Home  »  library  »  poem  »  Blanchefleur at the Tournament

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

Blanchefleur at the Tournament

By Gottfried von Strassburg (d. c. 1210)

From ‘Tristan and Isolde’ of Gottfried von Strassburg: Translation of Adolph Ernst Kroeger

AT Tintajoel ’twas, on the plain

Where the guests met again;

In the loveliest glen

Ever beheld by eyes of men

In the first freshness of that clime.

The gentle, gracious summer-time

Had by the sweet Creator’s hand

With sweet care been poured on the land.

Of little wood birdlets bright,

That to ears should ever give delight,

Of grass, flowers, leaves, and blossoms high,

Of all that happy makes the eye

Or noble heart delight may gain,

Was full the glorious summer plain.

Whatever there you wished to find,

Spring had kindly borne in mind,—

The sunshine by the shadow,

The linden on the meadow.

The gentle, pleasant breezes,

With cunning, sweet caresses,

O’er all the guests did lightly sweep.

The brilliant flowers did brightly peep

From dewy grass and shadow.

May’s friend, the fresh green meadow,

Had from the flowers that he had reared

A summer robe so bright prepared,

Each guest its glow detected

From eye and mien reflected.

The sweet tree blossom looked at you

With a smile so sweet and true,

That all your heart and all your mind

Again to the laughing bloom inclined;

With eyes playfully burning,

Its loving laugh returning.

The gentle bird-ditty,

So lovely, so pretty,

That stirs every feeling,

O’er ears and minds stealing,

Rang from each bush of the summer vale.

The blessed nightingale,

The dearest, sweetest bird on tree,

That ever blessed ought to be,

It sang in the coolness,

With such heartfulness,

That to every noble heart

The sound did joy and glow impart.

And now the whole company,

Full of mirth and in high glee,

Had settled down upon the lawn.

There did every one

As his notion or pleasure bent,

And put up or arranged his tent.

The wealthy were quartered wealthily,

The courtly incomparably;

Some under silk did rest,

Others on the heath gay-drest;

To many the linden gave shadow,

Others housed on the meadow,

Under leaf-green twigs demurely.

Nor guests nor servants, surely,

Rarely were pleasanter

Quartered than they were quartered here.

Plenty was gathered of the best,

Which needful is for mirthful feast,

In way of clothing and eating;

Each his own wants meeting,

From home had brought provender.

King Mark, with regal splendor,

Moreover had provided for them.

Thus they enjoyed in bliss supreme

The gracious time of early spring;

Thus joy the feast to all did bring.

All that ever a curious man

To behold had longed, he then

There could have seen certainly.

One saw there what one liked to see:

Those eyed the pretty women,

These watched the peddling showmen;

Those looked at the dancing,

These at the jousting and lancing.

All that ever heart longed for

Was found there in sufficient store;

And all who were present,

Of joy-ripe years, pleasant

Effort made each to exceed

At every feast in mirthful deed;

And King Mark the good,

The courteous and high of mood,

Not only on this festivity

Had spent his wealth lavishly,

But here did he show men

A wonder of all women,

His sister Blanchefleur,—

A maid more beautiful than e’er

A woman upon earth was seen.

Of her beauty one must say, e’en,

That no living man could gaze

Intently on her glorious face,

But he would higher rank and find

Women and virtue in his mind.

The blessed eye-pleasure

O’er that wide inclosure

Gladdened all of young, fresh blood,

All noble hearts of courteous mood;

And on the lawn could have been seen

Many pretty women then,

Of whom each by her beauty

Should have been queen in duty.

Whoe’er had seen them surely would

Have drawn from such sight fresh bold mood.

Many hearts grew rich with joy.

Now began the great tourney

Of the servants and of the guests.

The boldest and the best

Up and down the track now paced.

Noble Mark ahead e’er raced

With his fellow Riwalin,

Whose knights following close and keen

Their play to guide ever

Did nobly endeavor

In their master’s glory,

For future song and story.

Many a horse, in overdress

Of cloth or half silk, in the race

Was seen on the meadow clover;

Many a snow-white cover

There shone, or red, brown, green, or blue;

Others again, for show, wore too

Robes with noble silk worked nice,

Or scalloped in many a quaint device,

Parted, striped, or braided,

Or with trimmings shaded.

Gayly, too, appeared there

Knights of handsome form and fair,

Their armor slit, as if cut to pieces.

Even Spring with its balmy breezes,

King Mark its high favor showed;

For many people in the crowd

Were crowned with wreaths of flowers wrought,

Which, as his offering, Spring had brought.

In such glorious, blessed May,

Began the blessed tourney.

Oft intermixed, the double troop

Rode up this grade, rode down that slope.

This carried they on so long that day,

Till downward swept the glorious play

To where Blanchefleur sat, the sweet,

Whom I as wonder greet,

With pretty women at her side,

To watch the show and the gallant ride;

And how they rode so nobly all,

With carriage imperial,

That many an eye with pleasure lit.

But whatsoever others did,

Still ’twas the courtly Riwalin—

As ’twas, indeed, meet to have been—

Who before all the knighthood rare

Best showed his knightly power there.

The women, too, him notice showed,

And whispered that, in all the crowd,

No one on horse appearing

Rode with such gallant bearing.

They praised that which in him was shown.

“See!” said they,—“see! this youth fine-grown,

This man, is truly glorious!

How gloriously sits all he does,

Sit all movements of his bearing!

How his body is fair-appearing!

How joins with equal grace on him

Each imperial limb!

How evenly his shield is moved!

As if fast-glued, it floats aloft!

How doth the shaft his hand befit!

How well his robes upon him sit!

How stands his head! how glows his hair!

Sweet his behavior he doth wear;

Glorified is his body all!

Ah, happy is the woman who shall

Her bliss owe his sweet body.”

Well pondered this in study

Blanchefleur, the blessed maid;

In her secret heart she had,

Above all knights, addressed to him

Her pleasant thoughts, her wond’rings dim.

She had him in her heart enshrined,

He had around her soul him twined;

He bore upon high throne

The sceptre and the crown

In the kingdom of her heart,

Although the secret she did guard,

And from the world keep, as was fit,

That no one e’er suspected it.