where he can release the parties
And deliver justice to each.”
The Lady heartily agreed
And spoke to him enthusiastically:
“Fair sir, you have done well
In obtaining such advisers!”

“It will benefit me, my noble lady,
Because my heartfelt desire is
That I be well attended.
For the man not so attended is shamed.
By their mutual agreement, I am now the judge
In the particular case of the dispute
Dividing these two parties
That awaits a just decision.
Now the court is assembled and ready;
And the way is quite clear, I think,
For us to be able to proceed.
Lady, you will speak first
And formulate your complaint,
Not because I ask that the details
Of the case be recounted to me,
Since I am already adequately informed,
But rather because the parties to this trial
Should explain to me what is so untoward
It makes you sorrow and complain;
And also in order to charge Guillaume
With his wrongdoing, if he is indeed wrong.
Otherwise, I cannot know the situation.”

“Sir, this point pleases me.
Since we’ve begun the pleading,
I will formulate my complaint in a rhetorical figure
From the works of Nature,
All for Guillaume, who has turned from
The truth and has in this way erred.
You know about the turtle dove,
Which is pretty, noble, and attractive,
Quiet, happy, sweet, and beautiful
While her mate is alive,
And if it happens she loses him
Through death, it is readily apparent
She will never find joy,
For she demonstrates this through signs.
Her heart is so filled with passionate burning
She will never perch on greenery;
Instead she always seeks out darkness,
Strange places full of misery,
Dead trees, fallow fields, and crossroads.
Her perch is often found in such locations
When she wishes to take her rest.
She will permit her heart nothing
But a sorrowful life,
So grief-stricken she is for her mate.
I say it is just the same for a lady
Who has sworn fealty to Love.
When she has lost her lover
Through death, her heart becomes
So distressed she will never find joy;
Instead she seeks places, times, people, and paths
Where there is always total sadness;
She chooses a simple habit instead of finery,
Shadows instead of sunlight;
And rather than the gaiety that comes
From wearing chaplets of flowers,
Weeping and tears flow from her face.
And if she looks for any relief at all,
She does so modestly.
The lady who remains in mourning for her lover
Conducts herself this way,
That is, when she is a true beloved.
Now I will speak to the other side.

When the stork is unfaithful
And her mate learns the facts of the matter,
I am convinced he is greatly upset
And feels much anger in his heart.
But he can find relief
Because he can avenge himself.
And so he immediately begins to search.
Through the bird nests he looks for
Those of his own kind
Until he finds a multitude of them.
Then he assembles these around his own nest,
And when he has them all together,
They hold a great council
And, afterward, make that one suffer
Death who, so they say, has wronged him.
There she is undone and devoured.
The male has lightened the burden of his pain
After taking revenge in this fashion.
Similarly, I maintain that a man
Must be fierce as a lion
In the face of any wrong done him.
And he can imagine many ways
He might consider
In order to end his trouble,
Many different kinds of schemes.
But the lady has no recourse at all,
Nothing to heal her pain
Once she sees her lover die.
And she suffers a hundred times more misery
Than that other lover ever feels.
Guillaume, find an answer now for this.
If you are wrong, then make amends.”

After these arguments, I drew myself up
And addressed my words
To the judge, who attended closely to
What she said and what I was saying.
And I told him: “Sir, without doubt
My lady, whatever the outcome,
Has stated her case wisely and well,
And with a subtle understanding
Well supplied with lively arguments
So as to establish her comparisons,
Which are nicely developed and ably disposed,
So thoroughly expounded as well
That whoever wished to offer improvements
Would find this impossible, I believe.
And what she has recounted
You have well remarked,
Heard, sensed, and understood.
For from her mouth all this made its way
Into your heart as you listened;
And so there is no need to repeat it.
Furthermore I believe without question
That it comes from genuine feelings,
What she has brought up, that is,
Maintaining her grace and goodness,
And it lacks vain intention of any kind.
And I hold an opinion that is different
From her own; and I will state my reasons why,
If it pleases and interests you,
Not in order to undermine her point of view,
But rather to make my own case.
A man can quite well value his own position
Without belittling the contrary view.”

“Guillaume, I won’t contradict you.
Say whatever it pleases you to say,
Either quickly or taking your time.
Work at this as you like.
I would very much like to listen and hear,
And I have enough leisure to wait.”

“Many thanks, sire. I will speak,
And I believe I’ll say nothing false.
I tell you that unfaithfulness on the part of a lady
Is such a bitter and difficult thing
For a lover’s heart, so unnatural as well,
That, when the fact of it has taken firm hold,
It will never depart for a single day.
Now the man does not know where to go
In order to seek relief;
If he thinks to avenge himself
Through murder (and well might he do so),
He should be firmly opposed
By the prospect of great madness
And a powerful, encompassing grief,
A fire to afflict every passion,
A water to extinguish sweetness,
Nourishment for every mischance;
For to commit murder would be a sin.
And a sin that tortures the heart
Is one way death can begin,
The death of what is called mortal life.
For whoever languishes thus is not alive at all.
In my case, the one I am presenting to you
Now in your presence,
There is more grief and burning torment
Than in the other, and it is much harder to bear.
And so I ask now if
For this reason I might claim victory.”

Immediately Temperance arose
Who was holding Endurance by the hand,
And she spoke in a temperate fashion,
Saying: “Guillaume, how
Dare you ask for the decision on your behalf?
I am amazed that you should consider this
After offering only a brief argument:
Either your intelligence is quite limited
Or you are ruled by overconfidence.
Don’t you know who determines
What is the right when parties argue,
Desiring a decision and waiting for it?
I would like very much for you to know
That Reason is in charge,
And along with her, her entourage;
Each of them holds a prominent position
Among us other damsels.
Don’t doubt this in the least.
For no decision can be rendered
If they all are not a part of its making
So that things might be done properly
If the one who made the laws does not lie.
I myself have the responsibility
Of resisting any kind of malice,
Which many times diverts the right;
And by my efforts I put things back on track.
When a proper trial takes shape,
And I see it going awry,
I can very well do what is needed
For it to be put right and returned to form.
If there is too much, I can remove something,
And now please note this point well:
If there is too little, I can add something
Whenever I wish to make the proper effort.
And if everything is just right,
I can make certain it remains so.
That is the office of Temperance
Anytime there is some need.
Now I wish to speak of something else
That contradicts your view.

You have defended an opinion
That does you little honor,
And it concerns what my worthy lady
Maintained about the stork:
How she is put to death
After having proved unfaithful to her mate.
Do you believe my lady meant
That the female who did wrong
To the male who loves her
Should be made to suffer death?
Not at all! Truly that would be folly.
And my lady does not maintain in any way
He should kill her or have her killed.
Instead she advises he struggle
Against the temptations
Of those false ideas
That might come into his mind.
Furthermore, although it might happen
That she die naturally,
It would be better (justice upholds it)
Had she remained alive.
For as long as the person lives
Who sins in mad error,
One has no pain, no sorrow,
No grief, suffering, or mischance
That one cannot overcome.
When feeling pain of some kind,
He must truly think,
Having served her faithfully,
That he has not deserved this at all.
This is a valid thought,
Useful for comforting the man.
What else should I tell you?
There are as many remedies
In love as painful wounds,
However bitter, painful, or hard to bear.
Each points to its proper remedy,
Teaches the man what is good to seek.
But a lady who witnesses
The death of her very sweet lover
In whom on no day of his life
Was found anything but courtesy,
She could be so terribly stricken
And so grievously, beaten down so far as well
She will never prove able to recover;
Instead, she will not fail to die.
Written tradition informs us
This has happened many times.
And so I will relate a short tale
That will bring great shame upon you
And great honor to my lady,
As well as much clarity to my lord,
For he will see more distinctly
How foolishly you err.

