The ships put back out to sea
and the voyage continued as before,
except that the force of Passion
had thrown two hearts aboard
entirely off their intended course.
Both were much oppressed by thought,
seriously encumbered
with the delightful sorrow
caused by a strange wonder
that makes gall of honey,
turns the sweet to sour,
sets the dew ablaze,
infects balm with agues,
disheartens every heart,
and turns the world upside down.
This had deeply troubled them,
Tristan and Isolt.

Some compulsion was driving them
in a new and strange way.
Neither of them was able
to find any rest or comfort
except in each other's sight.
But when they gazed at each other,
that perturbed them also,
since between them they could not
reconcile their desires.                        11900
Strangeness and embarrassment
lamed pleasure for them.
When they tried secretly
to steal a fascinated look
in each other's direction,
their complexions showed the color
of their hearts and senses.
Passion with her tinctures
would not be satisfied
that one bore her nobly
concealed in the heart.
She meant to make her power
visible and obvious,
using them as her palette.
Her colors played over them
as she played with her tints—
the hues succeeded one another,
first pale, then flushed.
They turned red, and then white,
as Passion called the shadings.
Thus it slowly began to dawn
on each one of them
that something—could it be desire?—
in the mind of the one
was intended toward the other.
At this point they began
to venture signs of affection,
watching for a time and place
to exchange whispered pleasantries.
Now as lovers on the prowl
they laid their nets and snares
here and there for one another,
set up their blinds and ambushes
concealed in questions and answers.

They spoke of many different things.
Isolt's method in this stalk
was proper for a maiden.
She circled her beloved prize
on all sides from a distance.
She started from the beginning,
rehearsing how, alone and wounded,
he had drifted in his boat
near the harbor at Develin,
how her mother had taken charge
and by her arts healed him,
and then the whole story
of how she herself had learned
first how to read and write,
then Latin and music as he taught her.
She enlivened her account                       11950
with many vivid recollections
about his intrepid courage
and the fight with the dragon,
also how she knew him twice,
first in the swamp, then the bath.
Soon their talk was flowing freely,
she to him and he to her.
"Alas," Isolt mused aloud,
"I'll never have a better chance.
When I failed to kill you in the bath—
God, why didn't I do it? 
Had I known then, what I know now,
upon my word, you'd be dead!"
"What?" he spluttered, "lovely Isolt,
are you mad?  What do you know?"
"What I know is driving me mad—
everything I see, hurts.
It all hurts—the sky, the sea—
life and limb are killing me!"
For support she leaned against him
with her elbow, daintily.

Then one thing led to another.
Her mirror-bright eyes grew wet,
although she tried to hide it.
Her heart began to fill,
her sweet mouth and lips to swell,
her head sank down and forward.
Tristan took his cue
and put his arms around her,
neither too tight nor closely,
only in a friendly way.
His voice was soft and gentle.
"Oh, my beauty, tell me,
what is it, what's troubling you?"
And Isolt, Passion's accipiter
said "lameir, that's what it is,
lameir is making me so sad,
it's lameir that hurts so bad."
Hearing lameir repeatedly,
he began to deliberate
and consider with much care
what this word might mean.
On the one hand, he knew,
lameir could mean "love,"
but also "bitter," and la meir the sea.
It could mean almost anything.

He left out one of the three
and focused on the other two—
disregarding Passion,
who in fact ruled them both,            12000
their desire and their mainstay,
he considered "sea" and "sour."
"I think, fairest Isolt," he said,
"the bitter sea must trouble you.
The flavor of the sea and wind
together must seem bitter to you?"
"No, sir, no, what are you saying?
none of that bothers me.
I don't smell the air or sea.
Lameir alone afflicts me."
This left him with the last word,
which now he knew meant "passion."
He said, very tenderly,
"It's true, my finest, so does it me—
lameir and you, you are my need.
Beloved woman, dear Isolt,
you alone and your love
have so possessed all my mind
and so distracted all my senses
that I have lost my way entirely,
and indeed with no prospect
that I shall ever find myself.
Everything that meets my gaze
makes me doubt and tremble,
feel weak and as though lost.
There's nothing left in the world
that my heart loves but you."
"Just so, she said, feel I, sir, toward you."

