Early French Poetry – From ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci

Alain Chartier (1385-1429)


From ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’


I rode past, thinking, recently,

Like one who’s sad and sorrowful,

Of that lament that renders me

Of all lovers the most mournful,

Since, with his dart so dreadful,

Death has stolen my mistress,

And left me lonely: left me dull,

In the sole charge of Sadness.


I said to myself: ‘I should cease

Writing and rhyming, it appears,

Abandon laughter, and be pleased

To replace all this with tears.

And so I must employ my years,

Without heart or inclination

To pen a single thing, I fear,

That pleases me, or anyone.


If any would constrain my will

To write of happy things,

My pen would not possess the skill,

Nor my tongue the power to sing.

My lips could never part, in smiling,

Without a gaze that lips betrayed,

Since my heart would claim denial

Through the tears my cheeks displayed.

I leave it to the lover, who nurses

Hopes that his wound might heal,

To make ballads, songs and verses,

That each might his own skill reveal.

My lady, by her will, did steal

At her Death, God save her soul,

And carry away, my power to feel,

That lies with her beneath the stone.



via Early French Poetry – New freely downloadable translations..


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