Now when the queen herself saw the full extent of his distress and the ugly color of the wound, at once she recognized poison. "Ah, poor minstrel," she exclaimed, "that is a poisoned wound you have." "I didn't know," said Tristan quickly, "how could I know, what it is? But no matter what the treatment, nothing helps, there's no improvement. I have no idea, what to do, but to leave myself in God's hand and live, the while life may last. Grave as my condition is, whoever may have mercy upon me, be God's recompense upon him. Without help, I'm dead alive." "Minstrel," the wise queen addressed him, "tell me now, how are you called?" "My name, My Lady, is Tantris." "Tantris, now put your trust in me. You may be sure, I shall cure you. Take heart and put your mind at rest. I myself shall be your healer." "Mercy, kindest of all queens, may your tongue bloom forever, may your heart never perish, may your wisdom live always, bringing help to the helpless, may your name be ever honored to every corner of the earth!" "Tantris," the queen replied to this, "if your condition would permit it— 7800 severely weakened as you are, and no wonder, considering— well, I want to hear you play. you can, they tell me, expertly." "My Lady, think nothing of it— I may be somewhat indisposed, but that by no means could prevent me from fulfilling your command." Thereupon his harp was sent for. They summoned at the same time the young and beautiful princess.
Love's very insignia, his heart's future decoration that would distinguish it forever from all the common world as hers alone, always, Isolt the Lovely, also came, and watched most attentively as Tristan sat down to play. And now he played more skillfully than he had until then, having at last some prospect for the end of his misfortune. He sang now and played for them not at all as a lifeless man, but took it up vigorously as one does in high spirits. He performed so expertly both with hands and voice that within a short time he had won them all over, and things would now go well for him.
But for all his playing and performance, both elsewhere and on this occasion, the dire wound was still festering and giving off such a stench that no one could stay in his presence for more than a very short time. "Tantris," the queen broke in to say, "if perhaps it comes about that you should be so fortunate that this vile smell might go away and people could stand to be with you, let this young maiden Isolt be put under your instruction. She's now working seriously at booklearning and also music. She has accomplished quite a lot, considering how short a time she has so far devoted to it. 7850 If you have any knowledge or any skills more than does her tutor or do I, then teach her these, I ask you. I will return to you your life and your body as repayment, restored to full health and bloom. I hold the power in my hand either to withhold or give this." "Indeed, if that is how things stand," replied the injured minstrel, "if I am able to recover and be healed by means of music, if God wills, I shall be healed. Most gracious queen, since this is your intention, as you have just declared, concerning the maid, your daughter, I have no doubt I can recover. I have read many books, to such an extent and in such numbers that I have every confidence of serving her to your satisfaction. Also I'm quite sure of this, that no man of my years plays so many noble instruments. Whatever you wish in this respect, or may at times request of me, that shall all be done, to the limit of my ability." They furnished him a small chamber and supplied him there every day with all comfort and conveniences that he requested for himself. Only now did the cleverness that he had shown on his boat begin to prove its great value, when he had held his shield aside to conceal the extent of his wounds from those who had not seen them— the band of men from Irlant, as they were leaving Curnewal. They were thus in ignorance and had no idea he was wounded. For had they discovered anything of any wounds he might have, since they knew very well how matters stood with any cut that Morolt dealt with the sword he always carried into battle, 7900 never would things have gone for Tristan as they did eventually. So this is what saved him now, that he had shown such foresight then. From this we all may take a lesson and know how often it may be that thinking well ahead may very well save the day if you keep your wits about you and always look ahead. Now the wise queen applied all her wisdom and all her wits to the purpose of how she could save a man for whose life and severed head she gladly would have given her own life and all she had. She hated this enemy more than she loved herself. Yet anything that occurred to her that might help or comfort him or contribute to his recovery— she was eager, night and day, busily to provide it for him. There's no mystery to that— she did not know her enemy. But had she only known for whom she so labored and whose life she worked to save, if anything were worse than death, she surely would have given him that much in preference to life. But at the time, in innocence, she wished him nothing but the best. Now if I went on and on and laid a long tale before you of my lady the queen's mastery, what marvelous good power her medicines possessed and how she treated her patient, what would be the use of that? To noble ears a single word that fits exactly is more pleasing than one taken at random like a pill. As far as I can manage it, I must always restrain myself from inflicting upon you any word at all mispleasing to your ear or uncongenial to your heart. The less I say, therefore, the better 7950 about every trifling thing, lest I soon make the story an unpleasant trial for you with language never heard at court. About my lady's healing arts and her patient's recovery I will tell you briefly. It took her twenty days to make him acceptable in company. No longer did the wound prevent anyone from visiting him. From this time on the young princess came regularly for instruction. He gave her his full attention, sparing neither time nor effort to teach her the best he knew, from the school desk to the fingerboard. I will not list all the things he presented to her, one by one, from which to make her own choice for further careful study, whatever should appeal to her. The lovely Isolt made her selection. The very best that she found among his many accomplishments she acquired, well and quickly, studious as she always was for whatever she turned her hand to. In this she was assisted by what she had learned before. She already had abilities and courtliness enough both with hands and voice. This was the beauty who knew her native speech of Develin, could speak Franzois and Latin also, play the viol commendably in the best foreign style. Under her knowing fingers the lyre spoke to her touch as soon as she picked it up. From the harp she drew forth its fullest and strongest sounds, and nimbly modulated them to the proper tone and volume. This gifted