Jean de Meung
The Romance of the Rose (Le Roman de la Rose)
Part V: Chapters LVI-LX - Wealth’s Obstructiveness
Translated by A. S. Kline © Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved.
This work may be freely reproduced, stored, and transmitted, electronically or otherwise, for any non-commercial purpose.
- Chapter LVI: The Lover encounters Wealth.
- Chapter LVI: Wealth speaks of Poverty and Hunger
- Chapter LVI: Wealth dismisses the Lover
- Chapter LVI: The Lover parts from Wealth.
- Chapter LVII: The Lover pays homage to the God of Love.
- Chapter LVIII: The Lover repeats Love’s lesson.
- Chapter LIX: Love gathers his forces
- Chapter LX: Love prepares to attack the castle.
- Chapter LX: Wealth withdraws from the enterprise.
Chapter LVI: The Lover encounters Wealth
How the Lover found Wealth guarding
All that road; the path defending
By which the castle could be taken,
By Lovers rich in possessions.
‘The Lover encounters Wealth’
AS of the budding Rose I thought,
Close by a clear fountain where naught
But joy did that sweet place provide,
Beneath an oak tree, there, I spied
A fine and a most pleasing lady,
Of lovely form, and noble body,
And at her side was her lover.
His name I could not discover,
But Wealth was the fair lady’s name,
Of noble parentage that same.
The opening to a road behind she
Guarded, without seeking entry.
I bowed, at once, on seeing them,
With head bent low, saluted them,
And they saluted me in turn
Though little from it did I earn.
I asked of them how I might touch
Upon the road called Give-Too-Much.
Wealth who was the first to speak
Said haughtily: ‘The road you seek,
Which I guard, you see before you.’
‘Oh, Lady, may God protect you,
If it trouble you not, then, pray
Allow me to travel that way,
To the castle that Jealousy
Had built for her but recently.’
‘My lad, for now that thought forget,
For I know naught of you as yet,
You are not welcome, as you see,
For you are not of my company;
And ten whole years might pass, perchance,
Ere I allowed you to advance;
There none not of my court go,
Though Paris or Amiens they know.
I let my friends travel there freely,
To dance and to sing most sweetly,
There they live a while, pleasantly,
Yet them the wise do never envy,
Though every pleasure is on hand,
The farandole, and sarabande,
And tabors, and viols, and flutes,
To company their fresh pursuits,
And games of dice, backgammon, chess
And other such pastimes, to excess,
With every pleasant luxury;
All filled with amorous gaiety.
There go men and maids in hordes,
All paired together by old bawds,
Through every meadow, garden, grove,
Gayer than parrots, they do rove,
And then return, by gentle paths,
To steam together in hot baths,
Flowery crowns upon their brows,
All ready for them thus to souse,
In the house of Foolish-Largesse.
She impoverishes them, distress
She brings, and dire wounds hard to cure,
She knows how to charge, what’s more,
Squeezing them for their fair lodging,
Taking from them cruel reckoning,
So they’re forced to sell their land,
To place full payment in her hand.
I lead them there, no joy they lack,
Yet Poverty doth bring them back,
Cold and trembling and quite bare;
Hers the exit, mine the road there.
And I can never intervene,
No matter how wise they may seem.
Away in their thousands they go
To the Devil there, fast or slow.
I will not say, if I should see
Any re-established with me,
(Though tis very hard to attain)
That I would not once again
Allow them to travel that way,
If it pleased them to, some day;
But know, the more that they frequent
That road, the more they then repent.
They dare not look at me for shame;
Such chagrin, such anger they claim,
They could slay themselves easily;
I quit them, because they quit me.
Without promise of a lie, I say
You’ll repent, too late, some day,
If e’er you set foot on that road.
No bear that they bait and goad,
Is e’er so wretched, so far gone,
As you’ll be if you tread thereon.’
