Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chapter 51 [first half]

Which tells how, while Beltenebros was at Poor Rock, a ship docked that brought Corisanda in search of her lover Florestan, and of the things that happened and what she recounted at the court of King Lisuarte. 

[The hermitage of Saint John on the island of Gaztelugatxe on the coast of Biscay. Photo by multisani.] 

While Beltenebros was at Poor Rock, as we have already told you, one day the hermit had him sit next to him on a stone bench at the door of the hermitage, and said:

"My son, I ask ye to tell me what made you shout in your sleep when we were at the Spring of the Meadow."

"I shall tell you willingly, my good lord, and I ask you by God to tell me what of it that ye might understand, be it to my pleasure or sadness."

Then he told him the dream that ye have already heard about, although Beltenebros did not tell him the names of the damsels. The good man, after he heard it, spent a long time thinking, then turned to him laughing and said kindly:

"Beltenebros, good son, what you have said has given me much happiness and great pleasure, and know that it rightly out to be so, and I want ye to know how I understand it. Know that the dark room where ye found yourself and could not leave represents the sorrow which ye are now in, and the damsels who opened the door are some of your friends who will speak with she whom ye most love in your life. In that way they shall take you from here and from the sorrow which ye now have. The ray of sunshine that came before them means that they will send happy news with which ye shall leave here.

"The fire that ye saw surrounding your beloved signifies the great distress that your love for her will be for you, as her love for you shall be for her. That fire means love and her suffering before she sees you, from which ye shall take her. The beautiful garden where ye shall take her shows the great pleasure that she shall receive by seeing you.

"I know well that being a priest I ought not to speak of such things, but I understand that it is a better service to God to tell you the truth with which ye shall be consoled than to remain quiet and let your life remain close to hopeless death."

Beltenebros knelt before him and kissed his hands, thanking God that in such great distress and pain He had given him a person who could knew how to advise him, and he prayed, weeping, that God would have pity and make the words of that holy man, His servant, come true.

Then he asked the good man what he could say about the dream he had had the night before Durin gave him the letter when he was on Firm Island. The good man told him:

"This clearly shows you all that ye have already had happen to you. I tell you that the tall hill covered with trees in which ye found yourself and the many happy people around you represents Firm Island, which ye had won and where ye had given great pleasure to all who lived there. The man that ye saw with the box containing bitter medicine is the messenger from your beloved who gave you the letter, and the great bitterness of her words ye know better than anyone, for ye have tasted them.

"The sadness that ye saw in the people who had been happy are the people of the island again, who are alone and in great sorrow because of you. The clothes ye took off are the arms that ye left behind. The rocky place in the middle of water where ye hid yourself represents the rock on which ye are now. The man in the religious order that spoke to you in a language that ye do not understand is myself, who spoke the holy words of God to you, which before that ye did not know nor bear in mind."

"Certainly," Beltenebros said, "ye have told me very truthfully about this dream because all of that did happen to me, so I take great hope in what may come."

But that hope was not so certain nor so great that it fully eased the great anguish that he had been placed in by his desperation over his lady. He looked long and often at the land, remembering the pleasures and great honors he had had there, but they had all been changed into the opposite with cruelty, thus he frequently arrived at such straits that if it were not for the advice of that good man, his life would have been in great danger.

To help distance him from his deep meditations and sorrows, the good man often put him in the company of two boys, his nephews, whom the good man had with him, to go to fishing in a river near there with poles, where they caught fine fish.

So as ye hear Beltenebros did his penance and always had with him great pain and deep concerns, believing that if God in His mercy did not help him with the favor of his lady, he was always much closer to death than life.

Most nights he spent beneath some thick trees that were in the garden near the hermitage so he could mourn and weep without the hermit or his boys hearing him. And he thought about the things that he had done to serve her for which he had been give such a poor reward without cause or justice. In his anger, he composed this song:

Being denied the victory
that I justly deserved,
wherever dies that glory,
death with glory is served.

And with that I shall die
and with me die my woes,
love and all its lies,
my struggles and my hopes.
But this one thought remains
from sorrow never free:
that with my glory slain,
glory and life killed me.

After he had written this song that ye hear, one night while he was beneath those trees as usual, mourning deeply and weeping fiercely, after much of the night had passed he heard some instruments being played very sweetly nearby, which he felt great pleasure to hear. He was surprised, for he had thought that there was no more company there than the hermit and himself and the two boys. He got up and went stealthily to see what it was, and he saw two damsels next to the fountain who had musical instruments in their hands. He heard them play and sing happily.

After he had listened for a while, he told them:

"Good damsels, may God be with you, for with your very sweet playing, ye have made me miss matins."

They were surprised that a man was there, and they told him:

"Friend, please tell us what place this is where we have docked and what man ye are who speaks with us."

"My ladies," he said, "this place is called the Rock of the Hermitage, after a hermit and a hermitage here, and I am a very poor man who stays and lives with him, doing severe penance for my great evil deeds and sins."

Then they said:

"Friend, might we find some house here in which a very ill lady we bring could dwell and rest for two or three days? She is high born as well as rich, and she has been laid low by love."

When Beltenebros heard this, he said:

"There is a small house where I dwell, and if the hermit gives it to her, I shall sleep in the field, which I do many nights, if it would make you happy."

The damsels gave him many thanks for what he had said and held him in great favor. As they were speaking, the dawn broke, and Beltenebros saw beneath some trees the lady they had spoken of in a beautiful and very rich bed, along with four armed knights on the seashore who were waiting on her and sleeping, and five men who lay next to them who did not bear arms. He saw a ship at anchor in the sea well stocked with everything it could need. The lady appeared exceptionally young and very beautiful and it gave him pleasure to look at her.

Then he went to the hermit, who was dressing to say Mass, and told him:

"Father, we have strangers among us. It would be good if ye saw them before Mass."

"I shall do that," the good man said.

Then together they left the hermitage and Beltenebros showed him the ship and they saw that the knights and other men were carrying the ill lady toward them, the damsels with her. They asked the hermit if there was a house where they could put her, and he said:

"There are two houses here, one where I stay, and by my will no woman shall ever enter. This good poor man lodges in the other. He is doing penance here, and I shall not order him out against his will."

Beltenebros said:

"Father, ye may give it to her, for I shall stay beneath the trees, which I am often accustomed to do."

Then they all entered the chapel to hear Mass, and Beltenebros, who looked at the damsels and knights and thought about himself and his lady and his past life, began to weep fiercely and knelt before the altar and prayed to the Virgin Mary to rescue him from the great trouble that he was in.

The damsels and knights who saw him weeping from his heart thought that he was a man of good breeding, and they were amazed by his youth and handsomeness, and wondered why he had come there over any sin, no matter how grave, for everywhere the mercy of God reaches where men are truly repentant.

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