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From The Trobador Poets, Selections from the Poems of Eight Trobadors translated from the Provençal with Introduction and Notes, by Barbara Smythe; Chatto & Windus: London, New York: Duffield & Co., 1911; pp. 70-94.
A WAR-SONG FOR THE COUNT OF TOULOUSE (1181)
THE Count has asked and incited me, through Lord Raimon
Luc d’Esparro, to make such a song for him that
because of it a thousand shields shall be cleft, helmets
and hauberks and coats of mail and doublets shall be spoilt and broken.
Now it must be made since he lets me know his words, and
I should by no means refuse since he has agreed to this
with me, for the Gascons will blame me for it, for I
Hold myself under obligation to them.
At Toulouse beyond Montagut the Count will plant his
standard, in the Count’s meadow near the person, and
when he has pitched his tent we will lodge round it,
and for three nights we shall sleep on the bare ground.
And with us will have come the powers and the barons
and the most honoured company in the world, and the
most renowned, for they will be incited by money, by
the summons, and by (their own) worth.
And as soon as we have come, the fight will begin in the plain,
and the Catalans and the Aragonese shall fall thick and
fast, for their saddles shall never hold them, such great
blows and thick shall we deal them.
And it cannot be but that splinters shall fly upwards,
and that samite and silk and stuff shall be torn, cords,
tents, pikes, palisades, and tents and pitched pavilions
The King who has lost Tarascon, and the lord of Montar-
bezo, Rogier and Bernart Ato the son, and the Count
Sir Peire help them, and the Count of Foix with Ber-
nardon and Lord Sancho, brother of the conquered
Over there they think of armour, for here they will be
I always wish that the high barons should be enraged against
Explanation. — Bertran de Born, as I have told you in the other explanations, had a brother who was called Constantin de Born, and he was a good knight at arms, but he was not a man who troubled himself much about valour or honour, but at all times he wished evil to Sir Bertran and well to all those who wished evil to Sir Bertran. And once he took from him the castle of Autafort, which belonged to both of them in common, and Sir Bertran recovered it and drove him out of possession. And that one went off to the Viscount of Limoges and (told him) he ought to support him against his brother; and he supported him. And King Richard supported him against Sir Bertran. And Sir Richard was making war on Sir Ademar, the Viscount of Limoges, and Sir Richard and Sir Ademar made war on Sir Bertran, and laid waste his land and burnt it. Bertran had made the Viscount of Limoges swear allegiance to him, and the Count of Périgord, who was named Talairan, from whom Richard had taken away the city of Périgueux, and he (Talairan) did not hurt him because of it, for he was lazy and cowardly. And Sir Richard had taken Gordon from Sir Guilhem of Gordon, and he had promised to make alliance with the Viscount and with Bertran de Born, and with the other barons of Périgord and of Limousin and of Quercy, whom Sir Richard had disinherited, wherefore Bertran blamed him much, and for all these reasons he made this sirventes.
I HAVE made a sirventes in which not a word is lacking, for
it never cost me a clove of garlic; and this is my custom,
73that if I have brother or cousin, I share every egg and
every penny with him, and if he then wants my share
too, I turn him out of the community.
I keep all my wits carefully, although Sir Ademar and Sir
Richard have given me a lot of trouble between them.
For a long time they feared me, but now they have
such strife that — if the King does not part them — their
children will have plenty of it in their minds.
I always encourage and urge on the barons, I melt them and
weld them together, for I thought to make havoc
among them; and I am a great fool to worry about
them, for they are of worse workmanship than the iron
of S. Leonard, wherefore whoever troubles himself
about them is a fool.
Talairan neither trots nor gallops nor moves from his pen,
nor does he fear lance or dart, but he lives like a Lom-
bard. He is so stuffed with laziness that, when other
people take sides, he stretches and yawns.
Guilhem de Gordon, you have put a strong clapper into your
bell, and I love you, by God! But the two Viscounts
think you a fool and an idiot because of the contract,
and they are eager that you should be of their brother-
I am always fighting and making war and fencing and de-
fending myself and moving about, and they lay waste
my land and burn it, and make a clearing of my trees
and mix chaff with my grain, and I have no enemy,
brave or cowardly, who does not attack me now.
