Bernart de Ventadorn trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Bel m·es qu'eu chan en aquel mes
can flor e folha vei parer,
et au lo chan doutz pel defes
del rossinhol matin e ser
adoncs s'eschai qu'eu aya jauzimen
d'un joi verai en que mos cors s'aten,
car eu sai be que per amor morrai.

Amors, e cals onors vos es
ni cals pros vo·n pot eschazer,
s'aucisetz celui c'avetz pres,
qu'enves vos no s'auza mover?
mal vos estai car dols de me no·us pren
c'amat aurai en perdos lonjamen
celei on ja merce no trobarai!

Pois vei que preyars ni merces
ni servirs no·m pot pro tener,
per amor de Deu me fezes
ma domna ca; que bo saber!
que gran be fai us paucs de jauzimen
a cel que trai tan gran mal com eu sen;
e s'aissi mor, requisitz li serai.

Garit m'agra si m'aucizes,
c'adoncs n'agra faih son voler.
mas eu no cre qu'ela fezes
re c'a me tornes a plazer.
agra·n esglai e penedera s'en?
ja no creirai, no m'am cubertamen,
mas cela s'en vas me per plan essai!

Del major tort qu'eu anc lh'agues,
vos dirai, si·us voletz, lo ver:
amara la, s'a leis plagues,
e servira·lh de mo poder.
mas no s'eschai qu'ilh am tan paubramen;
pero be sai c'assatz for' avinen,
que ges amors segon ricor no vai.

Gran mal m'a fai ma bona fes,
que·m degra vas midons valer;
e s'eu ai falhit ni mespres
per trop amar ni per temer,
doncs que farai? ai las, chaitiu dolen!
c'a totz es mai de bel aculhimen,
mas me tot sol azira e dechai.

El mon non es mas una res
per qu'eu joya pogues aver;
e d'aquela no·n aurai ges,
ni d'autra no·n posc ges voler.
pero si ai per leis valor e sen,
e·n sui plus gai e·n tenc mo cors plus gen,
car s'ilh no fos, ja no m'en meir' en plai!

Messatger, vai, e porta me corren
ma chanso lai, Mo Frances, part Mauren;
e digas li·m que breumen lo verai.
I like to sing in that fair month
when I see flower and leaf appear,
and by the hedge I hear the song
of nightingale by morn and eve.
It's fitting then for me to have my joy:
it's a true joy for which my heart awaits
for I know well that I will die through love.

Love, how does this then honor you?
What profit then may fall your lot
by killing one who's in your grasp
and he against you dares not move?
It's bad for you if you won't pity me,
for I will have lost love a long time back
and mercy I will never find with her.

I see that prayer and pity won't
make profit and won't service me,
but do this for the love of heaven
and just to please my lady now:
Great goodness comes from just a little joy
to her who brings great evil that I feel
and dying thus it's she who'll mourn for me.

I'll be released if you kill me,
for then her wish will be fulfilled,
but I don't think that she would do
a single thing that might please me,
will you then fear and have regrets for me?
I can't believe you don't feel secret love
but you conceal it just to make me search.

I'll tell you, if you wish, the truth
of the injustice that I did:
I'll love her, if it pleases her
and I will serve the best I can.
It ill befits her, poorly to be loved,
but I know well it would be suitable
because love doesn't follow wealth or rank.

I suffer greatly from good faith
but with my lady it's a help
and if I fail or go astray
through boldness or timidity
then, what to do? Ah! what a sorry ache;
but all is well a friendly meeting-place
for she alone hates and despises me.

The world's no longer but a thing
that's capable of giving joy:
but I won't have it from the one
from others I can't wish for it:
I do have, though, some worth and sense for her,
I'm happier my posture's better too,
if not for her this wouldn't bother me.

Go, messenger, run quickly as you can,
and take my song to 'Frenchman' in Maurenne,
and tell him that I'll see him soon.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2004

VB21 next
VB21 index
Other index