Now all events came to pass just as Marke had commanded. Tristan and his lady Isolt bowed with but little concern and no more than cool discomfort before the king their lord and then to the assembled courtiers. The two close companions took each other by the hand and made their way out of the court. They wished their consort Brangaene good health and farewell, earnestly entreating her and bidding her to remain awhile yet at court until she should hear from them how they both were faring. Tristan took twenty marks in gold from Isolt's treasury to cover food and necessities for himself and for her. A servant also brought him his harp and his sword, his horn and hunting crossbow, which he needed for the journey. In addition he had selected one hound, small and handsome, from the others in his pack, which was named Hiudan, and led it with his own hand. 16650 He commended his men to God, sending them back home to his father Rual except for Curvenal, whom he kept with him for the trip, giving into his charge the harp. He carried the crossbow and horn, also leading the hound himself— Hiudan, not Petitcreiu. Thus these three rode out from court. Brangaene the faithful and pure was left behind quite alone in much sorrow and anxiety. The unhappy turn of events and most regrettable parting from her two closest friends caused her such distress, going straight to her heart that it was a miracle she survived such affliction. The two lovers also parted from her with deepest sorrow, telling her the purpose was that she should dwell there at court only for a short time to stay in contact with Marke and try to persuade him to restore them to his favor. With this the three travelers set out toward the wilderness, through forest and over heath for nearly two days' journey. Tristan had long known about a cave in a wild cliff that he had once chanced upon entirely by accident. He had been riding to the hunt whose course had brought him there. This cavern had been cut into the cliff long ago, in the days of heathendom before the time of Corineis when giants still ruled. Into it they would retire when they wanted privacy to enjoy the pleasures of love. Wherever such a cave was found, they closed it with a door of bronze, and dedicated it to love: la fossiure a la gent amant, 16700 meaning the hollow of lovers. And well the name befitted it. The story gives us the details— the inside of this retreat was round, broad, high, and upright, snow-white, even, and smooth. The dome of the ceiling rose to an elegant boss, forming a crown at the top of ornamental beauty, worked elaborately in gold and thickly set with jewels. Below it the pavement gleamed, polished and costly, of marble green as the grass. In the center stood a bed, finely and cleanly carved from a crystalline stone, rising nobly, high and broad, engraved with letters all around carrying the message that the bed was dedicated to the goddess of love. High up in the fossiure, gleaming here and there, small openings had been cut to let in the light. A bronze door was hung for access at the entrance, outside of which, above the door, three wide-branching lindens stood, but no more, farther up. All around and down the valley grew trees in great number shading the hillside with their leaves and casting the shadow of their branches. On one side lay a clearing where a spring bubbled up, a fresh and cooling fountain, as clean and clear as sunlight. Above it also stood three lindens, with their spreading magnificence shielding the fountain and its brook from rain and heat of the sun. Bright blossoms, green grass, lending the glade their radiance, competed sweetly among themselves, each one trying to outshine the brilliance of its neighbor. There was heard in its season 16750 the beautiful tones of birdsong, which was more than beautiful only in that glade alone. Eye and ear feasted there deliciously and delighted— the eye found its delicacy, the ear heard its delight. There was sunlight and shadow, the softness of the air, and the breeze's gentleness. To reach this hill and its hollow took a good day's ride through unrelenting crags, desolate and wild, unbroken by convenience of pathways or clearing, and still this ruggedness was never so forbidding as to bar Tristan's entry with his companion lover to find their refuge there among the cliffs and mountains. Now having found a place to stay, they had Curvenal return to let it be known at court and wherever else was necessary that Tristan and the lovely Isolt had made their way back to Irlant under very trying conditions in order to prove their innocence before the people throughout that land. He was furthermore instructed to take up residence at court as Brangaene might direct, and try his best to assure that true and steadfast friend of them both of their friendship and love. Also, he should find out what Marke's attitude was— if perhaps he planned in anger on some deed of revenge that might cost them their lives, he should inform them of this. They also implored him to think now and then about Tristan and Isolt, and return to deliver them whatever news or developments might help to raise their spirits 16800 at least once in twenty days. What can I say, more than this? He did the job he had been given. Thus had Tristan and Isolt taken up residence in their wilderness cloister. Now, many of you will be puzzled, both curious and surprised, and want very much to know how Tristan and Isolt, these two adventurers, fed themselves in the wilds. I am about to tell you, to feed your curiosity. They could gaze at each other, which was enough to sustain them. The harvest that the eye bore was nourishment for them both. They ate nothing while there but desire and love. This loving company had very little concern as to sustenance. They carried with them clothed there beneath their raiment the very best provender that can be had in the world. It bore yield at no cost, always fresh and anew— this was their true devotion, the sweet balm of love which so deeply satisfies both the body and the mind, food for the heart and courage. This was their best sustenance. Surely, they took little notice of any food except this, by which the heart feeds desire, the eye harvests its delight, and which provides for the body. Just