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Translated from the Old French 
by Alice Kemp-Welch, with an 
Introduction by Professor L. M. 

[A new and revised edition. 

LADY. Now first translated, 
with Introduction and Notes, 
from the Middle-French by Alice 

With Title-page engraved on 
Wood by Miss B. C. Hunter. 

Now translated from the Italian 
by Marv G. Steegmann. With 
an Introduction. 

S_ X o>ynm<^\ct (c /uut>ti Stic Sc A>ta>^ 


The title on the reverse of this 
page, engraved upon the wood, 
was designed by Miss Blanche C. 
Hunter, and embodies the only 
authentic portrait of Christine 
DE PiSAN, engaged in writing, 
from the MS. now in the Biblio. 
theque Royale, Brussels. 




LONDON 1908 

All Rights reserved 

Printed by Ballantvne, Hanson «Sr» Gj. 
At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh 



VRAYs AMANS FrofiHspiece 




. . . FOR love's sake ... ,,8 







THE only two known MSS., both early fifteenth 
century French, of the love-story here ren- 
dered into English prose, are the one in the Biblio- 
theque Nationale (836), and that in the British 
Museum (Harley, 4431). 

The MS. in the Bibliotheque Nationale forms one 
of the treasures of the famous collection of MSS. 
made by Jean, Due de Berry, the Mecaenas of illumi- 
nated MSS. At his death it passed into the possession 
of his daughter Marie, who, by marriage, had become 
Duchesse de Bourbon. When, in the reign of Fran- 
cois L, the Connetable de Bourbon, to whom it had 
descended, was disgraced, the king seized his books 
and MSS., and carried them off to Fontainebleau, 
well pleased to add by any means, righteous or un- 
righteous, to the treasures of the royal library. Here 
this MS. and others remained until the reign of 


Charles IX., when they were removed to Paris, and 
placed in the Bibliotheque du Roi, now the world- 
famous Bibliotheque Nationale. 

The MS. in the British Museum has also had an 
interesting and chequered career. It was originally 
presented by Christine de Pisan to Isabelle of Bavaria, 
the queen of Charles VI. of France, whose books and 
MSS. were, in 1425, acquired by John, Duke of Bed- 
ford, Regent of France. It is more than probable 
that this MS. was amongst these and was brought to 
England, for the various signatures on the enclosing 
parchment would certainly seem to indicate that this 
was the case. Late in the fifteenth century the MS. 
was sold to one of the most celebrated bibliophiles of 
the day, Louis of Bruges. After this, there is a blank 
in its history, until, in the seventeenth century, we find 
it once more in England, in the possession of Henry, 
Duke of Newcastle, whose grand-daughter married 
Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford, the founder of the 
splendid collection of MSS. and books purchased in 
1754 for the British Museum, and now known as the 
Harleian Collection. 

The writer of the story, Christine de Pisan, was one 


of the world's many famous women, and one who, hy 
her life and work, created an ideal for woman-kind — 
that of sweetness and strength. Born in Venice in 
1363, she was, when five years of age, taken by her 
mother to Paris, to join her father, Thomas de Pisan, 
who had been summoned thither by the king, Charles 
v., to serve as his astrologer, in which service he 
remained until the king's death. The Court of 
Charles V. was, in spite of the constant warfare that 
troubled his kingdom, at once most cultured and re- 
fined, and it was in such surroundings that Christine 
was brought up. At the age of fifteen she was married 
to the king's notary and secretary, Etienne de Castel, 
a gentleman of Picardy, who, however, died some ten 
years later, leaving her with three children to provide 
for. Like many another, she turned to letters as both 
a material and a mental support. She wrote not only 
purely lyrical poetry, of extraordinary variety and 
abundance considering that the subject is almost in- 
variably the joys and sorrows of love, sometimes, as she 
tells us, expressing her own sentiments, sometimes 
those of others at whose request she wrote, but she 
also wrote sacred and scientific poems, and moral and 


political prose works, and a kind of romantic fiction, of 
which the story of The Duke of True Lovers is an 
example, although it is quite possible, and indeed 
probable, that it has some historic basis. 

Christine begins her story by saying that it had been 
confided to her by a young prince who did not wish 
his name to be divulged, and who desired only to be 
known as The Duke of True Lovers. It has been 
suggested, with much likelihood, that this is the love 
story of Jean, Due de Bourbon, and Marie, Duchesse 
de Berry, who has already been alluded to as the 
daughter of the famous Jean, Due de Berry, and the 
inheritor of his MSS. This Marie had been married, 
when quite a child, to Louis IIL de Chatillon, Comte 
de Dunois, and afterwards to Philippe d'Artois, Comte 
d'Eu, Constable of France, whose wife she was at the 
time when the incidents which have been woven into 
this story are supposed to have taken place. Philippe 
d'Artois only survived the marriage three or four 
years, and after three years of widowhood, the already 
much-married Marie wedded (1400) our hero, Jean, 
Due de Bourbon. 

The principal facts which seem to afford strong evi- 


dence in favour of connecting this love story with the 
two princely houses of Bourbon and Berry are (i) that 
the MS. originally formed part of the library of the 
Due de Berry, and subsequently passed on marriage 
to that of the Due de Bourbon ; (2) that although 
Christine's MSS. generally were so copied and multi- 
plied during her lifetime that they number even now 
at least two hundred, there is only one other copy — 
the one already referred to as being in the British 
Museum — known of this particular MS., this alone 
seeming to indicate that its contents were regarded as 
of a private family nature ; and (3) that to add to the 
mystery, and to ensure secrecy, there is no definite 
ending to the romance. The story merely tells us 
that the ducal lover, harassed by mischief-makers, and 
unable to bear the pain of a separation in his own 
country which her position and his own gallantry alike 
demanded, departs with the army for an expedition in 
Spain. For ten years the lovers meet from time to 
time during the intervals between journeying and war, 
and further solace each other with short love-poems, 
expressive of pensive longing, and with these the story 
ends vaguely. But if we accept the story as being 


founded on real life, history supplies a more definite 
ending. As already stated, soon after the death of 
Marie's second husband, Philippe, the lovers are 
married, and spend a few happy years in their castle 
at Moulins, the chief town of the Duke's domains, 
surrounded by and enjoying rare works of art and 
literature, their happiness only marred by the un- 
settled state of France, and by consequent calls on the 
Duke to fight for his country. It was on one of such 
occasions — the memorable and decisive battle of Agin- 
court (141 5) — that the Duke was made prisoner, and 
taken to London, where he died in captivity, and 
Marie, his Duchess, was left to mourn, and this time 
in real sorrow. 

Thus ends the story, which Christine has told with 
her wonderful gift as painter-poet. Besides making 
the lovers, and that noxious growth of civihsation, the 
inevitable scandal-monger, intensely living through her 
womanly sympathy and psychological insight, and 
introducing, in the form of a letter, a most compre- 
hensive and remarkable treatise on feminine morality, 
the dangers of illicit love, and the satisfaction of simple 
wifely duty, she takes us in imagination to a royal 


castle of the fifteenth century. There we seem to live 
the daily life of its courtly circle, and, through the 
vivid description of the sumptuous pageant, to take 
part in the three days' tournament, and in the merry 
revels which bring each day to a close. As we read, 
we realise the extraordinary power of this woman, who 
seems in description to use the exact and detailed 
brush of a Meissonier, whilst in her outlook on life she 
possesses the broader and freer touch of a Puvis de 
Chavannes. Truly is it a master-mind indeed which 
can see life largely, and see it well ! 

Much might be written about the interesting and 
talented Christine, but we must bid her farewell now 
and here. Still she must ever be held in remembrance 
for her untiring championship of two things very near 
to her heart — a patriotic love for the land of her 
adoption, and an ardent devotion to the cause of 
womankind. She had the happiness before her 
death, which occurred about 1430 in the Convent of 
Poissy, near Paris, to which she had retired, of seeing 
France aroused to patriotism, and that, too, by a 
woman — Joan of Arc, 



Here begins the Book of The Duke of True Lovers 

A LTHOUGH I might have no desire or intent at 
-^^ the present time to discourse of love, since all 
my mind is occupied with other matter the which is 
more pleasing to me, I am willing, for the sake of 
others, now to commence a wondrous story, for to this 
I am besought by one who, instead of making request, 
has the right to give command to one even more 
worthy than I. And this is a lord whom it behoves 
one duly to obey, and who of his grace has desired me 
to make known the trouble which, whether he has been 
wise, or whether he has been foolish, he has, during 
many winters and summers, long been in by reason of 
love to the which his heart is still in bondage. But 


he would not that I should make known his name. It 
contents him who tells this story for their sake, to 
be called the Duke of True Lovers. And it is his 
pleasure that I recount, even as he has told them 
unto me, the grievous distresses, the joys, and the 
strange adventures, through the which, during many 
bygone years, he has passed. And he would that to 
this rehears all should at the same time add other 
matter, the which I grant him, for I know him to be 
of such disposition, and of such good sense, that his 
humility will take in good part the imperfection of 
my little poem, and, with his consent, I will relate on 
his behalf the facts even as he has set them forth. 


I WAS a mere lad when I first experienced 
a great desire to become a lover. And for 
that I heard it maintained that a lover is courteous 
above other folk, and better esteemed amongst men, I 
desired to be one. To this end I resorted thither where 
I might choose a lady whom I might serve, but never- 
theless I was longwhile without one, for, on my soul, I 
had not the understanding to make choice, and although 
I had enough of leisure, I ne'ertheless understood not 
how to discover the way to this. And because of my 
desire, I frequented much fair company of dames and 
maidens, and saw many very fair damsels, but youth 
still kept possession of me, so that in nowise did I know 
how to determine whom to choose. Thus I was long- 
while happy, content with this gay and pleasing life 


But when the time dured too long for me, in this 
manner did I make sore plaint to love : — 

Very God of Love, who art of lovers Lord, 
And Venus, thou. Love's Lady and Goddess, 
Since in love only is set my happiness, 
Vouchsafe to turn my heart soon thitherward. 

Vouchsafe, that I be with right courage stored, 
Soon to bring unto me my heart's mistress, 
Very God of Love, who art of lovers Lord. 

And may I choose, if thou the grace accord, 
One that shall pardon me the simpleness 
Of youth, and honour on my days impress ; 
Out of a great desire have I implored, 
Very God of Love, who art of lovers Lord. 

And because of the desire which I had in view, oft 
did I discourse thus until that true love heard me, 
and gratified my longing. And I will rehearse unto 
you in what manner love first took possession of my 
heart and made it captive, and never after set it free. 

On a day, for my diversion, with one of my kinsfolk 
and four others of my gentlemen, we mounted on to 
our horses. A longing for the chase took possession 
of me, and, to ensure success, I caused the huntsmen 
to take greyhounds and ferrets. Then, without ado, 


we entered on a path the which I had ofttimes followed, 
but not far had we gone when a wide beaten track 
led us whither I knew there were many rabbits. 
And near by, I assure you, there was a strong and 
very goodly castle, but its name I will not make 

At that time there was come to this place a Princess 
who was held of every one as so good and beautiful, 
and of so great worth, that she was had in honour of 
all. In nowise did we know that she was there, since 
we came thither by chance. Here and there, without 
the castle, her attendants amused themselves, some 
singing, some casting the weight, and others, afoot, 
exercising vsrith the bar. And as they remained there, 
we turned our steps toward them. Then they all 
turned them toward us, and when they perceived us, 
and recognised who we were, the chief amongst them 
at once rose up. And when they had saluted us, they 
tarried not, but, as it seemed to me, by twos and by 
threes repaired them to their mistress. And methinks 
they did not hide from her that we were come there, 
for as soon as we were come quite nigh unto the 
castle, we saw a goodly company of ladies coming 


forth to meet us. And these gave us welcome with 
gracious bearing. 

And we straightway turned toward them, and 
saluted them on bended knee. And there was amongst 
them both a lady and a maiden who were kinsfolk of 
her who was mistress of them all. And without giving 
affront, and vnthout rebuke, I kissed the maiden with 
fair tresses, as well as the lady. And my cousin and 
I escorted the maiden, who was high-born, and the 
noble lady, and in suchwise entered the castle. 

And the Lady, of whom every one spake well, had 
already come forth from out her chamber, and stood 
there with noble mien, neither proudly, nor haughtily, 
but in such manner as befitted her noble estate and 
royal person. And as soon as we saw her, we duly 
saluted her, and, in a little space, she came forward, 
and took me with ungloved hand, and kissed me, 
and said, " I knew not of your coming, fair cousin. 
You are right welcome, but what brings you here 
now ? " 

Then said my cousin, " Certes, my Lady, we set 
out for amusement, and knew not that you were here. 
Chance brought us hither, but praised be God who 


has so favoured us that we have found at your hands 
so warm a welcome." 

And the good and gracious lady laughed at this, and 
made answer, " Then let us go amuse ourselves." 

So we descended down into a green meadow, and 
then, accompanying us, she went to a very fair place, 
and drew me to her right side to sit down beside her. 
And without more ado, large cushions of gold and of 
silk were brought to her, under the shade of a willow, 
where, beneath the trees, the waters of a spring ran 
fair and clear along a straight channel fashioned and 
cut with skill through the green and tender herbage. 

And no longer did she remain standing, but she 
seated herself with me beside her, and then the others 
withdrew them to a distance from us, and sat them 
down, here and there, beside the stream. Then she 
began to question me, for I confess that I knew not at 
that time how to converse with her or with others, 
for I was still somewhat young. 

And she began her discourse by making enquiry of 
me concerning a journey from the which I was newly 
come, and, in especial, of the demeanour and the ap- 
pearance of the ladies, and, further, in what manner 


the Court, the which the King and Queen held, was 
ordered. And I made her answer according to my 
knowledge. And I remember me that we discoursed 
together there of many things. 

And now it is time that I tell of how the grievous 
malady began the which has made me to suffer right 
cruelly for love's sake. Truly it is a marvel to under- 
stand how it came to pass that love of her whom I 
had ofttimes seen, but whom I had never before 
thought on, took possession of my heart. It is like 
unto one who passes over the sea, exploring many lands 
to discover that which he might find close at hand, 
but the which he perceives not until another makes it 
known unto him. Thus in truth did it befall me, for, 
by reason of my want of understanding, in nowise did 
I perceive the grace of my precious lady until love put 
me in the way, and I had but desired to see such an 
one in order to yield my heart to her. For long had 
I seen her oft, but, until that day, no thought had I 
given to her. Thus I had ready to my hand that 
which I went elsewhere to seek. But, in order to 
allay my passion, love at length willed to release my 
heart from this strife. And now, when this perfect 



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one, who has caused me sore trouble , spake to me, 
her speech and her gentle and gracious bearing pleased 
me more than ever aforetime, and made me wholly 
dumb. Intently did I observe her, and right well 
did I contemplate her beauty, since she seemed to 
me to be more distinguished, and to have much 
more of grace and sweetness, than I had ever before 

Then love, the playful archer, who saw my silent 
demeanour, and that I was inclined unto love, took the 
arrow with the which it is his wont to surprise lovers, 
and bent his bow, and drew it silently. But I heeded 
it not. The arrow of a tender glance, the which is so 
pleasing and so powerful, pierced me to the heart. 
Then was I sore bewildered. Verily did I think my- 
self to be lost when I felt the loving blow, but my 
heart yielded itself to the amorous wound. In nowise 
was the wound mortal, for it came to pass that the 
sting pierced me again and again. 

Then her gentle, laughing eyes, all fraught with 
loving fetters, so stirred my heart, that I knew not 
how to make answer unto her. Truly must she have 
thought my look and my manner to be foolish, since 


I moved neither hand nor foot, and I so ofttimes 
changed colour at her glance, that it might have been 
thought that my heart trembled with fear. How 
shall I set the matter forth briefly ? If I longed to 
be made captive, then in this I failed not. 

Thus ended the life of my early youth. How to 
live otherwise, true love now taught me. In this 
manner was I made captive from that hour. 

Longwhiles did I remain there, and I discoursed in 
a simple manner, like unto a child, and, without 
ceasing, I kindled the burning fire-brand in my heart. 
When I gazed on her beauty, I was caught as is the 
moth in the candle, or the bird in the lime, and no 
heed did I take of it. 

And when I had tarried in this place nigh unto the 
third of a summer's day, my cousin no longer remained 
in meditation, but said to me, " Take your leave now, 
for, on my soul, methinks you have detained my Lady 
too long here, and it is the time to sup." 

Then the noble and courteous one, who is called fair 
and good, besought me much to sup with her, but I 
excused me. For but a short while longer did I linger 
there, and then I arose, and would have taken my 


leave, but it behoved us first to take wine, and so we 
drank. And when we had drunken and eaten, I be- 
sought her that of her grace it might please her that 
I should escort her to her dwelling, but the fair one 
consented not. So, without tarrying, I took leave of 
her and of them all. 

