...........................................LAS VOL
Peire Cardenal trans. James H. Donalson
....................................(from Provençal)
Las amairitz, qui encolpar las vol,
respondon gen a for d'en Ysengri;
l'una fai drut, quar estai en auiol,
l'autra to fai, quar paubreira l'auci,
l'autra' a un vielh e di qu'el' es tozeta,
l'autra es grans et ha un pauc guarsi,
l 'autra non a sobrecot de bruneta,
l 'autra n'a dos e fai lo atressi.

Prop a guerra qui l'a en miech son sol,
e plus prop l'a qui l'a a son coissi;
quan lo maritz a la molher fai dol,
aquilh guerra es pieitz que de vezi;
qu'ieu sai tal un que s'era part Toleta,
non a sorre ni molher ni cozi
que ia disses: "Dompnidieus lo·m trameta!"
ans, quan s'en va, lo plus iratz s'en ri.

Gran festa fai, mas ges be non la col,
qui buous emblatz ni tolgutz hi auci;
qu'ieu en sai un que n'ompli son pairol
entorn nadal, mas non vuelh dire qui;
a co es carns que ges ben non es neta,
carns deslials, que la leis contradi;
aquel hom es plus pecs qu'enfans que teta,
que cug honrar calendar enaissi.

S'us paupres hom a emblat un lensol,
laires sera, et anara cap cli,
e si us ricx hom ha emblat mercurol,
ira cap dreg en cort de Constanti;
paupre lairon pent hom per una veta,
e pen lo tals qu'a emblat un roci;
aquest dreitz es plus dreitz c'una sageta,
que·l ricx laire pen lo lairon mesqui.

A mos ops chant et a mos ops flauiol,
quar hom mas ieu non enten mon lati,
qu'atretam pauc coma d'un rossinhol
entent la gens de mon chantar que·s di;
mas ieu non ai lengua friza ni breta
ni sai parlar flamenc ni angevi;
mas malvestatz, qui los eissalabeta,
lor tot vezer quez es fals ni es fi .

Ara m'es mais que fols hom s'entremeta
de mon chantar, quar siei fag son porssi.
I want to put some blame on mistresses:
they answer to the law of Isengrim;
one takes a lover to advance her state,
another says that poverty'd kill.her,
another, with an old man, says she's young,
another's big, but has a little man,
another wants a browncloth overcoat,
another wants the same, not having two.

One's near to war, if she's on his estate,
and nearer still, if she's upon his couch,
and if a husband goes against his wife
the war is even worse than hand to hand;
I knew one such from down Toledo way,
no mother, sister, cousin did she have,
who might say: "God has given him to me!"
so when she leaves, the saddest one will laugh.

She held,a feast, but didn't take much care,
that poached or rustled oxen were killed there;
and I know one whose kettle's only filled
at Christmastime, but I won't tell you who;
and here there's flesh that isn't clean at all,
disloyal flesh, that goes against the law.
He's more naïve than is a suckling babe
who thinks that he keeps holy days this way.

Now, if a poor man steals a piece of cloth,
he is a thief, and walks with head hung low,
and if a rich man steals a marketplace
he goes, head high, to court in Constantine.
They'll hang the poor man, hang him with a noose,
they'll hang one such for stealing just a nag;
this law is straighter than an arrow is:
the rich thief hangs the one who's poor and low.

Now, when I want, I sing, or play the flute,
and no one else can understand my speech ...
no more than singing of a nightingale
can people understand the song I sing:
I don't speak Frisian or the Breton tongue,
I don't know Flemish speech or Angevin;
but baseness, which condemns the lot of them,
keeps them from seeing what is false or fine.

Now, it's too much to have some fool butt in
my song, so he can empty out his trash.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2006

translator's next