Guillaume de Lorris
The Romance of the Rose (Le Roman de la Rose)
Part II: Chapters VII-XIV
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 VII: The figure of Wealth
- Chapter VII: The figure of Generosity
- Chapter VII: The figure of Openness
- Chapter VIII: The figure of Courtesy
- Chapter IX: The figure of Youth
- Chapter X: The Lover is pursued by the God of Love
- Chapter X: The Lover explores the garden
- Chapter XI: The Tale of Narcissus
- Chapter XII: Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection
- Chapter XII: The Fountain of Love
- Chapter XII: The Perilous Mirror
- Chapter XII: The Lover admires the rose bushes
- Chapter XIII: The God of Love fires four arrows
- Chapter XIII: The Lover is wounded deeply
- Chapter XIII: Love fires the fifth, and last, golden arrow.
- Chapter XIV: Love conquers the Lover
Chapter VII: The figure of Wealth
Here of Wealth he speaks freely;
A lady of high nobility,
But of such great magnificence,
None is welcome in her presence
If he is poor, but is driven away,
And held less dear, in every way.
WEALTH was there, beside Beauty;
A lady she, of great dignity,
Of high worth, and grand affairs.
Whoe’er thus to trouble her dares,
Or hers, by any word or deed,
Must prove a brave man indeed;
For she can hurt or help alway.
Tis not some truth of yesterday,
That great riches wield great power;
They harm or hinder us this hour.
The humblest and the greatest pay
Their respects to Wealth alway.
All there did hope to serve her,
Out of longing for her favour.
Each one named her as his lady,
And each feared her, for, you see,
The whole world was in her power.
To her court came, every hour,
The flatterers, traitors, envious,
All those who prove so studious
In belittling and casting blame
On those who may win love’s flame.
Before them, they bestow praise
On those they flatter always,
Anointing all folk with words;
But, behind their backs, are heard
To pierce their victims to the bone,
For they denigrate the good; alone
Descrying all those that they praise,
And turning praise thus to dispraise.
Flatterers, behind their flattery,
Have denounced a goodly many,
And their honour held as naught;
For they drive many from court,
Who should be right welcome there.
May ills befall them unaware,
Those flatterers filled with envy,
For none love them, who are worthy!
Wealth in a purple robe was dressed;
Don’t think me easily impressed,
If I tell you truly, and I do swear,
That you would not find anywhere
One so costly or fine; each fold,
There was embroidered with gold,
The history of dukes and kings
All pictured there in its windings.
Its collar too, was a fine thing,
With a band of gold enamelling,
Richly edged, and know that there
Were gems scattered everywhere,
Precious jewels, in great plenty,
Glittering there most brilliantly.
And Wealth wore a costly cincture,
Atop the purple robe about her;
Its buckle was formed of a stone
For great power and virtue known,
For whoever that buckle wore
Feared foul poisons nevermore.
None could poison the wearer;
So twas cherished; to the bearer
It was worth far more, that stone,
Than all the gold found in Rome.
The clasp it was a gem, opaque,
A stone that cured the toothache,
And possessed so great a power
That one who viewed it for an hour
Could from seeing it, when young,
Receive its benefit lifelong.
The studs were of refined gold,
That adorned the robe, the mould
They were cast in, large, did grant
Each the full weight of a bezant.
Wealth upon her forehead wore
A chaplet of gold, and no more
Lovely a one had ere been seen;
In purest gold the work did gleam;
He would prove a fine narrator too
Who could describe the gems to you,
Set there, for none on this earth
Could determine their true worth.
Of all the stones set in that gold,
Of which there were a host all told,
Rubies, sapphires, zircons, of rate,
And emeralds ten carats in weight,
The garnet, in front, with great art,
Set there, so clear that at its heart
It glowed, did truly shine so bright
That now, toward the fall of night,
At need, the brilliance that it shed
Would light the way a league ahead.
Such brightness issued from the stone
That Wealth shone radiantly, I own,
Light falling on her head and face,
And all about her, in that place.
