Now that's enough talk about good persons' deeds for you who have listened politely. And still Tristan isn't ready for the ceremony of knighthood. I don't know how to do it; it's hard to get the sense right. The tongue knows not what to say without the guidance of the sense that alone rules its office. What is confusing the two of them, that I can tell you shortly: It's just the same thing that confounds a thousand others: When a man who speaks poorly confronts another, rich in words, the little that he can do is stilled in his mouth. I think this has happened to me. I see now, and have seen before, so many a fine-spoken man that anything I try to say sounds to me like nothing at all compared to how men speak today. Discourse has become such an art that I must take the greatest care to weigh every word I use, making sure it's as well-shaded as I would require it to be in any other author's story, 4850 and up to what I would expect in what I read by others. So I don't know how to start. Neither my tongue nor my sense can do anything to help me. Whatever I had in the way of words has been snatched away right out of my mouth. I’m at a loss what to do, except perhaps for the one thing that truly I have never done. All my prayers and my requests I will submit, for once, with earnest heart and hands to the heights of Helicon, unto the ninefold throne from which the fountains flow that alone bestow the gifts of words that make sense. The lord, the nine mistresses, Apollo and the Camenae, the nine sirens of the ear who rule these gifts at his court, weighing out the share of favors they will grant to the world-- they pour the flood of sense in such plenty upon so many that they cannot, in all fairness, deny me a drop of it. And if indeed I'm granted that trickle I'll use it well to hold the place a man can hold by using words. And be it but a droplet, it can scarcely be so paltry as not to straighten out, yes, straighten out and level both my tongue and sense, of which I've so lost control. With it I'm able to put my words through the glowing crucible of Camenian lucidity, and in that refinement transmute them wonderfully, into something as desirable as the gold of Araby. May these divine gifts, from that highest throne, the only true Helicon, from which the words effuse that echo through the ear 4900 into laughter in the heart, and make talk translucent as the finest gemstone, may they grant my voice and my request a hearing in the choirs of heaven in accord with this my prayer. Yet let all this come about, that I be granted all the powers that I have wished upon my words, and receive of them full measure, that my words ease every ear, cast cool shade for every heart like the budding linden leaves, go so smoothly with what I mean that for every stride they try to make I clear and level their path, nor leave in their way any rubble strewn unless it's of no consequence, and that they pass as though through clover and only over shining blossoms; even then I put my skills (however little skilled I be) hardly or not at all to that which many a man is tempted and has gone astray. That I surely must not do.
For if I used all my craft to picture what a young knight needs, as God knows so many have, and went on and on about how Vulcan, so wise, so renowned, who always found some clever fix, wrought with his own practiced hand the chain mail for Tristan, his sword, his leg guards, and all else that distinguishes the real knight, with every masterful refinement— drew and incised accurately the emblem of unfailing courage, the wild boar on his shield— how he adorned the helmet so that from its peak just as do the pangs of love the fiery rays streamed— how in every detail he finished this and that to marvelous perfection— and how my Lady Cassandra, 4950 savant of the Trojans, used all her craft and knowledge in tailoring for Tristan both in cut and finish his entire dress and raiment according to such wisdom as very well she knew from her wide experience (the gods, as I have read, themselves refined her wit in heaven)— how much more would all that do than what I have already done in preparing Tristan's retinue for his taking of the sword? And so, this is the way I see it, if I can count on your agreement, since well I know: courage and wealth— whoever can combine with them moderation and courtly manners, these four things work together as well as any others. Not Vulcan and Cassandra together ever prepared a knight more excellently than did these. Now since these four kinds of riches can be counted on to take care of a rich knighting, we commend to the four of them our good friend Tristan. Let them take him to hand, Make us of him a worthy man as nothing else so well can, with all the tailored finery his mounted retinue already wears in such splendor. Thus let Tristan be conducted to court and into the ring, in all of his apparel equal to his companions, just as fine, just as rich.
Equal, I mean, only in finery such as worked by human hands, not in that native clothing that comes from the workshop of the heart, the cloth that's called noble spirit, that puts the spirit in a man, ennobling both body and life. Such raiment wasn't given to master and man equally. Yes, God the Most Noble knows 5000 that Tristan, keen for honors, was clothed in very special fashion, with comportment and composure beyond normal finery. In real virtue and elegant custom he surpassed all of them. And even so, as to dress, the kind that human hand had made, in this there was no such distinction. As to that the noble captain was equal with his men. And thus the ambitious prince of Parmenie with all his attendants came to the church in company, and having heard the Holy Mass received the benediction customary for them then. And then King Marke took Tristan, his nephew, into hand, girding him with sword and spurs. "See," he spoke, "nephew Tristan, with the consecrated sword, and having now become a knight, consider always knightly valor and remember who you are. Keep your nobility and birth always before you in your sight. Be circumspect and undeceived, be truthful and be well accomplished; to the poor always gracious, equal to the rich in pride; value and ornament your life, honor and love all women; of mildness and loyalty be ever newly aware! For by my honor I declare that neither gold nor finest sable ever suited sword nor spear so well as gentle loyalty." With this he handed him the shield, kissed him, and said, "Nephew, go, and God give you by his power success in this your knighthood! Be always courtly, always joyous!"
Tristan then in turn invested each of his own companions, just as his uncle had done for him, with the sword, spurs, and shield. With a few modest words 5050 he commended to the attention of each gentleness, loyalty, and humility. With that the ceremony ended, and the displays of horsemanship began in earnest, as I suppose. But how they broke out of the circle, how they thrust with shafts, how many of them they shattered, I'll leave the count to the grooms who had to go and pick them up. I don't want to advertise their splendid riding feats, but rather do them one service and this very willingly: may the honor and renown of each increase in every way, and may God grant them the life a knight deserves for true knighthood!
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