DARE ...
Bernart de Ventadorn trans. John Frederick Nims
(from Provençal)
Quant vet la lauzeta mover
de joi sas alas contral rai,
que s'oblida e·s laissa cazer
per la doussor qu'al cor li vai,
ai! tan grans enveia m'en ve
de cui qu'eu veya jauzion!
meravilhas ai, quar desse
lo cor de dezirier no·m fon.

Ai las! tan cuyava saber
d'amor, e ten petit en sai!
quar eu d'amar no·m puesc tener
celieys don ia pro non aurai;
tout m'a mon cor e tout m'a me
e se mezeis' et tot lo mon,
e quan si·m tolc, no·m laisset re
mas dezirier e cor volon.

Anc non agui de me poder
ni no fui mieus de lor'en sai
que·m laisset en sos huelhs vezer
en un miralh que mot mi plai.
mirals, pus me mirei en te,
m'an mort li sospir de preon,
qu'aissi·m perdei cum perdet se
lo bels Narcisus en la fon.

De las donas mi dezesper;
ia mais en lor no·m fiarai;
qu'aissi cum las suelh captener,
enaissi las descaptendrai.
pus vei qu'una pro no m'en te
ves lieis que·m destrui e·m cofon,
totas las dopt' e las mescre,
quar be sai qu'autretals se son.

D'aisos fa be femna parer
ma dona, per qu'ieu·l o retrai,
quar non vol so qu'om deu voler,
e so qu'om li deveda, fai.
cazutz sui en mala merce,
et ai ben fait co·l fols en pon,
e no sai per que m'esdeve,
mas quar trop pogei contra mon.

Merces es perduda per ver,
(et ieu non o saubi anc mai),
quar cil qui plus en degr'aver,
no·n a ges; et on la querrai?
al quan mal sembla, qui la ve,
qued aquest caitiu deziron,
que is ses leis non aura be,
laisse morir, que no l'aon!

Pus ab midons no·m pot valer
precs ni merces ni·l dregz qu'ieu ai,
ni a leis no ven a plazer
qu'ieu l'am, ia mais no·l o dirai;
aissi·m part de lieis e·m recre;
mort m'a, e per mort li respon,
e vau m·en, pus ilh no·m rete,
caitius, en issilh, no sai on.

Tristans, ges no·n auretz de me,
qu'ieu m'en vau, caitius, no sai on.
de chantar mi gic e·m recre,
e de joi e d'amor m'escon.
To see the lark, delighted, dare
its wings in joy against the sun,
and reckless, somersault in air,
half tumbling, that exultant one -
such envy flares within me when
I see pure happiness at play,
I marvel at my own heart then:
not, with its yearning, burnt away?

This love! that once I thought I knew
so thoroughly! and know nothing of,
nothing. A fool in being true,
in reaching for the moon in love:
for one that took my heart, and me,
and took herself, and took the rest.
Leaving, left what for memory?
Passion and havoc in the breast.

I couldn't do a thing with me,
wasn't my own a single day
since in her eyes she let me see
the brightest of all mirrors play.
I looked, O mirror, deep in you
and read what only grief can tell;
ruined as he was ruined too -
Narcissus spellbound at the well.

These girls! no trusting any more
in these, no certainty again.
I championed one and all before.
That's over. That's for other men.
Not one made efforts to reprieve
me with that bitter lady - none!
And now I'm wary, disbelieve.
You know the saying: Six of one ...

My love's a woman through and through;
it seems I'm blaming her for that.
She's fond of what she shouldn't do;
what's proper, she makes faces at.
I've fallen out of favor, yes -
"Fool on a bridge," as people say.
Why fallen? I can only guess:
attempting too uphill a way?

No chance of favor; gone for good.
I never knew a kindness yet!
And if she does none, she who should
be mercy's self, then where's it met?
Who'd watch so sweet a girl and think
she'd let this dismal lover crawl
off in his trouble toward the brink
- well knowing she's my all in all?

My merit's nothing now to her,
nothing, her natural sympathy.
I touch on love, she doesn't stir
a finger. And that's that, from me.
I'll pack my heart up, pack and go
among the tombstones - track me there.
I'm off now, since she wants it so,
lonely, in exile, who knows where?

Lady, you'll get no more from me.
I'm off now, lonely, who knows where?
Regions remote from poetry;
no pleasure in the loveless air.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

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

translator's next