Wealth held a young man by the hand,
Of great beauty, you understand,
And her true lover, in verity;
He liked fine lodgings, certainly,
And in them he did much delight,
He was well-shod and clothed aright,
And had good mounts at his command;
A youth then who would rather stand
Accused of murder, at high table,
Than keep a poor horse in his stable.
Thus did he value his acquaintance
With Wealth, and her benevolence,
For every day twas his intent
To spend, and that to great extent,
And Wealth it was that had the power
To suffer his spending, and his dower,
Indeed, was wealth that flowed as free
As if twas poured from some granary.
Chapter VII: The figure of Generosity
‘Generosity and Avarice’
NEXT there came Generosity,
Well-versed in such, assuredly;
She did honours and gifts assign,
And was of Alexander’s line;
And ne’er such joy I do believe
Had she, as in crying: ‘Receive!’
That vile wretch Avarice was not
As intent on keeping all she got,
As Generosity was in giving.
And God granted her a living
So great that she knew not how
To dispense all He did allow.
Much was she esteemed and praised,
The foolish and wise hers always
For she knew how to give to all,
Rich and poor, great and small.
If any showed hatred toward her,
She would on them her gifts confer,
Until such service made them friends;
Thus towards her ever tends
The love of the rich and the poor.
A miser on high is the more
A fool, for there’s no greater vice
In a great man than Avarice!
For such a man cannot conquer
Lordships or lands, for he’ll never
Win friends in such fair quantity
As shall do his will, faithfully.
And he who would have good friends,
Must not take, to achieve his ends,
But acquire good friends by giving;
For in the same way as by drawing
Iron to itself a strong loadstone
Shows subtle power, so tis known
Silver and gold poured forth again
Do ever draw the hearts of men.
Generosity wore a robe
Of Saracen purple, and showed
A visage well-made and lovely,
Though all of her neck was free,
For she’d a fine gift presented,
On the spot, her necklace granted,
Not long since, to a fair lady.
Yet that suited her not badly,
For, her collar being open,
Her throat, now free of that token,
Did, against her chemise, bright,
Show her skin smooth and white.
Generosity, the wise and worthy,
Held the hand of a knight, and he
Was of the line of good King Arthur,
King of Britain, once the bearer
Of the banner of Valour, the ensign,
Who yet with such fame doth shine
That of his deeds they give account
Still, at the courts of king and count.
Now this knight he had recently
Come hither from some fair tourney.
Where he had sought, for his lover,
Many a joust, and had, moreover,
Pierced many a war-shield through,
And shorn many a helm in two,
And many a knight felled, at length,
And taken, by courage and strength.
Chapter VII: The figure of Openness
AFTER all these came Openness,
Not dark in colouring but blessed
With skin that was as white as snow;
Not from Orléans a nose made so,
For her nose was long and straight;
Bright laughing eyes, I here relate,
Arched eye-brows, long blonde hair;
As innocent as a dove, I’d swear;
Her heart was sweet, full of kindness
She’d not have dared to say, much less
To do, anything she should not;
And if she’d known a man whose lot
Was to be tormented by love,
She’d have shown him pity, moved
By a heart so full of mercy,
Such sweetness and kindness, that she
Feared, lest if any ill occur
To one needing aid from her,
She might commit some villainy.
A smock she wore, yet certainly
There was naught there to embarrass;
None so rich as far as Arras.
It was so elegant and neat
There was not a fold or pleat,
That was not truly blessed.
Openness was thus well-dressed
For no dress is as lovely
As a smock on a fair lady.
A woman always looks her best
In a plain smock, not a dress;
Hers was pure white, thus she
Portrayed innocence most sweetly,
And that she was frank and true.
And a young man stood there too,
Side by side, with Openness,
Though his name I could not guess,
Yet he was as handsome as one
Who was the lord of Windsor’s son.
Chapter VIII: The figure of Courtesy
The author speaks of Courtesy,
Blessed by all, courteous is she,
And she is praised by everyone;
All must love Courtesy bar none.
NEXT to appear was Courtesy
Who was esteemed wondrously;
Devoid of pride or foolishness,
It was she, of her graciousness,
Who summoned me to the dance,
Before any, when I did advance.
