FARAI UN VERS, POS MI SOMELH ... HOW THE COUNT OF POITIERS PRETENDED TO BE MUTE
William IX, Duke of Aquitaine trans. Leonard Cottrell (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,
babatian."

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.
I rhymed this while I was asleep
and sunning out among the sheep.
By prejudice, some ladies keep
away from knights,
but gallant cavaliers to spurn
just isn't right!

Great mortal sin a lady does
if she won't give us knights her love.
To favor priests instead of us
is a mistake;
and monks?, I'd say we ought to burn
her at the stake.

When I was roving on the sly
once in Auvergne, as I passed by
I saw two well-appointed wives
survey the square.
In wide-eyed innocence one turned
and spoke me fair.

Her style was decorous and prim:
"Good pilgrim, God your soul redeem,
a worthy gentleman you seem,
but in this world
the wanderers, as we have learned,
are often fools."

How I answered you will hear -
no indiscretion, never fear,
or word that might offend the ear,
just this remark:
"Baboogaloo baboogaloo,
babar babark!"

To Eremesse said Agnes, "Sister,
we've discovered one at last!
For love of God, make him our guest.
The man is mute -
with him, no matter what we do,
it won't get out!"

One led; the other steered my arm
and shared her cape. They took me home
beside their hearth so I'd be warm.
The fire glowed;
I gladly stretched my legs and basked
before the coals.

They brought roast quail to eat, and we
applied ourselves to gluttony.
No servants, just a cozy three.
I liked it fine:
spice and white bread by the basket,
first rate wine.

"This man may be a clever trickster,
holding back on talking just to
fool us. Fetch the kitty, sister!
If he's not mute,
he'll soon be remonstrating briskly
with our cat."

That cat - I'm no enthusiast -
was huge and wore a big moustache.
The villain had me so abashed
and so surprised
I nearly lost my taste for risky
enterprise.

When we had finished with our feast
I doffed my clothes, at their request.
One sidled round me with the beast,
which didn't fail
to flail with rage, because she bore
it by the tail.

Right then from stem to stern she hauled
that vicious cat and made it maul
my hide while digging in its claws.
Though I'd be skinned
within an inch of life, I swore
I wouldn't flinch.

To Eremesse said Agnes, "Sis,
the man is mute for sure, so let's
get ready for our little rest
and take a bath."
Eight days I stayed with them, and more,
upon that hearth.

I humped them - why say "lots" of times? -
a clear one hundred ninety nine.
My gear below the waterline
would almost break.
You won't believe what all is sore
and how I ache.

No, you'd not believe what all is sore
and how I ache.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

For more of this translator's work see: http://planck.com/rhymedtranslations/versetrans.htm

Trans. Copyright © Leonard Cottrell 2001


next
index
translator's next