LO TEMS VAI E VEN E
VIRE ...
TIME COMES AND GOES AND THEN
RETURNS ...
Bernart de Ventadorn trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Lo tems vai e ven e vire
per jorns, per mes e per ans,
et eu, las! no·n sai que dire,
c'ades es us mos talans.
ades es us e no·s muda,
c'una·n volh e·n ai volguda,
don anc non aic jauzimen.

Pois ela no·n pert lo rire,
a me·n ven e dols e dans,
c'a tal joc m'a faih assire
don ai lo peyor dos tans
(c'aitals amors es perduda
qu'es d'una part mantenguda),
tro que fai acordamen.

Be deuri' esser blasmaire
de me mezeis a razo,
c'anc no nasquet cel de maire
que tan servis en perdo;
e s'ela no m'en chastia,
ades doblara·lh folia,
que: "fols no tem, tro que pren".

Ja mais no serai chantaire
ni de l'escola n'Eblo,
que mos chantars no val gaire
ni mas voutas ni mei so;
ni res qu'eu fassa ni dia,
no conosc que pros me sia,
ni no·i vei melhuramen.

Si tot fatz de joi parvensa,
mout ai dins lo cor irat.
qui vid anc mais penedensa
faire denan lo pechat?
on plus la prec, plus m'es dura;
mas si'n breu tems no·s melhura,
vengut er al partimen.

Pero ben es qu'ela·m vensa
a tota sa volontat,
que, s'el' a tort o bistensa,
ades n'aura pietat;
que so mostra l'escriptura:
causa de bon'aventura
val us sols jorns mais de cen.

Ja no·m partrai a ma vida,
tan com sia sais ni sas,
que pois l'arma n'es issida,
balaya lonc tems lo gras;
e si tot no s'es cochada,
ja per me no·n er blasmada,
sol d'eus adenan s'emen.

Ai, bon amors encobida,
cors be faihz, delgatz e plas,
frescha chara colorida,
cui Deus formet ab sas mas!
totz tems vos ai dezirada,
que res autra no m'agrada.
autr' amor no volh nien!

E
Dousa res ben ensenhada,
cel que·us a tan gen formada,
me·n do cel joi qu'eu n'aten!
Time comes and goes and then returns
by hour, by day, by month, by year,
Ah me! I don't know what to say:
my inclination stays the same,
it stays the same and doesn't change:
the one I've wanted, I still want,
but I've not yet received this joy.

Since she has still the power to laugh
while I get only grief and harm,
she set me down to play a game
in which I'm twice again worse off
(for any love is still a loss
when it is held by just one side)
until agreement can be reached.

Well may I put a lot of blame
upon myself, and with good grounds,
for never did a mother bear
one more disposed to pardoning:
if she won't chastise me for this,
the folly will be double, then,
for "Fools won't fear until they're had!"

A singer I'll no longer be
nor of Sir Eble's school of song,
for singing isn't helping me,
nor all my tricks nor all my sounds,
nor anything:I say or do:
I don't know what will profit me
nor is improvement now in sight.

While I put on a face of joy,
within, I have a saddened heart.
Who has seen the penance done
before we have committed sin?
If I plead more, she's harder still;
but if she won't improve, and soon,
the parting of the ways will come.

It is as well that I've been won,
and I am bent to do her will,
but if she is delayed or wrong,
some pity will at least be there,
so it is as he scripture says:
each day is as a hundred days,
and that's good fortune's only cause.

I'll not depart from this my life
as long as I am safe and sane,
and when the wheat is coming in,
and chaff is blowing in the wind,
and if she still won't hurry on
yet I will not be blaming her
if she will just improve thenceforth.

Oh, true love that we all long for!
a well-made body, slim and straight
and fresh and colorful of face,
whom God has framed with his own hands;
I've always wanted only you,
none other is agreeable,
and I can want no other love.

E
My sweet and well-instructed one,
may he who formed your gentleness
send unexpected joy from heaven.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2004


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