The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

Page 7

Of form so fair!

Pearl of the world,

Beloved and dear!

And if the theft

Thine ire awake,

A hundred fold

I'd give it back---

Thou beauteous maid,

Of form so fair!

Pearl of the world,

Beloved and dear!

----Tr. by Taylor

LATER FRENCH LYRICS

During the latter half of the thirteenth century several new and highly artificial forms of verse were developed. The chief of these were the Ballads and Chant Royal, the Rondel, Rondeau, Triolet, Virelay. These were all alike in being short poems, generally treating of love, and making special use of a refrain and the repetition of words and lines. They differ in the number of verses of a stanza, of stanzas in the poem, and the order and number of rhymes. Their poetic value is not great because the poet so easily lost sight of his subject in perfecting his verse form.

A Triolet.

Take time while yet it is in view,

For fortune is a fickle fair:

Days fade, and others spring anew;

Then take the moment still in view.

What boots to toil and cares pursue?

Each month a new moon hangs in air,

Take, then, the moment still in view,

For fortune is a fickle fair.

----Froissart. Tr. Anonymous.

Rondel.

Now Time throws off his cloak again

Of ermined frost, and cold and rain,

And clothes him in the embroidery

Of glittering son and clear blue sky.

With beast and bird the forest rings,

Each in his jargon cries or sings;

And Time throws off his cloak again

Of ermined frost, and cold and rain.

River, and fount, and tinkling brook

Wear in their dainty livery

Drops of silver jewelry;

In new-made suit they merry look;

And Time throws off his cloak again

Of ermined frost, and cold and rain.

-----Charles D'Orleans. Tr. by Longfellow.

The Ballad of Dead Ladies

Tell me now in what hidden way is

Lady Flora the lovely Roman?

Where's Hipparchia, and where is Thais,

Neither of them the fairer woman?

Where is Echo, beheld of no man,

Only heard on river and mere,---

She whose beauty was more than human?......

But where are the snows of yester-year?

Where's Heloise, the learned nun,

For whose sake Abeillard, I ween,

Lost manhood and put priesthood on?

(From love he won such dule and teen!)

And where, I pray you, is the Queen

Who willed that Buridan should steer

Sewed in a sack's mouth down the Seine?......

But where are the snows of yester-year?

White Queen Blanche, like a queen of lillies,

White a voice like any mermaiden,---

Bertha Broadfoot, Beatrice, Alice,

And Ermengarde the lady of Maine,---

And that good Joan whom Englishmen

At Rouen doomed and burned her there,----

Mother of God, where are they then?

But where are the snows of yester-year?

Nay, never ask this week, fair lord,

Where they are gone, nor yet this year,

Save with thus much for an overword,---

But where are the snows of yester-year?

----Villon. Tr. by D. G. Rossetti.

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