Manuscripts and Special Collections

WLC/LM/6, f.191v, f.193v and f.194v: Heldris de Cornuälle, ‘Le Roman de Silence’, lines 739-759, 1090-1102 and 1261-1274 (early 13th century, French)


Vos aues ueu bien souent
Fus et estoppe . auoec leuent
Vienent asses tos a esprendre
Que ni estuet ia painne rendre
Altre tels est damor lorine
Puis quele aferme une rachine
Que puist amans nes tant doter
Que lor soit boin doir couter
Luns dals alautre cho que fait
Tres donques croist lamors a fait
Par bien laparolle asseir
Et par souent entreueir
Seplus i a auolente
Tant croist lamor plus aplente
Car puis quen parler ont delit
Sicroist lamors moult depetit
Por cho que il ensanble soient
Mais amaint qui ne sentreuoient
Et fors salent que dan en an
Nont mie dasses tel ahan
Que diestre apries et consirrer


You have often seen
How, with the wind, wood and tow1
Quickly kindles and is soon set alight,
That otherwise without trying very hard would never catch fire.
In such a way is the origin of Love
For as soon as Love's root takes hold,
How may lovers really have any doubt
That it can only be good for them to hear relate
To one another what this thing (Love) does.
(In this way) then their Love2 quickly increases
By the use of well placed words
(And) by seeing each other often.
The more that desire is known to be there,
Then Love grows more and more.
Because in speaking of (this thing) they feel pleasure3
And there, from such small beginnings, grows Love
As long as they are together.
But lovers who do not meet,
Or merely encounter one another but from year to year,
They can never know much of such hardship,
Of being so close and yet (having) to abstain.

1. The waste remains of flax/hemp for which one of the uses was for sealing between the joints of wood, for example on wooden ships.

2. The text gives the plural L' Amors

3. Or 'desire'.

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