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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X. 1876–79.


Bertrand de Born

By Bertrand de Born (c. 1140–c. 1215)

Translated by Edgar Taylor

THE BEAUTIFUL spring delights me well,

When flowers and leaves are growing;

And it pleases my heart to hear the swell

Of the birds’ sweet chorus flowing

In the echoing wood;

And I love to see, all scattered around,

Pavilions, tents, on the martial ground;

And my spirit finds it good

To see, on the level plains beyond,

Gay knights and steeds caparisoned.

It pleases me when the lancers bold

Set men and armies flying;

And it pleases me, too, to hear around

The voice of the soldiers crying;

And joy is mine

When the castles strong, besieged, shake,

And walls uprooted totter and crack,

And I see the foemen join,

On the moated shore all compassed round

With the palisade and guarded mound.

Lances, and swords, and stained helms,

And shields, dismantled and broken,

On the verge of the bloody battle-scene,

The field of wrath betoken;

And the vassals are there,

And there fly the steeds of the dying and dead;

And where the mingled strife is spread,

The noblest warrior’s care

Is to cleave the foeman’s limbs and head,—

The conqueror less of the living than dead.

I tell you that nothing my soul can cheer,

Or banqueting or reposing,

Like the onset-cry of “Charge them!” rung

From each side, as in battle closing,

Where the horses neigh,

And the call to “Aid!” is echoing loud;

And there on the earth the lowly and proud

In the fosse together lie;

And yonder is piled the mangled heap

Of the brave that scaled the trench’s steep.

Barons, your castles in safety place,

Your cities and villages too,

Before ye haste to the battle-scene!

And, Papiol, quickly go,

And tell the Lord of “Oc and No!”

That peace already too long hath been!