Libro de Buen Amor

Libro de Buen Amor


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This edition is designed to open the enchanting book to all readers of modern Spanish. Raymond Willis has regularized and brought the medieval text as close as possible, without falsification, to modern canons. The text is printed integrally, without annotation. Mr. Willis' English paraphrase, printed on facing pages, is written in syntactical constructions that exactly parallel the Spanish verses, and thus functions as both a glossary and a key to puzzling constructions.

Originally published in 1972.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691619897
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 03/08/2015
Series: Princeton Legacy Library , #1621
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

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Libro de Buen Amor

By Juan Ruiz, Raymond S. Willis


Copyright © 1972 Princeton University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-691-06086-6


This is the prayer that the Archpriest made to God when he commenced his book

1. Lord God, who delivered the Jews, accursed race, from captivity, from under the power of Pharaoh; who delivered Daniel from the pit of Babylon: deliver me, racked by anguish, from this dire prison.

2. Lord, You gave grace to Queen Esther; in the presence of King Ahasuerus she received your condign grace: Lord, give me swiftly your grace and your mercy; deliver me from this anguish, from this wretched prison.

3. Lord, You who delivered the prophet from the den [of lions] ; who delivered St. James' body from the power of the unbelievers; who freed St. Marina from the belly of the dragon: deliver me, my God, from this prison in which I lie.

4. Lord, You who freed St. Susanna from the false testimony of the two perjured cronies, free me, my God, from this great torment; give me your mercy, withdraw your wrath from me.

5. You delivered Jonah from the belly of the whale, in which he dwelt for three days out in the open sea, You delivered him unharmed, as from a good abode: Messiah, rescue me, without blame and without punishment.

6. Lord, You rescued the three youths from death, You delivered them unharmed from the raging fire of the furnace; You raised St. Peter from the waves of the sea: Lord, deliver your Archpriest from this tribulation.

7. And You, who told your servants that You would be with them when they spoke before kings, and would say words to them so that they might speak the better: Lord, abide with me, protect me from betrayers.

[Here a scribe evidently omitted a portion of the text, which resumes with a prayer to the Virgin.]

8. Great was the name spoken in prophecy. Emmanuel, Son of God Most High, Savior of Israel; in his salutation the Angel Gabriel assured you [Blessed Virgin] of this, you were assured of him.

9. For the sake of this prophecy and of this salutation, in the exalted name of Emmanuel, Salvation, give me grace, Our Lady, give me consolation; obtain for me, from your Son, grace and benediction.

10. Give me grace, Queen of all queens; withdraw your displeasure from me; dispel spite from me; turn everything back against my slanderers; help me, Blessed Mother of sinners.