To Périgueux, only a hammer’s throw from the walls, will
I come armed on Baiart, and if I find pot-bellied
Poitevins there, they shall see how my sword can cut,
for on their heads will I make a broth of brains mixed
with links of mail.
Barons, God save you and keep you and help you and aid
you, and grant you to say to Sir Richard what the
peacock said to the crow.
Explanation. — As you have heard many times, Sir Bertran de Born and his brother Sir Constantin, were always at war with each other, and bore great ill-will to each other, because each one wished to be lord of Autafort, their common castle by right. And it happened that when Sir Bertran had taken Autafort and driven Constantin and his sons from the land, Sir Constantin went off to Sir Ademar, the Viscount of Limoges, and to Sir Amblart, Count of Périgord, and to Sir Talairan, Lord of Montagnac, to ask their help and that they should aid him against his brother Sir Bertran, who unjustly held Autafort, which was half his, and would not give him any part of it, but unjustly disinherited him. And they helped him, and took counsel against Sir Bertran; for a long time they made great war on him, and in the end they took Autafort from him. And Sir Bertran escaped with his people, and began to besiege Autafort with all his friends and relatives; and it happened that Sir Bertran sought agreement and peace with his brother, and a great peace was made, and they became friends. But when Sir Bertran was inside the Castle of Autafort with all his
people, he played him false, and did not keep oath or agreement with him, and took the castle from his brother with great wickedness; and this was on a Monday, when there were such signs that, according to the reason of auguries or signs, or astronomy, it was not good to begin any great undertaking. And Constantin went away to King Henry of England and to Sir Richard, the Count of Poitou, to ask for support against Sir Bertran. And King Henry, because he bore ill-will to Sir Bertran for that he was friend and counsellor to the Young King, his son, who had been at war with him, and he thought it was all Sir Bertran’s fault, began to help him, he and Count Richard his son; and they made a great army and besieged Autafort, and in the end they took the castle and Sir Bertran. And when he was led into the tent before the King, he was sore afraid, but because of the words in which he reminded King Henry of the Young King, his son, the King gave him back Autafort and pardoned him, he and Count Richard, for all his evil will, as you have heard in the story which is written above the sirventes which says, “Since the fair flowery season.” But when King Henry gave him back Autafort, he said, joking to Sir Bertran, “Let it be thine; thou oughtest indeed to have it by right, such great wrong didst thou to thy brother.” And Sir Bertran knelt down before him and said: “My Lord, great thanks! Such a judgment pleases me well.” And Sir Bertran entered into the castle, and King Henry and Count Richard returned to their own land with their people. When the other barons who were helping Constantin heard and saw that Sir Bertran still had the castle, they were much grieved and angered, and they advised Constantin to accuse Sir Bertran before King Henry, that he should support him well by right, and he did so. But Bertran showed the King the judgment that he had made — for he
had carefully had it written down — and the King laughed and joked at it; and Sir Bertran went away to Autafort, and Constantin had no other justice. But the barons who were helping Constantin made great war on him for a long time, and he on them. And as long as he lived, he would not give up the castle to his brother, nor make peace or truce with him; and when he was dead, the sons of Sir Bertran made peace with Sir Constantin their uncle, and with his sons their cousins. And for these reasons Sir Bertran made this sirventes.
I DELAY not at all in making a sirventes, but make it without
any trouble at all; so subtle is my wit and my art that
I have advanced myself so; and I know so much magic
that, behold, I have escaped, for neither Count nor
King has injured me at all.
And since the King and Count Richard have pardoned me
their ill-will, never need Sir Ademar or Sir Amblart
or Sir Talairan make truce with me; nor will I ever
leave the garden of Autafort; whoever wants to may
make war on me for it, since it is mine by right.
When there is peace on every hand, let there be a strip of
war left for me. Blight his eyes who parts me from it,
although I may have begun it first! Peace gives me no
comfort; I agree with war, for I neither hold nor believe
any other law.
And I do not care for Monday, or Tuesday, or weeks or
months or years, nor for April or May do I stop planning
how harm may come to those who do me wrong. Never
from me by force shall three men conquer the worth
of a strap.
