Jean de Meung
The Romance of the Rose (Le Roman de la Rose)
Part VIII: Chapters LXXV-XC - The Lover At The Tower of Jealousy
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 LXXV: Examples of Nature’s power.
- Chapter LXXV: Further advice to women of the world.
- Chapter LXXV: The Crone’s regrets.
- Chapter LXXV: Fair-Welcome agrees to receive the Lover.
- Chapter LXXV: The Crone returns to the Lover.
- Chapter LXXVI: The Lover enters the castle of Jealousy.
- Chapter LXXVII: The Lover meets with Fair-Welcome.
- Chapter LXXVIII: The Lover encounters Resistance.
- Chapter LXXIX: The Lover is assailed by the three Guards.
- Chapter LXXX: The Lover is aided against the Guards.
- Chapter LXXXI: The Author seeks pardon for any offence.
- Chapter LXXXII: The Author’s plea to the sympathetic reader.
- Chapter LXXXIII: The Author’s apology to the ladies.
- Chapter LXXXIV: Lady Openness fights Resistance.
- Chapter LXXXV: Concealment defeats Shame.
- Chapter LXXXVI: A general mêlée ensues.
- Chapter LXXXVII: Venus is asked for aid.
- Chapter LXXXVIII: The tale of Venus and Adonis.
- Chapter LXXXIX: Venus flies to the aid of her son Amor.
- Chapter XC: Amor and Venus attack the castle.
Chapter LXXV: Examples of Nature’s power
Here our minds may now devour,
True examples of Nature’s power.
‘WHEN the songbird, in the foliage,
Is caught, and prisoned in a cage,
And nourished most attentively
And cared for, there, most tenderly,
Think you she is forever happy,
And sings lifelong, right cheerfully?
No, alas, she naturally
Loves and longs for the branching tree,
And would be in the greenwood seated,
No matter how well she is treated.
She always thinks and studies how
She might be free, regain the bough.
She tramples her food in rare fashion,
So full her heart is of that passion,
And all around her cage she trails,
In anguish at the bars and rails,
Searching for a gap, each day,
Through which to hop, then fly away.
In the same way, every woman
Be she a lady or young maiden,
Of whate’er rank and condition,
Has, by nature, the inclination,
To seek out, and most willingly,
The road or pathway by which she
Can achieve her liberation,
Which is ever her destination.
And it’s the same with anyone
Who doth commit to religion,
And then comes later to repent.
They’d hang themselves, in discontent
Complain, are well-nigh demented,
And then are endlessly tormented,
By their fierce longing to discover,
In what way they might recover
The liberty that they have lost;
For the will, that’s tempest-tossed,
Is moved not by the habit we bear,
No matter how we live, or where.
They’re like that foolish fish, all set,
To invade the mouth of the net,
Who finds, on wishing to return,
He must, despite himself, sojourn
In his prison now forever,
Since he can escape it never.
The others who remained outside
Cluster round, once they’ve spied
Him there within, seeing him turn
About, as if in joy, and squirm,
And think him writhing with delight,
When they see that wondrous sight,
And the more so, especially,
In that they can see, quite clearly,
There is a wealth of food within,
As much as each might seek to win.
They wish to join him, willingly,
And swim around the net, you see,
Twist, and strike, and agitate it,
Seeking how to penetrate it.
But once they have all swum within,
They’re trapped forever, fin to fin;
And then however much they wish
To be free, they’re but captive fish,
There they must in sadness quiver,
Till it doth them to death deliver.
Such a life doth a young man find
Who dons the habit, to my mind,
For howe’er large his cowl may be
To clothe his form, it seems to me,
He’ll never find a robe to hide
The nature of that heart inside.
Indeed, as good as dead is he
Who’s sacrificed his liberty,
And makes not, in humility,
A virtue of necessity.
But Nature tells no lie at all,
In opening him to freedom’s call,
For even Horace says, look you,
As one who knows a thing or two,
‘He who’d with a pitchfork wager
To defend himself from Nature,
And so eject her from his heart,
She’ll return, for with all her art
Nature ever comes back to stay,
No matter the habit we display.’
What use is it? Every creature
Would exercise its true nature,
Nor is deterred by violence,
Nor driven by necessity thence.
This grants Venus every excuse,
Since her freedom she may use,
And every lady who doth play
No matter how married this day;
For Nature tis makes them act so,
Who’d have them all in freedom go.
And so strong indeed is Nature
It scorns training in a creature.
Dear boy, take up a little cat,
One that has never seen a rat,
And let it run about the house
Without meeting a rat or mouse,
And feed it long and with care
And on the most delicate fare,
And then but let a mouse appear
Naught will hold it still, I fear,
If one but let that little cat free,
From seizing it immediately.
It will forsake its usual dish,
No matter how hungry it is.
No peace could you forge between them,
Whate’er pains you took to train them.
Who sought a young colt to rear,
That never saw a mare appear,
Till he was fit to be a war-horse,
Saddled and bridled, in due course,
That then set eyes upon a mare,
You’d hear him neigh, his teeth he’d bare,
He’d chase her down; her he’d savour,
If there were none there to save her.
Black won’t only mate with black,
If the bridle don’t hold him back,
But with a sorrel, or dapple-grey,
A roan, or amber, or a bay,
For any mare he will assail,
If not held back behind the rail.
And he who lets a black mare free,
Will see her run immediately
To a black, sorrel, or amber
Stallion, as the fancy takes her.
Nor will she ever hesitate;
The first she sees shall be her mate,
She waits not to look them over,
If free to frolic in the clover.
And what I said of the black mare,
And of the sorrel stallion there,
Or amber, or black, I say now
Of every single bull and cow,
And every single ram and ewe,
For we doubt not those males too
Would have a female as their mate.
Never doubt it, dear boy, tis fate;
Every female a male doth seek,
All willingly; the flesh is weak.
By my soul, fair lad, tis the plan,
For every woman, every man,
Regarding natural appetite!
Little the law curbs their delight.
Little? Yet too much, I believe,
For when the law did thus conceive
Marriage, it sought that youth and maid
Own but each other, I’m afraid,
Or she should have but him, at least,
Until the life in him hath ceased.
But at the same time they are tempted
To use their free will, none’s exempted;
For I know the temptation’s stirred,
Though some by shame are deterred,
Others because tis trouble they fear.
Yet Nature rules, it doth appear,
As with the beasts, there’s no defence,
I know from my experience,
For I took every pain one can,
To be beloved of every man.
And were it not for fear of shame,
Which many a heart doth restrain,
When I went out about the street,
And many a young lad I did greet,
Enveloped in my fair adornment,
(More than to many a doll is lent)
I’d have had all who pleased me,
With such glances they teased me,
Sweet God! The pity I had for them,
When those glances shot from them!
I’d have had them all, so I would,
If it had pleased them, and I could.
I’d have sated them, one by one,
If I could have pleased everyone.
And if they could, it seems to me,
They’d have received me willingly.
I except not monks, not one,
Prelate, merchant, knight or canon,
Clerical, lay, foolish or wise,
As long as they were of manly guise.
Out of their orders they’d have sailed,
Had they not thought they might have failed
To gain my love, when they did ask;
But if they’d understood my task,
And all about our situation,
All had yielded to temptation.
Several would have dared, I think,
Take their marriages to the brink,
Forgetting their vows, readily,
Simply to clasp me, privately.
None had kept his condition,
His faith, or vows or religion,
Unless a madman he did prove
That was indeed smitten by love,
And loved his lover faithfully,
Such might choose, perchance, to quit me,
By thinking of his own fair field,
One that for no price he would yield.
Few such lovers are there to hand,
So help me God, and Saint Amand;
For I believe, most certainly,
If any man spoke so to me,
Whether twas truth or but a lie,
I could have moved him with a sigh.
Whether corded, and in an order,
Or in a belt of fine red leather,
Whate’er clothes a man did wear,
Oh, he’d have dallied with me there,
If he had thought I desired him,
Or might, in a trice, inspire him.
So we are controlled by Nature,
Who incites us thus to pleasure;
Such that Venus incurs less blame
For granting Mars that very same.
When Mars and Venus were caught
In that plight, as joy they sought,
Many the gods who wished that they
Were so mocked, that they but lay
Like Mars in that selfsame position;
While Vulcan later would have given
Ten thousand gold marks to suppress
Knowledge of all that sorry business.