Not precious, nor immoderate,
But reasonable, and temperate,
And of fair speech and fair reply,
So none was injured thereby,
Was she; and of all rancour free.
As bright as the moon was she,
Compared to all the stars nearby
Which seem but candles in the sky.
Amiable was she, and charming,
I know no woman so pleasing;
Worthy to be empress or queen,
Of any court that there has been.
She held the hand of a fair knight,
Easy to know, of speech polite,
Who knew how to do one honour;
A knight noble, of good favour,
And skilful in arms, moreover,
And truly loved by his lover.
Lovely Idleness came after,
Of whom I shall speak no further
For I have told you without fail
All that her manner did entail;
She held herself close beside me;
Indeed, twas she who’d blessed me
By opening the gate, that hour,
Of this fair garden, all in flower.
Chapter IX: The figure of Youth
The last he describes is Youth,
Naïve and garrulous, in truth.
THE last, I recall, who sought a place,
Was Youth, with clear and shining face;
And she, as yet, was not much more
Than twelve years old, for so I saw.
She was innocent, and had naught
Of ill, or falseness, in her thought,
And she was happy, blithe and gay,
For the young trouble not, we say,
Except to gambol, and seek delight.
Her lover there did hold her tight,
In such a guise, he gave her a kiss
Whene’er, it seems, he might wish,
In plain sight of all the dancers,
Regardless too of what the others
Might say; they knew no shame,
Rather they kissed just the same
As will a pair of turtledoves.
The lad was young as was his love,
Handsome, and of like spirit to
His sweetheart, as bright and new.
Thus they danced the carole there,
All these people, and all those fair
Folk within their households too.
Altogether frank, open, and true,
And full accomplished were they,
All dancing on, as one, that day.
Chapter X: The Lover is pursued by the God of Love
How, following the God of Love,
He doth through the garden move,
Until at that point he doth arrive
When Love takes up his arrows five.
WHEN I had viewed the countenances
Of all those who led the dances,
I was filled with longing to go
And wander in the gardens, so
As to see the fair cedar trees,
The laurels, pines and mulberries.
The dancing had come to an end,
For most now, with a fair friend,
Had gone seeking for the shade,
To joust and play in some sweet glade.
Lord, what a fine life they did see!
A fool is he who doth not agree
That he who such a life may know,
All other good may well forego,
For there’s no greater paradise
Than to love as our hearts devise.
So I wandered from that place
And went the fair delights to trace
Of all that garden, here and there.
Now did the God of Love decide
To call Sweet-Glances to his side,
No more caring to have him hold
The golden bow, for now he told
Him to string the bow, without delay.
Sweet-Glances did so, straight away,
Bending the bow as was commanded;
Then to the God of Love he handed
The bow, and his five arrows, to suit,
Strong and sharp, and ready to shoot.
The God thus, at a distance, planned
To follow me onward, bow in hand.
From mortal wound the Lord guard me!
For if he seeks to fire at me,
He may wound me grievously.
Yet ignorant of all, view me,
Wandering through the garden so,
While the God of Love doth follow;
And he would not rest in any place
While I was wandering all that space.
Chapter X: The Lover explores the garden
THE garden, within its compass,
Held a square of trees and grass,
For it was long as it was wide.
No fruit tree did it lack inside,
Unless that tree was ugly too;
Of each, there was one or two;
Or more yet, the garden over.
There were trees I remember,
That bore pomegranate fruit,
Which doth ill folks’ diet suit.
Of nut trees there were a host,
That in due season did boast
Of fruit such as nutmegs, neither
Flavourless are they, nor bitter.
And almond trees were planted
In that garden, while it granted
Many a fig, and many a date.
At need, one might cull a weight
Of many a good spice there too,
Cloves indeed, and liquorice root,
Peppery grains of paradise,
Anise, zedoary, cinnamon spice.
And many another that delights,
Or after dinner sets us to rights.
Domestic fruits, they were there,
Ripe peaches, and apple, and pear;
Quince, and chestnut, met the sight,
Medlars, and plums black and white,
Wondrous bright scarlet cherries,
Hazels, sorbs and service-berries.
