Guillaume de Lorris

The Romance of the Rose (Le Roman de la Rose)

Part III: Chapters XV-XX

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. Conditions and Exceptions apply.


Chapter XV: The Lover pays homage to the God of Love

How after such sweet language,

The Lover paid humble homage,

To one who had been deceived;

Which the God of Love received.

Love Kisses the Lover

‘Love Kisses the Lover’

CLASPING hands, I became his man,

And you may imagine, if you can,

How I felt when his lips met mine,

A gift that granted joy sublime.

Then he asked sureties of me.

‘Friend, I have, from others,’ said he,

‘Many a time, homage received,

Only to find myself deceived.

Those villains, full of falsity,

Have, many a time, cheated me,

Of whom many a complaint I hear;

They know, if such comes to my ear,

That, if I have them in my power

I’ll sell them most dearly that hour.

Now, I would wish, as I love you,

To be more certain of you too,

Thus I wish to bind you to me,

So that you may not go free

Of your promise and covenant,

Nor prove in aught, recalcitrant.

Twould be a sin to cheat me so,

Since loyalty you seem to show.

‘Sire,’ I said, ‘now hear me speak.

I know not, truly, why you seek

A pledge from me, or surety,

You well know that, in verity,

You have so captured my heart,

And so ravished it, by no art,

Could it do a single thing for me

Despite its wish, unless you agree.

This heart is yours, no longer mine,

For good or ill, it must decline

Aught that is not your wish too,

And none can steal it now from you.

You’ve placed, within, a garrison

That will guard and rule, as one;

Beyond all that, if you mistrust,

Employ a key, which surely must

Act as a pledge that you may bear.’

‘Upon my life, now! I do declare,’

Love cried, ‘tis sound, and I agree.

He master of that body must be

Who has its heart at his command.

Foolish is one who’d more demand.’

Chapter XVI: Love places the Lover’s heart under lock and key

How Amour did, very softly,

Lock the heart, with a little key,

Of the Lover, and in such guise,

As to cause him trouble nowise.

THEN from his purse he drew a key,

One that was cut, most skilfully,

Which was of pure gold refined,

‘Now, with this, as you shall find,

I’ll lock your heart; no guarantee

But this, since under lock and key

Are my fair gems, do I require.

This, less than my little finger,

Yet the mistress of my treasure;

And in it doth great power reside.’

And then he touched it to my side,

And he locked my heart, so softly,

That I could barely feel the key.

Thus what he willed I now obeyed.

And once his doubt was allayed:

‘Sire,’ said I, my desire is great

To do whate’er you may dictate,

But, by the trust that you owe me,

With thanks receive my loyalty;

Tis not some weakness I display,

I fear not your service in any way,

But the servant doth strive in vain

To perform his service, tis plain,

If that service wins no favour

From him for whom he doth labour.’

Love replied: ‘Be not dismayed.

As you join my company this day,

I, for your service, do you thank;

I’ll raise you to the highest rank,

If base acts steal it not from you.

But hope for it not soon; tis true,

Great fortune comes not in an hour;

O’er pain and delay we lack power.

Wait now and suffer the distress

Which pains you, I think, to excess,

For I know well what medicine

Will return you to health again;

If you’ll maintain your loyalty

You shall win an unguent of me,

That will heal your wound wholly;

Upon my life, that salve you’ll see,

If you serve me with good heart,

And accept, taking in good part,

The orders I give, night and day,

Which I would have lovers obey.’

‘Sire,’ said I, ‘by God’s good grace,

Before you seek to leave this place,

Charge me now with your commands,

I’m eager to meet your demands,

For if I learn them not, this day,

Perchance I soon may go astray.

I’ve a great desire for learning,

Lest I be mistaken in anything.

Love answered me: ‘Well said, again.

Now listen to these, and these retain:

For the master wastes all his pains,

When the disciple, whom he trains,

Fails to apply himself, and recall

His words, so as to remember all.’

The God of Love then charged me,

Word for word, in their entirety,

As you’ll hear, with his commands.

They are explained in this Romance;

And those who’d love let them attend,

For this Romance doth lovers amend.

From now on, they should listen well,

If this tale they’d know how to tell,

For the dream’s ending is very fine,

And the matter new, line after line.

