Guillaume de Machaut

The Remedy for Fortune (Le Remede de Fortune)

Part II


Hope, Netherlands, S. (Bruges); Last quarter of the 15th century, before 1483 - British Library

Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved

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Lines 2033-2093: Hope advised the lover to seize the day

WHEN her song was ended, wholly,

She inclined her head towards me,

As the sweet smile she displayed

Of one who seemed a virgin maid.

Upon my head she placed her hand

And this of me did straight demand:

‘What think you, then? What say you now?

Have I stirred your thoughts enow?

What do you make of my fair song?

Did aught strike you there as wrong,

And displease you, or did it please?

Did my song set you more at ease?

What? Come tell me, if you will,

Whether I sang it well or ill?

Were my praise of it not too strong,

I might say this about my song,

Twas well spoken. Since you, dear man,

Say naught, I wonder if you can.

For I consider you’re too slow

To speak, or you scorn to do so.

I pray you, my fair sweet friend,

Be not so remiss, your own end

You do seek thus, so take to heart

What I conveyed here through my art,

Understand all I said before

Rather than waste your time, and more,

In idleness, and mere foolery;

Leave behind all melancholy,

And all that causes it, but love,

For Fortune doth of none approve,

Unless they seize what she doth proffer.

Too foolish those who spurn her offer,

And, due to some foolish notion,

Bring upon themselves destruction,

When they’ve the power to avoid it.

Tis for that reason I see fit

To urge, enjoin you, and implore

That you make peace in this, the war,

Against yourself, that you pursue;

Foolish to think of, much less do.

And I promise my reassurance,

I’ll swear to it, in this instance,

Concerning all you grieve about.

So, take comfort, and cease to doubt,

For, if you wish, the cure you’ll see,

And if not, then shamed you must be.

Take the grain and leave the chaff,

Renounce your sadness, seek to laugh;

Who sees the good and takes the ill,

Shall of repentance have his fill.

My aid to you, here, I do lend,

As your most true and perfect friend.

Now lose yourself not so in thought

That you refuse, and end with naught.

They say who acts not when he may

Finds, when he would, that fate says ‘nay’;

When the iron is hot, one must strike.

I could urge it, strongly as you like,

Though simply wish you to be sure

That I’ll help all you need, and more;

I love you, and must needs do so.’

Lines 2094-2147: She gifted him a ring, and his power of speech was restored

A ring fair, fine, precious also,

That on her finger shone alone,

She gently placed upon my own,

And I who was but dozing there,

(And not asleep, for the whole affair

I heard clearly, all her singing

Her music, and words, and rhyming)

I felt the coolness of the ring,

And then, though but a drowsy thing,

Turned, as best I could, towards her,

From that rest (in which I’d heard her

Fair voice pure, soothing, clearer

Than any Siren, and far sweeter;

For Sirens can enchant the strong

With the sweetness of their song)

Which she had furthered, as I said,

And faced her, as I turned my head,

With tears that in the heart did rise,

Bathing my face, from my two eyes,

Pouring down, as I sighed also,

Like one who’s filled with pain and woe.

But, as the brightness, that did flow

From the lady, cleared, with its glow,

The cloud that my heart had smothered,

Which Love had marred and discoloured,

And as her sweetness now, gently,

Soothed the torment there within me,

Her sweet words, by that same token,

The moment I heard them spoken,

Restored my power of speech, promptly,

The which I’m using presently,

And which I’d thought lost for good.

And so, I spoke, since now I could,

And said these words, without delay:

‘Lady, upon a happy day

Were you conceived, indeed and born,

And, now, our presence doth adorn;

For the goodness that you employ

Has brought me health, and life, and joy,

When naught but Death was before me,

And I would have died, most surely,

My lady, if you were not here,

Gazing with pity from those clear

Eyes, that speak the heart’s wish, truly,

For you’ve restored my life to me.

So, this I beg you, as humbly,

As e’er I can, and devotedly,

My dear lady, might it please you

To tell me of yourself, your virtue,

Whence you come and, indeed, your name,

And why it was to me you came,

And how; for, by my soul, never,

Save for my lady’s love, ever,

Have I wished aught so fervently.’

Lines 2148-2192: Hope described herself and her attributes

‘FRIEND, I’ll tell you willingly,

Nor make of it a tale too lengthy,

For what pleases you, pleases me.

I’m the comforter of lovers,

All those who obey Love’s orders;

I aid them, and bring them counsel,

I advise them closely, and well.

I defend them. I give support.

I bring them help. I grant comfort

Against Desire who, without halt,

Pursues his dolorous assault.

I’m their castle and their fortress.

I’m their servant and their mistress.

I’m their lady, and chambermaid.

Their banner is by me displayed.

I bring them happiness and joy.

I lead, with honour, their employ.

I grant them courage, steadfastness,

To act bravely, and with boldness.

I advance them to high honour.

I render them loving ever.

I make them speak most wisely,

Laugh, dance, and sing happily.

I brighten their every sadness.

I bring sweet rest to the restless.

I succour them, I nourish them.

I am their mother, guardian, friend.

I’m their watchman, and physician.

I protect them, tis my mission.

I honour them, they worship me.

I take their part, if asked rightly.

I’m their recourse, and last resort,

By custom and agreement sought.

In every need they find me ready,

By thinking, they can summon me,

For I’m the servant of their thought

If they’re not by confusion caught;

For they’re so weak, and ill-taught,

That lacking me they come to naught.

Yet, when they find they’ve need of me,

I tell you (for good friends are we)

I need not travel from afar

To succour them, where’er they are;

And I’ll tell you, if you’ll draw near,

Why that is so, if you will hear.’

Lines 2193-2286: She explained her universal presence, and announced her name

‘YES, I beg you; do so lady.’

‘List then; I’ll do as you ask me;

I’ll tell you, and show you clearly:

Just as the sun doth shine brightly,

As with its rays it lights the earth,

And, pure and fine, to day gives birth,

As, in the pleasant time of spring,

The earth, laid waste of everything,

Stripped of greenery, through winter,

Beneath that chill and snowy cover,

Rejoices in its fresh adornment,

Green growth, full and luxuriant,

Now it feels the warmth that’s sent

By the sun’s rays, in their descent,

So that Nature, sweet and lovely,

Invests it with a robe of beauty,

In the leopard’s dappled colours,

Painting all the world for lovers,

(For that fine creature, it is true,

Is dressed in every pleasant hue)

And ne’er is there a plant so strange

That does not in the spring arrange

To yield, according to its nature,

Flower, fruit, seed, leaf or verdure,

(Unless tis the sterile kind, indeed,

That offers neither fruit nor seed)

Such that the earth, grown elegant,

Seems noble, fair, in every plant,

Throwing off her robe of winter,

Stained and muddied by ill weather,

Made lovely for no other reason,

Than the beauty of the season,

So, I say, tis in like manner

As that in which the sun all summer

With its light doth grant the earth

All it encompasses, free of dearth,

Warmth and brightness, joy and pleasure,

By its rays, that with their power,

Fill all the world with mirth again,

So that it smiles, fair, free of stain,

That the radiance shines from me

And lights the world, resplendently,

Reaching everywhere, and ever

Enduring, and thus keeps, forever,

True love alive within the lover,

On this shore, or any other,

Bringing both its warmth and splendour,

Joy in love, and deeper pleasure.

For I who am their true mother,

Lend lovers a light far brighter

Than the sun, so high, so ordered

That the root that once is planted

In their hearts brings forth indeed

Flower, leaf, fruit, and fresh seed,

Makes them ten times a fairer thing

Or twenty than the earth in spring,

Such that, just as the sun doth send

Its brightness near, far, without end,

My queenly rays a glow will start

Within the faithful lover’s heart.

And as subtle Nature labours

To clothe the earth in new favours,

(Since her tarnished winter dress

She’s discarded, and taken fresh,

And is attired in what she’s given)

So, I’m her true peer, since even

Sad lovers I, thus, render now

Pleasant and gracious? Know you how?

You will learn, without more ado;

Bear in mind all I’ve said to you.

If Nature prompts a plant that grows

To bear a flower, the briar the rose,

Likewise, I make the heart to flower,

In full joy; I possess the power

To kill the woe within, all pain,

Such that no ill may there remain.

And with the sweetness that you sense,

Far sweeter than any fair incense,

I soothe, anoint, and comfort here

As is deserved, or far or near.

And so, I say, since I well know

You’re discomforted, full of woe,

And my task, when said and done,

Is to comfort lovers, I’ve come

In person, your sore wound to tend,

As both a good and faithful friend,

In such a way you failed to see

That I’d appeared, all secretly,

Because I was invisible;

Yet, when I wish, I’m visible.

As to your need to know my name,

Readily, you may learn that same;

I shall not hide it from your view,

Hope am I called, by such as you.’

Lines 2287-2352: He expressed his gratitude

ONCE I knew that Hope was there,

I was solaced, of hope aware,

Much more so than I was before,

And I took hope from what I saw,

Gathering myself together,

And thus, my senses did recover.

