Table of Contents
- Text and Translation
- Lines 1-32. Overlooked and Isolated
- Lines 33-79. A Close Encounter
- Lines 80-106. A Generous Offer
- Lines 153-200. The Promise
- Lines 201-68. An Amorous Queen
- Lines 269-310. A Woman Scorned
- Lines 311-412. Accusation and Deferral
- Lines 415-60. Legal Expedients
- Lines 461-98. First Interruption
- Lines 499-546. Second Interruption
- Lines 547-600. At Long Last Love
- Lines 601-46. Into the Sunset
Below is the Old French text of Marie de France’s Lanval, one of her twelve “lays” of Breton inspiration, together with an English translation by the Professor (me). Interspersed are notes on a few passages. For a more in-depth study, see the Commentary.
The Text Used
The text is that of the 1900 edition by Karl Warnke, as available at Wikisource. A scan of the printed book is here. I have also consulted the 1981 CFMA edition by Jean Rychner. Both editions prioritize manuscript “H” = British Museum, Harley 978, which I have also consulted online. (In manuscript H the Lais begin at folio 118r. Lanval is on folios 133v-138v. A PDF of these pages is here.)
I have borrowed the line numbering of Rychner and included only the lines he admits (those in manuscript H).
My translation adheres fairly closely to the Old French text, in particular with regard to verb tenses. A present tense verb I always translate with present tense 1; a passé composé I always translate with a present perfect. (You will be relieved to hear that I am less rigid in translating imperfects.) The resulting awkwardness I allow in favor of transparency to the original, even while realizing that, often enough, an Old French author chose the tense to suit the meter or the rhyme.
Except when they are used in direct address, I have translated ami(s) as “lover” and amie as “lady friend.” (On account of the, you know, bienséances [proprieties].)
Other Online English Translations
There is a much smoother 1911 prose translation by Eugene Mason available at Wikisource. Disadvantages of it are that 1) it is based on an earlier, less satisfactory edition of the Old French and 2) it bowdlerizes rather more than it should the physical side of the human-immortal relationship. There is also a 1990s English verse translation by Judith Shoaf.
Text and Translation
Lines 1-32. Overlooked and Isolated
|L’aventure d’un altre lai,
cum ele avint, vus cunterai.
Faiz fu d’un mult gentil vassal;
4 en Bretanz l’apelent Lanval.
|The adventure of another lay,
Just as it happened, I will tell you.
It was told of a very noble vassal;
4 In Breton they call him Lanval.
|A Kardoeil surjurnot li reis,
Artur, li pruz e li curteis,
pur les Escoz e pur les Pis
8 ki destrueient le païs;
en la terre de Loengre entroënt
e mult suvent le damajoënt.
A la pentecuste en esté
12 i aveit li reis sujurné.
Asez i duna riches duns
E as cuntes e as baruns,
a cels de la table roünde
16 (n’ot tant de tels en tut le munde!)
femmes e terres departi,
fors a un sul ki l’ot servi.
|At Carduel the king was staying,
Arthur, the valiant and courteous,
On account of the Irish and the Picts
8 Who were devastating the countryside;
They used to enter the land of Logres
And very often caused it harm.
At Pentecost, in summer,
12 The king had stayed there.
He gave rich gifts in great number
To both the counts and the barons,
To those of the Round Table
16 (There were not so many of their like in all the world!)
He portioned out wives and lands—
Except to one who had served him.
Line 5. Carduel could be Carlisle in Cumbria, formerly Cumberland, or it could be a site in Wales. See this Wikipedal stub.
Line 6: Artur, li pruz e li curteis. At least from Geoffrey of Monmouth on (History of the Kings of Britain, 1130s), King Arthur was the accepted paragon of the two essential virtues of the courtly knight, prowess and courtesy.
Line 9. Logres is the name of Arthur’s kingdom. In modern Welsh, it is used to refer to the part of the island overrun by the “Saxons” (Lloegr).
|Ceo fu Lanval ; ne l’en sovint,
20 ne nuls des soens bien ne li tint.
Pur sa valur, pur sa largesce,
pur sa bealté, pur sa pruësce
l’envioënt tuit li plusur;
24 tels li mustrout semblant d’amur,
s’al chevalier mesavenist,
ja une feiz ne l’en pleinsist.
Fiz a rei fu, de halt parage,
28 mes luin ert de sun heritage.
De la maisniee le rei fu.
Tut sun aveir a despendu;
kar li reis rien ne li dona,
32 ne Lanval ne li demanda.
|This was Lanval. He did not remember him,
20 Nor did any of his people act well towards him.
On account of his valor, of his largesse,
Of his beauty, of his prowess,
A very great number envied him;
24 Such there were that feigned friendship for him,
But if anything bad happened to the knight,
Not once did they express any sympathy.
He was the son of a king, of high birth,
28 But he was far from his heritage.
He belonged to the household of the king.
He has spent all he owned;
For the king give gave him nothing,
32 Nor did Lanval ask him for anything.
Lines 33-79. A Close Encounter
|Ore est Lanval mult entrepris,
mult est dolenz, mult est pensis.
Seignur, ne vus en merveilliez:
36 huem estranges, descunseilliez
mult est dolenz en altre terre,
quant il ne set u sucurs querre.
Li chevaliers dunt jeo vus di,
40 ki tant aveit le rei servi,
un jur munta sur sun destrier,
si s’est alez esbaneier.
Fors de la vile en est eissuz;
44 tuz suls est en un pre venuz.
|Now is Lanval in a very tight corner;
He is very sorrowful, he is very pensive.
Lords, do not be amazed at it;
36 A foreign man, counselless,
Is very sorrowful in another land,
When he does not know where to seek aid.
The knight of whom I tell you,
40 Who had served the king so much,
One day mounted his charger
And has gone off to disport himself.
He has gone out of the town;
44 Quite alone he has come to a meadow.
|Sur une ewe curant descent;
mes sis chevals tremble forment:
il le descengle, si s’en vait,
48 en mi le pre vultrer le lait.
Le pan de sun mantel plia
desuz sun chief, si se culcha.
Mult est pensis pur sa mesaise,
52 il ne veit chose ki li plaise.
La u il gist en tel maniere,
guarda a val lez la riviere,
si vit venir dous dameiseles;
56 unc nen ot veües plus beles.
Vestues furent richement,
Lacie(e)s mut estreitement
en dous blialz de purpre bis;
60 mult par aveient bels les vis.
L’einznee portout uns bacins
d’or esmeré, bien faiz e fins:
le veir vus en dirai senz faille;
64 l’altre portout une tuaille.
|He dismounts next to a stream;
But his horse trembles greatly:
He unsaddles him, and he goes off,
48 Letting it roll in the meadow.
He folds up his cloak
Under his head and lies down.
