In Praise of Love by Juan Ruiz

Truly my mother bore me ‘neath the sign of Venus fair,
Know, therefore, that to serve good dames is aye my chiefest care;
And if the pear-tree I must see yet never taste the pear,
To rest at least beneath its shade is bliss that all may share.

Love to the foolish giveth wit by great and potent art,
Love to the dumb or slow of speech can eloquence impart,
Can make the craven, shrinking coward valiant and strong of heart,
Can by his power the sluggard spur out of his sleep to start.

Love to the young eternal youth can by his craft bestow,
The all-subduing might of eld can even overthrow;
Can make the face as swart as pitch full white and fair to grow,
And give to those not worth a doit full many a grace, I trow.

The dolt, the fool, the slow of wit, the poor man or the base
Unto his mistress seemeth rich in every goodly grace,
Then he that loseth lady fair should straightway set his face
T’ward finding one that worthily may fill her vacant place.

At length the poet, still unsuccessful in his quest of a lady,
loses patience and makes a spirited attack on Love, here, as
in Provençal poetry, represented as a young man.

From: Farnell, Ida (editor and translator), Spanish Prose and Poetry Old and New with Translated Specimens, 1920, Clarendon Press: Oxford, p. 20.

Date: c1330 (original in Spanish); 1920 (translation in English)

By: Juan Ruiz (c1283-c1350)

Translated by: Ida Farnell (18??-19??)


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