Chapter LVI: Wealth speaks of Poverty and Hunger
‘Wealth speaks of Poverty and Hunger’
‘IF Poverty has you in her power,
She’ll see you dine so ill, that hour,
On naught but a little straw or hay,
That from Hunger you’ll waste away.
For she was Poverty’s chambermaid,
Upon a time, and did all she bade,
So Poverty, for that true service,
Taught her every form of malice,
Ardent and eager was she too,
And made her nurse and mistress to
That horrid young scamp, Larceny.
She gave him her own milk, for she
Had nothing else to feed him on.
Would you know her situation?
This Hunger lives on stony ground,
No fertile soil can there be found,
No bush, or tree, or grain grows there,
At Scotland’s end, where all is bare,
So cold tis almost made of marble.
Hunger, with an empty table,
Tears at the weeds with trenchant nails,
And broken teeth, yet all grass fails,
On account of the scattered stones;
Naught is there but earth’s bare bones.
Would you have me now describe her?
That’s a short and easy labour:
She’s long and lean, and gaunt and weak,
From the few poor scraps she doth seek;
Her hair doth wild and tangled grow,
Her eyes are fixed, the sockets hollow,
Her face is pale, her lips are dry,
Her cheeks are soiled with dirt, say I,
And through her taut skin, readily,
What is within her, you can see,
The bones protruding at each side,
Where firmer flesh will not abide.
No stomach doth she have, it seems,
Except the skin at its extremes,
The centre so hollow her breast
Hangs from her backbone, with the rest.
Leanness has made her fingers long,
Her knees to meagreness belong,
Her heels are sharp and prominent;
What flesh is there, impermanent,
So tight her skin the bone doth press.
Ceres, who is plenty’s Goddess,
She who makes the grain to grow,
The road to Hunger doth not know,
Nor does Triptolemus who steers
Her dragon-car when she appears.
Destiny keeps them poles apart,
Prevents their meeting, from the start,
The Goddess of the Grain, and Hunger,
Who so wretchedly doth suffer;
They cannot ever be together,
For Poverty doth them dissever.
Yet Poverty will take you there
And right quickly, if you care
To go that way, and wander idly,
As with you seems customary.
For one may, of a certainty,
Find other ways to Poverty
Than this fair road that I guard here;
An idle life will do, I fear,
Twill lead you straight to Poverty.
And yet if you hark not to me,
And take the road of which I tell,
To weary Poverty, you may well,
When that great castle you assail,
Find that you are doomed to fail.
For I think, without much labour,
Hunger will prove your close neighbour.
Poverty knows the road by heart,
Better than learning’s lesser art.
Wretched Hunger, you must know,
Is ever towards her mistress so
Attentive, and courteous, in all,
(Though she loves her not at all,
Yet is sustained by her clearly
Whene’er she is tired and weary)
That she doth visit her each day,
And sits beside her, and doth stay,
Despite discomfort, and unease,
And kisses her as she doth please;
If she finds that Larceny sleeps,
She tugs his ear, till up he leaps,
And in distress inclines to him
So that she may thus counsel him
As to all that he should procure,
Whatever ills he might endure;
And Faint-Heart doth support her hope,
Whose dreams each day are of the rope,
Who dreams till his hair stands on end,
Lest Larceny they there suspend,
His trembling son; if any should
Catch him they’ll do him little good.’
Chapter LVI: Wealth dismisses the Lover
‘But you shall never enter where
I guard the road, go seek elsewhere.
Should you wish to follow that road
You must yield all on you bestowed,
And you must by your service prove,
That you are worthy of my love.’
‘Ah, Lady, by God’s grace, I would
Win your favour if e’er I could.
If I could but enter on that way
I might free Fair-Welcome this day,
He who languishes in prison;
Grant me this gift, let me walk on.’
‘I know you very well,’ said she,
‘You’ve failed to sell, it seems to me,
All your lands, both great and small,
One folly you’ve kept there after all;
For without folly a man can’t live,
If all his time to Love he’d give.