Whoever may plough and cultivate his land, I have always
taken trouble about how I may get bolts and darts,
helmets and hauberks, horses and swords, for thus do I
please myself; and I take joy in assaults and tournaments,
in making gifts and making love.
My partner is such an insolent man that he wants my
children’s possessions, and I am willing to give him some,
so easy-going am I; and then they say Bertran is
wicked because I do not give him all! But he will
come to a bad harbour, I promise you, before he makes
terms with me.
I do not care to do more good or evil about Autafort, for I
believe the judgment of my lord the King.
Explanation. — At the time when the Young King had made peace with his brother Richard, and had given up the claim which he made on his land, as King Henry their father wished, his father gave him a certain allowance of money for food and necessaries; and he did not hold or possess any land, nor did any man come to him for support or help in war, and Sir Bertran de Born and all the other barons who had supported him against Sir Richard were much grieved. And the Young King went off to Normandy to fight in tournaments and to amuse himself, and he left all these barons at war with Sir Richard. And Sir Richard besieged burgs and castles, and took lands, and pulled down and burned and set fire; and the Young King was tilting and
sleeping and amusing himself; wherefore Sir Bertran made this sirventes.
I CARE not to delay longer over making a sirventes, such
desire have I to say and to spread it, for I have such a
new and such a great reason in the Young King, who
has given up his claim on his brother Richard, since his
father wishes it, so bullied is he! Since Sir Henry does
not hold or command land, let him be King of the
For he acts like a dastard since he lives thus just on a paid
and promised allowance. A crowned King who takes
a pension from others is not much like Arnaut, the
Marquis of Bellanda, or the noble Guilhelm who con-
quered Tor Mirmanda, so brave was he! Since he has
lied to them in Poitou and reduced them to beggary,
he will never be so much loved.
Never by sleeping will the King of the English gain Cumber-
land, nor will he conquer Ireland, or hold Anjou or
Montsoreau or Candé, nor will he have the watch-tower
of Poitou, nor will he be called Duke of the Norman
country, nor will he be Count Palatine of Bordeaux
here, or lord of the Gascons beyond Landes or of
I want to give advice in the tune of Lady Alamanda to Sir
Richard, though he does not ask for it; he need never
treat his men well for fear of his brother, by no means
does he do it; but he besieges and pillages them, he
takes their castles and pulls down and burns on every
side. And let the King tilt up there with the people
of Garlande, and the other (King), his brother-in-law.
I would that Count Jaufre, who holds Bresilianda, had been
For he is courteous, and would that kingdoms and duchies
were in his command.
LAMENT ON THE DEATH OF THE “YOUNG KING” HENRY
IF all the grief and tears and misery
And all the sad world’s wretchedness and woe
And sorrow were united, there would be
No fitting lamentation even so
Made for the death of the young English King,
Whereat the young and noble are dismayed,
And all the world is plunged in gloom and shade,
Deprived of joy and filled with grief and sorrow.
Desolate, sad, and full of misery
The courteous soldiers are, and sad also
The trobadors and joglars, for they see
That Death has been to them a deadly foe
Who’s taken from them the young English King,
Compared with whom the generous were mean.
There never will be, nor has ever been,
In all the world such weeping and such sorrow.
Arrogant Death, bringer of misery,
Well may’st thou boast the world is sore distrest
For the best knight that ever was, through thee.
Of qualities the noblest and the best
All could be found in the young English King.
Better it were, if such had been God’s will,
That he should live than many rogues who fill
The hearts of noble men with grief and sorrow.
The joys of this sad life of misery
I hold as false, when love has gone away;
All things in sorrow have their end, ah me!
And the world grows more worthless day by day.
Let all men look at the young English King,
At him who was the bravest of the brave,
And whose fair body now lies in the grave,
Whence there is dole and wretchedness and sorrow.
To Christ Who, pitying our misery,
Came to the world when it had gone astray
And suffered death from sin to set us free,
As He is just and humble, let us pray
That He will grant to the young English King
His pardon (and we shall not pray in vain),
And let him ever with the Saints remain
There where was never grief nor will be sorrow.