Not long ago it happened
That a great lady came to Paris,
And she brought along a daughter of hers
Who, intending neither deception nor trouble,
Fell in love with a noble knight,
A man wise, courteous, happy, and sophisticated,
Skilled at arms, strong and powerful,
Possessing every grace.
News of him came to her
That greatly afflicted her heart,
For he had been killed in a tournament.
‘Alas!’ she said, ‘What grief
This news brings me!’
With this word, the young girl
Fell to the earth in a heap.
Quickly her mother went over,
Running to her with great sorrow;
And she began to cry softly
And had her carried to a bed.
There she found little comfort
Because her heart was so terribly afflicted,
And her face so pale and discolored,
Her body so stricken,
And her limbs so withered
She could hardly stand
Or hold anything in her hands.
And she did not recover enough afterward
To be able to eat or drink.
Physicians were sent for,
And it was asked of them
If she could be saved from death;
And that each should see about
Bringing her back to health, if it could be done;
And that they should boldly demand
A great deal of what these people possessed,
As much as they desired to have.
And these men diligently applied themselves,
As they quite eagerly and with care
Attempted to devise
A cure for her if they could.
First they examined her urine,
And then they palpated her.
One after the other they touched her
Wherever palpation should be done:
The feet, the wrists, and then the temples.
And after this they discussed examples
Of the various cures they had brought about
And successfully accomplished in many places;
But the more examples they discussed,
The more bewildered they were.
Her urine was judged healthy,
And the examination did not reveal
Any symptoms of coldness or heat
From which they would have gotten indications
About where or what this illness came from,
Or what remedy was called for
In order to soothe her somewhat
Or alleviate her ills altogether,
But in the end one of them took stock
And spoke these words of wisdom:
‘Colleagues, I’ve seen in her urine
A little something of what’s causing this,
Namely that she is troubled in spirit.
Now our science casts little light
On this point unless one thinks it over.
For we are aware of a saying
The good philosopher affirmed:
He states, and I believe what he says,
That illnesses of every kind —
And there are never exceptions —
Are cured by their contraries.
And so we cannot infer at this point
That there is only one contrary
Side in regard to this particular illness.
For these sudden maladies
Can arise for two reasons:
That’s to say, so God guide me,
Great sorrow or overwhelming joy.
And as a cause joy requires
Her to be made angry and irritated,
And sorrow asks for just the opposite:
One should make merry
In her presence, do what would please her
And whatever she asks for;
And minstrels too should be summoned
To entertain her.
Then it will be necessary for her to admit
The cause of the illness
So she can be given certain advice.
This is what I advise and counsel.
So let one of us go very quietly
In order to speak to her privately.’
They were agreed on this point;
And so one went to ask her
What you have already heard.
Her heart was hardly happy about this.
Instead she answered quite unwillingly,
And yet still told him
Face to face the whole truth
So ably that she hesitated not at all.
Then he asked her this,
As ably as he could in all honesty:
‘Young lady, answer me one question
That I will now put to you;
Would you want from this moment on
To see him alive,
Even if this were in such a way
That he would never show you the demeanor,
The speech, the look of a lover?’
And she answered: ‘Alas!
Sir, may God grant me health,
Such is indeed my wish,
And I would willingly see him alive
Again even if it were
That he has taken another beloved,
Who would be served by me
All my life, even to taking off her shoes.
Please press me no more about this;
For my heart breaks completely with sorrow,
A sorrow so bitter and deep
Every time anyone speaks of him to me.
So I do not want to hear about it anymore.’
After this word, he left
And walked to the place
Where the others were awaiting him,
And they were eager and anxious
To learn what end she might come to.
And he told them she would die:
‘I see no recovery from this.
Her heart has been locked within the tower
Of Love by the key of Sadness,
Where she suffers great distress,
And thus she shall die
Soon; she shall never escape.
Because of this we will depart;
We will remain here no longer.’
Within the hour they left the place,
Saying to the mother:
‘My lady, nothing can be done,
But please do your best
To watch over and stay close to her.’
After they left, she cried out
All at once in a loud voice:
‘Oh! Sweet mother, I’m dying.
I commend you to God, sweet lady!’
And just at that moment, she gave up the ghost.
The girl was lamented by the household,
And her mother suffered terribly.
But of this I’ll take no account
Because it adds nothing to my theme.
Guillaume, where will you discover
The proof you need to establish
That a man would be compelled to die
As a result of the experience you describe,
Namely the betrayal of his dear beloved,
When it is already well established
That after she sinned so wickedly,
He did in fact remain alive?
The case of the young girl is true,
But it would certainly be too hard to believe
That his misfortune was greater
Than hers. Well you know it!”

“Temperance, you speak very prettily
Every time you wish to.
On this occasion especially
You have spoken quite wisely.
And whatever you have said here I affirm
And do not shrink from believing.
But this has nothing to do
With my case in any way.
When this noble maiden
Granted her devotion to the knight
And he became her true lover
And was afterward delivered so quickly to death,
For which reason Love held her so violently
That death presently struck her down without delay,
Love showed her great favor in this,
For the blow passed quickly.
In any case, she did have to die;
No one contests this fact
Whom death does not come to seize.
No person might avoid it.
When a man is unhappily condemned
To death by the sentence
Of a good judge without impropriety
And that judge puts him in a miserable prison
Enclosed within some horrible place
Where he could be eaten by worms
Or by a host of other vermin,
And he serves a long sentence,
His neck and arms hung with irons
And his legs as well — that’s hell for sure.
There he’s turned away from faith
In order to renounce his Creator;
Willingly he’d renounce Him
For whoever might deliver him from that place.
But at the time he is arrested,
Condemned to death in a just decision,
It avails him much more to be delivered
By death than to live on in such suffering.
So it is with the true lover
Who has been betrayed in loving a lady,
With the same result as described above.
I affirm and state in my poem
That no misfortune compares to
The suffering his heart endures
As long as he and she live on.
Also I know quite well that Nature
Has established by her proper right
That a person will be forgotten
Who dies and cannot be had back
Either through great trouble or for treasure.
On this point I expect the decision for myself;
I could not wish to be judged by one better.”

After these words Peace rose up
And said, like one well schooled:
“Guillaume, you have buttressed
Your argument rather sufficiently
According to your lights;
But you have cut it much too short
To gain the judgment for yourself so quickly.
For there is another point that deprives you of it.
You have drawn on Nature
To prove your case, a fair enough point
That has been well understood.
But I have laid another trap
For this, a quite formidable one
In which you shall be caught,
And it’s contained in a true exemplum,
One quite useful to recall.
And so I offer it to you
Because it serves my purpose well.

Dido, queen of Carthage,
Felt very great sorrow and anger
Because of the love she bore Aeneas,
Who had pledged her his faith
To take her as his woman and wife.
And the traitor called her his lady,
His heart, his love, and his goddess,
His sovereign mistress as well.
Then he sailed off across the ocean
Like a thief, he and his companions,
So that Dido never saw him again.
Hear now what she did:
When he’d failed her by breaking the promise
He had agreed to make in good faith,
Just as many lovers do
Who pretend to be loyal lovers,
That desperate and crazed woman,
Whom love had shamed, whom love had driven mad,
Found the sword of Aeneas
And tried it out on her own body,
Not sparing herself
Until she made it bathe in her blood.
And so she died in pain
Because she loved and went mad.
Yet she did not die alone,
But cut instead the throats of two,
For she was carrying the child of Aeneas,
And afterward she was much mourned and lamented.
But before she killed herself,
She ordered a blazing fire
To be laid in her presence.
And when in her desperation
She killed herself, the woman struck so forcefully
That with the blow she fell into the fire
And was at once consumed and burned up.
In this way Dido ended her life.
This is the truth, I firmly believe,
For so I found it in written history.

To conclude, Guillaume, truly
My view is just the opposite of yours
In the light of and in view of
The reasons I’ve laid out above.
For it can be clearly seen
That misery, pain, and torment
Cannot be compared
To what she was intent on paying in return
For the grief brought by her lover.
And if a man found himself among
A great horde of his enemies,
All of whom had promised him
Death and indeed could kill him
As they wished whenever they liked,
Though living in this fear
Disregarding the pain and terror,
Still he might find consolation.
Yet there is an even stronger argument:
Whoever might take him to hang on the gibbet
At that very moment with no reprieve,
He would yet be comforted
And sustained and heartened
By the hope of escaping:
And neither evil error nor despair
Might assault him
As long as he holds on to Hope;
For Hope will accompany him
Right until the moment he dies.

You have also made a point
Against Love that’s badly off the mark:
It is that Nature has control
Over the people of Love at her will,
And thus if Nature commands,
No one would disobey that command.
She asks that one forget
The death of both lover and beloved
Because in this instance nothing can be restored
By great treasure or by taking action.
Let her command; indeed we welcome it.
We do not have any worries on this score
Because this doesn’t concern me at all.
For Good Love keeps for herself —
And herself alone — a lover’s heart
Without any command from Nature.
Whoever does not agree is not forced,
And yet one is so constrained by Love,
He must, feeling that power, obey.
Anyone who resists is a fool.
Guillaume, I advise you therefore
To drop this unpersuasive argument
That maintains Nature has the ability
To enforce her own command,
Whatever its value, in matters of love;
Nature lends a good appearance
To a lover’s frivolous thought,
And this makes him foolishly determine
To do something Love hates.
And because of such foolishness,
Much misfortune results
That is worth rather less than nothing.
I need discuss it no further
Because no point of honor is involved.
I am Peace, who would willingly
Always do what’s good and bring down
Evil; Concord would do the same,
For whatever I desire, so does she
At all times, both morning and night.
Thus I hold her by the hand
In order to do what might please her.
Go on with your argument,
Guillaume, in the way you must,
Without being hindered by Nature.
If, by my advice, you follow the principles
Of Discretion, you will do wisely.”

“Peace, young lady, faith in you
Brings all good things, that is something true.
So I will guard myself from wrongdoing.
But I wish to defend my opinion
As forcefully as I can.
In this regard I will relate an exemplum,
Which here follows, in order to prove my view
And refute your mistaken opinion.

In Orleans there formerly was a clerk
Who was renowned and said to be
A noble cleric, a valiant and powerful man,
And so was neither miserly nor cheap,
A lord of laws, and of decrees
The master, and a man quite discreet
In the demonstration of what he knew
And the valor that was his.
He had been born in Provence,
Though well connected by blood to princes
And counts in France,
If indeed my story is true.
He was attended by noble people,
The competent and the learned in great number,
And had among his company
Many well-born knights
To whom he would give rich robes.
This quality very well became him,
Because in order to merit his good will
They took pains to serve him.
Now he was very much taken in love
With a worthy damsel
Who lived near Montpellier,
The daughter of a valiant knight,
Descended from a very aristocratic line.
And the relationship had been established
So firmly between these two
It could not have been better.
Each of them had committed to the other,
He as her loyal lover,
And she as a loyal beloved;
And always, moreover, all their life
They upheld truly
The courtly rules of faithfulness.
But the distance between them became quite great,
For he went to live in Orleans
And she remained in Provence.
Even so, quite ably, as it behooved them,
They maintained the secrets of love
With letters they sent to one another
By their special messengers,
Honest men, discreet and wise.
They carried on in this fashion for some time.
But Fortune, who destroys quickly
Much of honor throughout the land,
Saw to it that he had a terrible shock,
Much worse than losing five hundred marks of gold,
Just as I will now relate.