He is very pensive on account of his distress.
52 He sees nothing that pleases him.
There where he lay in such a manner,
He looked downstream along the river
And saw two damsels coming.
56 Never had he seen more beautiful.
They were richly clothed,
in two gowns of purple linen;
60 Their faces were very lovely.
The elder was carrying a pair of basins
Of pure gold, well made and elegant—
The truth I will tell you without fail—
64 The other was carrying a towel.
|Eles en sunt alees dreit
la u li chevaliers giseit.
Lanval, ki mult fu enseigniez,
68 cuntre eles s’est levez en piez.
Celes l’unt primes salué,
lur message li unt cunté.
‘Sire Lanval, ma dameisele,
72 ki mult par est curteise e bele,
ele nus enveie pur vus :
kar i venez ensemble od nus !
Salvement vus i cunduiruns.
76 Veez, pres est sis paveilluns ! ’
Li chevaliers od eles vait ;
de sun cheval ne tient nul plait,
ki devant lui pesseit el pre.
|They have gone straight
To where the knight was lying.
Lanval, who was well instructed,
68 Has gotten up at their approach.
First they have greeted him,
(then) They have told him their message.
“Sir Lanval, my lady,
72 Who is exceedingly courteous and lovely,
She sends us on your account:
Come along with us, pray!
We will guide you safely.
76 See, her pavilion is near.”
The knight goes with them;
He is not concerned about his horse,
Which was browsing before him in the meadow.
Lines 80-106. A Generous Offer
|80 Des i qu’al tref l’unt amené,
ki mult fu beals e bien asis.
La reïne Semiramis,
quant ele ot unkes plus aveir
84 e plus puissance e plus saveir,
ne l’emperere Octovian
n’eslijassent le destre pan.
Un aigle d’or ot desus mis ;
88 de cel ne sai dire le pris
ne des cordes ne des pessuns
ki del tref tienent les giruns :
suz ciel n’a rei kis eslijast
92 pur nul aveir qu’il i donast.
Dedenz cel tref fu la pucele.
|80 They have led him right up to the tent,
Which was very lovely and well situated.
Neither Queen Semiramis,
When she was at her richest,
84 Most powerful, and wisest,
Nor the Emperor Octavian,
Could have afforded the right flap.
A golden eagle there was placed atop it;
88 I cannot say its worth,
Nor that of the ropes nor of the stakes
That hold the skirts of the tent in place;
There’s not a king under heaven that could afford them
92 For any wealth that he might give for it.
Within that tent was the maiden.
|Flur de lis e rose nuvele,
quant ele pert el tens d’esté,
96 trespassot ele de bealté.
Ele jut sur un lit mult bel
(li drap valeient un chastel)
en sa chemise senglement.
100 Mult ot le cors bien fait e gent.
Un chier mantel de blanc hermine,
covert de purpre Alexandrine,
ot pur le chalt sur li geté ;
104 tut ot descovert le costé,
le vis, le col e la peitrine :
plus ert blanche que flurs d’espine.
|The lily and the new-blown rose,
When it appears in summer-time,
96 She surpassed in beauty.
She lay on a very beautiful bed—
The sheets were worth a castle—
In her shift and nothing else.
100 Her body was very well made and fine.
A costly mantle of white ermine,
Lined with Alexandrian silk,
She had, on account of the heat, thrown off;
104 One side was completely uncovered,
Her face, her neck, and her bosom;
She was whiter than a hawthorn.
Lines 82-92, 98. Medieval fascination with costly accouterments should not be interpreted (as it might in a modern context) as merely crass; so says C.S. Lewis, speaking about precisely this passage (Discarded Image, “The Longaevi”).
Line 92. The word pucele, “maiden,” has perhaps a somewhat broad meaning when applied to a fairy being. Aphrodite might be an appropriate comparison.
|Li chevaliers avant ala,
108 e la pucele l’apela.
Il s’est devant le lit asis.
‘Lanval’, fet ele, ’bels amis,
pur vus vinc jeo fors de ma terre ;
112 de luinz vus sui venue querre.
Se vus estes pruz e curteis,
emperere ne quens ne reis
n’ot unkes tant joie ne bien ;
116 kar jo vus aim sur tute rien.’
Il l’esguarda, si la vit bele ;
amurs le puint de l’estencele
ki sun quer alume e esprent.
120 Il li respunt avenantment.
‘Bele’, fet il, ’se vus plaiseit
e cele joie m’aveneit
que vus me volsissiez amer,
124 ne savriëz rien comander
que jeo ne face a mun poeir,
turt a folie u a saveir.
Jeo ferai voz comandemenz ;
128 pur vus guerpirai tutes genz.
Ja mes ne quier de vus partir :
ceo est la riens que plus desir.’
|The knight went forward,
108 And the maiden called him.
He has sat down before the bed.
“Lanval,” she says, “Fair friend,
For you I came out of my land;
112 From far away I have come seeking you.
If you are valiant and courteous,
No emperor nor count nor king
Had ever so much joy or wealth;
116 For I love you above everything.”
He looked and her and saw that she was beautiful;
Love pricks him with the spark
That lights and kindles his heart.
120 He answers her becomingly.
“Lovely one,” he says, “If it should please you,
And if this joy should come to me
That you would elect to love me,
124 You couldn’t possibly command anything
That I wouldn’t do to my power,
Whether it turned to folly or wisdom.
I will do your commandments.
128 For your sake I will leave all peoples.
I will never seek to leave you:
It is the thing I most desire.”
|Quant la pucele oï parler
132 celui ki tant la pout amer,
s’amur e sun cors li otreie.
Ore est Lanval en dreite veie !
Un dun li a duné aprés :
136 ja cele rien ne vuldra mes (R: vudra)
que il nen ait a sun talent ;
doinst e despende largement,
ele li trovera asez.
140 Ore est Lanval bien assenez :
cum plus despendra richement,
e plus avra or e argent.
‘Amis’, fet ele, ’or vus chasti,
144 si vus comant e si vus pri :
ne vus descovrez a nul hume !
De ceo vus dirai jeo la sume.
A tuz jurs m’avriëz perdue,
148 se ceste amurs esteit seüe ; (R: Si)
mes ne me purriëz veeir
ne de mun cors saisine aveir.’
Il li respunt que bien tendra
152 ceo qu’ele li comandera.
|When the maiden heard speak
132 The one who could love her so much,
She grants him her love and her body.
Now is Lanval on the right path!
Afterwards she has given him a gift:
136 Never will he want a thing
And not have it as he desires;
Let him give and dispense widely.