Explanation. — At the time when Sir Richard was Count of Poitou, before he was King, Bertran de Born was his enemy, because Sir Bertran wished well to the Young King, who was then at war with Sir Richard, who was his brother. Sir Bertran had made the good Viscount of Limoges, who
was named Sir Ademar, and the Viscount of Turenne and the Viscount of Ventadorn, and the Viscount of Gimel, and the Count of Périgord and his brother, and the Count of Angoulême and his two brothers, and Count Raimon of Toulouse, and the Count of Flanders, and the Count of Barcelona, and Sir Centolh d’Astarac, a Count of Gascony, and Sir Gaston de Béarn, Count of Begora, and the Count of Dijon, take an oath against Sir Richard. And all these abandoned him and made peace without him, and broke faith with him. And Sir Ademar the Viscount of Limoges, who was most of all bound to him by love and agreement, abandoned him and made peace without him. And Sir Richard, when he knew that all these lords had abandoned Sir Bertran, came before Autafort with his army, and said and swore that he would never go away if he did not give him Autafort, and did not come at his command. Bertran, when he heard what Sir Richard had sworn, and knew he was abandoned by all those of whom you have heard, then gave him the castle and came at his command. And Count Richard received him, pardoning him and kissing him. Wherefore Bertran made this sirventes for these two reasons. And you must know that for one stanza which he made in the sirventes, which begins, “If the Count is merciful to me and not harsh,” Count Richard forgave him his ill-will and restored to him his castle of Autafort, and they became true hearty friends. And Sir Bertran goes off and begins to make war on Sir Ademar, the Viscount who had abandoned him, and on the Count of Périgord, whence Bertran received great harm, and he did them great evil. And Sir Richard, when he had become king, went over the sea, and Sir Bertran remained fighting.
I AM not at all discouraged if I have lost, nor do I cease
singing and rejoicing, and trying how I can recover
Autafort, which I have given up to the Lord of Niort,
since he wished it; and since I came before him begging
for mercy, the Count, forgiving me, kept me back and
kissed me; I ought to have no harm at all from that,
whatever he said to me last year, for no slanderer de-
Three Paladins have perjured themselves against me, and the
four viscounties of Limousin; and the two effeminate
Perigordians, and the three stupid Counts of Angou-
mois. Sir Centolh, with Gaston and all the other
barons, made an agreement with me, and the Lord of
Dijon with the Breton Count and Sir Raimon of
Avignon, and never a single one of them kept faith
A friend who does not keep faith is no better than an enemy
who does me no harm. In an ancient monastery of
Saint Marital many great lords swore to me on a missal:
such an one pledged me his faith that he would make
no treaty without me, and afterwards he kept to
nothing that he had said, and it beseemed him not well
at all, for he threw himself on the Count’s mercy and
made peace with him — this I assure you on my faith.
If the Count is merciful to me and not harsh, I will serve
him very well in his affairs, and be true as silver, humble
and loving; and the Count should act wisely as the
sea does: when anything of value falls into it it wills
tthat it should remain with it, and that which is no good
to it it casts up on the sand. Thus it beseems a baron
to pardon, and if he takes anything away, he should then
give something back.
I wish to ask the Count to tell me to guard my castle or to
give it to me, for always all these barons are miserly to
me, for I cannot be with them without quarrelling.
Now the Count can get me back without loss of dignity,
and I can turn to him and serve him; and I would not
do it until the desertion of Sir Ademar.
Lady of the heart miserly of promising and giving, since you
will not grant me more, give me a kiss; thus you can
make me rich and cure all my ills, if God and faith
Papiol, go tell my song to my lady; for love of Sir Ademar
I cease to make war.
Explanation. — Never for anything that Sir Bertran de Born might say in stanzas or sirventes to King Philip, or for reminders of wrong or shame that had been done or said to him, would he fight with King Richard; but Sir Richard rushed into war when he saw the weakness of King Philip, and robbed and took and burned castles, and burgs and towns, and killed and imprisoned men; wherefore all the barons, whom the peace displeased, were very glad, and Sir Bertran more than any, because he desired war more than other men, and because he believed that through his words King Richard had begun the war, wherefore he called him Yea-and-Nay, as you shall hear in the sirventes which he made.
