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Poem 9, Chanson Royal [The Parliament of Love]


Abbreviations: A: Neuchâtel; B: Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS lat. 3343; C: Barcelona text; CT: Chaucer, Canterbury Tales; LGW: Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women; P: University of Pennsylvania MS French 15.

[Ch I; MS #235] Chançon Royal

12ff Many of the personifications that appear in the “Ch” poems, such as Franchise, Esperance, Dangier, and Doulz Regart here, are closely associated with the allegory of the Roman de la Rose, which Chaucer says he translated (LGW F.329).

Textual Notes

16 conforte. P: confort a.

42 entrer. P: en tron.

48 or 49 Line missing.

52 clamerai. P: clamera.

[Ch II; MS #237] Balade

10 The burning lover is a familiar figure. Thus Damian in Chaucer’s Merchant’s Tale, at the sight of May, almost “swelte and swowned,” so is he burnt by Venus’ torch (CT IV[E]1776–77).

[Ch III; MS #239] Balade

There are no notes for this poem.

[Ch IV; MS #240] Chançon Royal

32 sejour. P: ce jour.

[Ch V; MS #241] Balade

1 The story of the false judge Apius is found in Livy’s History III; Roman de la Rose, lines 5559–5628; Gower’s Confessio Amantis 7.5131–5306; and Chaucer’s Physician’s Tale. Ovid tells the story of how the impious Lycaon prepares a meal of human flesh for Jupiter in Metamorphoses I.198–243.

3 Herod the Great is perhaps best remembered for the Massacre of the Innocents episode related in Matthew 2:16–18. His son, another Herod, reluctantly had John the Baptist beheaded to fulfill a promise made to his wife’s daughter, Salome (Matthew 14:1–11, Mark 6:17–28). The former reference makes more sense in this context, although remarks by the Pardoner (CT VI[C]488–90) and the Prioress (CT VII[B2]574–75) indicate Chaucer’s familiarity with both stories. Nero’s brutal acts were familiar to medieval wordsmiths and audiences alike. Chaucer’s Monk tells the story of Nero’s death in his tale (CT VII[B2]3369–73).

4–5 For Dido’s vain pleas to Aeneas compare Aeneid IV.305–92.

19 la fontaine Helie. For the mountain Helicon, where Pegasus’ hoof created the fountain of the Muses (the Hypocrene), see Ovid, Metamorphoses V.250–63.

25–28 Medea’s story is a favorite of medieval writers. Jason’s infidelity to her is the subject of many medieval retellings, including Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women, where Medea’s revenge is omitted as in Ovid’s Heroides, to make her a martyr to love. Gower’s Confessio Amantis, the longest of the English retellings, presents her as a sympathetic victim of Jason’s perjury (5.3247–4222).

Textual Notes

3 d’Erode. P: de Rode.

18–19 Lines reversed in P.

31 ne fu. P: me fu.

33 fis. P: fus.

[Ch VI; MS #242] Balade

1–2 The daughters of Apollo and Clymene are the Heliades, sisters of Phaeton, but they are five in number. There may be a confusion here with the three Graces, who were the daughters of Jupiter and Eurynome; Eurynome’s daughter Leucothoë was also loved by Phoebus. The character of the Graces, attendants of Venus, might help the sense of the poem, but the uncertainty of the husband’s identity (line 8) leaves the final meaning a puzzle.

4 In Greek mythology Damia is equated with Demeter, the Roman Ceres, goddess of the fields.

11 Palinurus was the helmsman of one of Aeneas’ ships who is sacrificed to Neptune by Aeneas’ mother, Venus (Aeneid V.814–71). In the underworld, Palinurus tells Aeneas how he died (Aeneid VI.337–83). This final meeting is depicted in Chaucer’s House of Fame (line 443).

23 Eolus was the ruler of the winds who is frequently represented as blowing two horns. Compare Chaucer’s House of Fame, lines 1571–83.

Textual Notes

11 Palanurus. P: Palamirus.

13 creée. P: cree.

24 fondera. P: forgera.

28 qui. P: que.

[Ch VII; MS #244] Balade

2 King Acrisius of Argos locked his childless daughter, Danaë, in a bronze tower or cave after hearing he would be killed by her son. Zeus, however, comes to her variously as a sunbeam, rain, or a shower of gold and impregnates her with Perseus.

5–6 Argus. Juno appointed the hundred-eyed Argus to guard Io, Jupiter’s mistress whom he had turned into a cow to protect her from Juno’s anger. References to a guard with a hundred eyes were proverbial. Chaucer’s Wife of Bath prides herself on her ability to fool even the hundred-eyed Argus (CT III[D]358–61). See also Gower’s Confessio Amantis 4.3317–61; and Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale (CT I[A]1390), Merchant’s Tale (CT IV[E]2111), and Troilus and Crisyede 4.1459.

13 Tantalus offered the gods a stew made from the body of his son, Pelops, to test their divinity. His punishment involved standing in shallow water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for a piece of fruit, the branches withdrew and whenever he went to drink, the water receded. In Chaucer’s Book of the Duchess, the Man in Black asserts that he has “more sorowe than Tantale” (line 709).

[Ch VIII; MS #245] Balade

1–14 Thisbe, Ariadne, Dido, and Phyllis are all subjects of individual tales in Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women. Many of the other women named here appear as references in other Chaucerian works.

Textual Notes

17 jours. P: tours.

24 Fisses. P: Eusses.

[Ch IX; MS #249] Chanson Royal

31 This line is a syllable short and does not make sense as it stands. The translation represents a guess as to the intended meaning.

