Bernart de Ventadorn trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Can vei la flor, l'erba vert e la folha
et au lo chan dels auzels pel boschatge,
ab l'autre joi, qu·eu ai en mo coratge,
dobla mos fois e nais e creis e brolha;
e no m'es vis c'om re poscha valer,
seras no vol amor et joi aver,
pus tot can es s'alegr' e s'esbaudeya.

Ja no crezatz qu'eu de joi me recreya
ni·m lais d'amar per dan c'aver en solha,
qu'eu non ai ges en poder que m'en tolha,
c'amors m'asalh, que·m sobresenhoreya;
e·m fai amar cal que·lh plass', e voler;
e s'eu am so que no·m deu eschazer,
forsa d'amor m·i fai far vassalatge;

Mas en amor non a om senhoratge;
e qui l'i quer, vilanamen domneya,
que re no vol amors qu'esser no deya;
paubres e rics fai amdos d'un paratge;
can l'us amics vol l'autre vil tener,
pauc pot amors ab ergolh remaner,
qu'ergolhs dechai e fin' amors capdolha.

En sec cela que plus vas me s 'ergolha
e cela faih que·m fo de bel estatge,
c'anc pois no vi ni me ni mo messatge
(per qu'es mal sal que ja domna m'acolha);
mas dreih l'en fatz, qu'eu m'en fatz fol parer,
car per cela que·m torn' en no-chaler,
estauc aitan de leis que no la veya.

Mas costum' es tostems que fols foleya,
e ja non er qu'el eis lo ram no colha
que·l bat e·l fer, per c'ai razo que·m dolha,
car anc me pres d'autrui amor enveya;
mas, fe qu'eu dei leis e mo Bel-Vezer,
se de s'amor me torn' en bon esper,
ja mais vas leis no farai vilanatge.

Ja no m'aya cor felo ni salvatge,
ni contra me malvatz cosselh no creya,
qu'eu sui sos om liges, on que m'esteya,
si que de sus del chap li ren mo gatge;
mas mas jonchas li venh a so plazer,
e ja no·m volh mais d'a sos pes mover,
tro per merce·m meta lai o·s despolha.

L'aiga del cor, c'amdos los olhs me molha,
m'es be guirens qu'eu penet mo folatge,
e conosc be, midons en pren damnatge
s'ela tan fai que perdonar no·m volha.
pois meus no sui et ilh m'a en poder,
mais pert s'ela qu'eu el meu dechazer;
per so l'er gen, s'ab son ome plaideya.

Mo messatger man a mo Bel-Vezer,
que cilh que·m tolc lo sen e lo saber,
me tol midons e leis, que no la veya.

Amics Tristans, car eu nous posc vezer,
a Deu vos do, cal que part que m'esteya.
When I see flowers, the green grass and the foliage,
and hear the song of the birds in the woodland,
with other joys that I have in my memory
and double joy will arise and will blossom
but I can't see that a thing is worthwhile,
if you don't care now to share love and joy
for everything that there is now rejoices.

Do not believe I'm abstaining from pleasure
or leaving loving, for that could be harmful;
I've nothing powerful enough to remove it,
so Love assails me, and he overpowers
and makes me love them that he wants me to,
and if I love one who isn't my lot
the strength of Love makes me do homage ever.

In love, no man can expect the dominion
and he who wants it will not serve his lady,
for Love wants no one who is undeserving,
the poor and rich are both equal before him.
When one friend finds that the other is mean
a love can not long remain where there's pride,
for pride decays but true love holds its head up.

I follow one who to me has been haughty,
and flee from one who has treated me kindly,
so she won't see either me or my message
(so it's not good for my lady to take me)
but she is right, who makes me out a fool,
and it's by her that I turn nonchalant
and I'm so far away that I don't see her.

The use is always for fools to act foolish:
it's always fools who are gathering cudgels
with which to beat them, so I am worried
and wishing that I had chosen another,
by faith I owe her and 'my Belvedere'.
If once again I have good hope of love,
never again will I act toward her basely.

May she not have a heart that is so savage;
may she not take evil counsel against me;
wherever I may be, I am her liegeman,
if, on the surface, I give her my pledges,
yet I am here, with hands folded, to serve,
and I would never depart from her feet,
if, pitying, she took me where she undresses.

The water from my heart dampens my eyesight;
it witnesses my regret for my folly;
I know that it could cause harm to my lady,
if she must go so far as not to pardon:
I'm not my own: she has me in her power,
but she'll lose more than I when I leave,
so she'd do well to pay heed to her liegeman.

I send my messenger to 'Belvedere',
for he who took sense and mind now will take
her and my lady off, so I can't see them.

Friend Tristram, since I'll not be seeing you
wherever I am, with God I wil1 leave you.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2004

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