In due course it came about
that on occasion Marke sat
a little after dinnertime,
when entertainment was the custom,
listening attentively to the verses
of a lay his harpist performed, 
a master of his craft,
the finest anyone  knew. 
The fellow was a Gaulois.
Then came Tristan, the Parmenois,
and sat down at the singer's feet.
And listening with rapt attention
to the verses and fluid melody, 
even had it been forbidden,
he couldn't have concealed his feelings.
His emotions got the best of him,
flooding his heart with recollection.
"Master," he said, "you're a fine harpist.
You do the melody very well, 
with just the intended sense of yearning.
The Brituns composed it, you know,
about my Lord Gurun,
and about his beloved."
The harpist understood
the boy's remarks plainly,
but acted as though he hadn't heard
until he finished the lay.
Then he turned to face the boy.
"How do you know, my child," he asked,
where this music came from?
Can you sing and play a little?"
"Oh, yes, master," replied Tristan.
"I once could play very well, 
but now I'm so out of practice
that I wouldn't risk it, before you."
"Nay, my friend, here's the harp,
we would like to hear what songs 
they know in your country."
"Well, my master, if you insist,
and if it's with your permission, 
shall I play for you?" said Tristan.
"Indeed, fellow.  Here, take it."
And when he reached for the harp,
it seemed to belong in those hands,
so well-formed, as I have read,
that hardly could they have been finer,		3550
soft and smooth, slim but long, 
almost like white ermine.
But with them he could pluck and strum
a torrent of preludes and melodies,
foreign, sweet, and pleasing. 
Now he began to think again
of the Britun lays he knew.
He took the pick in hand, 
adjusted the pegs and strings, 
some higher, some lower,
just as he wanted them to be. 
Nor did this take long;
Tristan, the new minstrel,
assumed his new appointment

This remarkable debut,
his tunes and voluntaries, 
he played so melodiously
and produced so harmoniously
and with such resonance
that everyone who hurried there
called someone else to come along.
Soon the entire court was there,
many of them at a run,
each impatient for something new.
Marke kept his seat, nearby, 
and seeing all, marvelled,
watching his friend Tristan.
How could this boy, he wondered, 
have hidden such courtly polish
and all these pretty skills
that Marke now realized 
he had known all along?
Meanwhile Tristan had begun
to perform the verses of the lay
about the beloved, proud and beautiful,
of Graland the handsome.
He played so delightfully 
and mastered the harp so expertly
in genuine Britun style
that many who stood or sat to hear
forgot themselves, or who they were.
Very soon hearts and hearing 
ceased to hear and feel
as they did ordinarily.
Now strange feelings
came out in strange ways. 
And many said to themselves, 
"A blessing on the merchant 
who ever got a son so noble!"       		3600
Yes, the tunes ran from his fingers
just right and skillfully
resounding into the strings.
Their tones and tunes rang out
to echo throughout the palace.
Many and eye turned his way
and many a discerning glance,
to watch the magic of his hands.
When he finished with this lay, 
good King Marke called his page
and sent him to request 
another one, at least. 
"mu voluntiers!" Tristan replied,
and began again, lustily,
a lay of yearning, as before, 
de la curtoise Tispe
of Babylon, of long ago.
He performed this so clearly,
keeping the lines of melody
flowing as only a master could,
that the royal harpist was astounded.
And when he came to the right place,
this youth, so greatly talented,
began with the chanson.
He sang the verses of the lay, 
sweetly and delightfully.
Britunic and Galoise, 
Latin and also Franzois, 
all in such a voice 
that no one there could say 
which was the more pleasing,
or more to be praised, 
his playing or his singing. 
This caused much speculation
and talk about his talent
and who he really was.
On one thing all agreed, 
that never had anyone seen 
such talent in a single person.
Some said this, others that--
"what sort of child is this?
this boy we've taken in--
of all the children anywhere,
none of them are like this, 
none can match our Tristan!"

When Tristan now had done the lay
just as he had wanted it,
Marke said, "Tristan, come here.
Blessed be of God
whoever it was that taught you,			3650
and be you likewise! You do well. 
I shall gladly hear your playing
in the evenings, now and then, 
if perhaps you cannot sleep.
That will be well for both of us."
--"Yes, my lord, indeed."--"Now tell me
what other instruments you play."
"None, Sire," he said. --"None, indeed?
I ask you this by such esteem 
as you, Tristan, may have for me."
"My Lord," the boy now replied, 
"you needn't have called for such a pledge
that I would have told you everything,
since to tell you indeed I am obliged,
and since you wish to know.
I have studied, Sire,
playing all the strings, 
but play no one of them so well
that I wouldn't wish to better. 
Nor have I spent much time 
working at this branch of learning,
although what with now and then 
it's been at least seven years
or maybe more, sure enough. 
With Parmenian tutors 
fiddle and hurdy-gurdy--
to play the harp and the crowd,
that I learned from Galotten,
two Galoise masters.
Then, with the Britunoise, 
who came from the town of Lut,
lyre and sambuca."
"Sambuca?  What is that, good fellow?"
"The best string I know how to play." 
"Now, see," the courtiers murmered,
"what a wealth of life's pleasures
and how much else of his grace
God has showered on this child!"
But Marke had still other questions.
"Tristan, just a while ago
I heard you singing Britunish, Galois, 
fluent Latin, and also Franzois. 
You know these tongues?"--"Sire, indeed,
well enough."  Now came the courtiers
crowding there around them,
and any of them who knew
a language of neighboring lands
put him at once to trial,
one thus, another so.
And to each he answered courteously,		3700
satisfying their questions,
whether Norwaegen or Irlandaeren,
Almanjen, Schotten, or Tenen.
Many a heart began to long
to have Tristan's talents;
more than a few of them
would gladly have been as he was.
Their hearts' desires spoke to him
fervently and sweetly--
"Ah, Tristan, were I but as you!
Tristan, you may live happily,
blessed as you surely are, 
with all the skills that any man
could wish to have in this world."
And now among themselves
the talk turned to marvels.
"Now hear!," said one, and "hear!" another,
"listen to this, all the world, 
a fourteen-year-old boy
knows everything there is to know!"
"Now, listen, Tristan," said the King,
"you have all that I desire, 
you can do all I want,
in hunting, languages, and music.
We'll be companions, you and I, 
you mine, and I yours.
By day we'll ride to the hunt,
and evenings indulge here
in pleasures of the court,
with the harp, the fiddle, and song.
What you know best, you shall do; 
I also know a trick or two
that I expect will please you well--
splendid dress and fine horses
you shall have to your heart's fill. 
That's the tune I'll play for you.
Now see here, my spurs and sword,
my crossbow and my golden horn,
I commend to my companion.
You take them, use them for me,
and be merry in our court!"
Thus now the wanderer became
there at court a trusted member.
Never before did anyone see
in any child so many gifts.
In all he did, in every word, 
he was so pleasing and so right
that he delighted all the world 
and had everyone's devotion.

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