In all that garden, in serried lines,
There grew fine laurels and tall pines,
And cypresses, and olive trees,
Things that here one rarely sees.
There was many a branched elm,
Beech and hornbeam, in that realm,
Aspens, ash, and upright hazels,
Fir-trees, oaks, and lofty maples.
What more shall I tell you of?
They were so various, above,
One would the mind encumber
Seeking to count all their number.
Yet know that those trees were spaced,
Most carefully, and evenly placed,
Set far from each other were they,
Full thirty or forty feet each way.
Then, the branches were long and tall,
To shade them where the sun did fall,
For they were dense and high above,
So that the sunlight might not prove
Too hot upon the earth below,
Nor the grass, there, fail to grow.
Fallow and roe-deer grazed here,
And many a squirrel did appear,
Clambering, among the trees;
Rabbits too, they took their ease
About their burrows all the day,
For they find thirty ways to play,
Scampering wildly as they pass,
All about the fresh green grass.
Clear founts there were in places,
Free of frogs or insects, spaces
Where the tall trees cast a shade;
I know not how many displayed.
In streams that Pleasure had made,
By little channels there conveyed,
The water ran down, ever-present,
Making a sound sweet and pleasant.
Along the banks, beside the gleam
Of each clear and lively stream
The grasses grew, fresh and trim;
There was a couch for her and him,
As soft as a bed, and quite discreet;
For all the turf was soft and sweet,
Since the founts had moistened all,
And yet the grass grew not too tall.
But what most embellished it there,
Was that it owned a perpetual air
Of giving forth abundant flowers
In summer, and in winter hours.
There were violets, fresh and new
Periwinkles, full many the blue
Flowers; others scarlet or white,
Or bright yellow, to give delight.
All the ground there was elegant,
Painted, adorned with every plant;
Many a flower in diverse colours,
Giving forth the sweetest odours.
I’ll not hold you, with a long tale
Regarding that delectable dale;
And it is time to cease, moreover,
For I indeed could ne’er tell over,
All of that garden’s loveliness,
And its endless delightfulness;
Yet I wandered to left and right,
Searched the garden, and had sight
Of all its condition, and nature.
And the God of Love came after,
And all the while, observing me,
Like the hunter, behind the tree,
Who waits till the quarry is still,
Then bends his bow, for the kill.
At last, traversing a grassy plot,
Arriving there, at a sweet spot,
Neath a pine, I found a fountain.
Not since Charlemagne, Pepin’s son,
Was so lovely a pine-tree seen;
It had grown so tall and green,
That none there could finer be.
And Nature, with great artistry,
Had set the fount beneath the pine
In a marble block, pure and fine,
And on the stone had inscribed,
Along the edge of the upper side,
In little letters: Where doth lie
This fount, did fair Narcissus die.
Chapter XI: The Tale of Narcissus
Here is Narcissus’ tale conceived,
Who was surprised and deceived;
With his reflection, he fell in love,
Gazing down at it, from above,
In the fountain, pure and clear.
So grievous was this love, I fear,
That in the end Narcissus died,
In those waters, the pine beside.
NARCISSUS he was young and fair,
And Love he caught him in his snare.
And Love so knew how to torment,
And make him to weep and lament,
He was forced to render up his soul.
Lady Echo upon him her whole
Heart had set, and loved him more
Than any born, yet he did ignore
Her love always, till she did cry
That if he’d love her not, she’d die.
Yet, because of his great beauty
And his great pride, disdainfully,
He refused to grant her his love;
One no tears or prayers could move.
When she heard that he refused her,
She was filled with grief and anger,
And held the youth in such despite,
That she died ere the evening light.
But she requested, as she sighed
And prayed to God before she died,
That Narcissus, with heart of stone,
Who wished to live and die alone,
Might one day by love be stricken,
Be scorched, and burned, and so sicken
He could expect from it no joy.
For thus might he suffer, that boy,
The grief that faithful lovers hide,
Who are thus, cruelly denied.