Those who hear how this dream ends

I tell you they will learn, my friends,

A great deal about the game of love,

As long as they listen and approve,

While, in the vernacular, I advance

All this fair dream’s significance.

The truth which is veiled, all that too,

Will indeed be revealed to you,

As you hear me expound the dream,

That hides no lie within its scheme.

Chapter XVII: The God of Love instructs the Lover

How the God of Love seeks to teach

The Lover, and to him doth preach,

To keep the rules he doth advance,

And doth pen, in this fine Romance.

Love Instructs the Lover

‘Love Instructs the Lover’

‘FIRST of all, tis baseness that I,’

Said Love, ‘would have you decry;

You must abandon it forever,

If you would wrong me never.

Those who with baseness mate

I curse and excommunicate.

Since baseness makes base men,

Tis right I love it not; again,

Base men are cruel and pitiless;

Blind to service and to kindness.

Next then, keep silence regarding

All you should not be repeating;

There is no virtue, mind, in slander.

Kay, the Seneschal, remember,

Both infamous and hated so

For all his ill-speech long ago.

Gawain, polished and well-taught,

Won great praise at Arthur’s court,

For his courtesy, while Sir Kay,

Blamed so for each cruel display

Of insolence and scornfulness,

Spurning others, sought excess.

Be wise then, and approachable,

Soft-spoken too, and reasonable

Toward the humble and the great,

Regardless of their rank and state.

And when you traverse the street,

Make it your custom there to greet

Others first, and if they greet you

Don’t keep silence, as many do,

But rather return the greeting

Without more delay, on meeting.

Next, keep yourself from uttering

Ribaldries, and like foul things;

And prevent your lips from opening

Merely to launch what may sting.

I hold him not a courteous child

Who names the ugly and the vile.

Every woman serve and honour,

At that service strive, and labour;

And if some slanderer goes by

Who seeks all women to decry,

Then go shame him into silence.

And, if you can without offence,

Do what pleases all the ladies,

So, amongst the pleasantries,

They hear naught but good of you,

And their esteem you thus win too.

And above all, guard against pride,

If sound understanding is applied,

Then pride is a folly, and a sin;

And he who doth in pride begin

Cannot humble his heart to serve,

Or make entreaties, for, observe,

The proud man does the contrary

To what with true love doth agree.’

Chapter XVII: He explains how the Lover should behave

‘BUT he who would his love enhance,

Conducts himself with elegance;

Without it one who seeks to love

Doth valueless and foolish prove.

For such is not pride in disguise;

Elegance doth enhance the prize,

If a man sets arrogance aside,

And folly, and is void of pride.

So, according to your income,

Dress well, and be shod as one

Who cares for beauty, for, my friend,

Fine clothes improve a man no end:

Give your cloth to one who knows

How to tailor shirts and hose,

And coats and robes, and sew a seam,

And cut your sleeves like a dream.

You should show a fine laced shoe,

Or boot, and always fresh and new.

And make sure they fit you tight,

So fools will wonder every night

How on earth, once you are gone,

You ever get them off and on.

Adorn yourself with gloves, a belt,

A purse of silk; but if your wealth

Is not so great then seek restraint,

Accept the fact, without complaint;

Yet dress as well, in your wooing,

As you can, without courting ruin.

A chaplet of flowers, at little cost;

Of roses, perchance, at Pentecost,

Everyone can seek one of those,

Without great riches, I suppose.

Suffer no dust upon your person,

Clean your hands, and teeth, and none

Of that black neath your fingernails,

Make whatever effort that entails.

Fix your sleeves, comb your hair,

But use no rouge, for I declare

Tis for the ladies, as is a gown,

Or those who garner ill renown,

Because they seek to adventure

And find love of another nature.

Next then, you must remember

Try to maintain the air of ever

Seeking joy, both day and night;

In sad men, Love doth not delight;

Love’s a malady most courteous

In which one laughs, plays, and does

Whate’er is needful, for the lover

Feels delight and yet must suffer;

Such are the woes love doth offer,

One hour sweet, another bitter;

The ills of love are outrageous;

Their victim’s now delirious,

And tormented, then takes wing,

Now he’ll weep, now he’ll sing.

