The Book of the Duke of True Lovers Part 3

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The Book of the Duke of True Lovers is a Webnovel created by Christine de Pisan.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

BALLAD

Now in good sooth my joy is vanished clean, And all my gladness changed to grievous ire: What profits it, dear flower! since I have seen Thy going hence, that I could never tire When thou wast here To greet thee every day in every year?

Delight that was is grown disaster fell: Alas! How can I bid thee now farewell!

My love, my choice, my lady and my queen, For whom my heart is kindled in desire, What shall I do when love from what hath been Taketh the gold and leaveth me the mire?

Nor far nor near Is comfort found, nor any pleasant cheer.

Gone is thy beauty, that did all excel: Alas! How can I bid thee now farewell!

Thine is the deed, O evil tongue and keen!

Forged for my fate upon an anvil dire: Fortune, that loveth not my hand, I ween, Nor yet my pen, did in the task conspire.

No help is clear Save Death, when G.o.d shall grant him to appear; Else thou alone could’st win me out of h.e.l.l.

Alas! How can I bid thee now farewell!

Ah, simple and dear!

At least behold me and my mourning drear.

Thy loss is torment more than I can tell.

Alas! How can I bid thee now farewell!

And the day of departure came, and my lady set forth, and I verily believe that she would have still delayed her going if she had dared, but it was meet for her to do her lord’s will, since it behoved her to guard his good name. And she gave thanks to all, and took her leave, and set out on her way.

And I, unhappy being, who attended her, rode beside her litter, and the fair one, who could well perceive how that, without disguise, I loved her with a true love, looked at me fixedly with so tender a glance, that methinks she desired to cheer my drooping heart, which was sad, and moreover she might perchance have conversed with me but that on her left hand there rode another, who came so nigh unto us that we were not free to say aught which he might repeat, for the which I hated him fervently, and I saw well that I should oft have to endure much vexation.

In such manner we rode for a day and a half, until that we were come to her dwelling, but in nowise did the journey seem long to me, but quickly ended, and in truth it wearied me not, albeit I verily suffered. And I would have taken my leave of her, but her Lord, making much false pretence of welcome, endeavoured to detain me, but I knew from his demeanour that he was beside himself on account of me. And this jealousy had been put into his head by one who was at our feast, and to whom I had afterward made a recompense, and never did I think that he would keep watch on her. This caitiff had the charge of the fair one whom I worshipped, and for whom I was dying of grief. So I took my leave, and went on my way, and out of regard for my sovereign lady I dissimulated, and hid the sorrow that was mine, and never did any eye discover that which was such grievous pain to me, and scarce could I restrain my feelings. But this was needful for fear of the slanderer, and so I departed, saying:-

BALLAD

Farewell, my lady dear and dread, Farewell, of all sovereign and queen, Farewell, perfect and sacred head, Farewell, who dost all honour mean, Farewell, true heart, loyal and clean, Farewell, best flower the world doth bear, Farewell, yet not farewell, O white and fair!

Farewell, O wise, that no ill said, Farewell, river that made life green, Farewell, in whom fame harboured, Farewell, voice that all ears could win, Farewell, solace of all my teen, Farewell, whose grace is wide as air, Farewell, yet not farewell, O white and fair!

Farewell, soft look that through me sped, Farewell, more fair than Helen queen, Farewell, body and sweet soul wed, Farewell, thou most gracious demesne, Farewell, pole-star, joyous and keen, Farewell, fountain of valour rare, Farewell, yet not farewell, O white and fair!

Farewell, Princess of n.o.blest mien, Farewell, thou aweing smile serene, Farewell, without fault, sin’s despair, Farewell, yet not farewell, O white and fair!

Thus did I commune with myself, and, sighing, I departed, and made great haste to reach my dwelling. And I was weighed down and troubled with grievous sorrow when I no longer saw there her whom I had dared choose as my lady, and whom my heart held so dear.

Now I made known at the beginning how that I desired to be a lover, and to be gentle, and how love wounded me with his dart, of the which my heart will never be healed, and as I have spoken of the ill that came to me from that time, so is it meet that I tell you of the good. And this distemper increased, by reason of which my strength diminished, so that in a little I grew pale, and thin, and sad, and ofttimes sighed from grief, for no solace had I, since I knew not how to discover any good way to see my sweet lady, and, certes, so much did I fear her rebuke, that I dared not approach her, however grievous it was, and this plunged me into tears, and troubled me. Thus I was sick a-bed, and then I uttered this ballad:-

BALLAD

Since, O my Love, I may behold no more Thy sovereign beauty that was all my cheer, My heart is given up to sorrows sore: For though the wealth of all the world were here, There is no ease but in beholding thee Who art afar! Whence I of tears am fain Mourning the happy days that used to be: Yet unto none but thee may I complain.

Doubt not of this, true love whom I adore, Thine image in my soul is ever clear: I think but on the blessedness of yore And on thy beauty, simple-sweet and dear.

So fiercely smiteth love, I may not flee Nor may my soul the dread a.s.sault sustain: Death could not bring a sorrier weird to dree, Yet unto none but thee may I complain.

