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Introduction & lines 1-132
A bit yet took he of good cheer
For yet a comfort did appear:
165 For oft to him it had been said
That this same sickliness so dread
Was very varied and diversed
And sometimes curably reversed.
And so a many were the kind
170 Of hopes and thoughts about his mind.
He thought himself, that he could be
But curable, just possibly,
And set he out without delay
To seek advice at Montpellier,
175 The counsel of the doctors there.
But quickly he became aware
Of nothing more than deep despair
That never would he health repair.
This news took he not happily
180 And to Salerno journeyed he
And sought there too for healing’s pow’r
The wisest doctors’ art to scour.
The master whom he found there best
Forthwith gave answer to his quest
185 A strange, remarkable story
That curable indeed were he
Yet ever would remain uncured.
He said: “How can that be? Your word
And speech is quite impossible.
190 If cure there is, so shall I heal:
Whate’er on me will be enjoined
Of hardest work or cost and coin,
So that I trust to bring about.”
“Now give ye up such hoping stout,”
195 The master then yet answer gave,
“In this way is your sickness grave:
(To what avail to tell you this?)
A remedy belongs to this
Through which you could again be healthy.
200 But yet there is no man so wealthy
Or of such mind of strong intent
That he could make th’ achievement.
So sickly will ye e’er remain,
But God to be a doctor deign.”
205 Then poor Sir Heinrich answeréd:
“Why leave ye me so dejectéd?
Indeed have I wealth’s greater part:
Unless ye would your master art
And your own doctor’s oath forsake,
210 And even more refuse to take
My precious silver and my golden,
I shall make you to me beholden,
That gladly will ye cure my ill.”
“‘Tis not an hindrance of my will,”
215 Said yet the master in reply,
“And were there of such cure supply
That one could find it bought or sold
Or that one could by giving gold
Or any other means attain,
220 I would not suffer you to wane.
But none of this can sadly be.
So of my help and aid must ye
Be of necessity denied.
A virgin must ye have, a bride,
225 That is, a fully nubile maid
Whose will indeed were fully staid,
That she for you would death’s way go.
‘Tis not the people’s custom so,
That any, willing, would it do.
230 Requir’d be nothing else thereto
Except the heartblood of a maid:
‘Twould be your ailing’s only aid.”