COMPANHO, FARAY UN VERS QUI·S
COVINEN ...
I'M PLANNING, FRIEND, TO WRITE A DECENT
VERSE ...
William IX, Duke of Aquitaine trans. James H. Donalson (from Provençal)
Companho, faray un vers qui·s covinen:
et aura i mais de foudaz no·y a de sen,
et er totz mesclatz d'amor e de joy e de joven.

E tenguatz lo per vilan qui no l'enten
o dins son cor voluntiers qui non l'apren;
greu partir si fa d'amor qui la trob'a son talen.

Dos cavalhs ai a ma selha ben e gen;
bon son e adreg per armas e valen;
mas no·ls puesc amdos tener que l'us l'autre non cossen.

Si·ls pogues adomesjar a mon talen,
ja no volgra alhors mudar mon guarnimen,
que miels for' encavalguatz de nuill autr'ome viven.

La uns fo dels montanhiers lo plus corren;
mas aitan fer' estranhez' ha longuamen,
et es tan fers e salvatges que del bailar si defen.

L'autre fo noyritz sa jus, part Cofolen,
et anc no·n vis bellazor, mon escien;
aquest non er ja camjatz ni per aur ni per argen.

Qu'ie·l doney a son senhor polin payssen;
pero si·m retinc ieu tan de covenen
que s'el lo teni' un an qu'ieu lo tengues mais de cen.

Cavallier, datz mi cosselh d'un pessamen!
anc mais no fuy issarratz de cauzimen:
res non sai ab qual mi tengua de N'Agnes o de N'Arsen.

De Gimel ai lo castel el mandamen,
e per Niol fauc ergueil a tota gen,
c'ambedui me son jurat e plevit per sagramen.
I'm planning, friend, to write a decent verse
with lots of nonsense, very little sense,
with a mix of joy and youth and a lot of love besides.

Those who don't understand are Philistines
as also those who won't learn it by heart:
they can only understand when the love is to their taste.

I have two saddle-horses, and that's good;
and they are combat-ready and they're brave;
But I can't ride both at once - one can't bear the other's weight.

If I could only train them as I'd like
I wouldn't take my gear away from here,
for then I'd be better horsed than is any man alive.

The one was fastest of the mountain-bred,
but for a long time now he's gotten shy -
he is savage and so wild he will hide from curry-combs.

The other one was raised by Confolens -
a horse more handsome you have never seen,
and I wouldn't give him up, not for silver or for gold.

I gave him to his master while a colt,
but I retained a right to this effect:
if he stayed a year with him, I would get a hundred back.

In this dilemma, sirs, I need advice,
it never was so hard before to choose:
should I hold to Agnes then, sirs, or will it be Arsen?

I've Gimel castle and all its domain
and Nieul made me proudest of them all;
both have sworn fidelity by the strongest, binding oaths.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2003


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