PLANH LAMENT
Gaucelm Faidit trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Fortz chausa es que tot lo maior dan
E·l maior dol, las! qu'ieu anc mais aques,
E so don dei tostemps planher ploran,
M'aven a dir en chantan e retraire
Que selh qu'era de valor caps e paire
Lo rics valens Richartz, reis dels Engles,
es mortz; ai Dieus! quals perd'e quals dans es!
Quant estrangz motz, quant greu per auzir!
Ben a dur cor totz hom qu'o pot suffrir.

Mortz es lo reis, e son passat mil an
Qu'anc tan pros hom no fo, ni vo·l vi res,
Ni mais non er nulhs hom del sieu semblan
T'an larcs, tan pros, tant arditz, tals donaire,
Qu'Alixandres, lo reis que venquet Daíre,
No cre que tan dones ni tan mezes;
Ni anc Charles ni Artus tan valgues,
Qu'a tot lo mon se fes, qui·n vol ver dir,
Als us doptar et als autres grazir.

Meravil me del fals secgle truan
Co i pot estar savis hom ni cortes,
Pus ren no i val belh ditz, ni fait prezan,
E donc per que s'esfors' om pauc ni guaire?
Qu'era nos a mostrat mortz que pot faire,
Qu'a un sol colp a lo mielhs del mon pres,
Tota l'honor, tot lo pretz , tot lo bes;
E pus vezem que res no i pot guandir
Ben deuri'om meins duptar a murir.

Ai! senher reis valens, e que faran
Hueimais armas ni gran tornei espes,
Ni ricas cortz, ni belh donar ni gran,
Pus vos no i etz qu'en eras capdelaire?
Ni que faran, li livrat a maltraire,
Silh que s'eran en vostre servir mes,
Qu'atendion que·l guazardos vengues?
Ni que faran cilhs que·s degran aucir,
Qu'avitz faitz en gran ricor venir?

Avol vida e piez de mort auran
E tos temps dol, qu'enaissi lor es pres;
E Sarrazi, Turc, Payan e Persan,
Que·us duptavon mais qu'ome nat de maire,
Creisseran tan d"erguelh e lur afaire.
Que plus tart n'er lo sepulcres conques;
E Dieus o vol, quar s'il non o voloues
E vos, senher, visquessetz ses falhir,
De Suria los avengr' a fugir.

Huei mais non ai esperansa que i an
Reis ni princeps que cobrar lo saubes;
Pero tug silh qu'el vostre loc seran,
Devon gardar cum fos de pretz amaire
E qual foron vostre dui valen fraire;
Lo joves reís e·l cortes coms Gaufres;
E qui en loc remanra de vos tres,
Ben deu aver aut cor e ferm cossir
De far bos faitz e de socors chauzir.

E
Ai! Senher Dieus, vos qu'etz vers perdonaíre,
Vers Dieus, vers hom, vera vida, merces!
Perdonatz li, que ops e cocha l'es,
E non gardetz, Sehher, al sieu falhir,
E membre vos com vos anet servir.
An awful thing it is that gives such grief:
the greatest sorrow I have ever felt,
and which I always must lament with tears;
which it befits to sing and to recount,
for he was chief and father of all worth:
the great and valiant Richard, England's king
is dead. O God! What damage and what loss!
How strange the words and grievous to be heard!
To stand it one must have a hardened heart.

The king is dead. A thousand years have passed
since we've seen such a man or such a loss,
nor was there any other man like him:
so generous, so valiant and so bold
since Alexander vanquished Darius' host
no one has given more or just as much,
for Charlemagne and Arthur can't compare
as he made everyone (to tell the truth)
to fear him, at the least, or cherish him.

I marvel that in this false world of ours
a generous, courteous man cannot exist:
fine words, good deeds are nothing worth;
why try, then, just a little, or a lot?
Now death has shown us what its power can do
for at a stroke it took the best on earth;
all honor, merit, joy and good and worth,
and when we see there is no saving us
we very well may dread our dying less.

O valiant lord and king, what's to become
of arms and of the thick-massed tournaments,
the brilliant courts and all the great largesse
since you're not there who were the chief of them?
What's to become of those you left behind:
those dedicated just to serving you
and who awaited their rewards to come?
What's to become of those -in their despair
whom you have made to come into great wealth?

They'll have a sorry life and worse than death
and grief will always be close by at hand.
The Paynim, Persian, Saracen and Turk
who feared you more than any mother's son
will grow their pride in all of their affairs.
The sepulcher will not be won in time
as God has wished - but if he hadn't wished -
and you had lived, then lord, there is no doubt
that they would then have fled from Syria.

No longer have I hope that there will be
a king or prince to comprehend it all,
but all of those who might take up your place
must keep a lookout for the worth of love.
See what your valiant brothers have become:
the Younq King and Count Geoffrey, courtly one,
now, who can take the place of all the three?
He'll need a lofty heart and strength of mind,
to do good deeds and always go to help.

E
O God our Lord, and our true pardoner,
True God, true man, true life have mercy now,
And pardon him whose need and care you've been,
And overlook his failings now, O :Lord
Remembering how he went to serve your will.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2003


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