It happened one day,
Which dawned evilly for him,
That a messenger arrived
From Provence, a man noble and adroit
Who was bringing him a sealed letter
Enclosed within a little chest.
This he took and looked over,
Refraining from reading out loud,
For it contained many private things.
And at the very end the letter
Related how his beloved had been married
To the worthiest man of that region
And was at that time big with child.
‘Oh no!’ he said, ‘My heart is breaking.
Oh Death, why don’t you take me now?
I’m almost ready to hang myself!’
Then he started pulling out his hair
And, afterward, tearing his robe.
When his people saw him in such a state,
They moved quickly forward,
And each one tried to restrain him.
But he escaped them by force.
Down to the town he fled.
He became deaf and dumb,
And from the time he left that place
He never spoke again with his mouth
A word that any living man
Might understand, however well he knew him.
Nor from the time this happened
Did he ever return home;
Instead he slept on rubbish heaps,
Becoming accustomed to this.
And when his friends would restrain him
And tie him up somewhere,
He would refuse to eat or drink.
Instead, and this is certain, he went mad.
And so they let him go free and clear
To roam where he liked in the open.
But he never did any harm
To any man other than himself.
Twenty years altogether he remained in this state;
And he was grieved for and lamented
By the people who knew him,
Many of whom wept bitterly.
So from up high he was pulled down low.
A long discussion is hardly needed
To establish a certain truth,
Namely that he felt more misery and pain
Than any hundred ladies ever experienced
Who witnessed the deaths of their lovers.
When it pleases you, take this into consideration
And refrain from judging incorrectly.”

Faith immediately got to her feet
Like someone wise and well schooled
In law, custom, and practical matters;
And she said: “Guillaume, you have certainly
Spent your time here foolishly,
Straying from the path of justice,
At least in some respects.
And I intend to make a discrimination —
That is to say, a division
By way of a distinction —
Between things that do not enforce belief
And those that are able to achieve
Being believed
Or considered possible,
Of which I would prize the latter
And put little stock in the former
At the urging of my friend Constancy,
Who argues in all my disputes
And supports my side, giving me strength
To uphold everyone who trusts in me.
That this clerk was of great valor,
A noble man, and very powerful,
Renowned for his great gentility,
And, too, provided quite abundantly
With worldly goods,
Smitten and burning with love,
A friend of the heart, loved by his beloved;
And, further, that in all courtliness
They had formed their liaison
Through a most loving bond,
Keeping the secrets
Of love as long as they did live;
Also that he was living in Orleans,
Well connected by blood to people
In France with such honor
It could not be greater —
All these things are possible.
Also, in regard to the quite horrible illness
That attacked him so suddenly that
It came upon him as he read the letter
And then lasted quite long,
Enduring twenty years altogether —
Once again I say this could well be.
For God has ordained
So many secret things in this earthly life
That could not be explained
Through the wisdom of mortal man.
Furthermore, from your own knowledge
You have just now said
By your own admission that this letter
Contained even more secret matters.
Now no one knows whence they came,
And so I have truly found a point
You have not proved in the least:
That this was sent to him by his beloved.
This reason makes it impossible
For anyone in any way to decide
The matter in your favor.
And I certainly know other things
That will be discussed, if I can bring it about,
In order to defeat you utterly,
If someone here can address them.”

“Young lady, kindly stop
Your threatening, if you please,
For it will profit you nothing
And grieves my heart.”

Charity then reflected
And said: “Faith, listen to this!
I should like to tell you something extraordinary.”
And then she whispered in her ear
Secretly what she had in mind.
When she heard this, Faith demurely began
To laugh a little
And, smiling, started to say:
“Charity, my dear young lady,
This matter is something for you to bring up
Cheerfully and in a pleasant fashion.
You are better able to recount it,
— And this is certain — than am I.
Indeed, you have got a head start
Because it is something you feel,
And thus I beg you to do so.”

“Faith, my very sweet and dear friend,
I will not fail you at all in this,
But will make known my view,
For the thoughts of
Two people together are useful
When the pair is trustworthy;
And so I will speak to Guillaume about it,
Demonstrating to him a particular point
That will make him acknowledge defeat
If he is not too foolish or malevolent.

Now, friend Guillaume, listen to this:
The power that has caused me
To be called Charity
Ordains I be proven so through my works,
And the signs of this are seen
In all those closest to me.
They are the noble, faithful hearts
Who enter the royal court
Of Good Love, which has no peer.
Now note where I appear:
I am manifest in fulfilled promises
And reasonable generosity,
Especially in the bestowing of gifts
And the pardoning of any wrongdoing:
For happy are those who give
And also those who forgive.
Let’s examine what Love demands
One give her, and more she does not command.
She expressly asks for the hearts
Of good people to be hers completely.
She demands this be granted her
And desires as well that some deeds
Be pardoned, according to the rule
Whose justifications I here propose.
And I will demonstrate this through a figure
That Good Love embodies in my own person,
Doing so briefly and not drawing it out.
A prominent man owns an orchard
In which there are a great many trees.
Most important, planted in that place
Is a very graceful grafting
That appeals more to the rich man
And pleases him much more
Than do all the rest;
And he has loved her
As long as she has been called ‘grafting.’
Now it happens that time passes
Until the youth of the little one ends;
Into the wind her limbs reach
So that she enters into that second age
That is called the middle years,
As her branches extend on all sides
While they enlarge her beauty
And increase her goodness
In order to draw toward the goal
That is termed perfection
So as to delight and amuse him
By bearing flowers, leaves, and fine fruit.
At this moment, it will happen, I suggest,
That the lord will ask
How the grafting is doing
And what her condition is.
The gardener might then say: ‘Sire,
I can truly tell you
What seems to me good news about her;
Ask no longer how she is doing,
But rather how he does,
For your grafting is a perfect tree
And in such estate takes great delight
In bearing flowers, leaves, and fine fruit,
And thus has lost the name of “grafting”
And gained that of “tree,”
Under which one can find shade
And relax quite pleasantly.’
Now I will sing and respond as well
In order to make my meaning clearer,
And in this regard I will ask the following question:
Should one grieve at heart
For that which improves,
If she has lost an insignificant name
Either through nature or good works
In order to gain a much greater title?
I answer no, not at all,
For this would be terrible foolishness.
But whatever a man loves dearly
Or has bought at a high price,
Were he to see it completely perish,
And it were not possible to save it,
Grievous misfortune might be his lot,
And he might lose his head,
Indeed his whole self.
I know this as a fact
Because some have done so,
True lovers as much as beloveds.
Now I will say something about the issue
That has moved me to speak.
This beautiful maiden
Who was the clerk’s beloved,
Was the graceful scion
Planted like a sweet young girl
Within the magnificent orchard of Love.
There she could grow up so much,
Her branches extended so far,
So finely clad with leaves,
So cunningly adorned with flowers
That she compared to the very best.
Now for a moment I wish to reflect
In order to describe these parts:
The branches of good reputation;
The leaves of being well spoken of;
The flowers of having the ability
To conduct proper dealings with others,
In her appearance as much as in her actions.
In this condition, she says: ‘Friend, take this.
I give you for your enjoyment
The favor of bearing the fruit of honor.’
Then come to him many thoughts
Born of necessity:
To have her married
According to the advice of her family.
If she does so, he should not
Worry about it so much that
He begins to despair.
Instead, he ought to wish and hope
It profits and honors her
When through a lord’s favor
She is rightfully called a lady.
This reason encourages the virtuous heart
To love far better than before.
So from this point on I maintain
He did not love her with a good intention.
Surely this is quite apparent
Since Good Love wants him to suffer,
Offering his body to such torment.
Guillaume, fair sir, I’ll say no more about it.
Say whatever you wish.”

“Charity, so God give me joy,
You have ably and in a subtle fashion
Brought up several points — and with pretty words.
But I do not see that what you’ve said
Has done me any damage at all.
I have a brief as consistent
And compelling as before
In its evidence; and so I maintain
I shall never be defeated
Unless confronted with other arguments.
One point remains established
That makes it necessary for someone to prove
The opposite of what I say;
If not, I will consider only as inconsequential
All you have brought up,
Notwithstanding your great goodness
And that you have done this in a worthy cause,
To lend your opinion authority
And denigrate my own.
So I intend to say a little something
About the clerk who was a true lover
And then plunged into such misfortune
For twenty full years, as I have related.
Now prove to me only the third of these points:
That any lady ever suffered
So terribly she offered her body to death.
Prove this point alone,
But this you will not be able to do.”

This Charity then wanted to say something,
And she had her mouth already open
To give shape to her speech.
But Honesty was so quick
She was ready even faster
And said: “Charity, sweet friend,
Let me speak, if you please;
For I will never be satisfied
If I do not speak my mind
In order to trouble his heart.”
Charity was in complete agreement,
And then Honesty presented
Her view in an honest fashion,
And this the court warmly welcomed.

