Guillaume de Lorris (c. 1200 - c. 1240) was a French scholar and poet from Lorris. He was the author of the first section of the Roman de la Rose. Little is known about him, other than that he wrote the earlier section of the poem around 1230, and that the work was completed forty years later by Jean de Meun.
Very little is known about this poet, fl. 1230, the author of the first part of Le Roman de la Rose. He was evidently from Lorris, a small town east of Orleans. The year of his birth is unknown, and the year of his death can only be inferred from Jean de Meun's section of the poem. Jean de Meun says that he was born about the time of Guillaume's death, the date of which is uncertain (c.1225-1240), and that he worked on the poem about forty years after Guillaume's death. Ernest Langlois proposes 1225-1240 as the period of Guillaume's death; Felix Lecoy suggests the years 1225-1230 as the time during which Guillaume worked on his poem. He invented the medieval dream vision of love, and this form enjoyed popularity down to the Renaissance. Unfinished, Guillaume's poem goes as far as line 4058. Courtly and refined, the poem leaves enough clues to justify Jean de Meun's more satirical and realistic treatment of its theme.
The narrator describes a dream he had when he was twenty years old, five years before he wrote his poem. In May, wandering in a meadow near a river, he comes to a walled garden. Outside the garden are images of Hate, Felony, Villainy, Covetousness, Avarice, Envy, Sorrow, Old Age, Pope-Holiness, and Poverty. Let into the garden by Idleness, an intimate acquaintance of Sir Mirth, the lord of the garden, the Dreamer finds Mirth and his companions dancing, while Gladness sings, sitting next to the God of Love. The dancers are Beauty, Richesse, Courtesy, Largess (Generosity), Franchise, and Youth. Sweet Looks keeps the two bows of the God of Love; in his right hand he holds five arrows that attract love and in his left hand five arrows that repel love. Walking about the garden, the Dreamer sees the perfect rosebud and stops to admire it. The God of Love wounds him with his five golden love arrows, and the Dreamer falls in love with the Rosebud. Now the God of Love takes charge, and the Dreamer swears an oath of vassalage to him, upon which he is given the ten commandments of love. Fair Welcome attaches himself to the Lover, and as they admire the Rose, the Dreamer/Lover tells Fair Welcome his desire. Suddenly Dangier, the Rose's guardian, rises from his hiding place and threatens them. In despair, they flee from the place. Reason, made in God's image, comes down from her tower, rebukes the Lover for his folly, and warns him that her daughter Shame guards and protects the Rose. The Lover, however, rejects Reason and joins Friend, who shows him how Dangier may be conquered. The Lover humbly apologizes to Dangier, who replies that he can love as long as he likes, but he may not come near the Rose. Seeing the Lover's distress, the God of Love sends Franchise and Pity to help him. Urging Dangier to have mercy, they cause him to relent. The Lover draws near to Fair Welcome and asks for permission to kiss the Rose, but Fair Welcome cannot comply because Chastity has forbidden it. When Venus appears with her blazing firebrandand persuades Fair Welcome to allow one kiss, Evil Tongue immediately spreads slander and arouses Jealousy, who castigates Fair Welcome for his friendship with the Lover. But Jealousy is adamant. Scolding Shame, she collects all the workmen she can find, and they build a strong tower around the Rose, garrisoned by Dangier, Shame, Fear, and Evil Tongue. Jealousy imprisons Fair Welcome in the tower and sets an Old Woman to guard him. The Lover remains outside the walls, disconsolate and miserable. Here the poem breaks off.