So if you know how to create,

Something pleasing at any rate,

Then I command you to do so:

Each must do what he doth know

Suits him best, in every place,

And so win praise, and thanks, and grace.

If you think yourself lively, light,

Don’t hesitate to leap in delight.

If you’re a horseman, never fail

To spur away o’er hill and dale.

If you know how to break a lance,

Then your fame you may enhance,

If you can wield arms skilfully,

You’ll be loved for that quality;

If you’ve a voice fine and clear

And you’re urged to sing, then here

Is your chance, don’t shy away,

For a lovely song doth please alway.

Tis very good for a single man

If he plays the viol on demand,

Or the flute, and if he can dance,

For by such means shall he advance.

Don’t ever be thought miserly;

That may cause you grief, you see,

For it is rational for the lover

To give more freely than another,

More than the foolish and the base;

No man will ever see Love’s face

Who finds no delight in giving.

He who would take pains in loving,

Must guard well against avarice.

For the man who for a pretty face,

Or for a sweet and pleasant smile,

Has given away his heart the while,

After so rich a gift, should surely

Give away his own wealth freely.

Now what I’ve said I here recall,

So you may remember it all,

But briefly; for a speech that’s short

Is easier to retain in thought.

Who wants Love for his master,

Must be courteous thereafter,

Free of pride, elegant to excess,

Joyful, and known for his largesse.’

Chapter XVII: The God of Love exhorts the Lover

‘NEXT, while repenting of naught,

Night and day, must all your thought

Fix ever on love, and penitently,

For ever there your thought must be;

As you remember that sweet hour

Whose joy holds you in its power.

And that you may know true Love,

I wish and order you to prove

Your heart is set in a single place,

So that it shows no double face,

But is whole and without deceit;

As I love not division, complete:

For he doth leave but a tiny part

Everywhere, who divides his heart.

That man I’d fearlessly embrace,

Whose whole heart is in one place.

And I wish you to settle it so;

Take good care not to lend it though,

For I hold it a puny thing

To lend it, instead of giving.

No, grant it as a gift, on sight,

And greater merit is yours of right,

The benefit of what is lent

Is soon repaid, a mere quit-rent,

But greater the reward should be

For a gift given wholeheartedly.

Give the gift then full and freely,

And do so right debonairly:

All do hold a thing more dear

For being given with good cheer.

Yet not a fig I’d give, not me,

For what is given reluctantly.’

Chapter XVII: He describes the pains of love

‘NOW, when you’ve given your heart,

As I’ve exhorted, tis but the start

Of those adventures that must occur

Which prove hard for lovers to bear.

Often when you recall your love,

You will be forced to up and move,

And leave the others, and go apart,

So they notice not, for their part,

All the ills that now torment you.

And all alone you’ll wander too;

There shall a host of plaints and sighs,

Frissons, and other ills arise;

Many a torment there, all told;

One moment hot, another cold;

One moment flushed, the next pale;

No ill ever found you more frail,

Quotidian nor quartan fever;

And they’ll seem to last forever,

Loves’ fine sorrows, ere it depart.

Many a time, wandering apart,

You’ll forget yourself, stand mute,

As a statue, fixed there like a root;

Foot nor hand will stir, nor finger,

Nor eye, nor tongue; you’ll linger,

And at the end of it you’ll recover

Your senses, memory, and shiver,

On your return, all gripped by fear,

Like one who feels his end is near;

And from your heart’s depths will sigh,

And know that thus are lovers tried,

And just such ills did them dismay

As those that trouble you today.

Chapter XVII: The loved one’s absence

‘NEXT, tis right that you remember

How far you are from your lover;

You’ll say: “‘Lord, how sad am I

That I can’t go and see her; why

Send my heart, and see her never?

I see her not, yet thought’s there ever.

If I might send my feet there

To attend my heart, everywhere,

Yet my eyes keep not company,

What worth do they have to me?

Should they yet remain here so?

No, for they should wish to go

To that sanctuary so precious,

Of which my heart proves desirous.

If my heart reveals such longing,

I prove a sluggard by remaining

So far from my heart; tis folly;

Thus I’m but a fool, God save me!

I’ll go now, not leave my heart,

For we’ll ne’er be at ease, apart,

And I must have sight of it, I say!”