Alas! one only mercy I implore.

When I am dead (as I to death am near) Pray for me, and thy praying shall restore My wounded spirit: shed one tender tear- Great were my comfort if my piteous plea Might touch thy heart, if sorrow might constrain Thy lips to sigh, such need of sighs have we.

Yet unto none but thee may I complain.

Sweet flower, to whom I do abandon me, My heart is broken down with bitter pain For one whom Fortune would not have me see: Yet unto none but thee may I complain.

Here is set forth how the Lover made Complaint unto his Friend

[Ill.u.s.tration: _Comment l’amant se complaint a son compaignon_]

Thus did my sorrow increase until my heart endured very grievous torment, and without doubt this sore trouble would have killed me if G.o.d had not betimes brought back my kinsman of the whom I have made mention, and who delivered me from destruction. And when he was come back from the country, he well perceived and understood from my countenance the sorrow which possessed me. Thus he found me very sick and without colour, the which caused him great disquiet. And he came to me as soon as ever he was able, and I was o’erjoyed when I heard his voice, for right dearly did I love him. And he wept when he saw me thus grown worse. And I drew him near to me, and embraced him lovingly, and he said to me, “My G.o.d, what a face! Is there cause for it? In good sooth you must tell me truly of your state, without reserve, and naught must you conceal from me of your condition which you would not do from a priest to whom you would make confession, and, certes, very foolish would you be to keep sealed up in your heart the trouble which robs you of your peace of mind and your health. So much have I frequented the world, that I perceive and understand your sorrow, for I have been in danger of the like malady. This is not sickness; rather is it pa.s.sion, for doubtless such love has come to you as consumes you like as fire does straw. Of this, naught have I to learn of you. And greatly do you misconceive our close fellowship if you fear that in aught I would betray you, and that I would not screen you more than I would myself. When you have told unto me the trouble which has cruelly taken possession of you, doubtless you will find your grief diminished, for very great hurt comes to him who suffers from love-sickness without speaking of it to any one. Therefore tell me the whole matter, my dear cousin, my lord and my master, without keeping aught back, or, if you do not so, for longwhiles will I go into Germany, for believe me that it grieves me not a little to see you thus, and not a whit can I rest.”

And when this one, who held me dear, had thus, to the utmost of his power, urged me to make confession unto him of my inmost thoughts, his gentle speech so touched and melted my heart, that I began to sob and to weep piteously enough to kill me, since it seemed as if I neither ought nor could tell unto him the grief which everything caused me. And he, cast down and sad by reason of the trouble from the which he saw that I suffered, out of great compa.s.sion wept bitterly, and began freely to make offer to me of himself and his possessions for to make me happy, and in every way, no matter how great it was, he strove to this end, and without ceasing he strongly counselled me rather to take comfort, and to weep no more, since this was neither reasonable nor dignified.

In suchwise did my good friend exhort me to be happy once more. Then I at once made him answer, “Sweet cousin and friend, I know well that you have great love for me, even as I, forsooth, have for you, therefore it is meet that we conceal not from one another our joys, or our misfortunes, or aught beside. Therefore I will tell unto you truly all my state, although to none other, however much I loved him, would I speak of it. You know, very sweet cousin, and you have in remembrance, how that we went together, not long since, to a place nigh unto this, where we met with a lady whose coming I have since paid dearly for, for from that time my very simple youthfulness has left me, and, without intent to do me harm, love has brought this trouble upon me, from the which I am dying, but in nowise must I blame any one, for truly no lady is there who is her equal in beauty, in prudence, or in worth. And you know how that I devised our festival, the which was gorgeous, and that all this was for love of her. And after the feast was ended, I besought of him who is her lord, to allow my sweet lady to remain all the summer at our castle for her diversion and pleasure, and to hunt in the forest, the which was green then, and is so still. And you know that he willingly gave consent, but you stayed not, methinks, three whole days after that, for you soon departed thence, but life was joyous to me because of my lady whom I saw the while without hindrance. But, with intent to make me sorrowful, misfortune, which busies itself with bringing much hurt to lovers, caused one, whom may h.e.l.l-fire consume, to keep watch on my doings, and this one, like unto one full of malice, well perceived my state (for I was very inexperienced), and that my heart was altogether in bondage to her. In nowise do I know how he was able to perceive it, for, to deceive every one in this affair, I took much pains to dissemble, and so much the more frequented the company of other ladies, and never did I discover my thoughts to any one, nor did I even speak of them to her whose liegeman I am, and who wots not aught of that which weighs heavily on me. And this disloyal one noised abroad such report, that her jealous lord constrained the fair lady to depart without more delay. Wherefore, if I had not feared me to bring dishonour upon her, I would have made him who brought this about to feel regret for it, and greatly to repent it, and to experience my vexation and displeasure. Thus have I lived in distress for the s.p.a.ce of three months, and sooner would I die, so as to be delivered from this sad grief, than live thus, since I can no longer see her, albeit she has since, of her grace, made enquiry regarding my state, and has caused me to know that in a little while I may count upon seeing her, although I must not let this be known, and that a time will come when a change in affairs will come about, and that I must be of good cheer. So I know, or at least bethink me, that my dear lady perceives and knows without doubt that I love her sincerely, but scarce can I endure the strain of the longing which possesses me, for greatly do I long for her. Ne’ertheless I have since seen her, though unknown to others, for I disguised me so that I might not be recognised, and, from a distance, I have seen her pa.s.s by. Thus you can understand that I have since lived in such grief that a speedy death has been my only desire. But I see not how either you or any other can succour me, for it is not possible that this jealous one, with his spies, would not discover it, and be a.s.sured that I must either endure this or die, but if that you will give heed for a while, you will understand wherefore it behoves me to rejoice over this grievous experience of love, and how I maintain this in my song.