I CANNOT resist spreading a song since Yea-and-Nay has set
fire and drawn blood, for a great war makes a miserly
lord generous, wherefore it pleases me well to see the
pomp of the Kings, for they will need palisades, cords,
and tent-pole knobs, and tents must be pitched for
lodging in the open; and we shall meet by thousands
and hundreds, so that men will sing of our deeds after
For I would have received blows on my shield because of it
and stained my white banner to red, but I abstain and
go without it, because I know that Yea-and-Nay is
loading a die for me; and indeed I do not possess
Lusignan or Rancon that I can make war for long
without wealth, but I can help my friends with my
shield slung round my neck and my helmet on my head.
If King Philip had burnt a boat or drained a pond before
Gisors, so that he might enter by force into the wood
of Rouen and besiege it by hill and by valley, so that
only a pigeon could carry letters there, then shall I
know that he will wish to be like Charles, who was one
of the best of his ancestors, by whom Apulia and Saxony
War brings shame on him who is not found noble, and robs
him of worth, wherefore I do not think my Yea-and-
Nay will abandon Cahors and Cajarc, since he is so
cunning. If the King (Henry) gives him the treasure
of Chinon — he has the heart for war, and will then have
the means for it. Hard work and expense are so pleasing
to him that he is every harrying friends and enemies.
Never a ship at sea when it has lost its boat and there is a
storm, and it strikes on the reef and sails more swiftly
than arrow from bow and rises high and then sinks low,
ever endured worse things — and I will indeed tell you
why — than I do through her who will not keep me,
for she does not maintain day, term or agreement;
wherefore my joy, which was flourishing, is unlucky.
Go, Papiol, at once, quickly and swiftly; be at Träinac before
the feast. Say to Sir Roger from me, and to all his rela-
tives, that I must finish the poem for want of fresh rimes.
IF I were so much lord and master of myself that I were not
in love, and if love had me not in his power, I would
indeed do thus much: I would let everybody know
about King Philip, and what death and harm and grief
it is that he is not noble, and that Ponthieu and France
And here Richard catches hares and lions, so that none
remain in plain or wood, but he makes them keep quiet
and hidden because of his power, for not a single one
dares to move; and he thinks indeed henceforward
to catch great eagles with hawks and put falcons to
shame with bustards.
And there King Philip chases partridges and little birds with
falcons, yet men dare not tell him the truth, because
little by little he is abasing himself here to Sir Richard;
for this year he has taken from him Angoulême, of
which he has made himself master, and Toulouse, which
And since he is not wrathful for (the loss of) his lands, let
him remember his sister and the proud husband who
left her and would not have her: this insult seems to
me unpleasing; and now above all that he goes off
perjuring himself, for the King of Navarre has given
him as husband to his daughter, wherefore the shame
And if he thus loses his rights while he is young, when he is
old he will be ashamed because of it. And the French
may never have good hope, for what men here were wont
to fear so much has been taken from them; here towards
Poitou they care nothing for their sayings or their
demands, but laugh at them when Sir Richard and Sir
Bertran are together.
And they will come here with the spring flowers and their
pomp will be overthrown, and never will Sir Gaston
be able to help them; but we will take from them the
Mount near Saint-Sever, and Rocafort, all that they
have taken from us, so that our torch will be finely
kindled in Poitou so that all can see this.
TO CONRAD, MARQUIS OF MONTFERRAT
A Crusading Song
NOW I know who has the greatest worth of all those who rose
up early; Messer Conrad has the truest without deceit,
who is defending himself out there at Tyre against Sir
Saladin and his wicked herd. May God help him, for
help tarries; he alone will have the praise who alone
suffers the trouble.
Lord Conrad, I commend you to Jesus, for I should be out
at Tyre, I assure you, but I gave it up because the Counts
and Dukes and Kings and Princes delayed; then I saw
my beauteous fair-haired lady, wherefore I became
weak; otherwise I would have been there a good
Lord Conrad, I know two Kings who delay to help you;
now hear who: King Philip is one, for he fears King
Richard, and Richard fears him. Now would that both
of them were in the chain of Sir Saladin, since they
deceive God, for they have taken the Cross and speak
no word of going.