Her prayer was true and devout,
And so the Lord brought it about,
That when Narcissus did, by chance,
Towards that clear fount advance
Beneath the shadow of the pine,
And from the hunt did so resign,
For he had suffered great travail
While chasing over hill and dale,
Then the thirst he felt was great,
From the heat that did not abate,
And from the depth of weariness
That left the youth all out of breath.
Seeing the fount beneath the pine,
He thought beside it to recline,
And, seeking then to drink, he lay
Above the pool, and sipped away.
Chapter XII: Narcissus falls in love with his own reflection
How Narcissus his own self eyed
In the fountain, and so sighed
With love, that his soul parted
From his body, ere he departed.
SEEING his own face, gazing near,
His nose and mouth, sharp and clear,
All struck with wonder, I believe,
For his reflection did so deceive,
He thought he saw there the figure
Of a youth lovely beyond measure.
Then Love saw how to take revenge,
And that great pride he did avenge
Once shown to him by Narcissus,
Who indeed was rewarded thus:
He gazed so long in the fountain
He fell in love with his reflection,
And died of love there, in the end,
For to that outcome all did tend.
When he saw he could not attain
All that his heart did seek to gain,
And that he was so seized by fate
His discomfort did not abate,
At all, but grew yet more intense;
Distress robbed him of all sense,
And he died thus in a little while.
Thus, through the girl he did revile,
Whose fair love he disdained all,
True retribution on him did fall.
Ladies too, learn of this example,
Who toward your loves prove cruel,
For if you let your lovers die,
God will repay you thus, say I.
Chapter XII: The Fountain of Love
WHEN the inscription had made clear
That twas indeed the fountain, here,
Of Narcissus, that lovely youth,
I drew back a little, in truth,
Fearing its depths to contemplate,
Remembering Narcissus’ fate,
Who had met with sad mischance,
Nor dared therein to cast my glance.
But then I thought that I might still
Venture there without harm or ill,
And that my fear was foolishness,
And I might gaze without distress.
So I drew nearer to the fountain,
And when I was close to it again,
I lowered myself to see the water
As it flowed and, seeming brighter
Than pure silver, the gravel below.
It is the fount of all founts, know;
In all the world none’s more fair,
The water newest, freshest there;
That, night and day, doth never sleep,
But flows from out two caverns deep.
All around it the turf grows shorter,
Yet close and dense, near the water,
And all the winter it doth not die,
Nor doth the water e’er run dry.
In the depths of the fount I saw
Twin crystals that paved its floor,
Which I gazed upon intently.
And one thing I will tell swiftly,
That to you may wondrous appear,
I believe, when the truth you hear:
When the sun, that gazes on all,
Sees his rays in the fountain fall,
And the light descend full clear,
More than a hundred hues appear
In those crystals, for with each ray
Reds, yellows and blues they display.
These crystals are so marvellous,
Such is their power, so wondrous,
Trees, and flowers, and whatever
Adorns the garden, appear in order.
To help you better understand
Take an example close to hand;
Just as a bright mirror will show
All things nearby, exactly so,
Clear to see, and every colour,
And displays all their true figure,
So then, doth the crystal, complete,
Show to the eye, without deceit,
All the garden, and all its ways,
To those who in the water gaze.
For always, whene’er they choose,
Half of the garden meets their view,
And if they look from the other side
The other half may then be spied.
There is nothing there so small
And intricate, nor wide, nor tall,
That its details are not displayed,
As if in the crystal there portrayed.
Chapter XII: The Perilous Mirror
IT is the Mirror Perilous,
Wherein gazed the proud Narcissus.
His own bright eyes and face he eyed;
Therein he looked, and of it died.
Who gaze long at themselves there
Are cured by no physician’s care,
For what their eyes do there approve
Soon sets them on the path of love.
Many a brave man’s brought to grief
By this mirror, for, tis my belief,
The deepest, wisest in their thought,
May here be surprised and caught.
From it do folk become deranged;
For here people’s hearts are changed,
Here sense and measure have no place,
Here is but willingness to embrace,
Here is scant counsel granted us;
For Cupido, the son of Venus,
Scattered the seeds of Love here,
Freely, about the fountain clear,
And stretched his nets all around,
And set his snares over that ground,
To trap young women and young men,
For Love desires no prey but them.