I spoke, in a livelier manner:

‘My dear lady, revered ever,

Worthy of praise, of honour too,

Excellent in all virtues true,

That the heart can know of here,

Sensed by the eye, or by the ear,

That hand can show, or lips can say,

Or subtle wisdom can display,

Taste can savour, or touch can feel,

Or will, desire, or heart reveal,

A friend of God, and of Nature,

And of every other creature,

Exemplar, true mirror of joy,

Bright star that doth pure light employ

To lead hearts to their true harbour,

That health doth give, pain counter,

Reprieve from death, ill’s remedy,

Flower, stem, root from which we see

All joy flow, and every sweetness,

Remembrance of whom doth bless;

If all those whom God granted birth,

And all those who shall grace the earth,

Were a hundred thousand times more

Skilled in numbers than those before,

Than Pythagoras in Arithmetic,

And the intricacies of Music,

Michaelis Psellos, or Miletus’

Thales, or the subtle Orpheus,

And sought to total all of those

True virtues and sweet qualities,

Lady, you own, beyond number,

They’d howl at their shadows ever,

For no more could all these do so

Than drain the ocean, here below.

And because, most worthy lady,

I lack the wit or science, truly,

To speak of virtue and sweetness,

Fittingly, in their completeness,

Though I would willingly do so,

Yet would strive in vain, I know,

Lady, rather my hands I’ll raise

In gratitude, and in true praise,

A thousand times saluting you,

For, now I have set eyes on you

I am arrived in safe harbour,

To your protection surrender,

Body, heart, and soul, for nowhere

Shall I find a defence so fair,

If I wish to live on, happily.

And I promise you, faithfully,

In your sweet company I wish

To spend my days, and I say this,

Who loses you, himself is lost,

And dearly he must pay the cost.

So, I will cleave to you alway,

And yet I beg you, lady, pray

Let one more question not displease,

Its answer well might bring me ease,

Concerning my afflicted state.’

‘Speak on! And do not hesitate!’

Lines 2353-2402: He then enquired about Fortune

‘WILLINGLY, lady. You have told me,

From your knowledge, well and wisely,

How to behave, if I would wish

To restore my health and, with this,

How Love himself brought me succour,

And how you have hastened, further,

To assist me, and comfort me,

And of the arms that lovers carry,

And of the true significance

Of their colours, and their semblance,

For which true gratitude is yours;

And how you have espoused my cause,

With your ring, which is most pretty,

And song your song of love, sweetly,

Of how there’s naught lovers can do,

If they should choose to part from you,

For all their comfort flows from you,

You are their strength, wall, castle, too;

And of how your brightness covers,

With its light, e’en distant lovers;

And how your sweetness, soothes all ill

More sweetly than all others will;

And how you came here, and your name,

Which has acquired most noble fame;

And what kind of thing is mercy;

For all this I thank you, profusely.

But naught have you said of Fortune,

Yet all things here dance to her tune,

Though she is not and ne’er was sure,

For e’en as her own she’ll reassure,

She’ll wound them grievously also,

Casting them down, from high to low,

And all of this matter I well know,

From mere memory I know tis so;

With her assaults, her cunning wiles,

Her false deeds, and her false smiles,

Whene’er my thoughts do turn to her

I tremble in my every member.

And so, my lady, I ask you now,

If it please you, to tell me how

I might defend myself from her.

To break a heart gives her pleasure,

E’en that of a loyal lover;

Diamond’s hard but she is harder;

To others, as I, proves a curse,

Being, by nature, so perverse,

She’d have ruined me completely,

Had God not lead you here to me,

In time to save me from the death

She sought for me at every breath.’

Lines 2403-2458: Hope explained that Fortune has two faces

‘MY fair sweet friend, what can I say

Of her, that adds in any way

To what you’ve said about her, here,

And in your plaint doth thus appear?

Only that once, in days gone by,

The ancients, with a clearer eye,

Showed her as two-faced, you’ll find,

One face gazed forward, one behind.

And that should demonstrate further,

How Fortune’s both sweet and bitter;

For she’ll prove sweet, tis no fiction,

When she glances in your direction,

And with the face that looks at you

Promises, and generously too,

True sweetness, joy and happiness,

Concealing every wretchedness.

And that fact you must remember,

No matter who asserts aught other,

For whate’er the world may say,

It is pure truth that I convey;

For many a man has been deceived

By the promises he received,

Thinking Fortune was his friend,

Who yet destroyed him, in the end.

And if her other face looks at you,

On guard! For, lance held at the true,

She’ll advance, right swift to attack,

And strip all honour from your back,

Without any prior warning,

So, trust her not, eve or morning,

More than any armed champion,

For her goods, in my opinion,

You should scorn, altogether,

In not one of them take pleasure.

Thus, you are faced in her figure

With both the sweet and the bitter,

This was the form the ancients made,

In truth, when Fortune they portrayed.

And as you’re now one of my own,

And, most humbly, would have it shown

What defence you should seek to mount

When she doth hold you to account,

Glares from her backward-gazing eye,

Strikes without warning, and thereby

Wreaks what no man can e’er amend;

Then let me ask you this, my friend:

In your view, which is the better

Of two goods; would you consider

That best which you can never lose?

Or one you’ll forfeit would you choose?’

‘Lady, tis easy to make answer.’

‘Then speak.’ ‘Surely, tis the former,

The good that one can never lose.’

‘So ne’er the latter would you choose?’

‘Lady, that’s true, I must agree.’

‘And, thus, you’re in accord with me.’

Lines 2459-2484: She demonstrated the superiority of Nature and Reason

‘NOW I wish to show you, clearly,

That you have judged most wisely.

Think you because prosperity

Is in her hands that, equally,

Fortune possesses happiness,

That felicity crowns success?

Think of the one with the other,

Those two cannot join together.

Here is the proof of it, you see,

For such assured felicity,

Along with sovereign happiness,

Are Nature’s sovereign goods, no less,

And she is ruled by pure Reason,

At every hour, in every season,

And such goods no one can lose,

While those of Fortune I refuse

To compare to her goods at all,

For tis said, as you will recall,

“He’s more to lose who more doth own”

And so, by this tis clearly shown

Fortune possesses naught secure,

Scant happiness, and what is more,

If you’d defend yourself from her,

Indeed, you may; advice I proffer,

By which you’ll live in happiness:

Aught more precious do you possess

Than yourself?’ ‘No, naught, my lady!’

Lines 2485-2504: She counselled how to guard against Fortune’s vagaries

‘KNOW then her power so vile to be

That o’er yourself you’ve mastery.

Make sure Reason guides you wholly,

That you pursue things, patiently,

And aim for self-sufficiency,

For happiness, in the true sense,

Comes from suffering in patience.

There’s no man would not consent

When he’s at his most impatient,

Swiftly, to change his present state,

No matter what might prove his fate.

And this makes him wretched ever,

Living in a perilous manner.

In like fashion, for not an hour

Prize mutable Fortune’s power,

But hate it, flee it, prize it not,

In your heart; let her be forgot.

So, wish not her goods to possess.

If my true counsel you’ll address,

You’ll win to good, without fail,

The good that no loss doth entail.’

Lines 2505-2576: She described Fortune’s nature

‘AND though you sought, in your distress,

To make complaint, and bear witness,

That Fortune has treated you ill,

Bitter, secretly hostile still

Towards you, and you have called her

Both false and a proven traitor,

And your enemy, at every turn,

As her advocate I’d have you learn,

And will prove to you, by reason,

That she has ne’er committed treason,

Nor was ever your enemy,

But rather your good friend, for she

Has shown the love she can express,

Sweet, to you, in her bitterness;

And, the better to prove it so,

Your answer to this I would know,

Can he who does his duty do ill?’

‘In no way.’ ‘You speak truth still.

And thus, bear witness too, for I,

With reason, shall now testify

That if e’er Fortune stole from you

Joy that was yours, grieved you anew,

She performed no treasonous thing,

No more did wrong in anything,

For she does only what she must.

I’ll tell you why my statement’s just.

If she held but the one position,

And acted fairly, and with reason,

Favouring one and all the same,

Then Fortune would not be her name.

But since she ne’er remains at rest,

But alters, much as chance suggests,

Her actions, speech, for tis her game,

The name of Fortune she may claim.

For, though her sole stability

Is in her variability,

That is her state, and her nature,

Such is her right, such her manner.

And so, since she but does her duty,

I maintain you’re wrong, completely,

To vilify her, and to scorn her,

And defame all she doth proffer.

If you fell into wretchedness,

Through her swift changeableness,

In some new turn, strange and savage,

That robbed your heart of its courage,

Be sure, my friend, you’re not alone;

For she has done the same, I’ll own,

To those who dwell in pagan lands,

And who have suffered at her hands,

Without trace of rhyme or reason;

Her wheel is of such a fashion,

Not made by you, nor yours to undo,

Known to laymen and clergy too.

Since all this is to you well-known

Why then take it for your throne.

If your face is full of pallor

The fault is yours, lies not with her;

For when you would a lover be,

Then you set forth upon the sea,

Among the perilous waves to sail,

That rise and swell, and fall and fail,

That swirl about, rush to and fro,

Leap on high, and break below,

The water foaming, here and there,

Till it seems troubled everywhere.

Thus, you entered Fortune’s service,

Who proves so clever in all this,

That there is none within her court

Who is not swiftly forced, in short,

To exchange his freedom presently,

When once he’s served, for slavery.’

Lines 2577-2600: She explained that to serve Fortune is mere servitude

‘IF to the wind you spread your sail,

Good canvas wrought for every gale,

You know your vessel will be driven

Where’er tis blown, that’s a given;

For the freedom of your ship is lost

To the wind, you must pay the cost.