Those that live so, in their own eyes
They see themselves as very wise,
Though how can one call it living,
Their madness is so unforgiving?
Reason knew how to set you right
But failed to lead you to the light.
By scorning all belief in her,
You but prove your own deceiver.
Ere Reason spoke in your affair,
Naught you found to hold you there,
Nor notice of me do you e’er take,
Since you sought love for love’ sake;
For lovers think me of no worth,
Rather, all that I own on earth
They disparage when I depart,
And reject it, with all their heart.
Where the devil could one obtain
What a Lover would long retain?
Go from here now, and let me be.’
Chapter LVI: The Lover parts from Wealth
AS there was nothing there for me,
I left her there, though sadly pained.
The lady with her lover remained,
He who was dressed in fine array.
With all my thoughts in disarray,
I passed on, through the garden fair,
That precious and lovely affair,
That you have heard about before,
But found no joy in what I saw,
For all my thought was now elsewhere.
My thought at all times, everywhere
Was how best to be of service,
Without my doing aught amiss;
For I would do aught willingly
If I could do it faultlessly;
It would add to my value naught,
If any error there I wrought.
My heart recalled, and listened to,
All that wise Friend told me to do.
I honoured Ill-Talk, everywhere
I found him, and I took great care,
To set myself to honour and please
All of my other enemies,
And serve them thus with all my might.
I’m not sure if I gave delight,
But while seeking thanks and esteem,
I never dared approach my dream,
The rose-bush, as I used to do,
Although I wished I could, tis true.
Thus for a long time my penance
I performed with such conscience
As God knows, for I, the lover,
Did one thing and thought another.
I lingered there with dual intent,
And yet no treason there was meant;
To treason I had needs descend
So that I might achieve my end.
And yet a traitor I’ve ne’er been,
Nor been accused of it, I ween.
Chapter LVII: The Lover pays homage to the God of Love
Here the Lover tells Amor how
He’s come to him, swiftly enow,
To show him his profound distress,
Seeking pardon for foolishness,
In listening to Reason’s address,
Whom he now calls Reason-less.
‘The Lover and Love’
ONCE Love had fully tested me,
And proven thus my loyalty,
The loyalty that I should show
To him where’er I choose to go,
He appeared, and upon my head,
Seeing me there discomforted,
Placed his hand, and then demanded
If I had done all he commanded;
And how I had fared, on my part,
With the Rose who stole my heart.
He knew of course all I had done,
For God knows that of everyone.
‘Have you obeyed each command
That of true lovers I demand?’
He asked, smiling, ‘Of no others
I demand them, but loyal lovers.’
‘I know not; yet have done, I vow,
All as well, sire, as I know how.’
‘True, and yet you are so fickle,
Your heart is e’er so changeable,
And, sadly, often full of doubt;
Truly, I see what you’re about.
You would leave me yesterday,
Were almost minded not to pay
Homage to me; gainst Idleness
And myself sought (now come, confess)
To raise complaint and you did claim
That all Hope’s knowledge was in vain;
And, thinking yourself a sorry fool
For seeking to attend my school,
And serve me, agreed with Reason:
Proved you not then a wicked one?’
‘Mercy, sire, I do so confess,
Yet I fled not, made my bequest,
(As you know, I recall it clearly)
As one ought to, most sincerely
To all those in homage to you.
And Reason thought me unwise, who
Chided me, and preached endlessly,
Thinking by her words to sway me
From serving you, when she came;
Yet I would not believe that same,
Despite the strength of her intent;
For, without fail, true testament,
She made me fear, nothing more.
Reason won’t move me, I am sure,
To anything that works against you,
Nor any of less worth than you,
Please God, whate’er may come to me;
As long as my heart keeps company
With you, and it will do so, truly,
Till they tear it from my body.
I know I did ill in thinking
As I did then, and listening,
So granting her an audience.
And pardon I do beg from hence,
So I might yet amend my ways.
