Puois nostre temps comens’a brunezir   Since our season begins to darken and the orchards are stripped of leaves, and I see the sun sink so low that the days are gloomy and obscure, and songs and lays of birds have fallen silent, we should gladden ourselves with the joy of love.
    e li verjan son de la fuelha blos  
    e del solelh vey tant bayssar los rays,  
    per que·l jorn son escur e tenebros  
5   et hom no·i au d’auzel ni chant ni lays,  
    per joy d’amor nos devem esbaudir.  
    Aquest’amor no pot hom tan servir   This love cannot be served so much that its rewards are not a thousand times greater, for Merit and Joy and all that is, and more, will belong to those who have it in their power. It never broke or infringed agreements, but it seems it will be hard to conquer.
    que mil aitans no·il doble·ls gazardos,  
    que Pretz e Joy e tot quant es, e mays,  
10   n’auran aisselh qu’en seran poderos;  
    qu’anc non passet covinent ni l’esfrays;  
    mas, per semblan, greus er a conquerir.  
    Per lieys deu hom esperar e sofrir:   For it a man must live in hope and endure: its worth is so precious and excellent that it never cared for base lovers, a rich miser or a proud pauper; and in over a thousand there are not two so true that noble Love should pay them heed.
    tant es sos pretz valens e cabalos  
15   qu’anc non ac suenh dels amadors savays,  
    de ric escars ni paupre orgoillos,  
    qu’en plus de mil no·n a dos tan verays  
    que fin’Amors los deja obezir.  
    Ist trobador entre ver e mentir,   These popular, widely-heard troubadours, by speaking half-truths, damage lovers and wives and husbands and go around saying that Love is turning crooked, so husbands grow jealous and ladies are apprehensive.
20   afollon drutz e molhers et espos,  
    e van dizen qu’Amors torn’en biays,  
    per que·l marit endevenon gilos,  
    e donas son intradas en pantays,  
    cuy mout vol hom escoutar et auzir.  
25   Cist sirven fals fan a pluzors gequir   These false serving-men make many people abandon and rush away from Merit and Youth. I think Prowess will be no more, since Avarice holds the barons’ keys: it has locked many within the city of Degeneration, from which Wickedness will not let a single one escape.
    Pretz e Joven e lonhar ad estros,  
    per que Proeza non cug sia mais,  
    qu’Escarsetatz ten las claus dels baros:  
    maint n’a serrat dinz la ciutat d’Abais,  
30   don Malvestatz no·n layssa un yssir.  
    Ves manhtas partz vey lo segle faillir   In many places I see the world fall into decline, so I remain downcast and anxious: the hireling finds no-one to feed him because of the slanderers with their accursed beaks, who are worse than Judas who betrayed God: they should be burned and buried alive!
    per qu’ieu n’estauc marritz e cossiros,  
    que soudadiers non truep ab cuy s’apays  
    per lauzengiers qu’an bec malahuros,  
35   qui son pejor que Judas que Dieu trays:  
    ardre·ls degr’om e totz vius sebellir.  
    Nos no·ls podem castiar ni cobrir:   We cannot correct or hide them; let us keep our distance and rely on God’s counsel! For a special joy of love renews and nourishes me, and I can swear that there was never such a lovely lady: I see her but little, yet I am merry and joyful on her account, and God grant I may enjoy her!
    tollam nos d’elhs e Dieus acosselh nos!  
    q’us joys d’amor me reverdis e·m pays,  
40   e puesc jurar qu’anc ta bella no fos:  
    petit la vey, mas per ella suy gays  
    e jauzions, e Dieus m’en do jauzir!  
    Ara·s pot hom lavar et esclarzir   Now a man can cleanse and purify himself of great guilt, if he is burdened with it; and if he is brave, he will set out for Edessa and abandon the perilous world, and he can thereby free himself of the burden which causes many to stumble and perish.
    de gran blasme, silh q’en son encombros;  
45   e s’i es pros, yssira ves Roays,  
    e gurpira lo segle perilhos,  
    et ab aitan pot si liurar del fays,  
    qu’assatz en fai trabucar e perir.  
    Cercamonz diz: «Qi vas Amor s’irais   Cercamon says: «It is amazing how a man who rails against Love can endure the anger, for anger at love means fear and trepidation and a man cannot long live or die by this».
50   meravill’es com pot l’ira suffrir,  
    q’ira d’amor es paors et esglais  
    e no·n pot hom trop viure ni murir».  
    Fagz es lo vers e non deu veillezir,   The song is made and should not grow old, according to what the theme shows, for good Love never deceived or became flawed, but brings joy to bold lovers.
    segon aisso qe monstra la razos,  
55   q’anc bon’Amors non galiet ni frais,  
    Anz dona joi als arditz amoros.  