I will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in this way in which thou shalt go; I will fix my eyes upon thee. So says the Prophet David, speaking with the Holy Spirit, to each of us in the Thirty-first Psalm [as numbered in the Vulgate Bible], tenth verse, which is the one I wrote above at the beginning. In this verse I understand three things, which certain men schooled in philosophy say are in the soul and pertain particularly to it. They are these: understanding, will, and memory. And these I say, if they be good, bring comfort to the soul, and lengthen the life of the body, and give it honor together with benefit and good repute. For with good understanding, man understands the good, and from this he knows the bad. And therefore one of the pleas that David made to God, so that he might understand His law, was this: Give me understanding, et cetera. For man, by understanding the good, will have fear of God, which is the beginning of all wisdom, whereof the aforesaid prophet says: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. For forthwith there is good understanding in those who fear God. And hence the aforesaid David pursues the thought in another place, where he says: A good understanding to all that do it, et cetera. Likewise Solomon says in the Book of Wisdom [Ecclesiasticus]: He that feareth the Lord will do good. And this is to be understood in the first statement of the verse with which I began, where it says: will give thee understanding. And after the soul is taught and instructed that it can be saved [only] in the body which is clean, man thinks upon and loves and desires the good love of God and His commandments. And precisely this is stated by the aforesaid prophet: I shall meditate also on thy commandments, which I have loved. And likewise the soul puts aside and abhors the mad and heedless love of this world. And hereof says the psalmist: You that love the Lord, hate evil, et cetera. And thence we pass to the second phrase of the verse, which says: And I will instruct thee. And when the soul, having good understanding and good will, with good memory chooses and loves the good love which is the love of God, it stores it in the bin of the memory in order to keep it in mind and it leads the body to do good works, by which man is saved. And hereof says St. John the Apostle, in the Apocalypse, concerning the good who die while performing good works: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord ... for their works do follow them. And the prophet says likewise: Thou wilt render to every man according to his works. And with this concludes the third statement of the opening verse, which reads: In this way in which thou shalt go, I will fix my eyes ufon thee. And therefore we should hold without doubt that good works are always stored in the good memory, [and] that with good understanding and good will the soul chooses and loves the good love of God, in order to gain salvation by these works. For, because of the good works that man does on the road to salvation whereon he walks, God fixes his eyes upon him. And this is the meaning of the verse which stands first of all, at the beginning. In short, although at times man turns his heart and mind to sin and desires it and does it, this discord does not come from the good understanding, nor does this desire come from the good will, nor from good works does this [sinful] act come; rather this stems from the weakness of human nature which is innate in man, who cannot escape from sin. For Cato says: No man lives without crime. And Job puts it: Who can make him clean that is conceived of unclean seed? Which amounts to saying: No one save God. And this also comes from insufficiency of good understanding, which man does not have then, because he has his mind on the vanities of sin. And of such thoughts the psalmist says: The thoughts of men are vain. And he likewise says to those most dissolute men of depraved understanding: Do not become like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding. And I further say that this comes from poorness of the memory, which is not instructed by the good understanding, so that it cannot love the good, nor remember it in order to do it. And also this comes about because human nature, (which) is more prepared for, and inclined towards, the bad than the good, and more to sin than to goodness: thus says the Decretal. And these are some of the reasons why men have written books of commandments and law, and of admonitions and good conduct, and other sorts of wisdom. Likewise painting and writing and sculpture were first discovered because man's memory is feeble: thus says the Decretal. For to keep all things in the memory and not to forget, is more divine than human: thus says the Decretal. And therefore memory is more characteristic of the soul, which is spirit created by God and is perfect, and lives always in God. Likewise David says: To Him my soul shall live ... seek ye the Lord and your soul shall live. And it is not characteristic of the human body, which endures but a little time. And Job says: The days of a man are short. And likewise he says: Man that is born of a woman is of a few days. And about this David says: Our years shall be considered as a spider, et cetera. Therefore I, with my trifling knowledge and my abundant and great unenlightenment, understanding how many good things are caused to be lost to the body and soul, and how many bad things are brought to them by the mad and heedless love of the sin of the world, [and] choosing and loving, with good will, salvation and the bliss of Heaven for my soul, I wrote this little text in mindfulness of what is good. And I composed this new book in which are written down certain of the ways and tricks and deceitful wiles of the mad and heedless love of this world, which some people employ to commit sin. And if these be read or heard by any man or woman of good understanding, who wishes to be saved, he will make a choice and carry it into effect. And he will be able to say with the psalmist: I have chosen the way of truth, et cetera. Likewise those of little understanding will not be lost, for on reading and pondering the evil that is done or is intended to be done by those who persist in their wicked arts, and through the published revelation of the many deceitful measures they employ for sinning and for deceiving women, they [i.e. those of little understanding] will bestir their memory and will not disdain their good repute; for very cruel is he who holds his own reputation in low esteem: the Law says so. And they will rather love themselves than sinfulness, for well-ordered charity begins with itself: the Decretal says so. And they will put aside and abhor the ways and evil arts of mad and heedless love, which makes men destroy their souls and fall into the wrath of God, and shortens the life and bestows ill repute and dishonor and many injuries upon the body. However, since to sin is a human thing, if any should choose — which I do not advise them to do — to indulge in mad and heedless love, they will find here some ways for this.

Esta es oración qu'el Arcifreste fizo a Dios qmndo contengo este libro suyo

Señor Dios, que a los judíos, pueblo de perdición, saqueste de cabtivo, de poder de Faraón; a Daniel saqueste del pozo de Babilón: saca a mí, coitado, d'esta mala presión.

2. Señor, tú diste gracia a Ester la reina, ant' el rey Asuero ovo tu gracia dina: Señor, dame tu gracia e tu merced aína; sácame d'esta lazeria, d'esta presión mesquina.