I’ll do as you command always,
Nor follow Reason, so that I
Within your rule may live and die.
Naught can erase it from my heart,
Let Atropos not have me part
From this life, except in serving
You and not seeking anything
Of mine, but in that task take me,
That Venus doth most willingly:
None have, I’m certain I am right,
Than in that instant, more delight.
And those who ought shall weep for me,
On seeing my corpse, and say of me:
‘Dear sweet friend, who here doth lie,
Without a shadow of a lie,
This death is most appropriate,
This leaving of our mortal state,
Given the life that you led, freely,
When your soul was in your body.’
‘Now, on my life, you speak wisely,
For your homage, as all can see,
Is well employed; tis certain you
Are not among those wretches who
Renounce me, be it understood,
When they have done all that they would.
Loyal the heart, where truth prevailed;
Your ship will come, tis so well sailed,
To fair harbour; I pardon you,
Not for any gift but your true
Request, one both fine and loyal.
So rather than the confessional,
Ere you are reconciled to me,
Repeat all my commands to me,
For ten there were in your Romance
Twixt prohibitions and demands,
And if you remember them well,
Your dice the double-six will tell.
Chapter LVIII: The Lover repeats Love’s lesson
How Lover, without more ado
All Love’s lesson recalls anew.
‘RIGHT willingly. Baseness
I must flee, and slander no less;
Greetings swiftly give and render;
Speak vilely to neither gender;
At all times respect and honour,
Womankind, and at that labour;
Scorn pride; yet dress elegantly;
Ever prove cheerful, and lively;
True generosity embrace;
And set my heart in the one place.’
‘I’faith, you’ve learnt your lesson well,
As any a true lover could tell.
How goes it with you?’
My heart is alive, but barely.’
‘Have you not three comforts, though?
‘Not all; I lack Sweet-Glances, woe
And its poison he’d draw from me,
With his sweet savour; all the three
Fled from me, and yet of them two
Returned to me, and have stayed true.’
‘Have you not Hope then? ‘Why yes, Sire,
She’ll not allow me to expire;
For Hope, indeed, when once conceived
For a long while after is believed.’
‘Where is the Rose?’ ‘Ah, she is lost.
Jealousy vexed her, to my cost,
Because of Ill-Talk, that monster,
Whom I know not how to conquer.’
‘And what’s become of Fair Welcome?’
‘Jealousy holds him there, in prison,
So frank, so free, he loved me so.’
‘Be not dismayed now, you should know
That you will win more, by my eyes,
Of what you wish, than you surmise.
Since you’ve served me faithfully,
I’ll order my troops, and instantly,
To lay siege to that mighty castle
My generals will strive and bustle.
And ere we leave the siege, trust me,
Fair-Welcome will indeed be free.’
Chapter LIX: Love gathers his forces
How that Love, the fair and noble,
Writes despatches to his people,
And sends them by a messenger,
Who takes them, and waits no longer.
‘Love and his messenger’
THE God of Love without setting
A time for that martial gathering,
Did of his generals then demand,
Some by request, some by command,
That they come to his parliament.
All did so, without argument,
Ready to aid in what he would,
Accordingly, as each one could.
Briefly I’ll name them now, at will,
(The easier thus my rhymes to fill)
Dame Idleness, the garden’s keeper,
Came there with the noblest banner;
Wealth, and Pity, and Openness,
Nobility of heart, and Largesse;
Boldness, Innocence, Courtesy,
Delight, and Honour, and Company,
Joy, Pleasure, and Security,
Youth, and Beauty, and Gaiety,
And Humility, and Patience,
Concealment, and strict Abstinence,
Who had False-Seeming in her care;
Without him, she would not be there.
These arrived with all their people,
Each bore a heart fine and noble.
Except indeed for Abstinence,
And False-Seeming, with his pretence;
However fair a face they brought,
Fraud was ever in their thought.