with this they had their fill. Love, the plough they were born to, performed the cultivation all the time, at every step, yielding for them in fullness whatever one can wish in life. Nor did it trouble them to be alone in the wilds, entirely without human contact. What need had they of that, 16850 or why should anyone come to them? Together they made an even number, nothing more than one plus one. Had they included someone else in their round-numbered group the sum would then have come out odd, and by that odd be in excess, an unnecessary burden. Just they two in company made such a merry crowd that King Arthur, bless him, never in his finest castle held so splendid a festival as would have entertained them better or given them more delight. Not in any of the nations could a pleasure have been found that they two at that time would have spent a glass jewel to buy and have as their own. Anything you could imagine as adding to an ideal life in any country anywhere, that they had, all to themselves. Not a bean would they have given for a better life than that, except for their name and honor. What else more did they need? They had their court, and everything that goes to make up happiness. As obedient attendants they had the green lindens, the cool shade and the sun, the rivulet and its fountain, flowers, grass, leaves, and blossoms, ever soothing to the eye. Birdsong rendered them service, the slim, trim nightingale, the thrush and the blackbird, and other fowl of the forest. Siskin and skylark vied to provide them with the most attentiveness. This crew waited diligently on their hearing and senses. Their celebration was love, the pinnacle of their joys, which was pleased to bring before them King Arthur's round table a thousand times a day 16900 with all his splendid company. What richer food did they need for either mind or body? There the man had his woman, the woman was with her man. What else could be wanting? They had what they needed, there where they wished to be. Now, there are plenty of people who tell improbable stories that I prefer not to believe. Such an existence, they say, requires another kind of food. I'm not so sure that it does— this seems quite enough to me. But if there is anyone who has discovered some better food in this life, let him tell us what it is. There was a time when I myself lived in just this way, and then it was enough for me. Now, let it not try your patience to hear an interpretation of the various meanings intended with the structure of the fossiure there in the stone. It was, as I have already said, round, broad, high, and upright, snow-white, even, and smooth. The roundness of the interior means, in love, simplicity. Simplicity well accords with love, which should be without kinks, such as cunning and deception, by which love is misshapen. The breadth is the power love has, which extends without limit. The elevation means high spirits which may rise into the clouds and regard nothing as too much, as long as they aspire to rise toward that diadem of virtue at the apex of the dome. Thus it is we never fail to raise and ennoble virtues with jewel inlays and fine work. Our praise of them gleams on high while we, more lowly constituted, whose spirits creep here below, 16950 floating just above the floor, unable to rise or free themselves— thus our gaze is directed always upward toward that work, placed so high by its virtues, which descends to us through the praise of those soaring above us, showering us with their radiance. We can only gaze in wonder. It is by this we grow the wings on which the mind takes flight, and in its arc praises virtue. The wall was white, even, and smooth, as befits honesty. Its whiteness, the same everywhere, should never be discolored. Suspicion can never take hold on any hump or scratch there. The smooth marble pavement is an image of constancy in its greenness and solidity, the meaning best suited to its color and evenness, inasmuch as constancy must be fresh and green as grass, as hard, smooth, and clear as glass. The bed of crystalline Love standing in the middle was so named with good reason. He who had carved the crystal for Love's bed and practice understood her nature well. She should be, as crystal is, transparent and unflawed. Two bolts passed across the inside of the bronze door, and a latch had been provided with expert workmanship through the wall to the outside, where Tristan had found it. It was controlled by a handle that entered from the outside which raised it and lowered it. No lock or key was needed, and I will tell you the reason. No sort of lock was there because providing a device on the outside of a door to open it and shut it signifies treachery. 17000 If someone enters Love's door without admission from within, it is not a question of love, but of treachery or violence. That is why the gate of Love, the bronze door, bars its entrance, through which no one gains admittance unless it be by means of love. It is of bronze for this reason— no possible implement by sheer force or cleverness, trickery or expertise, dishonesty or deception, is strong enough to breach it. The two bolts on the inside, each one a seal of love, worked in opposite directions from each side of the wall. One of them was made of cedar, the other carved out of ivory. Now I will tell you what this means. The one seal of cedar signifies the wisdom and understanding of love; the other one of ivory, its chastity and pureness. These two insignia, two barriers of purity, secure the hall of Love from assault and deceit. The small, hidden handle leading in from outside and connected to the latch was a spindle made of tin, while the latch itself was of gold, as properly it should have been. Neither handle nor latch could have been fashioned from more suitable substance— tin stands for devotion to affairs kept secret, and gold is the emblem of success. Tin and gold thus belong here. Anyone is able to forge his devotion as he wishes— to narrow or broaden it, make it shorter or longer, expand it or compress it, this way, that way, or however as easily as tin is worked 17050 almost without damaging it. Surely, this slender handle of tin, weak as it may be, admits him who means well in his earnest quest for love through success' golden