Marie de France
Marie de France was a medieval poet who was probably born in France and lived in England during the late 12th century, most famous as the author of the earliest surviving Breton lais. Her poems were written in Old French.
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- Si est del riche orguillus:
Ja del povre n'avra merci
Pur sa pleinte ne pur sun cri;
Mes se cil s'en peüst vengier,
Dunc le verreit l'um suzpleier.
- It is likewise with the proud, rich man: he will never have mercy on the poor man because of his hue or his cry, but if the poor man could wreak vengeance on him, then you would see the rich man bow.
- Fables, no. 10, "The Fox and the Eagle", line 18; cited from Mary Lou Martin (trans.) The Fables of Marie de France (Birmingham, Alabama: Summa, 1984) pp. 54-6. Translation from the same source, p. 55.
Quotations in Old French are cited from Marie de France (ed. Alfred Ewart) Lais (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1960); English quotations from Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby (trans.) The Lais of Marie de France (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1986), to which page numbers also refer.
- Mes ki ne mustre s'enferté
A peine en peot aver santé:
Amur est plaie dedenz cors,
E si ne piert nïent defors.
Ceo est un mal que lunges tient,
Pur ceo que de nature vient.
- But he who does not let his infirmity be known can scarcely expect to receive a cure. Love is an invisible wound within the body, and, since it has its source in nature, it is a long-lasting ill.
- "Guigemar", line 481; p. 49.
- Amur n'est pruz se n'est egals.
- Love is not honourable, unless it is based on equality.
- "Equitan", line 137; p. 58.
- Ki divers cunte veut traitier,
Diversement deit comencier
E parler si rainablement
K'il seit pleisibles a la gent.
- Anyone who intends to present a new story must approach the problem in a new way and speak so persuasively that the tale brings pleasure to people.
- "Milun", line 1; p. 97.
- Tutes les dames de une tere
Vendreit il meuz d'amer requere
Quë un fol de sun pan tolir;
Kar cil volt an eire ferir.
- It would be less dangerous for a man to court every lady in an entire land than for a lady to remove a single besotted lover from her skirts, for he will immediately attempt to strike back.
- "Chaitivel", line 19; p. 105.
- 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
Ensemble poënt bien durer;
Mes ki puis les volt deservrer,
Li codres muert hastivement
E li chevrefoil ensement.
"Bele amie, si est de nus:
Ne vus sanz mei, ne mei sanz vus!"
- The two of them resembled the honeysuckle which clings to the hazel branch: when it has wound itself round and attached itself to the hazel, the two can survive together: but if anyone should then attempt to separate them, the hazel quickly dies, as does the honeysuckle. "Sweet love, so it is with us: without me you cannot survive, nor I without you."
- "Chevrefoil", line 74; p. 110.