Bernart de Ventadorn trans. John Frederick Nims
(from Provençal)
Quant' l'erba fresqu' e·l fuelha par
e la flors botona et verjan
e·l rossinhols autet e clar
leva sa votz e mou son chan,
joi ai de lui, e joi ai de la flor
e joi de me e de midons major;
daus totas partz sui de joi claus e sens,
mas sel es jois que totz autres jois vens.

Ai las! cum muer de cossirar!
que manhtas vetz en cossir tan:
lairo m'en poirian portar,
que re no sabria que·s fan.
per Dieu, Amors! be·m trobas vensedor:
ab paucs d'amics e ses autre senhor.
Quar una vetz tant midons non destrens
abanz qu'ieu fos del dezirier estens?

Meravil me cum puesc durar
que no·lh demostre non talan.
quan ieu vei midons ni l'esgar,
li sieu belh huelh tan ben l'estan:
per pauc me tenc quar ieu vas lieis no cor;
si feira ieu, si no fos per paor,
qu'anc no vi cors miels talhatz ni depens
ad ops d'amar sia tan greus ni lens.

Tant am midons e la tenh char,
e tant' la dopt' e la reblan
qu'anc de mi no·lh ausei parlar,
ni re no·lh quier ni re no·lh man.
pero ilh sap mon mal e ma dolor,
e quan li plai, mi fai ben et honor,
e quan li plai, ieu m'en sofert ab mens,
per so c'a lieis no·n aveinha blastens.

S'ieu saubes la gent enquantar,
miei enemic foran enfan,
que is us no saubra triar
ni dir ren qu·ens tornes a dan;
adoncs sai ieu que vira la gensor
e sos belhs huelhs e sa fresca color,
e baizera·lh la boca en totz sens,
si que d'un mes hi paregra lo sens.

Ben la volgra sola trobar,
que dormis, o·n fezes semblan,
per qu'ieu l'embles un dous baizar,
pus no valh tan qu'ieu lo·lh deman.
per Dieu, dona, pauc esplecham d'amor!
vai s·en lo temps, e perdem lo melhor!
parlar degram ab cubertz entresens,
e pus no·ns val arditz, valgues nos gens!

Ben deuri' hom dona blasmar,
quan trop vai sor amic tarzan,
que longua paraula d'amar
es grans enueitz e par d'enjan,
qu'amar pot hom e far semblan alhor,
e gen mentir lai on non a autor.
bona domna, ab sol qu'amar mi dens,
ia per mentir ieu no serai atens.

Messatgier, vai, e no me·n prezes mens,
s'ieu del anar vas midons sui temens.
When - presto - turf and trees are green
and blossoms cocked where they belong,
and the wild singer tweedles keen
and chuckles gruff to try the song,
it's joy the bird! and joy, the wood astir!
joy, me myself! and double joy in her!
On all sides joy assailing me - too much!
But joy in her's the joy no joy can touch.

Only, confusion of desire!
Time and again I want her so
I'm in a daze - if baled in wire
and carted off, I'd never know.
For God's sake, Love! I'm hardly fit to fight
world conquerers such as you, no friend in sight.
Persuade the girl, for once, to be my own
before I'm dates and curlicues in stone.

Miraculous, how I survive
and never let the fever show.
I hover, watch the girl arrive,
follow her eyes and where they go -
stockstill. I'd break away, and nearly do,
in her direction but - no courage to.
Her honey-blond neat body rounded so
for making love, and yet - so round a No?

I think my lady such a dear
I wouldn't vex her; still I stay,
hush-hush all talk of love, for fear
one murmur and she's off away.
She guesses, though, my wound and all its cause;
brings, when she will, right medicine and gauze.
And, when she won't, I'm quiet; live on less.
Suppose I grumble, and the gapers guess -

Had I the science of a witch
I'd blast them! - little wits so blurred
they'd never know a who from which
nor snigger one malicious word.
And then I'd be all eyes, myself alone,
for her fine face, fine body's flesh and bone;
I'd kiss her mouth some hundred ways, so well
weeks after, just by looking, you could tell.

Only to stumble on her where
she lies alone! Pretending sleep?
I'd have the lips I never dare
ask for as yet. Will roses keep?
God, girl, we're getting nowhere fast in love!
Time's running out, a stuff we've little of.
Let s deal in codes and hidden winks; we could
work by finesse, if being brave's no good.

A lover's in the right to blame
a lady who excuses, balks;
makes love a conversation game
and talks and talks. And talks and talks.
You can love here, and elsewhere say you do;
tell a fine lie when none's to check on you.
Lady, receive your lover! Then you'll learn
how I can lie and lie to serve your turn.

Messenger, here's the message. Let her know
how - with this pounding pulse - I'd quake to go.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © Mrs. Bonnie Nims 1971 - publ. Rutgers University Press

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