Guilhem de Peitieu/Guilhelm d'Aquitania: Farai un vers, pos mi somelh

How the Count of Poitiers pretended to be mute

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

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.

translation©2001 Leonard Cottrell

main index for rhymed translations
Guilhem de Peitieu index

Guilhem (1071-1127), the first known troubadour, was Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitiers.

Farai un vers, pos mi somelh
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
qe no ama cavalier leal;
mas si es monge o clergal,
non a raizo:
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 sant Launart.

La una.m diz en son latin:
"E Dieus vos salf, don pelerin;
mout mi semblatz de belh aizin,
mon escient;
mas trop vezem anar pel mon
de folla gent."

Ar auzires qu'ai respondut;
anc no li diz ni bat ni but,
ni fer ni fust no ai mentaugut,
mas sol aitan:
"Babariol, babariol,

So diz n'Agnes a n'Ermessen:
"Trobat avem que anam queren.
Sor, per amor Deu, l'alberguem,
qe ben es mutz,
e ja per lui nostre conselh
non er saubutz."

La una.m pres sotz son mantel,
e mes m'en sa cambra, al fornel.
Sapchatz qu'a mi fo bon e bel,
e.l focs fo bos,
et eu calfei me volontiers
als gros carbos.

A manjar mi deron capos,
e sapchatz agui mais de dos,
e no.i ac cog ni cogastros,
mas sol nos tres,
e.l pans fo blancs e.l vin fo bos
e.l pebr' espes.

"Sor, aquest hom es enginhos,
e laissa lo parlar per nos:
non aportem nostre gat ros
de mantenent,
qe.l fara parlar az estros,
si de ment."

N'Agnes anet per l'enujos,
e fo granz et ac loncz guinhos:
e eu, can lo vi entre nos,
aig n'espavent,
q'a pauc non perdei la valor
e l'ardiment.

Qant 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 mantenen
tira.l gat et el escoissen:
plajas mi feron mais de cen
aquella ves;
mas eu no.m mogra ges enguers,
qui m'ausizes.

"Sor," diz n'Agnes a n'Ermessen,
"mutz es, qe ben es conoissen;
sor, del banh nos apareillem
e del sojorn."
Ueit jorns ez encar mais estei
en aquel forn.

Tant les fotei com auzirets:
cen e quatre vint et ueit vetz,
q'a pauc no.i rompei mos coretz
e mos arnes;
e puesc dir lo malaveg,
tan gran m'en pres.

Ges sai dir lo malaveg,
tan gran m'en pres.


Note a couple of attempts to pick up
on nuance which would be lost in a straight
literal version:

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 sant Launart.

According to Raoul Schrott, a translator of Guilhem
into German, the St. Leonard (6th Century hermit) invoked
was patron of deafmutes, imbeciles, and those possessed by
the devil. The literal manner of greeting "innocently by
Saint Leonard" is rendered "in wide-eyed
innocence." They are "well-appointed" because they
are the wives of gentlemen: Sir Warren and Sir Bernard.
Thanks to Ingrid Bade (Munich) for the info on the Saint.