For the pair, who were full of shame
On finding all witness to that same,
Afterwards did, quite openly,
What they had done in secrecy,
And never felt a trace of shame;
While the gods told that tale of blame,
And so broadcast the news about,
That it was known in heaven and out.
And the more that knew that same,
The more wrathful Vulcan became,
Yet found no counsel anywhere,
For as the tale doth witness bear,
He’d have done better to suffer,
Than grant the bed its iron cover;
Far better not to take on so,
But rather to feign not to know;
If he would still receive good cheer
From Venus whom he held so dear.’
Chapter LXXV: Further advice to women of the world
‘THUS the jealous man should beware
Who for a wife or lover doth care,
That his spying doth not in fact,
Foolishly, catch her in the act;
For, know, she’ll certainly do worse
Afterwards, than, before, she durst.
And he who burns with such mad folly
As to catch her, by his trickery,
Will never, after that piece of art,
Win a fair look, nor hold her heart;
No greater ill than jealousy yet,
To make a lover burn and fret.
But she should true jealousy feign
And of it, feigningly, complain,
And thus amuse the foolish man,
Who’ll burn the more, the more she can.
And if he deigns not to reply,
But just to anger her doth cry
That he truly loves another,
He had best beware her anger.
And yet whate’er her face may show,
Should he claim another lover so,
Let the girl not give a button,
For that promiscuous glutton,
But simply give him to believe
That some other she’ll receive;
For he’ll not cease to love her,
If she claims she’ll take another,
Simply because tis right to sever
From a man who’ll love her never,
Saying: “You’ve tricked me all along,
I must have vengeance for this wrong;
Since you’ve dealt poor me this blow
You’ll feel the same.” And let him know,
He’ll be in a worse situation
If he loves her, on this occasion
Than ever he was, and feel lost.
No man possesses, to his cost,
The power to feel love, ardently,
Unless he fears her trickery.
Then let the chambermaid appear,
And call out, with a look of fear,
Alas, we’re dead! Behold, he’s here,
Our master or some other is near,
He’s there, he’s entering the court!
Then the lady must soon cut short
The business at hand, and interrupt,
And hide the lover, be most abrupt,
In some attic, stable, closet,
Until she can free him from it;
Though then, when she doth return,
He who had longed for her return,
May, even, from fear and despair,
Desperately wish himself elsewhere.
And if it’s another lover of hers,
With whom the lady now confers,
Though the appointment was unwise,
Since the first will baulk at her lies
Howe’er much she hath him in mind,
She must some other chamber find.
Though he do whatever he may,
This second lover cannot stay,
Though he’s full of grief and anger;
For she must say to him: “No longer
May you remain, my lord’s within,
Brings my four cousins here with him,
You’ll have to leave, you understand.
God aid me now, and Saint Germain,
Yet when you are here next, dear sire,
I’ll do whatever you desire,
Though you will have to wait till then;
Now I must go greet them again.”
If she can but drive him away
She’ll not doubt him from that day.
She must, when he’s gone, return straight,
So as not to have the first one wait
For long enough to feel unease,
Or that lover she will displease,
Leaving him there in discomfort;
Now she must renew his comfort.
And he may leave his prison then
And take her in his arms again,
Upon her bed, and hold her dear,
So long as he lies there in fear.
And she should have him know that she
Is far too bold and foolhardy,
Deceiving her husband for him,
And herself no doubt, on whim,
And swear, upon her father’s soul,
She pays too dearly, on the whole,
For his love, by such a venture.
She must ne’er let him feel safer,
Than those who follow their desires,
Dancing through the fields and briars;
For joy that in safety finds birth,
Is less pleasant, and of less worth.
And when they are to lie together,
Let her beware he keep not with her,
However much he’d seek to stay,
If she sees the clear light of day,
Unless she doth mask the window,
That the room may lie in shadow,
So he may never see, within,
Or spot or blemish on her skin.
And let him find her clean that day,
Or he will soon be on his way,
And flee with his tail in the air,
While she feels shame at the affair.
And when they set about their work,
Each should labour, and neither shirk,
And use such care that both, as one,
Reach their delight in unison,
Such that both find pleasure, or none,
Ere their task together is done.
And thus they must wait on each other,
To achieve what’s good together;
Nor either leave the other behind,
Nor cease to voyage, to my mind,
Till together they reach harbour,
Thus complete will be their pleasure.
And if she finds no pleasure in it,
She should feign delight each minute,
Pretend, in every way she knows,
To what’s appropriate to those
Who make love; and seem grateful too,
For what she deems not worth a sou.
And if he would, to feel secure,
Invite her to his own front door,
Or some place that he’s been lent,
Then she should go with the intent,
If she must visit there that day,
Of lingering a little on the way,
So his desire mounts, at her leisure,
Before he takes her to his pleasure.
The more delayed the game of love
The more agreeable twill prove;
While those who do indulge at will,
Find all the pleasure they do kill.
And when she doth at last come near
The house where she’ll be held so dear,
She should swear, once in the house,
To her friend, that her jealous spouse
She’s in fear of, all a-tremble,
Feign the fear, and thus dissemble:
That his punishment she’ll earn,
And so be beaten on her return.
But howe’er distracted she seem,
What truth or lies from her may stream,
Let him take her, in fear, securely,
Secure, though it be fearfully,
And play out the game discreetly,
In peace and quiet, and privacy.
And if she’s not the leisure to go,
To his own house to meet him so,
Nor dares receive him at her own,
So jealous hath her spouse now grown,
Then get the sad spouse drunk, I say,
If she can find no better way.
Should wine fail to intoxicate,
Then a pound of herbs on a plate,
More or less, she should gently sink,
Without risk, in his food or drink.
Then he’ll fall so deeply asleep
That out of the house she may creep,
While he slumbers, do what she will,
For he’s no power to keep her still.
If she has servants in her care,
Now she can send them her or there,
Or with little gifts seduce them,
And receive her lover through them;
Or if her secret she’d not tell,
She can get them drunk as well.
Or to her jealous spouse can say:
‘I know not what ails me, this day,
Some fever, swelling, or the gout,
Has inflamed me, inside and out,
I need to go to the baths and stew,
Though we have of tubs full two;
A bath without a sweat’s no good,
I must to the baths, tis understood.
When he’s thought a bit, conceive,
He perchance may grant her leave,
Though he may pull an ugly face.
Then she should take to that place
Her chambermaid, or a neighbour.
One who’s in the know about her,
Perchance has a friend of her own,
Who to the lady too is known.
Then off to the baths she may go,
Yet by no chance will she bestow
A glance on bath or tub, for she
Is far away, her lover to see,
Unless that is she knows her lover
Thinks they ought to bathe together,
For he can attend upon her there,
Once he knows that way she’ll fare.
No man can keep a woman barred,
If over herself she keeps no guard,
Though he’d set Argus to watch her,
With a hundred eyes to catch her,
Of which, if one half were asleep,
Then the others a watch did keep,
Such vigilance must go for naught.
(And then twas Jupiter who taught,
Argus a lesson; revenge he sought,
And vengeance indeed he brought,
For Io whom Argus did transform,
To a cow from her human form,
Mercury killed him with a blow,
Taking revenge on Juno so.)
More fool he who a mere human
Watch would set upon a woman.
Next, she must take good care always,
Despite what clerk or layman says,
Not to believe in sorcery,
Witches’ dances, necromancy,
Nor Balenus with all his arts,
Incantations, or magic charts;
Nor that she with such can move
Some man to offer her his love,
Or, by compulsion, hate another.
By no such means could Medea
Hold her Jason, no enchantment;
No more than Circe’s dark intent
Prevented Ulysses from fleeing,
No matter the fate it might bring.
Then, she should take care, however
Much she claims him as her lover,
Not to grant a man gifts of worth,
Better a pillow, towel or purse,
Or handkerchief, if not too dear,
Or let some needle-case appear
Or some piece of lace, or a belt
And clasp, whose cost won’t be felt,
Or a fine little knife instead,
Or, perchance, a ball of thread,
Nuns are accustomed to make;
Yet he’s a fool who doth take
Himself to nuns, tis much better
To love a worldly woman, as her
Mind’s her own, the blame is less,
And she will always find success
In feeding spouse or kin her lies;
And then, perchance tis no surprise,
Though both are costly to entice,
The nun comes at a higher price.
