Monday, 5 May 2008

"The more willingly you surrender, the sooner you will find mercy."

The God of Love, whose constant endeavour had been to watch and follow me with drawn bow, had stopped beneath a fig-tree; and when he observed that I had chosen that bud, which pleased me better than any of the others, he at once took an arrow. When the string was in the nook, he drew the bow, which was wonderfully strong, back to his ear, and loosed his arrow at me in such a way and with such a force that the point entered my eye and penetrated my heart. Then I was seized with a chill which has often made me shiver since, even when wearing a warm fur-lined cloak. When I had been thus shot, I immediately fell backwards. My heart was false and failed me and I lay for a long time in a swoon. When I recovered consciousness and came to my senses I was very weak and therefore imagined that I had lost a lot of blood. But the point that pierced me drew no blood at all, and the wound was quite dry. Then I took hold of the arrow with both hands and began to pull hard, sighing a great deal as I pulled. I pulled so hard that I drew out the flighted shaft, but the barbed point, which was named Beauty was so fixed in my heart that it could not be torn out; it remains there still, and yet the wound has never bled.

I was in great trouble and torment, unable, on account of this double danger, to do or say anything or to find a physician for my wound, for no medicine could be expected from herb or root; instead my heart drew me towards the rose-bud, and desired nothing else. If I had had it in my possession, it would have given me back my life; the mere sight and scent of it brought me considerable relief from pain.

Then, as I began to make my way towards the sweetly scented rose-bud, Love had already grasped another arrow, worked in gold. It was the second arrow, named Simplicity, and it has caused many men and women throughout the world to fall in love. When Love saw me approach, without warning he loosed the arrow, which was made without steel, so that it entered my eye and wounded my heart. No man living will ever cure me of it, for when I pulled, I drew out the shaft without much effort, but the point remains within. Now you may know for certain that if I had greatly desired the rose-bud before, my longing was now increased, and as the pain grew more intense, so also did my desire continually to approach the little rose that smelled sweeter than violets. It would have been better for me to draw back, but I could not refuse the bidding of my heart. I was always compelled to go where it longed to be. But the archer, who strove hard and mightily to wound me, would not allow me to pass that way unharmed and, the better to hurt me, loosed his third arrow, named Courtesy, at me. The wound was deep and wide, and I perforce fell swooning beneath a spreading olive-tree, where I lay for a long time without moving. When I recovered my strength, I took hold of the arrow and removed the shaft from my side, but, do what I might, I could not remove the point.

Then I sat down, very anxious and pensive. The wound caused me great distress, and urged me to approach the rose-bud that I desired. But the archer rekindled my fear, and I was right to be afraid, for the man who has been scalded should fear water. However, necessity is a powerful force, and even if I had seen it raining crossbow bolts and stones, pelting down as thick as hail, I would still have had to approach, for Love, who is greater than anything, gave me courage and daring to obey his command. I got to my feet, weak and feeble as a wounded man, and, undaunted by the archer, made a great effort to walk towards the little rose to which my heart was drawn; but there were so many thorns and thistles and brambles that I was unable to get past them and reach the rose-bud. I had to stay near the hedge of very sharp thorns which was next to the roses. I was very happy to be so close to the rose-bud that I could smell the sweet scent that issued from it, and filled with delight to be able to look upon it freely. Thus I was well rewarded and forgot my troubles in my joy and delight. I was very glad and joyful, for nothing ever pleased me so greatly as being in that place, and I would have never wished to depart. But when I had been there for some time, the God of Love, tearing apart my body, which had become his target, launched a new assault. In order to hurt me, he loosed yet another arrow and wounded me once more in my heart, beneath my breast. The arrow's name was Company, and there is none that conquers ladies or maidens more quickly. At once the great pain of my wounds was reawakened, and I swooned away three times in succession.

