KNOW ...
William IX, Duke of Aquitaine trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Ben vuelh que sapchon li pluzor
d'est vers si's de bona color,
qu'ieu ai trag de mon obrador;
qu'ieu port d'ayselh mestier la flor
et es vertaz,
e puesc ne traire·l vers auctor
quant er lassatz.

Ieu conosc ben sen e folhor,
e conosc anta et honor,
et ai ardiment e paor;
e si·m paretez un juec d'amor
no suy tan fatz
no·n sapcha triar lo melhor
d'entre·ls malvatz.

Ieu conosc ben selh qui be·m di,
e selh qui·m vol mal atressi,
e conosc ben selhuy qui·m ri,
e si·l pro s'azauton de mi,
conosc assaz
qu'a tressi dey voler lor fi
e lor solatz.

Mas ben aya sel qui·m noyri,
que tan bo mestier m'eschari
que anc a negu non falhi;
qu'ieu sai jogar sobre coyssi
a totz tocatz;
mais en say de nulh mo vezi,
qual que·m vejatz.

Dieu en lau e Sanh Jolia:
tant ai apres del juec doussa
que sobre totz n'ai bona ma,
e selh qui cosselh mi querra
non l'er vedatz,
ni us de mi noa tornara

Qu'ieu ai nom "maiestre certa":
ja m'amigu' anueg no m'aura
que no·m vuelh' aver l'endema;
qu'ieu suy d'aquest mestier, so·m va,
tan ensenhatz
que be·n sai guazanhar mon pa
en totz mercatz.

Pero no m'auzetz tan guabier
qu'ieu non fos rahusatz l'autr' ier,
que jogav' a un joc grossier,
que·m fon trop bos al cap primier
tro fuy 'ntaulatz;
quan guardiey, no m'ac plus mestier,
si·m fon camjatz.

Mas elha·m dis un reprovier:
"Don, vostre dat son menudier,
et ieu revit vos a doblier."
Fis m'ieu: "Qui·m dava Monpeslier,
non er laissatz."
E leviey un pauc son taulier,
ab ams mos bratz.

Et quant l'aic levat lo taulier,
empeis los datz,
e·ill duy foron cairat manier
e·l terz plombatz.

E fi·ls fort ferir al taulier
e fon joguatz.
I'd like for everyone to know
of all the colors I bestow
on verse done in my studio,
the flower I bring is that which shows
and this is true:
the verse itself will tell you so
when it is through.

I know the foolish and the smart,
I know where shame and honor start,
I know where brave and meek depart;
if you propose games of the heart
I'm not a fool,
I know to choose the better part
among the rules.

I know who's speaking well of me,
I know who's speaking ill of me,
I know who's laughing after me
and if they like my company
I am appeased:
I wish them to agree with me
and to be pleased.

So blest be he who lifted me
and blest the lot that fell to me,
to be there when they needed me;
and on a cushion, just watch me
play any game;
just watch and you'll agree with me
I earned my fame.

Praise God and praise St.Hilary,
I've learned the best of games, you see,
I'm good at it, you will agree,
and if you want advice from me
I will be nice
and you will never leave my knee
without advice.

"Grand master" is my name by right:
no girl has had me for a night
but gave me a return invite;
I'm all that good, to my delight;
so learnèd (say)
that I can earn my bread by night
here or away.

I wouldn't dare to boast this way,
but I was challenged yesterday
with an indecent game to play:
I was too good, as we may say.
I was set up
and kept whatever came my way
as it turned up.

And she confronted me this way:
"Your dice are clipped, sir, so I say:
I want a rematch, right away!"
I wouldn't miss Montpellier
to have your charms."
I raised her board a little way
with both my arms.

I found, on lifting up the board
the dice displayed
and two were perfect in accord
the third inlayed.

I threw them down upon the board
and they were played.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2003

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