She will find sufficient for him!
140 Now is Lanval well provided for:
The more richly he dispenses,
The more gold and silver he will have.
“Friend,” she says, “Now I advise you,
144 And order you and beg you,
Do not reveal yourself to anyone!
About this I will tell you the whole story:
For always you would have lost me,
148 If this love were known.
Never would you be able to see me more,
Nor have ownership of my body.”
He answers her that he will keep carefully
152 What she has commanded him.
Lines 112, 128. Both lovers are willing to abandon the rest of their societies in order to be with the beloved.
Line 133. The word cors (“body”) no doubt means more than just the physical, and could be translated “person” (“I grant you my heart and my person”). However, the physical is certainly included here. The word saisine (possession, ownership) in line 150 also underscores the point.
Lines 135-42. There is no more shame in the penniless Lanval’s accepting the financial support of his (magically) wealthy mistress, than there is in a Jane Austin heroine’s accepting the proposal of a wealthy suitor. Both have to have an adequate monetary foundation to fulfill their rôles in society.
Lines 143-50. This prohibition has a basis in two different domains. One is that of “courtly love” (fin’ amors): a lover never reveals the name of his beloved, so as to safeguard both the lady’s reputation, and the lofty character of their love. The other is that of fairy lore: a mortal who is allowed commerce with fairies must never reveal hizzer privilege to other mortals, on pain of being forever cut off.
Lines 153-200. The Promise
|De lez li s’est el lit culchiez;
ore est Lanval bien herbergiez!
Ensemble od li la relevee
156 demura jusqu’a la vespree,
e plus i fust, se il poïst
e s’amie li cunsentist.
‘Amis’, fet ele, ’levez sus !
160 Vus n’i poëz demurer plus.
Alez vus en ; jeo remeindrai.
Mes une chose vus dirai :
quant vus voldrez a mei parler,
164 ja ne savrez cel liu penser,
u nuls peüst aveir s’amie
senz repruece e senz vileinie,
que jeo ne vus seie en present
168 a faire tut vostre talent;
nuls huem fors vus ne me verra
ne ma parole nen orra.’
|He has lain down by her side;
Now is Lanval well lodged!
Together with her the whole afternoon
156 He stayed until the evening,
And he would have remained more, had he been able
And had his friend allowed him.
“Friend,” she says, “Get up!
160 You cannot stay here any longer.
Leave; I will stay.
But I will tell you a thing:
When you want to speak to me,
164 You cannot think of a place
Where a person could have his lady friend
Without reproach and with baseness,
That I won’t at once be with you
168 To do all your desire.
No one save you will see me
Nor hear my speech.”
Lines 163-70. It is a common occurrence in fairy lore that a particular mortal may be so blessed (or cursed) as to be able to see fairy folk, whereas ordinary mortals cannot. Here, the invisibility of fairy folk is placed in addition at the service of fin’ amors (“courtly love”) by keeping the lovers’ trysts (likely to be frequent in the case of Lanval and his lady) hidden from prying eyes.
|Quant il l’oï, mult en fu liez ;
172 il la baisa, puis s’est dresciez.
Celes ki al tref l’amenerent
de riches dras le cunreerent.
Quant il fu vestuz de nuvel,
176 suz ciel nen ot plus bel dancel;
n’esteit mie fols ne vileins.
L’ewe li donent a ses meins
e la tuaille a essuier;
180 puis li aportent a mangier.
Od s’amie prist le super;
ne faiseit mie a refuser.
Mult fu serviz curteisement,
184 e il a grant joie le prent.
Un entremés i ot plenier,
ki mult plaiseit al chevalier:
kar s’amie baisout sovent
188 e acolot estreitement.
|When he heard it, he was very happy about it.
172 He kissed her, then he has gotten up.
The maidens who brought him to the tent
Fit him out with costly garments.
When he was newly dressed,
176 Beneath heaven there was no fairer youth;
He was by no means foolish nor boorish.
They give him the water for his hands
And the towel to dry them.
180 Then they bring him something to eat.
With his lady friend he took supper –
He could hardly refuse.
He was served very courteously,
184 And he receives it with great joy.
Between servings there was a plenteous dish
That pleased the knight greatly:
For his lady friend kissed him often
188 And embraced him closely.
|Quant del mangier furent levé,
sun cheval li unt amené,
Bien li ourent la sele mise;
192 mult a trové riche servise.
Il prent cungié, si est muntez,
vers la cité en est alez,
Suvent reguarde ariere sei.
196 Mult est Lanval en grant esfrei;
de s’aventure vait pensant
e en sun curage dotant.
Esbaïz est, ne set que creire;
200 il ne la quide mie a veire.
|When they were arisen from eating,
They have brought his horse to him,
They had well placed the saddle for him.
192 He has found a rich service.
He takes his leave, and has mounted,
He has left for the city.
Often he looks behind him;
196 Lanval is in very great fear.
Of his adventure he keeps thinking
And keeps doubting in his heart.
He is fearful; he doesn’t know what to think.
200 He thinks the adventure is scarcely credible.
Lines 195-200. In any age, Marie’s 12th century, Lanval’s (whenever that was), or our own, an encounter such as Lanval has just been through is acknowledged to be vanishingly rare. It is no wonder the hero questions the experience.
Lines 201-68. An Amorous Queen
|Il est a sun ostel venuz;
ses humes trueve bien vestuz.
Icele nuit bon ostel tint;
204 mes nuls ne sot dunt ceo li vint.
N’ot en la vile chevalier
ki de surjur ait grant mestier,
que il ne face a lui venir
208 e richement e bien servir.
Lanval donout les riches duns,
Lanval aquitout les prisuns,
Lanval vesteit les jugleürs,
212 Lanval faiseit les granz honurs.
n’i ot estrange ne privé
a qui Lanval n’eüst doné.
Mult ot Lanval joie e deduit:
216 u seit par jur u seit par nuit,
s’amie puet veeir sovent,
tut est a sun comandement.
|He has come to his dwelling;
He finds his men well dressed.
That night he entertained well,
204 But nobody knew whence it came to him.
There was not a knight in the town
In great need of lodging
That he doesn’t have come to him,
208 And be richly and well served.
Lanval handed out rich gifts,
Lanval freed prisoners,
Lanval clothed entertainers,
212 Lanval did great honors.
There was no stranger or intimate
To whom Lanval would not have given.
Lanval had great joy and pleasure:
216 Day or night,
He can see his lady friend often;
Everything is as he commands.
