André Le Chapelain.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

(Clerk of Love, 1170.)

His Plaint To Venus Of The Coming Years.

"Plus ne suis ce que j'ay esté
Et ne le sçaurois jamais estre;
Mon beau printemps et mon esté
Ont fait le saut par la fenestre."


Queen Venus, round whose feet,
To tend thy sacred fire,
With service bitter-sweet
Nor youths nor maidens tire;--
Goddess, whose bounties be
Large as the un-oared sea;--

Mother, whose eldest born
First stirred his stammering tongue,
In the world's youngest morn,
When the first daisies sprung:--
Whose last, when Time shall die,
In the same grave shall lie:--

Hear thou one suppliant more!
Must I, thy Bard, grow old,
Bent, with the temples frore,
Not jocund be nor bold,
To tune for folk in May
Ballad and virelay?

Shall the youths jeer and jape,
"Behold his verse doth dote,--
Leave thou Love's lute to scrape,
And tune thy wrinkled throat
To songs of 'Flesh is Grass,'"--
Shall they cry thus and pass?

And the sweet girls go by?
"Beshrew the grey-beard's tune!--
What ails his minstrelsy
To sing us snow in June!"
Shall they too laugh, and fleet
Far in the sun-warmed street?

But Thou, whose beauty bright,
Upon thy wooded hill,
With ineffectual light
The wan sun seeketh still;--
Woman, whose tears are dried,
Hardly, for Adon's side,--

Have pity, Erycine!
Withhold not all thy sweets;
Must I thy gifts resign
For Love's mere broken meats;
And suit for alms prefer
That was thine Almoner?

Must I, as bondsman, kneel
That, in full many a cause,
Have scrolled thy just appeal?
Have I not writ thy Laws?
That none from Love shall take
Save but for Love's sweet sake;--

That none shall aught refuse
To Love of Love's fair dues;--
That none dear Love shall scoff
Or deem foul shame thereof;--
That none shall traitor be
To Love's own secrecy;--

Avert,--avert it, Queen!
Debarred thy listed sports,
Let me at least be seen
An usher in thy courts,
Outworn, but still indued
With badge of servitude.

When I no more may go,
As one who treads on air,
To string-notes soft and slow,
By maids found sweet and fair--
When I no more may be
Of Love's blithe company;--

When I no more may sit
Within thine own pleasànce,
To weave, in sentence fit,
Thy golden dalliance;
When other hands than these
Record thy soft decrees;--

Leave me at least to sing
About thine outer wall,
To tell thy pleasuring,
Thy mirth, thy festival;
Yea, let my swan-song be
Thy grace, thy sanctity.

[Here ended André's words:
But One that writeth, saith--
Betwixt his stricken chords
He heard the Wheels of Death;
And knew the fruits Love bare
But Dead-Sea apples were.]

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