Grace in your annals with good charity
Those whose good works have wrought prosperity.
For when regard has lapsed from charity,
So will lapse to naught gracious prosperity.
Duty in all hearts naught regards passed purpose,
And duty's art's to wrought all prosperous;
To denigrate the man of dutiful purpose,
Thus, is to design all hearts unprosperous.
Integrity in want is a subtle art;
His right desires I scarce hear man impart.
So the land teems over with men of middling art;
What rightly man wants, scarce man dares impart.
Esteem I maintain for the man who'll attest
Most keen acclaim for desire's keenest interest,
Who virtue marks, thus virtue will attest;
May honor impress his most virtuous interest.
Truth thus affirmed of all men's perfect worth
By the man of firm reserve to boldly unearth
The righteous and vile at their truest worth,
Man's private worth will pardon and unearth.
Equity in acclaim will art divest,
Where to acclaim the art contends to be so blessed;
For when to equitable praise art is blessed,
Profusion in kind will all art invest.
Reverence and praise denied of fit designs,
Their potent promise to neglect declines;
Yet for the broad felicity inclines
All art when reverent praise marks art's designs.
Idealism though wanes with our age's term;
Today teem scholars who the righteous affirm
As vile, and the vile vouch right, who but to affirm
Rightly design, yet to plight assign art's term.
Competence compels proper accord,
Where right to art's phrasing criticism is scored;
When by envy their antiphon is scored,
Both art and criticism will lapse to discord.
Hallowed virtue, how narrow your lay,
And how arduous yet endures your way!
Blessed is he who sustains to sight a way
Which rightly may prevail your path's narrow lay!
Tempered as I am to prudent age by time,
To idly devise of so supple a mold
As this life's span, and in elusion model
My own neglect through the world, would be to devise
With my age in neglect to the term I've borne.
I thusly have this labor undertaken,
To lay before the world, and to solace
All noble hearts—those hearts so dear to my own,
And that world my own heart so keenly regards.
It is a labor not of the common world,
Nor for its common men, who, as I've learned,
Will not endure the heart's most trivial sorrow,
But wish to revel in their impassioned bliss;
May God justly reward such bliss with His!
All I must say and they must hear but meager
Semblance may bear; the lay their course and that
Which I'll convey cannot but course astray.
It is that other way, that other life
To which my labor pleads, which in one heart
Divergent ways may yet concede; which jointly
May bear its bitter-sweet, its dear regret;
Its heart's content, its heart's lament; its dearest
Life, its lamentful death; its lamentful life,
Its dearest death. That life with the life of my own
Lives in a dear accord; to that world would
I cast my life to live in evermore,
And with it be damned, or by it restored.
It is with that world that I've held my term,
It's by that world that I have been informed,
And guided through a life profoundly borne.
I offer then my art, my one true purpose,
My keenest bequest, that the world I love
May win diversion, and abate a time
Its long anguish. For when the troubled heart
Permits immersion in some suited task,
The heart's despair a moment may thus lapse.
All surely must this cede: the leisurely,
When overwrought by the heart's keenest woe,
In languor not but tend and bud their sorrow.
When such men languish in their idleness,
Their heart's anguish out-blooms in bitterness.
One heart thus by itself so pressed and bound,
Which reveres and preserves its barrier pain,
May, by distraction, to itself thus bestow
A liberty, and brief solace obtain.
Yet would I never to a man who
Pursues diversion thus, advise that man
To look for pleasures ill-befit to pure love.
Let then a lover to his love-tale,
And with his heart, and with his lips let him
Gently devote an hour.
Often have we
Been moved to believe—and I nearly will grant—
That the love-sick soul, immersed in doleful tales
Of love's keenest pain, his own hurt through them
Can but gain; that through these tales he'll submit
To his despair. This sentiment I must,
However near, resist; though love and pain
Be intimately trussed, yet the heart must
Ever persist. For, as the lover's
Passion, so set to flame by its desire,
Must by this flame thrive, so in his passion's
Relentless gain does the fire ever rise.
