Title: Bisclavret Author: Marie De France pages: II. Presentation
While I am setting myself to creating lais,
I do not wish to forget that of Bisclavret.
Bisclavret is its name in Breton,
Gaul it is called by the Normans.
Long ago men heard poets sing
and often saw it come to pass,
that several men Garulfs became
and in the woods they made their home.
Garulf, this is a savage beast;
when he is in this rage,
men devoures he, and does great harm,
through great forests he runs and leaps.
This affaire we shall let rest;
of Bisclavret I wish to tell you.
In Brittany there lived a baron whom I have heard greatly praised. He was a good and handsome knight who conducted himself nobly. He was one of his lord's closest advisors and was well loved by all his neighbors. As his wedded wife he had a woman who was worthy and attractive in appearance. He loved her and she returned his love. But one thing caused her great worry; each week he was absent for three full days without her knowing what became of him or where he went, and no one in the household knew what happened to him. One day, when he had returned home in high spirits, she questioned him. "My lord," she said, "my dear, sweet love, I would gladly ask you something, if only I dared; but there is nothing I fear more than your anger." When he heard this, he embraced her, drew her towards him and kissed her. "My lady," he said, "come, ask your question! There is nothing you can ask which I shall not tell you, if I know the answer." "In faith," she said, "I am relieved to hear this. My lord, I am so fraught with anxiety the days you are apart from me, my heart is so heavy and I have such a fear of losing you that I shall surely die shortly from this unless I soon get help. Please tell me where you go, what becomes of you and where you stay. I think you must have a lover and, if this is so, you are doing wrong." "My lady," he said, "In God's name, have mercy on me! If I tell you this, great harm will come to me, for as a result I shall lose your love and destroy myself." When the lady heard this, she knew that this was no light matter. She questioned him repeatedly and coaxed him so persuasively that he told her his story, keeping nothing secret. 'My lady," he began, "I become a werewolf: I enter the vast forest and live in the deepest part of the wood where I feed off the prey I can capture." When he had related everything to her, she asked him whether he undressed or remained clothed. "My lady, I go about completely naked,' "Tell me, in the name of God, where do you leave your clothes?" "That I will not tell you, for if I lost them and were discovered in that state, I should remain a werewolf forever. No one would be able to help me until they were returned to me. That is why I do not wish this to be known." "My lord," the lady replied to him, "I love you more than the whole world. You must not hide anything from me or doubt me in any way. That would not seem like true love. What have I done wrong? What sin have I committed that you should doubt me in any way? Do tell me-- you will be acting wisely." She tormented and harried him so much that he could not do otherwise but tell her. "My lady, beside the wood, near the path I follow, stands an old chapel which often serves me well. There beneath a bush is a broad stone, hollowed out in the center, in which I put my clothes until I return home." The lady heard this remarkable revelation and her face became flushed with fear. She was greatly alarmed by the story, and began to consider various means of parting from him, as she no longer wished to lie with him. She sent a messenger to summon a knight who lived in the region and who had...