Guilhem de Cabestany trans. James H. Donalson
(from Provençal)
En pessamen me fai estar Amors
Cum pogues far una guaya chanso
Per la bella a cui m'autrei e·m do,
Que·m fes chauzir mest totas las gensors,
E vol qu'ieu l'am lialmen ses enjan,
Ab verai cor et ab tota ma cura;
Si fas ieu si c'ades creis e melhura
L'amor qu'ie·l port e doblan miei talan.

Gen m'a saubut guerir de las dolors
Que·m fe sufrir una lonja sazo,
Per tal que jes non avia razo
Que·m fezes so per qu'ie·m vires ailhors:
Ar, s'il a sen, pot ben anar pensan
Qu'en pauc d'ora se camja l'aventura.
Mal fa qui·l sieu mena a desmezura,
Que ges pueis tan l'autre non l'amaran.

Qu'ieu ai auzit, a vos o dic, senhors,
D'un poderos emperador que fo
Per cui eran malmenat siei baro,
Don sos erguels baisset e sa vigors;
E per so prec pros dompna benestan
Que son amic no men oltra dreitura,
Qu'en totas res fa bon gardar mezura,
E pent s'om tart pueis quan a pres lo dan.

Belha dompna, mielher de las melhors,
Cuenda e plazens de cors e de faisso,
Amors me te en sa doussa preizo:
Per vos o dic, que pros m'er et honors
Si ja fos mais que Dieus m'espires tan
Que·m volcsetz far de vostres bratz sentura;
En tot aitant cum ten lo mons e dura
Non es mais res qu'ieu dezir aver tan.

E pus tan val, dona, vostra valors
Qu'el mon non a tan belha ni tan pro,
Ja no vulhatz qu'e·us serva en perdo;
Cum magers es d'ome sa grans ricors
Miels deu gardar a selhs que servit l'an:
Qu'aisso, sapchatz, mou de gentil natura
Qu·om renda mal segon la firfaitura
E be per be, dona; als no·us deman.

Las! mil n'ai faitz entre sospirs e plors,
Tal paor ai que ja no·i ala pro,
Quan pens cum es de gentil naissio,
E cum vos es de totas rais e flors,
E cum vos sai coinda e belha e prezan,
E cum vos es fina e leials e pura,
E cum chascus autreia e pliu e jura
Que non avetz el mon par ni semblan.

Dompna, merce valha·m vostra valors:
Ja non guardetz a vostre pretz tan gran,
Mas cum vos ai voluntat fina e pura,
E cum mos cors s'afica e s'atura
A vos servir, que d'als non ai talan.
Love has me in a quandary now, it's true:
how can I make a song of joy and love
for one that's fair I've given myself to
and which he had me choose among the best
to love with loyalty, not falsity;
to love with heart that's true and all my care
and let my love grow on and yet improve
my love for her and double my desire?

She kindly cured me of the grief and pain
which she has made me suffer for so long,
though she has had no reason to do this
in such a way that I might turn away.
Now, if she has good sense, she may well think
that fortune changes in the shortest time,
but it's not right to deal without restraint
because her new love won't love her so much.

O gentlemen, I'll tell you what I've heard
about a powerful emperor who was:
now, he maltreated all his barons so
that all his pride-and strength were lowered much;
so I beseech a lady of such parts
that she might not despise her lover's rights
for we need moderation in all things:
repentance comes too late for him who's harmed.

O beautiful, the best of all the best
and pleasant in your body and your face,
Love holds me in a sweet imprisonment;
I tell you this for it would honor me
if some time God would grant the grace to me
to have you make a belt of your sweet arms;
as earth extends and long as it will last,
there's nothing that I long so much to have.

And lady, since your worth is valued much,
the world has none so excellent and fair:
don't let it be that I serve you in vain;
the greater is the power of a man
the more he should look out for those who've served;
know that a noble nature leads to this:
to render ill according to the crime
and good for good, my lady, 's all I ask.

Alas, a thousand sighs and tears I've wept,
I have such fear that I'm not good enough;
when I think how you are of noble birth
and how you are the ray and flower of all
and how you're gracious and agreeable,
and how you're faithful, loyal and you're pure,
and how they all agree, affirm and swear
that you've no equal or similitude.

My lady, may your worth now favor me:
Don't look just to your own great excellence;
like yours, my will is also fine and pure,
and since my heart's applied to serving you,
for others, I have not the least desire.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2005

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