Twas Fraud engendered False-Seeming,
Who steals hearts with all his scheming.
His mother is Hypocrisy,
The shameful queen of thievery,
Who suckled and did nurse apart,
The hypocrite with wicked heart,
Who has betrayed many a region,
Beneath the banner of religion.
When the Love-God saw him there,
All his heart was filled with care.
‘What is this, now, am I dreaming?
Tell me by whose leave, False-Seeming,
You are come into my presence.’
Then up leapt strict Abstinence,
And took False-Seeming by the hand:
‘Sire,’ said she, ‘tis at my command.
I brought him here, be not displeased,
He has brought me honour and ease,
For he sustains and comforts me,
Or dead of hunger I would be;
So you should blame me the less.
He loves folk not, I will confess,
And yet I’d have him be loved,
Thought noble as the saints above,
For I love him, and he loves me
And came to keep me company.’
Chapter LX: Love prepares to attack the castle
How Love declared to each captain,
That he would an attack maintain
Against the castle, twas his aim
To see Fair-Welcome free again.
‘Love prepares to attack’
‘So be it,’ said Amor, then he
Gave a speech to all and sundry.
‘That we might conquer Jealousy,
Who torments all Lovers,’ said he,
‘I have ordered you here today,
For against Love she doth array
This mighty castle; against me,
And wounds my heart most cruelly.
She has fortified it strongly,
So we must battle long and bravely,
Before we take the place from her.
Yet I am sad, and full of anger;
Fair-Welcome she imprisons there,
Who of our friends takes such good care.
If he’s not freed, I am ill-served.
I lack Tibullus now, who served
Me lovingly, knew all my ways,
For whom I broke, in ancient days,
My arrows, and my bow, and left
My quiver in shreds; all bereft
Of him, anguished at his last breath,
I trailed my wings, after his death,
Beside his tomb, the feathers torn
And battered; grieving and forlorn.
My mother wept so at his demise,
She almost died herself, likewise.
Not for Adonis did she weep so,
Whom the wild boar’s tusk brought low,
Such that he died in great torment.
Nor did the grievous pain relent
That seized him, till his life was o’er;
Yet for Tibullus she wept more.
None who had seen us weeping so
Would have failed to pity our woe;
No bridle-rein could restrain us:
Of Gallus, Ovid, and Catullus
We had need who of love treated,
Yet still by Death were defeated.
See, here is Guillaume de Lorris,
Whose cruel opponent Jealousy’s
Anger grants him sorrow and pain.
Of such sadness he doth complain,
That of cruel death he’s in danger,
If I seek not to bring him succour.
He took my counsel, willingly,
As one who doth belong to me,
And was right to do so; for him
In his trouble, not on some whim,
Are all our generals gathered here
To free Fair-Welcome; though I fear
That he is not so wise this lover.
Twould be a pity however,
If I lost so loyal a man,
Whom I should succour if I can.
He has served me right faithfully
And so has deserved well of me.
Let me sally forth, set, this hour,
To breach the walls and the tower,
And this mighty castle assail,
With all my strength, so we prevail.
And he will serve me further yet,
For to win my favour he will set
To work upon the fair Romance,
By which my rule he shall advance,
Until he reach the verses where
To Fair-Welcome, he doth declare:
(Fair-Welcome who lies in prison,
Now to sorrow wrongly given)
‘But I am now deeply afraid
Lest you’ve forgot me, sore dismayed,
Abandoned here, in sorrow and pain;
Nor shall I find comfort again
If I have lost all your good-will;
Small faith I have in others still…’
At that point, may Guillaume rest,
Let his tomb with balm be blessed,
And incense, aloes, and sweet myrrh,
To mark his service, on him confer.
And then shall come Jean Chopinel,
With lively heart, and body as well;
At Meung-sur-Loire will he be born,
Who, feasting and fasting, shall adorn
My company his whole life through,
All free of greed and envy, and who
Will prove to be a man so wise
That Reason’s claims he will despise,
(Who doth my unguents hate and blame,
Though sweeter than balm are those same.)
