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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.]
GUILLAUME DE POITIERS.
BEHOLD the meads are green again,
Is mild, is bright!
Now should each heart that loves obtain
Its own delight.
And yet - to know
Might bliss bestow !
And me assure :
Who well endure.
Desire of song hath taken me,
In Limousin or Poitiers,
Since I go forth to exile far,
No friends who dwell about him there.
To guard his kinsman and my heir ?
Deeming him well-nigh in despair.
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
Without more tarrying, I repair.
In Latin and Románs my prayer.
Nor can I more my burden bear.
I triumphed still, - or here or there.
And silken robes and miniver!
GUIRAUD LE Roux.
None other cares my strains to hear,
Yea, I will yield this life of mine
Without another boon to cheer.
BERNARD DE VENTADOUR.
1. No marvel is it if I sing
Better than other minstrels all,
For inore than they am I love's thrall,
Knowledge and sense, body and soul,
And whatso power I have beside :
The rein that doth my being guide
Love's odor sweet and magical;
His life doth ever on him pall
A month or even a day, denied
How keen, how exquisite the sting
Of that sweet odor! At its call
An hundred times a day I fall
'Tis lovelier than another's pride :
If such the ill doth me betide,
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
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,
The airs of Paradise.
For that fair one and wise
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."