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King Arthur Aloud

Arthurian Audio Files

Wolfram von Eschenbach
from Parzival

For an MP3 file of the reading, click here.

Read by Don Sunnen, Virginia Military Institute
edited by Albert K. Wimmer
Third Revised Edition 1998
and translated by Helen M. Mustard and Charles E. Passage
published by Vintage Books, 1961

Wolfram von Eschenbach flourished in the early 13th century. His Parzival is an adaptation of Perceval, or the Story of the Grail by Chrétien de Troyes and is widely considered to be the greatest medieval version of the Grail story. This is from the opening.

Ist zwîvel herzen nâchgebûr,
daz muoz der sêle werden sûr.
gesmæhet unde gezieret
ist, swâ sich parrieret
unverzaget mannes muot,
als agelstern varwe tuot.
der mac dennoch wesen geil:
wande an im sint beidiu teil,
des himels und der helle.
der unstæte geselle
hât die swarzen varwe gar,
und wirt ouch nâch der vinster var:
sô habet sich an die blanken
der mit stæten gedanken.
ein mære wil ich iu niuwen,
daz seit von grôzen triuwen,
wîplîchez wîbes reht,
und mannes manheit alsô sleht,
diu sich gein herte nie gebouc.
sîn herze in dar an niht betrouc,
15 er stahel, swa er ze strîte quam,
sîn hant dâ sigelîchen nam
vil manegen lobelîchen prîs.
er küene, træclîche wîs,
(den helt ich alsus grüeze)
20 er wîbes ougen süeze,
unt dâ bî wîbes herzen suht,
vor missewende ein wâriu vluht.
den ich hie zuo hân erkorn,
er ist mæreshalp noch ungeborn,
dem man dirre âventiure giht,
und wunders vil des dran geschiht.
If inconstancy is the heart's neighbor,
the soul will not fail to find it bitter.
Blame and praise alike befall
when a dauntless man's spirit
is black-and-white-mixed
like the magpie's plumage.
Yet he may see blessedness after all,
for both colors have a share in him,
the color of heaven and the color of hell.
Inconstancy's companion
is all black
and takes on the hue of darkness,
while he of steadfast thoughts
clings to white.
I mean to tell you once again a story
that speaks of great faithfulness
of the ways of womenly women
and of a man's manhood so forthright
that never against hardness was it broken.
Never did his heart betray him,
he all steel, when he came to combat,
for there his victorious hand took
many a prize of praise.
A brave man slowly wise--
thus I hail my hero--
sweetness to women's eyes
and yet to women's hearts a sorrow,
from wrongdoings a man in flight!
The one whom I have thus chosen
is, story-wise, as yet unborn,
he of whom this adventure tells
and to whom many marvels there befall.

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