Round the dog's little neck went a chain of gold on which hung a bell so sweet and clear that, as soon as it began to tremble, melancholy Tristan sat there rid of the sorrows of his attachment and unmindful of his suffering for Isolde. The tinkling of the bell was so sweet that none could hear it without its banishing his cares and putting an end to his pain. Tristan saw and listened to this marvel of marvels, he studied and observed both the dog and its bell and examined each in turn. They both filled him with wonder. Yet, as he looked, the marvel of the dog appeared to his more marvellous than the dulcet sound of the bell that sang into his ears and took his sadness away. He thought it a wonderful thing that his eyes, wide open though they were, should be deceived by this medley of colours and that he could identify none, however much he looked at them. He gently stretched out his hands to stroke the dog, and as he fondled it, it seemed to him as though he were fingering the very finest silk, so soft and smooth was it everywhere. The dog neither growled or barked nor showed any sign of vice, whatever games you played with it. It neither ate nor drank, so the tale declares.


Gottfried von Strassburg,Tristan, trans. by A.T. Hatto, Penguin Classics, Edinburgh, 1960, p. 250.

PLACE: At the court of the Duke-Gilan in Swales, a land near England, distinct from Gales (p. 371)

TIME: Middle Ages.

CIRCUMSTANCE: The sounds of the dog Petitcreiu, owned by the Duke Gilan. The little bell possesses magic powers.