Line 215. One of the meanings of joie (as of joi, the Occitan equivalent) is the blissful experience of sexual union between two fins amans (noble lovers). The two words joie and deduit here form a binôme (doublet), that is, a unitary concept. There should be no doubt about the physical component in the relationship of Lanval and his lady.
|Ceo m’est a vis, meïsmes l’an
220 aprés la feste Seint Johan
des i qu’a trente chevalier
s’erent alé esbaneier
en un vergier desuz la tur
224 u la reïne ert a surjur.
Ensemble od els esteit Walwains
e sis cusins, li beals Ywains.
Ceo dist Walwains, li frans, li pruz,
228 ki tant se fist amer a tuz:
“Par deu, seignur, nus faimes mal
endreit nostre cumpain Lanval,
ki tant est larges e curteis
232 e sis pere est si riches reis,
que nus ne l’avum amené.’
A tant sunt ariere turné.
A sun ostel revunt ariere,
236 Lanval ameinent par preiere.
|It seems to me, the same year,
220 After the feast of Saint John, 2
Up to thirty knights
Had gone to disport themselves
In an orchard below the tower
224 Where the queen was staying.
Together with them was Gawain
And his cousin, the handsome Yvain.
Gawain, the noble, the valiant,
228 Who made made himself so beloved by all, said:
“By God, lords, we do ill
Towards our companion Lanval,
Who is so generous and courtly,
232 And his father is so rich a king,
In that we have not brought him here.
With that, they have turned back;
They go back to his lodging.
236 They bring Lanval with them by their prayer.
|A une fenestre entailliee
s’esteit la reïne apuiee;
treis dames ot ensemble od li.
240 La maisniee le rei choisi;
Lanval conut e esguarda.
Une des dames apela;
par li manda ses dameiseles,
244 les plus quointes e les plus beles,
od li s’irrunt esbaneier
la u cil erent el vergier.
Trente en mena od li e plus;
248 par les degrez descendent jus.
Li chevalier encuntre vunt,
ki pur eles grant joie funt.
Il les unt prises par les mains:
252 cil parlemenz n’ert pas vilains.
|The queen had seated herself
On the embrasure of a window;
She had three ladies together with her.
240 She perceived the retinue of the king:
She recognized Lanval and observed him.
She called one of her ladies;
Through her she sent word to her damsels,
244 The most gracious and the most beautiful.
With her they will go disport themselves
Where those knights were in the orchard.
Thirty of them she took with her, and more.
248 They go down below by the steps.
The knights go to meet them;
On the women’s account they make great joy.
They have taken the women by the hands;
252 This encounter was not crass!
|Lanval s’en vait de l’altre part,
luin des altres. Mult li est tart
que s’amie puisse tenir,
256 baisier, acoler e sentir;
l’altrui joie prise petit,
se il nen a le suen delit.
Quant la reïne sul le veit,
260 al chevalier en va tut dreit.
Lez lui s’asist, si l’apela;
tut sun curage li mustra.
‘Lanval, mult vus ai honuré
264 e mult cheri e mult amé.
Tute m’amur poëz aveir:
kar me dites vostre voleir!
Ma druërie vus otrei;
268 mult devez estre liez de mei!’
|Lanval goes off in the other direction,
Far from the others. He is impatient
To be able to hold his lady friend,
256 To kiss, embrace, and feel her;
The joy of others he counts as little,
If he does not have his own pleasure.
When the queen sees him alone,
260 She goes directly to the knight.
She sat next to him, and addressed him;
She showed him all her heart.
“Lanval, I have greatly honored
264 And cherished and loved you.
You can have all my love!
Tell me, pray, your will.
I grant you my affection.
268 You must be very happy with me!”
Lines 269-310. A Woman Scorned
|‘Dame,’ fet il, ‘laissiez m’ester!
Jeo n’ai cure de vus amer.
Lungement ai servi le rei,
272 ne li vueil pas mentir ma fei.
Ja pur vus ne pur vostre amur
ne mesferai a mun seignur.’
La reïne se curuça,
276 iriee fu, si mesparla.
‘Lanval’, fet ele, ’bien le quit,
vus n’amez guaires tel deduit.
Asez le m’a hum dit sovent,
280 que de femme n’avez talent.
Vaslez avez bien afaitiez,
ensemble od els vus deduiez.
Vileins cuarz, malvais failliz,
284 mult est mis sire mal bailliz,
ki pres de lui vus a sufert,
mien esciënt que deu en pert.’
|“Lady,” he says, “Let me be!
I have no interest in loving you.
I have long served the king;
272 I do not want to betray my fidelity to him.
Never on your account nor on account of your love
Will I ever act badly towards my lord.”
The queen grew angry.
276 She was incensed, and so misspoke:
“Lanval,” she says, “I really think
You scarcely like this kind of pleasure.
People have told me often enough
280 That you have no desire for women.
You have very serviceable squires;
You take your pleasure together with them.
Base-hearted! Wicked traitor!
284 My lord is very ill served
Who has allowed you near him.
I think he is losing God’s favor as a result.”
Lines 277-86. The queen’s rejoinder puts one in mind of how, in the 12th-century Roman d’Enéas (Romance of Æneas), a text Marie knew, Lavinia’s mother makes a similar accusation with regard to the Trojan hero. In both cases, the accusing women refer to common report (which report, if it existed at all, they have leapt on opportunistically).
|Quant il l’oï, mult fu dolenz.
288 Del respundre ne fu pas lenz;
tel chose dist par maltalent,
dunt il se repenti sovent.
’Dame’, dist il,’de cel mestier
292 ne me sai jeo niënt aidier.
Mes jo aim e si sui amis
cele ki deit aveir le pris
sur tutes celes que jeo sai.
296 E une chose vus dirai:
bien le saciez a descovert
qu’une de celes ki la sert,
tute la plus povre meschine,
300 valt mielz de vus, dame reïne,
de cors, de vis e de bealté,
d’enseignement e de bunté.’
La reïne s’en part a tant;
304 en sa chambre s’en vait plurant.
Mult fu dolente e curuciee
de ceo qu’il l’out si avilliee.
En sun lit malade culcha;
308 ja mes, ceo dit, n’en levera,
se li reis ne li faiseit dreit
de ceo dunt ele se pleindreit.
|When he heard her, he was very sorrowful;
288 He was not slow to respond.
He said such a thing out of anger
Of which he often repented.
“Lady,” he said, “For that business
292 I am perfectly useless.
But I love, and am the lover of,
The woman who must have the prize
Over all those that I know.
296 And I will tell you something:
Know it well and openly
That anyone of those ladies who serve her,
The very poorest serving-girl,
300 Is worth more than you, lady queen,
In body, in visage and in beauty,
In instruction and in goodness.”
304 With that, the queen departs:
To her room she goes off weaping.
She was very sorrowful and angry
Because he had insulted her.
In her bed she lay down ill.
