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of rhythm, the latter, who had vowed his devotions to a certain lovely Viscountess of Béziers, was the author of some of the most exquisitely tender bits of Provençal song which we possess.

The laborious verbal conceits and metrical intricacies of Dante's Arnaut were imitated with great ingenuity, and even exaggerated, by Raimon de Miraval, who fought in the Albigensian war; during which so many of the local poets and their patrons fell, that a whole civilization seemed to perish with them. That cruel contest may be held to mark the beginning of the end of the Provençal school of song.

The name of a woman, the Countess Die, — who also, like the royal Eleanor, presided over a Court of Love, — remains attached to one plaintiff lament much admired in its day; and another woman, though unnamed, was the author of the most artless and impassioned of all the peculiar class of poems known as albas or morning-songs.

Another very beautiful alba was written by Guiraut de Borneil, of whom it is said by his ancient biographer that he composed the first true chanson, all previous poets having made verses only. He won a weightier kind of renown by the virile force and fire of his sirventes, — didactic or satiric pieces, — in which he 'mourned the accumulated misfortunes of his country, or lashed the crimes and vices of the men who had brought her to the verge of ruin.

Contemporary with Guiraut was another intrepid censor of the corruptions of his time, Peire Cardinal; of whom we have a satire beginning with the burning words, “Who desires to hear a sirventes woven of grief and embroidered with anger ? I have spun it already, and I can make its warp and woof!” Both these brave men died not far from the year 1230, and the course of Provençal literature after their day is one of steady deterioration.

[The dates at the head of these pieces translated by Miss Preston represent, approximately, the time within which the several authors wrote.]



BEHOLD the meads are green again,
The orchard-bloom is seen again,
Of sky and stream the mien again

Is mild, is bright!

Now should each heart that loves obtain

Its own delight.
But I will say no ill of love,
However slight my guerdon prove;
Repining doth not me behoove :

And yet - to know
How lightly she I fain would move

Might bliss bestow !
There are who hold my folly great,
Because with little hope I wait;
But one old saw doth animate

And me assure :
Their hearts are high, their might is great,

Who well endure.


Desire of song hath taken me,
But sorrowful must my song be;
No more pay I my fealty

In Limousin or Poitiers,

Since I go forth to exile far,
And leave my son to stormy war,
To fear and peril; for they are

No friends who dwell about him there.
What wonder then my heart is sore
That Poitiers I see no more,
And Fulk of Anjou must implore

To guard his kinsman and my heir ?
If he of Anjou shield him not,
And he who made me knight, I wot
Many against the boy will plot,

Deeming him well-nigh in despair.
Nay, if he be not wondrous wise,
And gay, and ready for emprise,
Gascons and Angevins will rise,

And him into the dust will bear. Ah, I was brave and I had fame, But we are sundered, all the same! I go to Him in whose great name

Confide all sinners everywhere.

Surrendering all that did elate
My heart, - all pride of steed or state, –
To Him on whom the pilgrims wait,

Without more tarrying, I repair.
Forgive me, comrade most my own,
If aught of wrong I thee have done!
I lift to Jesus on his throne

In Latin and Románs my prayer.
Oh, I was gallant, I was glad,
Till my Lord spake, and me forbade;
But now the end is coming sad,

Nor can I more my burden bear.
Good friends, when that indeed I die
Pay me due honor where I lie :
Tell how in love and luxury

I triumphed still, - or here or there.
But farewell now, love, luxury,

And silken robes and miniver!


Come, lady, to my song incline,
The last that shall assail thine ear.

None other cares my strains to hear,
And scarce thou feign'st thyself therewith delighted!
Nor know I well if I am loved or slighted;
But this I know, thou radiant one and sweet,
That, loved or spurned, I die before thy feet!

Yea, I will yield this life of mine
In very deed, if cause appear,

Without another boon to cheer.
Honor it is to be by thee incited
To any deed; and I, when most benighted
By doubt, remind me that times change and fleet,
And brave men still do their occasion meet.



1. No marvel is it if I sing

Better than other minstrels all,

For inore 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."

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