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

Mediæval Breton

The Cross by the Way

(Kroaz ann Hent)

Translation of Tom Taylor

SWEET in the greenwood a birdie sings;

Golden-yellow its two bright wings;

Red its heartikin, blue its crest:

Oh, but it sings with the sweetest breast!

Early, early it ’lighted down

On the edge of my ingle-stone,

As I prayed my morning prayer,—

“Tell me thy errand, birdie fair.”

Then sung it as many sweet things to me

As there are roses on the rose-tree:

“Take a sweetheart, lad, an’ you may;

To gladden your heart both night and day.”

Past the cross by the way as I went,

Monday, I saw her fair as a saint:

Sunday, I will go to mass,

There on the green I’ll see her pass.

Water poured in a beaker clear

Dimmer shows than the eyes of my dear;

Pearls themselves are not more bright

Than her little teeth, pure and white.

Then her hands and her cheek of snow,

Whiter than milk in a black pail, show.

Yes, if you could my sweetheart see,

She would charm the heart from thee.

Had I as many crowns at my beck

As hath the Marquis of Poncalec,

Had I a gold-mine at my door,

Wanting my sweetheart I were poor.

If on my door-sill up should come

Golden flowers for furze and broom,

Till my court were with gold piled high,

Little I’d reck, but she were by.

Doves must have their close warm nest,

Corpses must have the tomb for rest;

Souls to Paradise must depart:

And I, my love, must to thy heart.

Every Monday at dawn of day

I’ll on my knees to the cross by the way;

At the new cross by the way I’ll bend,

In thy honor, my gentle friend!