Then love, the more to pierce my tender heart, 
caused me of a sudden to receive a loving glance from 
her, the which came 'to me like a tender greeting as I 
left the place, for, whiles I was departing, I turned 
towards her, and, as I turned me away, the tender, 
fervent look from her fair, loving eyes, fell upon 
me in such wise that never, since love lodged there, 
has it faded away. And thus I departed with love's 

And when we were without the walls, we straightway 
mounted on to our horses, and made all haste to set 
forth because of the night, the which was already 
come. And by the way, my cousin made great en- 
deavour to be merry, but as for me, certes I spake not 
a word, but kept silence, and bowed my head in a very 
pensive way, for the burning and living flame with 
the which the tender glance had pierced and wholly 


taken possession of my heart, left me not, and I so 
thought without ceasing on the beauty of the gentle 
countenance where I had left my heart in pledge, 
and on her fair and faultless body and her winning 
eyes, that all came up before me. Thus I rode for- 
ward in pensive mood. And my cousin conversed 
much with me by the way, and spake with much good 
sense, but since I was wrapped in thought, I listened 
not to him until he said to me, " Fair Sir, what do 
you thus think on in silence, and what is the cause of 
this ? Have you not had great joy there from whence 
you come, that you bear yourself so pensively ? Certes, 
it seems to me, so help me God, that whoso desires a 
lady, could not have one fairer and more perfect than, 
without doubt, is the one from whom you but now 
come. What say you to this ? Do I not speak truly ? 
Is she not courteous and kind ? Have you ever in 
your life seen a lady in every way more perfect ? To 
my thinking, she is beautiful to look on, and excels 
all others in discretion, in honour, in grace, and in 
nobility, and, in fine, never on my soul have I seen 
her like, save only the lady who is mistress of mine 
own heart, for her pure heart displays such surpassing 


virtue that there is none other to be compared to her, 
save only her of whom I have spoken, and this God 
would allow." 

And when I heard another praised more than her 
whom I thought on, although before I had held my 
peace, no longer for all the gold in the world could 
I remain silent, and therefore, pondering deeply, I 
sighed and said, " Certes, I will say what I think, if it 
be only that I believe 'it certain that, if God would 
choose an earthly mistress and friend, none other 
could he desire if he would possess the one in the world 
the most beyond compare, and in pledge of this I 
offer my body in combat. If you take not up this 
gage, then you love not this same lady of yours who 
is without equal in the world, and once again do I 
avouch that all other ladies are, to this one, only as 
are the small sparks from a candle to the brightness 
of the stars." 

And when he heard me speak thus, he began to 
smile, and verily do I believe that he perceived my 
heart to be already gone out to her. 

And then he went on in front, and we, riding in 
all haste, came in a short space to the place where I 


dwelt, and the night had already closed in. And at 
the time, my father was looking out into the court, 
and he sternly made enquiry where I had been all the 
day long, and I, who had made great haste for that I 
feared and dreaded his anger, saw him at a window, 
and much did I wish that he had been elsewhere 
Howsoever I dismounted, and then, without waiting, 
I knelt to greet him. Then said he, turning his 
head, " Whence come you, fair Sir ? Is it the time 
to return home when the night is already come ? 
But all is well with him who returns." 

And I said not a word to him, and he left me, and 
I departed to my chamber. And there I supped, 
pensive and sad, albeit there were many youths there 
who were at great pains to divert me, and who related 
many tales to me, but know that without ceasing my 
thoughts were elsewhere, for it ever seemed to me 
that I saw, face to face, her who knew not how she had 
made captive my heart. And when the time to retire 
to rest was come, I laid me down in a well-prepared 
and comfortable bed, but I believe not that I slept 
one hour and a half, and if there was one thing which 
disquieted me more than another, it was that I was 


fearful lest perchance she for whom I felt such sweet, 
joyous longing, might not look upon this as I desired, 
for, as it seemed to me, nowhere could I obtain solace 
which could give me so much pleasure, and from the 
which my heart could derive such happiness, and, in 
this mood, I pondered, and said : — 


Verily, Love, I have no language, none 
Of thanksgiving sufficient for thy grace 
That moved me unto love, and such an one 
Gave me for mistress as doth all abase 
Beside her, queen of beauty and of grace 
And precious worth ; O, when on her I mvise, 
Truly my speech with my thought keeps no pace. 
Thanks be to thee, who mad'st me her to choose. 

Now all that I desired so dear is won, 
Having a lady to serve all my days, 
Who holds my heart in joy to think upon 
Her beauty, and in every hour and place 
Makes my heart high and glad, so to embrace 
Her soul with mine, joy that I may not lose. 
Mine was the choice, but thine shall be the praise. 
Thanks be to thee who mad'st me her to choose. 

now, Love, into whose dominion 

1 yield my heart, vouchsafe my service space 
That to my lady I suffice alone, 

Being all hers, and that her beauteous face 


And her regard that doth all pain erase, 

Bend pitying on me and not refuse 

Her tender eyes ; I ask no other grace. 

Thanks be to thee, who mad'st me her to choose. 

Ah, God of Love, ere that I run my race, 

Vouchsafe I may alone content her, whose 

I am always, in good and evil case. 

Thanks be to thee, who mad'st me her to choose. 

In such wise did I commune with myself, and as yet 
I felt not the fierce onset of the ardent desire which 
assails lovers, and makes them to burn, to grow pale, 
to pine away, and to fret. This was not yet come. 
Thus I only bethought me at the time to consider how 
I might be blithe and gay, and possess a very fine 
equipment and fair raiment, and give away very freely 
and without stint, and behave so honourably that in 
all things I might everywhere be praised of gentlefolk 
in such sort that my lady might regard me with favour 
on account of my well-doing. Thus I desired to per- 
fect my conduct, and thereafter to abandon the childish 
ways which until then had made me wayward, and 
to take heed that thoughtlessness did not overtake 
me, and to learn how to have a care for that which 
is worthy. 


All these thoughts had I at that tittile, arid thus I 
sought how, in my bearing and conduct, I might put 
all this into practice. So I much changed my ways, and 
now all my endeavour was to think, and to say, and to 
dOj that which was in every way pleasing and gracious, 
and on no account to do aught that was discourteous. 

And I was neither sad nor foolish, but was cheerful^ 
happy, cohtented, and prudent^ and so as to btecome 
familiar with the Ways of love, I took paifts to learn tO 
sing and to dance, and also to give myself up to the 
pursuit of arms, for it seemed to me that it was said 
truly that credit of a surety results from the pursuit 
of love, of arms, and of valour. 

Then forthwith I so importuned my father and my 
mother, that I came by that which I sought after, the 
which was that I might have gold and silver to spend 
freely, and that in all ways I might be richly attired ; 
and then I chose a device and a motto, in the which 
was the name of my lady in such form that none could 
recognise it ; and I commanded chargers for jousting, 
and caused a festival to be arranged in order to make 
essay at the joust, and, as I have said, othei: things 
beside did I purpose. 



So the festival was prepared, to the which many a 
noble lady was bidden, but ere I had answer that my 
lady would come to it, I made request of him to whom 
this was due, and who was distantly related to me ; 
and he most heartily gave consent to it, and gave me 
welcome to his castle. And there I saw my lady at 
my leisure, but how wholly I loved her and held her 
dear, I told not unto her, but my face, methinks, made 
it quite manifest, for Love which, the more to arouse 
my passion, taught me its devices, made me to be all 
silent, and to pale, and then to regain colour, but the 
fair one held her peace concerning it, as if she per- 
ceived it not, and so little did she take notice of it, 
that I bethink me she in nowise perceived the cause of 
all that happened to me, and that all came from love 
of the which she was the cause, and the one from whom 
flashed the loving spark which pierced my heart which 
made no complaint of it. Nc'ertheless I lived happily, 
and ofttimes did I see her, and this it was that com- 
forted my heart, the which rejoiced, and, aside to 
myself, I thus addressed her whom I so loved ; — 



My lady, and my sovereign, flower most rare, 
In whom honour and worth are glorified. 
Fountain of all things wise, gracious, and fair ; 
Who art my way toward virtue, and the guide 
That over all my goings dost preside ; 
Lady, to whom humbly is vowed my fate, 
Serving in that sweet service at thy side. 
All of my days to thee I dedicate. 

How else, since none could with thyself compare ? 
Thou Beauty filled with sweetness, O provide 
Ensample kindling me to do and dare, 
And bring my ship in honour's port to ride ! 
So sweet my joy. Lady, it cannot hide ; 
Therefore, in my simplicity elate, 
Out of my heart and body have I cried ; 
All of my days to thee I dedicate. 

Most noble Duchess, surely the hours prepare 
That time, when thou shalt well be certified 
How my heart serves thee with its every prayer. 
Then shall my Hfe be brimmed and satisfied, 
When thou its full devotion having tried 
Know'st it all truth ; O honour's path and gate 1 
Fame's flowering tree ! O valour's starry guide ! 
All of my days to thee I dedicate. 

Princess, who dost in power and praise abide, 
Early I learnt to love thee ; and love, being great, 
Lifts up my heart above all thought of pride, 
AH my days, a ', to thee I dedicate. 


And now I must turn me again to the former matter. 

In all haste, a great and fair festival was prepared, 
where many folk had much diversion. And proclama- 
tion was made of the jousts, at the which whosoe'er 
would combat lustily might win jewels of great worth 
and the prize, and that to this tournament there would 
come twenty knights who would joust with all comers. 

And on the day appointed, the meeting was held in 
a fair meadow, where, well placed at the end of a lake, 
was a castle the which had six high towers. And in 
this meadow were set up large and spacious tents and 
scaffolds, and pavilions in great number, and all was 
made ready for the festival and the jousts. And with- 
out adding more of this, I tell you that when the day 
named was come, my sweet lady arrived before night- 
fall, and there met her a goodly company of noble 
folk, and, certes, minstrels with drums, of the which 
there were more than three pairs, and trumpets the 
which they blew so loudly that the hills and valleys 

And know that I had great joy when I saw my 
goddess coming toward me, and never could aught 
beside happen from the which I could derive such 


J07. So I met her in the way with a very npbk 
retinue, and I approached her litter, and saluted her, 
as she did me, and then my fair lady said to me, " You 
take great trouble, fair cousin, for it puts you to in- 
convenience to come at such a time." 

Thus holding, with joyful countenance, much con- 
verse with my sweet and dear lady, we came nigh unto 
the castle, and riding beside her litter (and, certes, it 
seemed to me that I had for my service sufficient re- 
compense, since my great joy was doubled in that it 
appeared to me that she then looked on me more 
tenderly than she had ever done afore), we arrived at 
the castle, where we found awaiting her many fair 
ladies, who kneeled before her in seemly manner. 

And in the courtyard she descended down from the 
litter, and was received there with great rejoicing ; 
and I forthwith escorted her through the rooms to 
her tiring chamber. And all the house had been made 
ready for her whom I thought on, and at whose dwell- 
ing I had sojourned. 

Then those whose duty it was brought wine and 
comfits, and the fair onQ desirqd that I should partake 
of them with her. And after this we withdrew, and 


retired elsewhere, so as to suffer her to have repose 
for a while, and I straightway withdrew me elsewhere, 
and dressed and attired me. 

And so as to dance in the German fashion, and to the 
end that naught should be wanting to make the festi- 
val perfect, I had caused an hundred rich liveries to 
be made according to my device, and I remember me 
that the five-and-twenty of them the which the 
knights had on this occasion, were of green velvet, 
and of cloth of gold broidered. But on the day fol- 
lowing the joust, the esquires and the gentlefolk, but 
not the waiting-men, apparelled them, whatsoe'er It 
cost, in satin, broidered with silver. 

And when that we were dressed, we appeared before 
my mistress. And there we found a goodly assemblage 
of ladies and damsels of the country who were already 
come to this festival. Then, without tarrying, I 
saluted my lady and them all, and verily do I believe 
that I changed colour. Ne'ertheless I said, " My 
Lady, it is time to sup." And straightway I took 
her by the hand, and led her to the hall. Then each 
one descended thither. The knights led the ladies, 
and the minstrels blew their trumpets in such manner 


that everything re-echoed with the sound, and the 
feast gave such pleasure, that it made a goodly sight 
to witness. 

And my lady seated herself on the large raised dais, 
and I think not that it was displeasing to her that 
next to her I placed my mother, and that, after her, 
four countesses, who entertained her well, seated them 
dose by, following down the hall each one according 
to her rank. And the gentlewomen-in-waiting all sat 
them down in order of rank. And the gentlemen 
seated them apart. And I hope and believe that in 
all respects they were well served at the supper with 
meats and with wine. 

And, without making any excuse, I tell you that, 
when we had supped, after taking comfits, we drank. 
Then the minstrels came forward, and began to sound 
their horns in pleasing harmony. And, in a short 
space, there began the dance, joyous and gay, and at 
it every one, because of the happy festival, made merry. 

Then no longer did I tarry, but I went straightway 
to beseech my lady to dance. And for a little she 
made excuse, but at last she gave consent. So I took 
her by the hand, and led her to the dance, and then 


I escorted her back to her seat, and misdoubt not that 
I was so carried away by Ipye of her, that I seemed to 
myself to be altogether overcome of delight to be neai? 
her. I bethink me that I conceived this to be indeed 
the celestial paradise, and desired naught better. And 
that which pleased and rejoiced me the most, was her 
very sweet countenance, the which, fearlessly and 
without frowardness, and with a gentle, tender glance, 
looked upon me so sweetly and so kindly, that it seemed 
to me that all I said and did was pleasing unto her. 
And I observed her very intently, and then I cried 
for joy, for I seemed to possess the great happiness 
which I desired. 

And it was right fitting that I should now approach 
her joyously. And so we danced merrily a greater 
part of the night, and then the revel ended, for it was 
time to make ready to retire to rest. Then I led her 
who was as fair as amber to her chamber, and there 
many a courteous word was spoken. And when she 
had gazed on me with her eyes the more to inflame my 
passion, after partaking of comfits, I took leave of her 
and of all. And we laid us down, here and there, on 
fair beds, with rich coverlets, but all the night long I 


ceased not to think on her beauty, and I gave utte?-. 
ance to these words, the which were in my heart : — 


When you are come, joy is so all complete, 
The heart leaps in my breast, beholding you, 
O floykrer of beauty, O rose fresh and new. 
Whose slave I am, whose servitude is sweet. 

Lady of gracious ways, whom all men greet 
Most beautiful of women and most true. 
When you are come, joy is so all complete. 

For you the happy festival shall meet 
In glee ; with none else have I need to do 
For my delight ; from you alone I drew 
The life and joy that make my heart to beat, 
When you are come, joy is so all complete. 

And like unto one who is consumed with love, I 
was impatient for the morn, when I might see my 
mistress. So I arose from my bed as soon as I saw 
that the time was fitting. And already was the house 
full of brave and valiant knights, and esquires who 
even now were jousting with foils and overthrew many 
an one. -nlii'i'vfcr 

And when that I was ready, and mass was said, I 
went out, and because I saw not my lady, I remained 


pensive. Then I went to meet her, and in a short 
space I found her. For the nonce she was at mass, 
but after hearing it, she hasted to make ready her 

And when, after she was come forth from the 
chapel, she had attired her fair form, the which of 
a truth was fair above all, I courteously made her 
salutation. And she said tenderly, " Welcome, fair 
cousin. Take good heed, for every one who would 
win a fair lady will appear at the joust." 

Then I smiled, and took courage to say, " I would 
make a request of you, my Lady, and if you will grant 
it, right glad shall I be. It is that you give me, if 
so it pleases you, a sleeve from off one of your bodices, 
and a chaplet of periwinkle, to wear on my helm. 
Methinks it would not please me more, or give me 
greater joy, if that you gave me a kingdom ! " 

Then my lady pondered awhile, and at length she 
said, " Certes, fair cousin, it would profit you more 
to have agreement with some other lady for whom to 
adventure knightly and brave deeds. There are here 
many ladies of high degree, but right certain it is that 
you cannot have a lady here without jeopardy of your 


life if you would have of her, to place on your helm, a 
token for the which it behoves you to go forth to do 
deeds of chivalry. This you should receive from your 
mistress and friend, and not from me, but I tell you 
that I am by no means willing to refuse you your 
request, for even more would I do for you, though I 
would not that any one should know of it." Then 
she drew a knife from beneath her bed-hangings, and 
cut out the sleeve with the ermine from one of her 
bodices of cloth of gold, and gave it to me. And for 
this I gave her much thanks, and I likewise received 
from her the green chaplet, wherefore I was happy 
and joyous, and said that I would bear it on my helm, 
and would joust for love of her, but she must be 
willing to take all in good part, for I had still to learn 
how to do this. 

Then my gracious lady was silent, without letting 
it be seen whether this was pleasing unto her, or 
whether it gave her displeasure, and more I dared 
not say. And I took my leave, for it was time 
to go. 

And the dinner was made ready early on that 
summer's day. We all dined hastily in our chambers, 


and then repaired to the meadow where the jousts 
were to be held, and dismounted before the gorgeous 
pavilions set up around. The armour was there al- 
ready, and the lances were got ready, and the chargers 
were examined. And there you might see high saddles 
with stirrups, and covered with devices, white, and 
red, and green, and shields of many colours, and 
painted lances ; and already there was a great as- 
semblage, in many rows, of the common folk, and 
much quarrelling and uproar. 

And then I armed me, and made me ready, in my 
pavilion, but I tarried there awhile, for it fell not to 
me to sally forth to begin the joust. And there were 
twenty of us, apparelled alike, and all akin, and we 
were knights prepared to joust with all comers. 

And my cousin, of whom I have before spoken, and 
who was very courageous, was the first in the field. 
To this he was well accustomed, and in such array did 
he enter the lists, that verily he looked like a kinsman 
of the king. And he had his helm laced for to tourney 
in proper manner ; and painted lances, and banners, 
and much fair company were to be seen there, and, as 
was fitting, many a player on the pipes was to be heard, 

/^^zay/i^ ^j^^s^^^e^^^-^j^^^- 


the which gave delight to all around. But of this we 
will say no more. 

And I had caused many pavilions to be set up there 
for the service of strangers, where they could lodge 
and refresh them. And you may be assured that 
before the appointed hour there came thither many 
valiant knights who failed us not at the joust. Others, 
who came to look on, remained on their horses. 

And my cousin, without long waiting, found his 
challenge taken up by a knight who touched his shield 
with the point of his lance, and he avoided it not, so 
that if it should chance unto him to be overthrown 
in the encounter, then must his blood be spilt. 

