A SONG ...
William IX, Duke of Aquitaine trans. James H. Donalson
(from Provençal)
Farai un vers, pos mi sonelh
e·m vauc e m'estauc al solelh.
Domnas i a de mal conselh,
e sai dir cals:
cellas c'amor de cavalier
tornon a mals.

Domna fai gran pechat mortal
que no ama cavalier leal;
mas s'ama o monge o clergal,
non a razo:
Per dreg la deuri' hom cremar
ab un tezo.

En Alvernhe, part Lemozi,
m'en aniey totz sols a tapi:
trobei la moller d'en Guari
e d'en Bernart;
saluderon mi simplamentz
per san Launart.

La una·m diz en son latin:
"E Dieus vos salf, don pelerin;
mout mi semblatz de bel aizin,
mon escient;
mas trop envai per sto camin
de folla gent."

Ar auzires qu'ai respondut;
and no li diz ni bat ni but,
ni fer ni fust no ai mentagut,
mas sol aitan:
"Babariol, babariol,

So diz n'Agnes a n'Ermessen:
"Trobat avem qu'anam queren.
Sor, per amor Deu, l'alberguem,
que ben es mutz,
e ja per lui nostre sonselh
non er sabutz."

La una·m pres sotz son mantel,
menet m'en cambra, al fornel.
Sapchatz qu'a mi fo bon e bel,
e·l focs fo bos,
et ieu calfei me volontiers
als gros carbos.

A manjar mi deron capos,
e sapchatz ac i mais de dos,
e no·i ac cog ni cogastros,
mas sol nos tres;
e·l pans fo blancs e·l vins fo bos
e·l pebr' espes.

"Sor, aquest hom es enginhos,
e laissa lo parler per nos:
nos aportem nostre gat ros
de mantement,
que·l fara parlar az estros,
si de re·nz ment."

N'Agnes anet per l'enujos,
e fo granz et ab loncz guinhos:
e ieu, can lo vi entre nos,
aig n'espavent,
qu'a pauc non perdei la valor
e l'ardiment.

Quant aguem begut e manjat,
eu mi despoillei a lor grat.
Detras m'aporteron lo gat
mal e felon;
la una·l tira del costat
tro al tallon.

Per la coa de mentenen
tira·l gat et et escoissen:
plajas mi feron mais de cen
acuella ves;
mas eu no·m mogra ces enquers,
qui m'ausizes.

"Sor, diz n'Agnes a n'Ermessen,
mutz es, que ben es connoissen;
Sor, del banh nos apareillem
e del sojorn."
Ueit jorns ez encar mais estei
en aquel forn.

Tant las fotei com auzirets:
cen e quatre vint et ueit vetz,
qu'a pauc no·i rompei mos corretz
e mos arnes;
e no·us puesc dir lo malaveg,
tan gran m'en pres.

Ges no·us sai dir lo malaveg,
tan cran m'en pres.
While dozing I will write a song
and ride in sunlight all day long,
and there are ladies who are wrong;
I'll tell you who:
rejecting gentlemen and strong
they won't be true.

A lady's risking being damned
if she won't love a gentleman,
for if she loves a clergyman -
a grave mistake,
she'll be condemned by God and man -
burnt at the stake.

While in Auvergne past Limousin
I quietly went strolling in:
I met the wives of Sir Garin
and Sir Bernard.
Good-day, they said (and with a grin)
by Saint Leonard.

And one of them went on to say:
"God save you, pilgrim, on your way;
some court has sent you far away
it seems to me -
but lots of fools pass down this way
for us to see."

Now, this is how I answered them,
without a single dis or dem,
nor speech of roses on a stem,
but only thus:
Barbaribem, barbaribem,

So Agnes said to Ermessen
"We've found just what we wanted, then;
come, sister, let us take him in,
the man is mute;
they'll never hear our schemes for men:
not from this brute."

One took me under her attire,
into her bedroom, near the fire;
and fit to please and to inspire
the fire was good,
and warmed me up and my desire
near blazing wood.

They served some capons, not too rare,
and there were more than two to share;
no cook or kitchen help was there:
just three to pick;
the wine was good, the bread was fair,
the pepper thick.

"I think the man's a sneaking rat
and doesn't speak because of that,
so go and fetch the orange cat,
yes, right away,
and he'll make him speak off the bat
if it's all play."

So Agnes brought the monster cat:
long-whiskered he, and big and fat;
and when I saw him where I sat
I was afraid
and almost lost the courage that
my ardor raised.

When we had drunk and dined like that
they had me strip; then off the bat,
behind me, they brought up the cat
(distressful deal!)
then Agnes pulled him down the mat,
down to my heel.

She took his tail and pulled it then,
his claws sunk in once and again!
I had a hundred wounds, and when
that day was done
I hadn't said a word to them
and didn't run.

Agnes to Ermessen now runs:
"It's obvious he's really dumb;
let's draw a bath and have some fun,
that's my desire."
A week or more I shared the fun
there by the fire.

I fucked them often, I'll relate:
a hundred eighty times plus eight;
I nearly broke my struts and stays
and clothes, you see,
and I can't tell you what malaise
took hold of me.

No, I can't tell you what malaise
took hold of me.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © James H. Donalson 2003

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