Richard I
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Richard I 41  Richard I (ca. 1157–99) Chanson Never man caught could muster fit excuse Lithe to the tongue to parry his distress, Yet for my comfort I can song devise; Now giftless hangs of many friends the grace While I in shame and hopeless of release Am these two winters held. Well my knight can recall, and my sworn man, Englishman, Norman, Gascon, Poitevin, How I have let no least companion Lie wasting thus for long his heart in prison. Pride forbids arguments of worth and ransom, But still, I am close held. Ah, I know well enough that in the end, By death locked up, I shall find parent nor friend Helpful with gold or capable dear hand. More than myself I mourn who to me bend And may, after my death, need, and none lend While closed I lie, and held. Count it no marvel that my heart is rent Now Philip cramps my kingdom in torment, But were he minded of the covenant Once we together made by joined consent I could expect no pain long continent Nor long in shame lie held. This though they know, Angevin and Torraine, Unmarried men whose gold and faith are fine, Love hides so hampered help cannot be shown, And past touch of their love fast am I down. 42 Old French Light from bare swords bent I see flood the plain Who meantime am close held. Companions whom old love has held this late, To you of Caen and Percherain I write, Long vexed: may song call constancy to sight; I have dealt no one falsely or in spite And who shows faithless now is base past hate For straightly am I held. Countess and sister, to your fame may the lord Whose prisoner I stay, to whom is spurred My prayer, guard you and hold. To the mother of Louys I send no word I have here told. W. S. Merwin, 1949 ...