Now when the lovers knew each other
to be of one mind between them,
a single heart, a single will,
this began both to ease
and to expose their disquiet.
Now each could speak more frankly
and openly to the other,
man to maiden and maid to man.
All hesitation now was gone.
He kissed her and she kissed him
tenderly and sweetly.
This made a fortunate beginning
to soften the pangs of love—
each poured out and each drank
the sweetness flowing from the heart.
Whenever they could find occasion,
this pleasant trade between them
flowed both ways, back and forth,
but always so covertly
that no one in that little world
suspected what it was they felt
but one, who knew all about it:         12050
Brangaene the wise.
She often watched them quietly,
careful not to show herself,
seeing plainly through their pretence,
and wrestled long with her thoughts:
"Alas, now I'm sure of it.
Passion is taking hold of them."
It didn't take her long to see
how seriously they meant it
by all the outward indications
of the inmost pains
afflicting mind and heart.
Their distraction troubled her,
seeing them continually
ameiren and amuren,
sighing and languishing,
longing and fantasizing,
first blushing, then growing pale.
In such deep infatuation
that they took no nourishment,
this stress and deprivation
began to undermine their health
so that Brangaene began to fear
it might mean the end of them,
and finally in deep concern
told herself,"now do something—
find out what's really going on!"

One day she came to sit with them,
quietly and confidentially,
proud and wise as she was,
and said, "now we're alone, we three.
Tell me, what's got into you?
I see you, all the time,
as though lost in longing,
sighing, sorrowing, and lamenting."
"Courtly lady," Tristan said,
If I dared, I would tell you."
"Very well, sir, let's hear it—
You can tell me whatever you wish."
"Oh, fine lady," he replied,
I cannot say any more
unless you will assure us
on your solemn word of honor
that you will take compassion
upon our misfortune,
for otherwise, we are lost."
Brangaene reassured them.
She faithfully promised 
by God and her loyalty
to be obedient to them.                 12100
"Trusted companion," Tristan said,
"look to God, first of all,
and then to your own salvation.
Have pity on the pain we suffer
and the trouble we are in.
I, and also Isolt, alas—
I don't know what's wrong with us.
It's happened so suddenly.
We have lost our senses
by some peculiar malaise.
We are dying of desire
and can by no means regain
any time for repose
when it does not confound us.
But this is sure: if we perish,
it's no one's fault but our own.
Now, our death, and our life,
are given into your hand.
That's as much as I can tell you.
Brangaene, blessed maiden,
now assist and forgive
your sovereign lady and me."
Brangaene addressed Isolt:
"My Lady, are you affected
so severely, as he says?"
"Yes, dear cousin," sighed Isolt.

"God have mercy," exclaimed Brangaene,
"that the Fiend has chosen us
upon whom to make his sport!
I see there is no help for it,
that now for your sakes
I'm forced to condone this vice,
whatever it may cost me.
Rather than see you perish,
I'll give you every chance I can
to do whatever you want to do.
You needn't desist on my account
from anything you won't avoid
by your own sense of honor.
But as far as you can resist
and restrain yourselves from such doings,
by all means, abstain, I say.
Keep the secret of this corruption
strictly to the three of us—
if you let out a word of it,
it will destroy your reputation.
If anyone knows but we three,
It's the end of you, and me with you.
Beloved lady, beautiful Isolt,
be your life and your death                     12150
now given into your own control.
Preside over death and life
as your whim may incline,
but entertain no suspicions
from this time on, about me.
You can do what you please."

That night, as the beauty lay
thinking of her pain and longing
for her true beloved,
there came stealing quietly
into her private chamber
her amis and physician,
Tristan and Passion.
Passion the physician
led her ailing patient,
Tristan, by the hand,
and found the ill Isolt there.
She took her two sufferers
and administered them to each other
as a sure and certain remedy.
Who else could have cured
and freed these two afflicted
from their common malady
by joining one to the other,
while shackling their senses?
Passion the shackler
shackled both their hearts
with the shackles of her sweetness
so masterfully together,
with such mysterious power,
that nothing could release them
for all the rest of their years.

ndless talk about desire
 is more that courtly minds require.
 Brief talk of good desire
betters what good minds require.

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