And she said: “Guillaume, now listen:
You have laid little foundation
For the point you’re trying to establish.
And I will tell you why.
It is true enough he experienced
A great misfortune that came suddenly on him.
But immediately, that moment past,
His terrible troubles were gone as well.
Even though it may last long,
A grief that pierces right to the heart
Will never endure beyond its time.
And if any sorrow touches his heart,
There can be no emotion
Unless there is consent.
This principle is easy enough to credit.
He had lost his memory,
Reason, bearing, and understanding;
Thus it can be clearly seen
He had no will at all,
Only a heart eager for
The incredible foolishness he was doing.
When he lay down on a dung heap,
That was his peace, his bed.
In every way, that was his delight,
A place where he slept deeply.
There is yet another matter
You have yourself brought up.
It is certain — and well you know it —
That when his friends restrained him
And in different places locked him up,
He never ate or drank,
But, instead, continually raged at
Whoever held him again his will;
He did nothing for anyone
And lived in the open like an animal.
His was a quite disgraceful life,
Shameful had he taken account of it;
But he felt no shame at all.
So I have proved my point sufficiently
And reproved your wrong opinion
By the single point I have brought up.
And a lady who comes to know
The death of her lover will find more than a hundred times
The suffering in a single day than will that man
In a century through such a blow
As you have described here above.
Guillaume, you will either suffer
Or you will bring up another point
Because you are defeated in this one,
And it is not worth a penny to you.”

“Honesty, in truth, I will not do so.
I will speak a little more about this issue,
Since I have much with which to defend myself
If you would please hear me out.
When he lost all his senses
Because of the pain that assailed him
And deprived him of all the honor he had,
He lost much more than what little he retained.
You say he did not feel any pain
Because he was disoriented
In his behavior and understanding.
But it is certainly quite otherwise
Because, before a man can lose his mind
Or madness afflict him,
An illness grips and seizes him
That drives him to madness.
Now I will argue this briefly
In order to demonstrate vividly to you
What proof I can offer for my view
In order to gain the judgment for myself.
When two causes are brought together
And manifest themselves within a single body,
The one that arises first
Sets things into motion
Because it has the first effect
And therefore it is the chief cause.
And if someone removes the first cause,
Then the second disappears of its own accord.
Now some might say:
‘Guillaume, verbi gracia,
But what is your point?’
Here, right now, is the explanation.
We witness a dog going mad;
But what brings on this madness?
It’s from a worm that pierces his tongue.
Afterward the cause spreads so widely
He loses the ability to drink and eat,
And then must go mad.
This is then the first cause
From which the madness derives.
And when for this reason the dog cannot bark,
That’s the time to take care
He does not bite people.
Now to bring this point home better,
I’ll talk about what happened to
A dog that did go mad,
One that was loved in a rich man’s home.
Listen now to the crux of the matter.
The rich man had heard spoken about
The cause of such a malady
And wished to see it for himself,
The better to learn about it.
So he had his dog taken by force,
Tied up, tightly bound, and spread-eagled,
And then its tongue pulled completely out
So that the worm could be plainly seen.
Then the worm was extracted;
And when it had been fully drawn out,
The dog began to lick the hands
Of the man he had felt touch him;
And it was entirely cured.
And so I affirm that this was the obvious
Cause of an obscure malady;
Therefore I maintain that the attack
Of grievous illness the man’s body suffered
Kept him in the condition he was in;
And so my point is quite adequately proved
And your grievous error corrected.”

After this, Frankness stood up
And was not very timid;
She had good will and a pleasant expression,
And her manner was gracious.
Then she started to speak
And said the following in her remarks:

“It has been in most places — and always —
Observed about true loving
That women have conducted themselves better
And have remained more faithful in it
Than men everywhere.
This I think to prove — and it’s right to do so —
With some instances I intend to relate
Because they are relevant to my theme.

When those of Athens had put Androgeus
To death, Minos, the king of Crete,
Felt such bitterness on this account
That by wise and prudent means,
Through the force of arms and war,
He made desolate all their land.
And because of this outrage, Minos
Forced a deadly service upon them,
That every year they were to send him
One man; but they were to cast lots
And for that man upon whom the lot fell
It was a quite fatal mischance.
For King Minos would have him
Devoured there without delay
By a monster quite strange,
Very malevolent, and dangerous too.
But no one ought to wonder
If Minos wished to oversee all this,
Or if he were strongly moved to do so,
Because he was the father of Androgeus.
Now it happened that the lot fell
On Theseus, and this dismayed
Many, for he was the son of the king,
A noble man, valiant, and of fair appearance.
But because of the death of Androgeus,
Theseus went to Crete
To have himself killed by the monster
If he should not manifest his prowess
And prove able to defend himself against him.
Otherwise he could expect death.
And if God should grant him victory,
He would acquire honor and glory,
For he would free the Athenians
And acquit them of their servitude.
Yet nothing would have availed him, wood or iron,
Had it not been for beautiful Ariadne,
Who forgot about Minos, her father,
And Androgeus, her dear brother,
Her land, and her blood relations,
For the sake of Theseus, to whom she gave
Her heart, and so she showed him
How to kill the proud monster
In order to deliver himself from bondage.
And she gave him her maidenhood
So he would make her his wife
And take her to his own country
Along with Phaedra, her beloved sister,
Whom she would leave behind on no account.
Theseus, perjuring himself,
Swore to her by his gods and law
He would never prove false
And always be faithful to her.
He lied saying this, the traitor.
Why wasn’t he drowned in the sea?
After completing his mission,
He embarked them on his ships.
But he grievously betrayed her
When he left Ariadne asleep
And all alone in a strange land,
Abandoned, sorrowing, and deceived,
And led off the young girl,
Her sister Phaedra, and made her his wife.
This betrayal was quite fatal.
Also, I will talk about Jason,
Who took by force through Medea’s arts
The golden fleece of Colchis,
And that trickster overcame
The fiery breath of the bulls,
Put to sleep the guardian dragon,
More dreadful than any other beast,
And defeated the armed knights
In their hundreds and thousands.
But no man could have accomplished all this
Had Medea not done it for him.
She deserted her country and father,
Had her brother dear cut to pieces.
Because of her great foolishness, she killed Pelia.
And this all was to make Jason king.
Whatever she owned, she gave him freely;
Her honor and love she bestowed upon him.
But Jason abandoned Medea
For Creusa, demeaning himself greatly
And sinning grievously
When he left her and took up with the other woman.
When Medea learned the news,
Hardly pleasant or appealing to her,
She was so desperate,
So insane, so crazed,
She killed her own
Two children to spite Jason
Because they resembled him;
And then she torched her own house.
Afterward the wretched woman fled
Through the air with her serpents.
But later in foreign lands
These women were crowned queens.
For Aegeus, the king of Athens,
Was beguiled by Medea;
Bacchus honored Ariadne
Greatly, for he dearly loved her.
These two married the women
In their own countries and crowned them.

And so, Guillaume, that is the gist.
Loyalty as great as that of women
Cannot be found in any man,
Nor would men ever be as deeply
Inflamed by the spark of love
As a worthy lady would.
For when there is less love,
There is that much less suffering
Because it comes from feeling pain.
And I cannot agree
That, enduring the ills of love,
Any man would feel as much as a woman.
And the man has a hundred
Remedies unavailable to women.”

“Young lady, the treason
Of either Theseus or Jason
Has nothing to do with our issue,
And that was hardly the first
Or last betrayal
There’s been with lovers,
As often with women as with men.
And I wouldn’t give two apples
For proving your point
By bringing up such examples.
For if I intended to establish my case
By examples, I would find
More than ten, indeed more than twenty of them.
Everyone knows well what happened
To the lover of the Chatelaine
De Vergy: he loved her with a love
So certain he killed himself unhesitatingly
When he saw her dead for the sake of his love.

Virtuous Lancelot and Tristan
Endured ten times more pain
Than any woman could suffer,
As much as she could subject herself to it,
And they were a hundred times more loyal
Than Jason was disloyal,
Or Theseus either, who sinned greatly
Against Ariadne when he seduced Phaedra.
Still, I wish to tell of another
If you are willing to listen to me.

A lady was loved
By a knight without any baseness,
And she gave him a ring that was
Quite beautiful (it was neither cheap nor ugly),
On the condition he always wear
And never remove it
From his finger unless she did.
And the knight, who was
Hers completely, promised this in good faith,
And then the lady put it on his finger.
Now it happened she had a husband
Whose heart was gloomy and vexed
Because he recognized the ring,
Having seen it another time.
So he went at once to ask
The woman and command her
To furnish it on the spot
On pain of losing his favor.
The lady said she had it,
But where, she did not really know.
So she made a show of going to look for it
And, opening a drawer,
Like a cunning and sharp woman
Spoke this secret message to one of her people:
‘Go directly to my lover
And tell him I am in for a bad time
Unless he sends my ring back;
And do not delay along the way,
For my master wishes to have it
Without hearing excuses.
Make it clear he shouldn’t fail me.
For if he does, I am shamed
And in danger of losing my honor
And the favor of my lord.’
The messenger did not delay at all,
But proceeded faster than a walk
To the knight and told him everything
I related earlier in my tale.
When the knight heard this,
His heart nearly broke
Because he feared his lady
Might be dishonored or accused on his account.
So he said: ‘Friend, by the faith I owe her,
She will have my finger along with the ring,
For I will not remove it.’
So then he took out a knife,
Cut off his finger, and sent it to her
Along with the ring she had put there.
Could anyone do something more loyal
Than this, or more loving?
Surely, not at all. Such is my view.
For her lover was very trustworthy,
And so I should very much dare expect
A judgment of truth with no more debate,
For men should have more respect
And in every case be counted superior
To women, whose words
You maintain that I consider frivolous,
Because as everyone says — and this you know well —
Virtue should triumph everywhere.
And these men were considered
Virtuous and loyal in every royal court,
However much the ladies did for their lovers
And no matter how much they suffered.
But people say — and true it is —
It’s always one extreme or the other,
Too much or too little. This is how I see it:
These extremes are not worthy of praise.
However, anyone caught in the snares
Of love who shows moderation
Acts wisely and well.
And the sage, a man who does not lie, says
The fortunate hold to the middle path
Wherever they go.”