And yet a man who would be wise
Gifts should beware in any guise,
For women’s gifts, to tell the truth,
Are mere deceiver’s nets; in sooth,
A woman of a generous bent
Sins against Nature’s true intent.
We should leave such things to men,
For when we prove generous, then
It brings ill fortune, and is a vice.
Tis the Devil deals such advice!
Tis no matter though, scarce one
Is wont to grant gifts to anyone.’
Chapter LXXV: The Crone’s regrets
‘FAIR lad, indeed, gifts you may use
The better the foolish to amuse;
And keep whatever you are given,
Let it remind you, now and then,
Of that end to which youth must go.
If you should reach it, you will know,
It is old age draws ever on,
Closer to us, each day that’s gone.
And so, when you achieve old age,
Better be taken for a sage
Than for a fool, be well-adorned
With riches, rather than be scorned.
For wealth that’s won and lost again
Is worthless as a mustard grain.
Ah, alas! I have not so wrought,
For I am poor through my own fault.
All that was given willingly
By those who gave themselves to me,
I gave to those that I loved more;
I gave away all they gave before.
Naught there was that I did retain;
Giving has brought me naught but pain;
Nor could have thought of old age less,
That now doth cause me such distress.
Poverty then was not in sight,
I let the hour pass as it might;
Let it go by, and took no pleasure
In spending in sensible measure.
Upon my soul, if I’d been wise,
I’d have been such as none despise;
I was acquainted with the great,
A most elegant reprobate,
And I was prized by many a one,
But when a prize from them I won
Why then, by God and Saint Thibaut,
I gave it all away to that low
Rascal, who only brought me shame,
But pleased me more than all those same.
I called all the others “lover”
Yet I loved him and no other.
He valued me at not a sou,
And oh, he would tell me so, too.
He was bad, I ne’er saw one worse,
For he despised me, and did curse,
Ever called me a common whore,
And loved me not, of that I’m sure.
A woman shows little judgement,
And woman am I, by true descent.
I ne’er loved a man who loved me,
But if that man had beaten me,
Broken my arm or foolish head,
I’d have but thanked him instead.
He could not so have savaged me
I’d not still have yielded gladly,
For, whatever he did, he knew
How to make peace with me too.
For he’d ne’er seek to do me ill,
Drag me about, strike me at will,
Turn my face all black and blue,
And yet not beg my favour too,
Before he ever left my side;
For all the shameful things he cried,
He e’er would counsel me to peace,
And then pleasure me without cease,
Till all discord we did forget.
Thus had he caught me in his net;
For a wondrous lover, to my grief,
Was that false and traitorous thief.
And ne’er could I live without him,
But ever wished to be about him.
If he’d fled, I’d have gone as far
As England and its London are,
He brought me joy so readily.
I brought him shame, as he did me,
For he led a life of revelry,
With the gifts he had from me;
He never saved a single sou,
But the tavern and dice he knew,
He never learned another trade,
Nor needed to for he was made,
I gave him all that he could spend,
All I won from many a friend,
For all the world filled my purse,
That he spent willingly on worse,
Lost every day to revelry,
Wasting it all on lechery;
So wide open his mouth stood,
He’d not listen to aught of good,
For life itself he did not treasure
Not spent in idleness and pleasure.
Yet he was destitute in the end,
When I lacked or gift or friend;
He was poor, and begged for two,
For I had nothing worth a sou.
Never a lord, then, did I wed,
But I came here, as I have said,
Through these woods, with furrowed brow.
Let my state be a warning now,
Sweet lad, and keep it e’er in mind,
Act wisely thus, and you will find
You’re the better for my teaching.
For when your Rose is withering,
And white hairs come to assail you,
Fair gifts too will surely fail you.’
Chapter LXXV: Fair-Welcome agrees to receive the Lover
WHILE the Crone preached on, undeterred,
Fair-Welcome, who’d not said a word,
Had listened willingly to all.
His fear of her was passing small,
Far less than it had been before,
And, as she continued, he saw,
That if it were not for Jealousy
And the guards she trusted fully,
At least the three who still remained,
Who now a foot-patrol maintained
About the castle, to defend it,
A small force might take, and rend it.
Yet it would not be won, he thought,
No matter how its fall was sought.
Of Ill-Talk, who indeed was dead,
Why, not a word, within, was said,
For they’d no love for Ill-Talk there.
He had defamed all, everywhere,
And betrayed them to Jealousy,
And so was hated vehemently,
And not a one who dwelt therein
Cared for that sorry wretch a pin.
Except, perchance, for Jealousy,
She greatly loved his devilry,
And willingly lent him an ear,
And was wondrous sad, I hear,
When he made some accusation,
Slandered someone’s reputation,
And hid naught that he could recall,
As long as ill might then befall.
And he possessed one great fault too,
That of telling more than he knew,
Ever, by exaggeration,
Adding things to his narration,
Always repeating something new,
When it was neither good nor true,
And omitting whate’er was fine.
With Jealousy he did align,
As one who his whole life through
Naught but slander and envy knew.
None sang Mass at the corpse’s head,
So glad they were to see him dead.
And naught was lost it seemed to them,
For when they were gathered again,
They felt they could hold the tower,
And keep it still within their power,
Should half a million rage outside.
‘For little strength have we,’ they cried,
If we can’t hold what we possess,
Because we are the one guard less,
A thief, a vile traitor as well.
May his soul be consigned to Hell,
And be consumed there in Hellfire,
For all that he did here proved dire!’
The three remaining guards spoke thus,
But whate’er plan they might discuss,
They were much weakened by his death.
Once the Crone had paused for breath,
Fair-Welcome then began to speak.
Though slow to start, his voice but weak,
He spoke as one who’d been raised well.
‘Lady, you teach you art so well,
With such good grace, so debonairly,
I can do naught but thank you kindly.
Yet when you speak to me of love,
That sweet ill that bitter doth prove,
It seems a matter strange to me.
I know but what I hear, you see,
And no more do I seek to know.
And then when you speak to me so
Of possessions, I smile indeed,
For what I have is all I need;
And the sole object of my desire
Is a fine and noble manner, entire.
And then in magic, the Devils’ art,
Be it true or false, I take no part.
And regarding the youth, you say
Has such goodness and worth this day,
That every grace is there in play;
If he has them, there let them stay;
I do not hope they will be mine,
But to him leave them by design.
Then, I hate him not, most truly,
Yet I love him not so dearly,
Though his chaplet I did accept,
As to call him my “friend”, except
In the manner of common speech,
As each person may say to each:
“Fair welcome to you here, my friend,”
“God bless you, and your life defend.”
Nor do I yield him love and honour,
Except that well I wish him ever.
But since this gift he has proffered,
And I’ve received what was offered,
I should be pleased, and it is right
If he comes to see me, outright,
Should he own the wish so to do;
He’ll ne’er find me slow, nor you,
To receive him most willingly,
But it must be while Jealousy
Who hates the lad most violently
Is out of the castle, for I fear
She might arrive while he is here,
For often when she has prepared
To go abroad, and away hath fared,
While granting the rest leave to stay,
Imagining something on the way,
She has seen fit then to return,
And savage us all at every turn.
And if perchance that came to be
She is so harsh and cruel to me
That if she found him here within,
And though that was our only sin,
If you her cruelty do remember,
My living self she’d dismember.’
The Crone reassured him though:
‘Let mine be the care, I do know
In no case shall she find him here;
Even if Jealousy doth appear,
I have so many hiding places,
She’d as well find his traces,
So help me God and Saint Remy,
As an ant’s egg in a granary;
And not a sign of him revealed,
If she asks where he’s concealed.’
‘Then I would have him here,’ said he,
‘If he will bear himself discreetly,
So as never to give offence.’
‘By God’s body, you speak sense,
With thoughtful and noble intent,
Like a lad of worth and judgment.’
Then their conversation complete,
They left the place where they did meet.
Chapter LXXV: The Crone returns to the Lover
OFF to his room Fair-Welcome went,
As the Crone departed, her intent
To further her tasks about the tower.
But when the proper place and hour,
Presented themselves, and the Crone
Knew Fair-Welcome was there alone,
So one might speak to him, at leisure,
She descended the stairs, with pleasure,
Until she issued forth from the keep,
And on that same path she did keep
Till to my lodging she made ingress,
To tell me all about the business,
Tired and panting from the journey.