And if it should be, whate’er fate bring,
That he should fail in anything,
(For no man’s free of sinfulness,
And each man has his weaknesses)
His heart shall so toward me bend,
That ever, at least in the end,
Seeing his fault, of his misdeed
The sinner will repent indeed.
He shall hold the Romance so dear,
To its ending he’ll hope to steer
The work, if time and place allow.
When Guillaume’s head in death shall bow,
Jean will continue it, say I,
After his death, I speak no lie,
Yea, after more than forty years,
And, because of Guillaume’s fears
And his despair that he might lose
The goodwill Fair-Welcome did choose
To show, who in gaol doth suffer,
Lest Jean betray me, he will utter:
‘If, perchance, tis lost to me there,
Then will my ending be despair.’
And then make speeches, on love’s theme,
Wise or foolish, as they may seem,
Until the moment he doth, entire,
From the green and leafy briar,
Gather the lovely crimson Rose,
And so, at dawn, wake from repose.
Then will he seek to expound it all,
So naught lies hidden he can recall.
If they, in this, could counsel me,
They would have done so instantly;
As for Guillaume, that cannot be,
And Jean is not yet born you see,
And thus he cannot be present;
So things remain far from pleasant,
For if I fail when Jean is born
To come to him all winged one morn,
As soon as childhood’s complete,
And him with his penance greet,
I swear to you, nay guarantee,
He’ll not ensure it comes to be.
And since perchance it may yet be
That this Jean, the world will see,
Might be hindered ere he begin,
Which would be woeful and a sin,
A detriment to every lover,
For great good he’ll do them ever,
I’ll ask Lucina, the goddess
Of infancy, to grant success
To his birthing, sans pain or fear,
So he’ll live for many a year.
And after when, in due course, he’s
At the age when Jupiter sees
That all drink, as we have gleaned,
From those two casks ere they are weaned,
Those double casks, the one right clear,
The other cloudier, I fear,
The one sweet, the other bitter,
More than is soot or sea-water,
And he is laid there in his cradle,
Who soon will eat at my table,
I shall cover him with my wing,
And I to him such airs will sing
That when he’s quit of infancy,
Imbued with all my knowledge, he
Will so pipe all our words throughout
The schools and crossroads all about,
(In language understood in France,
That kingdom granting audience)
That none who hear his speech will die
Of the sweet pangs of love, say I,
If they’ll believe in him, wholly.
For he will speak so fittingly,
That those alive in those days, all
Near and far, should rightly call
That book The Mirror for Lovers,
Such good they’ll find twixt its covers,
As long as Reason’s not believed,
The cowardly, the ill-conceived.
Tis why I would be counselled more,
By you who are my counsellors,
And with joined hands, as if at Rome,
Beg your grace, that poor Guillaume,
Who bears himself well toward me,
Thus helped and comforted may be.
And if twere not for him I prayed,
I’d ask that Jean’s woes be allayed,
The which lies in your power, freely,
So he might write more easily;
Tis a benefit you can supply,
For he’ll be born, I prophesy.
I ask it too for those to come,
Whoe’er they are, where’er they’re from,
Those who with devotion follow
My laws, as his fair book will show,
So they might conquer Jealousy,
All her scheming and her envy,
And destroy all the castles she
Dares build here, in her enmity.
Advise me then, what shall we do,
How order now our host, say you?
How may we work her most harm,
The sooner her castle to disarm?’
Chapter LX: Wealth withdraws from the enterprise
SO Love addressed them all, and they
Received his speech right well that day.
When they’d heard what he did utter,
His generals did commune together.
Diverse opinions there they brought,
And diverse things diversely thought,
But then, all their disputes explored,
They with the Love-God did accord.
