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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

SIRVENTE.

ATTRIBUTED TO BERTRAND DE BORN.

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Translated from the Provencal of the 12th century.

I LIKE it well, the sweet spring-time,

That brings the leaves and flowers,

And I like well the caroling

Of birds, their songs re-echoing

Through groves and leafy bowers.

I like it well when, on the mead,

Tents and pavilions shine,

And in my very heart I like,

When horse, and horsemen armed to strike,

Stand in a gleaming line.

I like it well when raiders swoop

Down on the herdsmen flying.

I like it when the angry guard

In hot pursuit is hieing.

Great joy it bringeth me,

When strongholds old, by armies bold,

Beleaguered I can see.

When toppling walls uprooted fall,

And on the shore I see,

Beyond the ditch and palisades,

The watchful enemy.

A good knight also pleaseth me,

When first he rides into the fray,

With horse in armor fearlessly;

For well he shows his men the way,

With such undaunted bravery,

That, when they come upon the field,

Each man would rather die than yield,

And follows willingly;

For who would be esteemed a knight

Must deal hard blows in many a fight.

Lances and swords, gay waving crests,

Surge in the battle's van,

And shields dismantled and pierced through.

The blows are neither faint nor few,

Well dealt by knights of valor true,

Contending man to man.

And frightened horses loose are flying,

Charging among the dead and dying.

No count, of lineage high,

But feels, rejoicing in the strife,

Far better death than shameful life.

I tell you, better far than sleep,

Or sounds of revelry,

I like to hear the shout ring clear,

"Have at them, till they flee!"

Impatiently the horses neigh,

'Neath shelter of the wood,

While dying men choke up the moat:

Little and great are there afloat,

The grass all stained with blood;

And knights upon the ground are dying, -

Transfixed with spears where they are lying.

Gallant nobles, yield as pledge

Castles, towns, and villages,

Ere you go to war anew.

Papiol* I bid thee go

Straightway back to "yes and no."-

Say, from one who understands,

Peace hangs heavy on our hands.

M.

*Name of the jongleur of Bertrand de Born.

-Name given by the poet to Richard Coeur-de-Lion.

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