Lord Conrad, I sing all for love of you, nor do I care at all
for friend or enemy, but I do it only that I may blame
the Crusaders because of the journey which they have
so forgotten. They do not think it angers God that
they feast and amuse themselves, and you endure hunger
and thirst and they delay.
Lord Conrad, the wheel goes turning in this world, but it
has its end in evil, for I know few who are not always
studying how they may deceive friends and strangers,
but he who loses does not rejoice. Wherefore let those
of whom I say they do thus know well that God records
what they have said and done.
Lord Conrad, King Richard is worth so much — although
when I want to I can say great harm of him — that this
year he will come to you with as great a force as he can
muster, so I hear say of a certainty; and King Philip
will set out to sea with other Kings who shall come
with such a force that we shall conquer beyond the
Fair Papiol, go on your way spurring towards Savoy and
towards Brindisi, and cross the sea, for I send you to
When you are there, be not angered; you must say to him
that if I do not serve him now with my sword, I will
serve him soon, if the Kings do not deceive me.
But it is true that I am dedicated to such a lady that if the
journey does not please her, I do not think I shall go.
WILLINGLY would I make a sirventes if men were willing
to hear it sung, for nobility, honour, and goodness are
dead; and if any one could avenge them (on their
murderers) there would be so many men killed and
taken that, unless the world came to an end, water
could not drown nor all the fire in the world burn so
And what you hear me tell in my song is not wrong or
foolish, for God gives revenue and income which the
understanding ought to know how to guide according
to the man and his property. But there is nothing
without moderation, and he who acts immoderately
cannot raise his deeds high.
There are kingdoms, but no Kings; and counties, but neither
Counts nor Barons; marches there are, but never a
Marquis; and rich castles and fair dwellings, but the
castellans are not there. And wealth is greater than
ever before; there are plenty of provisions and little
eating, by the fault of base miserly rich men.
You may see and find plenty of fair people and fair array,
but Ogier the Dane is not there, nor do Berart and
Baudoin appear; and there are plenty of combed and
shaven and moustached coxcombs, but no one who
knows the art of love, of holding courts, of wooing
Feeble race! Where are they who were wont to besiege
castles, and who kept their court and reigned well with-
out summons or message? And who gave rich gifts and
spent much on soldiers and joglars? I may truly say,
I see not a single one of them
If King Philip, King of the French, was willing to give Sir
Richard Gisors, a high place and high country, Richard
ought to thank him very much. But if Philip were of
my mind, Richard should not stir a foot towards harming
him without opposition, and since he does not do it he
lets himself be chained.
Papiol, pray hasten; tell Sir Richard from me that he is a
lion, and King Philip seems to me a lamb, since he thus
lets himself be disinherited.
NOW comes the pleasant season when our ships shall come
ashore, and the gallant brave King shall come, for
King Richard was never more so. Then shall we see
gold and silver spent, and mangonels made and dis-
charged, walls thrown down, towers lowered and over-
thrown, and the enemies chained and made prisoners.
Our barons please me not at all, who have made oaths, I
know not what; for this they will be ashamed, like the
wolf that is caught in the trap, when our King may
be expected among us, for otherwise no one of them
will be able to defend himself, but they will all say,
“No man can blame me for any ill deed, but I wish
to give myself up to you.”
I love the press of bucklers covered with red and blue
colours, of ensigns and of banners of different colours.
I like tents and rich pavilions to be pitched, lances
broken, shields shattered, and shining helmets cleft,
and blows, given and taken. . . 1
I like not the company of highway robbers or of venal women;
sacks of sterlings and angels are hateful to me, when
they are ill-gotten. And a niggardly leader ought to
be hanged, and a rich man who wants to sell his gifts:
and men ought not to like an avaricious woman who can
be conquered by money.
I like the custom which the lion has, that is not cruel to a
conquered thing, but is proud against pride. And the
King has not once such baron, but when they see that
his luck is down, each one strives how he may hurt
him. And you need not think that I write a word for
sale, but one ought always to fight for a noble lord.