And thus, if Fortune you now serve

You’ll be treated as you deserve,

And cast into servitude, compelled

To work the sail, or oar tight-held,

According to her voyaging there;

Sailing or rowing, you must share

Her course, and to her ways conform,

With every act she doth perform,

Since you are of her household now,

Though such you seek to disavow.

Now answer me this, clear and plain,

Since more, there is, I would explain,

Concerning what you found before,

That she’s proved bitter, evermore;

For this fact leads to my question

Tell me have you, by her action,

Had more of good from her, or ill?’

‘Lady I know well: much more ill.’

Lines 2601-2684: Hope indicated that the lover had been well-treated by Fortune

‘SURELY, you know not what you say,

You’re ill-informed in every way,

At heart, you’ve felt the contrary,

A hundred times, it seems to me.’

‘Truly lady?’ Yes, I’ll show you.’

‘I pray you do so, if it be true,

For naught in me doth give me joy,

Save the kindness that you employ,

That flows to me from your presence.’

‘Tis the fault of your ignorance;

Were you sufficiently aware,

You would know in your heart there,

Fortune has ne’er been harsh to you,

Since your mother gave birth to you,

But has e’er proved amiable,

Courteous, sweet, charitable,

So, you should lay no blame on her,

For then you had naught to offer,

Yet she nurtured you, sweetly,

Nursing you, most diligently,

With her milk – her riches that is,

Distinction, honours – and in this

Was your guardian and mistress,

Administering to you no less

Than glory, showering you with all

The good on which Reason doth call,

All the good that she owns by right;

And you complain? Well, is that right?

What more would you demand of her?

Has she not shown grace and favour,

When she has, if you could but see,

Granted you use of her treasury,

For these things are not your own,

But hers by right, as I have shown;

And since nothing is yours, in truth,

You’re a fool to complain, fair youth,

If she takes back into her hand

That of hers that you did command.

You are like the very brother

Of one indebted to another

Who when it comes time to repay,

Is angered, seeking to delay.

You do likewise, no more, no less,

But since tis Fortune’s hands that bless

You with the goods that I describe,

This wisdom I’d have you imbibe:

Wherever she is, there are they,

And if she leaves, they will not stay.

Whoe’er she aids receives her aid,

Whoe’er she quits is there unmade,

So, I believe; for all must feel,

The daily turning of her wheel,

Yet, it seems, so I discover,

That you would seek to govern her,

And her actions would constrain

So fixed and stable she’ll remain,

Or you’ll complain of her indeed.

And yet, tis certain help you’ll need,

Should you seek to change her nature,

Which has endured, and shall ever,

Nor shall be otherwise, my friend,

Until the world doth reach its end.

The sea appears calm and peaceful,

And then will turn wild and dreadful,

Tormented by some savage gale,

Because the wind doth now prevail,

Strikes it, sends waves high or low,

Swifter than any horse doth go,

Nor could earthly power arrest

The billows and bring them to rest.

Thus, doth Fortune alter ever,

And she can be restrained never,

By force, or by your eloquence,

When she doth seek to venture hence.

Riches and honours she takes with her,

And all the goods that are her treasure,

Which you share not, nor another,

If tis not by her grace and favour.

So, you have scant right to complain,

But rather should the truth maintain,

Regarding all she’s done for you,

For she has ne’er mistreated you,

But brought you profit, I avow.’

‘Lady, instruct me; tell me how?’

Lines 2685-2772: She explained how Fortune had saved him from a worse fate

‘WILLINGLY! She has left to you

Your mind, untouched, and left you too

What you love most, your life; moreover,

Of that life you’re still the master.

And if she turned her baneful face

Towards you, which oft proves base

In word and action, looked askance,

Does it justify this song and dance?

These tears, groans, as if in torment,

Because one glance at you she sent?

Her fickleness should grant, instead,

Courage; hope should fill your head,

Of doing better, if you’re wise.

Does not the savage laud the skies,

Sing, and rejoice when he feels rain?

What moves him to sing, in that strain?

The hope that draws praise from the dumb,

That, after ill weather, good will come.

How can you know the sweet to savour,

If you’ve ne’er tasted of the bitter?

Likewise, I teach and demonstrate,

Fortune prepares a turn of fate

For the rich and contented, ever.

Take this to heart, and remember,

When you are raised to high degree,

The coming hour your fall may see.

Yet Love, who blinds many a heart,

So dims your eyes, who feel his dart,

That you now give nary a thought

To the fact that she’s often taught

Lovers to lead a life quite other

Than this one, in which you suffer.

For, in all that you might propose,

You must consider things at the close,

Since for each time plans go awry

At a hundred other times they fly.

Every rule has some exception;

Of the proverb I’ll make mention:

You should ever look, my friend,

To how things turn out in the end.

And had you kept all this in mind

You’d ne’er have complained and whined,

Concerning Fortune, nor true Love,

For all that they have wrought must prove

For the best, and all to your good.

So, I excuse them, as you should;

Their kindness doth ever bestow

One hundred joys for every woe.

Yet you maintain the contrary,

Which you should not, assuredly;

Pray let it not occur again,

But remember, as I’ll explain,

You should care not a fig for all

Fortune’s goods, spite rise or fall;

Seek them not as they come and go,

And if from out your hands they flow,

Be not displeased, nor deterred,

For she is flightier than a bird.

Who has much e’er seeks for more,

Thus, kings are needier than the poor,

As regards, gold, gems and silver.

For, unlike the man that’s poorer,

They lack a sense of sufficiency,

Because a flame burns ever fiercely

In their heart; tis covetousness,

That scorches them with its caress,

Setting a fire in their entrails,

So, their every enterprise fails,

While that fire maintains its ardour.

I do not claim, by this, that Nature

Is satisfied by but little, only,

But were the earth piled high, truly,

To the sky from the ground below,

With all the riches that, I know,

Such hearts request, and e’er require,

Yet still those hearts, racked by desire,

Would find such wealth would not suffice.

It cannot, for, to be precise,

Full half a million worlds aglow,

Half a million times, loaded so,

Were ne’er enough for such as they.

And know you why? To you, I say,

My judgement in the matter’s this,

Naught satisfies gross Avarice.

So now you see, and view it plain,

He loses all who all would gain.

Body and soul are lost that way,

Joy and honour; tis so alway.’

Lines 2773-2796: Hope described the fruits of Sufficiency and Patience

‘ALSO, I beg you, from the heart,

Let not from your thoughts depart

The most precious virtues, those two

That I have just recalled for you,

I speak of fair Sufficiency,

And Patience, her serving lady.

If they are there, pay no regard

To Fortune, who gazes backward

And forward too; their virtue’s such

That they reflect not overmuch,

That virtue precious and worthy,

On Fortune’s mutability;

Rather they lead men to address

The only path to Happiness.

And Happiness, it seems to me,

Grants these six things, with certainty,

Delight, true Respect, and Glory,

Power, Honour, and Sufficiency.

Happiness is the sovereign good,

From God above, tis understood;

He, the end and the beginning,

As three forms in one conjoining,

One in three, yet but one goodness,

In which naught fails, or e’er grows less.’

Lines 2797-2856: Hope stressed that Love is born of Virtue not Fortune

‘I would not wish my words to prove

That you should be debarred from love,

Instead, I beg you, most dearly,

To love, and love on faithfully.

A true lover, if seen clearly,

Is not of Fortune’s treasury,

But rather is of virtue’s good;

And so, I beg you, if you would,

To keep a true heart, all your days,

So, joy and glory’s yours always.

And do not scorn true loyalty,

Though scant reward for it you see,

Here below, for tis not forgot;

If here on Earth such is your lot,

Twill be repaid a hundredfold,

There, in Heaven’s glorious fold.

I’ve told you what to do; the proof,

Is that you’ll find such is the truth;

Act so, and good will come your way,

If not, you’ll find you go astray.

I’ll quit you now, for we must part,

And yet I’ll say, ere I depart,

That if you e’er have need of me

You’ll find me, as ever, wholly,

Your true friend, both night and day.

Now tis not good that thus you stay,

Failing your lady to address.

Take care to counter sore distress,

For ne’er so proud will she e’er be

As to reproach you, or fiercely

Strike, unless tis with her sweet glance

That, smiling, pierces with its lance.

But I bear witness, you may know

Those eyes will strike no fatal blow.

The wound is sweet, as is her lip,

Agreeable that lance’s tip.

And if you prove so taken there,

That you cannot endure those fair

Eyes of hers, nor stand against them,

If true love with sweet stratagem

Overpowers you, and shame, and fear,

And you grow pale, yet I am here;

Forget me not, whate’er may be;

Those eyes may not assault so fiercely,

That their attack may not be countered,

Wholly, while I am remembered,  

For ne’er do I forget a friend,

And if you do so, in the end,

Be sure and certain, sans my power,

You’ll be conquered, within the hour.

To God I commend you, as I go,

But first with my clear voice here, lo,

I’ll sing a ‘baladelle’ for you,

Its words and music both are new,

The which to you shall now belong,

To sing, still, as you go along,

So that you yet may find delight

Whene’er some evil thought doth bite.’

Lines 2857-2892: Her baladelle ‘En amer ha douce vie’

‘HE’LL find, in love, the sweet life,

Without strife,

Who maintains true love entire.

Tis a sickness; pleasing though,

Nourished so,

By sweet amorous desire,

That the true heart doth aspire

To ensure

As true love shall ever grow.

