Bertrand De Born

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Knight and Troubadour, to his Lady the Beautiful Maenz of Martagnac

The burden of the sometime years,
That once my soul did overweigh,
Falls from me, with its griefs and fears,
When gazing in thine eyes of gray;
Wherein, behold, like some bright ray
Of dawn, thy heart's fond love appears,
To cheer my life upon its way.

Thine eyes! the daybreak of my heart!
That give me strength to do and dare;
Whose beauty is a radiant part
Of all my songs; the music there;
The morning, that makes dim each care,
And glorifies my mind's dull mart,
And helps my soul to do and dare.

God, when He made thy fresh fair face,
And thy young body, took the morn
And made thee like a rose, whose race
Is not of Earth; without a thorn,
And dewed thee with the joy that's born
Of love, wherein hope hath its place
Like to the star that heralds morn.

I go my way through town and thorp:
In court and hall and castle bower
I tune my lute and strike my harp:
And often from some twilight tower
A lady drops to me a flower,
That bids me scale the moat's steep scarp,
And climb to love within her bower.

I heed them not, but go my ways:
What is their passion unto me!
My songs are only in thy praise;
Thy face alone it is I see,
That fills my heart with melody
My sweet aubade! that makes my days
All music, singing here in me!

One time a foul knight in his towers
Sneered thus: "God's blood! why weary us
With this one woman all our hours!
Sing of our wenches! amorous
Yolande and Ysoarde here! Not thus
Shalt sing, but of our paramours!

What is thy Lady unto us!"
And then I flung my lute aside;
And from its baldric flew my sword;
And down the hall 't was but a stride;
And in his brute face and its word
My gauntlet; and around the board
The battle, till all wild-beast-eyed
He lay and at his throat my sword.

Thou dost remember in Provence
The vile thing that I slew; and how
With my good jongleurs and my lance
Kept back his horde! The memory now
Makes fierce my blood and hot my brow
With rage. Ah, what a madman dance
We led them, and escaped somehow!

Oft times, when, in the tournament,
I see thee sitting yet uncrowned;
And bugles blow and spears are bent,
And shields and falchions clash around,
And steeds go crashing to the ground;
And thou dost smile on me, 'though spent
With war, again my soul is crowned:

And I am fire to strike and slay;
Before my face there comes a mist
Of blood; and like a flame I play
Through the loud lists; all who resist
Go down like corn; until thy wrist,
Kneeling, I kiss; the wreath they lay
Of beauty on thy head's gold mist.

And then I seize my lute and sing
Some chanson or some wild aubade
Full of thy beauty and the swing
Of swords and love which I have had
Of thee, until, with music mad,
The lists reel with thy name and ring
The echoed words of my aubade.

I am thy knight and troubadour,
Bertrand de Born, whom naught shall part
From thee: who art my life's high lure,
And wild bird of my wilder heart
And all its music: yea, who art
My soul's sweet sickness and its cure,
From which, God grant! it ne 'er shall part.

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