Monday, June 9, 2008

I've made this rhyme completely free of sense

I've made this rhyme completely free
of sense—it's not of you and me,
or youth, or doings he-and-she,
or springtime thoughts.
It came to me while I was sleeping
on my horse.

What planet ruled when I was born?
I'm native here and still feel foreign.
Can't be contented, or forlorn,
or change myself:
I was the midnight work of freaking
magic elves.

I can't tell when I wake or sleep
unless the others keep me briefed.
It almost breaks my heart—I'm deeply
plagued by doubts,
and none of them, by Saint Martial,
is worth a mouse.

They say I'll soon be dropping dead
Fetch that doctor, quick! – I said –
his name has just escaped my head.
No matter who:
he's bad if I do not get well,
good if I do.

My lady friend I've never seen:
I don't know if she's cute or plain,
or if she's kind to me or mean.
Why should I care? –
I don't let French and Normans stay
the night in here.

My passion's absolutely strong
but she won't do me right, or wrong.
Avoiding her I get along
just fine. Forget her:
I've others nicer anyway
who please me better.

This verse I've made—of what or who
unknown—I'll send to someone who
will send it on to someone who
is in Anjou,
who might decode it and convey
the key to you.

William of Poitiers /Guilhem de Peitieu /Guilhelm d'Aquitania (1071-1127)
Translation ©2000, 2001 Leonard Cottrell

Farai un vers de dreyt nien
Farai un vers de dreyt nien:
non er de mi ni d'autra gen,
non er d'amor ni de joven,
ni de ren au,
qu'enans fo trobatz en durmen
sobre chevau.

No sai en qual hora.m fuy natz:
no suy alegres ni iratz,
no suy estrayns ni sui privatz,
ni no.n puesc au,
qu'enaissi fuy de nueitz fadatz,
sobr' un pueg au.

No sai quora.m fuy endurmitz
ni quora.m velh, s'om no m'o ditz.
Per pauc no m'es lo cor partitz
d'un dol corau;
e no m'o pretz una soritz,
par Sanh Marsau!

Malautz suy e tremi murir,
e ren no sai mas quan n'aug dir;
metge querrai al mieu albir,
e non sai tau;
bos metges es qui.m pot guerir,
mas non, si amau.

M'amigu' ai ieu, no sai qui s'es,
qu'anc non la vi, si m'ajut fes;
ni.m fes que.m plassa ni que.m pes,
ni no m'en cau,
qu'anc non ac Norman ni Frances
dins mon ostau.

Anc non la vi et am la fort,
anc non n'aic dreyt ni no.m fes tort;
quan non la vey, be m'en deport,
no.m pretz un jau
qu'ie.n sai gensor et bellazor,
e que mais vau.

Fag ai lo vers, no say de cuy;
e trametrai lo a selhuy
que lo.m trametra per autruy
lay vers Anjau,
que.m tramezes del sieu estuy
la contraclau.

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