Then you’ll set out on your way,

But progress in such a manner

That your steps will often falter,

And you’ll fail oft of your design;

Of what you wish you’ll see no sign,

And you must then return again,

At last; sad, pensive, and in pain.

You’ll be in deepest misery,

Tormented too, as previously;

Sighs, pangs, frissons, the signs;

Sharper than a hedgehog’s spines.

Who knows it not, let him discover

All, by asking some true Lover.

You can never ease your heart,

But must wander there apart,

Attempting to catch perchance,

Of what you long for, a glance.

And if you can, with much pain,

The glimpse that you seek attain,

Then, all intent now on your prize,

On wishing there to feast your eyes,

Such joy in your heart there’ll be

From all that beauty you now see,

That from a glance of your eye,

Your heart then will burn and fry;

And as you gaze, you will inspire

A quickening flame, rising higher.

The more one looks upon their love,

The greater then the flames do prove.

This fuel lights, and swells the fire

That makes men feel love and desire.

By custom, each man will pursue

The fire that will burn him through;

And when he feels the flames near by

Then closer to them he will fly;

Sight of his lover is the fire

That makes him burn with desire;

And whenever he draws closer,

The keener then is he to love her,

Go, of wise men and fools enquire:

One burns more, closer to the fire.’

Chapter XVII: The loved one’s presence

‘AS soon as you can see your love

From her you’ll not seek to move;

And when you must part from her,

All day long you will remember,

The sight it is that you received

And you’ll count yourself deceived

Most vilely in this one respect,

That you’d not the heart to effect

Speech with her of any note,

For nary a word left your throat,

And you but stood there like a fool.

You’ll think you acted like a mule

In not speaking to the beauty, who

Was there, right in front of you;

And vexed indeed you ought to be,

For if you had brought forth only

A pleasant greeting from the lady

A hundred marks then it would be

Worth to you. Then you will take,

To lamenting your sad mistake,

And seek occasion to go again

Along the street, and see her plain

She to whom you dared not speak.

To enter in her house you’ll seek

Willingly, if you have the chance.

Tis right that your every advance,

Your coming and going should be

In her fair neighbourhood, but see

That you hide yourself from all,

And seek another reason to call,

Than that which drives you there;

It makes good sense to take care.

If you chance to meet your lover

In a place where you, moreover,

Ought to speak to her, and greet her,

You are bound to lose your colour,

And you’ll tremble in every vein;

Sense and speech will fail again,

When you think to commence.

If you can muster enough sense,

Now dare to begin a speech,

That to three words or so might reach;

You’ll not have power to utter two,

For such is shame’s effect on you.

Never was any so self-possessed,

He failed not to forget the rest,

Unless he were a man of guile.

For false lovers, many a while,

Express themselves without fear

As they wish; there are liars here.

He’ll say one thing, think another,

That vile, and traiterous brother.

When you’ve uttered everything,

Without saying one base thing,

You will think yourself deceived;

For you, tis scarce to be believed,

Forgot all that you sought to say,

And martyrdom is yours that day.

This is the struggle, this the fire,

This the war, of endless desire.

What lovers seek they ne’er attain,

Each day they fail; no peace obtain.

This the battle that ne’er will cease,

Until I choose to seek for peace.’

Chapter XVII: The torments of night

‘THEN as night falls, you will find

A thousand things invade your mind,

As you lie down upon your bed,

With little joy lay down your head;

Rolling to one side then the other,

There you’ll tremble, twitch and shudder,

An hour face up, an hour face down,

There you’ll shiver, shake, and frown,

Striving to sleep, but still awake,

Like a man with a fierce toothache.

Then there arises the remembrance

And the manner, and the semblance,

Of she with whom none can compare.

A wonder I tell you now; for there

Will be times when it seems to you

She’s your lover faithful and true,

And you can see her shining face,

And she all naked in your embrace,

The fair companion, such is plain;

Then you’ll build castles in Spain,

And you’ll delight in naught so much

As fooling yourself that it is such,

In rapturous thought, yet a complete

Farrago of nonsense, and self-deceit.

Illusions like those will never keep;

And then you will begin to weep,

And cry: “Lord, was it but a dream?

Where was I? All this that did seem

More than thought, rose from whence?

I wish indeed it might come hence,

Ten times a day to visit me,

It pleases me, and brings to me,

Great delight and all good fortune.

