bisclavret

bisclavret - BISCLAVRET M arie de France, translated Judith...

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BISCLAVRET Marie de France, translated Judith P. Shoaf ©1996 Since I'm making lais, Bisclavret Is one I don't want to forget. In Breton, "Bisclavret"'s the name; "Garwolf" in Norman means the same. Long ago you heard the tale told-- And it used to happen, in days of old-- Quite a few men became garwolves, And set up housekeeping in the woods. A garwolf is a savage beast, While the fury's on it, at least: Eats men, wreaks evil, does no good, Living and roaming in the deep wood. Now I'll leave this topic set. 1 I want to tell you about Bisclavret. In Brittany there dwelt a lord; Wondrous praise of him I've heard: A handsome knight, an able man, He was, and acted like, a noble man. His lord the King held him dear, And so did his neighbors far and near. He'd married a worthy woman, truly; Always she acted so beautifully. He loved her, she him: they loved each other. But one thing was a bother: Every week he was lost to her 1 In the introduction, Marie juxtaposes, but distinguishes, the historical action recorded by songs (the activities of real werewolves) and the action of making the songs or stories. Compare the beginning of Equitan, which seems to be going to tell us how noble the deeds of the Bretons were, but ends up praising their lais rather than their actions. In introducing Bisclavret, Marie is, again, seriously teasing the reader: what terrible beasts these garwolves were! Cruel, wild man-eaters. .. who then can blame the wife in the story for not wanting to sleep with her husband? Yet Marie lightly dissociates the garwolf myth from her own tale ("now I will drop this matter, because I want to tell you the story of Bisclavret"). As the story continues, the reader is forced to contrast the wife's rejection of her husband for his beastliness with the king's admiration of the same creature for his humanity. The horror the garwolf arouses in the introduction turns out to be irrelevant to this tale, in which the real horror is the woman who betrays the man she has loved.
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For three whole days, she didn't know where, What became of him, what might befall Him; his people knew nothing at all. He came home to his house one day, So joyous he was, happy and gay; She began to ask him and inquire: "My lord," she said, "my friend, my dear, There's just one thing I might care To ask, if only I might dare-- But I'm afraid that you'll get angry, And, more than anything, that scares me." He hugged her when he heard all this, Drew her close and gave her a kiss. "My lady," he said, "Ask me now! Anything you want to know, If I can, I'll tell you." "Sir, By my faith, you work my cure. My lord, I'm in terror every day, Those days when you've gone away, My heart is so full of fear, I'm so afraid I'll lose you, dear-- If I don't get some help, some healing, I will die soon of what I'm feeling! Where do you go? Now you must say
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bisclavret - BISCLAVRET M arie de France, translated Judith...

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