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Introduction & lines 1-132
Now dawned it Heinrich pitiable
That it were quite impossible
235 That anyone could one supply
Who would for him willingly die.
So was from him that comfort ripped
In hope of which he had there tripped;
And from that very moment’s bane,
240 No thought of cure did he retain,
Of hope not e’en a single part.
At this the sorrow of his heart
Became so powerful and great
That ‘twas of all for him the weight
245 That he must long persist to live.
Return’d home he began to give
His assets and his own estate,
As his mind did deliberate
And wise advice did him present,
250 Whither his wealth might best be spent.
He began with wise donations
To enrich his poor relations;
To strangers poor aid, too, he lent,
That God His mercy might consent
255 To save his soul and make it blest:
To Holy Houses fell the rest.
So did he yield and abdicate
All of his former rich estate
Except a single farmer’s lands:
260 He thither fled from social bands.
This woeful, wretched circumstance
Bore not just his lamenting glance:
For him did all the land give moan,
Wherein that cursèd knight was known,
265 And, too, in foreign lands the cry,
Which knew him by repute’s reply.
The one who first and even still
Did this cleared farmer’s parcel till –
He was a peasant farmer free
270 Who ne’er did struggle with any
Oppressive, heavy hardship great,
Such as is other farmers’ fate,
Who worse were ruled and masteréd
And whom their lords hat not sparéd
275 From tax and ev’ry levy grave.
Whate’er this farmer freely gave,
This seemed sufficient to his lord:
And more, his lord did guard afford
That he hath suffered no distress
280 From foreign powers, or duress.
And so there was par to his pitch,
None in that land, not one so rich.
Retired he to the farmer’s board,
The poor Heinrich, the peasant’s lord.
285 Then of whate’er he had him spared,
How well it now was him repaired
And what delight from it received!
For very little him aggrieved,
Whate’er for his sake he endured.
290 He was loyal, of purpose sure,
That willingly he suffered yet
The burden and the trouble’s sweat
Which fell to him to undergo:
He tended him in comfort so.
295 God to the farmer by His grace
Had giv’n a pure life by his place.
A well-worked body hard had he
And a well-working wife sturdy,
And children had he too, handsome,
300 Which joy indeed of man become,
And had, or so I’ve heard it sung,
Among them one, a maiden young,
A child, her age of eight [twelve] years bright:
She could behave in manner right
305 According to affection’s way.
Ne’er wished she then to go away
Even a foot’s breadth from her lord.
For his favor and his kind word,
So served she him e’er ev’rywhere
310 With her affection’s kindly care.
She was so charmingly fair, too,
That she would be well fitted to
The Emperor’s very own child
In her excelling beauty mild.
315 The others had the sense of mind
That they in proper measure’s kind
Well could at distance from him stay:
But she, she flew in night and day
To him only and ne’er elsewhere.
320 She was his occupation fair.
She had so much her heart’s kindness
With that child-like and pure goodness
Devoted e’er to her lord’s care,
That one would always find her there,
325 Sitting attentive at his feet.
With much activity most sweet
She e’er attended her lord’s right.
In her he, too, took great delight,
By any means with which he could,
330 And what became the maiden good,
Becoming to her children’s play,
Of that her lord to her conveyed.
‘Twas of great help, that also she
Accustoméd so easily.
335 He won for her, whate’er for sale:
A mirror and hairs’ ribbons’ tails,
And whate’er children should delight,
A belt and rings for fingers slight.
Attending brought he her to grow,
340 That she became close to him so,
That he called her by name his bride.
The maiden good let him a stride
Remain in solitude never:
He seemed to her completely pure.
345 Howe’er strongly they might move her,
The gifts child-like and immature,
What made her love it all the more
By God’s gift was a sweeter core.