And yet tis death it flies so soon.

Lord, could it be that I might find,

That place that I do view in mind?

I would wish it, I swear, though I

Were, on attaining it, to die.

Death were naught, it scarce harms,

If I might die in my lover’s arms.

Love doth torment and grieve me so,

I oft complain, and lament my woe;

Yet if Love did contrive, however,

That I’d complete joy in my lover,

Twould be worth all my ills. Alas!

Too great a gift then should I ask.

I would not think such a request

A wise one; tis outrageous at best.

He who makes a foolish demand

Should be denied, all understand.

How I dared voice it, I know not;

Many, who more renown have got,

And are worthier, find honour

In winning a lesser favour.

Yet if the fair one deigned in this

To comfort me with a single kiss,

Rich the reward there on offer

For the pain from which I suffer.

A great thing that would be indeed,

I do prove the fool, I must concede,

For setting my heart in such a place

Where I win nor profit nor grace.

And yet I speak like a fool, for sure,

For a glance from her is worth more,

Than all the delights of any other.

Most willingly I’d gaze upon her,

If God would aid me, presently;

Cured the man, who her might see.

Lord! When will the dawn appear?

I’ve stayed abed too long, I fear:

To linger here I can scarcely bear,

While I lack that for which I care.

To lie here is a wearisome thing,

Neither asleep, am I, nor resting.

It troubles me, much grief have I,

That dawn yet fails to light the sky,

And that the night is not yet past,

With the day, I might rise at last.

For God’s sake hasten now, O Sun!

Make no delay, but bring day on;

Banish the darkness and the night,

And its ennui that doth me blight.”’

Chapter XVII: The loved one’s house

‘THUS with the night you will contend

And scant repose find, in the end;

And if I know love’s ills, beware,

For, when you can no longer bear

To suffer there, awake in your bed,

You will be forced to dress instead,

Don your shoes, and make your way

Even before the light of day,

All in secret, through rain and cold,

To the fair one’s house, brave and bold.

She will be sound asleep, tis true,

Slumbering without a thought of you.

First, to the back door you’ll advance,

To see if it is unlocked, perchance,

Then crouch before it awhile, in vain,

All alone in the wind and rain.

Then to the front door you will go

To search for some slight opening so,

And if you can find a crack below,

A keyhole above it, a low window,

You’ll put your ear to it, and win

To whether they’re asleep within.

If the fair one alone should wake,

This counsel I would have you take,

That you should there lament and sigh,

So that she hears, and knows, thereby,

You’ve fled your bed for love of her.

If she’s kind, on one who doth suffer

Such pain for her, and for love’s sake,

A woman must surely pity take.

And I’ll tell you what you must do

All for love of that fair one too,

From whom you cannot win your ease.

Go kiss the portal, if you please,

And since you may not be seen,

Close to the house, or street, I mean,

Take care that you have taken flight

Before the sky is filled with light.

All these comings, and goings too,

Night-watches, and plaints anew,

Make the poor lover waste away

Under his clothing, night and day.

This you’ll find, and ne’er deny it;

You’ll be forced yourself to try it.

Know that Love leaves, moreover,

On a true lover, nor fat nor colour.

By these signs false lovers may be

Known, who’d seek to trick a lady;

Those who’ll claim, so as to flatter,

Food and drink no longer matter.

Yet fatter, I see them, that choir,

Than ever the abbot, or the prior.’

Chapter XVII: The loved one’s maid

‘NEXT I do command and charge you,

Be generous to her handmaid too;

A garment to that fair servant hand,

So she’ll declare you’re a fine man.

For you should honour and hold dear,

Your sweetheart, and all those near

Your love that wish her well; so do,

And much good will come to you.

For if those who are close around

Her, tell her that they have found

You to be noble and courteous,

She will prize you twice as much.

Take care not to leave the country,

Or if, through sheer necessity,

You’re forced to leave, be sure again,

That your heart doth still remain,

And plan on returning swiftly;

Barely rest, and be back quickly,

Showing that this delay doth part

You from one who has your heart.

Now I’ve told you in what manner

Lovers my service should deliver,

Do you likewise, if you’d aspire,

To the beauty that you desire.’