308 Never, she says, will she get up from it,
If the king should not do her justice
For what she would make plaint.
Lines 311-412. Accusation and Deferral
|Li reis fu de bois repairiez,
312 mult out esté le jur haitiez.
Es chambres la reine entra.
Quant el le vit, si se clama,
as piez li chiet, merci li crie
316 e dit que Lanval l’a hunie:
de druërie la requist;
pur ceo qu’ele l’en escundist,
mult la laidi e avilla:
320 de tel amie se vanta,
ki tant ert cuinte, noble e fiere
que mielz valeit sa chamberiere,
la plus povre ki la serveit,
324 que la reïne ne faiseit.
Li reis s’en curuça forment;
juré en a sun sairement:
s’il ne s’en puet en curt defendre,
328 il le fera ardeir u pendre.
|The king was returned from the woods.
312 He had spent a very agreeable day.
He entered the apartment of the queen.
When she saw him, she cried out,
She falls at his feet, she sues for mercy
316 And says that Lanval has shamed her.
He asked her to be his lover;
Because she turned him down,
He vilified and insulted her greatly.
320 He boasted of such a lady friend
Who was so fine, noble, and proud
That the poorest chambermaid
That served her was worth more
324 Than the queen.
The king grew very angry;
He has sworn his oath on it:
If Lanval is unable to defend himself from the charge in court,
328 He will have him burned or hanged.
|Fors de la chambre eissi li reis;
de ses baruns apela treis,
il les enveie pur Lanval,
332 ki asez a dolur e mal.
A sun ostel fu revenuz;
ja s’esteit bien aparceüz
qu’il aveit perdue s’amie:
336 descoverte ot la druërie.
En une chambre fu tuz sous,
pensis esteit e anguissous.
S’amie apele mult sovent,
340 mes ceo ne li valut niënt.
Il se pleigneit e suspirot,
d’ures en altres se pasmot;
puis li crie cent feiz merci,
344 qu’ele parolt a sun ami.
Sun quer e sa buche maldit;
c’est merveille qu’il ne s’ocit.
Il ne set tant criër ne braire
348 ne debatre ne sei detraire,
qu’ele en vueille merci aveir
sul tant qu’il la puisse veeir.
A las, cument se cuntendra!
|The king came forth from the apartment.
He called three of his barons.
He sends them for Lanval,
332 Who has plenty of sorrow and dis-ease.
To his lodging he had returned.
It had become quite clear to him
That he had lost his lady friend:
336 He had revealed their love affair.
He was all alone in a room;
He was pensive and full of anguish.
He calls his lady friend very often,
340 But it didn’t do him any good.
He lamented and sighed,
From time to time he fainted;
Then he cries “Mercy!” a hundred times
344 So that she should speak to her lover.
He curses his heart and his mouth;
It’s a wonder that he doesn’t kill himself.
He cannot so much cry out or bray
348 Or struggle or torment himself
That she chooses to have mercy on him,
Even just that he can see her.
Alas, what will he do?
|352 Cil que li reis i enveia
i sunt venu, si li unt dit
qu’a la curt vienge senz respit ;
li reis l’aveit par els mandé,
356 la reïne l’a encusé.
Lanval i vet od sun grant doel,
il l’eüssent ocis sun voel.
Il est devant le rei venuz.
360 Mult fu pensis, taisanz e muz;
de grant dolur mustre semblant.
Li reis li dist par maltalant:
‘Vassal, vus m’avez mult mesfait!
364 Trop començastes vilein plait
de mei hunir e avillier
e la reïne laidengier.
Vantez vus estes de folie.
368 Trop par est noble vostre amie,
quant plus est bele sa meschine
e plus vaillanz que la reïne.’
|352 Those whom the king sent to him
Have come there and have told him
To come to the court without delay:
The king had sent them with that command;
356 the queen has accused him.
Lanval goes there with his great lamenting;
They would have killed him with his blessing.
He has come before the king.
360 He was very pensive, not speaking a word;
He manifests great sorrow.
The king said to him out of great anger:
“Vassal, you have done me great harm!
364 You began a very base affair
Of shaming and offending me
And of insulting the queen.
You have boasted madly.
368 Your lady friend is exceedingly noble,
Seeing that her serving-girl is more noble
And more worthy than the queen.”
|Lanval defent la deshonur
372 e la hunte de sun seignur
de mot en mot si cum il dist,
que la reïne ne requist ;
mes de ceo dunt il ot parlé
376 reconut il la verité,
de l’amur dunt il se vanta ;
dolenz en est, perdue l’a.
De ceo lur dit que il fera
380 quan que la curz esguardera.
Li reis fu mult vers lui iriez.
Tuz ses humes a enveiez,
pur dire dreit qu’il en deit faire,
384 qu’um ne li puisse a mal retraire.
Cil unt sun comandement fait :
u els seit bel, u els seit lait,
comunement i sunt alé,
388 si unt jugié e esguardé
que Lanval deit aveir un jur,
mes pleges truisse a sun seignur
qu’il atendra sun jugement
392 e revendra en sun present ;
si sera la curz enforciee,
kar dunc n’i ot fors sa maisniee.
|Lanval denies (that he has done) the dishonor
372 And the shame of his lord
Word for word just as he said,
For he did not ask for the queen’s love;
But of that of which he had spoken
376 He recognized the truth,
Of the love of which he boasted.
He is sorrowful for her, he has lost her.
About the matter he tells them that he will do
380 Whatever the court decides.
The king was very angry with him.
He has sent for all his men,
To say rightly what he must do about it,
384 So that no one can take him to task over it.
They have done his commandment;
Like it or not,
They have assembled there
388 And have judged and determined
That Lanval must have a day,
But let him find guarantors to his lord
That he will await his judgment
392 And return to present himself.
Thus the court will be enlarged,
For (at the moment) there were none but his retinue.
|Al rei revienent li barun,
396 si li mustrerent la raisun.
Li reis a pleges demandez.
Lanval fu suls e esguarez,
n’i aveit parent ne ami.
400 Walwains i vait, ki l’a plevi,
e tuit si cumpaignun aprés.
Li reis lur dit : ‘E jol vus les
sur quan que vus tenez de mei,
404 terres e fieus, chescuns par sei.’
Quant pleviz fu, dunc n’i ot el:
alez s’en est a sun ostel.
Li chevalier l’unt conveié;
408 mult l’unt blasmé e chastié
qu’il ne face si grant dolur,
e maldiënt si fole amur.
Chescun jur l’aloënt veeir,
412 pur ceo qu’il voleient saveir
u il beüst, u il manjast;
mult dotouent qu’il s’afolast.
|The barons return to the king
396 And related to him the decision.
The king has asked for pledges.