latch into pleasure's adventure. High up in the fossiure only three little windows were cut through the solid stone, cleanly and inconspicuously, through which sunlight streamed in. One of these is kindness, the second is humility, and nobility is the third. Through them laughed the splendor of honor, that blessed gleam, the noblest of illuminations, brightening the fossiure of worldly adventure. It also is significant that this hidden fossiure lay isolated in the wilds. To this we may liken the fact that love with its practices is not exposed in the street or on any gentle meadows. It awaits in the wilderness, where access to its cloister is difficult and forbidding. Mountain wastes surround it with many a twist and turn straying hither and thither. Up and down the pathways clefts and boulders so impede all of us afflicted searchers that unless we climb with great care we may take one false step which will leave us no chance of ever coming through safely. But whoever is so fortunate as to make it through the wilds will find that his labors were well spent indeed. There he'll find his heart's delight— whatever the ear listens for or the eye longs to see, this retreat provides so freely that he would not be elsewhere. Well do I know this. I have been there. 17100 I, too, in that fastness have followed and pursued the birds and the game, the stag and the quarry, across many a preserve but always spent my time in vain, never having seen the kill. All my labors and exertions remained entirely without event. At the fossiure I discovered the handle and saw the latch. At times I even managed to approach the crystalline bed. Again and again I have danced my way to it, there and back, yet never on it had repose. That fine pavement surrounding it— hard as marble it may be, but so pounded by my steps that unless saved by its greenness, in which its greatest virtue lies and by which it grows afresh, you would see, worn into it, the authentic track of love. My eyes have also feasted avidly on those bright walls. I have gazed earnestly, at that artifact on high, at the dome and at the latch, and nearly worn out my sight on those ornaments above that sparkle so praiseworthily. Those windows like little suns— they have often pierced my heart with their bright shafts of light. I have known that fossiure ever since my eleventh year and have never been to Curnewal. Its faithful residents, Tristan and his amie, took their pleasures and diversions with the greatest delight there in the wilderness, the forest and the fields. Constantly they remained at each other's side. Through the dews of morning they slipped out to the meadow, covered both with grass and blossoms, cooled by the early moisture. 17150 On this gentle clearing they found their recreation. Strolling here and there, together in conversation, they listened while they walked to the sweet bird chorus. Then they took a path aside to where the clear fountain played and listening to its music, its gentle rush as it flowed out across to reach the plain, they sat down to rest and heard its gentle sound as they watched it coursing, much to their further pleasure. But when the brightening sun began to rise higher and its warmth grew stronger, they made their way to the lindens for the soft breezes there which again provided them delights without and within the breast. Eyes and senses knew joy— the sweet linden sweetened air and shade with its leaves, the winds became in its shadow sweeter, softer, cooler. The couch beneath the linden was of blossoms and grass, more brightly painted than any a linden ever. There they sat together, devotees of yearning, and recalled yearning tales of those who, in early years, had by yearning been destroyed. They recited and retold, regretted and lamented, what Phyllis of Thrace and misfortunate Canache had suffered for the sake of love, and how Byblis' heart broke in passion for her brother, and the fate that the queen of Sidon and Tyre, the yearning Dido, had earned, yearning miserably. On stories such as these they dwelt now and then. But when between themselves 17200 they wanted to forget them, the slipped away into their cloister and took into their hands their favorite instruments, which afforded them much pleasure, and let harp and song ring out in all the sweetness of yearning. They alternated busying their hands and their voices— they fingered and they sang lays and tunes of love. As their fancy took them, they exchanged their performance. Whichever of them held the harp, the other, by their custom, sang with sweet yearning the accompanying melody. Each of these contributions, from the harp and the voice, when they were produced together, harmonized with such sweetness as well befitted that Love for whom the cloister had been named la fossiure a la gent amant.
Well did they commemorate what had long been handed down concerning the fossiure in all the ancient legends. Its true custodian only now began fully to exercise her office there. Whatever had been done before as to diversion or play did not come up to their mark. Never before was its meaning so purely or so well enacted as by the pastimes they enjoyed. They whiled away the hours of love more expertly than former lovers. What they did was limited only by their hearts' desires. They suffered no lack of diversions to enjoy in their time there— they rode to the hunt whenever the whim took them, employing the crossbow to pursue in the wilds fowl and other game, and on occasional days to course the red stag 17250 with their hound Hiudan, which had as yet not learned to trail without giving tongue. Tristan, however, very soon had succeeded in training him to follow up the spoor of stag and other game, whatever sort of quarry, over fields and through forest without making any sound. At this they spent many a day, Not for the sake of any kill that one harvests in this way, but only for the pleasure of sport that is to be had in the pursuit. They hunted, as I well know, using both hound and crossbow more for their hearts' delight and for sheer recreation than out of any need of meat. Their occupation and practice at all times, in all ways, was only what they chose to do and happened to appeal to them.
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