Peire Vidal





Baron, Jhesus, qu’en crotz fon mes Lords, Jesus who was placed upon the Cross to save Christian people summons us one and all to go to liberate the Holy Land where he came to die for love of us. And if we are unwilling to obey Him, there where all disputes end we shall hear many a bitter reproach for this.

per salvar crestiana gen,

nos mand’a totz comunalmen


qu’anem cobrar lo saint paes,

on venc per nostr’amor morir.

E si no·l volem obezir,

lai on feniran tuit li plag,


n’auzirem maint esquiu retrag.


Que·l saint Paradis que·ns promes, The holy paradise he promised us, where there is no pain nor torment, He wishes freely to grant to those who will travel overseas with the Marquis to serve God; and of those who are unwilling to follow him, there will be not one, dark or fair, but will feel great fear as a consequence.

on non a pena ni tormen,

vol ara liurar francamen


a sels qu’iran ab lo marques

outra la mar per Dieu servir;

e cill qui no·l volran seguir,

non i aura negun, brun ni bag,


que no·n puesc’aver gran esglag.


E veiatz del segle quals es, But look at how the world is: whoever follows it most it treats the worst. Therefore there is only one wise course: to abandon wickedness and adopt the good. Once death chooses to attack, no-one can escape. So since we shall all surely die, anyone who lives badly or basely is a fool indeed.

que qui·l sec plus, al pieitz s’en pren;

pero non i a mas un bon sen:


qu’om lais los mals e prenda·ls bes.

Que pus la mortz vol assalhir,

negus non pot ni sap gandir.

Doncs pus tuit morem atrazag,


ben es fols qui viu mal ni lag.


Tot lo segle vei sobrepres I see the whole world in the grip of deceit and fraud; and the unbelievers are so numerous that right and faith hardly survive, for each one strives to betray his friend to enrich himself. However, the traitors are betrayed like the man who drinks poisoned milk.

d’enjan e de galiamen;

e son ja tan li mescrezen


c’apenas renha dreigz ni fes,

que quasqus ponha en trair

son amic per si enrequir.

Pero·lh trachor son aissi trag


cum selh qui beu tueissec ab lag.


Catalan et Aragones Catalans and Aragonese have a valiant lord worthy of honour, liberal and noble and discerning, modest and upright and courtly. But he allows his servants to grow too rich – God humble and detest them! For every day they are on the alert to create damage and obstacles at court.

an senhor honrat e valen

e larc e franc e conoissen,


humil et adreg e cortes.

Mas trop laissa enmanentir

sos sers, cui Dieus bais et azir;

qu’a totz jorns estan en agag


per far en cort dan et empag.


Reis aunitz val meins que pages, A dishonoured king is worth less than a peasant when he lives like a coward and deplores the wealth that another spends and loses what his father won. Such a king deserves to be killed and buried in a loathsome place, when he defends himself like a cripple without taking or giving a blow.

quan viu a lei de recrezen

e plora·ls bes qu’autre despen


e pert so que·l paire conques.

Aitals reis fari’ad aucir

et en lach luec a sebelhir,

qui·s defen a lei de contrag


e no pren ni dona gamag.
Domnas vielhas non am ieu ges, I heartily dislike old ladies when they live gracelessly, hostile to love and youth; for they have so mistreated true nobility, it is dreadful to relate and speak of it, and dreadful to listen and hear; they have so utterly destroyed fine courtship that among them one finds no trace of it.
quan vivon descauzidamen
contr’Amor e contra Joven;
52 quar fin paratg’an si mal mes,
fer es de comtar e de dir
e fer d’escotar e d’auzir;
quar franc domnei an si tot frag
56 qu’entre lor no·n trob’om escag.
Dona, si·m tenetz en defes Lady, you keep me so captive that I can think of nothing other than doing your bidding. But if, with your acceptance, I could serve you between the time of undressing and dressing, no evil could ever befall me; for your words and deeds have for me the sweetness of the May rose.
que d’al re non ai pessamen
mas de far vostre mandamen.
60 E s’en grat servir vos pogues
entre·l despulhar e·l vestir,
ja mais mals no·m pogra venir;
quar vostre dig e vostre fag
64 m’an sabor de roza de mag.
Reis de Leon, senes mentir, King of León, you ought truly to garner an honoured reputation, like the one who sows in fallow land soaked in moisture and gently irrigated.
devetz honrat pretz reculhir,
cum selh qui semen’en garag
68 temprat d’umor ab douz complag.




Text: Peire Vidal, Poesie. Edizione critica e commento a cura di d’Arco Silvio Avalle, 2 voll., Milano-Napoli 1960, vol. I, p. 115 (XII).

English translation by Linda Paterson. – Rialto 23.ix.2013.

Notes: The first version of this sirventes was probably composed in 1201-1202 (see Avalle, p. 114), before Boniface of Monferrat left on the Fourth Crusade (vv. 12-13). The reading of ms. O in v. 13, Qes oltra mar, shows that the song was still being sung after August 1202 (see Avalle’s note to v.13). – Line 12: Boniface I of Montferrat (1192-1207), elected leader of the Fourth Crusade in August 1201, who departed in August of the following year. – Line 34: Pere II of Aragon (1196-1213). – Line 41: according to Avalle, the king concerned is Philippe-Auguste (1180-1223) who refused to take part in the Fourth Crusade. – Line 44: Louis VII, who took part in the Second Crusade (1147). Avalle says he covered himself with glory, though this is debatable. – Line 65: Alfonso IX (1188-1230). – Line 68: for this interpretation of ab douz complag see Avalle’s note on p. 119; Martorano «giustamente umido, con dolce compiacenza».

[LP, lb]


BdT    Peire Vidal

Songs referring to the crusades