AB JOI MOU LO VERS E·L COMENS ... WITH JOY I TAKE MY PEN IN HAND ...
Bernart de Ventadorn trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Ab joi mou lo vers e·l comens,
et ab joi reman e fenis;
e sol que bona fos la fis,
bos tenh qu'er lo comensamens.
per la bona comensansa
mi ve jois et alegransa;
e per so dei la bona fi grazir,
car totz bos faihz vei lauzar al fenir.

Si m'apodera jois e·m vens:
meravilh' es com o sofris
car no dic e non esbruis
per cui sui tan gais et jauzens;
mas greu veiretz fin' amansa
ses paor e ses doptansa,
c'ades tem om vas so c'ama, falhir,
per qu'eu no·m aus de parlar enardir.

D'una re m'aonda mos sens:
c'anc nulhs om mo joi no·m enquis,
qu'eu volonters no l'en mentis;
car no·m par bos essenhamens,
ans es foli' et enfansa,
qui d'amor a benenansa
ni·n vol so cor ad autre descobrir
si no l'en pot o valer o servir.

Non es enois ni falhimens
ni vilania, so m'es vis,
mas d'ome, can se fai devis
d'autrui amor ni conoissens.
enoyos! e que·us enansa,
si·m faitz enoi ni pesansa?
chascus se vol de so mestier formir;
me cofondetz, e vos no·n vei jauzir.

Ben estai a domn' ardimens
entr' avols gens e mals vezis;
e s'arditz cors no l'afortis,
greu pot esser pros ni valens;
per qu'eu prec, n'aya membransa
la bel', en cui ai fiansa,
que no·s chamje per paraulas ni·s vir,
qu'enemics c'ai, fatz d'enveya morir.

Anc sa bela bocha rizens
non cuidei, baizan me trais,
car ab un doutz baisar m'aucis,
si ab autre no m'es guirens;
c'atretal m'es per semblansa
com de Pelaus la lansa,
que del seu colp no podi' om garir,
si autra vetz no s'en fezes ferir.

Bela Domna, ·l vostre cors gens
e·lh vostre bel olh m'an conquis,
e·l doutz esgartz e lo clars vis,
e·l vostre bels essenhamens,
que, can be m'en pren esmansa,
de beutat no·us trob egansa:
la genser etz c'om posc' et mon chauzir,
o no i vei clar dels olhs ab qu·eus remir.

E1
Bels Vezers, senes doptansa
sai que vostre pretz enansa,
que tantz sabetz de plazers far e dir:
de vos amar no·s pot nuls om sofrir.

E2
Ben dei aver alegransa,
qu'en tal domn' ai m'esperansa,
que, qui·n ditz mal, no pot plus lag mentir,
e qui·n ditz be, no pot plus bel ver dir.

With joy I take my pen in hand,
with joy I write and end my song
and if the end at least is good
it seems to me I started well:
therefore by the good beginning
I have joy and jubilation,
so that I welcome all good endings now
and all good deeds I'll welcome at the end.

Joy overcomes and conquers me,
it's strange that I can stand it all:
that I don't speak and shout about
the one who makes me joyous now:
but true love comes, not so lightly
without fear and with no doubting;
we always fear that what we love may fail,
so I don't dare to stir myself to speak.

There's something makes me understand
when someone asks me why the joy,
and all I want to do is lie
because it doesn't seem it's wise:
but it's foolish and it's childish
if you're doing well at loving.
Don't open up your heart to someone else
unless you're able to give help or serve.

There's not a failing or a bore
or villany, it seems to me
worse than a venture to discern
or to divine another's love.
Rascal! what do you accomplish,
causing suffering and annoyance?
we will do what our nature tells us to:
you cause me trouble, but you don't rejoice.

A lady's brave when she stands up
against bad neighbors, evil men,
and if her valiant heart won't hold
she won't be excellent or brave;
therefore I will ask my loved one:
always to keep me in her memory.
She mustn't change or listen to the talk,
for envious enemies could die from this.

I never thought her pretty, smiling mouth
could yet betray me with a kiss,
for, with a kiss, she's killing me
though with another, she could cure:
it's the same, seen from my viewpoint,
as with Peleus's spearhead:
with no recovery from its wounding blow
unless the victim took a second wound.

O pretty lady, all your grace
and eyes of beauty conquered me,
sweet glance and brightness of your face
and all your nature has to tell
so if I make an appraisal
I find no one like in beauty:
most pleasing to be found in all the world
or else the eyes I see you with have dimmed.

E1
'Belvedere', it isn't doubtful:
I know that your worth enhances;
for you know how to please by word and deed:
no man will suffer just by loving you.

E2
I may well have my rejoicing,
since my hope's in such a lady;
and who'd speak ill is forced to tell a lie,
and who speaks well no better truth may tell.


Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2004


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