‘Now,’ she said, ‘are there gloves for me,
For bringing such good news to you
Matter that’s wholly fresh and new?’
‘Gloves, lady? Why, without a jest,
You’ll have a robe and all the rest,
A coat, a hat with grey feathers,
And fine shoes fit for all weathers,
If you can tell me aught of worth.’
Then to the news she gave birth
That I might go to the castle there,
Where one awaited; and took care
To tell me the way one might enter.
Chapter LXXVI: The Lover enters the castle of Jealousy
How the Crone told the Lover,
In a whisper, about the manner
Of entry to the keep, at the rear,
The gifts, as promised, to appear;
And instructed him so wisely
That he secretly made entry.
‘The Lover enters the castle of Jealousy’
‘GO by the rear, in that manner,’
Said she, ‘I’ll ope the back door there,
The better to work this affair;
The passage-way is hidden; beside,
The door has not been opened wide
For more than two months, easily.’
‘Lady,’ said I, ‘by Saint Remy,
Though it cost ten livres a yard,
(For Friend did say, in that regard,
Fine promises should be given,
Even if I can ne’er redeem them)
Or twenty, good cloth you’ll see,
If I find the door is oped to me.’
The Crone departed straight away,
While I sailed off the other way,
To where she’d open the back door,
Praying God I’d find safe harbour.
Without a word, to the door I came,
And found that she’d unlocked the same,
And left it half-open for me;
Once within I closed it tightly.
Then I felt in greater safety;
And I felt so, particularly,
Because Ill-Talk was now no more.
Great my delight was, on that score.
A broken gate then met my eye,
I had no sooner passed it than I
Found Amor and his company,
Within, and that did comfort me.
Lord, what benefit they brought me!
Those who thus had made an entry!
And may they all be blessed for it,
By God, and by Saint Benedict!
There was False-Seeming, the traitor,
Son of Fraud, and false minister
To Hypocrisy his mother,
Who is toward all virtue bitter.
Abstinence was there apparent,
Who was by False-Seeming pregnant,
Ready to bear the Antichrist,
As the book I’d read advised.
They took the gate; so, without fail,
I’ll pray for them if twill avail.
My lords, he who’d be a traitor
Should make False-Seeming his master,
And welcome strict Abstinence;
Be false, and yet feign innocence.
When the gate of which I’ve spoken,
I saw thus shattered and taken,
And saw that company inside,
Armed for battle, with my own eyes,
Let none ask if I was filled with joy.
Then did I all my thoughts employ,
On how Sweet-Glances I might find.
And there he was; as God is kind!
Amor sent him to comfort me,
He whom I’d long thought not to see.
I filled with joy, thus, at the sight,
And almost fainted with delight;
And Sweet-Glances so was he
Full of his joy on greeting me;
And then to Fair-Welcome showed me,
Who leaped up, and came swiftly,
Right well-mannered, he doth go;
His mother Courtesy taught him so.
Chapter LXXVII: The Lover meets with Fair-Welcome
How the Lover, in a chamber,
All in secret, of the tower,
Found Fair-Welcome, through False-Seeming,
Ready to offer him fair greeting.
I bowed low to him on meeting,
And he, in turn, gave me greeting,
And for the chaplet he thanked me.
‘Sire,’ said I, ‘twas done willingly,
And you owe me no thanks at all,
Rather I upon thanks should call,
A hundred thousand times, for you
By receiving it, honour me too.
And know, if it gives you pleasure,
There is naught that I do treasure
That is not yours, to do with then
As you wish, whate’er doth happen.
All my desire is to assure you,
That I shall honour and serve you.
If you wish then now command me,
Or summon, if you’d demand me,
Or inform me in some other way,
And my body and goods, this day,
Indeed my soul, I will commit,
All free of conscience or regret;
So you may know it to be true,
Why, try me, I do implore you,
And if I fail, may I ne’er enjoy
My body or aught in my employ.’
‘My thanks to you,’ said he, ‘fair sire,
If I have aught that you desire,
Why then, in turn, I say to you
That you are welcome to that, too.
Take it without a by your leave,
In honour, as if you were me.’
‘Sire, I give you thanks,’ said I,
‘A hundred thousand times, if I
May take aught that is yours so,
Then I must wait no longer; know
That you possess the very thing,
That no greater a joy can bring
Than all the gold of Alexander.’
And I turned to run, and gather
The Rose, to which I did aspire,
And so accomplish my desire.
Thus did I place my faith complete
In those speeches, both fine and sweet,
And our acquaintance, so pleasing,
Full of fair looks, and fair seeming,
Which are created so readily;
Yet things transpired quite differently.
Chapter LXXVIII: The Lover encounters Resistance
How the Lover swiftly goes
To the garden to win the Rose,
But Resistance doth him espy
And gives a loud and deafening cry.
MANY a fool’s plan’s left undone.
Cruel opposition I met, for one;
For as I started on my way,
Resistance now leapt into play.
That wretch, whom wolves may strangle!
He was concealed in an angle
Of the garden, and all he’d heard
Of all we had said, word for word,
He’d made note of, while he did spy.
At that moment, he gave a cry:
‘Be off now! Away with you, go!
Fly, vassal, who troubles me so;
Those cursed devils, mad with fury,
Tis they tempt you to ignore me;
They, who take part in that affair,
Where all will seize whate’er is there.
No saint would ever stoop to such!
God save me, vassal, for this much
I’ll break your head; tis as I feared.’
Then Fear leapt up, and Shame appeared,
When they heard the wretch shout: ‘Fly’
Twice more, as I sought to pass by!
Not a moment was he quiet then,
As he cursed those devils again,
And praised again all the saints.
That evil crew, at his complaints,
Ran out in rage, and then all three
With one accord, laid hands on me,
And tied my hands behind my back,
‘Never,’ they cried, midst their attack,
‘Shall you win more than you own.
You understood but little, tis shown
By this, of what Fair-Welcome meant
In welcoming you with good intent.
He offered you his treasure freely,
If you’d but showed true honesty;
For honesty, though, you cared not,
But took the offer for what twas not,
And not in the sense that one ought,
For a gentleman is ever taught
That when someone offers a service,
Then they perform a worthy office,
Their good intent is understood.
So tell us, trickster, if you would,
Why, hearing what he had to say,
You took it in so ill a way?
Either your coarse understanding
Led you to take it so, or finding
That you can trick him easily,
You worked the fool skilfully.
He did not offer you the Rose
Since that were a dishonest pose,
Nor should you ask him for it,
Nor yet, without asking, have it.
When you your gift did proffer,
How did you intend that offer?
Was it to come here, to fool him,
And of his clothes to relieve him?
Thus do you trick him and betray
Seeking to serve him in this way,
And prove his hidden enemy.
Naught in a book did one e’er see,
To cause a man such grief and harm.
If you were to cry out with alarm
Why should any man believe you?
You must quit this garden anew;
The Devil’s brought you here again;
You must remember all that pain
When you were chased away before:
Go seek your wish at some other door.
And know the Crone seeking passage
For a wretch like you proved no sage;
Yet she knew not what you planned,
Nor could your treachery understand.
She’d not done thus, it seems to me,
If she’d known of your disloyalty.
And Fair-Welcome, all defenceless,
Was deceived by your fair address;
When he welcomed you to his cell,
He but proposed to serve you well.
As a man’s dog, if he takes a swim,
As he touches shore, barks at him,
So his well-being you did impair.
Now go seek your prey elsewhere,
And leave this garden in our care.
You may quickly ascend our stair,
With gratitude, as you did before,
Or never a step will you climb more;
For soon one comes here who may
If he gets you in his grasp, today,
Make you miscount them, instead,
For he’ll be forced to break your head.
Sir Fool, Sir Presumption, empty
Of any sense of loyalty,
What wrong has Fair-Welcome done you?
What is his sin? What could he do,
That you now hate him in this way
And thus would a true friend betray?
You offered him all you possess,
Everything that’s yours, no less;
Is that then why he received you,
Deceived us and himself for you,
Granting you to hunt with his men,
And hawks and hounds, through wood and glen?