Because of the seed that was sown,
By this name is the fountain known:
The Fountain of Love; and several
Have spoken of it, as I recall,
In other places, in books and tales,
But ne’er will your ears be regaled,
More surely concerning this matter,
Till with the truth your ears I flatter.
Chapter XII: The Lover admires the rose bushes
THERE did I wish but to remain,
Beside the fountain, and again
Gaze at its crystal floor that showed
A thousand things that sweetly glowed;
Yet, in a harsh hour, my Self, saw I.
Alas, how oft since have I sighed!
That mirror it hath me deceived.
If I had known, and had believed,
What power it had, and what virtue,
I would ne’er have sought to view
Its depths; for into that snare I fell,
Where many another’s caught as well.
Among the thousand things I saw
Were rosebushes that roses bore,
All in a detour, that wound away;
A hedge did closely them embay.
Now I was seized by longing, so
That I would not have ceased to go
Where they were massed for Pavia,
Or Paris, for these proved lovelier.
When that madness had taken me,
In a snare from which few go free,
And those rosebushes did appear,
Then, you must know, as I drew near,
That their perfume, the sweet excess,
Entering me, did my core possess,
No less than if I’d been embalmed.
And had I not feared being harmed,
I would have culled a single rose
To savour the odour that arose;
And hold it in my hand, to scent,
But was fearful I might repent
Of the act, and rouse the master
Of that garden to sudden anger.
Mounds of roses mounted on high,
None lovelier beneath the sky;
There were buds, small and tight,
And others swelling to the sight,
And those that were of greater size,
Almost in season, to my eyes;
They were preparing to be born,
Nor should such be met with scorn.
For roses open, and spread alway,
Culled, are blown within a day,
While the buds remain quite fresh,
For two days or three, no less.
These buds all pleased me greatly,
No other place saw I such beauty,
He who to such a one might cling,
He would possess a precious thing;
If a garland of them I might own,
I would then naught else bemoan.
The loveliest of the buds I chose;
Beside which, amongst all those,
None was so beautiful, or prized
So greatly, it seemed, to my eyes;
For twas lit by a colour, was mine,
Of a crimson, as deep and fine,
As ever Nature could create.
And of leaves, in pairs, eight
Nature’s art had made appear,
Set all about there, tier on tier.
Straight as a sapling was the stem,
And the bud sat atop, unbent,
Not inclined towards the ground,
And all its odour spread around;
For the sweetness that lay within,
All of the garden there did win.
Once I breathed the perfume more,
I had no power then to withdraw,
And might have essayed, and won it,
If I’d dared set my hand upon it.
But piercing thorns, as I did stray,
With wicked points, kept me away,
Spines, both trenchant and acute,
And nettles too, all barbed to suit,
Prevented my approach, for I,
Feared some vile injury thereby.
Chapter XIII: The God of Love fires four arrows
The author tells of how Amor
Doth strike the Lover, and all for
The flowers in the garden planted,
All for the one bud he had scented,
And had thought to wander near,
That he might cull the rose, I fear,
But yet had dared not to advance;
Now Amor pins him at a glance.
‘The God of Love Fires Four Arrows’
THE God of Love, who, with drawn bow,
Had followed me the whole day, so
He might keep me within his glance,
Beside a fig tree, took his stance.
And when he perceived that I
Had chosen what, to my eye,
Seemed the bud that pleased me more
Than any of the rest I saw,
He swiftly took up an arrow,
And to his ear drew his bow
Once the string was in the nock,
That bow of wondrous stock,
And in such manner he let fly,
That it pierced me through the eye,
With such force it reached my heart.
And then, within a chill did start,
Such that I know many a frisson,
Though clad in warmest pelisson.
Once its target that shaft had found,
I swiftly tumbled to the ground,
My heart betraying me, full soon;
And lay a long while in a swoon.
When from my faint I rose anew,
And had my sense and reason too,
I was yet weak, for I understood
I must have shed a deal of blood;
But the arrow, most wondrously,
Drew no blood when it pierced me,
The wound indeed was quite dry;
So, in my two hands, then did I
Take the shaft and begin to pull,
And, as I did so, sighed in full,
And tugged so hard that at last
I drew forth the feathered shaft.