Lanval was alone and at a loss;
He had neither kin nor friends there.
400 Gawain goes to him and has pledged himself on Lanval’s behalf,
As do all his companions afterwards.
The king says to them: “I leave him to you,
Against whatever you hold from me,
404 Lands and fiefs, each of you individually.”
He (Lanval) has gone off to his lodging.
The knights have accompanied him.
They have greatly blamed and chastised him
408 (saying) That he should not make such great sorrow,
And they speak ill of so foolish a love.
Each day they went to see him,
412 Because they wanted to know
If he ate, if he he drank;
They greatly feared lest he go mad.
Lines 415-60. Legal Expedients
|Al jur que cil orent numé,
416 li barun furent asemblé.
Li reis e la reïne i fu.
e li plege unt Lanval rendu.
Mult furent tuit pur lui dolent ;
420 jeo quid qu’il en i ot tels cent
ki feïssent tut lur poeir
pur lui senz plait delivre aveir ;
il ert retez a mult grant tort.
424 Li reis demande le recort
sulunc le cleim e le respuns :
ore est trestut sur les baruns !
Il sunt al jugement alé ;
428 mult sunt pensif e esguaré
del franc hume d’altre païs,
ki entre els ert si entrepris.
Encumbrer le vuelent plusur
432 pur la volenté lur seignur.
|On the day that the king’s men had named,
416 The barons were assembled.
The king and the queen were there,
And the pledges have rendered up Lanval.
All were very sorrowful for him;
420 I think there were a hundred of their like
Who would have done everything in their power
In order to have him freed of any charge.
He was accused very unjustly.
424 The king asks for the record
According to the the claim and the response:
Now is the whole burden on the barons!
They have gone to the judgement;
428 They are pensive and at a loss
For the noble man of another country,
Who was in such a predicament among them.
(for) Many want to harass him
432 On account of the will of their lord.
|Ceo dist li dus de Cornuaille:
‘Ja endreit nus n’i avra faille;
kar ki qu’en plurt ne ki qu’en chant,
436 le dreit estuet aler avant!
Li reis parla vers sun vassal,
que jo vus oi numer Lanval;
de felunie le reta
440 e d’un mesdit l’achaisuna,
d’une amur dunt il se vanta,
e madame s’en curuça.
Nuls ne l’apele fors le rei:
444 par cele fei que jeo vus dei,
ki bien en vuelt dire le veir,
ja n’i deüst respuns aveir,
se pur ceo nun qu’a sun seignur
448 deit um par tut porter honur.
Un sairement l’en guagera,
e li reis le nus pardurra.
E s’il puet aveir sun guarant
452 e s’amie venist avant
e ceo fust veirs que il en dist,
dunt la reïne se marrist,
de ceo avra il bien merci,
456 quant pur vilté nel dist de li.
E s’il ne puet guarant aveir,
ceo li devum faire saveir:
tut sun servise pert del rei,
460 e sil deit cungeer de sei.’
|The Duke of Cornwall said this:
“Never on our part will there be neglect.
For, whoever may weep and whoever may sing at it,
436 The right must go forward.
The king spoke against his vassal
Whom I hear you name Lanval;
He accused him of treachery
440 and charged him with calomny,
Regarding a love of which he boasted,
And my lady took offense at it.
No one accuses him other than the king.
444 By the faith that I owe you,
Whoever wants to say the truth about it,
The king should never have any response thereto,
Except for this reason: to one’s lord
448 One must in all matters show honor.
An oath will serve as Lanval’s guarantee in the matter,
And the king will remit him to us.
And if he can have his warrantor
452 And if his lady friend came beforehand,
And if this were true that he said about her,
For which the queen got upset,
Of this he will have forgiveness,
456 Since he didn’t say it of her for shame.
And if he cannot have a warrantor
(This we must inform him of)
He loses all (advantage from) his service of the king,
460 And the king must banish him from his presence.”
Line 433. Why is the Duke of Cornwall the spokesperson for the pro-Lanval party? Perhaps because of the important and varied rôle the holders of this title play in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, a source Marie would have been familiar with, if only through the Old French version by Wace. In Geoffrey’s pseudo-history, the first duke is a great supporter of Brutus (Æneas’s great-grandson and the first [human] colonizer of Britain); a later duke becomes the mortal enemy, in a matter of spousal honor, of Uther, the father of Arthur. It is thus perhaps appropriate for the holder of the title in this story to head the loyal opposition.
Lines 434-60. I have followed the interpretation of Jean Rychner. 3 The speed with which the duke dismisses the first charge (treason, in the attempt to seduce the queen), that is, the ease with which he accepts Lanval’s protestation of innocence – effectively reducing the matter to a case of “He said, She said” – is noteworthy. Are the virtue and the word of the queen already dubious, in the eyes of Arthur’s barons?
Lines 461-98. First Interruption
|Al chevalier unt enveié,
e si li unt dit e nuncié
que s’amie face venir
464 pur lui tenser e guarentir.
Il lur a dit qu’il ne porreit:
ja par li sucurs nen avreit.
Cil s’en revunt as jugeürs,
468 qu’il n’i atendent nul sucurs.
Li reis les hastot durement
pur la reïne kis atent.
Quant il deveient departir,
472 dous puceles virent venir
sur dous beals palefreiz amblanz.
Mult par esteient avenanz;
de cendal purpre sunt vestues
476 tut senglement a lur chars nues.
Cil les esguardent volentiers.
Walwains, od lui treis chevaliers,
vait a Lanval, si li cunta;
480 les dous puceles li mustra.
Mult fu haitiez, forment li prie
qu’il li deïst se c’ert s’amie,
Il li a dit : ’Ne sai ki sunt
484 ne dunt vienent n’u eles vunt.’
|To the knight they have sent,
And they have told him and announced
That he should have his lady friend come
464 In order to protect and warrant him.
He has told them that he would not be able to:
Never through her would he have help.
The messengers leave and return to the judges;
468 Let them not await any help there.
The king kept hastening them greatly
On account of the queen who waits on them.
When they were about to make their decision,
472 They saw two maidens come
On two fine palfreys ambling.
They were very comely.
They are clothed in purple taffeta
476 Right next to their bare flesh.
The judges observe them willingly.
Gawain, with three other knights,
Goes to Lanval, told him the story,
480 Showed him the two damsels.
In very good spirits, he urges him strongly
To tell him if this was his lady friend.
He has told him: “I don’t know who they are,
484 Nor whence they come nor where they go.”
|Celes sunt alees avant
tut a cheval ; par tel semblant
descendirent devant le deis,
488 la u seeit Artur li reis.