Though sweet ill they must endure,

Joy, and more,

Lover and beloved know.

Love his mastery doth show,

Humbles so,

Loving hearts through suffering;

Rules through noble mastery,


To the loving heart doth bring

Joy, the senses pleasuring,


Sates the loving heart, that so,

Gifts unmerited, all sweetly,


Lover and beloved know.

So, Love should be held full dear,

And served here;

For He true aid will, ever, bring

To lovers who do beg and pray,

Every day,

Without his treasure lessening.

Death he prevents from striking,

Cures, we see,

Hearts, that with true health do glow;

Gifts the true sufficiency,

That, heart-free,

Lover and beloved know.’

Lines 2893-2918: He was overcome with joy at her song

WHEN her fair ballad was complete,

That I found so pleasing and sweet,

Both in my heart, and to my ear,

For ne’er a harmony did I hear

That e’er a song did thus employ,

Then I was overcome with joy.

And if the sweet notes pleased me so,

The words, more than one might know,

Did bring great pleasure to my heart.

And I took pains to learn the art,

So, in a short space, I believe,

At least ere she did take her leave,

I knew the lyrics and the tune,

So, I might sing it late and soon;

For I would that song remember,

And thus, recall her singing ever.

And as I learnt the song by heart,

My admiration for her art

Was so strong that each faculty,

All five senses God gifted me,

To the matter I now so brought,

That I had neither care nor thought

For aught else they might deliver,

Nor aught else did I consider

(Save that I recalled that same

Lady, from whom my blessings came).

Lines 2919-2964: She vanished, and he then mused on her counsel

THE lady had taken her leave,

Nor have I e’er seen, I believe,

Aught vanish away so swiftly.

I lost sight of her completely,

Knew not what had become of her.

Ten, twenty times, I searched for her,

I looked about the green hedgerow,

Yet all that place did merely show,

Trees in leaf, flowers and verdure,

For thereabouts was ne’er a creature,

Save me alone. And when I saw

That Hope, as she had nothing more

To say of what she’d wished to tell,

Unseen, had taken sudden flight,

Into profoundest thought, outright,

I fell, and in my musing sought

To learn the counsel she had brought,

Point by point, sure of her claim

That later I should need that same.

And, by means of my memory,

All about her, and her story,

As I’ve relayed here, by my art,

Was written true within my heart.

Understood more accurately,

Writ a hundred times more surely,

Than any clerk might pen the facts,

By hand, on parchment or in wax.

And the thing was necessary,

For I wished to follow nearly

She, whose true doctrine Reason taught

I should keep hence within my thought,

While often bringing it to mind;

For then, if ever I should find

That Love denied me, haughtily,

And Pure Beauty, disdainfully,

And Lady Shame, and Mistress Fear,

While Sweet Glance did harsh appear,

Such that she refused to see me,

Yet I would act, courageously

Enough, against their puissant power,

Nor would before such harshness cower,

But, steadfastly, all things suffer;

For tis brave and virtuous, ever,

To defeat an adversary

By thus enduring patiently.

Lines 2965-3012: Hope having cheered him, he composed a song

ONCE I’d committed everything

To memory, forgetting nothing,

Once the imprint of her sweet art

Had been engraved upon my heart,

Within myself I felt much surer,

Confident, mature and stronger.

I raised myself, in this new state,

And sought again the wicket-gate

Where I’d made entry to the park,

And not a sign there did I mark

Of other steps upon that way

As I along its length did stray,

For naught had marred the deep green grass,

And the dew I saw, as I did pass,

All clear and shining in the light,

Lay undisturbed, to left and right.

The birds that flew from glade to glade,

In thirty thousand places, made

Sweet song, vied with one another,

Opening their throats together,

Causing the whole parkland to ring

With the tunes they all did sing.

Ere Hope had come to me, indeed,

All in my time of greatest need,

My senses were yet so perverse

That I’d not heard the birds rehearse

Their tunes, nor joyed in the sound,

As they made merry, all around.

This should not be held against me,

For great joy and melancholy,

Dull the senses, lead to folly,

And deep sadness had oppressed me,

Such that my thoughts were all confused,

As there within the park I’d mused,

And naught then had I understood

Save for the pain, nor felt aught good.

Now their sweet song pleased me so,

That, ere the sunlight there did go,

I seemed myself again, wholly,

Sound in mind, heart and body,

As much through the sweet Memory

Of fair Hope, who’d come to me,

As thoughts of seeing my lady

Whom I believed I’d see, shortly.

And since I made towards her now,

To gaze upon her noble brow,

I composed, as I went along,

The words and music for this song:

Lines 3013-3036: His ballad ‘Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient’

‘LADY, from whom comes all my joy this day,

I cannot love you nor praise, too greatly,

Nor cherish you too finely, nor obey,

Serve, honour, nor respect you, fittingly.

For this sweet expectation

I hold, that your form will grace my vision,

Grants me a hundredfold more life and joy

Than brought me by a thousand years employ.

For this sweet hope my life doth now sustain,

Nourishes me in amorous desire,

Comforts me, rejoices my heart again,

Granting, within me, all that I require,

Joy to be lost not, day or night;

For, rather, it sees that I receive outright,

More of the sweet goods Love doth here enjoy,

Than brought me by a thousand years employ.

And since Hope, which in my heart doth reign,

Brings such great joy to my loving heart,

When I am far from you, if I might gain

Sight of your beauty, and from that ne’er part,

The joy, I would then receive,

None could imagine, dream of, nor conceive,

For more should I know then, without alloy,

Than brought me by a thousand years employ.

Lines 3037-3076: Hope returned to counsel him

THUS, I completed all my song,

As on the greenway I strode along,

Taking the path to the wicket gate,

Which was closed, in the very state

I had left it, so oped the latch,

And, passing through, replaced the catch,

And so, set out on my return.

Happy that none at all might learn

Anything of my adventure,

Not a single human creature.

So, I went on, blithely singing,

And in my song so delighting

That, in a little while, I saw

That I had reached my lady’s door.

I halted when I saw the place,

And while taking a moment’s grace,

I pondered as to what to do,

And how this matter to pursue.

For my poor heart trembled so

With such violence, that I know

It felt as it would break in two,

And thus, I knew not what to do,

For I was dumbfounded wholly,

At the sight, so troubled, truly,

I would have fled the place completely,

Had Hope not been there beside me.

But Hope who, ever, takes great care

To aid her good friends everywhere,

And who is never lost in sleep,

But comforts them, true watch did keep,

And spoke these words to me: ‘Dear friend,

No wasted thought, now, did I spend

In coming here. What troubles you?

What is your need? Now, speak true.

What brings about your confusion?

You must tell me the true reason

For all this vain and foolish thought,

That, causelessly, sees you distraught.’

Lines 3077-3124: He explained his sad state of confusion to her

‘I know not, by my faith, lady,

Save that I feel fear and, truly,

Doubt prevents me from advancing,

Now that I can see the dwelling

Where my heart lies, and my lady.

I pray God will to joy lead me,

For, if the sole guide I employ

Is to be Fear, the path to joy

I fail to see; so, ends my tale.’

‘What’s this, now? Think you that I’d fail

To aid you, and break the promise

I made, to succour you in this?’

‘No, my lady.’ ‘Indeed, you do.

So, I think when I list to you.

Tell me the reason for this fear,

That grips you, and holds you here.

Are you afraid of your shadow?

Tis that, I think, that scares you so.’

‘My lady, with all due respect,

Not my shadow; that I reject,

But I know not what ill fever

Has chilled my body, all over,

Surprised me here, and seized my heart,

So suddenly I lack the art

To tell you what’s amiss with me.

I’m assaulted mercilessly,

I feel hot and cold together,

At the same time sweat and shiver,

All my strength and vigour gone.

I fell silent, while in mid-song,

Struck as dumb as a wild creature,

Such that joy, and song and laughter

Desert me, and I can but sigh,

Reduced to silence, who knows why,

Unless it is for that same reason,

That I gaze upon her mansion,

Which is lovelier, doth entice

More, than the earthly paradise.

There my heart and my amour

Reside, behind that silent door.

For to naught else can it be due.

And so, I make request of you,

Grant your true counsel to me,

Or I am lost and ruined, lady.

For there is no greater pleasure

Than to view her at my leisure.

I can see no way to reach her,

Without you, and hence my pallor.’

Lines 3125-3180: Hope left him, having admonished him severely

‘AND what advice then can I give?

In vain I toil for, as I live,

My every word is lost on you.

Not even a caged bird, on view,

Is so slow in understanding,

As you. I swore, kept on saying,

You’d ever find me, in sore need,

Ready to aid, am here indeed,

And yet you trust me not, sweet friend,

And so, your ills increase, sans end.

My help you’ll have now no less,

Since I, your grievance to address,

Which brings but trouble and annoy,

And that my aid you might enjoy,

Came to your side, full swiftly,

Ere you’d thought to expect me.

And I enjoin you, for my part,

To clasp me tightly to your heart,

And so, remember me alway,

Near or far, where’er you stray.

You failed to do so, as I see,

And were reduced to misery;

While if you’d sought to remember,

You’d have stood as firm as ever.

Take heart; tread with certainty

Towards your lady, for truly,

I’ll be your guide, guard, shield, fortress,

And shall, here, fulfil the promise

That I have made to you before;

And, I shall answer, what is more,

And be your guide when all is well,

When you’re in heaven, not in hell.