3. Señor, tú que saqueste al profeta del lago; de poder de gentiles saqueste a Santiago; a Santa Marina libreste del vientre del drago: libra a mí, Dios mío, d'esta presión do yago.

4. Señor, tú que libreste a Santa Susaña del falso testimonio de la falsa compaña, líbrame, mi Dios, d'esta coita tan maña; dame tu misericordia, tira de mí tu saña.

5. A Jonás el profeta, del vientre de la ballena, en que moró tres días dentro en la mar llena, saquéstelo tú sano, como de casa buena: Mexías, tú me salva, sin culpa e sin pena.

6. Señor, a los tres niños de muerte los libreste, del forno del grand fuego sin lisión los saqueste; de las ondas del mar a Sant Pedro tomeste: Señor, de aquesta coita saca al tu acipreste.

7. Aún tú, que dixiste a los tus servidores que con ellos serías ante reys dezidores, e les dirías palabras que fablassen mejores: Señor, tu sey comigo, guárdame de traidores.

[Aquí faltan algunas estrofas.]

8. El nombre profetado fue grande: Emanuel, Fijo de Dios muy alto, Salvador de Israel; en la salutación el ángel Grabiel te fizo cierta d'esto, tú fueste cierta d'él.

9. Por esta profecía, por la salutación, por el nombre tan alto, Emanuel, salvación, Señora, dame tu gracia e dame consolación; gáname del tu Fijo gracia e bendición.

10. Dame gracia, Señor de todas las señores, tira de mí tu saña, tira de mí rencores; faz que todo se torne sobre los mescladores: ¡ayúdame, Gloriosa Madre de pecadores!