1 A line is lost here.
I WANT to make a half-sirventes of the two Kings, for soon
we shall see who will have more knights than the valiant
King of Castile, Lord Anfos, for I hear that he is coming
and will want soldiers. Richard will spend money by
hogsheads and gallons, and holds it happiness to spend
and give, and wants no truce, but desires war more than
sparrow-hawk desires quail.
If both the Kings are noble and courageous, we shall soon
see fields strewn with pieces of helmets and shields and
swords and saddle-bows, and men cleft through their
bodies to their girdles, and we shall see horses running
wild, and many lances in side and in breast, and joy
and tears and dole and rejoicing; the loss will be great,
and the gain will be immense.
We shall soon see trumpets and drums, standards and
pennons, ensigns and white and black horses, for the
season will be good, for men will take their wealth
from the usurers; and the sumpter-mule shall never go
in safety on the highway, nor a burgher without fear,
nor any merchant who may come towards France, but
whoever will take willingly shall become rich.
But if the King comes, I have faith in God that I shall live
or shall be cut in pieces;
And if I live, it will be great good luck for me; and if I die,
a great deliverance.
AGAINST THE RICH PEASANTRY
IT pleases me well when I see the cursed rich people in
trouble, who make war on the noble; and it pleases me
when I see them destroyed day by day, by twenties and
thirties, and when I find them in rags and begging their
bread; and if I lie, may my sweetheart lie to me.
The peasant has the manners of a swine, for seemly living
bores him, and when he gains great riches, wealth
makes him act like a fool; wherefore one should always
keep his trough empty, and spend his money, and make
him endure wind and rain.
He who does not keep a firm hand on his serf confirms him
in disloyalty, wherefore the man is a fool who does not
put him down when he sees him rise too high; for a
peasant, when he is in safety or fortifies himself in a
strong place, has no equal in malice, for he ruins all he
comes into contact with.
One should never pity a peasant if one sees him break an
arm or leg, or sees him in want of anything, for a
peasant, so help me God, will never help with his own
goods even one who may touch him most by pity or
compassion, wherefore his deeds should be blamed.
Base and false race, full of deceit and usury, of pride and
impudence! Their deeds are intolerable, for they
set God and loyalty and justice at nought; they think
to imitate Adam — God give them ill-luck!
THE JOYS OF WAR
I LOVE the spring-tide of the year
When leaves and blossoms do abound,
And well it pleases me to hear
The birds that make the woods resound
With their exulting voices.
And very well it pleases me.
Tents and pavilions pitched to see,
And oh, my heart rejoices
To see armed knights in panoply
Of war on meadow and on lea.
I like to see men put to flight
By scouts throughout the countryside,
I like to see, armed for the fight,
A host of men together ride;
And my delight’s unbounded
When castles strong I see assailed,
And outworks smashed, whose strength has failed,
And near the walls, surrounded
By moats, and by strong stakes enrailed,
The host that has the ramparts sealed.
And well I like a noble lord
When boldly the attack he leads,
For he, whene’er he wields his sword,
Inspires his men by his brave deeds,
Their hearts with courage filling.
When tide of battle’s at the flood,
Each soldier then, in fighting mood,
To follow should be willing.
For no man is accounted good
Till blows he’s given and withstood.
Axes and swords and spears and darts,
Shields battered in with many a blow
We’ll see when first the battle starts,
And clash of arms as foe meets foe;
The steeds of dead and dying
Wildly will rush throughout the field,
And all who wish to be revealed
As brave will e’er be trying
How best their axes they may wield,
For they would rather die than yield.
Not so much joy in sleep have I,
Eating and drinking please me less
Than hearing on all sides the cry
“At them!” and horse riderless
Among the woodlands neighing.
And well I like to hear the call
Of “Help!” and see the wounded fall,
Loudly for mercy praying,
And see the dead, both great and small,
Pierced by sharp spear-heads one and all.
Barons, without delaying,
Pawn every city, castle, hall,
And never cease to fight and brawl.
Papiol, make no staying,
Lord Yea-and-Nay go rouse and call,
Tell him this peace on me doth pall.