La Dame Escoillee, Pt. 1

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Lords, you who have wives
And who have raised them up above you,
Who have made them lord over you,
4 You only shame yourself!
Hear this small cautionary tale
That for you is here written;
Well it is that you heed
8 That you must not do
Good to your wife
That you will be held less dear.
The crazy ones must be punished
12 And if you teach them
That they must not become prideful
Towards their lord, or lord over him,
Rather hold him dear and love him,
16 And obey and honor [him]:
If they don’t do it, shame on them.
Now, I will go down into my story
Of the exemplum that I must tell,
20 That they must listen well
Those who make their wives lord,
And of whom it dishonors.
What can I say about it? This you can know:
24 There is no such bad joke by the truth!
There was one a rich man
Who had many riches:
He had knights and held a great position of power.
28 But he loved his wife so much
That he raised her up above him,
And abandoned the lordship
Of his land, of his house,
32 And granted her the gift of everything.
Thus the wife held him so vile
And so low that when he
Said something, she contradicted him
36 And undid all that he did.
They had a very beautiful daughter
Such that far went the news
Of her beauty both here and there,
40 Her reputation was much discussed
That a count heard speak of it.
Immediately he began to love her.
Never had he seen her, and nevertheless
44 He loved her. It happens offen
And one loves on account of praise
without seeing. This seems good.
The count did not have a wife.
48 He was young and wise
And was full of knowledge
Which is worth more than possessions
The young girl of which they told him,
52 Gladly he would see her –
To see if they told the truth or if they lied.
Then he saw her: hear how.
The count went hunting one day
56 With three of his knights
The hunter led the dogs>
They were in the forest all day
Hunting until after three in the afternoon,
60 When the water rose, loud thunder,
Lightning and much rain.
They were separated and got lost
The count’s men, except four
64 Who went off in one direction.
The sun went down on the horizon.
The counts says, “What is your advice?
I don’t know what we can do.
68 We can’t go on (68)
To one of our houses:
The sun is going down,
I don’t know where our people are,
72 Except that I think they’ve gone off.
We must get to a hostel,
But I don’t know which one.
While the count is lamenting,
76 They went down by a path
Into a garden, by a pond
To the house of the knight,
The one who had the beautiful daughter.
80 Behold them riding there –
This day it rained and was no beautiful,
They dismounted under an elm tree,
On a stone stoop sat the gentleman
84 Who owned the house.
Behold the count kindly
greets him, and he returns
the greeting, and then stands.
88 The count asks for lodging.
“Sire,” says the knight,
“I would gladly lodge you
that you need rest,
92 But I do not dare lodge you.”
— “You do not dare?  Why?” — “Because of my wife.
In no way will she want to grant
Anything I say or do;
96 She has lordship over me,
Ownership of my house,
Of all that I control,
It is not hot, that I am vexed,
100 I am only a rain cape,
She does what she wants, ignores mine,
She does not does nothing I say.”


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