I am happy when lordships change again,
when the old let their homes go to the young―
men can leave behind so many children
one must earn a name that may be sung;
then I am happy, the world now made new
beyond all that flower or birdsong can do.
Whoever can change his lady or his lord,
old for young, cannot himself stay bored.
Old, I think, the lady with the lined hide,
and old when she herself lacks some fine knight
Old, I think her, with two men satisfied,
and old if some peasant gives it to her right.
Old, I think, if she loves in her castle,
and old if she must look to charm or spell.
Old, I think her, if sore with singers’ song,
and old if she wants to speak over-long.
Young the lady who gives rank due honor,
and she is young in good acts―if she acts.
Young when her heart is nimble and sure
and would earn no praise with plots or pacts;
young when she keeps her body lithe and fair
and the lady is young always keeping care.
when she cares not for whispered guess,
when no youth but fails to arouse her interest.
Young is the man who pawns all he holds dear,
and he is young when he is thoroughly poor.
Young when debt follows long on ready cheer,
and he is young when gifts could not cost more.
Young when fire burns his coffers and his heart
And he holds tourneys, every test of war’s art.
Young when he would court any girl so slim
And he is young when singers all love him.
Old is the man rich beyond debt’s decrees,
piling about himself wine, bacon, and wheat.
Old when he serves nothing but eggs and cheese
on a feast-day for his own guests to eat,
old when he pulls a cape over his cloak
and old when owning his horse proves a joke,
old when he cannot court with any zeal
and old if he would leave without the deal.
Carry my sharp-edged songs of new and old,
Arnaut, so that Richard hears what is told;
none should pile up old treasure all his days,
where young treasure bring him new praise.