And it was our part to be the first to take the field, 
and the heralds might be heard making proclamation 
in a loud voice of the name of this one, who was known 
in England and in many lands. And theh five of our 
company sallied forth from the tents, and in nowise 
did they fail to joust with all comers, and of a truth 
each one did his duty there so exceeding well, that 
it is indeed right that the renown of their achieve- 
ments should endure. 

Then the general tourney began, and, in double 


file, and much increased in numbers, our company 
sallied forth, and, as it behoved them, tourneyed 
bravely. The trumpets sounded joyously, and the 
heralds made proclamation, and the knights on noble 
battle horses, and according to their several ranks, 
tourneyed lustily. And my lady, and many other 
ladies, each one of whom was fair to look upon, twenty 
ladies with fair tresses, nobly born, and adorned with 
chaplets, of whom the sovereign and mistress was her 
who was in my thoughts, were seated apart, in order 
of rank, on scaffolds richly bedecked. And, certes, 
they were all apparelled in gowns of white silk, 
broidered with gold of special design. They seemed 
like unto goddesses from heaven, or fairies fashioned 
as faultlessly as one could desire. 

And you may know of a surety that many a glorious 
course was run that day, and, certes, it must have 
been not a little pleasing to those who watched such 
beings, since they made great endeavour to merit their 
regard, and to overcome each other, the better to win 
their favour. Thus you could here see many a thrust 
quickly parried, and how that one overthrew another 
in the shock, and another aimed at the opening of the 


visor, or else struck at shield or helm. One was un- 
helmed, or at once cast to the ground, and another 
came who carried him off. Lances were broken, and 
blows resounded, and the trumpets were sounded so 
loudly, that God's thunder could not be heard. And 
hard blows were given on either side. 

At length, with lance in rest, I sallied forth from 
my pavilion swifter than a merlin, well planted in 
the stirrup, and armed all in white on a charger, the 
which had a white caparison. Neither red, nor green, 
nor any other colour whatsoever was there, save fine 
gold. And there came forth with me all those of the 
place, and these meted out many a good blow, and all 
were armed in white, and the lances the which our 
folk bare were all of white. And I had caused the 
sleeve, the which my lady had given me, to be right 
well disposed, and fastened firmly to my helm, so 
that it could not be torn off. And I placed the green 
chaplet on my helm, and set me forth with a goodly 
company, for exceeding great desire had I to see my 
very sweet goddess. 

Then, all full of gladness, I arrived at the place of 
jousting. And I turned my eyes to where she was, 


and met with her tender glance, and thus I feared not 
any mischance. I passed before her, and then quickly 
closed my helm and went to my place. And, in her 
presence, a noble count forthwith brought me my 
lance, at the same time saying unto me that much 
shame would it be to me if I jousted not worthily since 
I bare so noble a crest. 

Then, with lance lowered, being desirous that it 
should be rightly placed, without ado I spurred my 
charger against another, and you could see him come 
towards me. And we faltered not in the encounter, 
but, since it is not seemly to relate one's own deeds, 
I will not here tell aught with regard to my exploits 
on that occasion, save that the fair one held what I 
performed that day so well done, that, of her grace, 
she gave me very great praise for it, and, in the end, 
she awarded the prize for those who were of the place 
to me, and, right joyous, I took it with the ready 
assent of the ladies, and thus you may know of a 
truth that, according to my age, I did my duty there, 
all the day, as much as in me lay. If I did aught that 
was valiant, no praise do I deserve for it, for you may 
know of a surety that it wai love, and not I myself, 


which was the cause of it all. Without doubt there 
were to be found in this company many proven 
knights more doughty than myself, for, of a truth, as 
was well known, there were come there, from all parts, 
both nobles and those of lesser degree who were more 
worthy of the prize. But I trow that the ladies did 
this for that they saw how eager I was, and because of 
this favourable disposition, I believe that when they 
awarded me the prize, they were really desirous that 
I might be constrained to joust the more readily. 

And the prize which was decreed for strangers, was 
given to a German, an able and skilful jouster amongst 
a thousand. 

Thus did the tournament dure all the day, and, 
without ceasing, fresh jousters came to it, and our 
men maintained themselves against all comers. And 
how shall I sum it all up ? Every one jousted well 
and fairly, but the blows which were given, and by 
whom, and in what manner, it concerns me not to 
recount, for that is not what I have in view, nor 
what I purpose to tell. 

And night came, and the joust ended. Then every 
one departed quickly, and all returned to the castle, 


where the cooks made haste with the supper. And I 
sent my gentlemen to those who were lodged without, 
as to friends, with a message that, in the name of the 
noble ladies, and in my own name, I earnestly be- 
sought of all gentlefolk, both strangers and neighbours, 
that they would come and keep festival with us. 
Thus on all sides I caused a knightly entertainment 
to be proclaimed, and that whoso would, might come 
and keep the feast. 

Then straightway there came those of both high 
and low degree. There were barons from many lands, 
and it needs not to ask if there was a great assemblage, 
and, certes, there were received there, with ever in- 
creasing pleasure, so many folk, that the castle was 
filled. And I" received them with glad countenance. 
And there was a great number of barons and of gentle- 
folk from many parts, and, with right goodwill, I did 
honour to each one according to his rank. And the 
supper was plenteous and choice. 

And when that we were risen from the table, the 
minstrels sounded their horns, and those of noble rank 
apparelled them for the dance, and none were there 
amongst them who did not Wear rich broidered 


doublets, all sewn over with lace of beaten gold and 
silver, and the ladies were arrayed in like manner ; in 
sudiwise did they make ready to dance gaily. Then 
merrily commenced the glad festival, at the which 
many a gracious lady and fair damozel courteously be- 
sought the strangers to dance, and led them forth. 

Then the dancing commenced throughout the hall, 
and every one strove to dance gaily. But I, whom 
love had filled with ardent passion, thought only of 
my lady, and gave no heed to this. I essayed to dance 
a little, so that my longing might not be perceived or 
known. Then I joined the elder knights, until word 
was brought to me to go without tarrying into the 
hall, for that my lady, who eagerly made enquiry for 
me, sent for me. And truly did I rejoice at this. 
So with a goodly company of gentlefolk, I turned me 
to the hall, where all were merry for that they vied 
with one another in the dance. 

And when I was come to my lady, she said to me, 
" Fair Sir Cousin, wherefore do you not dance ? " 

And I made answer, " Do you dance, my Lady, and 
thus set me the example." 

And she said that I must dance first ; and so, to 


make commencement, I led to the dance a fair lady 
with a merry countenance, and escorted her round once 
or twice, and then led her back to her seat. Then I 
took my lady by the hand, and with her assent, gaily 
led her forth to the dance. 

Thus the dance dured the most part of the night, 
and at last it ended, and each one retired to rest, 
and laid him down on fair white sheets. But I who 
had lady and mistress, and who in my heart felt 
the torment of the desire to be loved of her with 
the which I was consumed, spake thus under my 
breath : — 


Laughing grey eyes, whose h'ght in me I bear, 
Deep in my heart's remembrance and delight, 
Remembrance is so infinite dehght 
Of your brightness, O soft eyes that I fear. 

Of love-sickness my life had perished here, 
But you raise up my strength in death's respite, 
Laughing grey eyes, whose light in me I bear. 

Certes, by you my heart, I see full clear, 

Shall of desire attain at last the height. 

Even that my lady, through your sovereign might, 

May me continue in her service dear, 

Laughing grey eyes, whose light in me I bear. 


And the day dawned, and what shall I tell con- 
cerning it ? Wherefore should I longer stray from 
my subject without good cause ? On the morrow, 
throughout the whole day, the esquires, who bore 
them fairly and well in every way, likewise jousted. 
And there were also twenty, clad all in green, who 
maintained the combat, and the ladies assembled to 
watch them, and to bestow the prizes. And there 
were twenty damsels there, apparelled in green, and 
they wore golden chaplets on their tresses, and were 
all very noble ladies, comely, and fair to look on. 
And dufing the encounter, many high - saddled 
chargers were overthrown, and shields were struck, 
and lances broken. And many a blow deserving of 
praise was given and endured. But I will not stay 
me further to give a long account of this, for it 
pleases me better to rehearse that for the sake of 
which I began this story, and that which I thought 
and did and said in this love affair, about the which 
at that time I made great dole. 

For three whole days — this is no fable — the pleasing 
festival dured, at the which all were made welcome 
and at their ease. Then the revel ended, but my 


lady departed not for the space of a whole month. 
I besought of him who was her lord to grant this, 
and he granted it, and if that I had dared, right 
willingly would I have made a recompense unto him 
for this. 

And you may know right well what joy I must needs 
have had from this pleasing sojourn. Each hour my 
only care was to devise perfectly how I could best 
give her diversion. 

And on a day I caused baths to be made ready, 
and the stoves to be heated, and the tubs to be placed 
in white pavilions in a fitting spot. And it chanced 
that I went thither when my lady was in the bath, 
and she received me not with pleasure, but I had 
perfect joy when I looked upon her fair flesh as white 
as a lily. Greatly did this delight me, as you who hear 
tell of it can well believe. On another day we went 
to the chase, and on another we descended down to 
the river to fish. In suchwise did we pass the whole 
month, following many gladsome pursuits. 

But know that in the midst of this my happiness, 
love bound my heart in its toils more firmly than ever, 
and laid so violent hold on it, that a great desire to be 


loved was so kindled within me, that, ere the festival 
was ended, never did. any other miserable beiiig 
endure such stress of mind. No happiness had I if 
I could not see her and gaze constantly upon her, 
of the which I never wearied, for, as it seemed to 
me, never could I be enough in her presence, and 
moreover this mood made me so to crave after her 
kindly goodwill, that dolour laid grievous hold on 
me, and you may well believe that I was not skilled 
enough to know how wholly to hidi the grievous 
sorrow I endured. And albeit I would not discover 
my thoughts to either man or woman, ne'ertheless 
so troubled was I in mind, and in such great tumult, 
that, in spite of myself, my face revealed my state. 

I was now pensive, now merry. And like unto one 
forsaken, I ofttimes wept so bitterly, that I seemed 
to myself like to die in grievous sorrow from despair 
and from loss of the hope of ever gaining her love ; 
wherefore I paled, and trembled, and reddened, and 
oft changed colour, and sweated from fear, and 
became disquieted, so that at times my courage 
altogether failed me, and then it oft happened that 
in bed I became quite calm. I neither drank nor ate 


meat with relish, nor could I in anywise sleep, the 
which threw me into such state, that I grew worse 
and worse. And no one knew what ailed me, for in 
nowise would I speak to any one of my condition, nor 
for my life would I confess it even to her whom I 
loved. Ne'ertheless she ofttimes enquired of me what 
ailed me, and bade me tell unto her my condition, and 
hide it not from her, and that I should speak to her 
without fear, for I must not doubt me that she would 
do all that in her lay to ease me. 

Thus longwhiles my lady comforted me, but ne'er- 
theless I dared not, for all the gold in the world, make 
known or confess unto her the load which my heart 
bare, and thus, in deep thought, I wept and sighed. 

And at that time I became so filled with love, that 
I know not what more to say concerning it, save that 
I had troublous and painful acquaintance with it, and 
from that time lacked the quiet and pleasurable peace 
of mind which aforetime I enjoyed, and plunged my 
heart into another peril, for I came to reject all 
solace, and to make of sorrow my very pitiless guest. 
Longwhiles did I remain in this state, without daring 
to pray for mercy, for fear of refusal. And thus, 


bewailing my ill-fortune, I made complaint in these 
words : — 


Love, I had not ever thought 
Thou would'st bid thy servant share 
Grief to which all else is naught, 
Grief whereunder I despair : 
Thus unfaltering I declare 
That in death I pass away 
If thy saving grace delay. 

In a burning passion caught 
I grow faint, and may not bear 
All the torment it hath wrought : 
Thine the fault, be thine the care ! 
Loose me from this evil snare ! 
Other help is none to pray, 
If thy saving grace delay. 

Rather had I death besought, 
(So without deceit I swear). 
Since my heart is all distraught 
With thy flame enkindled there. 
Murmuring is not mine to dare : 
I must perish as I may, 
If thy saving grace delay. 

Love, with gladness meet my prayer, 
Cleanse my soul and make it fair, 
Since in sorrow I must stay 
If thy saving grace delay. 


And at the end of the month it behoved my 
mistress, by reason of whom I lived in anguish, to quit 
the castle afore-named, for no longer could she remain 
there, and so she departed. Then was I truly in 
grievous plight, since I lost from sight the very 
perfect fair one without whom I could not live. 
Now was all my happiness ended, for longwhiles had 
I been used to look on her, and to be with her, at 
all times. But now it befell that perchance three 
months or four would pass ere I should hear of her, 
or see her, the which was very grievous unto me to 
endure. And I so grieved over the past, and felt 
such dolour at her departure, that I lost my colour, 
my judgment, my demeanour, and my self-command. 
Thus I believe that, as it might well be, many folk 
perceived my yearning, about which they made 
gossip, the which caused her disquiet. And so much 
did this weigh upon me, that I thought to die of 
grief. And when I heard it noised abroad that I 
loved my fair lady, my grief was the more increased, 
for, because of this, I had suspicion that this great 
friendship made discord between me and her friends, 
and this grief caused me very dire distress, for I much 


feared me that she was constrained to leave because 
of this, and so much did this disquiet me, that I 
know not how to tell of it. Howsoever, as far as in 
me lay, I hid my sorrowful anger better than was my 
wont, and, enduring great grief, sighing, I uttered 
these words : — 


Now in good sooth my joy is vanished clean, 
And all my gladness changed to grievous ire : 
What profits it, dear tlower ! since I have seen 
Thy going hence, that I could never tire 

When thou wast here 
To greet thee every day in every year ? 
Delight that was is grown disaster fell : 
Alas ! How can I bid thee now farewell ! 

My love, my choice, my lady and my queen, 
For whom my heart is kindled in desire. 
What shall I do when love from what hath been 
Taketh the gold and leaveth me the mire ? 

Nor far nor near 
Is comfort found, nor any pleasant cheer. 
Gone is thy beauty, that did all excel : 
Alas ! How can I bid thee now farewell 1 

Thme is the deed, O evil tongue and keen 1 
Forged for my fate upon an anvil dire : 
Fortune, that loveth not my hand, I ween, 
Nor yet my pen, did in the task conspire. 


No help is clear 
Save Death, when God shall grant him to appear 
Else thou alone could'st win me out of hell. 
Alas ! How can I bid thee now farewell ! 

Ah, simple and dear ! 
At least behold me and my mourning drear. 
Thy loss is torment more than I can tell. 
Alas ! How can I bid thee now farewell ! 

And the day of departure came, and my lady set 
forth, and I verily believe that she would have still 
delayed her going if she had dared, but it was meet 
for her to do her lord's will, since it behoved her to 
guard his good name. And she gave thanks to all, and 
took her leave, and set out on her way. 

And I, unhappy being, who attended her, rode 
beside her litter, and the fair one, who could well 
perceive how that, without disguise, I loved her with 
a true love, looked at me fixedly with so tender a 
glance, that methinks she desired to cheer my droop- 
ing heart, which was sad, and moreover she might 
perchance have conversed with me but that on her 
left hand there rode another, who came so nigh unto 
us that We were not free to say aught which he 


might repeat, for the which I hated him fervently, 
and I saw well that I should oft have to endure much 

In such manner we rode for a day and a half, until 
that we were come to her dwelling, but in nowise did 
the journey seem long to me, but quickly ended, and 
in truth it wearied me not, albeit I verily suffered. 
And I would have taken my leave of her, but her 
Lord, making much false pretence of welcome, en- 
deavoured to detain me, but I knew from his de- 
meanour that he was beside himself on account of 
me. And this jealousy had been put into his head 
by one who was at our feast, and to whom I had 
afterward made a recompense, and never did I think 
that he would keep watch on her. This caitiff had 
the charge of the fair one whom I worshipped, and 
for whom I was dying of grief. So I took my leave, 
and went on my way, and out of regard for my 
sovereign lady I dissimulated, and hid the sorrow that 
was mine, and never did any eye discover that which 
was such grievous pain to me, and scarce could I 
restrain my feelings. But this was needful for fear of 
the slanderer, and so I departed, saying : — 



Farewell, my lady dear and dread, 
Farewell, of all sovereign and queen, 
Farewell, perfect and sacred head, 
Farewell, who dost all honour mean. 
Farewell, true heart, loyal and clean. 
Farewell, best flower the world doth bear, 
Farewell, yet not farewell, O white and fair ! 

Farewell, O wise, that no ill said. 
Farewell, river that made life green, 
Farewell, in whom fame harboured, 
Farewell, voice that all ears could win, 
Farewell, solace of all my teen. 
Farewell, whose grace is wide as air, 
Farewell, yet not farewell, O white and fair ! 

Farewell, soft look that through me sped, 
Farewell, more fair than Helen queen, 
Farewell, body and sweet soul wed. 
Farewell, thou most gracious demesne, 
Farewell, pole-star, joyous and keen. 
Farewell, fountain of valour rare, 
Farewell, yet not farewell, O white and fair ! 

Farewell, Princess of noblest mien, 
Farewell, thou aweing smile serene. 
Farewell, without fault, sin's despair, 
Farewell, yet not farewell, O white and fair ! 

Thus did I commune with myself, and, sighing, I 
departed, and made great haste to reach my dwelling. 


And I was weighed down and troubled with grievous 
sorrow when I no longer saw there her whom I had 
dared choose as my lady, and whom my heart held 
so dear. 

