249. Romance of the Rose. Part 1 by Guillaume de Lorris (1230)

A full-on allegory of the pleasures and pains of Love. My copy was the World’s Classics series entry translated by Frances Horgan.

The Lover dreams he is allowed entry into the Garden of Pleasure by Lady Idleness, only to be pierced by five of Love’s arrows. The object of his overwhelming obsession is a perfect rosebud, about to blossom (the poem is dedicated to the author’s lady Rose), and he becomes a servant and liegeman to Love, ignoring Reason and being attacked by Jealousy, Rebuff and Shame.

“Wasting no more time, therefore, I immediately took from the rose a sweet and delicious kiss. Let no one ask if I had joy from it, for a perfume entered my body, casting out the pain and soothing the torments of love which used to be so bitter …. I have endured many troubles and many painful nights since kissing the rose. The sea will never be so calm that a little wind will not disturb it.”      page 53

The curiosity of this poem is that it is a joint work by two poets, Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, separated by 45 years. De Meun takes up the story and continues the allegory for 5 times longer than the original (perhaps unfinished) work.

You will begin to think me an unreliable, inconstant classics reader when I tell you that again this was a fail – incomplete, as reading the first work was enough for me. Neither poet actually brings the story to a conclusion, so I left The Lover in the early pages of De Meun, vacillating between Love and Reason, Hope and Despair.

Personal rating:  3/10

In the years 1220-1240:

  • Building of Salisbury Cathedral started, 1220.
  • Mongols reach Persia, 1220 ; invade Delhi, India 1221 ; crush Hsi Hsia kingdom of China, 1227. Genghis Khan dies 1227, leaving Mongol Empire to three sons Ogadai, Chagatai and Tului, and grandson Batu. Mongols invade Korea 1231, capture Szechwan, China 1238, and Moscow 1238, Kiev 1240.

thanks as usual to The Book of Key Facts (Paddington Press, 1978)

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