UN CIUTAT FO ... THERE WAS A TOWN ...
Peire Cardenal trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Una ciutat fo, no sai cals,
on cazet una ploia tals
que tuit lh'home de la ciutat
que toquet, foron forsenat.
Tug dessenero, mas sol us.
Aquel en escapet, ses plus,
que era dins una maizo
e dormia, quant aisso fo.
Aquel levet, quant ac dormit
e fo se de ploure giquit,
e venc foras entre las gens,
E tug feiron dessenamens:
l'us a rroquet, l'autre fo nus
e l'autre escupi ves sus;
l'us trais peiras, l'autre astelha
l'autre esquinter sa gonelha;
L'us feri e l'autre enpeis,
e l'autre cuget esser reis
e tent se ricamen pels flancs,
e l'autre sautet per los bancs.
L'us menasset, l'autre maldis,
l'autre juret e l'autre ris,
l'autre parlet e non sap que,
l'autre fes meteis de se.
Et aquel qu'avia son sen,
meravilhet se mout fortmen,
e vi ben que dessenat son,
e garda aval et amon
si negun savi no i veira,
e negun savi non i a.
Grans meravilhas ac de lor,
mas mout l'an ilh de lui maior,
que·l vezon estar suaumen;
cuian c'aia perdut son sen,
car so qu'ilh fan no·lh vezon faire.

A cascun de lor es vejaire
que ilh son savi e senat,
mas lui tenon per dessenat.
Qui·l fer en gauta, qui en col;
el non pot mudar no·s degol;
l'us l'enpenh e l'autre lo bota,
el cuia eissir de la rota,
l'us l'esquinta, l'autre l'atrai,
el pren colps e leva e chai;
cazen levan, a grans gambautz
s'en fug a sa maizo de sautz
fangos e batutz e meg mortz,
et ac gaug can lor fon estortz.
Cist fabla es az aquest mon
semblans et als homes que i son:
aquest segles es la ciutatz
¬quez ez totz ples de forsenatz,
que·l maier sens c'om pot aver,
si es amar Dieu e temer
e gardar sos comandamens;
mas ar es perdutz aquel sens;
li ploia sai es cazeguda:
cobeitatz, e si es venguda
us orgolhs et una maleza
que tota la gen a perpreza;
e si Dieus n'a alcun gardat
l'autre·l tenon per dessenat
e menoh lo de tom en bilh,
car non es del sen que son ilh,
que·l sens de Deu lor par folia;
e l'amics de Deu, on que sia,
conois que dessenat son tut,
car lo sen de Deu an perdut;
et ilh an lui per dessenat,
car lo sen del mon a laissat.
There was a town, I don't know which,
where once they had a rainfall such
that every man from in the town
it touched, was driven mad at once.
They all were mad, except just one.
Just one of them escaped, no more,
for he was sheltered in a house
asleep, when all of this took place.
And he got up, when he had slept,
and he'd been spared from all the rain,
and he went out among the folk,
and all were acting crazily:
one wore a rochet, one was nude,
another spat up in the air;
one brought up stones, another sticks,
another one tore up his coat;
and one struck out, another mused,
another thought that he was king
and held on grandly to his flanks;
another jumped upon the banks;
one menaced and another cursed;
another swore, another laughed;
another spoke, not knowing what;
another grimaced by himself.
And he who still retained his sense
now marvelled greatly at all this,
and understood that they'd gone mad
and looked around and up and down
to see if sane men were around
and no wise man was to be found.
He marvelled greatly at them all
but they were more surprised at him,
on seeing him behave with calm,
and thought that he had lost his mind
because he didn't act like them.

To every one of them it seemed
that they were wise and sane,
but they thought he had lost his mind.
They struck his cheek, they struck his neck;
he couldn't move or get away.
One pushes and another shoves,
he tries to get out of the mob;
one tugs him and another pulls
he takes the blows, gets up and falls;
so down and up, and with great jumps
he runs down to his house, and leaps
all muddy, beaten, and half dead,
and happy just to get away.
This fable's of appearances
of this world and the men in it:
And this world is the town I've said
which is so full of crazy folk,
so the best judgement one can have
is to love God, and is to fear
and hold to all of his commands,
but now this judgement has been lost.
The rain has fallen over there.
A greed, and if a greed has come,
a pride, and worthlessness in sum
has overtaken everyone;
and if God's spared a single one
the others think that he's gone mad
and tell him to get over it
for his mind doesn't square with theirs
and God's mind's foolishness to them.
The friends of God, where they may be,
know all the others lost their minds
for they have lost their sense of God
and they think he's a crazy man
since he's left off the worldly sense.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2006


next
index
translator's next