Now I made known at the beginning how that I 
desired to be a lover, and to be gentle, and how love 
wounded me with his dart, of the which my heart 
will never be healed, and as I have spoken of the ill 
that came to me from that time, so is it meet that I 
tell you of the good. And this distemper increased, 
by reason of which my strength diminished, so that in 
a little I grew pale, and thin, and sad, and ofttimes 
sighed from grief, for no solace had I, since I knew not 
how to discover any good way to see my sweet lady, 
and, certes, so much did I fear her rebuke, that I dared 
not approach her, however grievous it was, and this 
plunged me into tears, and troubled me. Thus I 
was sick a-bed, and then I uttered this ballad : — 


Since, O my Love, I may behold no more 
Thy sovereign beauty that was all my cheer, 
My heart is given up to sorrows sore : 
For though the wealth of all the world were here. 


There is no ease but in beholding thee 
Who art afar ! Whence I of tears am fain 
Mourning the happy days that used to be : 
Yet unto none but thee may I complain. 

Doubt not of this, true love whom I adore, 
Thine image in my soul is ever clear : 
I think but on the blessedness of yore 
And on thy beauty, simple-sweet and dear. 
So fiercely smiteth love, I may not flee 
Nor may my soul the dread assault sustain : 
Death could not bring a sorrier weird to dree, 
Yet unto none but thee may I complain. 

Alas ! one only mercy I implore. 
When I am dead (as I to death am near) 
Pray for me, and thy praying shall restore 
My wounded spirit : shed one tender tear — 
Great were my comfort if my piteous plea 
Might touch thy heart, if sorrow might constrain 
Thy lips to sigh, such need of sighs have we. 
Yet unto none but thee may I complain. 

Sweet flower, to whom I do abandon me. 
My heart is broken down with bitter pain 
For one whom Fortune would not have me see : 
Yet unto none but thee may I complain. 

Here is set forth how the Lover made Complaint 
unto his Friend 

Thus did my sorrow increase until my heart endured 
very grievous torment, and without doubt this sore 


trouble would have killed me if God had not betimes 
brought back my kinsman of the whom I have made 
mention, and who delivered me from destruction. 
And when he was come back from the country, he 
well perceived and understood from my countenance 
the sorrow which possessed me. Thus he found me 
very sick and without colour, the which caused him 
great disquiet. And he came to me as soon as ever 
he was able, and I was o'erjoyed when I heard his 
voice, for right dearly did I love him. And he wept 
when he saw me thus grown worse. And I drew him 
near to me, and embraced him lovingly, and he said 
to me, " My God, what a face ! Is there cause for it ? 
In good sooth you must tell me truly of your state, 
without reserve, and naught must you conceal from 
me of your condition which you would not do from 
a priest to whom you would make confession, arid, 
certes, very foolish would you be to keep sealed up in 
your heart the trouble which robs you of your peace 
of mind and your health. So much have I frequented 
the world, that I perceive and understand your 
sorrow, for I have been in danger of the like malady. 
This is not sickness ; rather is it passion, for doubtless 



such love has come to you as consumes you like as fire 
does straw. Of this, naught have I to learn of you. 
And greatly do you misconceive our close fellowship 
if you fear that in aught I would betray you, and that 
I would not screen you more than I would myself. 
When you have told unto me the trouble which has 
cruelly taken possession of you, doubtless you will 
find your grief diminished, for very great hurt comes 
to him who suffers from love-sickness without speak- 
ing of it to any one. Therefore tell me the whole 
matter, my dear cousin, my lord and my master, 
without keeping aught back, or, if you do not so, 
for longwhiles will I go into Germany, for believe 
me that it grieves me not a little to see you thus, 
and not a whit can I rest." 

And when this one, who held me dear, had thus, 
to the utmost of his power, urged me to make con- 
fession unto him of my inmost thoughts, his gentle 
speech so touched and melted my heart, that I began 
to sob and to weep piteously enough to kill me, since 
it seemed as if I neither ought nor could tell unto 
him the grief which everything caused me. And he, 
cast down and sad by reason of the trouble from the 


which he saw that I suffered, out of great compassion 
wept bitterly, and began freely to make offer to me 
of himself and his possessions for to make me happy, 
and in every way, no matter how great it was, he 
strove to this end, and without ceasing he strongly 
counselled me rather to take comfort, and to 
weep no more, since this was neither reasonable nor 

In suchwise did my good friend exhort me to be 
happy once more. Then I at once made him answer, 
" Sweet cousin and friend, I know well that you have 
great love for me, even as I, forsooth, have for you, 
therefore it is meet that we conceal not from one 
another our joys, or our misfortunes, or aught beside. 
Therefore I will tell unto you truly all my state, al- 
though to none other, however much I loved him, 
would I speak of it. You know, very sweet cousin, 
and you have in remembrance, how that we went 
together, not long since, to a place nigh unto this, 
where we met with a lady whose coming I have since 
paid dearly for, for from that time my very simple 
youthfulness has left me, and, without intent to do 
me harm, love has brought this trouble upon me, from 


the which I am dying, but in nowise must I blame 
any one, for truly no lady is there who is her equal in 
'beauty, in prudence, or in worth. And you know how 
that I devised our festival, the which was gorgeous, 
and that all this was for love of her. And after the 
feast was ended, I besought of him who is her lord, to 
allow my sweet lady to remain all the summer at our 
castle for her diversion and pleasure, and to hunt in 
the forest, the which was green then, and is so still. 
And you know that he willingly gave consent, but you 
stayed not, methinks, three whole days after that, for 
you soon departed thence, but life was joyous to me 
because of my lady whom I saw the while without 
hindrance. But, with intent to make me sorrowful, 
misfortune, which busies itself with bringing much 
hurt to lovers, caused one, whom may hell-fire con- 
sume, to keep watch on my doings, and this one, like 
unto one full of malice, well perceived my state (for 
I was very inexperienced), and that my heart was 
altogether in bondage to her. In nowise do I know 
how he was able to perceive it, for, to deceive every 
one in this affair, I took much pains to dissemble, and 
so much the more frequented the company of other 


Udiea, and never did I discover my thoughts to any 
one, nor did I even speak of them to her whose liege- 
man I am, and who wots not aught of that which 
weighs heavily on me. And this disloyal one noised, 
abroad such report, that her jealous lord constrained 
the fair lady to depart without more delay. Where- 
fore, if I had not feared me to bring dishonour upon 
her, I would have made him who brought this about 
to feel regret for it, and greatly to repent it, and to 
experience my vexation and displeasure. Thus have 
I lived in distress for the space of three months, and. 
sooner would I die, so as to be delivered from, this 
sad grief, than live thus, since I can no longer see her, 
albeit she has since, of her grace, made enquiry regard- 
ing my state, and has caused me to know that in a 
little while I may count upon seeing her, although I 
must not let this be known, and that a time will come 
when a change in affairs will come about, and that I 
must be of good cheer. So I know, or at least bethink 
me, that my dear lady perceives and knows without 
doubt that I love her sincerely, but scarce can I en- 
dure the strain of the longing which possesses me, for 
greatly do I long for her. Ne'ertheless I have since 


seen her, though unknown to others, for I disguised 
me so that I might not be recognised, and, from a 
distance, I have seen her pass by. Thus you can 
understand that I have since lived in such grief that 
a speedy death has been my only desire. But I see 
not how either you or any other can succour me, for 
it is not possible that this jealous one, with his spies, 
would not discover it, and be assured that I must 
either endure this or die, but if that you will give 
heed for a while, you will understand wherefore it 
behoves me to rejoice over this grievous experience 
of love, and how I maintain this in my song. 


Thou, O Love, the traitor art ! 
Tender once as any may, 
Then the wielder of the dart 
That is pointed but to slay. 
Thee with reason, by my fay, 
Double-visaged we declare : 
One is as the ashes grey. 
But one is as an angel fair. 

Loth am I to find my part 
In the night without a ray, 
Yet desire hath stung my heart 
And I sigh in sorrow's sway. 


Gentle hope will never stay 
In the mansions of despair : 
One to death would point the way, 
But one is as an angel fair. 

Hope might in my spirit start, 
Death thy servant bids her nay : 
While beneath thy scourge I smart, 
Doleful still must be my lay, 
Since to set my steps astray, 
Thou at once art wheat and tare : 
One is like a devil, yea, 
But one is as an angel fair. 

Love, thou teachest me to say 
Double tribute is to pay 
For thy servants everywhere : 
One is grievous, well-a-day ! 
But one is as an angel fair. 

Much did this ballad charm my cousin, but greatly 
was he distressed at my grief, and in this manner did I, 
who never wearied of, or ceased from, weeping, make 
an end to my discourse. And thereby my distemper 
was diminished, but my cousin was forthwith an- 
angered when he saw me thus discomforted. And he 
spake thus to me : " Alack-a-day ! Right well do I 
perceive that you possess little discretion and courage. 
What reason have you, fair Sir, to demean you thus ? 


Certes, you should be happy, methinks, since your lady, 
by her messenger, makes promise to you of solace at a 
fitting time. You are foolish when you relinquish the 
hope which gives you comfort, for be assured that 
your lady is mindful of your love, and that she longs 
to give you pleasure. How can such grief enter your 
foolish thoughts, so as to allow you to be thus cast 
down and to die of despair ? Many a lover, without 
any hope of being loved by his mistress, has longwhiles 
served in great anguish without any solace either of 
soul or body, and not a single glance from her has he 
received, nor has he dared to approach her for fear of 
slander. If you have patience, and believe what I 
say, certes, you have but to make plaint as I have 
done, and you will soon be able to attain your desire. 
Since your lady takes pleasure in your doings, you 
may be assured that no fear will be strong enough 
to restrain her. But however grievous it may be, it 
may lead to your undoing that you have allowed so 
long time to pass by without making her acquainted- 
with your state. Very certain is it that never will she 
importune you, and I know not wherefore you were 
so foolish that, when you had opportunity, and were 


unhindered, you spake not to her of all the love with 
the which you loved her, instead of giving yourself up 
longwhiles to dreams ! " 

Then I forthwith made answer, "Alas, Cousin! I 
dared not, even if I had fitting opportunity, for I was 
afraid, and so much did I fear her, that I dared not 
tell her of it, even if I died because of this. For this 
reason I faltered, and greatly do I repent me of it, 
but never had I the courage to do it, for in her pres- 
ence I was greatly disquieted, although when I was 
alone I thought to myself that I would speak to her. 
And it ofttimes happened to me thus, but, certes, I 
persevered not when I was in her presence. The 
delight of her loving glance, the which was so sweet 
to me, filled me with such great ecstasy, that it seemed 
to me that she would perceive my distress of mind 
without my saying aught." 

Then my cousin made answer, " Foolish is the 
lover who hides from a lady the love he bears her, for^, 
on my soul, the delay may do him sore hurt. But since 
you dared not speak to her because of the fear which 
possessed you, as you know well how to write, where- 
fore do you not send her a letter or missive ? And I 


am still more surprised at your folly that, when you re- 
ceived her messenger, you sent not back word to her 
of your state since the time when you parted from her. 
And wherefore did you delay ? His coming was in- 
deed timely had not your folly held you back, and in 
this I without doubt speak the truth, for, since she so 
desired to give you gratification that she took thought 
to hear news of your doings, you can perceive that your 
love was in her thoughts. She must indeed regard 
you as a novice since you sent not to her ! Never a 
day let fall from your lips a single word in anywise 
touching upon sadness, but rather be cheerful, and 
leave all to me, and so well shall I know how to deceive 
every one, that I am willing to become a monk if there 
is any one on this earth who will be able to hinder you 
from seeing the fair one without this ever being noised 
abroad, if she so wills it, and you desire it. So grieve 
no more, but make glad countenance, for, without 
preaching longer to you, I make promise and swear to 
you that ere the week is passed, more than once shall 
you see your lady. And if God guides me in this, 
verily shall I find out the way to accomplish this." 
Then, even as the light illumines the darkness, and 


the exceeding brightness of the sun banishes the gloom, 
so was the cruel torment of my suffering subdued and 
ended by this one, who so truly comforted me that he 
filled me with joy and gladness, and stayed my grief, so 
that I had naught left of the which to make complaint. 

And in nowise did he make default, but when that 
an hour and a half was gone by, he set forth to my 
lady. To be brief, he spoke prudently to the fair one, 
and right gladly did he plead on my behalf, and of his 
own free will he told unto her all the truth concerning 
my sad trouble, and how that he had found me nigh 
unto death, and knew not whether I could recover 
from the sickness the which constrained me not to stir 
from my bed, and he told her all, and, in a word, that 
he could not comfort me. Then he counselled her 
that, for God's sake, she should not suffer one so 
young to be placed in peril of death by reason of too 
great love of her, and that she would be to blame if 
she were the cause of my death. 

In such manner did he, by his gentle and wise 
speech, entreat my lady to feel pity for the sickness 
from the which I was languishing on account of her, 
since never did T waver in the desire the which 


brought misery unto me and made me long to see 
her. And he told me that when he had ended his 
discourse, he saw that the fair one, who was very- 
silent, was pale as death, and of very sad countenance, 
and he well perceived from her demeanour that my 
sickness grieved her, and aroused her compassion, but 
she nevertheless desired it to appear quite otherwise. 
And she spake in this wise : " This is a strange thing 
that you tell unto me, fair Sir, that my cousin and 
yours is in this state. By the Apostle Paul, scarce can 
I believe that he could ever have thought on this ! 
Good God, that this should have entered his thoughts ! 
But if this be so, doubtless it is naught but youthful- 
ness and great lack of prudence which plunges him 
into sadness, and, with God's help, in a little while 
this will pass away. Turn him from this if you can, 
and counsel him that he put an end to it,. and turn his 
thoughts elsewhere, for never could he come near me 
without great ill coming of it if that he were seen. I 
wot not how it came to the knowledge of that spy 
(God curse him), by reason of whom I have not the 
courage to speak to any living man, and if he were 
within, I should not dare to hold converse thus with 


you. Since he discovered that this young man had the 
daring to love me, he has filled my lord with bitter 
anger, and has aroused such jealousy of me, that in 
nowise do I dare speak to any one alone, and where- 
soever I am, there the varlet must be, and I have him 
ever at my heels, for he is set to keep watch on me. 
And I fear me that all this is only because of suspicion 
of your cousin, for he pays close attention to that 
which is said to me, and ofttimes goes to the gate to 
see who enters here. And by God I swear to you 
that, if it were not for qualms of conscience, I would 
have him so well beaten by my kinsfolk that, unless 
he were very foolhardy, never would he dare return 
to keep watch on me. And so that this espial, the 
which is so irksome to me, might come to an end, I 
sent word to your cousin, and urged him much that for 
awhile he would refrain from coming hither, so that 
this spy might not see him, and that when this watch- 
fulness was somewhat abated, he could come to see us, 
and more he could not look for. It indeed seems to 
me certain that it will come to an end by degrees, and 
thus I believe that doubtless my lord will no longer 
give thought to jealousy, so that he will soon be able 


to come here, but sincerely do I believe that, if he 
has a care for me, it will be better that he keep away, 
and come not here. Of a truth, as every one bears 
witness, the love which dwells only in the imagination, 
fades away." 

Thus strangely did she make answer, and not a 
word more did she utter for my comfort. And he 
forthwith made answer in this wise : " You are so full 
of compassion, my Lady, that, whatever you may say, 
I tell you truly I believe not that you will leave him, 
who is wholly yours, to perish both in body and soul. 
You have said that I can turn him from it. Yea, 
truly, by rending his soul from his body ! No other 
way do I know. Certes, I have made every endeavour 
to divert him from it, but I tell you, forsooth, that he 
will die if he is left without hope, and naught will you 
have profited if his days are cut off through losing 
you. Worthy Lady, give me your answer, for I care 
not a whit for the jealous one, and never will his spies 
make use of such cunning that I shall not altogether 
deceive them. But, since I perceive you pity him, 
grant him this favour. I speak thus much of him to 
you so that you may be willing that he come here with 


me, and I will apparel him duly and fittingly, and will 
so much concern me with this, that he shall be recog- 
nised of none provided you tell me how you would 
that he should deport himself in order to see you. So 
hesitate no longer, for the matter moves too slowly 
for him." 

And she said : " In nowise believe that I am so 
much his enemy that his grief and his sorrow do not 
cause me much discomfiture, for you may know of a 
truth that right well do I love him, and he is right 
in guarding mine honour, and without delay I shall 
do all that should content him, but I am not willing 
to say more now concerning this matter save that he 
demean himself with prudence, and come not here 
as yet, but you may come ofttimes provided you hold 
but Uttle discourse with me before this spy. Let me 
know of your doings by one who is prudent, who shall 
go to you. This messenger is loyal, I give you my 
faith, and if you and he trust not one another, I shall 
be uneasy, for none other dare approach me. And 
now we have discoursed together long enough, and 
we know not whether we are being watched. So 
tell your friend that he may be joyous and happy, and 


ithat you have so prevailed with me that, if violence 
does not intervene, he will not fail in that which he 
asks for. Thus you will commend me to him, and 
cheer him, saying that ere a week is gone by he will 
be able to see much of me. And let us hold counsel 
together no longer now, and do you trouble yourself 
no more about the matter. We have indeed been 
fortunate in that we have not been disturbed whiles 
that we have so long time discoursed together at our 
:ease. Await, however, my lord, who, as I well know, 
has not for long time had such pleasure as he will have 
when he knows of your coming. Meanwhiles, we will 
-play at chess. We may amuse ourselves in this manner 
for a while." 

And then, without more ado, they forthwith com- 
menced to play at a side table. And at the end of 
the game the master and lord entered the chamber. 
Then my cousin went towards him, and when the 
latter met him, he gave him hearty welcome, and said 
that his coming was very pleasing, and that he was 
welcome. In a word, without detaining you longer, 
he treated him with great deference, and said that all 
that was his was at his command, and that whensoe'er 


he stayed in those parts, nowhere else must he lodge, 
but he must come there. This would give him happi- 
ness above all things, but otherwise he would be dis- 
pleased. And the latter gave him much thanks for 
this. And on the morrow, after meat, he took his 
leave and departed thence, and he hasted his return, 
for he knew how I was longing for this and that it 
would bring me very great delight. 

