Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 432 pages of information about Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres.

For he had learned no other thing
 Than to tumble, dance and spring: 
 Leaping and vaulting, that he knew,
 But nothing better could he do. 
 He could not say his prayers by rote;
 Not “Pater noster”, not a note,
 Not “Ave Mary,” nor the creed;
 Nothing to help his soul in need.

Tormented by the sense of his uselessness to the society whose bread he ate without giving a return in service, and afraid of being expelled as a useless member, one day while the bells were calling to mass he hid in the crypt, and in despair began to soliloquize before the Virgin’s altar, at the same spot, one hopes, where the Virgin had shown herself, or might have shown herself, in her infinite bounty, to Saint Bernard, a hundred years before:—­

“Hai,” fait il, “con suis trais! 
 Or dira ja cascuns sa laisse
 Et jo suis ci i hues en laisse
 Qui ne fas ci fors que broster
 Et viandes por nient gaster. 
 Si ne dirai ne ne ferai? 
 Par la mere deu, si ferai! 
 Ja n’en serai ore repris;
 Jo ferai ce que j’ai apris;
 Si servirai de men mestier
 La mere deu en son mostier;
 Li autre servent de canter
 Et jo servirai de tumer.” 
 Sa cape oste, si se despoille,
 Deles l’autel met sa despoille,
 Mais por sa char que ne soit nue
 Une cotele a retenue
 Qui moult estait tenre et alise,
 Petit vaut miex d’une chemise,
 Si est en pur le cors remes. 
 Il s’est bien chains et acesmes,
 Sa cote caint et bien s’atorne,
 Devers l’ymage se retorne
 Mout humblement et si l’esgarde: 
 “Dame,” fait il, “en vostre garde
 Comant jo et mon cors et m’ame. 
 Douce reine, douce dame,
 Ne despisies ce que jo sai
 Car jo me voil metre a l’asai
 De vos servir en bone foi
 Se dex m’ait sans nul desroi. 
 Jo ne sai canter ne lire
 Mais certes jo vos voil eslire
 Tos mes biax gieus a eslicon. 
 Or soie al fuer de taurecon
 Qui trepe et saut devant sa mere. 
 Dame, qui n’estes mie amere
 A cels qui vos servent a droit,
 Quelsque jo soie, por vos soit!”

Lors li commence a faire saus Bas et petits et grans et haus

Primes deseur et puis desos,
 Puis se remet sor ses genols,
 Devers l’ymage, et si l’encline: 
 “He!” fait il, “tres douce reine
 Par vo pitie, par vo francise,
 Ne despisies pas mon servise!”

“Ha!” said he, “how I am ashamed! 
 To sing his part goes now each priest,
 And I stand here, a tethered beast,
 Who nothing do but browse and feed
 And waste the food that others need. 
 Shall I say nothing, and stand still? 
 No! by God’s mother, but I will! 
 She shall not think me here for naught;
 At least I’ll do what I’ve been taught! 
 At least I’ll serve in my own way
 God’s mother in her church to-day. 
 The others serve to pray and sing;
 I will serve to leap and spring.” 

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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