Chapter XVII: How to endure the trials of love: Hope

WHEN Love had issued his command,

Of him, I then made this demand:

‘Sire, however can a lover

Survive the pains he must suffer,

All these ills you speak of, pray?

For I am fearful of what you say.

How can a man live, and suspire,

In pain, and burned by such a fire?

In sorrow, full of sighs and tears,

In torment thus perchance for years,

Bowed down by care and vigilance,

I marvel, greatly, how any man

Unless he’s made of steel as well,

Could live a month in such a hell.’

The God of Love gave his reply,

And explained all, with a sigh.

‘By my father’s soul, these days,

None gains aught unless he pays;

And then it doth the more entice

If he must pay at a higher price.

With greater gratitude, we boast

Of that for which we suffer most.

Tis true that no woes are greater

Than all those that touch the lover.

One could sooner empty the sea,

Than all the ills of love, there be,

Recount in a romance or a book;

And lovers should live, for, look,

Living is their true occupation;

All flee death, whate’er their station.

He who some dark prison doth keep,

Who doth in filth, with vermin sleep,

With naught to eat but black bread,

He doth not die, for hope, instead,

Comforts him, makes him believe

Good fortune may his state relieve.

And he whom Love doth imprison,

Hopes for health, and a cure; as one,

Whom hope yet brings comfort to;

His heart’s desire prompts him, too,

To offer his body to martyrdom.

Hope helps him bear the ills that come,

More ills than we know how to count,

That joy, a hundred times their amount,

Ease at last to the lover shall bring.

Hope doth conquer, through suffering,

And it doth keep the lover alive,

Blessed be Hope, that doth strive

Thus, to advance the lover’s cause!

And right to the very end, because,

Hope is courteous, she will not

See a valiant man forgot,

Leave him a moment in duress,

Either in peril, or distress;

E’en to the thief, about to swing,

Ever her mercies she doth bring.

It is she who will sustain you,

And tis she who ne’er will leave you,

Without aiding you, in your need.

To accompany her now, indeed,

Three benefits I’d have you share,

Solace to those caught in my snare.’

Chapter XVII: How to endure the trials of love: Sweet-Thought

‘THE first good that brings solace to

Those whom the ills of love pursue,

Is Sweet-Thought who doth remind

Them of what Hope brings to mind.

When the lover complains and cries,

And grieves, and as a martyr sighs,

Sweet-Thought will arise anew,

Dispersing anger and torment too;

And in his coming makes the lover

All of that sweet joy remember

That Hope had promised him before,

And now will grant to him, once more,

Laughing eyes and a nose recall,

Not too large, and not too small,

And that fine colouring of the lips

Through which the breath, so fragrant, slips;

Pleasing him when he doth remember

The perfect beauty of each member.

Sweet-Thought goes doubling solace yet;

That smile, that face, he’ll not forget

That she once turned towards him clear,

That, to her true love, made her dear.

So Sweet Thought doth thus assuage,

The sorrow of Love, and all its rage.

This comfort I’d not have you lose,

And if the second you’d refuse,

One no less sweet, as you’ll see,

Most obstructive you would be.’

Chapter XVII: How to endure the trials of love: Sweet-Speech

‘FOR the second good is Sweet-Speech,

Who doth bring succour within reach

Of many a fair youth or lady.

For any who converses daily

About his true love, finds relief.

For this reason, tis my belief,

A lady who loved well did sing

Courteous words anent the thing:

“In a fair school, am I,” sang she,

“When any here doth speak to me

Of my love, for my heart do they

Ease who speak, whate’er they say.”

For about Sweet-Speech she knew

All one may, for she had, tis true,

Proven him, in many a way.

Now would I have you seek, today,

For a wise, discreet companion,

Whom you can tell of your passion,

And reveal to him all your heart.

He will play a most helpful part.

When your ills cause you anguish,

You can go to him for solace.

Of the lady whose appearance

Whose beauty and fair countenance

Stole your heart you’ll converse;

You can your whole state rehearse,

Talking of what goes ill or well,

And so ask of him his counsel;

How you may do some fair thing,

That to your love may be pleasing.

If he’s given his own heart truly,

The more worthwhile his company,

He, who proves so much your friend.

Tis reason for him to unbend

Enough to say who she may be,

Her name too, and if young is she.

