Bernart de Ventadorn trans. James H. Donalson
(from Provençal)
Ara no vei luzir solelh,
tan me son escurzit li rai;
e ges per aisso no·m esmai,
c'una clardatz me solelha
d'amor, qu'ins et cor me raya
e, can autra gens s'esmaya,
en melhur enans que sordei,
per que mos chans no sordeya.

Prat me semblon vert e vermelh
aissi com et doutz tems de mai;
si·m te fin' amors conhd' e gai:
neus m'es flors blanch' e vermelha
et iverns kalenda maya,
qu·el genser e la plus gaya
m'a promes que s'amor m'autrei.
s'anquer no la·m desautreya?

Paor mi fan malvatz cosselh,
per que·l segles mor e dechai;
c'aras s'ajoston li savai
e l'us ab l'altre cosselha
cossi fin' amors dechaya.
a! malvaza gens savaya,
qui vos ni vostre cosselh crei,
Domniden perd' e descreya.

D'aquestz mi rancur e·m corelh
qu'ira me fan, dol et esglai
e pesa lor del joi qu'eu ai.
e pois chascus s'en corelha
de l'autrui joi ni s'esglaya,
ja eu melhor dreih no·n aya,
c'ab sol deport venz' e guerrei
cel qui plus fort me guerreya.

Noih e jorn pes, cossir e velh,
planh e sospir; e pois m'apai,
on melhs m'estai, et eu peilhs trai.
mas us bos respeihz m'esvelha,
don mos cossirers s'apaya.
fols! per que dic que mal traya?
car aitan rich' amor envei,
pro n'ai de sola l'enveya!

Ja ma domna no·s meravelh
si·lh quer que·m s'amor ni·m bai.
contra la foudat qu'eu retrai,
fara i genta meravelha
s'ilh ja m'acola ni·m baya.
Deus! s'er ja c'om me retraya
("a! cal vos vi e cal vos vei!")
per benanansa que·m veya?

Fin' Amor, ab vos m'aparelh;
pero no·s cove ni s'eschai
mas car per vostra merce·us plai
(Deus cuit que m'o aparelha!),
c'aitan fin' amors m'eschaya.
ai,domna, per merce·us playa
c'ayatz de vostr' amic mercei,
pus aitan gen vos merceya!

Bernartz clama sidons mercei,
vas cui tan gen se merceya.

E si eu breu no la vei,
non crei que lonjas la veya.
I no longer see the sunlight,
all the rays have been obscured,
but I'm not dismayed by this
for a brightness gives me sunlight:
love that shines within my heart;
and when other folk are fainting,
worth improves before the sunset,
and my song will never set.

Just as on the entering May Day,
meadows seem all green and red,
snow is edelweiss to me.
True love keeps me brisk and joyous
winter is the first of May,
for the noblest and most joyful
promised I could have her favor:
who'll take that away from me?

Bad advice I find is frightening,
making worlds decline and fall
when the wicked sides convene
some deliberate with others:
that's the way true love declines,
O conventicles of evil,
whoso would believe your-counsel
let them disbelieve in hell.

I lament all this and hate it,
I'm aggrieved and I'm oppressed,
they can't stand my happiness!
so they all feel a depression
when they see another's joy,
and there's nothing I like better
than to war on them with gladness
and to dominate for sport.

Night and day I wake and worry,
moan and sob and then relax.
While I prosper, I make plans,
wakinq with anticipation,
keeping my concern at ease.
I'm a fool to say I suffer ...
I so long to see true love
that my longing's victory!

Do not be surprised, my lady,
if I want your love and kiss:
from this madness I've described
it would be a kind deliverance
if you'd give a hug and kiss.
God! if they were only saying:
"How I saw and how I see you!"
when they see that I'm well off!

True Love, you are my companion,
but it doesn't seem to be,
save when mercy pleases you
(God, it is for this I'm pleading!)
that true love will come to me:
O my lady, please have mercy
on your friend who begs your pity,
since he gently pleads with you.

Bernard, lady, begs for mercy:
this he gently begs of her.

If I cannot see you shortly,
I may not for quite some time.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2004

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