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Introduction & lines 1-132
Her service was good and benign.
350 And when Heinrich, poor and maligned,
Three years in that place had remained,
And God his body had much pained
With great suff’ring of soul and life,
Now sat the peasant and his wife
355 And the maiden, their daughter young,
Of whom I’ve you already sung,
By him in their activity
And did their lord’s suff’ring pity.
Lament caused them a great distress:
360 Because they feared his death’s progress
Should greatly them harm and molest
And should completely them divest
Of property and good honour,
And that of a stricter temper
365 A single other lord would be.
They long did think and so deeply,
Until that very farming man
In such a way to ask began.
“My master dear and lord,” spoke he,
370 “And may it with your favour be,
I would like most to ask you this:
Though in Salerno there exist
A many master doctors smart,
How cometh it, that they no art
375 For your infirm and sickly pest
Could offer, counsel, or suggest?
My lord, this doth my awe excite.”
Then gave Heinrich, the woeful knight,
Deep from his heart a heavy sigh
380 With bitter pain and woe, a cry:
Then spoke he with such sorrow’s quake
That his words with the sigh did break:
“I have this shameful dishonour
Deserved from God, quite well and sure.
385 For well thou sawest then before,
That wide and open stood my door
To pleasure, that most worldly sin.
And that no man among his kin
His wishes more than I could fill:
390 And that was quite impossible,
For I completely had my way.
Then I of Him no heed did pay,
Who had that same life wishful giv’n
To me by His great grace in Heav’n.
395 And so then stood the heart of me,
As do they all, the fools worldly,
To whom their minds expostulate
That they honour and great estate
Could without God have and achieve.
400 So, too, my fool’s hope me deceived,
Since I took little note of Him
By grace of Whom the honour’s trim
And great estate I did posses.
When this, my pride, much in excess
405 Seemed to the high Gate Keeper hard,
The happy gates to me He barred.
Alas, I come through them no more:
My foolishness from me that tore.
God hath in vengeance on me laid
410 A sickness of such pitchèd grade,
Which no man can correct or save.
Contemnèd now am I by knaves,
The noble men no heed me show.
Who seeth me, how’er be low,
415 Yet lower still must I then be.
His scorn to me clear maketh he:
He casteth eyes away from me.
Now clear it is e’er first with thee
Thy loyalty true, which thou hast,
420 To wit, thou lettest my pale cast
By thee and from me ne’er flyest.
E’en though thou me not eschewest,
Though but to thee I’m no one dear,
Though on me hangeth thy life’s cheer,
425 Thou would’st well bear my death’s oppress.
Now whose unworth and whose distress
Was in the world e’er more deplored?
Before this time I was thy lord
And I am thy poor beggar now.
430 My dear, dear friend, now earnest thou,
And, too, my bride and with thy wife,
Because of me eternal life,
For me, though ill, thou lettest stay.
To that which thou hast bid me say,
435 I tell thee gladly what was wrought.
While at Salerno, I could not
A solitary master find
Who to himself my cause would bind
Or even dare to undertake.
440 For that by which I should partake
Of healing – my disease’s cure –
Must be a thing of such nature
That in this world no single man
With any means procure it can.
445 None else but his was me expressed,
But that I must a girl possess,
That is, a fully nubile maid
Whose will indeed were fully staid,
That she for me would life depart
450 And one would cut right to her heart;
And nothing else were for me good
Except that maiden girl’s heart blood.
Impossible to great degree
That any for the sake of me
455 Now gladly would death undergo!
So must I shameful torment’s woe
Endure ever unto my end.
That God would it to me soon send!”