He must know he acted foolishly;
For all that he has done, you’ll see,
All that he did, and doth, employ,
So help us God, and Saint Foy,
He’ll live in a prison so secured,
That none was ever thus immured,
Loaded down with chain on chain,
Such that you’ll ne’er see him again,
Wandering down the fair pathway;
He troubles us so, and so must pay.
Ill the day when you were received,
For, by him, we were all deceived.’
And then he was seized and beaten,
And, in flight, to the tower driven.
There, after much ill treatment, they
Locked their poor prisoner away,
Without chaining him or doing more;
Three pairs of locks secured the door,
With three pairs of keys to work them.
That was all, for they had to hasten,
But, they promised that much worse,
When they returned, they’d disburse.
Chapter LXXIX: The Lover is assailed by the three Guards
How Resistance, Fear and Shame,
Maltreat the Lover, and that same
They beat most savagely, while he
Cries out, most humbly, for mercy.
‘The Lover is assailed’
THEY’D break that promise utterly.
All three of them returned to me,
While I awaited them outside,
Grieving, mazed; sad tears I cried.
Again their blows on me they spent:
And may God grant they yet repent,
Of the outrage they wrought on me!
For my heart was broken; clearly,
I wished now that I’d surrendered,
Since my death they thus intended.
I tried to make my peace with them,
Would gladly have joined in prison,
Fair-Welcome. ‘Resistance,’ said I,
‘Dear, noble, fellow,’ catching his eye,
‘Brave in body, open of heart,
More compassionate, on your part,
Than I can say, and Shame, and Fear,
Who noble, fair, wise, free, appear,
Well-mannered in both word and deed,
Born thus of Reason’s race, indeed,
Suffer me to become your servant,
And in prison, by your agreement
Set me now at Fair-Welcome’s side;
With all hope of ransom denied.
I promise to serve faithfully
If you choose to imprison me,
And do whatever you require,
And obey you all as you desire.
I’faith, if I were now a robber,
A simple thief, or vile traitor,
Or accused as a foul murderer,
Why ask to be made a prisoner?
Why would I need such a request?
Would I not be gaoled on arrest?
In truth, by God, without asking
In any country they would bring
Me to prison, and hold me there,
And never let me escape that lair,
Or if I did, and they caught me,
Cut me to pieces, utterly.
Prison, for God’s sake, I demand,
Gaoled with him at your command,
Forever, and if it should be found,
With proof, that is or is not sound,
That I fail to serve in any way,
Expel me from prison that day.
No man there is who never fails,
But if aught wrong my stay entails,
Then have me pack my bags and go,
And leave your jurisdiction so.
And if ever I should anger you,
Punish me for doing so too;
And you yourselves the judges be,
As long as none but you judge me.
Head to toe, I surrender, you see,
As long as you are only three,
And Fair-Welcome’s here with you,
Though then there will be four, tis true.
We can lodge it with him, indeed,
And if you are not all three agreed,
Let him now forge the agreement,
And you then hold to that intent:
For though I be beaten, or slain,
I shall not move from here again.’
Immediately, Resistance cried:
‘Dear God, set you with him, inside!
When you have such a ready heart,
And he so welcoming, for his part,
What kind of a request is there?
Nothing doth with that compare,
Except to place Reynard the Fox,
Among the hens, to stir the flocks.
Whate’er else may be your intent,
We know well that what is meant
Is to do us shame, work villainy,
And we care not for such trickery.
Of sense you have nary a trace,
If you think you can judge the case.
Judge! By the Great Celestial King
How can a man judge anything,
Or grant justice to anybody,
Who’s taken and judged already?
Fair-Welcome is judged, yet he
Is one you judge to be worthy
Of playing judge and arbiter!
The Deluge will cover us here,
Before he issues from the tower,
And he’ll be done for, on our
Return, for such he doth deserve,
Since, above all else, he did serve
You in offering whate’er you chose.
Tis through him we lose every Rose;
Any fool would cull the flower,
If he’s made welcome at any hour;
But none would ever thus enrage,
If he were imprisoned in a cage.
No living man would bear away
More than do the winds that play,
Were there not those fools of course,
Who would do so by brute force;
Those men who are so tarnished,
They should all be hung or banished.’
‘Surely they do a wrongful deed,
Who’d ruin a man, a man indeed
Who’s done no wrong, and imprison
The brave and honest without reason,
Like Fair-Welcome, one whose ways
Are such as all the world doth praise,
Simply because he holds me dear,
And my acquaintance doth him cheer,
Holding him on no other charge;
Great wrong you do; set him at large;
For, if it please you, in all good reason,
Fair-Welcome should be free of prison.
Let him come forth, I pray; relent,
And be done with his punishment.
You have already done him wrong
Beware lest he is free before long.’
‘I’faith,’ they cried, ‘the fool would lead us.
On such truffles he would feed us,
And delude us with his sermon,
So as to free the lad from prison.
He seeks for that which cannot be.
As for Fair-Welcome he’ll ne’er see
His head poke from window or door.’
Then all three attacked me once more,
Each one trying to drive me out;
Yet I cared not how they did shout,
I’d set myself to be crucified.
But then, not too loudly, I cried
For mercy, not in a high voice,
But a low one, to all those choice
Troops ready to come to my aid,
Till the sentinels they had bade
Guard the attacking host perceived
How badly I had been received.
Chapter LXXX: The Lover is aided against the Guards
How all the generals there arrayed
Come swiftly to the Lover’s aid
Set to attack the Guards so fiercely
They must disable them completely.
‘The Lover is aided against the Guards’
‘AT them, at them, generals!’ they cried,
If we should fail at once to ride
To the aid of this true Lover,
God love us, he’ll be lost forever!
The Keepers will kill or chain him,
Beat him with sticks or brain him;
Hear him cry out at their attack,
Though in so low a voice, alack,
That one can scarcely hear the cry.
So feeble is his call, say I,
Anyone would think, to hear him,
That he was horse from shouting,
Or that his throat was constrained
By some hold on it so maintained
By those who’d kill him, already,
He cannot, or dare not, cry loudly.
We know not what they’d achieve,
But tis against his health, I believe.
He’s dead if aid doth not appear,
And Fair-Welcome has fled, I fear,
He who used to bring him comfort,
Now other comfort must be sought,
Till he can find his friend again,
We must fight and ease his pain.’
The keepers would have done for me,
If they had not rushed to aid me.
The generals leapt forth to the fight,
When they heard, saw, and knew aright,
That I had lost my joy and solace.
Without moving from my place,
I who was captured in the net
In which Love tangles lovers yet,
Watched the tournament begin
Where each fought fiercely to win.
For as soon as the keepers knew
That they must face more than a few,
All three together formed alliance
And swore to make mutual defence,
Promising to aid each other,
And ne’er desert one another,
In any way, to their life’s end.
And I who never ceased to send
My gaze their way, watching them,
Was saddened by their regimen;
And those of the host who did see
That alliance between the three,
They also combined their force,
Swearing they’d take no other course
Than this, that they would rather die,
Upon that spot, and there must lie,
Or be made captive in the fight,
If they could not conquer by might,
All eager not to be denied
A way to quench the keepers’ pride.
And now the battle is in sight,
And you may hear how each did fight.
Chapter LXXXI: The Author seeks pardon for any offence
How that the Author, to retain
His honour, and his worth maintain,
Prays that he might now find pardon
For any offence here given.
NOW hear me lovers, good and true,
That the Love-God may e’er aid you,
And grant that you your love enjoy!
You’ll hear me in this wood employ
Those hounds, if you now list to me,
That yelping chase the prey they see;
You’ll watch the rabbit flee the ferret,
That has it leaping into the net.
Note now what I am telling you,
You’ll have an Art of Love anew;
And if you’re troubled by aught here,
I shall resolve it, have no fear,
When I come to expound the dream.
You’ll know how to reply, I mean,
Concerning love, whoe’er objects,
Once you’ve heard me gloss the text.
And in that way you’ll understand
All that has flowed from my hand,
And all that in future I may write.
But ere you hear about the fight,
I’ll take but a moment to defend,
Against ill folk, what I thus intend,
Not to delay you here, but rather
To excuse myself to those others.
Chapter LXXXII: The Author’s plea to the sympathetic reader
Here, the Author, with good intent,
Gives his excuses; no ill is meant.