Prudence responded to this,
And she neither implicated nor involved herself
In the issue at hand.
And this lady said: “Guillaume, now
I see well your intention.
But I hold a contrary view,
One very different from yours.
It is well known that the Chatelaine
Died for the sake of a young man
Because he could not keep her secret.
Instead, he related all their affair
To the Duchess of Burgundy.
And the Duchess did a terrible thing
When at a feast she let it slip
She knew all about the business
Of the trickery with the little dog.
So the Chatelaine died saying ‘alas’
Because of her lover’s error.
And when the lover saw his beloved
Dead and undone because of his gossiping,
If he killed himself, he did what he should,
For he deserved to suffer another kind of death
And did nothing but what was just
When he killed himself to punish his misdeed;
For they should have had wild horses
Tear him to pieces for what he’d done.
So it is my view the Chatelaine
Suffered more misfortune and hurt
When she had to die for no reason
Than did the young man who killed himself
And deserved to hang;
For this reason his torment was less.
And if Tristan and Lancelot
Were valiant, I dare well say
Their valor and prowess
Meant glory, honor, and riches to them;
And no man might acquire
Such goods without suffering some earthly pain.
And so, Guillaume, I dare say
The ladies in question endured
A hundred times more pain and torment
Than the lovers to whom they were committed,
For they suffered mournful thoughts,
Fears that confounded them,
As well as the words of slanderers.
And if these men had waited ten years,
Never would they have found perfect joy;
For whoever waits is quite annoyed,
And nothing grieves the human heart so much
As slander and nagging thoughts.
And the ladies found no benefit in all this
Except what little joy they received.
And so it is with many ladies
Who surrender their hearts and souls
And whatever they own to their lovers;
And when each woman has given so much
That their men acquire knightly honor,
Which is manifest in word and action,
The women draw no other salary
Save a little glory from what they do.
The men have the kernel; the women the chaff,
For the honor belongs to the men, whatever might happen.
And if misfortune is sometimes their lot,
The ladies are the first to suffer.
Surely this is an inadequate reward
When for good they get strife in return.

In regard to the man who cut off his finger,
He struck an unfortunate blow in truth.
For Guillaume, whatever anyone might say,
I consider this quite foolish
And intend to argue a little against this view.
For there were three or four
Paths that should have sufficed,
But he chose the worst of all.
And furthermore I do not believe at all
That the woman who was his beloved,
If the love she felt had been faithful,
Would not have preferred the risky business
Of her husband and his anger,
Even if it meant the bond ought to have been
Broken between those two right at that moment,
Rather than depriving her lover of a finger
So he would always be disfigured,
Less esteemed, and quite impaired.”

“Frankness, no doubt you have
Spoken well, for you can speak ably.
But I know for certain
Your conscience says otherwise
And you have argued the opposite
Of what truly lies in your heart.
But, I ask you, please
Let us focus our debate,
For we have moved too far from the question
Broached at its beginning.
It is indisputable, as I affirm,
There is nothing stable in a woman’s heart
, Nothing certain, no constancy of any kind
Save complete changeability.
And since she is so fickle
That she is firm about or convinced of nothing
And alters for the slightest reason,
It follows she laughs or cries over trifles;
And so great joy and immense suffering
Cannot remain with her for very long
Because her nature leads her
To laugh easily and cry over little things;
She agrees readily and demurs just as fast.
She has her say but then denies it,
And she forgets utterly
And easily what she does not see.
Now since she cannot ever possess
Her lover again, for money,
For tears, moaning, lamentation,
Or for anything she might do;
And also since by her nature
She forgets quite readily
Any person out of her sight,
One could well conclude that if she experienced
Loss and hurt because of her lover,
She would be ready again in such a short time
‘That for the one lost, two recovered’
Would be the reproach made to her.
In contrast, a man’s heart is firm, secure,
Wise, experienced, and mature,
Virtuous and strong in endurance,
But humble in suffering adversity.
And when all aflame
With amorous burning, his heart is so committed
It would rather die behind its shield
Than be seen beaten down or vanquished.
What I maintain is hardly arguable,
For everyone says so and agrees
And since everyone says the same
I have written it in my poem.
So I say in conclusion
That, considering the nature
Of men and women, no woman
Can suffer as much torment,
However much she moans and carries on,
As any man’s heart can bear,
For it is simply not in her nature.
Reason and good custom concur.
In any case, the misfortune that ends
Is less severe than the one that does not,
But rather endures right to death,
Killing whoever suffers the ill.”

Generosity, who was sitting nearby,
Then spoke up, for it suited her well to do so,
And she said: “Guillaume, truly,
I am astonished how
You dare to malign women,
For you should not talk this way.
And any blame in what you have said
Falls more on you than on women.
You have said in your poem
(And surely you are wrong)
How everyone considers it the truth
That all women are fickle,
And their word is worth no more
Than a weathercock in the wind.
But this entire company
Believes the opposite and is against you.
So for this reason you can certainly say
You are not endorsed
And must pay the piper.
I don’t know what more to say,
For no one can construct a valid
Argument on a faulty premise.”

“I cannot hold my peace,”
Declared Wariness of misdeed,
“Rather I will speak what is on my mind,
For all my heart shakes and quivers
When for no reason I hear
Ladies maligned and defamed.
Now listen to my question.
Fair Guillaume, I ask you
If that woman alters or changes
Who is all the days of her life
A loyal beloved, never betraying
In deed, desire, or thought?”

“Surely, damsel, not at all!
But I believe not one such would be found
Among five hundred thousand,
For this seed is too thinly sown.”

“My fair sir, may God preserve me,
Your point of view is quite strange
And your words amaze me!
You must have been to the school
Of constant change, or so I believe;
And because your own heart is fickle,
You believe everyone is the same
As you. But, please God, it is not so!
For I will prove the contrary
In fact, whomever it should displease!”

“Damsel, I hope you won’t be dismayed
If I look at you in a friendly way,
For I do not dislike you enough
To frown at you.
And if my words are unwelcome,
It’s a good cart that never overturns.
But I believe I speak the truth,
However much you would like to dispute it.
So I am quite badly treated here
If for speaking the truth I am beaten down.”

And then Sufficiency rose to her feet
And said: “Guillaume, without a doubt,
You have now misspoken.
Look to what you are saying!
For no man who wishes to speak the truth
Would be able to defame women
Or what they are (this is well known)
Since so much good can be said;
And so I advise and enjoin you
Not to say, without counsel, any more,
For you are a very young man
To make arguments like these.”

Then I heard a murmuring,
For each lady was whispering
About how forcefully I was upholding
What I had said about women;
And I saw each was giving the impression
She was displeased.
And taking note of how
They were speaking and the looks on their faces,
And that all were eager
To add fuel to the fire,
I made a request to the judge,
Who seemed fairly honest to me,
And I begged him humbly
And stated in my proposal
That they should speak at once
And thus have done more quickly.
For so they were doing, it seemed to me,
Talking all at once, that is;
And at this the judge started to smile,
For he saw they were all growing angry.
And, to be sure, I felt quite great joy
Seeing them in such a state.
But the judge, who was intent on
Making a wise judgment,
Immediately imposed silence on them,
With the exceptions of Sufficiency
And Wariness of misdeed as well.
And Wariness began to rehearse
A story that reflected her viewpoint,
And she began in this fashion.

“What did Thisbé do for Pyramus?
When she saw him naked and dead
Because of her, without any recourse,
She became so grief-stricken
She ran herself through with a sword,

Right through the body, and left it there.
For she would not live on after him,
But instead put an end to her love and life
With laments, tears, and wailing.
Surely this was a perfect love.
For there is no pain or suffering
That can be compared to death;
Nor could anyone convince me
That any man’s heart could break
So cruelly, or that he could injure himself
As did Thisbé for love.
And whoever would say a man is strong
In suffering the hardships of loving,
With a heart stronger than adamant
Or any diamond might be,
I would not give for his strength
A bit of putrid peel,
Nor do I value highly his fortitude,
His virtue or maturity either,
Or anything he endures.
But when a woman suffers pain
She conceals in her heart,
She proceeds to
Give herself to it body and soul.
But, Guillaume, I don’t believe at all
That any man has ever been seen
Who died from a lack of reward
Or who was not quickly comforted,
However disconsolate his heart might have been;
Nor is there any pain comparable
To death, however grievous it may seem,
No more than fire depicted in a painting
Can be compared to fire in nature.
For Nature cannot produce anything,
No matter how contrary to the human body,
Comparable to death,
Nor can a heart endure anything like it.”

