AMORS, E QUE·US ES
VEJAIRE? ...
LOVE, HOW DOES THIS APPEAR
TO YOU? ...
Bernart de Ventadorn trans. James H. Donalson
(from Provençal)
Amors, e que·us es vejaire?
trobatz mais fol mas can me?
cuidatz vos qu'eu si' amaire
e que ja no trop merce?
que que·m comandetz a faire
farai o, c'assi·s cove:
mas vos non estai ges be
que·m fassatz tostems mal traire:

Eu am la plus de bon aire
del mon mais que nula re;
et ela no m'ama gaire;
no sai cossi·s esdeve!
e can plus m'en cuit estraire
eu no posc, c'Amors me te.
Traitz sui per bona fe,
Amors, be·us o posc retraire!

Ab Amor m'er a contendre,
que no m'en posc estener,
qu'en tai loc me fai entendre
don eu nul joi non esper
(anceis me fari' a pendre
car anc n'aic cor ni voler):
mas eu non ai ges poder
que·m posca d'Amor defendre.

Pero Amors sap dissendre
lai on li ven a plazer
e sap gen guizardo rendre
del maltraih e del doler
tan no·m pot mersar ni vendre
que mais no·m posca valer
sol qu'Ela·m denhes vezer
e mas paraulas entendre.

Eu sai be razon e chauza
que posc a midons mostrar:
que nuls om no pot ni pauza
enves Amor contrastar:
car Amors vens tota chauza;
e forsa·m de leis amar;
atretal se pot leis far
en una petita pauza!

Grans enois es e grans nauza
tot jorn de merce. clamar;
mas l'amor qu'es en me clauza,
no posc cobrir ni celar.
las! mos cors no dorm ni pauza
ni pot en un loc estar,
ni eu no posc plus durar,
si·lh dolors no·m asoauza.

Domna, res no vos pot dire
lo bo cor ni·l fin talan
qu'eus ai, can be m'o cossire,
c'anc re mais non amei tan.
tost m'agram mort li sospire,
domna, passat a un an,
no·m fos per un bel semblan,
don si doblan mei dezire.

E1
No·n fatz mas gabar e rire,
domna, can eu re·us deman;
e si vos amassetz tan,
alres vos n'avengr' a dire .

E2
Ma chanson apren a dire,
Alegret; e tu Ferran,
porta la·m a mo Tristan,
que sap be gabar e rire.

Love, how does this appear to you?
Have you found any greater-fool?
Do you believe my search for love
will lead to one who pities me?
Whatever you would have me do
I'll do if that's what's to be done
but it is hardly good of you
to make me always suffer ills.

I love the one who is the best,
and love her more than anything,
and she loves me no way at all!
I don't know how this comes to be!
and when I try to get away
I can't because love holds me back.
My own good faith betrays me then,
O Love, it's all I have to say.

I must contend therefore, with love
and there's no way I can abstain:
in such a trance let me explain
I have no hope of joy from this
(for I'd be ready to be hanged
if that was what I hungered for)
but I do not have power enough
to let me fight a war with Love.

But Love well knows how to descend
whenever it is pleased to do
and it knows well to give rewards
for the mistreatment and the pain:
but there's no bargaining with me
because I value nothing else
except to get to see my love
and have her deign to hear me out.

I know a reason and a cause
that I can show my lady now,
that no man can stand up against
or make himself opposed to Love
for Love can conquer everyone
and forces me to love none else,
and in this way have done with her
in but a very little time.

It gives great sorrow and disgust
to beg for mercy every day,
although the love that's locked inside
cannot be hidden or disguised;
Oh! but my heart won't sleep or pause
nor can it stay within a place
and I can't last much longer here
unless this pain will go away.

My Lady, I can't say a thing:
the warm heart and the deep desire
I have for you, are troubling me:
I've never loved this way before;
the sighing would have killed me, too,
my lady, it has been a year!
If there had been no friendly face ...
but that just doubles my desire.

E1
No longer laugh and mock, my dear,
when I have boons to ask of you,
for if I weren't so in love
you'd treat me better, there's no doubt.

E2
Now learn to sing this song of mine,
Alegret, and you too, Ferrand:
take it for me to Tristram, too,
for he knows how to jest and laugh.


Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2004


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