.............................................DRINGENT ...
Walter von der Vogelweide trans. Tim Chilcott

sô die bluomen ûz dem grase dringent
same si lachen gegen der spilden sunnen
in einem meien an dem morgen fruo
und diu kleinen vogellîn wol singent
in ir besten wîse die si kunnen
was wünne mac sich dâ gelîchen zuo
ez ist wol halb ein himelrîche
suln wir sprechen was sich deme gelîche
sô sage ich waz mir dicke baz
in mînen ougen hât getân
und tśte ouch noch gesśhe ich daz.
swâ ein edeliu schoene frouwe reine
wol gekleidet unde wol gebunden
dur kurzewîle zuo vil liuten gât
hovelîchen hôhgemuot niht eine
umbe sehende ein wênic under stunden
alsam der sunne gegen den sternen stât
der meie bringe uns al sîn wunder
was ist dâ sô wünneclîches under
als ir vil minneclîcher lîp
wir lâzen alle bluomen stân
und kapfen an daz werde wîp.
nû wol dan welt ir die wârheit schouwen
gên wir zuo des meien hôhgezîte
der ist mit aller sîner krefte komen
seht an in und seht an schoene frouwen
wederz dâ daz ander überstrîte
daz bezzer spil ob ich daz hân genomen
owê der mich dâ welen hieze
deich daz eine dur daz ander lieze
wie rehte schiere ich danne kür
hêr meie ir müeset merze sîn
ê ich mîn frowen dâ verlür.

When all the flowers push upwards through the grass,
as though theyíre smiling at the dazzling sun;
when very early one May morning,
the tiny birds sing forth
the best songs that they know -
what joy can be compared to this?
It is half heaven.
But if we have to say what equals it,
Iíll tell you what has often been
more pleasing to my sight,
and would be now, if only I could see it.
A noble, chaste and lovely lady,
in splendid dress from head to foot,
who likes to be among her friends,
her spirits high and yet controlled,
who lets her eyes glance round from time to time,
just like the sun among the stars -
May brings us all its miracles,
but which of them can be as marvellous
as this figure of such loveliness?
We leave the flowers alone
and gaze upon the gorgeous lady.
So, if you want to see the truth,
letís go then to the festival of May.
Itís come in all its plenteousness.
Look at it, then look at these fine ladies,
and see which one surpasses now the other.
So donít I have the greater of delights?
Oh, if anyone gave me the choice -
to choose the one and let the other go -
how quickly would my choice be made!
So Mr. May, Iíd sooner you became like March
before Iíd give my lady up for you.

A characteristic contrasting by Walther of natural and human beauty, though the contest is clearly decided before it has been joined.

Trans. Copyright © Tim Chilcott 2009

See also: http://www.tclt.org.uk

translator's next