“Wariness, stop your arguing,
For I wish to help you a bit
In bringing your point
To an even truer conclusion,
Although you’ve developed it quite well
And reasonably, better than others could.
Sufficiency then began by saying
The following for all to hear:

“Leander, that handsome and clever man,
Was friendly with a young girl
Named Hero the beautiful;
In all the land there was no
Damsel so attractive,
None so noble by far or so lovely;
Nor was there in Abydos or Crete
Any love affair as secret,
For no one knew of their bond
Save a serving woman
Who had raised beautiful Hero.
She alone was in the know.
They loved each other with a quite perfect love.
It was very hard for them to meet,
For between Hero and Leander
Extended an arm of the sea
That was so wide and deep
No one had ever found its bottom.
And this troubled them greatly.
But every night Leander
Passed over that arm of the sea in the open
Completely naked, alone, with no boat or barge.
Beautiful Hero of the noble appearance
Had a house with a tower
Where every night she waited for him,
Keeping a candle burning
Toward which Leander often directed himself
When the sea threw him off course.
Now it happened that the sea, troubled by
A strong wind, rose high,
And it became roiled by the wind
That disturbed and roused it.
Leander stayed on the shore,
Struggling mightily against his heart,
For Love enjoined and commanded him,
As did his heart, that he should determine to cross.
And on the other side, summoning him,
He saw the most beautiful woman in the world;
And so the miserable man did not know what to do,
Nor could he figure a way out of the fix,
For the sea, he saw, was so threatening
It was impossible to traverse.
And all the region was in an uproar
With storm and thundering.
But in the end Love so inspired him
He leapt into the water,
Where he quickly drowned,
For he could not make his way to her.
And, surely, this was a great loss,
For he was a man quite valiant and wise.

Beautiful Hero did not know what to say;
So much anguish and anger did she feel
She could find consolation in nothing.
She wished very much to be dead
When her lover was so delayed.
From the heart she sighed; from the eyes she cried.
That night she had more than a thousand thoughts,
Multiplied some five hundred thousand times.
All she could do was call upon
Neptune, the god of the sea,
And she promised him calves and heifers,
Oblations and sacrifices
If only he would calm the sea
So Leander might cross it.
She continued all night doing so
And held the burning candle in her hand
Until a new day dawned at last.
But this day brought her ill luck,
For in the waves she spied Leander,
Who was floating aimlessly.
And when she could see him close up,
She threw herself upon his body
Right at the foot of her tower;
And she held him close,
Crazed as she was, and cried out: ‘Alas!’
Beautiful Hero met her end in this way,
Drowned in the sea from grief
Along with her lover because of love.
And so there is no pain or misfortune
That might afflict a lover’s heart
And bring on such grievous pain
As that which spared nothing,
Which made Hero die
For the sake of the lover she saw dead.
Nor could anyone with reason
Make a true comparison to anything else,
No more than bitterness set against balm.
And so, Guillaume, I counsel you
To suspend this debate,
For truly you are mistaken.”

“Young lady, if I am in the wrong,
I know well I shall be condemned,
But not by you; for the passing
Of this sentence ought not
To come from your mouth
Since you are involved.
Instead it must be pronounced by the judge,
Who will decide fittingly and truthfully.
But my heart greatly rejoices
In what I have heard you say;
For truly it all helps my case.”

“Helps yours, fair Guillaume? How so?”

“Young lady, now please listen,
And I will tell you without delay.

When Love so tightly snared
Leander, who was swimming across the sea
Naked, without boat or oar,
At midnight or thereabouts,
The fool who erred terribly
In crossing the sea for the sake of love,
Did more and suffered worse
Than did Hero, who gave herself to death,
If one considers the great perils
That in the end destroyed him,
Since Hero did not do the same out of love for him,
Notwithstanding her death and lamentation.
For he who first does
Something honorable is commonly said
To get the grace from the good deed,
Not the one for whom it is done.
And he is truer to Love who bestows
Than he who gives in return.
So it is with all kinds of service,
And likewise with every kind of mistreatment.
For whoever troubles himself to hurt another
Ought surely to bear the punishment for it.
Thus, my dear damsel, you
Who are very keen to honor the beautiful lady,
To speak the truth, you should certainly
Have the honor of this encounter.
For you have discoursed ably,
Skillfully, and wisely; but surely
God made you speak for my sake,
For I am the one who will profit from it.

And so, noble and worthy lady,
I think you understand quite well
The opinions of the two parties.
And if the ladies who have here sided
Against me wish to say something more,
I will offer no protest,
But I have said what I think
In the presence of the ladies here assembled,
And it is sufficient, I do not doubt at all,
To win the debate for me.”

And then the sovereign lady,
True leader of the twelve
Who had spoken on her side
(And this pleased the judge greatly),
Said this so all could hear:
“I find nothing that has happened
In our debate displeasing;
Instead I am quite well satisfied
And wish to be done with it now.
Sir judge, render your decision
So that sentence may be passed.
I have very high hopes
For the judgment I expect from you.
When it pleases you to decide,
You have competent and assured counselors
Who are cool-headed and quite mature.
So proceed, if you please, to deliberate;
I so advise and recommend,
And take this matter under advisement at once.
You could do no better
Than to request in a fitting way
Some good advice and afterward rehearse
The issues that bear on the judgment,
According to our understanding,
Preserving our honor at all times.
This you ought to do, my lord,
For you certainly are so competent
You shall not be found wanting in any way.”

The judge, listening closely
To her words, paid such good attention
He did not fail to understand them.
His advisers he assembled at once,
And then they retired.
Now I did not know at the moment
What they said in private.
But quite soon afterward a lover
Who was very fond of me did me the favor
Of telling me about everything,
Not through favoritism on his part,
But because of his good breeding,
So that I would not disagree at all
Or be surprised by anything
And thus could assume a manner
Of complete composure and assurance;
For I was obliged to react the same
To a decision for me as to one against.
And so I set myself upon this course;
Therefore my heart was put more at ease.

When they had disposed themselves in council,
The judge said: “I have been commissioned
To be a competent and trustworthy judge,
Amicable toward the two parties
To the same degree and without bias.
Thus I must examine quite carefully
All the evidence as it was presented
To us while we listened
So I can judge faithfully.
This is what good judges should do.
And you all should exert yourselves
To advise me in good faith.
So let everyone say what she wishes
Because we have time for it.”
And immediately afterward Discretion,
Who was at the side of Understanding, said:

“I am Discretion, who must attend carefully
To how I should advise you,
For someone might be quite unwilling
To judge without good advice.

I advise you to do what is good
And undo what is wrong.
And thus it is your task,
So nothing may lack perfection,
To attend to four things
That are not so troublesome
A man cannot see to them properly
If he wishes to spend some time on them.
As for this judgment you must render,
You must undertake first
To learn what the wrong might be
And against whom it has been done.
And then you must also come to learn
And seek out with great wisdom,
Having already discovered the wrong
And the injured party as well,
In order to understand the matter entirely —
Namely what moved the man to do it.
Now of the four things you have three.
And the fourth is the most difficult
And you must carefully attend to it
In whatever way it can be best seen to:
And that is you should pay attention
To following the principles of nature
Or of custom related to law.
In this way, you will judge on a sound basis.
Now I will say no more. Whoever wishes, let her speak.
For my part, I have said enough.”

Understanding, who paid attention
To the points Discretion had well developed,
Said loudly: “Discretion, my friend,
Has just given voice to several issues
He has described,
And these I have noted well
Because I am Understanding,
Who lends good Discretion the substance
To devise what he devises,
With which he advises this good company.
I make understood the meaning of Discretion,
And he makes Understanding increase
Through the courtly advice he gives
Many a person by his right.
Judge, please make plain
How closely you will hold
To the terms and customs of Discretion.
Do so and you act wisely.
And as for me who am his companion,
Listen to how I instruct you.
This debate has been here conducted,
Proceeding through its different stages
Until the point of hearing a judgment.
Look to who shall be pleased with it.
Judge according to the testimony
That has been offered before you.
In this way you cannot go wrong;
For if anyone wished to fault you,
The pleadings would demonstrate
The rationale to justify you.
Be bold in your judgment
And require that with full understanding
The condemned party pay the price.
You have the right to command him.
I, Understanding, am in agreement.
And I accept also the opinion
Of Moderation, who is seated there
At the side of Reason, and this suits her well,
And Reason will also say
Whatever she deems appropriate.”

Then Moderation rose,
Saying: “My highly esteemed friend
Understanding, I wish to say nothing
You might find objectionable;
Instead I very much agree
With what you have been saying here.
And in your honor I will speak of it
To the judge, this noble lord
Who is courteous and friendly,
Wise, valiant, and honorable.”
Then toward him she turned her face
In such a flirtatious fashion
He could not refrain from laughing.
And Moderation began to say to him:
“Fair sir, you have been fortunate
In the counsel you sought out.
At first you had a quite good
Beginning with Discretion,
For one assuredly should in a royal court
Receive advice as trustworthy as this.
I do not say another company
Would not proffer advice
As proper and as well considered,
Fittingly dressed out with proper speech.
But let us look to the nature
Of Discretion as he himself understands it.
He provides counsel free and clear,
Expecting no reward at all in return
Except that the judge might do
What would bring peace, honor, and thanks.
And Understanding, his companion,
Accompanies him for the same salary,
Without demanding anything further;
And so a trustworthy judge rests easy,
One advised by such as these.
Therefore, sire, you ought to be happy about it.
Although they have spoken ably,
I will say something more about a point
Discretion has taken notice of —
And yet has not described at length —
And that Understanding has understood.
Now in this case they have been obliged
To exert themselves to honor me;
And so I will offer it to you
Because I have certainly noticed
They have paid me due heed.
Even so, I will go ahead and say
Some things about my nature.

