Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Guillaume de Cabestaing (1181–1196)
I See the Days are Long
Provençal Literature (The Troubadours), 1090–1290
From Blackwood’s Magazine, February 1836

I SEE the days are long and glad;
  On every tree are countless flowers,
  And merry birds sing in the bowers,
Which bitter cold so long made sad:
  But now upon the highest hills,        5
  Each amid flowers and sparkling rills,
    After his manner takes delight.
And therefore I rejoice once more
  That joy of love should warm my breast,
  And lay my sweet desires to rest.        10
As serpent from false sycamore,
  I from false coldness speed me ever;
  Yet for love’s sake, which cheers me never,
    All other joys seem vain and light.
Never since Adam plucked the fruit        15
  Whence thousand woes our race oppress,
  Was seen on earth such loveliness.
The body, formed that face to suit,
  Is polished more than amethyst;
  Her very beauty makes me tryst,        20
    Since she of me takes little heed.
Ah, never shall there come a time
  When love, that now inflames my heart,
  Shall struggle from her to depart.
As plants, even in a wintry clime,        25
  When the sun shines regain new life,
  So her sweet smiles, with gladness rife,
    Deck me with love, as plants with flower.
I love so madly, many die
  From less, and now my hour seems near.        30
  For though my love’s to me most dear,
In vain for help or hope I sigh.
  A fire upon my heart is fed,
  The Nile could quench no more than thread
    Of finest silk support a tower.        35
Alas that I must still lament
  The pains that from love ever flow;
  That baffled hope and ceaseless woe
All color from my cheek have sent.
  But white as snow shall be my hair,        40
  And I a trembling dotard, ere
    Of my best lady I complain.
How oft, from lady’s love we see
  The fierce and wicked change their mood;
  How oft is he most kind and good        45
Who, did he not love tenderly,
  Would be each passion’s wayward slave.
  Thus am I meek with good and brave,
    But haughty to the bad and vain.
Thus with delight each cherished woe I dree,        50
And sweet as manna seems slight joy to me.
Translation of Harriet Waters Preston

THERE is who spurns the leaf, and turns
  The stateliest flower of all to cull:
So on life’s topmost bough sojourns
  My lady; the most beautiful!        55
Whom with his own nobility
  Our Lord hath graced, so she may move
  In glorious worth our lives above,
      Yet soft with all humility.
Her pleading look my spirit shook,        60
  And won my fealty long ago;
My heart’s blood stronger impulse took,
  Freshening my colors. And yet so,
No otherwise discovering
  My love, I bode. Now, lady mine,        65
  At last, before thy throngèd shrine,
      I also lay my offering.
  Which thy love giveth me,
Still bid me render        70
  My vows, in song, to thee;
Gracious and slender,
  Thine image I can see,
    Wherever I wend, or
  What eyes do look on me.        75
Yea, in the frowning face
Of uttermost disgrace,
Proud would I take my place
      Before thy feet,
  Lady, whose aspect sweet        80
Doth my poor self efface,
  And leave but joy and praise….
Who shall deny me
  The memory of thine eyes?
Evermore by me        85
  Thy lithe white form doth rise.
If God were nigh me
  Alway, in so sure wise,
Quick might I hie me
  Into his Paradise!        90

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