And when he was returned, he related unto me all 
that had happened to him on his journey, and that 
he believed that my affairs would prosper right well 
provided it were pursued yonder quickly and with 
skill, wherefore, as he had made promise to my lady, 
he would have all things, both great and small, under 
his ordering, since he had so agreed with her. Thus 
did he tell and recount all to me. 

Then much joy had I in my heart, the which had 
erewhile been in sorrow which harassed it. But in 
order the sooner to advance my aifair, he advised me 
that in the first place I should write a letter, in the 
which I should wholly set forth my condition, and 
how that love of her weighed heavily upon me, and 
that she should hearken to the plaint of her slave who 



besought her love and asked naught beside, and that 
I should put all suchlike things in a sealed letter, and 
he would be the bearer of it for to assuage my grief. 
And I trusted in him, and so I wrote a letter in the 
which I set forth how it fared with me by reason of 
love of her, and all that grieved me. And I enclosed 
two ballads with the letter, the which I sealed, to the 
rehearsal of which give heed all you who incline unto 

Sealed Letter 

To her who surpasses all, and whom my heart 
fears and worship 

Lady, the flower of all of high degree, very renowned 
and revered princess, the desire of my heart, and the 
joy of my eyes, who art exalted above the considera- 
tion of the lowly, my much loved and coveted lady, 
deign, for pity's sake, to hearken unto and to accept 
the sad plaint of your servant, who, since he is under 
restraint, is like to one who is nigh unto death, and 
who takes perilous remedies in order that he may either 


end his days or live. To you, very sweet Lady, who, 
by your refusal, can slay me, or, by the tender solace 
of your consent, can give me life, I come to entreat 
either swift death, or a speedy cure. Most beautiful 
one, I know well that you have such discernment that 
you have been able to perceive how that, because of 
you, love has longwhiles held me, and still holds me, 
in its toils, and how that the fear and dread with the 
which great love has filled my heart, has robbed me of 
the courage to tell you of it, sweet lady. And I know 
that you are so gracious, that if you had perceived and 
known all the pain and the torment which I have since 
suffered, and still endure, through desire for your 
tender love, then, albeit I have not yet performed 
enough deeds of valour, and have not enough of worth, 
to have deserved the love of even one of less noble 
birth than yourself, the gentle pity of your kindly 
heart would not have suffered me to endure such dis* 
quiet. Ah, Lady, if you have regard to your worth 
and your great renown for that, by reason of my 
youth, I have not yet been counted valiant, it will be 
my death I But, my honoured Lady, know that you 
can so strengthen me as to give me heart and courage 


to undertake and to achieve, according to my ability, 
all honourable things that the mind of a lover dare 
think on or do for love of lady. And, sweet Lady, 
and my goddess on earth, since you can, vnih much 
ease, greatly gladden him who loves and worships you 
as his most coveted possession, deign to recognise how 
that, by your tender solace, he may be saved from 
death, and life may be restored to him. And if you 
would ask or would know what has brought him to this, 
I tell you that it is your very sweet, pleasing, beautiful, 
laughing, and loving eyes. Ah, Lady, since it is by 
them that this cruel wound has been inflicted, it seems 
to me but just that it should be soothed and healed 
by the delight of your compassion. Therefore may it 
please you, very winsome and honoured Lady, to make 
me acquainted with your good pleasure, and whether 
you would that I die or recover. By no means would 
I weary you with a long letter, and be assured that I 
know not how to tell or to write fully how matters stand 
with me, but you will indeed come to know this, 
whether I win your love or not, for, if I fail in this, 
you will see me die, but if by good fortune I win it, 
the result will be seen in willing service. So I send 


you these two ballads here enclosed, the which may it 
please you to receive kindly. Very beautiful and fair 
one, whose praise I am not able duly to set forth, I 
pray God that He will vouchsafe to you as many 
favours and delights as the tears the which I have 
shed for love of you. — Written with a fervent and 
longing heart. 

Your very humble and obedient slave. 


Sweet Lady, fair and gentle without peer. 
Have mercy on me, who all thy words obey : 
Body and soul do I abandon here 
Unto thy will, and humbly thus I pray : 

Come quickly nigh. 
Have pity, and cure my sickness when I cry : 
Oh, I beseech thee, graciously attend 
And so consent to take me for thy friend. 

To thee I give myself, O flower most dear. 
For mercy I beseech, and wilt thou slay ? 
I charge thee by that Lord whom we revere 
To lift this wrong that crushes me away. 

No help have I 
From any other : leave me not to die I 
See, faithfully I serve thee to the end, 
And so consent to take me for thy friend. 


Seest thou not how I shed full many a tear : 
And if thy help for longer shall delay 
I am but shent, what need to speak more clear? 
Ah, love me, Love so holds me in his sway ! 

Then hither hie, 
Be merciful, for near to death I lie : 
'Tis truth, thou knowest, I have no hope to mend, 
And so consent to take me for thy friend. 

Lady, I thank thee, and all my duty send, 
And so consent to take me for thy friend. 


In this sad world have pity, my lady dear. 
Dear to me more than any other there : 
Their pride you know not ; let not gracious cheer 
Cheer me at so great cost, oh white and fair ! 
Fare I thus ill, yet canst thou bid me see 
Seasons of solace that may comfort me. 

If for unfitness I be slighted here. 

Here am I dead, and arrows of despair 

Spare not to pierce my heart, and life grows drear, 

Drear as my brooding on the doom I bear. 

Bear witness, Love withholds in obduracy 

Seasons of solace that might comfort me. 

O loveliest one and sweetest, without peer, 
Peerless in honour, of all bounties heir, 
Ere I thy servant pine in sorry fear 
Fear not a kind and gentle guise to wear. 


Where shall I find, 'mid this deep dolorous sea, 
Seasons of solace that may comfort me? 

Dear Lady, grant in gracious courtesy 
Seasons of solace that may comfort me. 

Thus as you have heard did I write to my lady, and 
by my letter I made known to her my trouble, for to 
gain her solace. And my cousin bare the letter. For 
awhile he remained on his guard, and carefully watched 
for the time when he could safely have speech of her. 
And then he told her of my letter, at the which she in 
nowise made complaint, but received it gladly. And, 
smiling, she read the letter and the ballads twice or 
thrice, and then the fair and gracious one said, " I will 
write in reply to your cousin, and more I will not say 
to you now, but I will set me about it. And whiles 
that I am so occupied, do you divert yourself with 
chess, and checkmate my kinswoman here." 

Then she withdrew to an inner chamber with her 
secretary, who well knew how to keep her counsel, 
and than whom she had none other more confi- 
dential, and she commenced to express her thoughts 
in writing, and composed the letter the which is 
here set forth. 


Reply of the Lady to the Afore-Mentioned Letter 

To my Courteous Friend — 

My fair and courteous knight, may it please you 
to know that I have received your tender and loving 
letter and ballads in the which you make known to me 
that, unless you have speedy succour, you will die. So 
I write you this letter in reply. If you feel assured that 
it is on account of me that you are so ill at ease, I am 
heartily sorry for it, for I would not be the cause of 
sorrow to any one, and it grieves me the more in your 
case than in that of any other, since so long time have 
I known you. ' But when, dear friend, you ask of me to 
give you solace, I understand not the meaning of your 
request, but so that you may know my determination, 
be well assured that if you asked of me, or I discovered 
that you meant, aught that would be dishonouring or 
shameful, never would you obtain your desire, and 
wholly would I banish you from me^ Of this you can 
be certain, for rather would I die than that, for aught 
in the world, I should consent to soil mine honour. 
But if so it be that the love of a lady, given honour- 
ably and without evil intent, can suffice you, you may 


know that I am the one whom love has made disposed 
to hold you in esteem, both now and for aye. And 
once again I make confession unto you that, when I 
know of a surety that your desire is satisfied with that 
which I am willing to grant, I shall think on you as my 
one dearly loved friend, if I see your loving purpose 
and goodwill continue. And if it be, as you have de- 
clared in your aforesaid letter, that I can be the means 
of your advancement in valour, I would ask of God no 
greater favour. Therefore be pleased to write to me 
all your wishes in the matter, but have a care, never- 
theless, that no desire make you false in aught which 
may hereafter prove to be anyways contrary to that 
which you avouch, or wholly shall I banish you from 
me. So I would that you put away from you all 
melancholy and sadness, and be merry and contented 
and cheerful, but above all I charge and enjoin you to 
be discreet, and, as far as in me lies, I forbid you to 
concern yourself with the habit common to many of 
your age, the which is, not to know how to keep aught 
secret, and to make boast of being even more favoured 
than others. And have a care that you reveal naught 
to friend or companion, however intimate you may be. 


save what, for your aid, it is needful that your best 
friend should know. And if you do thus, and hold to 
it, you may be sure that love will in nowise fail to 
bestow its favour on you in large measure. My dear 
and good friend, I pray God to give you all that you 
can wish for, for methinks not that this is beyond what 
is seemly. — Written in gladsome mood. 

Your friend. 

When this letter was finished, my lady arose, and 
returned to my cousin. And she gave it to him, and 
told him that, despite its contents, I must no longer 
be sad, and that she would take pains to heal me of my 
sickness, and ere long would appoint a day, hour, and 
place, when I could without fail have speech with her, 
and that she sent the letter to me with the message 
that she trusted herself in my hands, and charged me 
to be no longer ill at ease. 

Then he gave her thanks, and departed, and on his 
return he related unto me how gracious and good he 
had found my lady to be. And I, who awaited him 
with the fierceness and fervour of a great longing, 
held out my hands with joy, saying, " I thank Thee, 
my God, for Thy mercy to me." 


And he delivered the letter to me, and I, whom this 
filled with great joy, straightway took it. And as soon 
as I had read it, I kissed it, I think, an hundred times, 
and I read it, I assure you, not once only, but more 
than twenty times, for never did I tire of this when 
I understood its contents, the which cheered me. 
Wherefore I made merry, and ceased to grieve, for I 
would be joyous, since my sweet lady so ordained. 
Thus was hope wholly restored to me, and no longer 
had I fear of refusal as had been my wont, but I de- 
sired to make answer to her letter. So I took pen and 
paper, and pounce and ink, and withdrew me. Then 
gladly, and without hindrance, I wrote in suchwise as 
I here set forth. 

To THE Fairest of All 

My very Honoured Mistress — 

Very fair and kind, and indeed I could, from the 
bottom of my heart, say, very loved, honoured, and 
coveted Lady, for whose sake love, through the charm 
of your beauteous eyes, has made me willingly become 
your true bondsman, and in whose sweet service I 


would, as far as I am able, even if not as far as I should 
do, unreservedly spend all my life, I give you thanks 
for your very gracious and pleasing letter, which, 
through the comfort of sweet hope, has imparted 
vigour and strength to my heavy-laden heart, the 
which was sorrowful and almost broken through 
despair of ever gaining your love. And, my much 
longed-for and honoured Lady, in answer to one of 
the matters you treat of in it, the which is that you 
understand not the meaning of my request, whilst on 
your part you would have me to know that you would 
rather die than that your honour were soiled, I tell 
you truly, very sweet Mistress, and give you assurance, 
that my wish is altogether and entirely like unto your 
own. Of a truth, if I could desire aught but your good- 
will, in nowise could I hold you as the lady of my 
heart, nor myself as your liegeman. And touching 
your warning to me to take heed that I so demean me 
as not to make boast of aught which may afterward 
prove to be untrue, I verily make promise unto you, 
very gentle Lady, and I swear faithfully on my word of 
honour, that all my life long you shall find me such an 
one, and if in this I make default, I am willing, and 


bind myself, to be cut off from all joy, and to be 
counted as vile. And as to concealing my secret, and 
refraining from telling it to either companion or friend, 
save to the one from whom I may not hide it, be 
assured, sweet Lady, that of this I take good heed, and, 
as far as in me lies, neither in this, nor in aught beside, 
shall you find me wanting, and I give you thanks for 
your good counsel, kind Lady. And since I give you 
assurance on all matters which might embroil me, may 
it please you to perform that which you make promise 
of in your letter, the which is, that of your grace you 
will hold me as your one loved friend, and if in aught 
you find me disobedient, I am willing to be banished, 
and to accept great disgrace as my due, and may God 
never suffer me so much as to live if at any time I 
have desire to be false or untrue to you. And when, 
moreover, you say that it would give you pleasure to 
be the cause of my advancement, know, sweet Lady, 
that this could never come to pass save through you, 
for none but you can either save me, or be my undoing. 
Therefore, sweet Lady, may it please you to comfort 
me, and give me perfect happiness, by according to 
me your sweet love, and may you be willing to satisfy 


my famished heart and eyes by granting them oppor- 
tunity to see your loved and much-desired self. And 
may you be minded to send me the very joyous news 
concerning this the vi^hich I long for. Sweet and 
winsome one, who art renowned above all others, I 
plead for your help more often than I can tell unto 
you, and I pray God to grant you a happy life, and the 
will to love me well. — Written right joyously, in the 
hope of better fortune, 

Your humble slave. 

Thus did I finish my letter, and, at the end, I 
added a short ballad, so that she might not be wearied 
in the reading. Therefore listen to the device of it, 
for it is after a strange manner — 


Kind and fair Saint, 
My heart's repose, 
Whose sweet constraint 
Doth all enclose 
That the world knows 
Of graciousness, 
Vouchsafe me grace ! 


Fresh without taint 
As the new rose, 
This my heart's plaint 
That overflows, 
Ere my breath goes, 
Pity and bless. 
Vouchsafe me grace ! 

Ah, sweet clove pent. 
Shy dove, for whose 
Dear grace I faint, 
So my heart glows 
It dares disclose 
Love, Love, nought less. 
Vouchsafe me grace I 

Save thy heart close 
To longing's throes, 
O Loveliness, 
Vouchsafe me grace ! 

And I despatched my letter by my cousin, and 
thus sent forth on his way him whom I loved, implor- 
ing him to entreat of my lady that it might please 
her that ere long I might have speech of her, else my 
wretched and weary life would soon be ended. 

And he tarried not until he was come to her dwell- 
ing. And there he was in nowise denied, but was 
made very welcome. And he wisely restrained him 


until he saw the fitting time to report his errand. 
Then he spake well and wisely in my behalf, praying 
her that, for God's sake, she would no longer suffer 
me, who was dying of love, so to languish that such 
hurt would ensue to me that I could not recover. 
Then he gave her the letter, and she read it, and 
scanned it quite leisurely. To be brief, she made 
answer that she well believed that I spake from the 
bottom of my heart when I made request for her 
love, since dissimulation was not usual in one so 
young, and she thought it certain, and without doubt, 
that the jealous one would depart within three days, 
and would go far away. And it seemed that at the 
same time all danger would be at an end, and then 
we should be able to hold converse together without 
hindrance, and, when she perceived it to be the fitting 
time, she would that I should come secretly with my 
cousin in the evening, dressed as a varlet, although 
she would have me to be concealed when I was come 
there, so that neither stranger, nor kinsfolk, nor any 
save her secretary, should know of it. And touching 
this, she would not fail to make known by this one 
what she would that I should do, provided he failed 


not to warn me to demean me so modestly towards 
her as not to do aught to provoke her displeasure or 

And he gave her full assurance of this, saying that 
she might be certain of it, for rather would I die than 
venture to do aught contrary to her will. 

Thus he returned with this news, the which was so 
good and pleasing unto me, that I seemed to myself 
to be in a very happy dream. 

And I thought on this without ceasing, but the 
delay seemed long to me. And she who held my 
heart in bondage forgot me not on the day on which 
she had made promise to send to me. Therefore it 
behoved me to give hearty welcome to the very dis- 
tinguished messenger who brought to me the pleasing 
news for the which I was longing, the which was that 
I should go at nightfall to her to whom my heart went 
out, and who made known to me by this one what 
she would have me do, and that I should speak of 
it to no one save only to him who knew of it, and 
that he, and I, and her secretary, should set out, 
and should take none other thither. 

Then we set out quickly, and parted from our fol- 



lowers, discreetly telling them not to be uneasy about 
it, but to be of good cheer, for it was needful for us 
to arrange some business between us three, the which 
would occupy us the whole day, and that we should 
return on the morrow. 

And right joyously did we ride without drawing 
rein, and exactly at the hour named, we arrived at 
the place where my dear lady sometimes sojourned. 
And we dismounted without a torch, and then I 
divested me of my tunic, and put on another one. 

And my kind and prudent cousin went up un- 
disguised, and I took charge of the horses, and was 
careful not to be recognised. And on the instant he 
invented the excuse that he was come there at that 
hour upon a pressing matter the which had just arisen, 
and upon which he must without fail speak unto the 
lord as soon as possible, for very great need made 
this urgent. And he was told that he was not there, 
and would not return for some months. And he said 
that great hurt would happen to him in consequence. 

Then my very sweet lady made haste, and came on a 
sudden to a lattice window the which overlooked the 
courtyard. And she said, " What chance brings my 


cousin here ? Go and let down the bridge quickly. 
Thus shall I learn what he wants. I know not but 
that some one sends me urgent news by him." 

Then was my cousin escorted to her by two damsels. 
And when he was come, she asked of him, after that 
he had saluted her, " Is any one dead, or what brings 
you here so late ? I have not seen you for a week. 
Tell me what you want." 

Then he said that it was of no avail for him to 
remain since he had not met with the lord and master, 
the which grieved him. Thus it was meet that he 

And she made answer that he must not do so, but 
must without fail make all his affair known unto her. 

Then he said, " My varlet, who holds my horses at 
the gate, must bring me a letter the which I gave 
into his charge, and some one must tell him to come 
without delay." 