‘Sire,’ they said, ‘we are all agreed
As are our soldiers too, indeed,
Except, that is, for Wealth alone,
For she has sworn an oath, we own,
That she will ne’er attack the tower
Nor strike a blow, at any hour,
With arrow, or with lance, or axe,
No matter what may be the facts,
Or what other weapons might be,
Scorns our enterprise utterly,
And has withdrawn from our host;
At least for such was her riposte.
She holds this wretch in great despite,
And doth blame and scorn him quite,
And ever hostile doth now appear,
For, she says, he ne’er held her dear;
Thus she hates him, now and ever,
Because the fool longs not for treasure.
No proper tribute has he paid her,
With this request he waylaid her:
She says he asked her yesterday
If he could enter on that way,
The one that Give-Too-Much is named,
And flattered her, all unashamed,
Yet he was poor when he asked her,
Therefore she’d not let him enter;
Since then so little has he done,
That not a sou has this fool won;
Thus said Wealth, so on this matter
We came to our accord without her.
Now we advise, when we commence,
That False-Seeming and Abstinence,
With all who fight neath their banner,
Strike at the gate behind the tower,
That Ill-Talk hath in his command,
With his Normans, let both be damned!
And let Courtesy and Largesse
Then demonstrate their great prowess,
Against the Crone who doth command
Fair-Welcome with her cruel hand.
Then Delight and deft Concealment,
Will slay Shame, for their joint intent
Is to gather their host against her,
And at her gateway besiege her.
Next, Boldness and Security
Over Fear will seek mastery,
They’ll both assail her, with delight,
None of their troops know aught of flight.
Openness and Pity will move
Gainst Resistance, and him remove.
So shall our host be well-deployed.
So shall the castle be destroyed,
If each makes that their sole intent,
As long as Venus gives assent,
Your mother, who is very wise
In all this kind of enterprise;
Twill never be finished utterly,
In word and deed if she disagree.
Twould be well to send for her,
For she doth make all easier.’
‘My lords, my mother, the goddess,
My true lady and my mistress,
Comes not at my beck and call;
She obeys not my wish at all.
But when she pleases she will come
To succour and to aid her son,
That I may achieve some affair.
But I’ll not trouble her, I declare.
She’s my mother, yet I’ve feared her
From infancy, and I revere her;
For any child who does not fear
His parents cannot be their peer.
Nonetheless we may send for her
If we truly have need of her;
If she were nearby, she’d appear,
Naught would detain her, tis clear.
And great is my mother’s prowess,
She’s taken many a great fortress,
Worth a thousand or more in gold,
While I was absent, for she is bold;
They attributed them to me,
But her battles were not mine, you see,
And no such conquest do I prize
Where I am absent; to my eyes,
Whate’er they say, such is naught
But by way of trade; he who’s bought
A war-horse for a hundred in gold,
He pays, and tis completely sold,
He owes the tradesman nothing more,
Who owes him no more than before.
I call not such selling giving,
A sale requires no rewarding,
In it there’s no grace or merit,
For each is of the other quit.
With her tis not even a sale,
For when the buyer, in my tale,
Has stabled his new horse, he can
Sell it again to another man,
Not lose its cost, at least not all;
If twas but its hide he could call
On that at least, and I suppose
Recover something if he chose;
Or if he holds the horse so dear
He rides it for sport and cheer,
At least he’s the horse’s owner.
But that market is far other
Where Venus joins in the affair,
For none goes and traffics there,
But loses all he doth possess,
And all that he has bought, no less;
Goods and cost stay with the seller,
While both are lost to the buyer.
For he may not spend so freely
That he owns the goods, you see;
Nor, with all his powers, may he,
Despite mad generosity,
Prevent a stranger coming by,
A Breton, or some English spy,
Or a Roman, who’s less or more
Will buy what he has bought before;
Perchance they will have all for naught,
Given the stories they have brought.
Now tell me, are such buyers wise,
Those foolish wretches all despise,
Who knowingly will bear the cost,
Though goods and payment both are lost?