So, thus, you should be reassured,

Since my help to you is ensured.

That high fever which turned to chill,

Is the burning passion still

Concealed, as ever, in your heart,

That now has spread to every part,

Making you tremble and shiver,

Since heat and cold it doth deliver.

Because you draw near to that same

Fire of Love, its searing flame,

You lose countenance and manner,

Sense and joy, power and vigour.

Keep this in mind, that, as you know’st:

“Who’s nearest the fire is scorched most.”

I have but little more to say.

Adieu, for I go on my way,

Though I will never part from you.

I divide myself, not in two

But in a hundred thousand parts

And more, shared among loving hearts,

And once you part from me you’ll go

Straight to that mansion, gaining so

Clear sight of your noble lady,

For you tread the right path, truly.’

Lines 3181-3204: He offered up a prayer to Amor

SHE departed, and I remained.

Sweetness my loving heart contained,

Savouring all that she had told me.

The flavour of her words so pleased me

That I was reassured, completely,

As to the stirrings that so strongly

Had worked within my heart for I

Had gained much sorrow thereby.

And since I now was free of fear,

For naught to hurt me did appear,

I got down on my knees to pray

In the midst of that narrow way.

I joined my hands, and turned my face

Towards the fine and precious place,

That was for me the visible sign

Of my true hope that I would find

The lady whom I worshipped there,

She whom I think beyond compare.

Since twas not fitting, in that place,

That I advance a single pace,

Without seeking the protection

Of Love, and Hope my companion

Who guarded me with devout heart,

In humble reverence, I did start

My prayer, and thanked them kindly,

For all that they had done for me.

Lines 3205-3348: His prayer to Love and Hope ‘Amours, je te lo et graci’

‘LOVE, praise and thanks I must, again,

A hundred thousand times maintain,

For you have loved my heart in pain,

Troubled, dark, with many a stain,

And then to strengthen it did deign,

Through your great power;

With gentle love you’ve sought to show

Your loving sweetness here below,

Lit all my heart with your sweet glow,

And sweetened all its bitterness so

That I but seek that Hope may show

Mercy this hour.

Love, I seek but to worship you,

As a second god, adore you too,

Praise and obey you, with virtue

Honour and serve you, ever true,

With body, heart, and mind anew.

With childish sense,

I learnt to love you, faithfully,

And wish your blessings upon me,

Which you then made me hope to see,

And to savour them so sweetly

That now I’d render loyally


Love, I knew naught at the start,

Nor could tell good and bad apart,

Yet you granted my true heart,

The which is yours in every part,

And did so with most subtle art,

An understanding

Of love, and life within love’s call,

And then presented heart and all,

Mind and body, as might befall,

To my lady, I well recall,

Till I, through her, once in her thrall,

Gave everything.

If I complained, most foolishly,

Wailing and lamenting, loudly,

Full of you and loving, wholly,

Overflowing, thus, completely,

With hands joined I pray, fervently,

Don’t make me grieve

For that, but my fair state sustain,

For I am yours, and so remain.

Towards me prove the more humane,

For you can see, tis more than plain,

You are my lord; source, I maintain,

Of my belief.

Also, I must, if I’d not fail,

Praise Hope of whom I now avail

Myself, thankful she doth prevail

Within my heart. Should I not quail,

But in the name of right, travail,

She will prove, hence,

The reason why; for in dire strait,

Beneath the hammer lay my fate;

Not one sou would I give, of late,

For my poor life. Yet she did, straight,

Sustain me, friend, stout iron gate,

And towered defence.

Sweet Hope, she is my safe harbour,

For my cheer, my joy, and ardour.

She’s the refuge for my treasure.

She’s the one who grants me pleasure.

For all the pains of love, I suffer,

Yet yield delight,

For when they do their most, I see

Far greater comfort; since, truly,

The solace that she granted me

Saved me from harsh death, who, were she

Absent, had slain me, savagely,

Without a fight.

She’s bestowed more loving kindness,

On me, more courtesy and sweetness,

More profit, honour, tenderness

Than any; day, and night no less,

She when fierce Desire doth press

Doth bring relief,

Counters my heart-piercing ardour.

She’s the one who cures my dolour,

She’s the one maintains my vigour,

She’s my refuge; she’s my tower;

In her, as my shield now and ever,

Lies my belief.

She’s the one, at every hour,

Who acknowledged me, when dour,

Bereft of joy, I could but cower,

Brought me the sweet and not the sour,

With all the blessings in her power,

Ease she did bring.

All my pain she lessened greatly,

Made my joy the greater, sweetly,

Such sweet solace she did grant me;

Tribute nor pay did she e’er see,

Simply, with her gaze, did pity,

My suffering.

Love, since from you I, thus, receive

Such boundless joy, I do believe

More than ever I could conceive,

With humble heart, I now ask leave,

And lover’s will, as one who’d cleave

To you the more,

To seek your aid, that I might come

To her threshold, where Sweet-Welcome

I may see; since, if there’s no room

For succour in your heart, my doom

Is to die, where love holds me, dumb,

My love before.

And if my lady, God guard her,

Should deign to let her glance hover

O’er me, a moment or longer,

That I’ve the skill is my prayer,

To know from its brightness whether

Tis shed by love

Or springs forth by some other art.

For if from her sweet eye doth start

Through true love, an amorous dart,

My gaze from her shall ne’er depart.

If not, it must despair impart,

And torment prove.

For you know, indeed, how humbly

I love, desire, respect her, truly,

More than myself, or aught I see,

And serve her now so loyally

None other has a hold on me;

Tis ever so.

So, you should move, lovingly,

Her heart to grant, in its mercy,

Ease to my heart and, gently,

Help her to love me equally,

For otherwise deceived I’ll be,

And sorrow know.

Let all prove as it pleases you,

Yet I cannot, alone, win through

To that fair joy, both sweet and true,

Though I’ll obey, so strictly too,

That I would die for her, anew,

Most willingly,

Should you so wish; yet if you might

Reward me, without marring quite

My lady’s honour, I’ll take delight

In sharing, of her, sound and sight;

Peace, mercy, love, shall thus requite

And comfort me.’

Lines 3349-3450: He found his lady amidst a fair company

ONCE I had ended my fond prayer,

I could remain no longer there,

But raised myself, and did aspire,

As Love, and Sweet Hope, and Desire

Admonished me, most urgently,

To gain true sight of my lady,

And so, began to move away

Along the path, and make my way,

Full of hope, towards the tower

Where my lady must be, that hour,

But not a bowshot length did mark

Ere, near the tower, I found a park,

And, midst glades and fountains bright,

Saw many a lady, maid, and knight,

A fine and cheerful company,

Taking their pleasure, merrily;

Dancing was their entertainment.

There sounded ne’er an instrument,

Nor minstrel, but their own singing,

Pleasant, courtly, sweetly ringing.

Viewing this, I was filled with joy

At the notes that they did employ.

I made my way towards that part,

But Love, who from me doth depart

Never, and Hope, who stands my friend,

Fled not, for on them I depend,

But led me gently, by the rein.

And I, who did my path maintain,

Walked by that company, and so

I found myself, past a hedgerow,

Swiftly arrived at that fair place

Where God blessed me, of His sweet grace,

By showing me where stood my lady.

And yet my heart, and soul, and body

My very blood was so deeply stirred,

When I saw her, I spoke not a word

But trembled so, God grant me aid,

Of falling, straight, I was much afraid.

Yet my thoughts turned to Hope, indeed;

For, of her words, I felt most need,

If I would gain true victory,

My sole recourse the memory

That was imprinted on my heart

Discarding not, for my own part,

Her words of grace and command,

All her true teaching, out of hand.

And ere I’d heard the very last note

That issued from a maiden’s throat,

I had recalled her true lesson

And felt much easier, within,

For Sweet Hope did thus reassure

Me that all would be well, and more.

So, I moved towards the dancing,

Like one on his true love thinking.

And that fair and virtuous lady,

Of whom Reason had mastery,

She who is worthy, able, wise,

And no way lacking otherwise,

Enriched me with her excellence,

For her glance, her sweet countenance,

Turned to me, so very sweetly,

That it seemed to me, God help me,

That with a true love she loved me,

And when she’d turned completely,

She approached me, with a smile,

Gracious and courteous the while,

And called to me, that lady fair:

‘Now, my good sir, what do you there?

Come dance beside us, if you please!’

At once, I fell upon my knees,

And, most humbly, did salute her,

My complexion changing ever,

As I spoke to her, such that I

Blushed and paled, full moved thereby.

Truly it seemed, after a space,

She recognised, by my wan face,

The longing, the love, the ardour,

Within me, and that forever

I’d be her man, both night and day,

That I loved her in Love’s own way.

And she returned, most courteously,

My greeting, and yet full swiftly,

So that none there did thus perceive

My amorous state, or such conceive.

She offered me her little finger,

And I, who was obliged and eager

To do her will, proved not remiss,

And joined her in the dance, at this.

But we’d been dancing but briefly

When she said to me, most sweetly,

That I must sing, and so should now

Show myself ready to allow

My turn to do so had arrived.

Sans hesitation, I replied,

‘My lady, tis my wish to follow

Your command, yet little I know

About such songs, or how to sing,

And yet I will perform this thing,

To please you.’ And, without delay,

I then commenced this virelai,

That some a ballad-song do name,

And so, it may be termed that same.

