Archive for ‘12th Century’

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Alba by Giraut de Bornelh

“King of splendor, brightness
true and clear,
Almighty God, abet, I make my prayer,
the friend I have not seen
since night began,
now that the dawn is near.

Say, friend, are you awake?
O sleep no more,
but sweetly rise: I see the eastern star,
the herald to the daylight
growing bright,
and dawn is near.

I sing, my friend, for you:
then sleep no more;
birds seek the daylight in the trees; I fear
the cuckold will surprise
your ardent eyes,
for dawn is near.

Go to your window, friend,
see where each star
grows faint in heaven; quickly, lest you bear
a heavy loss this morning,
heed my warning,
for the dawn is near.

I have not moved, friend, since
you left me here,
nor slept, but knelt to Mary’s son in prayer,
that my companion he
restore to me,
and now the dawn is near.

You sought me, friend, to watch
upon the stair,
never to sleep all night, never to tire
till daybreak: has my friend
my song disdained
now that the dawn is near?”—

“Sweet friend, I wish the day
might dawn no more,
so rich my pleasures: holding the most fair
of women, can I care
some jealous fool is near,
or that the dawn is here?”

From: Orgel, Stephen, “Alba by Giraut De Bornelh” in Poetry, August-September 1970, pp. 356-357.

Date: 12th century (original in Occitan); 1970 (translation in English)

By: Giraut de Bornelh (c1138-1215)

Translated by: Stephen Orgel (1933- )

Sunday, 17 July 2022

The Skylark by Bernart de Ventadorn

Now when I see the skylark lift
His wings for joy in dawn’s first ray
Then let himself, oblivious, drift
For all his heart is glad and gay,
Ay! such great envies seize my thought
To see the rapture that others find,
I marvel that desire does not
Consume away this heart of mine.

Alas, I thought I’d grown so wise;
In love I had so much to learn:
I can’t control this heart that flies
To her who pays love no return.
Ay! now she steals, through love’s sweet theft,
My heart, my self, my world entire;
She steals herself and I am left
Only this longing and desire.

Losing control, I’ve lost all right
To rule my life; my life’s her prize
Since first she showed me true delight
In those bright mirrors, her two eyes.
Ay! once I’d caught myself inside
Her glances, I’ve been drowned in sighs,
Dying as fair Narcissus died
In streams that mirror captive skies.

Deep in despair, I’ll place no trust
In women though I did before;
I’ve been their champion so it’s just
That I renounce them evermore;
When none will lift me from my fall
When she has cast me down in shame,
Now I distrust them, one and all,
I’ve learned too wee they’re all the same.

She acts as any woman would—
No wonder I’m dissatisfied;
She’ll never do the things she should;
She only wants all that’s denied.
Ay! now I fall in deep disgrace,
A fool upon love’s bridge am I;
No one knows how that could take place
Unless I dared to climb too high.

All mercy’s gone, all pity lost—
Though at the best I still knew none—
Since she who should yield mercy most
Shows me the least of anyone.
Wrongful it seems, now, in my view,
To see a creature love’s betrayed
Who’d seek no other good but you,
Then let him die without your aid.

Since she, my Lady, shows no care
To earn my thanks, nor pays Love’s rights
Since she’ll not hear my constant prayer
And my love yields her no delights,
I say no more; I silent go;
She gives me death; let death reply.
My Lady won’t embrace me so
I leave, exiled to pain for aye.

Tristan, you’ll hear no more from me:
I leave to wander, none knows where;
Henceforth all joys in love I’ll flee
And all my songs I Now forswear.

From: Kehew, Robert (ed.), Lark in the Morning: The verses of the Troubadours. A Bilingual Edition, 2005, The University of Chicago Press: Chicago and London, pp. 75-77.

Date: 12th century (original in Occitan); 1998 (translation in English)

By: Bernart de Ventadorn (c1135-c1195)

Translated by: William De Witt Snodgrass (1926-2009)