Ulrich von Lichtenstein: “Lady Beauteous, Lady Pure”

Excerpt, “Lays of the Minnesingers, or German Troubadours of the Twelfth and Thirteen Century.” London: 1825. Translator, Edgar Taylor.
Ulrich von Lichtenstein, a celebrated Minnesinger about the middle of the Thirteenth Century, has left the romance , “Frauendienst,” (Lady-service), a curious and interesting picture of his age. It is in reality the chivalric life of the author; “having served,” he says, “thirty-three years as a true knight, when he wrote his book.” He was educated in the chivalric virtues by the Margrave Henry of Austria, who taught him to talk of the ladies, to ride on horseback, and to write soft verses. This romance is a series of wild adventures, illustrated by “dance-songs” and so forth.

“Lady beauteous, lady pure,

Lady happy, lady kind,

Love, methinks, has little power,

So proud thy bearing, o’er thy mind.

Didst thou feel the power of love,

Then would those fair lips unclose,

And be taught in sighs to move.”


“What is love, then, good sir knight?

Is it man or woman? Say;

Tell me, if I know it not,

How it comes to pass, I pray.

Thou shouldst tell me all its story,

Whence, and where, it cometh here,

That my heart may yet be wary.”


“Lady, love so mighty is,

All things living to her bow;

Various is her power, but I

Will tell thee what of her I know.

Love is good, and love is ill,

Joy and woe she can bestow,

Spreading life and spirit still.”


“Can love banish, courteous knight,

Pining grief and wasting woe,

Pour gay spirits on the heart,

Polish, grace, and ease bestow?

If in her these powers may meet,

Great is she, and thus shall be

Her praise and honor great.”


“Lady, I will say yet more:

Lovely are her gifts, her hand

Joy bestows, and honor too;

The virtues come at her command,

Joys of sight and joys of heart,

She bestows, as who may choose,

And splendid fortune does impart.”


“How shall I obtain, sir knight,

All these gifts of lady-love?

Must I bear a load of care?

Much too weak my frame would prove,

Grief and care I cannot bear;

Can I, then, the boon obtain?

Tell me, sir knight, then how and where.”


“Lady, thou shouldst think of me

As I think of thee – heartily:

Thus shall we together blend

Firm in love’s sweet harmony –

Thou still mine, I still thine.”


“It cannot be, sir knight, with me;

Be your own, I’ll still be mine.”