This dear grief is the heart's most ardent will,
Which no noble heart may ever yield.
Of this I am certain as I am of death,
For I have learned it through the same dear distress:
All noble lovers love to read of love-tales.
Therefore all those lovers who seek a solace
Need seek no further; I will provide
To all who need, the tale of purest love
In two noble hearts: of a lover and beloved;
A man, a woman and a woman,
A man: Tristan, Isolde, Isolde, Tristan.
I am informed of those departed bards
Who formerly imparted the tale of Tristan,
Yet rare has my regard, though oft' I've sought,
Discerned, truly, the tale performed aright.
Though were I to attest but slight acclaim,
And restrain all esteem for those who've wrought,
Then deem, save ill, their works offered naught,
Would be to attest in ill-accord with my
Own interest. No nobler duty in man's heart
Man man devise that to have wrought for all,
That the broad prosperity he may comprise.
Their tales were composed charitably,
Between our hearts then, as in our regard,
There must be right accord. However,
When I pronounced the tale had but scarcely
Been told aright, I aver, this is the case,
For few have followed the telling of the bard
Of Brittany, Thomas, who'd carefully read
Of all the lords and knights in the books of the Britons.
As I carefully began to seek myself
Of Tristan's tale, to read it told aright,
I reviewed the books in both of Latin
And the Romance languages, and took great pains
That I, in my offering, might rightly compel
Noble hearts in reading the tale along the course
Thomas had well-devised, and burgeon
Further that route with what grace I may.
The issue of these labors I then offer
To all noble hearts, that their diversion
They may secure, and thus relieve their anguish
In a good love tale. Good? Yes, the profoundest.
It shall exalt love and ennoble the spirit,
Invigorate all constancy, and shall
Adorn life with the virtue which each heart
Has ever truly sought. Believe, where
A virtuous man has heard or read of such
Pure loyalty between lovers, in him
Loyalty and virtues bountiful
Will flourish higher. Love, loyalty,
Constancy, honor, and all the virtues
Never endear themselves so completely
As when a man has read of love's bliss
And of love's anguish in a love tale.
Love is so blessed a thing, and so hallowed
An endeavor, that apart from love
And love's teaching, a man may never
Truly attain honor; indeed, so numerous
Are the virtuous lives which have been advised
And solaced by love—so entirely good
Is love. If only more would brave the pursuit
Of their heart's keenest bliss, and for their love
Endure, to receive so little as the anguish
Which, when that longed-for time has come at last,
May only stay concealed within the heart.
Should it be naught than naturally contrary
To noble hearts to forsake for but one woe
A thousand joys? He who has never
Suffered through love's keenest anguish never
Pleasured either in love's keenest bliss,
For love's great gift, which grief, is ever-banded,
And by this blessing may we attain
That otherwise-enwrapped and unattainable
Grace so revered by all noble hearts, of honor.
If those of whom this tale tells had not
Endured with constancy their love's keen grief
For that one joy, their love, their sorrow,
Their names, their tale, would not persist.
So sweet and ever-fresh is their tale to all,
That today yet we joy to hear of their devotion,
Their content, their lament, their anguish,
Their rapture; though long dead, their lives endure,
As sustains their death, to grace all noble hearts,
Bestowing loyalty to those who
Loyalty seek; granting honor
To those who honor yet seek: in death they live,
And bequeath the living with life; for when men
Have heard performed their perfect loyalty,
Their bliss, their anguish, their lives, and their deaths,
This is as bread to noble hearts.
With this, though dead, they yet endure.
We read their lives, we read their deaths,
And to us it is as bread.
Their lives, their deaths are as our bread.
Thus live their lives, thus live their deaths.
Thus still they live and yet are dead,
And to the living their deaths are as bread.
Those who now yearn to be told of their lives,
Their deaths, their bliss, their anguish, let them
Lend their heart, lend their lips; for they shall find
All that they ever have desired.