Lai Of Gobertz

A poem by Maurice Henry Hewlett

Of courteous Limozin wight,
Gobertz, I will indite:
From Poicebot had he his right
Of gentlehood;
Made monk in his own despite
In San Léonart the white,
Withal to sing and to write
Coblas he could.

Learning had he, and rare
Music, and gai saber:
No monk with him to compare
In that monast'ry.
Full lusty he was to bear
Cowl and chaplet of hair
God willeth monks for to wear
For sanctity.

There in dortoir as he lay,
To this Gobertz, by my fay,
Came fair women to play
In his sleep;
Then he had old to pray,
Fresh and silken came they,
With eyen saucy and gray
That set him weep.

May was the month, and soft
The singing nights; up aloft
The quarter moon swam and scoffed
His unease.
Rose this Gobertz, and doffed
His habit, and left that croft,
Crying Eleison oft
At Venus' knees.

Heartly the road and the town
Mauléon, over the down,
Sought he, and the renown
Of Savaric;
To that good knight he knelt down,
Asking of him in bown
Almesse of laurel crown
For his music.

Fair him Savaric spake,
"If coblas you know to make,
Song and music to wake
For your part,
Horse and lute shall you take
Of Jongleur, lightly forsake
Cloister for woodland brake
With good heart."

Down the high month of May
Now rideth Gobertz his way
To Aix, to Puy, to Alais,
To Albi the old;
In Toulouse mindeth to stay
With Count Simon the Gay,
There to abide what day
Love shall hold.

Shrill riseth his song:
Cobla, lai, or tenzon,
None can render him wrong
In that meinie--
Love alone, that erelong
Showed him in all that throng
Of ladies Tibors the young,
None but she.

She was high-hearted and fair,
Low-breasted, with hair
Gilded, and eyes of vair
In burning face:
On her Gobertz astare,
Looking, stood quaking there
To see so debonnair
Hold her place.

Proud donzela and free,
To clip nor to kiss had she
Talént, nor for minstrelsy
Was she fain;
Mistress never would be,
Nor master have; but her fee
She vowed to sweet Chastity,
Her suzerain.

Then this Gobertz anon
Returneth to Mauléon,
To Savaric maketh moan
On his knees.
Other pray'r hath he none
Save this, "Sir, let me begone
Whence I came, since fordone
My expertise."

Quod Savaric, "Hast thou sped
So ill in amors?" Answeréd
This Gobertz, "By my head,
She scorneth me."
"Hauberc and arms then, instead
Of lute and begarlanded
Poll, take you," he said,
"For errantry."

Now rides he out, a dubbed knight,
The Spanish road, for to fight
Paynimry; day and night
Urgeth he;
In Saragoza the bright,
And Pampluna with might
Seeketh he what respite
For grief there be.

War-dimmed grew his gear,
Grim his visage; in fear
Listened Mahound his cheer
Deep in Hell.
Fled his legions to hear
Gobertz the knight draw near.
Now he closeth the year
In Compostell.

Offering there hath he made
Saint James, candles him paid,
Gold on the shrine hath laid;
Now Gobertz
Is for Toulouse, where that maid
Tibors wonned unafraid
Of Love and his accolade
That breaketh hearts.

He rode north and by east,
Nor rider spared he nor beast,
Nor tempered spur till at least
Forth of Spain;
Not for mass-bell nor priest,
For fast-day nor yet for feast
Stayed he, till voyage ceased
In Aquitaine.

Now remaineth to tell
What this Gobertz befell
When that he sought hostel
In his land.
Dined he well, drank he well,
Envy then had somedeal
With women free in bordel
For to spend.

In poor alberc goeth he
Where bought pleasure may be,
Careless proffereth fee
For his bliss.
O Gobertz, look to thee.
Such a sight shalt thou see
Will make the red blood to flee
Thy heart, ywis.

Fair woman they bring him in
Shamefast in her burning sin,
All afire is his skin
Par amors.
Look not of her look to win,
Dare not lift up her chin,
Gobertz; in that soiled fond thing
Lo, Tibors!

"O love, O love, out, alas!
That it should come to this pass,
And thou be even as I was
In green youth,
Whenas delight and solace
Served I with wantonness,
And burned anon like the grass
To this ruth!"

But then lift she her sad eyes,
Gray like wet morning skies,
That wait the sun to arise,
Tears to amend.
"Gobertz, amic," so she cries,
"By Jesus' agonies
Hither come I by lies
Of false friend.

"Sir Richart de Laund he hight,
Who fair promised me plight
Of word and ring, on a night
Of no fame;
So then evilly bright
Had his will and delight
Of me, and fled unrequite
For my shame!

"Alas, and now to my thought
Flieth the woe that I wrought
Thee, Gobertz, that distraught
Thou didst fare.
Now a vile thing of nought
Fare I that once was so haught
And free, and could not be taught
By thy care."

But Gobertz seeth no less
Her honour and her sweetness,
Soon her small hand to kiss
Taketh he,
Saying, "Now for that stress
Drave thee here thou shalt bless
God, for so ending this
Thy penury."

Yet she would bid him away,
Seeking her sooth to say,
In what woful array
She was cast.
"Nay," said he, "but, sweet may,
Here must we bide until day:
Then to church and to pray
Go we fast."

Now then to all his talént,
Seeing how he was bent,
Him the comfort she lent
Of her mind.
Cried Gobertz, well content,
"If love by dreariment
Cometh, that was well spent,
As I find."

Thereafter somewhat they slept,
When to his arms she had crept
For comfort, and freely wept
Sin away.
Up betimes then he leapt,
Calling her name: forth she stept
Meek, disposed, to accept
What he say.

By hill road taketh he her
To the gray nuns of Beaucaire,
There to shred off her hair
And take veil.
Himself to cloister will fare
Monk to be, with good care
For their two souls. May his pray'r
Them avail!


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