But the barbed tip, that very same
That had Beauty for its fair name,
Was so lodged within my heart
It could be drawn forth by no art;
And the steel remained within,
And yet no blood from me did win.
I was in great anguish and pain,
For a double danger did remain,
I knew not what to say or do,
Or how to seek a doctor who
Might heal me, for no medicine,
Herb, or root, heals that hurt within.
But now towards the bud my heart
Drew me, wished for no other part,
For, if I had held it in my power,
It would have cured me that hour;
Even the sight and scent alone
Soothed me to the very bone.
So I began to advance my feet
Toward the bud that smelled so sweet,
But Love of another shaft took hold,
A further sharp arrow of gold,
Innocence its name, the second
Shaft that has made many a one
In this world here, fall in love.
And so when Love saw me move,
Without warning, he fired his shaft,
Of neither iron nor steel that haft,
Through my eye into my heart,
One that none born, by any art,
May dislodge, I think, from there.
I tried to draw the shaft, with care,
Yet without any joy, that same
Point within did yet remain.
Know that, in truth if I before
Felt desire for that bud, far more
Was the longing that I felt now.
As my pain grew greater, I allow
My longing too with it did grow,
Always to move towards it so,
The fairest of all those rosettes,
Its perfume sweeter than violets:
Far better if I’d gone far away,
Yet I could not refuse, I say,
Whate’er my heart did thus demand.
I must go where it did command
Perforce, where it aspired to be;
But the archer who strove mightily
To wound me, through his diligence,
Allowed it not, without offence.
For now, to madden me further
He planted a third shaft deeper.
That arrow was named Fair-Seeming,
The wound wider, pain streaming
Through my heart; and I fell swiftly,
Into a swoon, by an olive tree.
I lay a long while in that trance,
And when at last I could advance
My thought, forth the shaft I pried,
That had lodged deep in my side;
Yet failed to free the point anew,
No matter what I sought to do.
Chapter XIII: The Lover is wounded deeply
THERE I sat, with all my being
Sore distressed, in silence musing.
Much my wound tormented me,
Urging me now to rise and see
The bud that had pleased me so.
But that archer, with savage bow,
Presented a fourth shaft, no less,
The one that is called Openness.
At that, my fear showed complete,
For the scalded must fear the heat.
Yet necessity’s a powerful thing,
If I had seen the heavens opening,
Stones, cross-bow bolts, pell-mell,
Like hail fall from the sky as well,
Then I must still have taken wing,
For Love, that exceeds all things,
Gave me thus the strength to stand,
And perform what he did command.
I rose to my feet, and I did seek,
As a wounded man, frail and weak,
With painful effort, to march ahead,
(All fear of that archer had I shed)
Toward the rose-bush where my heart
Drew me, but there lay many a dart,
Thorn and bramble, I had no power
To pass the barbs, and reach the flower,
That I might thus its bud attain;
Near the hedge then must I remain,
Which ran beside the roses there,
Blessed with thorns too, everywhere.
Yet it was a joy, and I held it dear
To smell the perfume, for I was near,
And it was a great delight to me,
All without hindrance I could see.
And my reward was thus so great
That I forgot my sorrowful state,
Healed and comforted by such joy,
Naught more pleasing, sans alloy,
Than to rest there, in that fair place,
And never seek to lose such grace.
Chapter XIII: Love fires the fifth, and last, golden arrow
WHEN I had rested there awhile,
The God of Love who, with guile,
Had pierced my heart, as was his aim,
Made fresh assault upon the same,
And, to my discomfort, shot a dart,
That made a new wound in my heart,
A fresh one, there beneath my breast,
So adding its hurt to all the rest.
That dart was named Close-Company,
And there is none that so swiftly
Conquers a lad, or a young lady.
Then fierce pain, renewing in me
Straight away, from that fell blow,
I swooned, full three times in a row.
When I revived, I moaned and sighed,
For the anguish grew such inside,
Worsening so, the pain and grief,
My hope failed of cure, or relief.