Nor will you tremble lest he may

Expose you, tempt your love away.

Rather shall loyalty bind you two,

Your faith in him, and his in you.

Know that it is a pleasant thing,

When to some friend you dare bring

Your secrets, and through them sift;

So with great thanks receive the gift,

And when you’ve tested such aid,

You’ll think yourself well repaid.’

Chapter XVII: How to endure the trials of love: Sweet-Glances

‘THE third good is Sweet-Glances, who

Fails when your love is far from you.

Thus I’d advise you to maintain

Closeness to her, so you may gain

The benefit of Sweet-Glances,

Nor lose the solace he advances.

His presence proves delectable,

To lovers, and is quite delightful,

Many a fair encounter they know

The eyes, at morn, when God doth show

To them the precious sanctuary

That they do seek so longingly;

No misfortune should they meet

Whene’er such sights do them greet;

They need fear not rain and wind,

Nor any other troublesome thing;

And when the eyes do thus delight,

Then they are trained so aright,

That they’d not be joyful alone,

But joy in the heart once sown

They assuage the troubles there,

For sight doth play the messenger

Sending to the heart, full swiftly,

News of all things that they see;

And filled with joy the heart then

Must forget all its grief and pain,

And the darkness where it dwells.

For just as light the dark dispels,

And doth drive the shadows away,

So shall Sweet-Glances, on a day,

Light the dark where the heart lies,

That languishes of love, and dies,

Night and day, for it knows no pain

When the eyes find its love again.

Now, have I told you all, I say,

In which I find you gone astray.

For I have related, without defect,

The three benefits that will protect

Lovers, and keep them from dying.

And now you know what will bring

You solace: Hope will flutter about,

And Sweet-Thought too, no doubt,

Sweet-Glances, and Sweet Speech,

And I would now desire that each

Keep close watch over you, until

You shall find more benefits still,

Not less but finer than the three;

Yet accept these, now, from me.’

 Chapter XVIII: The God of Love leaves the Lover

Where the Lover tells how Love

Left him grieving, at his remove.

Love Leaves the Lover

‘Love Leaves the Lover’

AS soon as Love had told me all

His pleasure, I’d scarce time to call

To him, ere he’d vanished away,

Leaving me there in sad dismay;

Where I could see none about me,

And my wounds pained me sorely.

And I, knowing there was no cure

But the rose, on which, as before,

I had set all my hopes, and heart.

No faith had I in aught, apart

From the God of Love, to win her.

Indeed, I knew for truth, rather,

I had no chance of winning her

If Love did not assist the Lover.

The roses were all hedged about;

That hedge close set, to keep all out.

But I’d have willingly passed through

To reach the enclosure, for a view

Of that rosebud, better than balm;

Yet doth the fear of shame alarm

A lover; lest any man supposes,

He might wish to steal the Roses.

Chapter XIX: Fair-Welcome



How Fair-Welcome doth most humbly,

And sweetly, offer the Lover entry

To that place, to view the Roses,

That all his true desire encloses.

AS I shaped an intent, no more,

To pass beyond the hedge, I saw

Advancing straight toward me there

A young man, pleasing and fair,

In whom I found naught to blame;

And Fair-Welcome was his name;

The son of Courtesy, the wise.

He opened a way, in sweet guise,

Past the hedge, right pleasantly,

And then he spoke, most amiably.

‘Dear friend, be pleased to advance,

Pass the hedge and, sans hindrance,

Go smell the Roses’ fair perfume,

For you may safely now assume

You’ll meet no ill or villainy,

If you beware of working folly.

If I may help in any way,

No need to plead with me, just say,

And I am here, at your service,

For I work no deception in this.’

To Fair-Welcome, I then replied:

‘Sire, let me say that, on my side,

Your promise I, with thanks, accept;

May it win you grace and respect.

Such kindness is generous in you.

And I’ll gladly render service due

In return, and whene’er you please.’

Through the briars and thorny trees

Which in the hedge there did abide,

I made my way to the other side.

Towards that rosebud I strayed

Which the sweetest scent conveyed,

And Fair-Welcome led me there.

I tell you, I thought it most fair

That near to it I might remain,

And so the rosebud might attain.

Fair-Welcome had served me true,

When so close the bud I did view.