And my lady, in a haughty manner, gave command 
to her secretary to do this, and he, with much haste, 
put the horses into a stable, and then escorted me 
up. And my cousin, who took great precautions, 
came to the door of the chamber, and he turned him 


to me, saying, " Give me that letter quickly." Then 
he said to the secretary, " Let him be gone at once, 
for there is naught beside for him to do here, and it 
is not convenient for a varlet to remain in the chamber 
at this present." 

My cousin said all this for that a light wsls shining in 
the chamber, by the which I might be recognised, and 
thus I should be found out. 

And he took a long letter the which I had placed 
in my bosom, and then he drew my lady aside, and, 
reading it, showed how weighty a matter was set 
forth in it. Meanwhiles the secretary, as my lady 
had commanded him, made me to withdraw without 
a light into the chamber, the which communicated 
with that of my sweet and fair lady, of a lady who was 
prudent, reserved, and without reproach, and who was 
acquainted with everything. 

And as soon as the letter had been read in the 
presence of all, my cousin was bent on departing, 
and made semblance of great regret, but she forbade 
him to go, and said that without fail he must remain 
there, or she would make complaint of it to her lord, 
and thus she made him tarry. 


And she held long converse with him, and at length, 
so that this might not create wonderment, she said 
that it was time to rest, and that there was no cause 
for any one to keep watch in her chamber. And to 
the end that there might be no suspicion or doubt 
wherefore he was come there at that hour, his bed 
was made ready in a distant chamber, to the which 
he was escorted to rest, and thither was he accom- 
panied by the most trusted of the esquires who had 
the charge of her within the castle, since they no 
longer waited on her because of the hour. 

Then without delay she disrobed her, and laid her 
down in the presence of her gentlewomen, but not 
long did she remain there, but arose and apparelled 
her, and made complaint that she suffered somewhat, 
and because of this she would that a fire were pre- 
pared in the chamber where I was. So I was hidden 
until that the serving-woman had made a fire in the 

Then my lady came wrapped in a long mantle, and 
she brought not with her any of her waiting-women 
save one, the whom was the lady before mentioned, 
whom she had chosen above all, and on whose breast 


she leaned, and she dismissed the serving-woman to 
bed, for she said she would not that she remained up, 
so that she might not be wearied. And after she was 
gone, the door was bolted. 

Then the lady came to fetch me, and led me to my 
lady. And scarce did I salute her, for so perturbed did 
I feel, that I knew not where I was. Ne'ertheless I 
said, " Sweet Lady, may God preserve you, both body 
and soul." 

" Friend," made she answer, " you are very wel- 

Then she made me to sit down beside her, and as 
soon as I looked on her, I became like one beside him- 
self. And well did my lady perceive this, and she re- 
ceived me with a kiss, for the which I many times 
humbly gave her thanks. 

And my lady, revered of my fearful and doubting 
heart, commenced to speak after this manner. " Have 
I, who have caused you to come hither thus secretly, 
done your will, fair Sir ? Is this the deed of a friend ? 
In nowise deceive me now, but I earnestly entreat of 
you to tell me, if you can, and whiles that you have 
opportunity, all your desire." 


Then all trembling with joy, sighing, I said, " Ah, 
sweet Lady ! by my troth I know not how to utter 
that which I would. Therefore, very dear Lady, take 
it in good part, and recognise how that I am wholly 
yours, both body and soul, and more I cannot say." 

And she drew nearer, and put her arm around my 
neck, and, laughing, she spake thus. " It behoves me, 
then, to speak for us both, since you cannot call to mind 
aught to say, and yet I verily believe that love bestows 
on me so goodly a portion of his favours, that I trust 
I could in nowise utter a single word concerning that 
which I presume you speak of, beyond what it is meet 
for me to say." 

Then the other lady who was there began to smile, 
and she said aloud, " Since I see you thus already in 
friendly accord in this matter, truly do I perceive and 
know that love makes fools of the wisest." 

And my lady said to me, " My friend, since love has 
made us of one mind, no longer is it needful to enquire 
if we love one another, and I well believe that love 
claims us, or can claim us both, as his servants, the 
which grieves me not. Nevertheless, dear friend, how- 
ever much I trust you in this matter, I would, not- 


withstanding, make known to you all my will without 
concealing aught, and I know not what is your purport, 
but I tell you that, whatever love you perceive in me, 
and whatever semblance I may make, in word or look, 
of being trusting, pleased, or mirthful, and although I 
may kiss or embrace you, never for a moment must 
you imagine that I have the mind or the desire to do 
aught that is dishonouring, or in the which I may not 
be in every way free from reproach. Dear friend, I 
give you this warning, since never would I have you 
to say that in the smallest degree I had surrendered 
myself to you, for I swear that never will I do aught 
the which may tarnish mine honour. And so, once 
for all, I swear to you, of a truth, that as soon as I 
perceive, either from your demeanour or your look, 
that you cherish other desires, never again shall you 
see me. I know not whether I err in this, but I seek 
not to refuse you any other pleasure by the which it 
is permitted to a lady to enslave her lover, and but 
that I should be acting fooUshly, and doing wrong to 
myself, I would surrender my heart altogether to you, 
and would give up all that I possess for you to use as 
you will, but I make promise unto you of loyalty and 


true friendship, and am willing to prefer you above 
all others if that this will content you, and this do I 
say truly. So tell me what you desire whiles that you 
have time and the opportunity, for I would understand 
your purpose." 

And when she whom I revered had ceased speaking, 
I made answer, " Ah, my Lady ! Almost does it kill 
me to hear you speak thus. The love, the goodness, 
and the favour which you extend to me, should well 
content me, and I trust that you will never imagine 
that I am not willing to agree to all that you command. 
And believe me truly that, as I wrote in answer to your 
letter, I make promise unto you on my oath — and in 
this I perjure myself not — I would that I should never 
be had in honour, but should always be held disgraced, 
if that ever, for a single day, in deed, word, or thought, 
I should do or think aught, either in secret or openly, 
the which could displease you, and you may put me 
to the proof in such manner as you will, for never will 
aught that your heart desires be unwelcome to me, nor 
will it befall that aught which may be your wish can 
grieve me, and thus it behoves me not to distress me 
concerning this, for are you not my loved one ? Is it 


not meet that I demean me according to your will ? 
When I shall be moved to do otherwise, may I be 
destroyed, body and soul, and brought to ruin ! Good 
God ! how satisfied I ought to be since I perceive that 
you love me, and call me your dear friend ! I possess 
that which I coveted, and naught beside do I strive 
after, and I think myself well recompensed. And as 
you are disposed alway to love me thus, I indeed per- 
ceive that there is no guile or malice in your heart, and 
I bethink me, moreover, that I shall do such service, 
that I shall be yet more loved by you. Therefore 
command me even now, for I am your liegeman, and 
my heart is wholly pledged to you, fair one. Declare 
now your pleasure, or send me whither you will, and I 
will go, and will obey in all things, without opposing 
your humour. Thus you can do as you will with me 
more than I know how to tell, and may God watch 
over you, and reward you abundantly for that you 
thus make promise wholly to love me. I ought not to 
speak ill of love, the which puts me in the way of 
attaining to such great joy. Therefore, fair and kind 
one, I give you humble thanks, for henceforth I shall 
wear the lover's crown, and I shall put away from me 


every evil habit, and take virtue into my service, the 
which I would seek above all things, in order to be 
like unto the valiant. Thus will you make me a 
wise and prudent man. In fine, sweet Lady, I 
could not be more happy, however much I might say 
concerning it." 

Then my lady, in whom dwells every grace, very 
tenderly embraced me, and kissed me more than an 
hundred times. And I remained thus happy all the 
night, and be assured, you lovers who hear this, that I 
was very contented. Many tender words full of de- 
light were spoken that night, and she, in whom is all 
goodness, showed me how and where, in spite of every 
one, I might see her very often. Thus I asked for 
naught beside, for I had all that I desired. Neverthe- 
less she earnestly charged me to be very mindful of her 
honour, even if at any time I had to defer seeing her, 
although the delay might cause annoyance, for I should 
put her in peril if that I took not careful heed before- 
hand of the proper time to come, and to depart when 
she admonished me. 

Thus we passed the time, but shortwhile dured the 
night for me. And when the day was come, the which 


grieved me, embracing and kissing me an hundred 
times, and giving me sweet loving glances, she said, 
" Farewell, dear love." And she bolted me in there 
all alone, and retired to her room. And, later, dressed 
as a page, I was released by the astute secretary, who 
was in the secret, and albeit I was not versed in the 
business, I resumed my former office, for, as he well 
said, it was meet for one who received so sweet a re- 
compense, to take charge of the horses at the gate, and 
doubtless I would not wish to busy myself in any other 
office, and ofttimes did I take upon myself this pleasing 
service. Thus you see how it is sometimes needful for 
a master to turn varlet, and perchance in this manner 
he ofttimes comes by that which he desires. 

And my cousin no longer remained dreaming, but 
arose betimes noiselessly, for he would not that any 
who slept should be awakened, and he had taken his 
leave of my lady yesternight. And he went out. And 
I awaited him, and led the horses to and fro Hke a 
good and trained varlet, and he said, " Come hither, 
fellow. How an-angered I could be with you when 
you lean on the saddle-bow ! " Thus did he speak 
before those present, for some knights and men-at- 


arms would fain escort him to his dwelling, and they 
blamed him in that he had not more of his own men 
with him, but he assured them that, for a certain 
reason, he had done it quite designedly. He had 
thought to find the lord there, for never in his life 
had he had greater need or desire to speak with him. 
And then he desired that none should accompany 
him. And he set out on his way. 

And so we departed, and as we rode, we held much 
friendly and gracious converse together, for the pleasing 
remembrance which I had on my return of the sweet 
joy which had comforted me, gave me so great solace, 
that no one could have had greater joy of aught. And 
we were quickly come to our journey's end, so much 
did we spur our horses, but I had put on my tunic 
again. Then, as soon as they perceived us, my re- 
tainers, who loved me and held me in esteem, received 
us with great delight, and we also were glad, and with 
great joy sang, in cheerful refrain, this quite new 
virelay : — 


Sweet, in whom my joy must be, 
Now my heart is full of glee 


For thy love : and loosed from care 
All my song is, ' ' Lady fair, 
Living I consume for thee." 

But thy gentle love hath sent 
The fair comfort that I need : 
I therewith am well content. 
Gladness doth my spirit lead. 

Rightly am I glad, pardie ! 
For of old my joUity 
Drowned in woes I had to bear : 
Of thy help when I was ware 
Gone was all my misery, 
Sweet, in whom my joy must be. 

Since the day that thou hast lent 
Thy dear heart, my life is freed 
From the sorrows I lament : 
Peace and gladness are my meed. 

Lady, love despatcheth me 
Succour sweet, who thus am free 
From my sickness : pale despair 
Rules no longer when I share 
Hope that I thy face may see. 
Sweet, in whom my joy must be. 

Now have I recounted unto you how that in the 
first instance I was surprised and subdued by love, 
and was afterward grievously constrained by great 


longing, and how my dear kinsman gave himself much 
trouble, with the result that I was delivered from my 
trouble by my lady, who had mercy on me, thanks 
be to her. And I will tell how that from that time I 
went to and fro. Thenceforth I was happy even as 
you have heard, and because of the joy which I had, 
I devised this ballad : — 


In all the world is none so happy here 
Nor is there any joy to match with mine, 
Since she that hath no rival and no peer 
Doth mercifully to my suit incline. 
Her slave am I till death, for all my pain 
In very truth hath met with guerdon meet : 
She was my help on whom I called amain. 
For she hath granted me her love so sweet. 

Fair queen, in whom all nobleness is clear. 
Thou would'st not have me for thy presence pine : 
Nay, bid me cry in every lover's ear, 
' ' Thirsty was I for Love's immortal wine ! " 
Not all my weeping might the gift obtain, 
Yet she, enthroned on beauty's mercy-seat, 
Hath pardoned all : too soon did I complain, 
For she hath granted me her love so sweet. 

Now to delight returns the torrent drear 
That of my mourning was the sorry sign ; 


Now am I joyous and of merry cheer, 
More than aforetime in her grace divine. 
Love bade me follow in his chosen train 
Where gladness walks beside my lady's feet, 
Nor any loss is mingled with my gain, 
For she hath granted me her love so sweet. 

Princess of love, my sorrow I disdain 
Since out of mourning cometh joy complete 
By grace of her who is love's suzerain. 
For she hath granted me her love so sweet. 

So I demeaned me prudently and wisely, and I de- 
sired to have apparel and horses and beautiful things 
in much plenty, and great pains did I take to make me 
acquainted with all matters which become honest folk, 
and, as far as I was able, I avoided those which are 
unworthy, and I always had the desire to increase my 
fame, to the end that my lady might hold herself loved 
of a brave man. Thus I spared no pains to become 
rich, in order to dispense freely, and it appeared as if 
I made no count of riches. 

But to shorten my story, I tell you truly that none 
other thought had I than to follow in the path of true 
lovers, and oft, thank God, did I come to enjoy the 
welcome favours the which Love and Dames dispense 
to those who are faithful to them, for I well knew how 


to compass this, although it became expedient to be 
very careful where I saw my sweet goddess each week, 
so that no one, save those who were trusted, should 
come to know of it. And the first time that I re- 
turned to her, I took her this new ballad, the which 
greatly pleased her, and I brought back one from her. 


Command of me, my Lady and my queen, 
All thy good pleasure, as I were thy slave. 
Which I shall do with glad and humble mien 
That whatsoe'er thou wiliest, thou raay'st have. 

I owe no less 
Being bound thereto for so great pleasantness, 
More than to other lovers may betide : 
For sweeter are thy gifts than all beside. 

Thy love delivered me from dule and teen, 
All that was needful to my soul it gave : 
Is there not here in truth good reason seen 
Thy love should rule the heart thy love did save ? 

Ah, what mistress 
So guerdoneth her servant with largess 
Of love's delight? The rest have I denied, 
For sweeter are thy gifts than all beside. 

Since such a harvest of reward I glean, 
Love in ray heart hath risen like a wave : 
Thy slave am I, as I thy slave have been, 
While life shall last. Ah, damsel bright and brave, 



Sweet patroness 
Of spirit and strength, and lady of noblesse, 
All other comfort doth my heart deride, 
For sweeter are thy gifts than all beside. 

Most dear princess 
Of joy thou art the fount, as I confess : 
I thirst no longer, but am satisfied, 
For sweeter are thy gifts than all beside. 

Ere I parted from this very sweet being, I received 
an answer to my ballad, the which gave me more than 
a little very ardent rapture, for the enchanting fair 
one, whilst reading it, put her arms about my neck. 
And here it is : — 


Ever blessed be the day, 

Be the place and be the dwelling. 

That hath ended my delay, 

Shown the truth I shrank from telling. 

Dear friend, behold 
My love is yours, a costlier gift than gold : 
To Love be praise, that first the bond hath knit, 
For I am filled with perfect joy from it. 

Since I yielded to thy sway 

When thy heart with grief was swelling, 

Swiftly speeding as he may 

Joy is come, my care dispelling : 


Now am I bold 
To give thee love, that guerdons manifold 
May heal thee from thy sorrow every whit, 
For I am filled with perfect joy from it. 

So my soul, with God for stay, 
The new blissful years foretelling. 
Finds in thee, for whom I pray, 
Grace and gladness all excelling. 

I that of old 
Gave thee but sorry cheer and comfort cold, 
Am straightway turned to serve thee, as is fit. 
For I am filled with perfect joy from it. 

When I had told 
My love, my heart was yours to have and hold : 
To grief I yield not, nor to blame submit, 
For I am filled with perfect joy from it. 

In suchwise was happiness granted to me, even as 
you hear, and I pursued it with joy and gladness. But 
fortune, who is ready, whensoe'er she can, to do harm 
to lovers, straightway thought to do me very grievous 
hurt, as I will relate in a few words. 

It chanced, in a short while, that the lady who 
knew of our love, and who concealed our doings, had 
business at home, from the which loss would happen 
to her inheritance if she did not go there forthwith, 
wherefore, sad and sorrowful, she departed from the 


Court. And as for me, this caused me great grief, 
for I well knew that my lady would essay naught with- 
out her. And on this account I was much distressed, 
for, certes, I could in nowise rest without seeing her. 
And my lady knew this well, and I am persuaded that 
it was not otherwise with her. So she then bethought 
her of a lady who had likewise been in her service 
all her life, and who was prudent and discreet, and 
good, loyal, and reserved, although no longer did she 
live at Court. So she resolved to inquire of her if 
she was willing to return. Therefore without delay 
she wrote this letter to her, and received an answer 
from her. 

The Duchess 

To my very dear and good friend^ 

The Lady of La Tour. 

Very dear and kind Friend, — Concerning my 
estate, be pleased to know that I am in health, and I 
pray God to grant the same to you. I write to you 
because of the desire which I have to see you, and to 
speak with you, for I have not forgotten the good and 
faithful service which you have alway rendered me, for 


the which I hold myself so much bounden to you, that 
I can never repay it. And be sure that you have a 
friend in me, and you can put this to the proof when- 
soe'er you will. Dear lady and friend, you well know 
how that I am controlled, and held in great subjection 
and fear, and am harshly treated, and that my lot is 
a very hard one, and allows me but little happiness, 
and that I have no friend to whom I can make plaint 
and tell my secret thoughts, the which I would not 
make confession of to any save to you, from whom 
I would not hide aught any more than I would from 
my confessor, for I know you to be so loyal, that I 
can trust in you. You must know, therefore, that it 
is a very grievous sorrow to a young heart always 
to live in disquiet, and devoid of happiness. So I 
would that you were near me, and I would tell 
you of very pleasing things, concerning the which, 
with good reason, I do not write to you. And thus I 
have great need of your aid and good counsel, where- 
fore I pray you, by all the love you bear me, that, as 
soon as you have read this letter, you so arrange your 
affairs that you may be ready to come to me within 
a week from this, and I will send to fetch you with 


all due honour. And do not be in anywise troubled 
about leaving your household, for I pledge you my 
faith to make so liberal recompense, that it will alway 
be to the advantage of you and yours. And I pray 
you not to fail me in this, and to send me, by the 
bearer of this letter, your favourable reply. I com- 
mend me to your daughter-in-law. Dear, kind friend, 
may the Holy Spirit have you in His keeping. 

