Arnaut de Cumenges trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Be·m plai us usatges, que cor
E qe·is vai er mest nos meten
E·m plai que dure longamen
Que cel que forssara·l menor,
C'autre sia que lui fors ar
E volria pogues pojar
D'aissi tro a l'emperador,
Que ad un mal un autre pejor aia,
Mas non vezem c'autra dreitura plaia.

Enanz si son faich comprador
O toledor, qui non lor ven,
E aqui eis fan bastimen
Per vilas tolre a lor seignor,
Et aissi cujon restaurar
Lo dan q'ant pres per autr'afar,
Mas non restauron ges honor,
Ni lor non chal, sol lo pros lor n'eschaia,
De l'autr'afar: qui·s voilla lo retraia.

E fan o cum li jogador
Que al grand joc primieiramen
Perden e puois ab pauc d'argen
Que roman van jogar ail lor,
A petit joc, per essaiar
S'o poiria d'autrui cobrar;
Et aissill ric home major
Ant trop perdut, per que chascuns s'essaia
En tal percatz don calque gazaing traia.

Ab mas coblas vai, Bec d'Austor,
Vas calque part que a ti mezeis plaia,
Qu'eu non sai luoc on bon enviar t'aia.
I'm pleased by usages that run
and go and come between us two:
I'm pleased to have them last for long.
One who would force a weaker one
will find another to force him,
and I could wish to elevate
by this, even the emperor:
for every ill there's always one that's worse
but there's no other justice that will please.

If, rather, one is made to buy
or steal (as one who never sells)
and here they put a building up,
to capture towns from rightful lords;
intending to restore this way
the damage done in other ways,
but honor they can not restore:
Now, they don't care if profit isn't lost
from other things: let those who want retrieve.

And they do like the gambling man,
who in the big game, first of all,
will lose and then, with little cash
remaining, go to play elsewhere
with little bets to try to see
if they recover somewhere else,
and this one rich and powerful
have lost too much, because each one will try
in such a case, if any profit comes.

Go with my verses, Bec d'Austor,
to anywhere that pleases you the most,
for I know nowhere good for sending this.

NOTES: Bec d'Austor = Hawksbeak;  Cumenges = Comminges

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2003

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