I am Arnaut! – and have swum
To the bottom of the ocean,
Though mind blasted
With every vision of her motions;
For she who holds the stars
As bracelet, one wrist adorning,
I have dove
To find lost ring – for her mourning
Is like as wind that breaks
The tree with cold divesting -
And one sorrow
Enough for any dreamed of questing:
There, where lamps of her exist
Is light which turns sun fire
For no day is but she inspires,
Nor can larks wake to sing
Songs spring warm in morning air,
Unless she be
For which angelic trumpets blare.
Go now song to air where she breathes
Nor waylay your movement a jot
For any fool -
Her being in a splendor – and never stop.
As night holds stars unmeasured,
So are her eyes
As full as skies
Spangled with light,
And spring of dreaming’s treasures.
None born of Eve is like her shape -
Her skin more graced
With beauty’s race
Than Venus fair,
She of the air,
Made ugly as an ape.
My heart is vaster than the wind
From mountains sent,
With power bent,
Wide, full and free,
Best force to be -
Such might from her begins.
No words can make of spirits
That hold the space
Where is her face,
Whose highest bloom
Is all men’s doom,
Forms so others hear it.
She holds me in such power,
Nor has this soul
Wit to withhold
Against her will -
Such strength to kill,
Leaves only sorrow’s showers.
Whatever it be for her to joy,
No wall or god,
Or wrath or rod,
Could break my way
Or make me stay:
No weapon Fate employs.
As dawn awakens the earth,
Such is the way
She’s like the May,
As warm and bright,
Beyond all sight,
Beyond the grasp of worth.
Song, go now quicker than thought
And where she rests;
In air there nest,
Nor let one pain
But be with armor wrought,
Then hold your guard till death of time;
Let never steal
Upon her weal
A thief of aching,
Be always waking
On duty, nor recline.
Guillem de Peiteus
I hold the Aquitaine you know,
The king of France fears where I go
And If I should desire land
Possessed alone of royal hand;
Of men at arms more than a few,
With shield and sword and mail and too
A host of knights who to my will
Will hold their hand or strike the kill.
I could array my martial power
On any field – when light is showered
You’d think the grasses burned to diamonds
For all the armor, glittering, shining;
No Occitan can equal me
In lands that owe or men in fee
And if some fool offends the law,
I sack his fortress, cleanse the flaw,
Yet you who are as soft as flowers,
As graceful as the dove, hold power
With which I am rebuked and stayed -
Your will untouched by sovereign sway.
I’ve travelled with my countrymen
To lands the Saracens defend
And spent my blood in service for
Jerusalem’s, yet nevermore!
For why should I cross heathen lands?
Or seek the holy city’s sands?
Jerusalem is where you are:
God’s city, earth’s one godly star.
Case being so, then damn the pope,
For paradise has not such scope
Expanding where your gaze expands -
These beams out-bless the promised land.
Therefore if you will still refrain
To ope your silken gates, the pain
Is greater than all hell’s torments -
This song a prayer: Relent! Relent!
These chains in which she holds my life,
As like the bird is caged –
A song of sorrow, tune of strife
As well as prison’s rage.
Aloft in airs of splendor – light!
My wings could take my soul
But now, no matter how I fight,
These bars will brook no toll.
If beauty is a type of water,
Then she is every sea;
If beauty is a type of slaughter,
Then she’s a Genghis queen.
Her hands as small and soft as doves
That twirl upon the air
Could best a lion, for her love
With godly power’s paired.
Each slender strand of golden hair
That winds around her face,
To border beauty’s portrait there,
The best of cupid’s race,
Are more of worth than chests of treasure
That burst upon their seams
With gold and diamonds, lost to measure -
One strand has more esteem.
Her eyes could wake the stars from slumber
Like guards of oath forsaking -
If she is up when day is under
The sky is in its spring.
The earth is slender, grown contracted -
There’s nothing where she’s not
And if her love is gone, retracted,
Yet still I am untaught.
As bird in cage, she’s captured me,
Nor have I hope to go;
My freedom waits on the whim of she -
My exile or home.
The Syrian Archer
The soul is twisted, ripped and madly raging
As seas entangled with a mongrel wind
Or like the clash of armies, who, engaging,
Have equal strength and therefore none will win.
From her two eyes have arrows rained and poured
As thickly as the cold drops from the skies
Or like munitions launched from either hoard
When countries go to war for costly prize;
And peace, whether in waters or in lands
Is lost as is the heart forlorn and doomed -
Her form, the planet mars, whose stern demand
Is all of spirits die in conflict’s bloom;
And yet that she engenders so much strife,
Somehow her eyes still give me all of life.
There’s nothing but sheer brightness where she smiles –
The air itself transformed – as if her face
Is that same mythic stone, which legend styles
Could alter baser metals to gold’s race.
She has such power in her very being,
None witness her that isn’t shifted all –
Right through the portals of all earthly seeing
Her image goes and gilds the mental halls –
And even if the intellect is weak
And pauperish and small with ignorance,
Such is the grace attending where she speaks,
It shall become a palace fit for prince.
This is the secret shimmering in her hair:
The force of her breeds diamonds from mere air.
Hell and Heaven
Sore march through hell to see her eyes just once -
Endure the lacerations
And all the fiery torments of the place,
For all of pain is shattered by her face;
Nor can the scales on which all values weigh
Or find a form of torture which compared
Is not a mite, if prize be her bright air,
For where her gaze exudes a balmy light
Exceeds all fascination,
Is like a rain of golden grace, of stars -
The healing dew for all of burning scars;
More of heaven flowers in her being,
Her life, and all of which her life consists
Than He who after death could yet exist.