Textual Notes

17 flenchist. P: flechist.

[Ch X; MS #260] Rondel

There are no notes for this poem.

[Ch XI; MS #263] Chançon Royal

1–9 This list of seven nonpareils includes two from the Old Testament (Esther and Judith) and five from Greek myth.

Textual Notes

40 Mon. P: A mon.

43 avient. P: venant.

59 que. P: qua.

[Ch XII; P #273] Balade

1 si. P: se.

12 Bel . . . bon. P: bonne.

13 que onques. P: conques.

[Ch XIII; P #274] Balade

16 fors que. P: forques.

[Ch XIV; MS #275] Balade

1–24 In each stanza the endings of the first six lines are echoed at the end of the following hemistich (confort/ressort). This is “rime batellée.”

Textual Notes

11 Mais. P: Et.
et fort. P: effort.

12 Et. P: De.

15 je. P: ou.

[Ch XV; P #276] Balade

19 qu’a souhait. P: quassouhait.
[Ch IX; MS #249]













9. Chanson Royal

Pour les hauls biens amoureux anoncier,
Et les vrais cuers des amans resjoïr,
Et les graces qui y son publirer —
Lesquelles ont par loiaulment servir —
Tout serviteur apresté d’obeïr
Est apparu par mandement de Joye;
Q’umble Pitié, qui de secours est voie,
A plain pouoir et dominacion
De donner ce qui les leaux conjoie:
Et c’est Mercy sans contradiction.

Et l’acort joieusement traïctier
Fu Franchise cemonse de Desir,
Qui debati a toutes fins Dangier
Tant qu’il ne pot sa requeste obtenir.
Ou parlement qu’ Amours fist par plaisir
Fu Doulx Penser, qui doulcement s’emploie;
Et Souvenir, que ne flenchist ne ploie,
Avec Espoir la ot audicion.
Pour les amans Pitié la si s’emploie
Qui a Reffus fist grant confusion

En remonstrant le mal partout entier
Que Detry fay a maint amant souffrir,
Et que plains, plours, et souspir darrenier
Viennent souvent desserte remerir;
Si qu’il couvient a ce cas prouveïr,25
Comme dit est, car Amours si anoie,
Et messagiere en aucuns lieux mennoie
Ou Beauté regne et Doulce Impression.
A cui je parle, et fay tant et maistroie
Que de Dangier je banis l’opinion.

“Dont, reguarde que volu tramblier!
Atant, Pitié, vueillons nous tous offrir
Au service d’ Amours; et acointier
Leal Vouloir, Amoureux Souvenir,
Cuer pacient pour le vue soustenir
De nos dames se Refus nous guerroie;
Et esperer, se Dangier les fourvoie,
Souffrir tousdis et servir de cuer bon
Feront fenir leur durté qui desvoie
Et en met maint en desolacion.”

Dame, a beauté digne de moult prisier,
S’il vous plaisoit a mes maulx secourir,
Mon bien seroit en estat d’ essaucier,
Et mon vray cuer en l’espoir de jouir.
Mais s’il vous plaist le propos maintenir
Ou le vostre des longtemps a seurploie,
Riens ne sera certes qui me resjoie.
Si vous requier par grace guerredon;
S’aray le bien que pieça desiroie
Et de confort gaie provision.

Princes, Amours veult qu’on sache et qu’on voie     
Qu’il n’est vie que d’amer, ce n’est mon.

9. [The Parliament of Love]

In order to proclaim the exalted benefits of Love,
And to rejoice the true hearts of lovers,
And to announce the graces that are in it —
Those that lovers have through loyal service —
Every servant ready to obey
Appeared by the command of Joy;
And humble Pity, who is the way of succor,
Possessed full power and dominion
To bestow that which delights the loyal ones:
Without doubt, that is Mercy.

And for negotiating an agreement joyously
Generosity was summoned by Desire,
Who challenged Danger at all points
So that he could not have his way.
In this parliament that Love assembled to his pleasure
There was Sweet Thought, who sweetly occupied herself;
And Memory, who neither turned aside nor yielded,
Together with Hope there had a hearing.
Pity too busied herself there for lovers
And she put Refusal to great confusion

In protesting the complete evil
That Delay everywhere causes many a lover to suffer,
And the fact that complaints, tears, and sighs
Often come in the end to reward merit;
Thus it is necessary to provide for this case,
As is said, since Love is so troubling
And sends his embassy to every place
That Beauty and Sweet Sentiment reign.
I spoke to Pity, and so managed and gained mastery
That I overcame the influence of Danger:

“Now look upon us trembling!
At this time, Pity, we all want to offer ourselves
To the service of Love; and to make the acquaintance
Of Loyal Desire and Amorous Memory,
Our hearts being patient to sustain the sight
Of our ladies if Refusal makes war on us,
And to hope, if Danger thrusts them aside,
That constant endurance and willing service
Will make their cruelty cease, which bewilders
And leads many to ruin.”

Lady of beauty, worthy of great esteem,
If it pleased you to help my troubles
My soul would be in a state of exaltation,
And my true heart in hope of enjoyment.
But if it pleases you to maintain the resolution
In which your heart has long remained,
There is indeed nothing that will gladden me.
So I ask guerdon of your grace,
And I will have the good that I long desired
And a happy provision of comfort.

                                        The Envoy
Prince, Love wishes it to be known and seen
That there is no life except that of love, indeed.


(see note)

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