Bernart de Ventadorn trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Amics Bernartz de Ventadorn,
com vos podetz de chant sofrir,
can aissi auzetz esbaudir
lo rossinholet noih e jorn?
anyatz lo joi que demena!
tota noih chanta sotz la flor.
melhs s'enten que vos en amor.

Peire, lo dormir e·l sojorn
am mais que·l rossinhoi auvir;
ni ja tan no·m sabriatz dir
que mais en la folia torn.
Deu lau, fors sui de chadena,
e vos e tuih l'autr' amador
etz remazut en la folor.

Bernartz, greu er pros ni cortes
qui ab amor no·s sap tener;
ni ja tan no·us fara doler
que mais no valha c'autre bes,
car, si fai mal, pois abena.
greu a om gran be ses dolor;
mas ades vens lo jois lo plor.

Peire, si for dos ans o tres
lo segles faihs al meu plazer,
de domnas vos dic eu lo ver:
non foran mais preyadas ges,
ans sostengran tan greu pena
qu'elas nos feiran tan d'onor
c'ans nos prejaran que nos lor.

Bernartz, so non es d'avinen
que domnas preyon; ans cove
c'om las prec e lor clam merce;
et es plus fols, mon escien,
que cel qui semn' en l'arena,
qui las blasma ni for valor;
e mou de mal ensenhador.

Peire, mout ai lo cor dolen,
can d'una faussa me sove,
que m'a mort, e no sai per que,
mas car l'amava firmamen.
faih ai longa caratena,
e sai, si la fezes lonhor,
ades la trobara pejor.

Bernartz, foudatz vos amena,
car aissi bos partetz d'amor,
per cui a om pretz e valor.

Peire, qui ama, desena,
car las trichairitz entre lor
an tout joi e pretz e valor.

O friend, Bernard of Ventadorn,
how can you keep from singing now
that you can hear the nightingale
rejoicing all the night and day?
Just hear it happily singing!
it sings all night beneath the flowers;
it knows love better than you do.

O Peire, I prefer my sleep
to listening to the nightingale,
and it could never say enough
to turn me back to madness now
praise God, I'm free from my bondage
while you and other lovers too
have, mired in madness, all remained.

Bernard, it's not a courtly thing
if you can not hold back from love,
nor will you ever hurt so much
that it's worth less than other things:
if I do ill, then it's shameful;
few joys we take without a pain
but joy will quickly conquer tears.

O Peire, if I could control
the world for two years or for three,
of ladies, I can tell you this:
they wouldn't be besought by us.
Instead, it's they who would suffer,
and they would try to honor us,
beseeching us and not we them.

Bernard, it isn't seemly now,
for ladies, it behooves us men
to beg for mercy and beseech,
and he's more foolish, I should say
than he who sows in a sanddune
if he would blame them and their worth
and he's not fit to sing at all.

O Peire, my heart's greatly grieved
when I remember one who's false:
she killed me, and I don't know why,
although I loved her steadfastly;
a long time now I've been patient,
but still the longer I beseech
the worse her stubbornness becomes.

Bernard, your madness now guides you,
it even cuts you off from love,
through which comes valor and our worth.

O Peire, lovers are schemers:
the traitresses all by themselves
destroy all valor, joy and worth.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2004

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