THUS I beg you, amorous sires,
By love’s pleasures and desires,
If some speech you find too foolish,
Or too bawdy, in all you relish,
Aught that might make some slanderer
Go speaking ill of us elsewhere,
For what’s been said, or may be said,
Do you oppose them, in my stead,
Courteously; and when you’ve reproved,
Foiled, or countered what they’ve moved,
Should the nature of what I’ve done
Be such as rightly needs pardon,
Then I pray you to pardon me,
And thus reply to them, from me,
That my subject doth demand
Such matter, they must understand;
For its properties draw me thither,
Hence such speeches I deliver.
And to do so is right and just,
At least according to Sallust,
Who says to us, in judgement true,
That though less glory may accrue
To the one who doth merely write,
In some book, of a deed of might,
Than accrues to he who does it,
Tis no light thing to describe it,
Since it needs an effort of will,
To tell the facts aright with skill,
And set the deed down in writing.
For whoever would write a thing,
And not mislay the truth, indeed
Must make the word reflect the deed.
Words that are neighbours to things,
Must to their deeds e’er be cousins;
And thus am I required to speak,
If now the right road I must seek.
Chapter LXXXIII: The Author’s apology to the ladies
His apology, with humble stance,
To all the ladies of Romance.
THUS I beg all worthy women
Whether ladies or yet maiden,
In love, or lacking of a lover,
If you find declared here ever
Aught that seems but sour praise,
Or critical of feminine ways,
Lay not the blame for it on me,
Nor yet defame my poetry,
Which aims at your enlightenment.
For certain, twas not my intent,
To say aught, nor will be ever,
In drunkenness, or yet in anger,
Hatred, or envy, or so strive
Against any woman alive.
None would any woman decry
But the vilest of hearts, say I.
Rather we have written it here
So we, and you, from what you hear,
Garner knowledge, and what it brings,
For it is good to know all things.
Besides, honourable ladies,
If you think I tell mere stories,
Never take me for a liar,
But those Authors who’s entire
Works I’ve read so I may write
The words that they did there indite,
Such words as I may write again;
No lie will issue from my pen
As long as ne’er a lie they told,
All those who wrote the books of old.
All, I judge, were of one accord,
Who did feminine ways record,
Nor were they foolish or drunken
When in their books all was written.
They knew the ways of women, for
They had experienced them before,
And in women had found such ways
As were displayed on diverse days.
Here I simply, for you, recall,
(But for, what costs you naught at all,
A few words in my treatment of it)
Something written by some poet
To another, about this matter,
When he was disposed to chatter.
So you should the more absolve me,
For, as the books give testimony,
Our profit and our delectation,
Was their only expectation.
And if people grumble at me,
And are troubled, angered by me,
Those who feel they’re criticised,
In that chapter where I realised
Those words uttered by False-Seeming,
And so set themselves to scheming,
How to punish me or blame me,
Since my words do pain them badly;
Hear then this, my protestation,
That I harboured no intention
To speak here against anyone
Who follows saintly religion,
Or spends his life in good works,
Beneath whatever robe he lurks.
Instead I take my bow and bend it,
Sinner though I am, extend it,
And then let my arrow fly,
To wound whate’er may meet the eye:
To wound? So one may recognise
What in the world or cloister lies,
The faithless and the cursed wits,
Whom Jesus named the hypocrites;
Those whom to seem more honest
Eat no beast’s flesh, or so attest,
At any time; and not for penance,
Perform their act of abstinence,
As we do at the time of Lent,
Yet realise their true intent,
By eating folk alive; their faction
Fierce with the teeth of detraction.
No other target sought I at all;
Twas there I wished my darts to fall.
So I dispense them, in a volley,
And if it should appear that any
Would place themselves in the way
And willingly take a wound that way;
If they deceive themselves with pride,
So that the blow doth strike their side,
And then of that wound do complain,
The fault’s not mine, nor yet the pain,
Even if they must perish thereby.
For I can strike none at all, say I,
Who guard themselves from the blow,
Since they themselves do seek to know.
Even those who some pain do feel
From that arrow I ne’er conceal,
If they cease to play the hypocrite,
May of their grievous wound be quit.
And regardless, who doth complain,
Whate’er importance they may feign,
Ne’er a word I’ve said, I believe,
No matter what they may conceive,
But has been already written,
And by experience proven,
Or is, by reason, provable
Even to the disagreeable.
And if I’ve uttered any word
That Holy Church now deems absurd,
Such, at her wish, I would amend,
If I can change what doth offend.
Chapter LXXXIV: Lady Openness fights Resistance
Here the Author doth once more
Take up his tale, and go to war,
Where Lady Openness doth fight
Against Resistance; sad her plight.
‘Lady Openness fights Resistance’
HUMBLY, Openness, first to fight,
Against Resistance came outright;
He was proud and, though courageous,
In semblance was wild and vicious.
And in his grip he held a mace,
Brandished it fiercely, and the space
Around him filled with perilous blows,
Such that no shield of those that rose
Against him might remain intact,
Nor they defend themselves, in fact,
Who stood around him in that place,
Against the sweep of that vile mace;
For none but those in warfare skilled
Could scorn the risk of being killed.
Cut from the Wood of Refusal,
Was the mace that villain did cull;
His shield was of brutality,
Rimmed with outrageous cruelty.
Openness too was armed for war,
And scarcely to be wounded sore,
For she knew how to shield herself.
To force the gate, she threw herself
Fiercely against Resistance,
And in her hand she bore a lance,
Fine and smooth as a lance could be,
From the Forest of Cajolery,
None so fine at Fontainebleau;
Its tip, of sweet prayer, did glow,
She also held, with great devotion,
A shield made all of supplication,
And no less bordered with strong bands,
And they were formed of clasped hands,
Of promises, and agreements,
Of sworn oaths, and firm engagements,
All coloured o’er most daintily.
You’d have thought, of a certainty,
She’d been given it by Largesse,
Who’d painted it herself, no less,
So much her workmanship it seemed.
Thus Openness, with lance that gleamed,
Attacked, defended by her shield,
While Resistance who ne’er did yield
Lightly, and bore no coward’s heart,
Seemed indeed more like Renouart
(‘Au Tinel’) brought to life again.
His shield might have shattered then,
But such strength it did summon,
That twould fend off any weapon,
And protected him from the blow
That sought indeed to lay him low.
The tip of the lance had broken,
Thus the blow was a mere token.
The villain too was well-equipped,
And bit by bit the wood he stripped
From that lance, in his cruel rage,
With his mace, for war he did wage.
Then a mighty blow he did vow:
‘Who will save you from me now?
He cried, ‘A vile harlot of old,
How do you dare to be so bold,
And thus attack a fighting man?’
He struck the shield till it rang,
Of that fair and courteous lady,
While she recoiled six feet, did she,
And, from the pain, fell to her knees;
Cursing he struck at her with ease,
And she’d have died, tis understood,
Had her shield been of common wood.
‘And I believed you before,’ cried he,
‘You false harlot, and ne’er a lady!
But I’ll not fall for such again,
traitorous lies that brought me pain;
Through you I did that wanton please,
Who stole a kiss that gave him ease;
He found me foolish, pliable,
By the action of some devil.
By God’s body, twas ill for you,
The day you sought my ill anew!
For now your life here you must lose.’
The fair lady could not but choose
To beg of him that he not slay her,
For she could now retreat no further.
The villain merely shook his head,
Swore wildly by the saints instead
That he would kill her right away.
But Pity advanced, without delay,
Who held that villain in contempt,
To save her friend all her intent.
Pity, that doth with good accord,
Held her knife, the misericorde,
Dripping with tears, in her hand,
Instead of a sword, you understand;
This, if its author’s claims are true,
Would pierce a diamond, through and through,
That is if it be rightly aimed;
It has the sharpest point, tis claimed.
Her shield was made of true solace,
Rimmed with lamentation, its face
Wrought with sighs and plaintive cries;
Pity, all weeping, onward flies,
Piercing the scoundrel everywhere,
While he claws at her like a bear.
Yet once she had bathed him in tears,
And washed away the dirt of years,
He it seems was forced to soften.
He felt he was drowning, often,
In that river, while sadly mazed,
For he had never, in all his days,
Been hit so hard, by word or deed.
His strength had failed him, indeed,
Feeble and drained he sought to flee,
Staggering, faint. Shame cried loudly:
‘Resistance, a villain you’ve proved;
If you’re found so easily moved
That Fair-Welcome doth now escape,
You’ll have us all in the same scape.
