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

Richard Cœur de Lion (1169–1199): Ah! Certes will no Prisoner Tell His Tale

By Provençal Literature (The Troubadours), 1090–1290

From Blackwood’s Magazine, February 1836

AH! Certes will no prisoner tell his tale

Fitly, unless as one whom woes befall;

Still, as a solace, songs may much avail:

Friends I have many, yet the gifts are small,—

Shame! that because to ransom me they fail,

I’ve pined two years in thrall.

But all my liegemen in fair Normandy,

In England, Poitou, Gascony, know well

That not my meanest follower would I

Leave for gold’s sake in prison-house to dwell;

Reproach I neither kinsman nor ally,—

Yet I am still in thrall.

Alas! I may as certain truth rehearse,

Nor kin nor friends have captives and the dead:

’Tis bad for me, but for my people worse,

If to desert me they through gold are led;

After my death, ’twill be to them a curse

If they leave me in thrall.

No marvel, then, if I am sad at heart

Each day my lord disturbs my country more;

Has he forgot that he too had a part

In the deep oath which before God we swore?

But yet in truth I know, I shall not smart

Much longer here in thrall.