........................THE CLERKS
Peire Cardenal trans. James H. Donalson
.....................(from Provençal)
Li clerc si fan pastor
e son aucizedor
e senblan de sanctor;
quan los vey revestir,
e pren m'a sovenir
de n'Alengri, q'un dia
volc ad un parc venir,
mas pels cas que temia,
pelh de mouton vestic,
ab que los escarnic;
pueis manget e trahic
selhas que·l abelhic.

Rey et emperador,
duc, comte e comtor
e cavalhier ab lor
solon lo mon regir;
ara vei possezir
a clercx la senhoria,
ab tolre et ab trazir
et ab ypocrizia,
ab forsa et ab prezic;
e tenon s'a fastic
qui tot non lor o gic,
et er fag, quan que tric.

Aissi cum son maior,
son ab mens de valor
et ab mais de folhor,
et ab mens de ver dir
et ab mais de mentir,
et ab meins de clercia
et ab mais de falhir,
et ab meins de paria;
dels fals clergues o dic,
qu'anc mais tant enemic
ieu a Dieu non auzic
de sai lo temps antic.

Quan son en refreitor,
no m'o tenc ad honor
qu'a la taula aussor
vei los cussos assir
e primiers s'eschauzir;
auiatz gran vilania:
quar hi auzon venir
et hom non los en tria.
Pero anc non lai vic
paupre cusso mendic
sezer latz qui son ric;
d'aisso los vos esdic.

Ia non aion paor
alcais ni almassor
que abbat ni prior
los anon envazir
ni lur terras sazir,
que afans lur seria;
mas sai son en cossir
del mon quossi lur sia,
ni cum en Frederic
gitesson del abric;
pero tats l'aramic
qu'anc fort no s'en jauzic.

Clergues, qui vos chauzic
sens fellon cor enic,
en son comde falic,
qu'anc peior gent no vic.
'We're shepherds' say the clerks
and they are murderers;
and they look holy, too,
when they get all dressed up,
and it makes me recall
Sir Isengrim, who once
desired to see a park,
but since he feared the hounds
he put sheep's clothing on
with which he fooled them all;
and then he gobbled up
whichever ones he pleased.

The emperor and king
duke, count and baron too,
and cavaliers with them
were those who ruled the world
but row I see the rule
has passed to clergymen
with treason and with theft
and with hypocrisy,
with preaching and with force,
and their are mortified
if they don't get it all
with leftovers as well.

The greater that they are
the less the worth they have,
with more of foolishness
and less of telling truth,
and more of lying tongues
and less of learning done,
and more of sinfulness
and less of fellowship;
I say this of false clerks,
for I have not heard of
so many foes of God
except in olden times.

When in their dining halls,
what honor can there be
when at the upper board
I see the greedy sit,
the first to pick the best;
it would be very base:
for you can hear them come
and no one takes them out,
but I have not been there
poor (greedy) mendicants
to sit beside the rich,
I'll grant you this for them.

The Arab warders now
no longer are afraid
that some Superior
will come invading them
or seizing all their land,
for this would bother them;
so here we think about
the world the way it is,
not like Sir Frederick
who threw them from their dens,
but such the challenge is
though strong, they can't rejoice.

O clerks, who chooses you,
unless his heart betrays,
has failed in judgement, for
worse folk have never lived.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2006

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