Then he will surrender the Rose,
That in this garden we enclose.
And this I tell you, without fail,
If greed takes her, she’ll grow pale,
Be blemished, tainted, wither away.
And I would claim, on that sad day,
Such a wind would blow through here,
A breeze so great and strong, I fear,
If the entryway were oped by force,
That harm we’d suffer, in due course.
Its pollen we’d lose to the air;
Or other seed, from elsewhere,
Might settle, and weigh down the Rose.
May it not settle here! God knows,
That would prove but ill, for, thus,
Before it was snatched away from us,
The Rose so weighted down would die,
At once, with no recourse, say I.
Or if vile death it did evade,
But yet the wind assault had made,
While the seeds mingled together,
Its blows would strike at the flower,
Until, as from the weight it bent,
Petals would fall in sad descent.
And as the petals fell away,
(May God forbid such things, I pray!)
The ovary would then appear,
And then all folk would say, I fear,
That greed upon the Rose did seize.
And we would then feel Jealousy’s
Hatred, for she would know of it,
And she such grief would feel from it,
She’d see us dead indeed, I think.
What devil has driven you to drink?’
‘Help me, now!’ Resistance cried.
At once Shame gathered to his side,
And came at Pity, threateningly,
A threat she felt most profoundly.
‘Too long you’ve lived,’ said Shame, ‘perforce
I will shatter that shield of yours,
And you will lie there on the earth;
Ill the war to which you give birth.’
Shame a mighty sword did carry,
Well- tempered, and gleaming brightly,
A blade that she had forged from fear
Of discovery, twould appear.
She called the shield, of her creation,
Of such a wood that shield was made,
Many a tongue thereon portrayed.
She struck Pity, who must retreat,
Well-nigh conceding her defeat.
Immediately Delight came on,
A handsome soldier, bold and strong,
Who made fresh attack upon Shame.
A sword of pleasant life that same
Young man did flourish, and a shield
Of ease (of which I’ve none) did wield,
Bordered with solace, and with joy.
But Shame did her own shield deploy,
So skilfully, that no blow grieved her.
Then Shame turned on her attacker,
Striking Delight so hard instead,
She broke her shield upon his head,
And laid him out upon the ground.
She’d have continued thus to pound
On his body, if God had not brought
Skilful Concealment, a well-taught,
Wise, and prudent, and hardy man,
Into the fray, who in his hand,
Held a sword shaped like a tongue,
Wielded noiselessly, in that throng.
He brandished it without a sound,
Silent beyond six feet of ground,
Not a whisper, not an echo,
No matter how severe the blow.
His shield was of a place so hid,
No bird roosts there or ever did,
And twas bordered by safe going,
And return with no one knowing.
He raised his sword, and struck at Shame,
Such that he almost killed that same;
Shame was dazed by the fierce blow.
‘Jealousy shall know of this never,’
He said, ‘that sad wretch, forever,
Of that indeed I can assure you;
I’ll extend my hand toward you,
And swear a hundred oaths; tell me,
Is that not handsome surety?
Since that wretch Ill-Talk is dead,
You I’ve captured, in his stead.’
Chapter LXXXV: Concealment defeats Shame
Hear how skilful Concealment came
To beat, in hard fight, Lady Shame,
While Fear and Boldness, equally,
Fought each other furiously.
‘To this, Shame knew not what to say;
But Fear leapt up, in anger, to play
Her part, though of cowardly heart;
Shame glanced at her, and gave a start.
Fear, with her cousin in dire straight,
Placed a hand on her sword, straight,
One far too sharp to be denied.
Its name was Suspicious-Of-Pride,
For of such metal it was made
And, once twas in the light displayed,
Brightly it shone, as clear as beryl;
Her shield was made of fear of peril,
Bordered all with effort and pain.
Thus Fear then did labour amain;
To cut down skilful Concealment
And save her cousin was her intent.
She struck suck a blow on his shield
That he was almost forced to yield,
Faltering there, and dazed beside;
But Boldness he called to his side,
Who ran forward, for all was over
If Fear had added to that another;
Concealment was as good as dead
If from Fear more blows had sped.
Boldness was both brave and hardy,
Deeds and words wrought expertly;
A fine well-burnished sword, had he
All fashioned of the steel of fury;
And his shield, well-known to fame,
Scorn-Of-Death, such was its name,
Bordered with self-abandonment
To all peril; with mad intent,
He came at Fear, to strike her low,
With a cunning and mighty blow.
She took the stroke, and recovered;
She knew enough to have covered
Herself, skilful in such defence,
Knowing how to parry and fence.
Then she struck so heavy a blow,
In return, that he was laid low,
On the ground, and without his shield.
Boldness, knowing that he must yield,
Now joined his hands to beg and pray,
That she’d not kill him where he lay.
And Fear said she’d do as he wished.
Security, cried out: ‘What’s this?
Fight so, and likely you’ll die here!
Do the best that you can now, Fear,
You who shiver, and less do dare,
A hundred times less, than a hare.
Now of cowardice you break free;
The Devil’s made you bold, I see,
Such that Boldness you now attack,
Who so loves tourneys and, alack,
Holds so much in his memory,
That no other knows more than he.
Not since you walked this earth, I know,
Except for now, have you jousted so;
Ne’er have you shown such skill before.
Elsewhere, in other forms of war,
You choose to flee or surrender;
Here you’re attacker and defender.
When Hercules arrived one day,
With club in hand, you fled away
Along with Cacus, then you gave
Wings to his heels, less than brave,
So that Cacus nigh learnt to soar,
Who’d never had such wings before.
Cacus did Hercules’ anger brave,
Stole his cattle, and in a cave,
Dark and deep, though to no avail,
Dragging them backward by the tail,
Hid them, and not a trace outside.
There your fortitude was tried,
There, without a shadow of doubt,
Your lack of courage found you out;
And as you haunt not battlefields,
You know little of what war yields.
Seek not to play the bold defender,
Flee now or, if you will, surrender,
For dearly you will have to pay
If you dare to battle this way.’
A strong sword, had Security,
Forged of flight from trouble, and she
Held a shield of peace, good and fine,
Bordered with concord its design.
She struck at Fear, seeking to kill,
But Fear defending herself, still,
Held up her shield on encounter,
Deflecting the blow beyond her,
And was not harmed in any way;
The glancing blow thus fell away,
And Fear did such a blow return
Upon her shield the other in turn
Was well-nigh stunned, or slain,
And sword and shield, such her pain,
Flew from her hands to the ground.
Chapter LXXXVI: A general mêlée ensues
How Fear then, and Security,
Fought each other, furiously,
As the rest fought one another,
Struggling skilfully together.
SEE what ploy Security found:
Fear she seized, about the breast,
To yield an example to the rest;
While Fear, she did the same to her,
As the armies merged about her.
In pairs, they fought hard together,
No battle saw such duels ever.
As the struggle grew fiercer, now
So great the conflict that, I vow,
Never at any tournament
Was seen such courage and intent.
From here they came, and from there
Summoned their troops to that affair.
They engaged each other pell-mell,
The fiercest hail or snow ne’er fell
More thickly than their fierce blows flew;
They tore at each other, and slew.
Never was seen such a mêlée,
In such numbers, for many a day.
However, for I’ll not lie to you,
The assailants, although not few,
Had the worst of what fight they made.
The God of Love was much afraid,
That all his folk would die, unless
They found aid, so, by Openness
And Sweet Glances, he requested
Of Venus, or at least suggested,
That she, his mother, might appear;
And meanwhile forged a truce for clear
Eight days, or ten, or maybe more,
Or less, for I know not for sure.
He could have done as much each day,
Simply by asking, I would say,
No matter if each truce were broken,
Or by whom, once he had spoken.
Though, if he’d thought that he had
The upper hand, then it were mad
To do so, and had they not thought,
The gatekeepers, that those they fought
Might break through, tis evident
They’d not have given their consent
In good faith, rather battled on,
Howe’er the parleying had gone.
Nor would a truce have been seen
If Venus had sought to intervene,
But indeed it had to be conceded;
A withdrawal, when such is needed,
Either through truce, or by retreat,
Is essential to avoid defeat,
If one cannot conquer with speed;
Till such time as one might succeed.