But a shameless villain I did spy

A wretch who was resting nearby,

His name, Resistance, the guard

Who others from the roses barred;

Concealed he lies, and so deceives,

Covered over with grass and leaves,

To catch all those that he supposes

Might be trying to reach the Roses.

Nor was that wretched dog alone

For vile companions he did own,

Ill-Talk, that doth foul stories bear,

And Shame too, and Fear, were there.

The worthiest of them was Shame;

Misdeeds was her father’s name,

Daughter of wise Reason was she,

If one were thus to relate truly

Her lineage and her parentage.

Misdeeds was so ugly that sage

Reason did never lay with him,

Conceiving Shame on seeing him.

When God formed Shame, Chastity

She who ought to be the lady

Of the Roses, was at the mercy

Of every villain one might see,

And their licentious appetites;

For Venus had her in her sights,

Who, night and day, steals from her

Buds and Roses, both together.

Chastity sought Reason’s daughter,

Whilst Venus was attacking her;

And as twas a desperate affair,

Reason wished to grant her prayer,

And in accord with her request

Lent her Shame, pure and honest;

And, to guard the Roses better,

Jealousy sent Fear to join her,

Fear who doth strive mightily

To work the will of Jealousy.

They guard the Roses, so that none

Can carry off, without permission,

A fair Rose, or perchance a bud;

I might have achieved my good,

If I’d not been seen by these four,

For Fair-Welcome had gone before;

Handsome, courteous, he ne’er ceased

Urging me on to whate’er pleased,

Often counselling me to approach,

The rosebud, and then did me coach

To touch the Rosebush that bore it,

And gave me leave to explore it.

As I wished, for such was his belief,

He then cut, for me, a green leaf, 

Beside the bud, and he gave it me,

Because twas born nearby, you see.

I thought it elegant, without taint,

And feeling myself well-acquaint

With Fair-Welcome, with this deed,

I thought that I’d arrived indeed.

So I took heart, and boldly now,

I described to Fair Welcome how

Love had caught and wounded me.

‘Sire,’ I said, ‘joy I’ll never see,

If it is not through this one thing;

For in my heart I go sorrowing,

With a most grievous malady;

I know not what to say, truly,

For I fear lest I shall anger you;

Better if I were pierced all through,

Cut up, piece by piece, with steel,

Than that you should anger feel.’

‘All your desire,’ he said, ‘tell to me,

For naught that you could say to me,

Could ever, I know, cause me distress.’

Then, said I: ‘Sire, Love, in excess,

Doth torment me most grievously.

Tis no lie, Love hath wounded me,

Five arrows into my heart he shot,

And their pain will leave me not,

Unless the rosebud you’ll grant me,

That doth own such rare beauty.

It is my death, it is my life,

For I desire naught else, in life.’

Then, anxiously, he drew near,

And said to me: ‘Brother, I fear,

You ask for what can never be.

What! Would you dishonour me?

A fool of me you’d have made

If e’er the rosebud you betrayed,

Plucking it from the bush on sight,

For there, by nature, it lives of right.

A villain you are to so demand,

Let it grow, at nature’s command.

I’d not have it lost what’s more

To the Rose, that the rosebud bore,

For any man; I love it so.’

Now, Resistance, the wretch, did show

Himself, and leapt from where he lay,

Large, swarthy, bristling, he did bray,

With eyes like fiery embers there,

Flat-nosed and hideous, from his lair,

Loudly, like a madman, distraught:

‘Fair Welcome, why have you brought

This fellow among the Roses here?

God save me, you’ve done ill, I fear,

For he would seek to dishonour you.

May all be cursed, excepting you,

Who led the wretch to this fair view;

Who serves a villain, is one too.

You think to benefit him, while he

Would but oppose you, shamefully.’

Chapter XX: Resistance drives away the Lover

Here Resistance, villainously,

Expels the Lover with ignominy,

And Fair-Welcome with him too,

At which his heart grieves anew.

‘FLY, you wretch, fly far from here,

If you but hold your sad life dear!

Fair-Welcome fatally misread you,

In taking such pains to serve you.

Since you sought only to deceive,

Ask not that I should now believe

You; for your treason is revealed

That you so carefully concealed.’

The End of Part III of the Romance of the Rose