Thursday, April 4, 2024

W/W: Sweeter Than Honey: A Medieval Love Letter

C super mel et favum dulciori

B. quidquid amor amori.

O unica et specialis,

cur tamdiu in longinquo moraris?

Cur unicam tuam perire vis,

quae anima et corpore te diligit, ut ipsa scis?

et quea more aviculi esurientis

te suspirat omnibus horis atque momentis.

ex quo enim dulcissima tua presentia contigit me carere

nolui hominem ulterius audire nec videre

sed quasi tutur, perdito masculo

semper in arido residet ramusculo

ita lamentor sine fine

donec iterum fruar tua fide.

circumpspicio et non invenio amantem

ne in uno verbo me consolantem

dum enim iocundissime

allocutionis ac visionis tuae

dulcedinem revolvo in animo

dolore comprimor nimio

nam nil invenio tale.

Quid velim tuae dilectioni comparare,

Quae super mel at favum dulcescit

Et in cuius comparatione auri et argenti nitor vilescit?

quid ultra? in te omnis suavitas et virtus:

idcirco de absentia tua meus semper languet sipirtus.

omnis perfide cares felle

dulcior es lacte et melle

electa es ex milibus

te diligo prae omnibus

tu sola amor et desiderium

tu dulce animi mei refrigerium

nil mihi absque te iocundi.

omne quod tecum erat mihi suave

sine te laboriosum est et grave.

unde dicere volo veraciter

si fieri posset quod vitae pretio te emerem--non segniter.

quia sola es quam elegi secundum cor meum.

idcirco semper obsecro Deum

ne prius me mors preveniat amara

quam visione tua fruar optata et care.


quae sunt omnia fidei et dilectionis de me habe.

quem transmitto accipe stilum

et adhuc animum meum fidum.

--[quoted in] Dronke, Peter. Medieval Latin and the Rise of European Love Lyric, Vol  2.478; and Piechl,Helmut and Bergmann, Werner. Die Tegernseer Briefsammlung des 12. Jahrhunderts, p. 354.

To C, beyond sweeter than honey and honeycomb

From B, whatever love means to a lover.

O unique and special girl,

Why do you stay so far away, and for so long?

Why do you wish for your one & only love to perish,

Who loves you (as you already know) body & soul?

Who longs for you, like a parched little bird

Hopes for you at all hours?

From the moment when I was apart from your sweetest presence

I didn’t want to see or hear another person,

But instead, like a turtledove, when its mate was dead,

Remains perched forever upon a barren branch.

Like this sad little bird, I’ll lament without end

Until once more I can enjoy your company.

I look around, and cannot find my lover

Or any word of consolation.

Instead, I happily run through my mind

The sweetness of your words and beauty,

Undone by my grief,

For I cannot find any such relief.

What can I compare to your love?

It is sweeter than honey and honeycomb,

Even gold and silver is dull in comparison!

Why go on?

In you, is every sweetness and kindness,

And so my spirit wanes in your absence.

You lack even an ounce of the bitterness of infidelity,

You are sweeter than milk and honey.

You are the one I’ve chosen out of thousands of others—

I love you more than everyone!

You alone are my love and my desire

You are the sweet refuge of my soul,

I find no enjoyment in anything else without you.

Everything that is sweet for me by your side

Is tedious and terrible without you here.

And so I want to tell you candidly,

If it were possible for me to afford a life by your side, I wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

Because you alone are the woman I chose in my heart.

And so, I pray to God,

May bitter death not take me away

Before I may enjoy looking at you,

My beloved and dearest one.


Hold dear the faith and love I bear you,

And accept these words which I write to you,

As well as my still-loyal heart.





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