Lines 3451-3496: His virelai or ballad-song ‘Dame, a vous sans retollir’

‘LADY, unreservedly,

Love, passion, mind, heart, body,

I grant, alway,

To you, the finest, I say,

Of all that lived formerly

Or chosen of all might be

In this our day.

No man a fool should call me,

If I adore you, surely

I speak no lie.

Every virtue you exceed,

Every scented flower, indeed,

Beneath the sky.

Beside your beauty ever,

All else appears to wither,

While, moreover,

Your sweetness, and your colour

Outdo the rose,

As your glance, the wide world knows,

Cures all dolour.

Lady, unreservedly,

Love, passion, mind, heart, body,

I grant, alway,

To you, the finest, I say,

Of all that lived formerly,

Or chosen of all might be

In this our day.

Thus, I’m ready, lady, now,

To serve you, if you’ll allow,

With true vigour;

While, humbly, I’ll surrender,

My heart, life, honour, render

To your pleasure.

And if Pity doth consent,

If you’ll hear my true intent,

Midst the clamour,

I’ll seek not, in that labour,

To merit more;

For no greater joy, I’m sure,

Were mine ever.

Lady, unreservedly,

Love, passion, mind, heart, body,

I grant, alway,

To you, the finest, I say,

Of all that lived formerly,

Or chosen of all might be

In this our day.

Lady, ever my recourse,

Often, I’m but driven forth

To weep and moan.

While before you I grow pale,

All the pain love doth entail,

Is mine alone.

For you see not this desire

I scarce hide, this living fire.

If tenderness

You deny, mortal sadness

Shall prove my death;

Yet you win, till my last breath,

True faithfulness.’

Lines 3497-3536: His lady questioned him

AS, thus, my ballad I did air,

A lady who was dancing there,

Who seemed right full of joy to me,

For she was dancing prettily,

Began to sing, without delay:

‘Lord, when shall it come, the day

When I’ll see him whom I love so?’

And ended with that same, also.

When she had ended, my lady

Said: ‘Twas well sung, and most sweetly,

Yet, tis time for us to retreat.’

So, the company stirred their feet,

And followed her to the manor,

For none dared contradict her,

Or venture opinion on this,

Or aught else that she might wish.

Thus, one and all ended their dance,

And, uncomplaining, did advance,

Singly, in pairs, or groups of three

Or four, to keep good company.

My lady did their going abide,

And then did lead me at her side,

Asking me of aught that was new,

As it was ever her custom to.

And she enquired whence I came,

And why I’d stayed away, the blame

Was mine if I had seen her not;

Also, why had it proved my lot

To quit her presence, formerly,

Since I’d departed suddenly,

Had vanished without taking leave;

Never before, she did believe,

Had I done so, for any reason;

And what was my explanation

For not answering (nor could I,

Her question then) and I must tell

The truth of where I’d been, as well,

Without deceit or hiding aught,

And why; as if I were in court.

Lines 3537-3566: He readied his apology and confession

AFTER she’d issued her request,

One reasonable, and full honest,

(A lady’s right to take command

Of her lover, and truth demand)

In a most heartfelt way, did I

Let forth a groan, and then did sigh;

For I knew that I must answer,

As twas fitting, and homage render.

So, I turned, swiftly, to no less

Than Hope, the sovereign goddess,

Who yet might aid my lips to sound

All that which in my heart I found.

Thus, with trepidation, did I,

Yet simply enough, make reply:

‘My lady, I may not refuse,

And indeed, I cannot choose,

Since it pleases you, but tell

You all, and truthfully as well,

Such that the facts will be plain

To yourself, to my loss or gain.

But I would willingly say naught

If I dared, and if such you sought.

And so, for God’s sake, my lady,

I beg you to please forgive me,

If, at any time, aught I say

That may annoy you, and I pray

You’ll excuse me, ne’er, willingly,

Would I say aught that, foolishly,

Brings you displeasure, I confess,

And God be my witness, or distress.’

Lines 3567-3714: He expressed his true situation

‘MY lady, I will tell something

Of my state, from its beginning,

As regards its nature and source,

While speaking naught but truth, of course,

In answer to your just demand;

For I shall do as you command.

I was both young and immature,

Naïve, a fool, a child, no more,

Devoid of sense, an innocent,

With scant knowledge, and less intent,

Accustomed to idleness too,

My lady, when I first saw you.

(And even now, it seems to me,

More indolent than I should be),

Such that all my imagination

You aroused, my inclination

Towards true delight, my lady.

You are the exemplar to me,

Of everything that I should be.

Nor did it seem to me, tis true,

That I could live sans seeing you.

On you, now, my intent is set,

The heart, the youth that I have yet;

Find in each glance, word, and deed

Of yours, true paradise indeed.

And so, of profoundest feeling,

I determined on composing

A lay, for you, in praise of you,

Or some plaint, or song all new.

For I dared not, nor knew how

To, speak this otherwise, I vow.

And it seemed better to relay

My feelings in some song or lay,

And speak of what constrained my heart,

Rather than through some other art.

My lay expressed the sentiment

That I felt at its commencement;

The ballad was then brought to you,

Which could but trouble me anew,

Such that, as if with my last breath,

Sans remedy, I looked on death,

For, you summoned me, my lady,

And to read it did command me,

And so, I did, from start to end,

Most artlessly, without amend,

Like a man so seized by terror

All must note his every error.

And because none there could say

Who was the author of that lay

You demanded then, my lady,

To know who’d made it, and begged me,

To speak out straight, and tell no lie,

And I, who’d ne’er seek to deny

You aught, or to displease you, I,

Who would e’er seek to make reply,

Who would but speak of what is true,

For that which pleases I would do,

I dared not confess, my lady,

Twas of my making, entirely,

For I had writ the thing, and so

If I’d declared it, you would know

The love for you that I’d concealed,

But, rather, it had been revealed;

I could no longer keep from you

That love, exposed to public view.

In my heart I could not decide,

Whether to answer, or to hide

My love, not knowing what to do.

And so, I made my way from you,

Choosing the middle path in woe

And confusion; you watched me go,

My heart near broken, as I went

From your presence; such my intent.

Not for all the wealth or success

Any man could seek to possess,

Could I have uttered a reply,

With mind and speech, so troubled, I

Contrived, thus, but to steal away,

And live to fight another day,

Lamenting, weeping, and sighing,

Seeking death, swift death desiring,

Until I chanced, at a venture,

Upon a very fine enclosure.

I found a lonely spot and, there,

Made, of my sadness and despair,

Regarding Fortune, sad complaint,

Who’d changed my joy to constraint.

And truly, my death came closer;

I’d but scant hope of living longer.

But Sweet Hope hastened to me,

And, in my time of need, helped me;

She a thousand times lovelier

Than aught created by Nature,

More a spiritual being.

In short, it seemed I was viewing

A beauty and a radiance

Beyond compare. She did advance,

Pledging love, faith, loyalty,

Help, comfort, aid, and company,

If I would follow her, and there

Abandon my profound despair.

She comforted me, graciously,

Healed me, and so granted to me

Peace and joy, honour and wealth,

Exchanging pain and ill, for health.

And she taught me to recognise,

Clearly, in their every guise,

The emblems of the true lover,

And the virtues of each colour,

And how Fortune shows constancy

In her swift mutability,

By reasoning quelled my fear of her,

Showing the sweet in the bitter.

She, after that, proved my guide too,

My lady, leading me to you,

For, by my soul, I’d not come near

Without that she had led me here.

So, with devout heart, I now pray,

Dear lady, since she doth this day

Wish, and has wished, you alone

My body, heart, and life to own,

That you yourself will not say nay

To all that she wished me to say.

For lady, if you so allow,

I shall bide here, as I did vow,

And if not, then I must suffer

But heartbreak, and die a martyr;

And all for you, dolorously,

Since it is not fitting, lady,

That I should seek joy to savour,

By asking some mark of favour;

A lady’s refusal doth slay

A lover’s mind and heart, alway.

And, dear lady, if that should be,

Then it will prove the death of me.

I’d rather Hope be refused than I,

While if she finds favour, then I

Shall achieve my heart’s desire,

And all to which I now aspire.

And if it please you, my dear lady,

To review with your eye, swiftly,

The song I sang, amidst the glade,

Whose words and music both I made,

Twill readily be clear to you

Whether I lie, or I speak true.

So, I beg you, consider me,

And upon me, now, take pity,

For I am yours, and will be ever,

Nor shall I ever love another.’

Lines 3715-3740: His lady expressed her astonishment

AFTER I’d given my response,

My lady, who doth ease at once

My ills, my woes, my misery,

Every last thing that troubles me

By means of her sweet glance alone,

Replied: ‘God save me, for I own

This affair is most marvellous,

As much as it is most curious,

For the like of it I never heard,

Wondering at your every word.

About the lay you did recite,

Is’t true that same work you did write?’

‘Most certainly, my lady, yes.’

‘None helped you do so?’ ‘None, unless

Twas you yourself, to whom belong

The joyful theme of rhyme and song.’

‘For whom did you make it, truly?’

‘You, lady, who are all to me.’

‘I am?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Tis hard to credit,

‘Yet, by my soul, tis every bit

As true as is the paternoster;

I am yours, and am its author,

My lady, God save your honour,

Which I love, respect, and care for,

And do so, tis my intention,

As much as my own salvation.’

Lines 3741-3772: He described his meeting with Hope

‘AND is it true that Hope you saw,

In form and semblance, what is more,

As you have here described to me?’