Eles furent de grant belté,
si unt curteisement parlé.
‘Reis, faites chambres delivrer
492 e de pailes encurtiner,
u madame puisse descendre:
ensemble od vus vuelt ostel prendre.’
Il lur otreie volentiers,
496 si apela dous chevaliers;
as chambres les menerent sus.
A cele feiz ne distrent plus.
|The maidens have gone ahead
Still on horseback; appearing so,
They dismounted before the dais
488 Where King Arthur was seated.
They were of great beauty,
And have spoken courteously.
“King, have rooms made ready
492 Draped with silk curtains
Where my lady may stay;
She wishes to be lodged with you.”
He grants their wish willingly
496 And called two knights;
They take them to the rooms above.
At that time they said no more.
Lines 499-546. Second Interruption
|Li reis demande a ses baruns
500 le jugement e le respuns,
e dit que mult l’unt curucié
de ceo que tant l’unt delaié.
’Sire’, funt il, ’nus departimes
504 Pur les dames que nus veïmes
nen i avum nul esguart fait.
Or recumencerum le plait.’
Dunc assemblerent tuit pensif ;
508 asez i ot noise e estrif.
Quant il erent en cel esfrei,
dous puceles de gent cunrei
— vestues de dous pailes freis,
512 chevalchent dous muls Espaigneis—
virent venir la rue a val,
Grant joie en ourent li vassal;
entre els diënt qu’ore est guariz
516 Lanval, li pruz e li hardiz.
Walwains en est a lui alez,
ses cumpaignuns i a menez.
‘Sire,’ fet il, ‘rehaitiez vus!
520 Pur amur deu, parlez a nus!
Ici vienent dous dameiseles
mult acesmees e mult beles.
C’est vostre amie veirement!’
524 Lanval respunt hastivement
e dit qu’il pas nes avuot
n’il nes cunut n’il nes amot.
|The king asks his barons
500 For the judgment and the reponse,
And says that they have greatly angered him
By their having delayed it so much.
“Sire,” they say, “We suspended the session
504 On account of the ladies that we saw;
We have made no decision.
Now we will begin the proceeding again.”
Then they assembled, very pensive;
508 There was quite a bit of dissension.
While they were in this turmoil,
Two maidens finely turned out,
Clothed in two fresh silk gowns—
512 They are riding two Spanish mules—
They saw coming down the street.
Great joy the vassals have at the sight;
They say to each other that now is he saved,
516 Lanval, the valiant and the bold.
Gawain has gone to see him;
He has brought his companions with him.
“Sire,” he says, “Be of good cheer!
520 For the love of God, speak to us.
Here come two damsels,
Very elegant and very lovely.
It’s your lady friend, truly!”
524 Lanval responds quickly
and says that he did not acknowedge them
Nor did he know them nor did he love them.
|A tant furent celes venues;
528 devant le rei sunt descendues.
Mult les loërent li plusur
de cors, de vis e de colur;
n’i ot cele mielz ne valsist
532 qu’unkes la reïne ne fist.
L’ainznee fu curteise e sage,
avenantment dist sun message.
‘Reis, kar nus fai chambres baillier
536 a oés madame herbergier;
ele vient ci a vus parler.’
Il les cumanda a mener
od les altres ki anceis vindrent.
540 Unkes des muls nul plait ne tindrent:
Quant il fu d’eles delivrez,
puis a tuz ses baruns mandez,
que li jugemenz seit renduz;
544 trop a le jur esté tenuz;
la reine s’en curuçot,
que trop lungement jeünot.
|Now the maidens had arrived;
528 Before the king they have dismounted.
Many praised them greatly
In body, face, and color;
There wasn’t one of them that wasn’t worthier
532 Than ever the queen was.
The elder was courteous and wise;
Becomingly she said her message:
“King, provide us with rooms, pray,
536 For my lady’s use to lodge in;
She is coming here to speak to you.”
He ordered for them to be conducted
Where the others were who came before.
540 They were not a bit concerned about the mules.
When he was free of them
He sent word to his barons
That the judgment should be rendered:
544 The day’s business has taken too long.
The queen was growing angry
For having too much fasted.
Line 540. The subject of the verb tindrent is not clear, so we cannot be sure who is not concerned about the mules, the two maidens, or the men the king has sent to conduct them. More of a puzzle, though, is: Why should they not be concerned? Perhaps, because, these being fairy mules, they don’t need anyone to take care of them…?
Lines 547-600. At Long Last Love
|Ja departissent a itant,
548 quant par la vile vint errant
tut a cheval une pucele;
en tut le siecle n’ot si bele.
Un blanc palefrei chevalchot,
552 ki bien e suëf la portot;
mult ot bien fet e col e teste:
suz ciel nen ot plus gente beste.
Riche atur ot el palefrei:
556 suz ciel nen a cunte ne rei
ki tut le peüst eslegier
senz terre vendre u enguagier.
Ele ert vestue en itel guise
560 de chainse blanc e de chemise,
que tuit li costé li pareient,
ki de dous parz lacié esteient.
Le cors ot gent, basse la hanche,
564 le col plus blanc que neif sur branche ;
les uiz ot vairs e blanc le vis,
bele buche, nes bien asis,
les surcilz bruns e bel le frunt
568 e le chief cresp e alkes blunt ;
fils d’or ne gete tel luur
cum si chevel cuntre le jur.
Sis mantels fu de purpre bis,
572 les pans en ot en tur li mis.
Un espervier sur sun poin tint,
e uns levriers aprés li vint.
Il n’ot el burc petit ne grant,
576 ne li veillard ne li enfant,
ki ne l’alassent esguarder,
si cum il la virent errer.
De sa bealté n’est mie gas.
580 Ele veneit meins que le pas.
Li jugeür, ki la veeient,
a grant merveille le teneient;
n’i ot un sul ki l’esguardast,
584 de dreite joie n’eschalfast.
|At once they started deliberating,
548 When through the town came swiftly
All mounted a maiden;
In all the age there was none so lovely.
She was riding a white palfrey
552 That bore her very gently.
Its neck and head were well formed;
Under heaven there was no more gracious beast.
The palfrey was richly harnassed:
556 Under heaven there is no count or king
Who could afford it all
Without selling or mortgaging land.
She was clothed in such a manner,
560 In a white shift and tunic,
That her two sides, laced,
Were entirely visible.
She had a fine body: low-slung hips,
564 A neck whiter than snow on the branch,
Sparkling eyes, a white face,
A lovely mouth, a well-placed nose,
Eyebrows dark and a lovely brow,
568 And a head of curls, rather fair—
Golden thread does not cast such a light
As her hair against the day.