I am moderated Moderation,
Temperate in all good deeds,
And also I am moderating,
Firm, stable, and strong in endurance
For all who wish without trickery
To make proper use of moderation;
And whoever does not, what will be, will be.
And let him be mindful of his own hurt.
In this regard, a master of great wisdom,
Who had a very virtuous conscience,
Was instructing his disciple
And explaining the teachings about me,
Saying: ‘Friend, I admonish you.
If you do not acquire Moderation yourself,
She will make herself felt in you regardless.
Remember this saying well:
If she comes to you, you are done for.
But if you welcome her, you will be all right.’
Now I would like to review thoroughly all the points
Discretion and Understanding raise.
They have served out generously
And courteously their good advice,
Just as one serves at a meal,
Without judging the particulars of the case.
And since they have served well,
They have earned thanks.
I would like to add up the bill
And give everyone his due.
Guillaume, who once was
So well mannered in all his actions,
So honest and courteous as well,
Conforming to the chastisements of love,
Launched an attack against Frankness
And all those of her high rank
When my lady properly approached him
About the deed she reprimanded him for,
And he felt himself upbraided
For just case and reproached as well.
He then proceeded forcefully,
Putting every effort into it,
To defend himself against her.
This fact distresses me a great deal
Because he acted immoderately.
For these reasons, he has abandoned
The rules and principles of Moderation,
And this will trouble him greatly
When I bring him back to me;
For I will turn him away from honor
When Understanding informs him
Of the misdeed he has committed.
He should have properly measured
The station of the gentle, honored person
Of that sovereign lady;
For in all the Christian realm
There is no man who, if he knew her
— And it is good to believe it would be so —
Would not honor her highly
And would not measure himself
As humble and of lesser courtliness
In regard to her great nobility;
And so Guillaume was deceived
When he did not perceive this.
For he began much too haughtily,
And so has advanced himself but little
In the competent presentation of his case.
And this is quite enough to have him punished.
Now let us look to the issue itself
From its proper commencement
In order to distinguish between the parties,
How they are divided,
In order to learn which one is in error.
I say Guillaume is wrong,
For of all cruel misfortunes,
Death is the absolute worst;
Which is to say, it surpasses all miseries,
And that is because no one recovers from it.
For a person can suffer more easily
What he can recover from.
I do not wish to go on further,
For to condemn him I have enough
Evidence, much more grievous things that are
Simpleminded, foolish, inane, and vainglorious.

Sir judge, now listen to me;
For the sake of the goal at which you aim,
Namely the rendering of a faithful judgment,
I wish to consider somewhat
How this trial was conducted.
And if you please, look
Into this a little yourself
So you can the better refrain
From judging in any but the proper fashion.
For you will recognize the point
On which justice is properly fixed
When a judge aims at true justice.
I want you to be certain
That Guillaume is to be reproached
For the part of his argument
That has been badly presented,
Notwithstanding that in every way
And in everything the law is against him;
And so my lady is completely victorious,
As much in the debate as in the correctness
Of her complaint, which has been completely
Clarified and put out of doubt.
My lady has through her damsels
Alleged quite pertinent reasons
And facts that are all true,
Firm, assured, and unassailable,
All drawn from written tradition
And connected to the law.
But whoever might want to recount all this
Would have too much to consider here.
And, furthermore, one thing is certain:
The court has been sufficiently provided
With all that anyone wished to say
On my lady’s behalf with no infamy;
And so I will be silent about my lady.
And concerning Guillaume, who has been
Intent on arguing his case,
I will say something — for I wish to do so —
But only in regard to his pleading.
And I will pass over this quickly
By the faith you owe all your friends.
Let us see what he has brought up.
Concerning the clerk who went mad,
Has he proved what caused this,
That it was something his lady did?
Sir judge, by the faith I owe my soul,
He has proved nothing of the kind;
And so he ought to be reproved.
And concerning the knight who in his anguish
Not to violate his pledge
Cut off his finger with the ring still on it,
He erected in her honor a monument
Full of shame and madness
When in a fit of great craziness
The man sent it on to his lady.
For I certainly believe she found it troubling,
Or at least it should have troubled her
To have sent her such a thing as a present.
For when a lady loves her lover,
By the law of Love she claims him as her own
And has the right to claim an injury, so I think.
Now let us consider how in regard
To this principle the knight erred.
The thing she loved he harmed,
And it was hers by the law of Love;
And so I lodge a complaint
Against Guillaume on this point
Because I think he has accomplished nothing.
For this instance he has presented as evidence
Damages and undermines his case.
And also, in regard to the Chatelaine
Of Vergy, I can refute this example
Sufficiently with only a little trouble,
Using the reasons I will here rehearse.
The evidence that Guillaume adduces,
Sire, you know contends
That the lover, filled with loyalty,
Found falseness in his lady.
And beginning with this assumption,
He makes an allegation
To be proven by a contrary fact.
The respectable chatelaine
Did not wrong her lover in any way.
Instead, he himself did
What caused her to kill herself.
When he found out, he felt remorse
And came to the recognition
That vengeance was required;
And so he passed judgment on himself,
Punished and corrected himself for everything,
And thus Guillaume, with all he has said,
Has said less than nothing to his profit.
I will say no more; rather Reason will say
Whatever she wishes.”

At these words, Reason stood up
In the manner of one well schooled and wise,

Saying, “Let us return to the council room.
There we can with truthful speech
Render a truthful judgment, I think,
If there is any man capable of understanding it.”
At once they left that place.
And they again sat down in their own seats
Where they had sat earlier.
With measured words, Reason then said:
“Sir judge, certainly
There is nothing beneath the firmament
That does not seek its proper end:
Some things tend toward perfection
For various reasons pertaining to their own laws;
And there are yet others that descend
From on high where they have been,
Declining from a season of summer
Into the so-called winter of destruction.
Just so, this pleading is tending to arrive at
A speedy conclusion according to the law
Through a definitive sentence,
So as to perfect what has been done well
And remedy what has been done badly.
And the moment has arrived, as well you know,
When you must speak of it
Or command that it be spoken of.”

“Lady Reason, it is not fitting for me
To speak at this present time.
But I receive well the notion
Of deciding. And concerning my decision,
So that it may be to our liking,
It is up to you to say and do
Enough to efface everything wrong
And restore the right to the hue
Of every honorable honor,
You who can paint in such colors
As no one else save you can manage.”

Then Reason halted a little
And leaned toward her right,
While glancing to her left
In order to see better how I was doing,

And she said to me: “Guillaume, fair sir,
You have just now heard said
It is madness to take on
More than ability can compass.
And yet when a man undertakes to do
Something that gives offense,
If he repents in the middle,
Then he will still make out all right.
But he who persists in his error
And exerts himself to see it through
Until he comes right to the very end,
And at that point he finds nothing
Except his own grief and harm,
If then he acknowledges his own misdeed,
He comes too late to repentance.
Guillaume, be sure — and it’s no lie —
This is how you have carried on,
And so you have merited some unpleasantness
That will soon fall to your lot,
And it will long endure,
Truly, if you do not repent.
But I believe you are the kind of man
Who will not deign to do so,
For you were quite rude in your behavior
When the lady approached you
About the deed for which she reproached you,
Something you did some time ago.
If you had shown in yourself
Any recognition of this at all,
Which would have been a sign of repentance
For having committed this wrong
Against ladies of great worthiness,
You would have acted very much the wise man.
For the custom of Love is such
That when any man vilifies women,
If he does not recant and henceforth refrain
From so doing, he must make great amends
Or pay a very high price.
Now concerning this initial misdeed
I tell you on behalf of sovereign
Love, who is master and lord,
The physician for the wounds of love,
Namely that a judgment has been rendered
Condemning you in this matter.
And so it is necessary you make amends;
The time for this quickly approaches.
In addition, I am empowered to order
You to make amends
For another deed that displeases me,
In that you undertook to debate
A lady of such worthiness
And of such very noble authority
That no highborn person I know of,
So far as the world extends,
No prince or duke, count or king,
Would dare commit such an outrage,
Guillaume, as the one you did
In the dispute you undertook against her.
And you put into this force and vigor
As you proceeded aggressively;
And you’ve continued in the same vein.
In this way, you have stripped your mind
Of courtesy and respectfulness.
And if she did not have the patience
That she does, you would have lost so much
You would have come to grief.”

Hearing this, I was distressed;
But I was neither abashed nor hesitant
To ask her humbly
If she would briefly explain to me
The truth about the lady
And something about her powers.

Then she said: “Guillaume, willingly.
But today I will not describe even a third,
No, not even a hundredth part.
For from the sky down to the pit of hell,
Her powers extend through all things,
And from these powers flow
Quite marvelous results,
Things that are dangerous to utter
And show this through their contraries.
For these reasons, it is well to pass them over in silence
Because of faulty understandings,
And these sometimes are perverse.
The lady’s name is Happiness,
And she holds Security by the hand
Among the company of Fortune.
For there is no person
Whom Fortune can bring down
If the lady wishes to contest it.
And when she intends to work through Nature
Because she has some special concern
She can be seen there readily
In truth by the astrologers
Who recognize the different nations
Among the constellations,
That is to say, in the birth of infants,
To what sign they will belong.
And so when the dear lady is regnant
And an infant is born into his sign,
If Happiness takes charge of him,
Nature does not take him back from her,
But instead very much lets her do her will,
No matter how it is to turn out.
It is true that Nature takes care of
How the infant lives and laughs.
And Happiness leads him
Into the domain of good luck
Until the time has come for it to show
That Happiness is caring for him.

