CHEVREFOIL THE LAY OF THE HONEYSUCKLE
Marie de Francetr. A.S.Kline
Asez me plest e bien le voil,
Del lai qu'hum nume Chevrefoil,
Que la verité vus en cunt
Pur quei il fit fet e dunt.
Plusurs le m'unt cunté e dit
E jeo l'ai trové en escrit
De Tristram e de la reïne,
De lur amur que tant fu fine
Dunt il eurent meinte dolur,
Puis mururent en un jur.

Li reis Marks esteit curucié,
Vers Tristram sun nevuz irié.
De sa tere le cungea
Pur la reïne qu'il ama.
En sa cuntree en est alez,
En Suhtwales u il fu nez.
Un an demurat tut entier,
Ne pot ariere repeirier.
Mes puis se mist en abandun
De mort e de destructïun.
Ne vus esmerveilliez neent,
Kar ki eime lëalment
Mut est dolenz e trespensez
Quant il nen ad ses volentez.
Tristram est dolent e pensis;
Pur ceo se met de sun païs.
En Cornwaille vait tut dreit,
La u la reïne maneit.
En la forest tut sul se mist,
Ne voleit pas que hum le veïst.
En la vespree s'en eisseit,
Quant tens de herberger esteit.
Od païsanz, od povre gent,
Perneit la nuit herbergement.
Les noveles lur enquereit
Del rei cum il se cunteneit.
Ceo li dïent qu'il unt oï
Que li barun erent bani,
A Tintagel deivent venir.
Li reis i veolt sa curt tenir,
A Pentecuste i serunt tuit;
Mut i avra joie e deduit
E la reïne i sera.
Tristram l'oï, mut se haita:
Ele ne purrat mie aler
K'il ne la veie trespasser.
Le jur que li rei fu meüz,
E Tristram est al bois venuz,
Sur le chemin qu'il saveit
Que la rute passer deveit,
Une codre trencha par mi,
Tute quarreie la fendi.
Quant il ad paré le bastun,
De sun cutel escrit sun nun.
Se la reïne s'aparceit,
Que mut grant garde en perneit,
- Autre feiz li fu avenu
Que si l'aveit aparceü -
De sun ami bien conustra
Le bastun, quant el le verra.
Ceo fu la summe de l'escrit,
Qu'il li aveit mandé e dit
Que lunges ot ilec esté
E atendu e surjurné
Pur espïer e pur saver
Coment il la peüst veer,
Kar ne pot nent vivre sanz li.
D'euls deus fu il tut autresi
Cume del chevrefoil esteit
Ki a la codre se perneit.
Quant il s'i est laciez e pris
E tut entur le fust s'est mis,
Ensemble poënt bien durer.
Mes ki puis les volt desevrer,
Li codres muert hastivement
E li chevrefoil ensement.
'Bele amie, si est de nus:
Ne vus sanz mei ne mel sanz vus.'

La reïne vait chevachant;
Ele esgardat tut un pendant,
Le bastun vit, bien l'aparceut,
Tutes les lettres i conut.
Les chevalers que la menoënt,
Que ensemble od li erroënt,
Cumanda tuz a arester;
Descendre vot e resposer.
Cil unt fait sun cummandement.
Ele s'en vet luinz de sa gent;
Sa meschine apelat a sei,
Brenguein, que mut ot bone fei.
Del chemin un poi s'esluina;
Dedenz le bois celui trova
Que plus l'amot que rien vivant.
Entre eus meinent joie mut grant.
A li parlat tut a leisir
E ele li dit sun pleisir.
Puis li mustra cumfaitement
Del rei avrat acordement
E que mut li aveit pesé
De ceo qu'il l'ot si cungié
Par encusement l'aveit fait.
A tant s'en part, sun ami lait;
Mes quant ceo vient al desevrer,
Dunc comencerent a plurer.
Tristram a Wales s'en rala
Tant que sis uncles le manda.

