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Sigebert of Liége – a modest lyric

May 2, 2014

No lily for me, violet or rose,
Lilies for purity, roses for passion denied,
Nor violets wan, to show with what pure fire
The bride for the bridegroom burns.
I know not how to gild my marigolds,
Proud poppies and narcissus not for me,
Nor flowers written with the names of kings.
All that this blockhead zeal of mine could find
Was privet blossom, falling as I touched it,
That never boy or girl would stoop to gather,
And of it, badly woven, ill contrived,
I twisted these poor crowns.
Will you but deign to wear them,
Hide neath the victor’s laurel this poor wreath –
Clumsy the work, a silly weight to carry,
And yet revile it not, for it is love.

(12th century, translated by Helen Waddell, The Wandering Scholars, from the collection of Dümmler, Abhandlungen der Kgl. Akad. der Wissenschaft zu Berlin, 1893)

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