Her mantel was of rich purple;
572 She had draped its folds around her.
She held a sparrow-hawk on her wrist,
And a greyhound came after her.
There was in the town neither short nor tall,
576 Neither old folks nor children
Who didn’t go to gaze on her
When they saw her proceeding.
Of her beauty there is no jape.
580 She rode on at a very slow pace.
The judges, seeing her,
Considered it a great marvel.
There wasn’t a single one looking at her
584 Who didn’t grow warm for very joy.
|Cil ki le chevalier amoënt,
a lui vienent, si li cuntouent
de la pucele ki veneit,
588 se deu plest, kil deliverreit.
‘Sire cumpain, ci en vient une,
mes el n’est pas falve ne brune;
ceo ’st la plus bele de cest mund,
592 de tutes celes ki i sunt.’
Lanval l’oï, sun chief dresça;
bien la cunut, si suspira.
Li sans li est muntez el vis;
596 de parler fu alkes hastis.
‘Par fei’, fet il, ‘ceo est m’amie!
Or m’en est 4 guaires ki m’ocie,
si ele n’a merci de mei:
600 kar guariz sui, quant jeo la vei.’
|Those who loved the knight
Come to him and told the tale
Of the maiden who was approaching,
588 Who, if God pleased, would deliver him.
“Lord companion, a maiden is coming here,
But she is neither dun nor dark,
She is the loveliest in this world,
592 Of all the maidens that are in it.”
Lanval heard it, he raised his head;
He recognized her for sure, and he sighed.
The blood has risen to his face,
596 He was quick to speak.
“By faith,” he says, this is my lady friend!
I don’t care who may kill me
If she does not have mercy on me,
600 For I am saved if ever I see her.”
Lines 601-46. Into the Sunset
|La pucele entra el palais;
unkes si bele n’i vint mais.
Devant le rei est descendue,
604 si que de tuz fu bien veüe.
Sun mantel a laissié chaeir,
que mielz la peüssent veeir.
Li reis, ki mult fu enseigniez,
608 s’est tost encuntre li dresciez,
e tuit li altre l’enurerent,
de li servir mult se penerent.
Quant il l’orent bien esguardee
612 e sa bealté assez loëe,
ele parla en tel mesure,
kar de demurer nen ot cure.
‘Jeo ai amé un tuen vassal.
616 Veez le ci! Ceo est Lanval!
Achaisunez fu en ta curt,
ne vueil mie qu’a mal li turt,
de ceo qu’il dist. Ceo saces tu
620 que la reïne a tort eü:
unkes nul jur ne la requist,
De la vantance que il fist,
se par mei puet estre aquitez,
624 par voz baruns seit delivrez!’
|The maiden entered the palace;
Never did so lovely a one come there.
She has dismounted before the king,
604 Such that she was well seen by all.
She has let her cloak fall
So that they may see her better.
The king, who was very instructed,
608 Has quickly gotten to his feet at her approach,
And all the others honored her;
They strove greatly to serve her.
When they had gazed at her at length
612 And praised her beauty sufficiently,
She spoke in such manner
(For she had no interest in delaying):
“I have loved one of your vassals.
616 Behold him here: It is Lanval!
He was accused in your court.
I do not want him to suffer harm
For what he said. Know this, King:
620 The queen was in the wrong.
Never at any time did he ask for her love.
As to the boast that he made:
If, through me, he can be acquitted,
624 Let him be freed by your barons.”
|Ceo qu’il en jugerunt par dreit,
li reis otreie k’issi seit.
N’i a un sul ki n’ait jugié
628 que Lanval a tut desraisnié.
Delivrez est par lur esguart,
e la pucele s’en depart.
Ne la pot li reis retenir;
632 asez ot gent a li servir.
Fors de la sale aveit um mis
un grant perrun de marbre bis,
u li pesant hume muntoënt,
636 ki de la curt le rei aloënt.
Lanval esteit muntez desus.
Quant la pucele ist fors de l’us,
sur le palefrei detriers li
640 de plein eslais Lanval sailli.
Od li s’en vait en Avalun,
ceo nus recuntent li Bretun,
en un isle qui mult est beals;
644 la fu raviz li dameiseals.
Nuls n’en oï puis plus parler,
ne jeo n’en sai avant cunter.
|What they decided in justice
The king grants that it should be so.
There is not one that has not judged
628 That Lanval has accounted for all.
He is freed by their judgment,
And the maiden departs.
The king was unable to detain her;
632 She had plenty of people to serve her.
Outside of the main hall they had put
A large mounting block of dark marble
Where the heavy men were used to mount their horses
636 When they went from the king’s court.
Lanval had climbed up on it.
When the maiden issues from the gate,
Onto the palfrey behind her
640 Lanval leaps in one bound.
With her go goes off to Avalon
(The Bretons tell it thus)
To a very beautiful island;
644 To that place was the youth carried off!
I have not heard anyone ever say anymore about it,
Nor am I able to tell anymore.
Line 632. I.e., bystanders more than willing to, for instance, help her onto her horse and thus facilitate her departure.
A link to a commentary will appear here shortly.
- Except for once when I translate it as a future (129).↩
- June 24.↩
- I translate here his note on this passage: “He proclaims his conviction that the court will not fail in its duty (434), which is to make justice triumph (436). The king has made formal complaint against his vassal (437), accusing him of felony (439), that is, precisely, of a crime against the feudal bond. He has indicted him in addition of having boasted of a love of his, using words that irritated the queen. The king is the only one to accuse Lanval of felony (443), and never would he have had the right to lodge a complaint if the feudal code did not specify that a vassal must always and everywhere respect the honor of his lord (446-448), or, in other terms: his complaint would be actionable only insofar as his vassal placed his honor in question. On this point, Lanval will swear the oath of innocence (Lanval has in fact already protested his innocence in this matter) in the manner required by custom, and this oath will be a sufficient warrant (449) that he has de facto respected his lord’s honor. The accusation of felony having been thus satisfied, the king for the remaining matter will give up pursuing Lanval personally and will abide by the judgment of his barons (450). With a view to this judgment, the Count of Cornwall proposes straightaway that Lanval should produce his warrant (451), that is, the person capable of guaranteeing his right in the matter under litigation, which is here his claim to have the most beautiful woman in the world for lady friend. This person can only be Lanval’s lady friend; if she were willing to appear before the court (452) and if the court in fact established that Lanval’s claim was true (453), he would quickly receive his pardon (454), because it would be established that he had not come up with these words to humiliate the queen (456). But if he were unable to produce his warrant (457), he should then lose the advantage of being in the king’s service and the king should banish him from his presence (460).”↩
- Thus manuscript H. Warnke and Rychner both emend to Or ne m’est.↩
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