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

Guillaume de Cabestaing (1181–1196): I See the Days are Long

By Provençal Literature (The Troubadours), 1090–1290

From Blackwood’s Magazine, February 1836

I SEE the days are long and glad;

On every tree are countless flowers,

And merry birds sing in the bowers,

Which bitter cold so long made sad:

But now upon the highest hills,

Each amid flowers and sparkling rills,

After his manner takes delight.

And therefore I rejoice once more

That joy of love should warm my breast,

And lay my sweet desires to rest.

As serpent from false sycamore,

I from false coldness speed me ever;

Yet for love’s sake, which cheers me never,

All other joys seem vain and light.

Never since Adam plucked the fruit

Whence thousand woes our race oppress,

Was seen on earth such loveliness.

The body, formed that face to suit,

Is polished more than amethyst;

Her very beauty makes me tryst,

Since she of me takes little heed.

Ah, never shall there come a time

When love, that now inflames my heart,

Shall struggle from her to depart.

As plants, even in a wintry clime,

When the sun shines regain new life,

So her sweet smiles, with gladness rife,

Deck me with love, as plants with flower.

I love so madly, many die

From less, and now my hour seems near.

For though my love’s to me most dear,

In vain for help or hope I sigh.

A fire upon my heart is fed,

The Nile could quench no more than thread

Of finest silk support a tower.

Alas that I must still lament

The pains that from love ever flow;

That baffled hope and ceaseless woe

All color from my cheek have sent.

But white as snow shall be my hair,

And I a trembling dotard, ere

Of my best lady I complain.

How oft, from lady’s love we see

The fierce and wicked change their mood;

How oft is he most kind and good

Who, did he not love tenderly,

Would be each passion’s wayward slave.

Thus am I meek with good and brave,

But haughty to the bad and vain.

Thus with delight each cherished woe I dree,

And sweet as manna seems slight joy to me.

Translation of Harriet Waters Preston

THERE is who spurns the leaf, and turns

The stateliest flower of all to cull:

So on life’s topmost bough sojourns

My lady; the most beautiful!

Whom with his own nobility

Our Lord hath graced, so she may move

In glorious worth our lives above,

Yet soft with all humility.

Her pleading look my spirit shook,

And won my fealty long ago;

My heart’s blood stronger impulse took,

Freshening my colors. And yet so,

No otherwise discovering

My love, I bode. Now, lady mine,

At last, before thy throngèd shrine,

I also lay my offering.


Which thy love giveth me,

Still bid me render

My vows, in song, to thee;

Gracious and slender,

Thine image I can see,

Wherever I wend, or

What eyes do look on me.

Yea, in the frowning face

Of uttermost disgrace,

Proud would I take my place

Before thy feet,

Lady, whose aspect sweet

Doth my poor self efface,

And leave but joy and praise….

Who shall deny me

The memory of thine eyes?

Evermore by me

Thy lithe white form doth rise.

If God were nigh me

Alway, in so sure wise,

Quick might I hie me

Into his Paradise!