Now these people are all around us,
And in them the lady makes herself manifest
Through the benefits they receive,
As long as they do not betray her somehow.
Now I want to tell you specifically
In what different ways she manifests herself,
In some, but not in all.
And have no doubt of any kind
About the words I will speak,
For in no way will I lie.
She appears in prosperity
And in the leaving behind of poverty.
She is there in the making of friends
And in the punishment of enemies
Through a victory, without any wrongdoing.
She appears in every good deed,
And when she is present in love,
It is that the lover, through his demands,
Through his service and pleadings,
And because of proper deeds of all kinds,
Is able to enjoy his lady in peace,
To take pleasure in the special privilege
Love grants in her generosity.
There Happiness sits
Between the lover and loyal beloved,
Those who wish for only what is courtly
And who have by an explicit pledge
Placed great trust in one another.
She sustains them in a quite grand style.
All goods are hers to bestow properly.
And so she is much more gay and friendly.
She is acquainted with all good things.
She appears in many diversions,
In jousts as much as in tourneys,
In order to exalt chivalry
And advance the deeds of good men
In the understanding of women.
There honor grows; there infamy falls away.
For the man who has been maligned
Is afterward cherished and loved
By those who spoke ill of him
Because they see openly
That he puts his life at risk;
And so the time comes when he takes his chance
In a trial of arms he embarks upon,
Until in the end he rises to the highest rank.
In this way Happiness advances
Her own through her great power.

If Happiness through Nature,
Or by fortune, or according to custom
Does appear in chivalry,
She also appears in learning.
There she holds honor in her hands.
More to one and less to another
She makes her generous distribution;
And she gives out the greatest shares
To those who obey better the summons
Happiness issues them.
She is also manifest in knowledge
And encloses herself within the mind
In order to safeguard at times those
In whom are peace and good faith,
Those who have not in any acknowledged fashion
Put their wisdom into a public form,
But rather are wise in secret.
In them she keeps herself hidden;
And in them Faithful Secrets and Good Living
Afford her good companionship.
And there she wishes to rest
And appropriately turn those hearts
Toward the contemplative life.
Then by the active path she returns
To encourage those to speak
Who willingly hold discussion
About the virtues of contemplation.
And therefore many, with good intentions,
Then incline themselves to her teachings,
So they each teach themselves on their own
How to be diligent and eager
To become contemplative.
Why should I go on speaking about this to you?
Happiness possesses so many goods
Never might I have related
The hundredth part of her virtue.
So in the world there is no great lord,
No lady, however much honor they might possess,
For whom it would not be pleasing and noble
If they could be among her company.
Now I will be silent. I will say no more about her,
But deal instead with what remains
Of the two counts on which you have been condemned.
And I have my thoughts in order
For what I intend to tell you about the third count
On which I shall condemn you.

It is certainly an indisputable fact
That if someone opposes a complaint,
Busies himself with producing evidence,
And then comes to the test,
Yet fails to prove his view adequately,
The truth of the law then reproves him
And he must be condemned.
This legal principle arose so long ago
There is no memory of its contrary.
Now let us see what I wish to recount,
So listen carefully to what I say.
Whatever the lady told you
About her evidence, you opposed,
And you tried to offer proof for your view.
Yet you have so badly failed to prove it
You ought to be reprimanded
And, as a consequence, condemned
In my opinion.
You have said nothing here save
Words that are frivolous.
They are pretty to mouth in private,
But they contain no substance
To afford you an advantage
In sustaining the proof of your case.
And so we have looked into and
Examined this case as best we could
In order to seek out a faithful judgment.
If it pleases you to know the particulars,
You will be told about the different opinions,
And how they are distributed to those involved,
And also all aspects of your error.
And if you see it might be time
For your sentence to be pronounced,
Then tell us what you think in your heart.
For whatever pleases you, it will be done
Thoroughly enough to satisfy you.”

“Lady, I have listened to you quite well
And have waited some time
To be sentenced.
So I beg you to be diligent
About delivering me to it,
That is, about granting me my sentence.
Since what I did is so serious,
Three amends are required,
And since things cannot go otherwise,
I do not wish to discuss the matter further.”

“Guillaume, be completely assured
That you have received justice here.
And we will not be negligent in any way.
But now you should be just as diligent.
So get on your feet at this time
To do what you should do
In the presence of that man who sits as judge.
And then he will do what he thinks right.
From now on the matter rests with him
Since he holds in his hands all the legal power.”

At this word, I went over to the judge
And got down on one knee.
There I offered my person to him
In as appropriate a speech
As I was able and knew how to deliver.
And it made him smile a little.
I then took my gloves and tendered them to him.
And he who paid this close attention
Seized and then dropped them.
In a moment, he leaned down again
And took them up a second time,
Then letting them drop, then taking them up once more
As a sign to demonstrate to me how
I owed him three payments for damages.
Quite well he signified this to me,
Assuring me in truth
That I would have to pay them.
Then without hesitation he told me
I should go back and sit down,
For he wished to look to
What penance he would assign me,
And to this he would shortly deliver me.

Then he drew up close to the lady,
As did Reason, quite demurely,
And he counseled privately with them,
Taking care to speak softly.
But in their whispering
I found some relief,
Because I saw well
Their council was a pleasant one,
For from time to time they laughed,
And just at that moment when they were
Most seriously deliberating,
Discretion said to me: “I advise you
To look at this lady
And attend carefully to
The rightful aspects of her estate.
There you will see a great deal
Of her grace and power.
And in this way you will have a much stronger heart
For enduring and for suffering
Whatever justice she will render you.”
Then I said to him: “Dear sweet friend,
You describe these things to me,
You who know the obvious
And hidden details of so many things.
Often you take on such a task;
That’s something I know well.”

Discretion said then: “This merits doing.
Now pay quick attention:
As far as describing the parts is concerned,
If this is something you wish to mark well,
She has put on a shift
That is called Frankness
In order to liberate secret lovers
And enrich them with Seriousness
On behalf of Silence,
With Understanding in agreement.
For until she has been seen
Her cause should be kept silent.
And her fur tunic, that is Simplicity,
So soft it does not wound her,
For it comes from Goodwill,
Gilt-edged by Sufficiency,
With the pelts from Sweet Pleasure,
Who moves good hearts toward every good.
And the robe with linen sleeves that she wears
In very honorable virtue
Was crafted by Loyal Friendship,
Pleated by Steadfastness
Tipped with ribbons from Perseverance,
Neatly, without any disorder.
Now this robe is beautiful and flowing,
And by proper right it is called,
Because of its special status,
Honest Familiarity,
And the belt she has girded herself with
Is no insignificant thing in regard to love,
For it is properly called Loyal Promise,
Studded with Stable Commitment,
For whoever makes promises,
It is necessary they be trusted.
And the belt medallion, because it is heavy,
Serves to beat down dissension and discord,
And thus it hangs down all the way to her feet.
And her feet prevent many an argument
Between the beloved and loyal lover
Whenever any lover cries ‘Alas!
I have been refused by my lady;
But my right has not been abused,
For I believe she has done so
To my profit and to her honor.’
And so her feet keep this company in line,
Whomever she holds in her domain;
For they are shod with Relief,
Laced with the cord of Diligence.
And she has put white gloves on her hands,
Which have been equally made
By both Charity and Generosity,
With which she shares out the riches
Of Love, which cannot be exhausted
Or reduced as time goes by.
The more that is taken, the more remains
From day to day and hour to hour.

I would like to tell you about the mantle,
Which is so handsome to describe,
And he who wears it finds it better than handsome
In words, demeanor, and deeds.
The wool of Good Reflection
Along with Courtly Speech,
Knowledgeable Introduction,
And Friendly Intention
Were woven there together,
Properly felted by Goodness.
And the cloth of Good Appearance
Was made by assembling these things,
Dyed a merry color
Of most honorable worthiness
That is called Nobility,
And it was lined with Gentility.
Now Happiness is covered
With the mantle, and it is obvious
That all good things are therein enclosed.
But it reveals, in truth,
No matter what she is beneath her covering,
The appearance of her face,
Which is such that in her features
The benefits of courtesy of every kind
Appear there in abundance,
With which her damsels are adorned.
And she is as well adorned
As they, without being set apart
From them and their beautiful array.
For they are fine enough for a king,
And for a sovereign queen as well.
For these reasons I put it to you
That Happiness completely surpasses
And is of higher estate than all queens.
If I wished to describe
Her crown, which is beautiful and becoming,
I would detain you too long;
For I readily see, and there can be no doubt,
That their council is drawing to a close.
And so I will spare you its description.”

When their council ended,
The judge turned my way,

And said: “Guillaume, by my soul,
I will tell you this on my lady’s behalf
And on behalf of Reason as well,
And I am in agreement with them,
That you owe three compensations,
As these have been determined and described,
And for these you are responsible
According to the judgment, without fail.
You must — the thing is certain —
Compose a lay for the first
And agreeably, without resisting;
For the second, a song
Of three stanzas and a refrain
— Listen how I qualify this —
Which begins with the refrain,
Just like the ones sung at dancing;
And for the third, a ballade.
Now do not make as if this sickens you
But rather respond happily
In regard to our command,
About your intentions on all these points.
I make here an end.”

And because I so grievously erred
When I dared to make trouble
With a lady of such high estate
In that I attempted to dispute with her,
I, the Guillaume named above,
Who has the surname de Machaut,
In order the better to acknowledge my fault,
Have composed and rhymed this little book.
And of it I will make my lady a present,
Offering her my service and
Begging her to pardon me for everything.
And may God grant her peace and honor
And the great joy of Paradise
Such as I would wish for myself.
But because I do not want in any way
That my fine should remain unpaid,
I wish to retire the debt without delay
By beginning work on a lay whose theme is love.

Here ends The Judgment of the King of Navarre
against The Judgment of the King of Bohemia.

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Go to Le Lay de Plour (music)



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: