Excerpt from Eleanor [Heckel]

[From Sex, Society and Medieval Women by N. M. Heckel]

 

Anonymous German lyric Were diu werlt alle min


If all the world were mine
From sea's shore to the Rhine,
That price were not too high
To have England's queen lie
Close in my arms.

(From Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen and Legend. Trans. D. D. R. Owen. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993. 41.)



Bernart de Ventadorn
Pel doutz chan quel rossinhols fai


At the sweet song which the nightingale makes
at night when I have fallen asleep,
I wake completely bewildered with joy,
pensive and thoughtful about love;
for this is my supreme vocation,
because I always receive joy willingly,
and my song begins with joy.

If anyone knew of the joy that I have,
and [that] joy were seen and heard,
all other joy would be slight
compared to that [which] I possess, for my joy is great.
Such a man becomes genial and eloquent,
because he believes [himself] to be fortunate and superior
in true love, of which I have twice as much!

When I contemplate her sprightly body,
how well it is made with all choice attributes,
her courtliness and her beautiful speech,
my praise will never mean advancement for me,
because I would need an entire year for it,
if I wished to be truthful about her,
she is so courtly and so good a being.

Those who think that I am here
do not at all know how my spirit
is intimate and easy with her,
although my body is far from her.
Know, the best messenger
that I have from her is my thought,
which recalls to me her beautiful appearance.

Lady, I am and will be yours,
ready for your service.
I am your man, sworn and pledged,
and yours I was since before;
and you are my first joy,
and thus will you be the last,
so long as life lasts me.

I do not know when I shall see you again,
but I go off among angry and married men.
For your sake I have parted from the king,
and I pray you that I may not be harmed
when I am present in court before you,
among ladies and knights,
frank, and gentle, and humble.

Hugh, my courteous messenger,
sing my song willingly
to the queen of the Normans.

(From A Bilingual Edition of the Love Songs of Bernart de Ventadorn in Occitan and English: Sugar and Salt. Trans. Ronnie Apter. Studies in Medieval Literature 17. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1999. 212-215.)

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