‘Why yes, indeed tis true, my lady.

Though I mused on her a century,

Not a hundredth part of her beauty

Could I describe, nor that loyalty

That she then promised to bear me,

Nor the kindness with which she led

Me to this place, despite my dread,

Promising a life full joyous,

For to me you would prove gracious.

You should reflect, at her behest,

Ere you refuse me my request,

For, and I wish not to deceive,

If I seek aught of you, believe

Tis for her sake, and in her name,

For she’s noble, and of such fame,

That there’s no realm, no land, I say,

Where she is not, and holds not sway,

And where all folk, who wish for joy,

Do not that which she brings enjoy.

And, regardless, you are so wise,

Lady, so kind of heart likewise,

You must see from my woeful plaint,

How sore need makes for sad complaint.

Yet I dare make request for naught,

Nor love nor favour have I sought,

Nor aught else that’s unbefitting,

And they do say, tis unbecoming,

That request should come of baseness,

While true praise comes of courtliness.’

Lines 3773-3848: His lady endorsed his praise of Hope

‘And you speak true. That they do say,

And he who does not get his way

Should feel ashamed, if he is wise,

High, low, valet or page likewise.

And he should think himself a fool,

To make request despite that rule.

And words will often cause offence,

When the best path’s that of silence.

Too much speech works harm, they say.

That I believe, tis true alway.

He who covets what he should not

Mere self-deception is his lot.

To make request covetously

Shows lack of generosity.

None should seek to climb so high,

That, falling, he is shamed thereby.

He ought to choose the middle way,

For, many a time, I hear men say,

He who climbs higher than he should,

Ever falls lower than he would.

Tis good to speak appropriately,

With sense and thought, and cogently,

Sweetly, not in some rude manner,

And only ask what’s fitting, ever,

Since he who asks for what is wrong

Has earned refusal, harsh and strong.

And fair Hope, my dear young sir,

Who shows power and virtue ever,

She who is wise and learned too,

Just and loyal, has counselled you,

Most considerately, and wisely,

Or so it seems to me. And, truly,

So worthy is she, with such power,

So helpful, with true worth her dower,

So necessary, I declare,

So courteous and debonair,

Good, and kind, and generous,

True, noble, honest, virtuous,

Granting joy and comfort, freely,

Providing consolation, sweetly,

Inclined to reason, fine and pure,

And to good deeds, what is more,

So clear in manner, free of faction,

She does good with every action.

So virtuous and true is she

That, in truth, so it seems to me,

No man should thwart, in any way,

What she doth choose to do, or say.

And thus, unworthy I’d be thought

If I should fail her now in aught,

Or should disavow her ever.

So, with all my heart, I render

Myself to her pleasure, and will,

For what she wishes I wish still;

Nor is my heart an enemy

To all that she promised of me,

But will avow it, graciously,

Without seeking terms, and wholly.

Thus, sweet, fair, and loyal lover,

I accept her speech; moreover,

Such I’ll uphold, and ratify,

For not one word shall I deny.

Therefore, I trust, henceforth, you may

Be happy, and joyful, alway,

Loyal, and modest, and discreet,

Since a faithful lover you greet.

For I was convinced, completely,

That you possessed true love for me,

Though of love you said not a word,

As if that very thought were absurd.

Since Hope has taken the trouble

To assist, I’ll prove no rebel,

To her will, but rather bestow

My faithful love, and not cry ‘no’.

For she said you’ll love me, ever,

And would have you named a lover.’

Lines 3849-3890: He expressed his thanks that his lady acknowledged his love

THEN I went down on bended knee,

And gave her fair thanks, instantly.

But she, towards myself inclining,

Would not allow of my kneeling,

But exhorted me to rise, and talk

With her, awhile, as we did walk.

So, I rose at once, and thanked her

As was, indeed, right and proper,

Not as I ought to, I allow,

But yet as well as I knew how.

When my gratitude I’d shown her,

Thanked her a thousand times over,

For the honour she had done me,

By easing my heart, so graciously

(Though naught of me, did I retain;

I was hers, and would so remain

As I’ve declared, previously)

I renewed my thanks, fulsomely,

Granting her, my heart, my body,

My trust, my lover’s loyalty,

From that day, and so forever,

Till death she and I must sever.

And she received all this entire,

Setting my joyful heart on fire.

And so that none there might believe,

In our love, or its signs perceive,

She called a lady-in-waiting,

Who, at her summons, came running,

And spoke to her on some matter,

While I returned towards the other

Ladies and maidens who enquired

As to events not long transpired,

Or sang me fair songs of lovers,

All the tales of their adventures.

Yet my response to what they sought

Was far indeed from my true thought.

For I made white seem black that day,

As to the manor we made our way,

Which was not far from where we were.

My lady led, we followed her;

She walked in front, and rightly so,

Since Reason, in truth, wished it so.

Lines 3891-3944: They prayed in church, and then went to dine

OUR arrival my heart did please.

We mounted the stairway by degrees,

To a chapel that was most fair,

For some master had laboured there,

Working in gold, and colours finer

Than I had seen in my life, ever.

There indeed, the Mass was spoken,

And was heard, with true devotion.

And there to God I made my prayer,

While I performed due penance there,

That He would preserve my lady,

In soul, and honour, and body;

Granting me sense, grace and vigour

To guard her peace, and that honour,

And to serve my lady alway,

As I wished, and in every way,

And that she’d find reasonable

My service, and agreeable.

That was the close of my prayer.

When the Mass was ended, there,

I heard a trumpet, loud and plain,

Twas sounded by a chamberlain.

How the servants filled the court!

Each their proper place now sought,

These hastened towards the pantry,

Those to the wine-cellar did flee,

While others to the kitchen did go,

Each to their station there below.

The men and boys from the stables

Carried benches, trestles, tables.

You should have seen them scurry,

With straw and carpets, in their hurry

Yelling, shouting, sweeping round,

While their loud chatter did resound,

In French, in Occitan, in German,

Lombard, and English, and Norman,

And many another, foreign, tongue,

Babbling away, both old and young.

Then carving-men, soon appearing,

Cleaning, laying out, polishing

The boards, readying the water,

Slicing the bread for serving after,

Called for tablecloths, and platters,

Stirred themselves to other matters.

One was seated, one came running,

Here at breadcrumbs swiftly brushing,

Cleansing their hands, some to excess,

This server more, and that one less,

Ere their masters should present be.

Twas a most wondrous sight to see!

And twas a mighty sound they made,

Shouting and yelling, as they bade

Them: ‘Bring it on! For Mass is sung,

And the summons to dine long rung!’

Lines 3945-3988: The feast and the accompanying music described

NOW, once the Mass was complete,

The men had all made their retreat

Swiftly, an open surcoat to don,

To replace their corset; once on,

There repaired to the dining hall,

Which showed not vile or low at all,

Where each was served, I believe,

Right handsomely, and did receive

As much meat, with wine to hand,

As fleshly hunger might demand.

And there I took my sustenance,

While regarding the countenance,

Manner, bearing, carriage, sight

Of she in whom is my delight.

And after the meal, fair to see,

Minstrels came, most willingly,

Coiffured, and all in clean attire,

Playing many a tune entire,

For, in a circle, I viewed there

Viol, rebec, and gittern fair,

Lute, Moorish lute, and half-canon,

Citole, psaltery, the full canon,

Harp, trumpet, kettledrum, tabor,

Hand-organ, horns, ten pairs or more,

Bagpipes, flutes, small pipes as well,

Reed-pipes, cymbals, many a bell.

Bohemian flute and tambourine,

Grand German cornet, too, were seen,

And willow-flute, and fife, and pipe,

Small trumpet, Alsatian bagpipe,

Herald’s trumpet, harp, monochord

Possessed of but the single cord,

With the pan-pipes, all together,

It seemed to me, indeed, that never

Had such a fulsome melody

Been heard by such a company,

For I heard each, all in accord

With its own pitch, and no discord,

Harp, and gittern, and citole,

Trumpet and flute, horn and viol,

Pipe, bagpipe, small-pipe, tabor,

Whate’er one might play with finger,

Or palm, or plectrum, or with bow;

O’er all that park the sound did flow.

Lines 3989-4014: The entertainments further described

ONCE they’d performed an ‘estampie’,

The ladies, and their company,

Departed, in their twos and threes,

For each another’s hand did seize,

And entered a most fair chamber;

Each man, each woman was eager

For some further entertainment,

Dancing, singing, all that’s pleasant,

Backgammon, chess, many a game,

And found partners for those same,

As they desired, without delay,

And so, did dance and sing and play.

Among them were true musicians,

All more skilful in such sessions,

Versed in styles both old and new,

Than were the ancient Muses who

Invented song, or Orpheus

Who charmed all those in Hades, thus,

With the sweetness of his singing,

Such enchantment comprehending.

They all played on, most happily,

Until a knight there, suddenly,

Called out for flagons of spiced wine;

It was his role, the thought is mine,

For, all as one, without delay,

The squires came running to obey.

Lines 4015-4057: The company dispersed and the lover sought leave to depart

AFTER they all had drunk their fill

Of spiced red wine, twas then their will,

Since it was well past noon, nigh three,

To take their leave and, graciously,

Bid farewell, each man and woman

According to the common custom.

But I remained until the last,

Like a lover whose time is passed

In thoughts of his noble lady,

For mine I saw there before me.

