Sunday, 7 August 2011

A Medieval Love Poem: Now wold I fayne

This poem - or really, song - is from the fifteenth century, and is ascribed to an otherwise unknown poet named 'A. Godwhen'. (That name, however, sounds like a pseudonym, echoing the sigh of an impatient lover: 'Ah God, when?')

Now wold I fayne some myrthis make,
All oneli for my ladys sake,
And hit wold be;
But now I am so ferre from hir,
Hit will nat be.

Thogh I be long out of your sight,
I am your man both day and night,
And so will be.
Wherfor wold God as I love hir,
That she lovid me!

When she is mery, then am I glad;
When she is sory, than am I sad;
And cause whi:
For he livith nat that lovith hir
As well as I.

She sayth that she hath seen hit wreten,
That seldyn seen is soon for-yeten;
Hit is nat so:
For in good feith, save oneli hir,
I love no moo.

Wherfor I pray both night and day.
That she may cast care away,
And leve in rest;
And ever more whersoever she be,
To love hir best.

And I to hir for to be trew,
And never chaung her for noon new,
Unto myne end;
And that I may in hir servise
For evyr amend.

In modern spelling:

Now would I fain some mirths make,
All only for my lady's sake,
When her I see;
But now I am so far from her
It will not be.

['I would be glad to make some entertainments for my lady's sake only, whenever I see her; but since I am now so far from her, that cannot be']

Though I be far out of her sight,
I am her man both day and night,
And so will be.
Therefore would [that] as I love her
She loved me!

When she is merry, then am I glad;
When she is sorry, then am I sad;
And cause why: [this is the reason why]
For he liveth not that loveth her
As well as I.

She sayeth that she hath seen it written
That seldom seen is soon forgotten;
It is not so,
For in good faith, save only her,
I love no more. [no other]

Wherefore I pray both night and day
That she may cast all care away,
And live in rest, [i.e. peace]
And evermore wherever she be
To love me best.

And I to her for to be true,
And never change her for no new [no other]
Unto mine end,
And that I may in her service
For ever amend.

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