BALLAD

Thou, O Love, the traitor art!

Tender once as any may, Then the wielder of the dart That is pointed but to slay.

Thee with reason, by my fay, Double-visaged we declare: One is as the ashes grey, But one is as an angel fair.

Loth am I to find my part In the night without a ray, Yet desire hath stung my heart And I sigh in sorrow’s sway.

Gentle hope will never stay In the mansions of despair: One to death would point the way, But one is as an angel fair.

Hope might in my spirit start, Death thy servant bids her nay: While beneath thy scourge I smart, Doleful still must be my lay, Since to set my steps astray, Thou at once art wheat and tare: One is like a devil, yea, But one is as an angel fair.

Love, thou teachest me to say Double tribute is to pay For thy servants everywhere: One is grievous, well-a-day!

But one is as an angel fair.

Much did this ballad charm my cousin, but greatly was he distressed at my grief, and in this manner did I, who never wearied of, or ceased from, weeping, make an end to my discourse. And thereby my distemper was diminished, but my cousin was forthwith angered when he saw me thus discomforted. And he spake thus to me: “Alack-a-day! Right well do I perceive that you possess little discretion and courage. What reason have you, fair Sir, to demean you thus? Certes, you should be happy, methinks, since your lady, by her messenger, makes promise to you of solace at a fitting time. You are foolish when you relinquish the hope which gives you comfort, for be a.s.sured that your lady is mindful of your love, and that she longs to give you pleasure. How can such grief enter your foolish thoughts, so as to allow you to be thus cast down and to die of despair? Many a lover, without any hope of being loved by his mistress, has longwhiles served in great anguish without any solace either of soul or body, and not a single glance from her has he received, nor has he dared to approach her for fear of slander. If you have patience, and believe what I say, certes, you have but to make plaint as I have done, and you will soon be able to attain your desire.

Since your lady takes pleasure in your doings, you may be a.s.sured that no fear will be strong enough to restrain her. But however grievous it may be, it may lead to your undoing that you have allowed so long time to pa.s.s by without making her acquainted with your state. Very certain is it that never will she importune you, and I know not wherefore you were so foolish that, when you had opportunity, and were unhindered, you spake not to her of all the love with the which you loved her, instead of giving yourself up longwhiles to dreams!”

Then I forthwith made answer, “Alas, Cousin! I dared not, even if I had fitting opportunity, for I was afraid, and so much did I fear her, that I dared not tell her of it, even if I died because of this. For this reason I faltered, and greatly do I repent me of it, but never had I the courage to do it, for in her presence I was greatly disquieted, although when I was alone I thought to myself that I would speak to her. And it ofttimes happened to me thus, but, certes, I persevered not when I was in her presence. The delight of her loving glance, the which was so sweet to me, filled me with such great ecstasy, that it seemed to me that she would perceive my distress of mind without my saying aught.”

Then my cousin made answer, “Foolish is the lover who hides from a lady the love he bears her, for, on my soul, the delay may do him sore hurt.

But since you dared not speak to her because of the fear which possessed you, as you know well how to write, wherefore do you not send her a letter or missive? And I am still more surprised at your folly that, when you received her messenger, you sent not back word to her of your state since the time when you parted from her. And wherefore did you delay? His coming was indeed timely had not your folly held you back, and in this I without doubt speak the truth, for, since she so desired to give you gratification that she took thought to hear news of your doings, you can perceive that your love was in her thoughts. She must indeed regard you as a novice since you sent not to her! Never a day let fall from your lips a single word in anywise touching upon sadness, but rather be cheerful, and leave all to me, and so well shall I know how to deceive every one, that I am willing to become a monk if there is any one on this earth who will be able to hinder you from seeing the fair one without this ever being noised abroad, if she so wills it, and you desire it. So grieve no more, but make glad countenance, for, without preaching longer to you, I make promise and swear to you that ere the week is pa.s.sed, more than once shall you see your lady. And if G.o.d guides me in this, verily shall I find out the way to accomplish this.”

Then, even as the light illumines the darkness, and the exceeding brightness of the sun banishes the gloom, so was the cruel torment of my suffering subdued and ended by this one, who so truly comforted me that he filled me with joy and gladness, and stayed my grief, so that I had naught left of the which to make complaint.

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