The Northern Way

Song and Legend From the Middle Ages

French Literature

Page 13

Sec. 39---Aucassin was at Beaucaire

'Neath the tower a morning fair.

On a star he sat without,

With his brave lords round about:

Saw the leaves and flowers spring,

Heard the song-birds carolling;

Of his love he thought anew,

Nicolette the maiden true,

Whom he loved so long a day;

Then his tears and sighs had way.

When, behold before the stair,

Nicolette herself stood there,

Lifted viol, lifted bow,

Then she told her story so:

"Listen, lordlings brave, to me,

Ye that low or lofty be!

Liketh you to hear a stave,

All of Aucassin the brave,

And of Nicolette the true?

Long they loved and lond did rue,

Till into the deep forest

After her he went in quest.

From the tower of Torelore

Them one day the Paynim bore,

And of him I know no more.

But true-hearted Nicolette

Is in Carthage castle yet;

To her sire so dear is she,

Who is king of that countrie.

Fain they would to her award

Felon king to be her lord.

Nicolette will no Paynim,

For she loves a lording slim,

Aucassin the name of him.

By the holy name she vows

That no lord will she espouse,

Save she have her love once moe

She longs for so!"

She is at last revealed to him, and all ends happily.

Sec. 41---Now when Aucassin did hear

Of his own bright favored fere,

That she had arrived his shore,

Glad he was as ne'er before.

Forth with that fair dame he made

Nor until the hostel stayed.

Quickly to the room they win,

Where sat Nicolette within.

When she saw her love once more,

Glad she was as ne'er before.

Up she sprang upon her feet,

And went forward him to meet.

Soon as Aucassin beheld,

Both his arms to her he held,

Gently took her to his breast,

All her face and eyes caressed.

Long they lingered side by side;

And the next day by noontide

Aucassin her lord became;

Of Beaucaire he made her Dame.

After lived they many days,

And in pleasure went their ways.

Now has Aucassin his bliss,

Likewise Nicolette ywis.

Ends our song and story so;

No more I know.


France produced, along with its heroic poetry, its romances, tales, and lyrics, much serious and allegorical work. This was in the shape of homilies, didatic poems, and long allegories touching manners and morals. Of these last the most famous and important is The Romance of the Rose. It was the most popular book of the Middle Ages in France. It was begun by William of Lorris about 1240, the first draft extending to 4670 lines. Some forty years later, Jean de Meung, or Clapinel, wrote a continuation extending the poem to 22,817 lines. The general story is of a visit to a garden of delights, on the outside of which are all unlovely things. Within the garden the personages and action are allegories of the art of love. here are Leisure, Enjoyment, Courtesy, the God of Love himself, love in the form of a beautiful Rose, Gracious Reception, Guardianship, Coyness, and Reason. Our extracts are taken from the translation into English attributed----it now seems with great probability---to Chaucer.

Note.---These extracts from Chaucer's translation are not re-translated nor adapted. Chaucer's words are retained in every case. Their spelling is modernized. In those cases in which they are needed for the rhythm, certain inflectionalendings, e, en, es, are retained and are printed in parentheses. The reader has only to remember that he must pronounce every syllable needed to make the lines rhythmical. In only four cases has the rhyme been affected by the changed spelling. For defense of this modern spelling of Chaucer, the reader is referred to Lounsbury's "Studies in Chaucer," Vol. III., pp. 264-279.

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