With travail great, and little cargo fraught,
See how our world is labouring in pain;
So filled we are with love of evil gain
That no one thinks of doing what he ought,
But we all hustle in the Devil’s train,
And only in his service toil and pray;
And God, who suffered for us agony,
We set behind, and treat him with disdain;
Hardy is he whom death does not dismay.
God who rules all, from whom we can hide nought,
Had quickly flung us back to nought again
But that our gentle, gracious, Lady Queen
Begged him to spare us, and our pardon wrought;
Striving with words of sweetness to restrain
Our angry Lord, and his great wrath allay.
Felon is he who shall her love betray
Which is pure truth, and falsehood cannot feign,
While all the rest is lie and cheating play.
The feeble mouse, against the winter’s cold,
Garners the nuts and grain within his cell,
While man goes groping, without sense to tell
Where to seek refuge against growing old.
We seek it in the smoking mouth of Hell.
With the poor beast our impotence compare!
See him protect his life with utmost care,
While us nor wit nor courage can compel
To save our souls, so foolish mad we are.
The Devil doth in snares our life enfold;
Four hooks has he with torments baited well;
And first with Greed he casts a mighty spell,
And then, to fill his nets, has Pride enrolled,
And Luxury steers the boat, and fills the sail,
And Perfidy controls and sets the snare;
Thus the poor fish are brought to land, and there
May God preserve us and the foe repel!
Homage to him who saves us from despair!
To Mary Queen, who passes all compare,
Go, little song! to her your sorrows tell!
Nor Heaven nor Earth holds happiness so rare.
NICOLETTE AND MARION
C’est d’Aucassins et de Nicolete.
Qui vauroit bons vers oir
Del deport du viel caitiff
De deus biax enfans petis
Nicolete et Aucassins;
Des grans paines qu’il soufri
Et des proueces qu’il fist
For s’amie o le cler vis.
Dox est li cans biax est li dis
Et cortois et bien asis.
Nus hom n’est si esbahis
Tant dolans ni entrepris
De grant mal amaladis
Se il l’oit ne soit garis
Et de joie resbaudis
Tant par est dou-ce.
This is of Aucassins and Nicolette.
Whom would a good ballad please
By the captive from o’er-seas,
A sweet song in children’s praise,
Nicolette and Aucassins;
What he bore for her caress,
What he proved of his prowess
For his friend with the bright face?
The song has charm, the tale has grace,
And courtesy and good address.
No man is in such distress,
Such suffering or weariness,
Sick with ever such sickness,
But he shall, if he hear this,
Recover all his happiness,
So sweet it is!