On coming to my senses, I moaned and sighed, for my pain was growing worse and I had no hope of cure or relief. I would rather have been dead than alive, for in the end, I thought, I would become a martyr to Love, there was no other way out. Meanwhile he took another arrow, which he prized greatly and which I hold to be most wounding: it was Fair Seeming, which does not permit a lover to repent of serving Love, whatever he may feel. It is sharp and piercing and keen as a steel razor, but Love had thoroughly anointed its tip with precious ointment so that it would not hurt me too much, for Love did not want me to die, but rather to find relief through the application of the ointment, which was full of comfort. Love has made it with his own hands to comfort true lovers, and to soothe my hurts he shot this arrow at me, and made a great wound in my heart. The ointment spread through my wounds and gave me back my heart, which had failed me completely. I would have been dead and in a bad way had it not been for that sweet ointment. I quickly drew out the shaft, but the point, newly sharpened, remained within. Five arrowheads were thus embedded and it will scarcely be possible to remove them. The ointment was very good for my wounds, yet the wound hurt me so much that the pain made me change colour. It is the strange property of this arrow to be both sweet and bitter. I felt and realized that it helped me, but it also hurt me; the point was painful though the unction brought relief. On the one hand it soothed, on the other it made me smart, and thus it both helped and harmed. Straightaway Love came towards me with rapid steps, crying g as he came: ' Vassal, you are captured, there is no way to escape or defend yourself. Yield, and do not resist. The more willingly you surrender, the sooner you will find mercy. It is foolish to behave arrogantly towards one whom you should flatter and beseech. You cannot struggle against me, and I wish you to learn that wickedness and pride will avail you nothing. Surrender, since I wish it, peacefully and with good grace.'

Immediately I replied: 'In God's name, I give myself up willingly, and will never defend myself against you. God forbid that I should ever think of so defending myself, for it would neither be reasonable nor right. You may do with me whatever you like, hang me or kill me, for I know that I am helpless, my life is in your hands. I cannot live until tomorrow unless it is your will. I hope for joy and health from you, for I shall never have them from anyone else, but only if your hand, which wounded me, provides a remedy; and whether you wish to make me your prisoner or prefer not to, I shall not count myself deceived, nor, I assure you, will I be angry. I have heard so much good of you that I wish to place my heart and body entirely at your service, for nothing can hurt me if I do your will. I will also, I think, receive at some time the mercy that I hope for, and under these conditions I surrender.'

Thereupon I wanted to kiss his foot, but he took me by the hand and said: 'I love and esteem you for the way you have answered. Indeed, no rough, untutored man ever gave such an answer, and it has so benefited you that now, for your own good, I wish you to do me homage and to kiss my mouth, which no low-born man has ever touched. I do not allow every peasant and swineherd to touch my mouth; the man whom I thus take into my service must be courteous and noble. Serving me is always painful and burdensome, nevertheless I do you great honour, and you should be very happy to have so good a master and so renowned a lord, for Love bears the standard and the banner of Courtesy and is so kind and noble, so excellently and gently mannered that the man who strives to serve and honour him will be free from all baseness and misconduct and from every bad habit.

Thereupon I joined my hands and became his liegeman, and you may be sure that I was very proud when his mouth kissed mine: it was this that gave me the greatest joy.

The Romance Of The Rose, Guillame de Lorris, trans. Frances Horgan

Cupid - Sam Cooke
Cupid - Amy Winehouse
Cupid - Emily Milliken
Cupid - The Impalas
Estupido Cupido - Celly Campello
Stupid Cupid - Sakura and The Quests
Dont Mess With Cupid - Otis Redding
Shot Down - The Sonics
Shot Down - The Cynics
You Give Love A Bad Name - Atreyu
You Give Love A Bad Name - Bon Jovi
I'm Leaning on the Lord - Famous Blue Jay Singers
Precious Lord Take My Hand - Golden Gate Quartet
Precious Lord Take My Hand - Mavis Staples
There Must Be Little Cupids In the Briny - Billy Murray
Slave To Love - Roxy Music