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.
Blanchefleur at the Tournament
By Gottfried von Strassburg (d. c. 1210)
From ‘Tristan and Isolde’ of Gottfried von Strassburg: Translation of Adolph Ernst Kroeger

AT Tintajoel ’twas, on the plain
Where the guests met again;
In the loveliest glen
Ever beheld by eyes of men
In the first freshness of that clime.        5
The gentle, gracious summer-time
Had by the sweet Creator’s hand
With sweet care been poured on the land.
Of little wood birdlets bright,
That to ears should ever give delight,        10
Of grass, flowers, leaves, and blossoms high,
Of all that happy makes the eye
Or noble heart delight may gain,
Was full the glorious summer plain.
Whatever there you wished to find,        15
Spring had kindly borne in mind,—
The sunshine by the shadow,
The linden on the meadow.
The gentle, pleasant breezes,
With cunning, sweet caresses,        20
O’er all the guests did lightly sweep.
The brilliant flowers did brightly peep
From dewy grass and shadow.
May’s friend, the fresh green meadow,
Had from the flowers that he had reared        25
A summer robe so bright prepared,
Each guest its glow detected
From eye and mien reflected.
The sweet tree blossom looked at you
With a smile so sweet and true,        30
That all your heart and all your mind
Again to the laughing bloom inclined;
With eyes playfully burning,
Its loving laugh returning.
The gentle bird-ditty,        35
So lovely, so pretty,
That stirs every feeling,
O’er ears and minds stealing,
Rang from each bush of the summer vale.
The blessed nightingale,        40
The dearest, sweetest bird on tree,
That ever blessed ought to be,
It sang in the coolness,
With such heartfulness,
That to every noble heart        45
The sound did joy and glow impart.
And now the whole company,
Full of mirth and in high glee,
Had settled down upon the lawn.
There did every one        50
As his notion or pleasure bent,
And put up or arranged his tent.
The wealthy were quartered wealthily,
The courtly incomparably;
Some under silk did rest,        55
Others on the heath gay-drest;
To many the linden gave shadow,
Others housed on the meadow,
Under leaf-green twigs demurely.
Nor guests nor servants, surely,        60
Rarely were pleasanter
Quartered than they were quartered here.
Plenty was gathered of the best,
Which needful is for mirthful feast,
In way of clothing and eating;        65
Each his own wants meeting,
From home had brought provender.
King Mark, with regal splendor,
Moreover had provided for them.
Thus they enjoyed in bliss supreme        70
The gracious time of early spring;
Thus joy the feast to all did bring.
All that ever a curious man
To behold had longed, he then
There could have seen certainly.        75
One saw there what one liked to see:
Those eyed the pretty women,
These watched the peddling showmen;
Those looked at the dancing,
These at the jousting and lancing.        80
All that ever heart longed for
Was found there in sufficient store;
And all who were present,
Of joy-ripe years, pleasant
Effort made each to exceed        85
At every feast in mirthful deed;
And King Mark the good,
The courteous and high of mood,
Not only on this festivity
Had spent his wealth lavishly,        90
But here did he show men
A wonder of all women,
His sister Blanchefleur,—
A maid more beautiful than e’er
A woman upon earth was seen.        95
Of her beauty one must say, e’en,
That no living man could gaze
Intently on her glorious face,
But he would higher rank and find
Women and virtue in his mind.        100
The blessed eye-pleasure
O’er that wide inclosure
Gladdened all of young, fresh blood,
All noble hearts of courteous mood;
And on the lawn could have been seen        105
Many pretty women then,
Of whom each by her beauty
Should have been queen in duty.
Whoe’er had seen them surely would
Have drawn from such sight fresh bold mood.        110
Many hearts grew rich with joy.
Now began the great tourney
Of the servants and of the guests.
The boldest and the best
Up and down the track now paced.        115
Noble Mark ahead e’er raced
With his fellow Riwalin,
Whose knights following close and keen
Their play to guide ever
Did nobly endeavor        120
In their master’s glory,
For future song and story.
Many a horse, in overdress
Of cloth or half silk, in the race
Was seen on the meadow clover;        125
Many a snow-white cover
There shone, or red, brown, green, or blue;
Others again, for show, wore too
Robes with noble silk worked nice,
Or scalloped in many a quaint device,        130
Parted, striped, or braided,
Or with trimmings shaded.
Gayly, too, appeared there
Knights of handsome form and fair,
Their armor slit, as if cut to pieces.        135
Even Spring with its balmy breezes,
King Mark its high favor showed;
For many people in the crowd
Were crowned with wreaths of flowers wrought,
Which, as his offering, Spring had brought.        140
In such glorious, blessed May,
Began the blessed tourney.
Oft intermixed, the double troop
Rode up this grade, rode down that slope.
This carried they on so long that day,        145
Till downward swept the glorious play
To where Blanchefleur sat, the sweet,
Whom I as wonder greet,
With pretty women at her side,
To watch the show and the gallant ride;        150
And how they rode so nobly all,
With carriage imperial,
That many an eye with pleasure lit.
But whatsoever others did,
Still ’twas the courtly Riwalin—        155
As ’twas, indeed, meet to have been—
Who before all the knighthood rare
Best showed his knightly power there.
The women, too, him notice showed,
And whispered that, in all the crowd,        160
No one on horse appearing
Rode with such gallant bearing.
They praised that which in him was shown.
“See!” said they,—“see! this youth fine-grown,
This man, is truly glorious!        165
How gloriously sits all he does,
Sit all movements of his bearing!
How his body is fair-appearing!
How joins with equal grace on him
Each imperial limb!        170
How evenly his shield is moved!
As if fast-glued, it floats aloft!
How doth the shaft his hand befit!
How well his robes upon him sit!
How stands his head! how glows his hair!        175
Sweet his behavior he doth wear;
Glorified is his body all!
Ah, happy is the woman who shall
Her bliss owe his sweet body.”
Well pondered this in study        180
Blanchefleur, the blessed maid;
In her secret heart she had,
Above all knights, addressed to him
Her pleasant thoughts, her wond’rings dim.
She had him in her heart enshrined,        185
He had around her soul him twined;
He bore upon high throne
The sceptre and the crown
In the kingdom of her heart,
Although the secret she did guard,        190
And from the world keep, as was fit,
That no one e’er suspected it.

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