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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Bernard de Ventadour (1140–1195): Marvel is it if I Sing

By Provençal Literature (The Troubadours), 1090–1290

Translation of Harriet Waters Preston

NO marvel is it if I sing

Better than other minstrels all,

For more than they am I love’s thrall,

And all myself therein I fling:

Knowledge and sense, body and soul,

And whatso power I have beside:

The rein that doth my being guide

Impels me to this only goal!

His heart is dead whence doth not spring

Love’s odor sweet and magical;

His life doth ever on him pall

Who knoweth not that blessèd thing:

Yea, God who doth my life control

Were cruel, did he bid me bide

A month or even a day, denied

The love whose rapture I extol.

How keen, how exquisite the sting

Of that sweet odor! At its call

An hundred times a day I fall

And faint; an hundred rise and sing!

So fair the semblance of my dole,

’Tis lovelier than another’s pride:

If such the ill doth me betide,

Good hap were more than I could thole!

Yet haste, kind Heaven, the sundering

True swains from false, great hearts from small!

The traitor in the dust bid crawl,

The faithless to confession bring!

Ah, if I were the master sole

Of all earth’s treasures multiplied,

To see my lady satisfied

Of my pure faith, I’d give the whole!

WHEN I behold on eager wing

The skylark soaring to the sun,

Till e’en with rapture faltering

He sinks in glad oblivion,

Alas, how fain to seek were I

The same ecstatic fate of fire!

Yea, of a truth, I know not why

My heart melts not with its desire!

Methought that I knew everything

Of love. Alas, my lore was none!

For helpless now my praise I bring

To one who still that praise doth shun;

One who hath robbed me utterly

Of soul, of self, of life entire,

So that my heart can only cry

For that it ever shall require.

For ne’er have I of self been king

Since the first hour, so long agone,

When to thine eyes bewildering,

As to a mirror, I was drawn.

There let me gaze until I die;

So doth my soul of sighing tire,

As at the fount, in days gone by,

The fair Narcissus did expire.

WHEN the sweet breeze comes blowing

From where thy country lies,

Meseems I am foreknowing

The airs of Paradise.

So is my heart o’erflowing

For that fair one and wise

Who hath the glad bestowing

Of life’s whole energies;

For whom I agonize

Whithersoever going.

I mind the beauty glowing,

The fair and haughty eyes,

Which, all my will o’erthrowing,

Made me their sacrifice.

Whatever mien thou’rt showing,

Why should I this disguise?

Yet let me ne’er be ruing

One of thine old replies:—

“Man’s daring wins the prize,

But fear is his undoing.”