girl could also sing, sweetly and with full voicing. And whatever skills she knew before, she now polished to perfection. It was the minstrel, her master, 8000 who advanced her greatly. And among his various teachings he instilled in her the practice that we call morâliteit. This is the knowledge of good manners. Every lady in her youth should diligently attend to this. Decorum—a discipline most pleasing, at once blessed and pure. What it teaches has to do both with God and the world. We learn from its commandments to please both God and the world. To all noble hearts it is given as a nursemaid, that they may find sustenance and life among her precepts. For they have neither wealth nor standing without the laws of decorum. This was the main occupation for the young princess. Here she excercised her mind and all her thought, again and again. By this means she grew well-mannered, genteel in attitude, refined and pleasant in behavior. So it was that this sweet girl arrived at such attainment of polish and noble bearing in no more than half a year that all the land was talking about her excellence. Also her father, the king, was greatly pleased with this, her mother equally so. Soon it came to be the custom when her father sought diversion or when a troop of visiting knights were present at court before the king that Isolt was summoned to the palace to appear there before her father. Then all of her accomplishments in courtly skills and pleasing ways gave refreshing entertainment both for him and others present. The joy she brought to her father was shared among them all. For poor and rich alike, to both she presented a most pleasing appearance, 8050 delighting their ears and hearts. Within their breasts and without, their pleasure was equally served. This sweet Isolt, so refined, she sang for them, she wrote, she read, and whenever they all were pleased it was also her greatest pleasure. She fiddled her lively dance tunes, her lays and such outlandish music as could hardly have been more exotic, in the best Franzois from Sanze and San Dinise— she seemed to know no end of them. In playing both the lyre and harp she struck the strings from either side with her snow-white hands to much approbation. Not in Lut nor in Thamise did ladies' hands strum the strings more pleasingly than hers did here, la duze Isot, la bele. She sang the pasturele, the rotruwange and rundate, schanzune, refloit and folate each as well as the other. Many a heart was charmed with her and overflowed with yearning. Many were the dreamy thoughts and memories she recalled to them. She had them thinking in marvels, as happens, as you all know well, when you see sich a marvel of beauty and accomplishment as was manifest in Isolt. To whom can I compare this lovely, gifted maid, unless to the sirens themselves, who use their dire lodestones to seize and hold passing ships? Just so, it seems to me, did Isolt attract hearts and thoughts that believed themselves proof against the discomfiture of yearning. Also, these two examples, anchorless ships and the mind, are in the same way valid. So rarely does either of them follow a steady course, so often find uncertain harbors, being washed to and fro, 8100 tossing this way and that. Just so does undirected desire, attraction without a certain object, react as does the anchorless ship, in exactly the same way. Isolt the accomplished, clever, young, attractive princess, drew out and fascinated thoughts from many a heart's chamber just as the magnet entraps ships along with the sirens' song. Into hearts she sang notions, openly and secretly, by way of ears and eyes. The singing she did openly, both elsewhere and on this occasion, made of sweet melodies and soothing string echoes that passed through the ear's realms audibly and unconcealed, down into the heart's resonance. The song she sang in secret was her miraculous beauty, which, borne by singing thought, slipped through the eye's windows, stealthily and unrecognized, into many a noble heart and worked its enchantment there, which readily seized all thought and bound it firmly captive with longing and the pain of desire. It was plain that the lovely Isolt under Tristan's instruction had made great advances. She was even-tempered, correct in manners and behavior, her hands could do wonders, with all tricks of dexterity. She composed both music and words, knew how to revise her creations, and could read and write as well. Now Tristan had quite recovered, healed in all respects. His countenance and color began to regain their vigor. But still he had one great fear, that someone might recognize him, in the court or among the people. His mind was continually occupied with how he could plausibly 8150 earn permission to depart and so escape this danger. He understood very well that neither queen nor princess would readily give him leave to go. But when he considered that his life seemed always to have been destined to hang in the greatest uncertainty, he went straight to the queen and with his talent for invention composed a speech on the spot, as he was well accustomed to do. Kneeling before her, he improvised: "My Lady, the favor and hospitality you have shown me, and your help— may God recompense them to you in the realm of eternity! So forthcoming have you been, and dealt with me so kindly— for that may God always reward you! I shall strive to deserve it until the last day of my life no matter where, poor though I be, I can advocate your praise. Oh, queen most blessed, may it meet with your favor that I depart for my own land, for I have obligations there— I can delay here no longer." The lady smiled down at him. "Your blandishments will not avail. By no means shall you depart or return to your own country until the whole year is out." "Nay, noble queen," he said, "please take into consideration what a consecrated marriage and the love of two hearts must mean. In my own land I have a wife whom I love as I love myself. Well I know, she may despair, having little reason to doubt that surely I must have lost my life. This is my greatest anxiety— if she is given to another, all my life, all my comfort, all my joys will be over, the only source of hope I have. Never again will I be happy." "In truth," the queen replied wisely, 8200 "Tantris, no one can justly disrupt a companionship of conjugal necessity. May God grant you both his blessing, unto you and unto her! However keenly I shall miss you, for God's sake I will endure it. Although I must grant you leave, still you remain in my favor. I and my daughter Isolt award you for your trip and for your sustenance two marks of red gold. Receive them as from Isolt." As a stranger far from home, he folded his hands before them, a physical and spiritual gesture of thanks before two queens, both the mother and the maiden. "Upon you both be pronounced God's grace and weal," he said. Then without further delay he sailed away to Engelant, and then from Engelant immediately back home to Curnewal.
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