Written in my Castle^ the eighth day of January. 

And my lady despatched a messenger, and sent this 
letter to the lady whom she wholly regarded as her 
friend, and whom she much loved. And she sent a 
reply, the which disquieted me, for it was very much to 
my prejudice, and in this manner did she counsel her : — 

My very revered Lady, — In the first place I send 
you my very humble respects, and may it please you 
to know that I have received your very loving and 
tender letter, for the which, with all my unworthy 
heart, I thank you, and in the which you do me so 
great honour as to have in remembrance the trivial 
services, in nowise worthy of your honoured and noble 


self, which I rendered you in the past, and thus I am 
beholden to you more than I can ever deserve. As 
concerns my going to you at this present, I very humbly 
beseech you, my very dear Lady, to hold me excused, 
for, on my faith, my daughter is so grievously sick that 
on no account can I leave her, and God knows how I 
am troubled because of her sickness. But since, my 
very revered Lady, I cannot hold speech with you as 
soon as I would, and I am bound to counsel you as to 
your conduct, as one who has been under my guidance 
from childhood until now, however unworthy I have 
been of this, methinks I should be wrong if I kept 
silence touching that which I knew might bring any 
trouble upon you if I failed to make it known to you. 
Wherefore, dear Lady, I write what follows, for the 
which I very humbly entreat of you in no way to bear 
me ill-will, for you may be assured that very great love, 
and the desire that your great renown and honour may 
ever increase, moves me to this. My Lady, I have 
heard certain rumours touching your conduct which 
grieve me from the bottom of my heart because of the 
fear I have of the ruin of your good name, to the which, 
as it seems to me, they tend, for it is right and fitting 


for every princess and high-born lady, since she is 
exalted in honour and estate above others, to exceed 
all others in goodness, wisdom, manners, disposition, 
and behaviour, to the end that she may be an ensample 
by the which other dames, and even all womankind, 
should regulate their conduct. And thus it is meet 
that she be devout toward God, and have a tranquil, 
gentle, and calm demeanour, and in her diversions be 
restrained and without excess, that she laugh with 
moderation and not without cause, and have a stately 
carriage, modest look, and dignified bearing, with a 
kindly response and a courteous word for every one, her 
dress and attire rich but not too aifected, gracious in 
her welcome of strangers, in speech restrained and not 
too familiar, not hasty in judgment or fickle, never 
appearing harsh, capricious, or ill-humoured, or too 
difficult to serve, humane and kind to her waiting- 
women and servants, not too haughty, in giving bounti- 
ful within reason, knowing how to recognise those who 
are the most worthy in goodness and prudence, and 
her best servants, and to draw all these to her, and 
recompense them according to their deserts, not trust- 
ing or putting faith in flatterers, but recognising them, 


and driving them from her, not lightly believing gossip, 
not given to the habit of whispering either to stranger 
or to intimate friend in any secret or solitary place, 
and in particular not to any of her retainers or serving- 
women, so that none may be able to think that he 
knows more than another of her private affairs, never 
saying in jest to any one whomsoever, in the presence 
of others, aught which may not be understood of all, 
so that those hearing it may not imagine there to be 
some foolish secret between them, and keeping her- 
self neither too much confined to her chamber, or to 
herself, nor too much in the sight of other folk, but 
sometimes retiring, and at other times appearing before 
others. And although the foregoing conditions, and 
all other usages befitting a noble princess, were afore- 
time observed by you, you now act quite otherwise, it 
is said, for you amuse yourself much more, and have 
become more communicative and mirthful than was 
your wont, and it is when the outward signs are 
changed, that one usually judges the disposition to be 
altered, and now you desire to be alone, and with- 
drawn from others save one or two of your waiting- 
women, and some of your dependants, with whom. 


even in the presence of others, you consult privately, 
and titter, and talk secretly, as if you well understood 
one another, and naught but the company of such 
pleases you, and the others can in nowise serve you 
to your liking, the which things and doings arouse 
envy in your other servants, and cause them to think 
that your heart is enamoured of some one. Ah, my 
very sweet Lady, for God's sake remember who you 
are, and the high position to which God has raised 
you, and consent not, for the sake of any foolish plea- 
sure, to be forgetful of your soul and your honour, 
and do not put trust in the vain fancy which many 
young women have, who permit themselves to believe 
that there is no wrong in loving with tender passion 
provided this is not accompanied by any wrongful act 
(and I am convinced that you would prefer death to 
this), and that it makes life more pleasurable, and that 
one thus makes a man gallant and renowned for aye. 
Ah, my dear Lady, it is quite the reverse, and for 
God's sake do not deceive yourself, or let yourself be 
deceived as to this, and take warning from such noble 
ladies as you have seen in your time (and such there 
are), who, through being merely suspected of such 


love, have, without the truth ever becoming known, 
on this account lost both honour and life. And yet 
on my soul I am satisfied that they had neither sinned 
nor done aught that was wrong. Ne'ertheless their 
children have seen them reproached and thought 
lightly of. And however dishonourable such foolish 
love is in any woman, be she rich or poor, it is still 
much more unbecoming and harmful in a princess or 
a high-born lady, and the more so the more exalted 
she is, and the reason of this is just, for the fame of a 
princess extends everywhere, and hence, if there is any 
stain on her good name, it is more known of in foreign 
lands than in the case of simple folk, and, moreover, 
gives rise to doubts concerning their offspring, who 
are destined to be rulers in the land, and the princes 
of other folk. And it is a great misfortune when there 
is any suspicion that they are not the rightful heirs, 
and much trouble may come of it, for even if there has 
been no wrong-doing, this will in nowise be believed 
by those who have but heard it reported, " This lady 
is in love." And because of a few tender glances, per- 
chance given thoughtlessly and without evil intent, 
malicious tongues will pass judgment, and will add 


things about it the which were never done or thought 
of, and thus the story, the which is never diminished, 
but is ever being added to, passes from mouth to 
mouth. And thus it is the more necessary for a noble 
lady than for other women to pay great attention to 
all her words and ways and demeanour, and the reason 
of this is, that, in the presence of a noble lady, every 
one pays attention to her, both to hear what she will 
say, and also to attentively take note of all her doings. 
And thus the lady cannot look, speak, laugh, or jest, 
without all being put together, discussed, and borne 
in mind of many, and then reported broadcast. Be- 
think you, therefore, my very dear Lady, that it may 
have a very bad appearance when a high-born lady, 
and indeed any woman, becomes gay and mirthful, and 
willing to listen to amorous discourse, more than is her 
wont, and then, when for any reason she changes her 
mind, of a sudden becomes discontented, ungracious, 
and on her defence, and no one can serve her to her 
satisfaction, and she takes no trouble about her dress 
or apparel. Certes, folk then say that she must have 
been in love, but is so no longer. My Lady, this is in 
nowise demeanour becoming to a lady, for, whate'er 


may be her intentions, she should alway have a care 
so to demean and conduct herself, that such judgments 
cannot be passed on her, and although it may well be 
that, in a matter of love, it is difficult to maintain such 
moderation, the most sure way to this end is to wholly 
eschew and shun it. Thus you may know, dear Lady, 
that every noble lady, and every other woman likewise, 
should be far more desirous to acquire a fair name 
than any other treasure, for this reflects honour on 
her, and ever dures to her and her children. Revered 
Lady, as I have erewhile observed, I wholly realise and 
bear in mind that the influence which can dispose a 
young woman to incline to such love, is that youth, 
and ease, and indolence cause her to say to herself, 
*' You are young, you must enjoy yourself, you can 
well love without wrong-doing, and this is in nowise 
evil when it is without sin, you will make a man valiant, 
no one will know of it, you will live more merrily be- 
cause of it, and you will have won a true servant and 
a loyal friend, and, therefore, all your desire." Ah, 
my Lady, for God's sake have a care that you be not 
deceived by such foolish fancies ; for, as far as con- 
cerns happiness, be assured that in love affairs there is 


an hundred thousand times more of grief, of care, and 
of perilous risk, especially for the ladies, than there is 
of happiness. Moreover, whiles that love of itself 
brings in its train many divers troubles, the fear of the 
loss of honour, and that this may become known (the 
which makes such pleasure dearly bought), continually 
haunts the mind. And as to saying, " There can be 
no harm in this, since it will not result in sin," alas, 
my Lady, no one can by any means be so sure of her- 
self as to be certain that, however good her resolution 
may be, she will alway keep herself in restraint in the 
matter of love made in this wise, or that it will not 
be discovered, as I have said before. Of a truth, this 
is not possible, for never is there fire without smoke, 
but there is often smoke without fire. And to say, 
" I shall make a man valiant," certes, I declare that 
it is very great folly to ruiji oneself in order to advance 
another, even if he be made brave thereby, and surely 
does she bring ruin upon herself who degrades her- 
self for the sake of exalting another. And as to say- 
ing, " I shall have gained a true friend and servant," 
good God ! in what manner could such a friend or 
servant advantage a lady i* For if she were in any 


trouble, he would not dare concern himself in any- 
wise on her behalf, for fear of her dishonour. There- 
fore how could such a servant, who would not risk 
himself in her service, be of profit to her ? And 
though there are some who say they serve their 
ladies when that they achieve great things, either in 
arms or in other ways, I say that they serve them- 
selves, since the honour and the profit of it remains 
to them, and in nowise to the lady. And yet again, 
my Lady, if you or any other would make excuse by 
saying, " Mine is a sad lot, the which allows me but 
little freedom and happiness, and because of this I 
can, without wrong-doing, have pleasure in another 
in order to dispel .melancholy and to pass the time," 
assuredly never, with submission to your honoured 
self and all others who speak thus, does such excuse 
avail aught, for very foolish is he who sets fire to his 
own house in order to burn that of his neighbour, 
but she who bears with such a husband patiently, 
and without discrediting herself, so much the more 
increases the good renown of herself and of her 
honour. And as to having pleasure, certes a noble 
lady, and indeed every woman, can, if she will, find, 


without such love as this, enough of lawful and fitting 
pleasures to the which to give herself up, and with 
the which to pass the time without melancholy. For 
those who have children, what more agreeable or 
delightful pleasure can be desired than to see them 
oft, and to have a care that they are well nourished 
and instructed as befits their noble birth and estate, 
and to train the daughters in suchwise that from 
childhood they may, from the example of good com- 
pany, form the habit of living in a proper and seemly 
manner ? But if the mother is not prudent in all 
ways, what sort of an ensample is she, alas, to the 
daughters ? And for those who have no children, 
certes it is not unworthy of any noble lady, after she 
has had care for her household, to betake her to 
some work, in order to avoid idleness, either working 
fine linen or silken apparel with rare broidery, or 
other things of the which she can make fitting use, 
and such occupations are wise, and prevent idle 
thoughts. But in nowise do I say that a young and 
noble lady may not rightly divert herself, and laugh, 
and play, at seasonable times, even in the presence 
of lords and gentlemen, or that she may not, so far 


aa is befitting to her position, do honour to strangers, 
to each one according to his rank, but this should 
be done so soberly, and in such modest fashion, that 
there be not a single glance, or laugh, or word, the 
which is not under due restraint, and within proper 
bounds, and she should ever be on her guard that it 
may not be possible to discover in her aught that 
is unworthy or unseemly, either in word, look, or 
behaviour. Ah, God ! If every noble lady, and in 
truth every woman, rightly knew how such virtuous 
demeanour becomes her, the more would she be at 
pains to possess this adornment rather than any other 
whatsoever, for no precious jewel is there which can 
adorn her so well. And further, my very dear Lady, 
it remains to speak of the perils and difficulties which 
accompany such love, the which are without number. 
The first and greatest is that it angers God, and 
then if the husband or kinsfolk discover it, the woman 
is ruined, or falls under reproach, and never after 
has she any happiness. And again, even if this does 
not come to pass, let us consider the disposition of 
lovers, for though all were loyal, secret, aud truthful 
(the which they by no means are, since it is well 


known that they are generally faithless, and, in order 
to deceive the ladies, say that which they neither 
think on nor would do), ne'ertheless of a surety it is 
true that the ardour of such love does not dure for 
long, even with the most loyal. Ah, dear Lady ! be 
warned that truly you cannot conceive the troublous 
thought which dwells in her breast when it comes 
to pass that this love is at an end, and the lady, who 
has been blinded by the environment of foolish 
delight, grievously repents her when she perceives 
and meditates on the distractions and the divers perils 
the which she has ofttimes encountered, and how 
much she would, whatever it had cost her, that this 
had never chanced to her, and that she could not be 
thus reproached. And, moreover, you and every 
lady can see what folly it is to put one's person and 
one's honour at the mercy of the tongues, and in the 
power, of such servants, for they call themselves 
servants, although, for the most part, the ending of 
the service is such that, although they have made 
promise unto you, and have sworn, to keep the 
secret, they in no wise hold their peace concerning 
it, and in the end the ladies are ofttimes left with 


the reproach of such love, and the gossip of folk 
concerning it, or, at the very least, with the fear and 
dread in their hearts that those very ones in whom 
they have put their trust, talk of it, and make boast 
of it, to any one else who knows of the affair, and 
thus they are delivered over from freedom to bondage, 
and behold the end of such love ! Do you not per- 
ceive, my Lady, that it seems to these servants to 
be greatly to their credit to say, and to make boast, 
that they are, or have been, loved of a very noble 
mistress, or a woman of high rank, and how that they 
suppress the truth concerning it ? But God knows 
how they lie, and may He grant that, as regards you, 
my Lady, you may know it well, for you will have 
need to bear it in mind. And since, my Lady, you 
love ballads and ditties, I send you one touching on 
this subject, written by a clever master, if you will 
do me the favour to take notice of it. And the 
servants, too, who know your secret, and whom it 
behoves you to trust, think you, i' faith, that they 
keep silence concerning this, albeit you have made 
them swear to do so ? Certes, the greater number 
of them are such that they would be very much 


vexed if it were not noised abroad that they have 
much greater intimacy and authority with you than 
have the others, and if they do not openly proclaim 
your secrets, they hint at them by means of divers 
covert signs, the which they think are duly observed. 
Good God, what a slave is the lady, and any other 
woman in the like case, who dares not reprove or 
blame her serving men or women, even if she sees 
that they behave them very ill, for that she perceives 
herself to be in their power, and that they have risen 
up against her in such arrogance that she dares not 
utter a word, and is thus constrained to endure at 
their hands that which she would not endure from 
any other ! And what, think you, do those say who 
see and pay heed to this ? These only pay attention 
to that which they see, and be sure that they oft- 
times whisper it abroad, and if it chances that the 
lady is angered, or sends away her servant, God knows 
that all will be revealed, and made known everywhere. 
And yet it ofttimes happens that they are, and have 
been, the means and the cause of bringing into being 
this love, the which they have encouraged with zeal 
and great diligence, in order to gain for themselves 


either gifts, or offices, or other emoluments. Very 
honoured Lady, what shall I say concerning this ? 
Be assured that as soon as one sitts the matter to the 
bottom, one discovers all the mischievous perils which 
this amorous life entails ; and do not doubt this, for 
so it is. And because of this, very dear Lady, do 
not cast yourself into such peril, and if you have any 
thought of it, for God's sake withdraw from it before 
greater evil to you comes of it, for better is it to 
do this betimes than late, and late than never, and 
already you can see what will be said about it if that 
you persevere in your unwonted ways, when even 
now they are perceived, and in consequence of this 
are talked of in many places. Thus I know not what 
further to write to you, save that, to the utmost of 
my power, I humbly entreat of you not to take this 
from me in bad part, but may it please you to be 
assured of the good intent which constrains me to 
say it, and very much rather would I do my duty 
by loyally admonishing you, and causing you to be 
an-angered, than either counsel you to your ruin, or 
keep silence concerning it in order to have your good- 
will. My Lady, be pleased to pay heed to my ballad, 


the which I enclose herewith. Very honoured 
Princess, and my dear Lady, I pray God to give you 
a happy and long life, and paradise. — Written at La 
Tour, this l8th day of January 

Your very humble servant, 
Sebille de Monthault, Lady of La Tour. 


Most noble ladies, cherish your fair fame, 

And for God's love the contrary eschew 

Ot good report, lest thus you come to blame : 

Nor make your choice of all acquaintance new. 

For some might tell (such evil tongues have they), 

How wanton manners in your life they see, 

Though never yet in any fault you lay : 

And from such faithless rascals keep you free. 

For little would it serve to bear the name 

Of one whom many love, yet find for due 

Nought but dishonour that from slanderers came 

Telling abroad how in your works they knew 

Your wantonness : so well it is alway 

To hold aloof, ere any trial be. 

From ill that follows after foolish play, 

And from such faithless rascals keep you free. 

Nay, be ye rather armed against the same 
With perfect wit, so tirelessly they sue 
To stain your honour, whence full often shame 
Comes without cause, yet they to pleasure you 


Feign courtesy : my warning may not stay, 
So oft I hear how those ye hold in fee 
Blame you no less : withdraw from these, I pray, 
And from such faithless rascals keep you free. 

Most noble ladies ! be not wroth to-day 
That I have ever counselled you to flee 
These traitors : trust me, though no more I say, 
And from such faithless rascals keep you free. 