Pur la joie qu'il ot eüe
De s'amie qu'il ot veüe
E pur ceo k'il aveit escrit,
Si cum la reïne l'ot dit,
Pur les paroles remembrer,
Tristram, ki bien saveit harper,
En aveit fet un nuvel lai.
Asez briefment le numerai:
Gotelef l'apelent en engleis,
Chevrefoil le nument Franceis.
Dit vus en ai la verité
Del lai que j'ai ici cunté.
It pleases me, I’m willing too
To tell you a story plain and true
‘The Honeysuckle’ is its name
Here’s why and how it came.
Many people have told it me,
And much has been written I see,
Of Tristan and of the Queen,
Of their faithful love I mean,
Of which they had many a pain,
Dying for it on the very same day.

King Mark it seems was angry,
With Tristan his nephew, his fury
Because of his love for the Queen:
He drove him out of his country.
He went to the land of his birth
South Wales, his native earth,
And stayed there a year at least,
Unable to cross the sea.
But then again he set his face
Toward his death and disgrace.
That isn’t so amazing,
Whoever’s in love is grieving
Heavy of heart, he’ll perish
If he can’t have his wish.
Tristan was both pensive and sad,
So he left his own land, the lad
And travelled to Cornwall straight
Where the Queen held state.
He hid in the woods, alone,
Not wanting his presence known:
And he only came out at twilight
To look for a bed for the night.
With peasants, among the poor,
He found a welcoming door.
He asked them for all the news
Of what the King might do.
They told him they had heard
The barons had all been stirred,
To Tintagel they must fare
And join the King’s court there,
At Pentecost, among the nation,
In their joy and celebration,
The Queen, and every knight.
Tristan heard it with delight.
She could scarcely go by,
Without his catching her eye.
On the day the King passed through,
Tristan came to a wood en route
By a road down which he was sure
That whole company would pour:
He cut down a hazel bough,
And trimming it, carefully now,
When he’d prepared the same
With a knife he wrote his name.
If it caught the Queen’s bright eye
Who’d be looking on every side
(For on many another day
She’d met with him this way)
She’d quite easily find
His hazel branch: their sign.
So ran a letter to her of old
In which he’d sent and told
How long he’d been lingering
Hidden there sadly waiting
To discover like any spy
A way to only catch her eye,
Since he couldn’t live without her:
They were two bound together
As the honeysuckle binds
To the hazel that it finds.
When it’s caught and enlaced
Around its branches traced,
They can stick fast like glue,
But if anyone parts the two,
The hazel is quickly gone
Honeysuckle then follows on.
‘Sweet love, so it is with us, too:
No you without me, no me without you.’

So the Queen came riding by:
She looked at a slope nearby,
She saw the branch quite clearly,
Made out the letters easily.
The knights ordered to ride
Who all crowded along beside,
She commanded to stop, confessed
She wished to dismount and rest.
They executed her clear command.
While she strayed far from their band,
Calling her faithful maid,
Branguine, to her aid.
She went from the path some way
In the wood found him, hid away,
Who loved her more than all alive.
Between those two what great delight.
He speaks to her at leisure,
She to him all her pleasure:
Then tells him how he may
Be reconciled to the King that day,
And how grieved she had been
That the King sent him overseas,
Because of the accusations made.
Then she left him, in the glade:
But when it came to their goodbyes
Their tears filled both their eyes.
Tristan now returned to Wales
Till his uncle bade him sail.

Because of the joy he had known
In seeing his beloved, his own,
And because of what he’d penned
As the Queen instructed him then,
So he might more easily remember
Tristan who was a fine harp player,
Made of it a fresh new lay:
Whose title I’ll quickly say:
‘Goat-leaf’ is its English name,
‘Honeysuckle’ in French, the same.
Now I’ve told you the true source
Of the lay I sang you here of course.

Trans. Copyright © A.S.Kline 2004


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