Intellectum tibi dabo et instruam te in via hac qua gradieris; firmaba sufer te oculos meos. El profeta David, por Spíritu Santo fablando, a cada uno de nos dize en el psalmo tricésimo primo del verso dezeno, que es el que primero suso escreví. En el qual verso entiendo yo tres cosas, las quales dizen algunos dotores filósofos que son en el alma e propiamente suyas. Son éstas: entendimiento, voluntad e memoria. Las quales digo, si buenas son, que traen al alma consolación, e aluengan la vida al cuerpo, e danle onra con pro e buena fama. Ca por el buen entendimiento entiende ombre el bien, e sabe d'ello el mal. E por ende una de las peticiones que demandó David a Dios, porque sopiesse la su Ley, fue ésta: Da mihi intellectum, et caetera. Ca el omne, entendiendo el bien, avrá de Dios temor, el qual es comiengo de toda sabidoría, de que dize el dicho profeta: Initium safientiae, timor Domini. Ca luego es el buen entendimiento en los que temen a Dios, E por ende sigue la razón el dicho David en otro logar, en que dize: Intellectus bonus ómnibus jacientibus eum, et caetera. Otrossí dize Salamón en el libro de la Sapiencia: Qui timet Dominum faciet bona. E esto se entiende en la primera razón del verso que yo comencé, en lo que dize: Intellectum tibi dabo. E desque está informada e instruida el alma que se ha de salvar en el cuerpo limpio, piensa e ama e desea omne el buen amor de Dios e sus mandamientos. E esto atal dize el dicho profeta: Et meditabor in mandatis tuis quae dilexi. E otrossí desecha e aborrece el alma el pecado del amor loco d'este mundo. E d'esto dize el salmista: Qui diligitis Dominum, odite malum, et caetera. E por ende se sigue luego la segunda razón del verso, que dize: Et instruam te. E desque el alma, con el buen entendimiento e buena voluntad, con buena remembranza escoge e ama el buen amor que es el de Dios, pénelo en la cela de la memoria porque se acuerde d'ello e trae al cuerpo a fazer buenas obras, por las quales se salva el omne. E d'esto dize Sant Joan Apóstol en el Apocalipsi, de los buenos que mueren bien obrando: Beati mortui qui in Domino moriuntur: ofera enim illorum secuntur illos. E dize otrossí el Profeta: Tu reddes unicuique juxta ofera sua. E d'esto concluye la tercera razón del veso [sic] primero, que dize: In via hac qua gradieris,frmabo sufer te oculos meos. E por ende devemos tener sin dubda que obras siempre están en la buena memoria, que con buen entendimiento e buena voluntad escoge el alma e ama el amor de Dios, por se salvar por ellas. Ca Dios, por las buenas obras que faze omne en la carrera de salvación, en que anda, firma sus ojos sobre él. E ésta es la sentencia del verso que empieza primero. Breve, comoquier que a las vegadas se acuerde pecado e lo quiera e lo obre, este desacuerdo non viene del buen entendimiento, nin tal querer non viene de la buena voluntad, nin de la buena obra non viene tal obra; ante viene de la flaqueza de la natura humana que es en el omne, que se non puede escapar de pecado. Ca dize Catón: Nemo sine crimine vivit. E dízelo Job: Quis f otest facere mundum de immundo conceftum semine? Quasi dicat: Ninguno, salvo Dios. E viene otrossí de la mengua del buen entendimiento, que lo non ha estonce, porque omne piensa vanidades de pecado. E d'este tal pensamiento dize el salmista: Cogitationes hominum vanae sunt. E dize otrossí a los tales mucho dissolutos e de mal entendimiento: Nolite fien sicut equus et mulusy in quibus non est intellectus. E aún digo que viene de la pobredad de la memoria, que non está instructa del buen entendimiento, assí que non puede amar el bien nin acordarse d'ello para lo obrar. E viene otrossí esto por razón que la natura umana (que) más aparejada e inclinada es al mal que al bien, e a pecado que a bien: esto dize el Decreto. E éstas son algunas de las razones por que son fechos los libros de la ley e del derecho, e de castigos e costumbres, e de otras ciencias. Otrossí fueron la pintura e la escritura e las imágenes primeramente falladas, por razón que la memoria del omne desleznadera es: esto dize el Decreto. Ca tener todas las cosas en la memoria e non olvidar algo, más es de la Divinidad que de la umanidad: esto dize el Decreto. E por esto es más apropiada la memoria al alma, que es espíritu de Dios criado e perfeto, e bive siempre en Dios. Otrossí dize David: Anima mea illi vivet: quaerite Dominum et vivet anima vestra. E non es apropiada al cuerpo umano, que dura poco tiempo. E dize Job: Breves dies hominis sunt. E otrossí dize: Homo, natus de mullere; breves dies hominis sunt. E dize sobre esto David: Anni nostri sicut aranea meditabuntur, et caetera. Onde yo, de muy poquilla ciencia e de mucha e grand rudeza, entendiendo quántos bienes faze perder al alma e al cuerpo, e los males muchos que les apareja e trae el amor loco del pecado del mundo, escogiendo e amando, con buena voluntad, salvación e gloria del paraíso para mi ánima, fiz' esta chica escrityra en memoria de bien. E compuse este nuevo libro en que son escritas algunas maneras e maestrías e sotilezas engañosas dél loco amor del mundo, que usan algunos para pecar. Las quales, leyéndolas e oyéndolas omne o muger de buen entendemiento, que se quiera salvar, descogerá e obrarlo ha. E podrá dezir con el salmista: Viam veritatis, et caetera. Otrossí los de poco entendimiento non se perderán, ca leyendo e cuidando el mal que fazen o tienen en la voluntad de fazer los porfiosos de sus malas maestrías, e descobrimiento publicado de sus muchas engañosas maneras que usan para pecar e engañar las mugeres, acordarán la memoria e non despreciarán su fama; ca mucho es cruel quien su fama menosprecia: el Derecho lo dize. E querrán más amar a sí mismos que al pecado, que la ordenada caridad de sí mismo comienza: el Decreto lo dize. E desecharán e aborrecerán las maneras e maestrías malas del loco amor, que faze perder las almas e caer en saña de Dios, apocando la vida e dando mala fama e desonra e muchos daños a los cuerpos. Empero, porque es umanal cosa el pecar, si algunos — lo que non les consejo — quisieren usar del loco amor, aquí fallarán algunas maneras para ello.


Excerpted from Libro de Buen Amor by Juan Ruiz, Raymond S. Willis. Copyright © 1972 Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS.
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Table of Contents

  • Frontmatter, pg. i
  • CONTENTS, pg. ix
  • INTRODUCTION, pg. xvii
  • Text. Part 1., pg. 1
  • Text. Part 2., pg. 150
  • Text. Part 3., pg. 300
  • APPENDIX, pg. 475

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