Text: Valeria Tortoreto, Il trovatore Cercamon, Modena 1981, p. 157 (with modifications).

English translation by Linda Paterson. – Rialto 22.xii.2013.

Notes: Stanza VIII shows that the song dates from after the fall of Edessa to Zenghi on Christmas Day 1144 and before Louis VII’s departure on the Second Crusade on 12 June 1147. Louis announced his intention to undertake the crusade on 25 December 1145 and took the cross the following Easter, so the likely date for our piece falls between Easter 1146 and June 1147 (see Rossi, Cercamon, pp. 93-94; also Tortoreto, pp. 44-45). – Line 20: I am not convinced that affolon means ‘corrompono’ (Tortoreto) or even less ‘intoxiquent’ (Rossi). The DOM entry for the v. tr. includes a. ‘fouler [le raisin]’, b. ‘blesser grièvement, mutiler, tuer’, c. ‘ruiner, causer la perte de’, d. ‘faire du mal à, nuire’, e. ‘corrompre, pervertir’ (3 examples only including this passage, the others at least questionable: Q’una puta gens fradelha, / que tir’ e bat e pren a mors, / vos an confondut e destors, / que·us afolha e·us descapdelha, BdT 323.9, 16 Peire d’Alvernhe, ed. Aniello Fratta, Peire d’Alvernhe, Poesie, Manziana 1996, 6, 13-16, and volers folh reconogut / fai, del pe jusc’ al rasum, / lui qu’a voluntat qu’esgaia, / viatz l’afola e·l dechai / orguelhs, que d’aut bas cazec, Bernart de Venzac, ed. M. Picchio Simonelli, Lirica moralistica nell’ Occitania del XII secolo: Bernart de Venzac, Modena 1974, 5,10-14), f. ‘endommager, détériorer, abîmer’, g. ‘anéantir, réduire à néant’, h. ‘manquer à, faillir à’. I understand the sense here to be, not that lovers and husbands are behaving immorally, but that certain troubadours are frightening courtly lovers off fin’Amor, the source of the courtly virtues of Joi, Pretz, Proeza and Joven - as is clear from the following stanza. – Line 25: Rossi understands sirven as ‘soupirants’, though this is not a usual term for suitors; Tortoreto translates ambiguously as ‘servitori’. The term can designate a social and military class of men who perform menial tasks at court and fight, normally as footsoldiers, in the army. The term is evidently pejorative here and seems to imply low class and status. It is debatable whether the troubadours whom Cercamon criticises are to be identified with opponents of the troubadour Marcabru whom the latter accuses of distorting the true nature of love (see the discussion in Ruth Harvey, The Troubadour Marcabru and Love, Westfield College 1989, pp. 32-35), or whether, on the other hand, Cercamon is criticising Marcabru himself for his negative moralising. – Line 33: for soudadier as a broad social group including soldiers, young knights without fief or fortune hiring out their services as mercenaries, and troubadours, dependent on the generosity of their lord, see Harvey, The Troubadour Marcabru, pp. 13-14. – Line 37: I interpret cobrir differently from Tortoreto (‘difenderli’), in the sense of ‘conceal’ (PD ‘couvrir; vêter; cacher; couvrir, protéger; prendre la défense de, soutenir’). Rossi interprets ‘cacher leurs torts’, but I understand the passage to mean that the popular troubadours introduced in v. 19 cannot be countered either by chastising them or by making them disappear, in other words by stopping people listening to them. – Lines 39-40: the force of the indefinite article us is to hint at one particular love, in other words a lady whose identity must remain concealed; bella can refer ambiguously to Love or the lady. – Line 49: s’irais could equally well be translated as ‘turns sorrowful’, as ira conflates both sorrow and anger. See particularly George F. Jones, The Ethos of the Song of Roland, Baltimore 1963, p. 45. – Line 54: the razo is the theme of the song (as Tortoreto, ‘l’argomento’) rather than ‘la raison (nature des choses)’ (Rossi). – Line 55: Tortoreto translates frais as ‘infranze (patto)’, thus linking it to v.11, while Rossi translates ‘desservit’. I understand the word to relate to concepts of entier and frag found in Peire d’Alvernhe (BdT 323.24, ed. Fratta, 20, p. 154) and Bernart Marti (BdT 63.6, ed. Fabrizio Beggiato, Il trovatore Bernart Marti, Modena 1984, V, p. 107).

[LP, lb]


BdT    Cercamon

Songs referring to the crusades