Naught comes of all their toil and pain,
For nothing with them will remain.
Howe’er, I’ll not deny saying,
My mother’s not one for paying;
She’s not so foolish, or unwise,
As to indulge in such a vice;
While, you know, those who pay her,
They repent of the cost later,
When Poverty their pride troubles,
Those who were Wealth’s disciples;
And Wealth doth vigilant remain,
Since she and I desire the same.
But by sacred Venus, my mother,
And by Saturn her ancient father,
(Who did engender that young maid,
Though not by his wife, I’m afraid)
By them I would swear once more,
To render the issue more sure.
By the loyalty I owe my brothers,
(Knowing not who were their fathers,
So various and so many are they,
Those with whom my mother lay)
I swear once more, and bear witness
All Styx’s waters, all Hell’s marshes,
That wine I’ll drink not for a year,
If I tell a lie, bear witness here,
For the Gods all know the custom;
If to perjury they’re given,
For a year no wine they’ll drink;
Now I’ve sworn enough, I think.
Twere ill should it prove perjury,
And yet foresworn I’ll never be.
Now, since Wealth has failed me here,
Then that fault shall cost her dear.
She’ll pay if she’ll not ride abroad,
And fight for me with pike or sword.
Since she holds me not dear today,
When she doth see, in disarray,
The fortress of its tower shorn,
Ill for her that this day did dawn.
If I’ve a rich man in my power,
Watch me bankrupt him this hour;
No matter how bulging his purse,
I’ll soon have whate’er he’s worth,
All of his gold coins will be gone,
Unless from a granary they’re won;
Our girls will see he’s plucked bare,
And ne’er the least pinfeather there;
They’ll set him to selling his land,
If he comes to them with open hand.
Tis poor men make me their master,
Though they’ve not a bean for nurture;
There is no way I’d scorn such men,
No worthy man doth give them pain.
Wealth who’s greedy and gluttonous,
Harries and spurns them, ever vicious,
But they love better than the rich,
The misers, hoarders, with their itch
For cash and, by the faith I owe
My grandfather, more loyal also,
Serving me, pleasing me no less
With their good hearts, their willingness.
And as their thoughts are all of me,
I must think of them, reciprocally.
If I were not the God of Love,
But a God of wealth I did prove,
Then I would set them up on high,
Such is my pity for their outcry.
And it must be my duty to succour
Those who in my service labour;
For if they died of Love’s misery,
Twould show there was no Love in me.’
‘Sire,’ cried the generals, ‘tis all true,
All this that we have heard from you:
Your judgement is most suitable,
Good, and worthy, and valuable,
That you give regarding rich men,
And thus will it be; tis for certain.
And if rich men do you homage
They will show themselves less than sage,
For you will ne’er commit perjury,
And have to suffer the misery
Of abstaining from sweet wine.
The ladies such pepper will grind
For them, if they fall into their net,
They’ll readily collect your debt,
Such courtesies the ladies offer;
Much trouble shall the rich discover.
No other conquerors will you need,
For they’ll lay down the law indeed,
Those ladies and, be not dismayed,
You’ll consider yourself well paid.
Interfere not with what they do,
They’ll tell them such stories too,
And so arouse them with requests,
And flattery and, at their behest,
Give them such volleys of kisses
And warm embraces, those misses,
That, if the men believe, then they
Will not be left one house this day,
That won’t run after the furniture,
Which is removed today for sure.
Now command us as to this fight,
Then we shall obey, wrong or right,
And yet False-Seeming dare not go,
And battle for you, or he claims so,
For he says that you do blame him,
And knows not if you will shame him.
Therefore we beg of you, fair sire,
Concerning him, allay your ire,
Let him our company attend,
With Abstinence, who is his friend;
This we agree, tis our request.’
I’faith’, said Amor, ‘that seems best;
Henceforth my court he shall follow.
Let him, advance.’ And he did so.
The End of Part V of the Romance of the Rose Continuation