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The Lay of Marie   By: (1776-1852)

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Bibliographical Note:

These facsimiles have been made from copies in the Yale University Library The Lay of Marie (In.B4645.816L) and the British Library Vignettes (Il642.bbb.36)

Reprint of the 1816 and 1818 eds.





with an introduction for the Garland edition by Donald H. Reiman







To whom, as Fancy, taking longer flight, With folded arms upon her heart's high swell, Floating the while in circles of delight, And whispering to her wings a sweeter spell Than she has ever aim'd or dar'd before Shall I address this theme of minstrel lore? To whom but her who loves herself to roam Through tales of earlier times, and is at home With heroes and fair dames, forgotten long, But for romance, and lay, and lingering song? To whom but her, whom, ere my judgment knew, Save but by intuition, false from true, Seem'd to me wisdom, goodness, grace combin'd; The ardent heart; the lively, active mind? To whom but her whose friendship grows more dear, And more assur'd, for every lapsing year? One whom my inmost thought can worthy deem Of love, and admiration, and esteem!


As there is little, in all I have been able to collect respecting MARIE, which has any thing to do with the Poem, I have chosen to place such information at the end of the book, in form of an Appendix, rather than here; where the only things necessary to state are, that she was an Anglo Norman Minstrel of the thirteenth century; and as she lived at the time of our losing Normandy, I have connected her history with that event: that the young king who sees her in his progress through his foreign possessions is our Henry III.; and the Earl William who steps forward to speak in her favour is William Longsword, brother to Richard Coeur de Lion. Perhaps there is no record of minstrels being called upon to sing at a feast in celebration of a victory which involves their own greatest possible misfortune; but such an incident is not of improbable occurrence. It is likely, also, that a woman, said to be more learned, accomplished, and pleasing, than was usually the case with those of her profession, might have a father, who, with the ardour, the disobedience, the remorse of his heroic master, had been, like him, a crusader and a captive; and in the after solitude of self inflicted penitence, full of romantic and mournful recollections, fostered in the mind of his daughter, by nature embued with a portion of his own impassioned feelings, every tendency to that wild and poetical turn of thought which qualified her for a minstrel; and, after his death, induced her to become one.

The union of European and Eastern beauty, in the person of Marie, I have attempted to describe as lovely as possible. The consciousness of noble birth, of injurious depression, and the result of that education which absorbed the whole glowing mind of a highly gifted parent, a mind rich with adventures, with enthusiasm and tenderness, ought to be pourtrayed in her deportment; while the elegance and delicacy which more particularly distinguish the gentlewoman, would naturally be imbibed from a constant early association with a model of what the chivalrous spirit of the age could form, with all its perfections and its faults; in a situation, too, calculated still more to refine such a character; especially with one who was the centre of his affections and regrets, and whom he was so soon to leave unprotected. That, possessing all these advantages, notwithstanding her low station, she should be beloved by, and, on the discovery of her birth, married to a young nobleman, whose high favour with his sovereign would lead him to hope such an offence against the then royal prerogative of directing choice would be deemed a venial one, is, I should think, an admissible supposition... Continue reading book >>

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