Chapter LXXXVII: Venus is asked for aid
How the messengers of the host
Of Love, those true hearts, did post
To Venus, so she might approve
Aid, to succour the God of Love.
THE messengers now left the army,
And travelling the lands, securely,
They came at last to Cythera,
Where they did receive great honour.
Cythera is a mount enisled,
Upon a wooded plain tis piled,
And stands so tall no arbalest,
Howe’er powerful, I suggest,
Could send an iron dart so high.
There Venus, who makes ladies sigh,
Has her main residence as well,
And there she mainly likes to dwell;
Though were I to describe it all,
Perchance your eyelids soon would fall,
And I myself too might weary,
So I’ll but speak of Venus briefly.
Venus had gone abroad, chiefly
To hunt in a wooded valley,
Beside Adonis, fair of face,
Her sweet friend, heart full of grace;
Though he was somewhat of a child,
Keen now on hunting in the wild.
A child he was, young, maturing,
But very handsome and pleasing.
Now noon had passed a while ago,
Both were tired from hunting, so
Beneath a poplar, halt had made,
Beside a pool, to seek the shade.
Their hounds weary from the going,
Drank at the stream there flowing,
While they, their bows and quivers by,
Upon the soft green turf did lie,
Listening there, most pleasantly,
To songbirds choiring cheerfully,
There in the branches all around.
In her lap, there, gently bound,
Venus held him in her embrace,
And as she kissed him, of the chase
She spoke, and how to hunt the prey,
Through the woods, as was her way.
Chapter LXXXVIII: The tale of Venus and Adonis
How Venus did warn Adonis
Who was her dearest love, that his
Aim should be in hunting never
To pursue the fiercest creature.
‘MY love,’ she said, ‘when your array
Of hounds are set to seek the prey,
Then chase the prey that turns to flee.
If any creature you do see,
That runs away then chase it freely,
But against the one that fiercely
Seeks then to defend its body
Let your horn not sound, prove lazy,
Be a coward against the bold,
For those who brave hearts do hold,
Near them, the strong and courageous,
There is no safety; tis perilous,
Rather, when the brave do fight
Against the brave; I speak aright.
Harts and hinds, and goats in pairs,
Red and fallow deer, rabbits, hares,
Such as these I’d have you chase;
You may hunt all such with grace.
But chase not, for such is my law,
The bear, wolf, lion or wild boar;
For such beasts do themselves defend
They kill the hounds, them they rend,
And oft the hunters they will maim,
Such that they fail of their true aim.
Many they have wounded or slain.
Ne’er shall I joy in you again
But heavily wounded I will be,
If you do so, and disobey me.’
Thus did fair Venus counsel him,
And, in counselling, begged of him
To remember her every warning,
Whene’er he chose to go hunting.
Adonis, who cared little indeed
When his lover begged him take heed,
Whether her words were false or true,
Agreed to all, to find peace anew,
Since he cared naught for her scolding;
Thus all in vain was all she told him.
Let her counsel him all she might,
Yet he would soon be lost to sight.
He believed her not, and so he died;
For Venus, she came not to his side
To bring him aid, she was not there,
Yet wept indeed, for that sad affair;
For he chased after the wild boar,
He thought to take it, yet before
He might do so, it turned about,
And showed to him its ugly snout;
Against Adonis it shook its head,
Like a fierce, proud beast instead,
In his groin did its tusk embed,
Twisted its snout, and he lay dead.
Fair lords, whate’er may come to you,
Remember this example true,
You who believe not your lovers
Yours is greater folly than others,
For you should all of them believe,
True as history what they conceive.
And if ‘We are all yours,’ they swear,
Believe it, as twere the Lord’s Prayer;
Never retreat from your belief.
If Reason comes, then give her grief;
If she brings a crucifix to you,
Believe her no more than I do.
For if he’d listened to his lover,
Adonis would have lived much longer.
As yet they played still, took their joy
When they pleased, without annoy,
And thus to Cythera they returned.
Then the messengers who had earned
Their interview, while Venus changed,
Over her son’s words they ranged,
And spoke of all they had to say.
‘I’faith,’ she cried, ‘twas an ill day
When Jealousy prepared to hold
Castle, or hut, against this bold
Assault of my son’s; should I fail
To seize these Guards by the tail,
And burn them, and all their crew,
And win the keys to the tower too,
My bow and torch aren’t worth a sou.’
Chapter LXXXIX: Venus flies to the aid of her son Amor
How eight young turtle-doves, they drew
Venus’s fair chariot, and flew,
With all the speed that they could boast,
To bring swift succour to Love’s host.
‘Venus in her chariot’
THEN she summoned everybody,
Asked that her chariot be ready,
A four-wheeled one, and very fair;
(She need not walk to this affair)
It was all starred with pearls and gold,
Instead of steeds, there were, all told,
Eight doves hitched to that chariot;
She housed them in a fine dovecote.
When preparations were complete,
Venus mounted, who doth compete
With Chastity, and wars with her;
None of the turtle doves did err,
But beat their wings, and off they flew,
The air before them cut in two,
And came to the host. Venus then
From her car descended again,
And was greeted by everyone,
First of all by her loving son,
Who in his haste had already
Broken the truce, prematurely.
For he was fickle, ever loth
To keep a promise or an oath.
Chapter XC: Amor and Venus attack the castle
Of the assault before the castle,
How none could of a greater tell,
Though Amor, and his company,
Had not, as yet, the victory;
For those within so resisted
All their strength was now enlisted.
‘Amor and Venus attack the castle’
THEY gathered fiercely to the fight;
Those defended, these launched outright
Assaults, with catapults on station,
That fired great weights of supplication,
In order to break down the wall;
While the Guards reinforced it all
With pliant wattles of denial,
Laced from wands, firm but supple,
Cut, brutally, from out the edge
Of Resistance’s stoutest hedge.
The attackers fired shafts with barbs,
Made so as to win swift rewards,
And feathered with fine promises,
Either of gifts or services,
(For no arrow there was weighed
That was not of promises made,
And tipped with steely instances
Of oaths and firm assurances),
Though the defenders were not slow
To cover themselves, even so,
With solid shields fit for the fight
Neither too heavy nor too light,
Of pliant wood like those wands sought
From Resistance’s hedge that naught
Could fire against except in vain.
While they the conflict did maintain,
Love approached his mother, Venus,
The situation to discuss,
And then he begged her for her aid.
‘May I perish wretchedly’, she said,
‘And may death take me instantly,
If I should e’er let Chastity
With any living woman dwell!
That goes for Jealousy as well!
We are too often in great pain
Because of them, fair son; again,
Swear all men your paths shall see.’
‘I shall, my lady, willingly;
Not one of them shall have respite;
At the least, none within our sight
Will be as men of worth approved
If they love not, or are not loved.
Tis a great sorrow to me if men
Scorn the delights of true love, when
They have the power to sustain them.
May an ill fate overtake them!
Such men I hate and if I could
Confound them all then I would!
I complain of them, and ever will,
Nor shall I cease complaining, till
As one who’ll bring them misery,
At every opportunity,
My revenge shall be complete,
And they are humbled at my feet,
Or they are all condemned to die.
Ill-born of Adam were these, say I,
Since now they seek to harm me so!
May yet their hearts be broken though,
For wishing to destroy my pleasure!
They could seek no worse a measure
If with their pikes they made attack,
Or belaboured me front and back.
And though a mortal I am not,
Such anger I feel, that if my lot
Were to be mortal, if I were now,
Here I would die of grief, I vow.
If of my joys there proves a dearth,
I’ve lost whate’er I have that’s worth
Aught but my body, all I have on,
And my chaplet, and my weapon.
And if these men do lack the power,
And do forsake my joys this hour,
At least they should feel a weight
Of grief, and sorrow for their fate;
For where is the true life other
Than in the arms of one’s lover?’
They swore an oath before the army,
And, to hold to it more firmly,
Pledged it not on holy relics,
Nor on the waters of the Styx,
But on their quivers, and their bows,
On their torches, and their arrows,
And they cried: ‘We need no other
Holy things than these, no matter
Howe’er other ones might please.
For if we swore on aught but these,
Then we would never be believed.’
And so the army too conceived,
Since, as upon the Trinity,
They swore indeed in verity.
The End of Part VIII of the Romance of the Rose Continuation