And when I saw the time was right,

I lingered not, but went outright

To commend my poor self to her,

And then request my leave of her.

Thus, to her, in a voice pitched low,

In a simple manner, I spoke so:

‘I commend myself, my heart, to you,

And you to God above me, too,

My lady, as one who lives not

If loving you proves not his lot.

For my love of you sustains me,

And brings me joy, completely.’

She, as one most courteous,

Worthy, and wise and virtuous,

Answered, quietly: My dear friend,

Since Love guides you and, to that end,

Wishes our hearts joined together

To part from each other never,

And make one of two, as we see;

For the Lord’s sake, so let it be;

For our hearts with shame were blighted,

If so alike, and so united,

They felt not good and ill the same,

Never the mastery to claim,

But in all things to be as one,

Equal in their dominion,

For twixt love and lordship ever

There’s contention, hostile ever.

Each other’s honour and peace to guard

To that we should pay close regard.

And for my peace of mind I’d know

Whence comes that ring, gleaming so,

I ne’er saw you with one before.’

Lines 4058-4108: The lovers exchanged rings, and he composed a rondelet

I said ‘My lady, I am more

Than happy for you, if you wish,

To know the truth, regarding this.

Hope it was who gave it to me,

In granting it most, graciously,

With loyalty, and love hereafter,

Transferring it from her finger.’

‘She did?’ ‘Yes, my lady, truly.’

‘Then I desire that, lovingly,

We exchange our rings, yours and mine,

Of mutual love make that the sign.’

And I, delighted by this same,

Answered with joy, all aflame:

‘Dear Lady, may God gaze on you!’

She smiled then, most sweetly too,

And with her hand, all smooth and white,

Soft, shapely, pleasant to the sight,

She placed, as mark of our true bond,

A ring, set with a diamond,

On my finger, the stone most fine,

While she received Hope’s ring from mine.

But as she lifted up my finger

Sweet Hope, to join us together,

Appeared between us, suddenly,

And sealed our union, perfectly.

Granting us great delight and joy,

So we her counsel might employ;

Since, if word or deed of either

Should serve to displease the other,

She yet could remedy it still,

And judge according to our ill,

Along with Love and Loyalty,

Who, ever, hold true sovereignty,

And act as judges, over lovers;

For Hope, judging with the others,

Bears witness true that, loyally,

I love my lady, and she loves me.

So twas revealed, most visibly,

That, from that moment, we indeed

Were in accord, in word and deed.

And so, I parted from my lady,

And, as I did, she granted me

A look so true its sweet language

Made my heart, again, her hostage,

Granting me joy and true delight;

All Hope had promised me outright

She had fulfilled, most faithfully,

Granting all she had pledged to me.

So, from joy, as I went my way,

I then composed this roundelay.

Lines 4109-4116: His rondelet ‘Dame, mon cuer en vous remaint’

‘LADY, my heart with you remains

Though from your presence I depart.

Through the love that in me obtains,

Lady, my heart with you remains.

Now, I pray God your heart attains

Such love, and none else shares that heart.

Lady, my heart with you remains,

Though from your presence I depart.’

Lines 4117-4194: He felt uncertain and complained to his lady

WHEN I’d composed my roundelay

Down a narrow path I did stray

That led me to an open space,

Where many sported in that place;

Arms, or love, or talk enjoying,

Or jousting there and tourneying,

Leading the good life, merrily.

So, I joined with that company,

And did all in my humble power

To entertain myself that hour,

In accord with all I could see,

And share in their sport equally,

Whether I had the skill or not,

Since to learn must prove my lot.

For he who in his youth learns naught,

Repents of it when life is short,

If he might have done otherwise;

Learning’s a noble enterprise.

My heart delighted in the show,

My lady had inspired me so,

And I remained there, at my leisure,

Filled with happiness, seeking pleasure.

Until the time came to return

To my lady for whom I yearn.

Then I set myself to repair,

Once more, to one noble and fair,

Fine and courtly, but when, at length,

I arrived there, God give me strength,

I thought my heart would break in two,

Her glance seemed to stray anew,

Here eyes seemed to leave me there,

While sending their sweet light elsewhere.

I knew not if twas so intended,

But nigh to death I hung, suspended.

She, in her seeming, her manner,

Heartfelt gaze, and demeanour,

All that she might show a lover,

Was as if changed for another.

And did, I thought, myself ignore

For some other that she loved more.

Then sadness weighed me all about,

I fell into a state of doubt,

So heavy, woeful, and unpleasant

No joy or easing balm was present

In my heart, which was so pained

Naught but oppressiveness remained.

I became most melancholy,

Like a man who in his folly

Doth brood, and ponder, and muse,

Whether tis true, or but some ruse,

Wondering if she sought, on her part,

To test me, wounding thus my heart.

If so twas done most skilfully,

Enacted with such subtlety,

That I could in no way perceive

Whether she sought thus to deceive.

So, I considered what to do,

And say, to find if it were true:

‘My dear lady, you surely see

How you possess my heart and me,

How I love you without reserve,

How you may kill one that doth serve

You thus, slaying me should you wish,

Denying me your glance like this.

My lady, if it is in your heart

To receive another, and so part,

Or keep me here in uncertainty,

Intending to prove false to me,

Or to treat me as a stranger

Though I’m your servant, forever,

By the Lord, lady, so cruelly

You treat me, death is all I see,

When you thus reveal, visibly,

That you care not a jot for me.

Better for me to die, tis clear,

At a single blow than languish here.’

This was how, in speech unconfined,

I showed her all my heart and mind.

Lines 4195-4218: His lady explained her concealment of their love

SHE listened most attentively,

And then, at once, replied to me:

‘Be at ease, fair, sweet friend, I pray,

Regarding all I do or say,

Tis for the best; such I pursue

That I may hide my love for you;

Lovers who know not how to feign

Indifference ne’er shall joy attain,

In lacking the power to conceal

All that they’d rather not reveal.

Folk are so fickle, they’ll rehearse

Every rumour, and so perverse

Full of deceit, on which they thrive,

That they seek, these days, to contrive

More tales than were e’er imagined.

Friend, for this reason, I determined

To show a single face to all,

Reveal the truth to none at all

Save you alone when that shall be;

Nor will your heart detect in me

Aught that might raise a doubt in you,

For my love is all yours, tis true,

In honour, and in faithfulness,

With ne’er a trace of fickleness.’

Lines 4219-4258: His lady reassured him of her love

THUS, my lady reassured me,

In pledging her love completely.

And though I have had to suffer

Many an assault, many a terror,

Many a sadness, with much dolour,

And many a sudden pang ever,

Many a sigh, deep anxiety,

Many a bout of melancholy,

All of which I must needs sustain,

Nonetheless, I’ll ever maintain

A firm faith, shown every day,

In every word that she did say.

For who thinks ill of his lady

Runs counter to himself, surely,

Nor has he reason to feel joy

Who true joy has failed to enjoy.

Moreover, unstained Loyalty

Reason, and Generosity,

Wisdom, Honour, Nobility,

A sense of Shame, and Truthfulness

Do that lady so adorn and bless,

With all the virtues, here attested,

With which her form is invested,

They, at all times, accompany her,

Protect, instruct, and nourish her,

Nor would they e’er deign to assent

That she might deceive with intent.

Also, he who loves without blame,

Should trust in his lady’s good name,

As he himself would be trusted.

And thus, my own lady I trusted,

And I believed that she’d told me

The pure truth, out of amity:

That her good graces I enjoyed.

God grant by me naught is employed

That might her fair favour remove,  

That she’s my lady and my love,

As I shall prove her true lover;

For I’ve devoted myself to her,

And hers in life or death shall be;

Who loves well, forgets tardily.

Lines 4259-4300: Guillaume’s coda

NOW, at the end of this treatise,

That I’ve compiled, I’ll say this,

That here I wish to set my name,

Every last letter of that same,

Each syllable; and who would know

My name may readily do so.

For the fourth line before the end

Holds the start, the middle, and end

Of my name, which is writ there, wholly,

Not two-thirds or three-quarters only.

But you must not, to prove exact,

Add there a letter or subtract

A single one, for who does so

My whole name shall never know,

Should they set there one less or more.

And since I’m in the hands, tis sure,

Of loyal Love whom I love so,

I pay homage, and say also:

‘True Love I do you homage here,

With hands, lips, heart, I now appear

As your servant, true and faithful,

Discreet, and pure, and dutiful,

And my heart, soul, body, vigour,

Desire, thought, pleasure, honour,

All in all, with my life, say I,

As a man who would live and die

In your service, and sans retreat,

I devote to you, all complete,

As I should, for such hope you give

I hope the sweeter life to live,

And that my dear sweet lady,

With good heart, and cheerfully,

Will read this work I put in rhyme,

However ill made, in due time.

The hope I maintain within me,

That my lady she doth love me,

Makes my heart joy so sweetly

Its ills will turn to joy, wholly,

Once you can say, and I believe,

My words she did with thanks receive.

God grant the work to her is pleasing,

And that I’ve erred not in serving.’

(Translator’s note: the letters of the fourth line from the end ‘Li change mal u tu me dis’ when rearranged yield the name Guillemin de Maschaut. Guillemin is a well-attested 14th century diminutive of Guillaume, Maschaut a known alternative spelling of Machaut, emphasising the correct pronunciation of his name.)

The End of Part II of ‘Le Remede de Fortune’