Peire Cardenal trans. James H. Donalson
........................................(from Provençal)
Tostemps azir falsetat et enjan
et ab vertat et ab dreg mi capdelh,
e si per so vauc atras o enan,
no m'en rancur, ans m'es tot bon e belh;
que·ls us dechai lialtatz manhtas ves
e·ls autres sors enjans e mala fes;
mas si tant es qu'om per falsetat mon,
d'aquel montar dissen pueis en preon.

Li ric home an pietat tan gran
de l'autra gen, quon ac Caims d'Abel,
que ma is volron tolre que lop no fan
e mais mentir que totas de bordelh:
si·ls crebavatz en dos locx o en tres,
no·us cugessetz que vertatz n'issis ges,
mas messongas, don an al cor tal fon
que sobrevertz cum aigua de toron.

Manhs baros vei en manhs luecx que y estan
plus falsamens que veires en anelh,
e qui per fis los ten, falh atretan
cum si un lop vendia per anhel;
quar ilh no son ni de lei ni de pes,
ans foron fag a lei de fals pogues,
on par la cros e la flors en redon,
e no y trob'om argent, quan lo refon.

Des orient entro·l solelh colguan
fas a la gent un covinent novelh;
al lial home donarai un bezan,
si·l deslials mi dona un clavelh,
et un marc d'aur donarai al cortes,
si·l deschauzitz mi dona un tornes,
al vertadier darai d'aur un gran mon,
s'avi'eu un huou dels messongiers qui son.

Tota la ley que·l mais de las gens an
escriuri' eu en fort petit de pelh:
en la mitat del polguar de mon guan;
e·ls prozomes paissera d'un gastelh;
quar la pels pros no fora cars conres,
mas si fos hom que los malvatz pagues,
cridar pogratz e non gardessatz on:
venetz manjar, li pro home del mon!

Sei qui no val ni ten pro per semblan,
pro ni valen no·s tanh que hom l'apel,
ni dreiturier, quan met dreg en soan,
ni vertadier, quan vertat non espel;
car qui fai mal ni tort, razos non es
qu'en cueilha grat ni gran lauzor ni pres,
anz es ben digz us reprochiers pel mon:
sel q'una ves escorja, autra non ton.

A totas gens dic e mon sirventes,
que, si vertatz e dreitura e merces
non governon home en aquest mon,
ni sai ni lai no cre valors l'aon.
I always hate deceit and falsity:
my guides are always justice and the truth;
so that if things go forward or fall back
I'm not upset, it's always well with me:
for often some of them speak faithfully,
and others just deceive by their bad faith.
If many reach the top because they're false,
they will come down again, but later on.

The rich ran has as much of piety
for others as Cain had for Abel once:
they want to grab more than the ravening wolf;
they lie more than a bunch of whorehouse girls:
and if you broke them into two or three
don't think the truth would spill out of them then
but lies, for they've so many in their hearts
they overflow, like water from a spring.

In many places I see barons, who
are false as bits of glass would be in rings;
to think that they are noble is as wrong
as if they sold a wolf in place of lamb,
for they have neither law of coin nor weight,
for theirs is law of counterfeited groats:
the cross appears, and flowers all around,
but if they're melted down, no silver's there.

The sunset enters from the eastern rim
to show the folk a seemly novelty:
I'll give the loyal man a whole bezant
for a carnation the disloyal gives;
I'll give the courtly man a mark of gold
if the imprudent gives me a tournais:
who tells the truth, I'll give a mount of gold,
for just an egg from all the liars around.

And all the law that these folks have
would use but little vellum to write out:
just half of what my glove's thumb uses up;
and gentlemen subsist on only cake -
the finest vellum won't make a good meal
unless for one who's paying off bad deeds;
you may cry out, you don't need to take care:
come on and eat, O best man in the world!

He who's not worthy, nor appears to be,
has no claim to be called a nobleman,
nor just, one who holds justice in contempt,
nor true, one who cannot reflect the truth:
when one does ill or harm, it isn't right
that he's received with thanks or laud or fame,
he rather merits everyone's reproach:
that which has once been fleeced, let no one clip.

I tell you all, and tell my sirventes,
if righteousness and mercy and the truth
don't govern any man in this our world
I don't think worth will help him here or there.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2006

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