In such wise did the Lady of La Tour, who made 
me very sad by the letter the which she wrote, make 
answer to my Lady, who was sore dismayed by it, 
albeit she was not displeased with her on account of 
it, but said forthwith, " Ah ! if it had pleased our 
lord that she had been alway with me, she would 
have exhorted me wisely, and thus I should not have 
been beguiled by evil counsel, but ne'ertheless I shall 
abandon this, and abide me by her counsel, for I 
well perceive the grievous peril which pertains to a 
life of love, but it is meet that he who is oft in my 
thoughts should abandon it likewise." Then she 
wrote a letter to me, even as is here set forth. 

Sealed Letter 

My good Friend, — It is indeed true that foolish 
love, the which deceives many, and the sincere pity 


which I had for your plaint, have led me much to 
forget that which I ought ever to have had in re- 
membrance, the which is, to preserve my soul and 
mine honour. And I have fully come to see how 
that I have already exposed myself to many great 
dangers and perils in order to fulfil your youthful 
wishes and mine own. Thank God, however, that 
there has been no evil in it, nor ever will be as long 
as I live ! Yet the world Would in nowise believe 
this if any ill chance befell me, from the which may 
God preserve me ! And I well perceive that who- 
soe'er pursues foolish love, is in nowise master of 
himself or of his demeanour, so that it comes to 
pass that he may be discovered, as you can see by 
the loftg letter which the gOod and prudent woman, 
the Lady of La Tour, has written to me, the which 
I send you in order that you may perceive the reason 
which constrains me to withdraw from it. For, 
when I gave myself up to this love, I took no thought 
for the perils into the which I rushed, but this wise 
lady has opened mine eyes to examine and consider 
my doings, and if I do this not, I shall be defamed 


and ruined, and this, dear friend, you could in nowise 
desire. And because of this, I beseech you to with' 
draw from it, and know that I ask this of you in spite 
of my love, and with my eyes full of tears, for none 
could be more loved than I love you. Therefore in 
nowise believe that this comes to pass through want 
of love, for I swear to you on my portion in Paradise, 
and make promise to you by every oath that can be 
made, that, as long as I live, you shall be my only 
friend, and you alone will I love alway, if this will 
content you, neither do I withdraw my love from 
you, for you have in nowise deserved this, nor could 
my heart, which loves you, consent to it, but it at 
least behoves you to cease from seeing me, because 
of the harm which might come to me through ity 
the which, I well know, will be very grievous to you, 
and full of sorrow, but whiles that your heart may 
be sad about it, in nowise will mine be happy. And 
I know not what more to say to you, nor can I write 
more, for my desolate heart, my eyes, and my face 
are suffused with tears, and I bid you farewell, my 
sweet Love. Your sorrowing Lady. 


And when that I had read this sad letter, my pulse 
and my colour failed me, and I became like unto one 
dead, and it was long ere I came to myself again, for I 
swooned because of the grief which I felt to hear that 
it was needful for me to keep away from my lady. 
Never had such a sorrow chanced to me, and so sorely 
did I weep because of this, that my heart was well 
nigh broken. And I read the long letter the which 
had set this thing agoing, and God knows how, when 
I read it, I cursed the old lady who had sent it. I 
would have drowned her but that this was not possible. 
And when I had longwhiles borne this grievous 
sorrow without that it was diminished, I wrote this 
letter, moistening it with my tears. 

To the most noble of ladies, 

Alas, my sweet and honoured Lady, my peerless 
love whom I serve, fear, obey, and worship ! Where 
can I find words sufficing to declare unto you, and to 
make you wholly to know, my grievous sorrow ? Tears 
and weeping so dull my mind and my memory, that I 
know not where I am, or what I do. Ah, my Lady ! 


you have indeed discomforted me by your cruel letter, 
the which tells me that it behoves me to keep away 
from you ! Certes it is indeed true, whatsoe'er the 
Lady of La Tour says of Lovers, that I am more to 
you than aught that you have in the world beside, and 
that I have made promise unto you (the which I will 
keep truly all my life), that, as far as in me lies, I will 
obey you in all things, without doing aught that is 
contrary to your wishes. But when your wish is that 
I withdraw me from this, I cannot obey, for I have 
abandoned my life to it. Thus it is not in my power 
to give it up, even if I die for this. And, dear Lady, as 
to obeying your command that I see you no more, if 
it is your pleasure that it be alway thus, it is meet that 
I resist this with all my might, since if you bid me do 
that which would kill me or drive me mad, I know of 
a truth that in this I cannot obey. And so that you 
may perceive that I desire your honour more than 
does she who has written so much to you concerning it, 
and to prevent any suspicion that you are the cause of 
my death, I shall go beyond the seas to end my days, 
and nevermore shall I return from thence, and I pledge 


you my faith that you will find this to be so. Alas ! 
where has this one, in order to compass my ruin, dis- 
covered that already there is rumour and talk of our 
love ? Truly she must have imagined it. Saving her 
reverence, it is not possible, for naught was ever con- 
ducted more prudently or secretly than, up to this 
present, our sweet love has been, and alway will be if 
God wills. For God knows that I would rather suffer 
death than do aught that would cause you dishonour. 
Ah, my Lady, my Lady ! Shall I never see you again f 
If this must be so, God grant that I may lose my sight, 
and that I may never again look on anything, for naught 
beside could delight me. How could my heart dure 
and remain alive when it no longer has the joy the 
which it receives when it is nigh unto yours ? Ah, woe 
is me ! This thought, alas, is a lance which pierces 
right through my sorrowful heart. It cannot be 
that I must thus lose, and without cause, the tender 
comfort, the amorous delights, the pleasing glances, 
and the winsome words, the which I receive from you, 
and of which the sweet remembrance, which remained 
in my thoughts with the hope of their renewal, made 


me more gladsome and contented than aught beside. 
And, my very sweet Lady, since I must needs die with- 
out deserving it, one favour only do I beg of you, for 
the sake of all the love your tender and noble heart 
erewhiles had for me, and do not be so cruel to your 
poor servant as to deny it to him, the which is that, 
ere I take leave of you for ever, I may for once have 
speech with you, so that I may bid you farewell, and 
say adieu to all the delights the which you have so 
lovingly bestowed on me, for never, on my soul, have 
I thought on that which is evil, or contrary to your 
desires. Alas, my Lady ! Well do I know how you 
do wrong to those desires, and unjustly cause them to 
endure misfortune, for boldly do I declare that this 
farewell is in nowise in accordance with their assent 
or wish. May this favour be vouchsafed to me, dear 
Lady. And I know not what more to say to you, but 
be assured that I shall obey you unto death. May it 
please you to make known to me forthwith what you 
would have me to do, and whether you would that I 
go beyond the seas as I have said, or what is your 
pleasure. And be pleased to pardon me that this 


letter is blotted with my tears, for, on my soul, it has 
not been possible for me to restrain them whiles that I 
have been writing it. Honoured Lady, I commend 
me to you more than I know how to say, and I 
pray God to grant you all good things that are to 
be desired. — Written in great grief, with tears and 

Your poor lover, the most unhappy of men. 

And I sent this letter to my lady, and wept sorely 
whilst delivering it. And I remained cast down, sad, 
and silent, making plaint unto myself. And I said in 
my grief — 


Ah, Death, Death, Death, to thee I make my prayer I 
Come, rend me from this dolorous world apart ! 
Life lures no longer : since my lady fair 
Would have me shun her, let my hapless heart 
Be very prey to pain and sorrow's sword. 
Gladness I leave and all delight for aye. 
And thee alone, O Death, have I implored 
Because my lady hath bidden me good-bye. 


Alas, alas, what doleful news is there ! 
Never to knight assailed with glaive or dart 
Came heavier trouble than the woes I share, 
I, who have gathered up in shame and smart 
An evil greater than I may record : 
Since now my love from all adventure high 
Must needs withdraw, and death be my reward 
Because my lady hath bidden me good-bye. 

Ah, lady of mine, can'st thou such hardness dare 
And suffer me in anguish to depart 
For love of thee ? Yet Love must witness bear 
Who knoweth no age can show, nor any art, 
Servant more faithful both in deed and word 
Among all lovers that he might espy : 
But my mishaps a worser end afford 
Because my lady bath bidden me good-bye. 

Ah, God of love, why sufferest thou, fair lord. 
That thus in sorrow undeserved I die ? 
All things I leave, of all to be abhorred, 
Because my lady hath bidden me good-bye. 

In such manner as I have told you did I write in 
answer to my Lady. And when that she had opened 
my letter, and saw it so covered and defaced and 
blurred with tears, certes it was told unto me that she 
was much discomforted, and that as she read it, she 
wept so much, that the tears ran down her face. And 


then, of her grace, she wrote back to me in great haste, 
and charged the messenger that he lose no time in 
conveying the letter duly. And he pledged him not 
to tarry by the way until he had brought it to me. 
And the messenger hasted him all the night, and 
stayed him not until that he was come at daybreak to 
the gate of the Castle. Then he brought me the 
letter, the which calmed my grievous distress, and 
banished my sorrow. And great need had I of this, 
for certes I was like to die or to lose my reason. So 
listen now to the purport of the letter which she sent, 
and of the which my heart had great joy. 

To the noblest and best of all^ 

My true and loyal friend. 

My true, loyal, very kind and dear Friend, — It is 
the fact that, although I was fearful of losing mine 
honbur, the which I ought to dread above all things, as 
is counselled, as you have been able to see, in the letter 
of the Lady of La Tour, to whom I am much be- 
holden for it (for certes I know that she has said this 
for my well-being), it was against my wish that I 
wrote to you, in my last letter, that which I made 


known to you therein, for, my kind and gracious friend, 
I well perceive that Love cannot suffer us to part from 
one another, and I repent me much that I declared 
this unto you, for I know that you have had, and still 
have, much sorrow because of this. Wherefore I pray 
you to forgive me, and I beseech your pardon for it. 
And it much grieves me that our good friend, your 
cousin, is not beside you to cheer you. And I regret 
me that he is gone on so long a journey. So by all the 
influence I may have over you, and by the love you 
bear me, I entreat you in all things to possess your 
mind in peace as aforetime, for greatly do I fear me 
that you have become so sad, that I may not be in 
time to comfort you, and that some sickness (from 
the which may God preserve you), may overtake you. 
Therefore I shall have no ease until I have news of 
you. So I write to you in great haste, beseeching you 
to be cheerful and happy, for I have very good news 
to tell you, and this is that our good friend, in whom 
we trust, will be here within four days. So you shall 
come to see me, and I will keep you advised concerning 
this, and we will welcome one another heartily as here- 


tofore. For, so help me God, even if it be my ruin, I 
cannot part from you, and I have hope that, by God's 
aid, our doings may be well hid, and also that you will 
alway guard mine honour well, for on this I rely^^ 
My sweet and dear Love, I pray God to give you 
perfect joy. Written in haste. 

Your true and loyal friend. 

And when I received this letter, I was wholly freed 
from my grief, and no longer did I weep, but instead I 
praised God for this very good news. And I answered 
the letter, and gave much thanks to my sweet lady, 
and I further besought of her that I might see her 
right soon, so that I might tell unto her the sorrow the 
which the letter I had received had caused me. And 
I know not wherefore I should rehearse more of this 
matter, for it is time for me to end. You have heard 
how that I had, without dishonour, such joy of love as 
I desired, and I gainsay him who would avouch that 
there was ever any wrong-doing or evil whatsoever in 
our love, or that there was aught in it by the which 
honour was violated, wherefore our love should be the 


more esteemed. Moreover I have told unto you the 
pain and the grief which I endured aforetime, and how 
that I persevered until my lady had pity on me. And 
now it is time this story were ended, for if I rehearsed 
all the adventures, some pleasing, and others painful, 
the which chanced to me in this love, and the evil and 
the good which came to me of it, perchance I should 
become wearisome, for I should have much to tell, 
and it would be a matter without end. But, to sum 
up briefly, I tell you that I ofttimes afterward with 
great delight saw the fair one in whom I put my trust, 
and joyously did I receive from her, in large measure, 
loving comfort the which still dwells in my memory. 
And for full two years did this dure, for she would not 
let me depart from out her country, and right well did 
this please me, for so ardent was I, that I cared for 
naught save to be near her. Thus I bethink me that I 
resorted thither more than was fitting, so that anger, 
stirred up by evil speaking, burst forth on account of 
our doings, and because of this, I was troubled and 
ill-at-ease, for I could not stay it, and thus I was no 
longer able to see my lady as was my wont, the which 


grieved me sorely. Moreover I was blamed by friends, 
and called recreant, in that I remained so much in 
retirement, and only frequented jousts and tourneys 
and feasts which were held near by, and not those at a 
distance. This, indeed, did not become one of noble 
birth, and thus I should be quite the most despicable 
of my lineage if that I remained there longer, and 
pursued not arms in many lands for to win praise and 
renown. So spake my kinsfolk, and I felt assured that 
they descanted to me thus for my good, but I feared 
me that it might be displeasing to my lady to do 
this without her consent, and my heart was exceedr 
ing sad. 

And I besought of her that she would so contrive, 
that I might have speech with her, since, chiefly for 
the sake of her good name, it was needful that I should 
depart thence for awhile, and assuredly might she 
believe that never for a single day should I forget her, 
and thus I would go into Spain, whatever might come 
of it, and it was better to do this before worse happened 
to her. And moreover she should have in remem- 
brance that I had made promise unto her that, for 


love of her, I would achieve so much, that in the end 
I should be known as a brave man. 

And so much did I talk, that she scarce uttered a 
word, and for very short whiles did she remain, for at 
great risk was she come to a place where I was. 

And there was much weeping and great dole and 
sad countenance at our parting, and scarce would she 
consent that I should go to the wars. And wetting 
her face and neck with tears, and kissing her in haste, 
I very fervently commended her to God, and thus I 
commended me to her a thousand times, and sub- 
mitted myself to her will. And I made promise unto 
her that wheresoe'er I went, I would send tidings 
unto her, and thus she could send back word to me 
how it fared with her. 

And thus I departed, weeping and in sad case at 
leaving my beloved one. And I joined a Spanish 
force, and was absent, and far from the fair one, for 
the space of a year, and then I came back, being 
moved thereto by a longing to see her. And when 
she heard of my return, she so contrived, that I 
had speech with her without this being known of 


others. And joyously was I received, and verily did 
we welcome one another heartily, and rejoice over 
our reunion. 

Thus from time to time I went to meet her, but 
there was risk in my having speech with her, and so she 
came stealthily, in fear and trembling, for fear of being 
observed, by reason of which she was quite cast down. 
Therefore when I saw her so distraught, much of my 
joy was taken away, because of the peril to the which 
I perceived that she, for my sake, exposed her honour, 
and in the which she placed herself. And because of 
this, I undertook many journeys, and sailed beyond 
the seas, for fear of evil-speaking. And in this manner 
did I spend ten years, and ofttimes did I go to and 
fro. And at times, when it was opportune, it chanced 
that I saw my dear lady. 

And in suchwise did I explore many lands. And in 
a severe encounter I was made a prisoner of war, at the 
which my lady was disquieted. Thus I endured many 
misfortunes ere the ten years passed by. Even love 
brought many upon me, and saved me not from them, 
for albeit I never, on my soul, saw aught in my lady 


the which should have caused me to mistrust her, 
jealousy, which is like unto madness, brewed for me 
such a potion, that I became like unto one mad, for 
once, on my return from afar, I bethought me, as soon 
as I saw her, that her heart was changed toward me, 
and that, as it seemed to me, she had wholly cast me 
off, the which filled my heart with such grief, that I 
was mad with rage. Thus all my happiness was gone, 
and for longwhiles I could not calm or appease my 
heart, the which was sorely troubled, and my lady was 
so displeased with me on account of this, that for 
awhile I somewhat lost her favour. Moreover, if I 
may venture to say so, I once saw her a little jealous, 
the which distressed me much, for I knew not the 
reason of it, for God knows that neither in thought 
nor in demeanour was I ever false to her, nor did I so 
much as raise mine eyes to notice any other lady. But 
I well perceived that he whose heart is wholly possessed 
of the passion of love must needs become a prey to 
jealousy, for he who bears within him a great and 
perfect love, can scarce restrain him from it. 
And many songs were written touching our affair, 


some sad, and some joyous ; and for divers occasions 
I devised ballads, and lays, and plaints, and other 
conceits, of the v^^hich there was one that was joyous 
amongst ten which were sad, for such is the wont of 
the foolish heart which dissembles love ; and my lady 
sent some to me in her turn when that she was able. 
And our ditties eased our troubles when that we were 
far from one another, for in such manner did we divert 
us in the hope of coming by something better, how- 
ever long this might be in the coming. 

And I have made known everything, from first to 
last, touching the love from the which, for full ten 
years, I had very sad and painful thoughts, but our 
love is in nowise ended, nor will it pass away until that 
our bodies perish. But slanderers (whom may God 
confound, for there are too many of them in the 
world) have forced me to abandon the fellowship of 
her to whom I had made promise of my whole love. 
And in this she shall not find me to fail. But I per- 
ceived that dishonour came to her because of me ; 
wherefore I hated my life which dured so long, for 
every one gossiped about her. And in order to pre- 


serve her honour and her peace of mind, I shrank from 
seeing her whom I loved above all, but nevertheless, 
sorrowful and sad, I long made lament for that she 
was so blamed on my account. But notwithstanding, 
my body, my goods, and all that I have to bestow, are 
hers, and if it were needful, I would die for her, and 
this is no fable. So I pray Almighty God to give her 
peace, and honour, and a happy life, and perfect joy 
without end. And now my story is ended. 

The Book called " The Duke of True Lovers" is set forth. 

Printed by Ballantynb, Hanson b> Co. 
Edinburgh &>* London 

PQ Pisan, Christine de 

1575 The book of the Duke of 

DBE5 true lovers