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Christine de Pisan 45  Christine de Pisan (ca. 1365–1430) “Doulce chose est que mariage” That marriage is a sweet delight For one whose husband’s good and wise, My married life will demonstrate, As God has made me realize. Praise Him who made this man my prize, His goodness I am swift to tell, And know of my own expertise, Surely my sweetheart loves me well. I learned his goodness on the night That we were wed and with great ease Can prove it, for, from dusk to light, He offered me no injuries; Before time came for us to rise, A hundred kisses I recall He gave, but took no liberties; Surely my sweetheart loves me well. His language, courtly and polite, Assured me: “I was born to please You, darling—I am yours by right, To serve you well, as God decrees.” And lest the dream he wove should cease, He’d tell me this and this retell All night, unswerving from his course: Surely my sweetheart loves me well. Princes, I’m mad with some disease, For when he says he’s mine, I swell To bursting with Love’s ecstacies; Surely my sweetheart loves me well. 46 Middle French “Seulete suis, et seulete vueil estre” Alone am I and wish to be alone, Alone am I my love has gone away, Alone am I and master have I none, Alone am I with none to share my way, Alone am I in languor and dismay, Alone am I in utter poverty, Alone am I no lover lives with me. Alone am I at door or windowpane, Alone am I in corner hideaway, Alone am I with tears to feed upon, Alone am I in grief or grief at bay, Alone am I my pleasure so to stay, Alone am I my chamber’s company, Alone am I no lover lives with me. Alone am I in every place I’ve known, Alone am I where I abide or stray, Alone am I more so than anyone, Alone am I to all a castaway, Alone am I abased by everyone, Alone am I in tears most frequently, Alone am I no lover lives with me. O princes now my sorrow has its sway, Alone am I of every grief the prey, Alone am I as dark as mulberry, Alone am I no lover lives with me. “Sage seroit qui se saroit garder” Wise would she be, who keeps her own good name From those deceiving lovers who would wage War on her reputation as a game: Christine de Pisan 47  Groaning, they overdo the amorous rage That has them pent like finches in a cage, And go about playacting, wan and pale— But I endite this plainly on my page: Who most complain are not those who most ail. Listen to this one’s oaths, to that one’s claim That he’s the slave of Love and not his page! Whoever saw these gawkers without shame Telling such tales to women as they gauge Will best deceive them—if that man were sage, He would correct these lovers without fail. Confine such overacting to the stage: Who most complain are not those who most ail. To mend such lovers surely is God’s aim, For much harm comes from men who will engage Women with pleas for favors, who defame Their honesty, who beg them to assuage Those passions which they feigningly allege; For my ballade (when asked) will tell this tale: No matter noble birth or lineage, Who most complain are not those who most ail. Charles Martin and Johanna Keller, 1999 ...


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