Rather than live I hoped to die,
For, I believed that, by and by,
Love must make a martyr of me;
No other path could set me free.
Yet, of the shafts that he had fired,
Was one, most prized, it transpired,
That is of greatest worth, I vow,
Fair-Seeming, that will not allow
The stricken Lover to repent
Of serving Love, despite torment.
It has a keen point for piercing,
Razor-sharp as steel that thing,
But Love doth, about the point,
Spread an ointment and so anoint
The tip, it harms not too greatly;
For Love did not wish to slay me.
Rather he wished for my relief,
Through the great virtue, in brief,
The unguent had, to deal comfort.
Love himself, by his own effort,
Made it to comfort every lover;
Thus from their ills they recover.
Love had fired that arrow at me,
And wounded my heart deeply,
But the salve spreading through
All my wounds, rendered anew
The heart that had failed me so,
For I’d have died, in truth, I know,
Without that salve; I hold it dear.
I had drawn the shaft full clear,
Yet the gleaming tip did remain,
Purest gold, both bane and gain;
Thus five points were buried deep,
That the heart was forced to keep.
Though I valued the salve highly,
Yet the wound still hurt me sorely,
So that the pain and the dolour
Had both altered my true colour.
The dart had this strange property,
It brought bitter and sweet to me,
Indeed I felt, and so understood,
How it harmed yet brought me good,
Anguish it bore; yet, I do assert,
That the salve assuaged my hurt.
One part soothes, the other brings pain;
And thus it harms, yet cures again.
Chapter XIV: Love conquers the Lover
How that Love, without more ado,
Hastened, the lover to subdue,
Crying he must now surrender
And himself a captive render.
‘Love Conquers the Lover’
AND now, straight way, toward me
The God of Love hastened swiftly,
And, as he hastened, he called out:
‘Vassal, you’re taken, and without
Hope of defence now, or escape;
Resist me not; surrender to fate,
Render yourself, and willingly;
The sooner mercy you will see.
He’s a fool to resist, mistrust,
The very person whom he must
Flatter, and beg for mercy rather;
For you cannot deny me, farther,
And I would have you know, beside,
You’ll gain naught from folly or pride.
Rather surrender yourself to me
As I do wish, and do so swiftly,
And in peace, and full willingly.’
And I replied to him, most simply:
‘Willingly, Sire, I do now yield;
Against you I’ll not take the field;
And, please God, may I never dream,
Of resisting you, for that would seem
Neither right, nor reasonable!
You may do with me, as you will;
Hang me, or slay me another way,
I know I cannot change this day;
For now my life is in your hand,
If tis not your will, I understand,
I’ll not live the morrow to view;
For health and joy I wait on you,
For I shall have them of no other.
If your hand, that doth deliver
All my wounds, grant not the cure;
If you’d make me your captive or
Disdain to do so; I shall not count
It as deceit, nor let anger mount.
For I’ve heard so much good of you,
Such fine things, and of such virtue,
That I would give, and do promise
My body and soul, in your service.
And if I do grant all you ask for,
Naught shall I complain of more.
I will believe that tis my fate
To receive the mercy I await,
And, in that trust, I surrender.’
With these words I bent lower
Wishing to kiss his foot, but he
Took me by the hand graciously,
And said: ‘I esteem you greatly,
For the way you’ve answered me,
No fool or peasant answers so;
And yet you shall gain by it though,
For I wish, tis to your advantage,
That you sweetly do me homage.
And you may kiss me on the lips,
There where ne’er a peasant sips;
For I allow no butcher or tanner
To touch me in such a manner.
He must be frank and courteous
Any man that doth serve me thus.
Though to serve me is painful too
And burdensome, yet I do you
Great honour; you should delight
In serving such a master aright,
A lord who is of such renown;
For Love, that wears the crown,
Doth bear the banner of Courtesy,
And his manner is, as you see,
So sweet, so gentle and so free,
That whoever is sworn to be
His servant, and do him honour,
In them none shall e’er discover
Aught of cruel thoughts, or errors,
Or folk’s thousand ill endeavours.’
The End of Part II of the Romance of the Rose