Rhymed translations from Guilhem de Peitieu, Duke of Aquitaine

Often called Guilhelm d'Aquitania, Guilhem (1071-1127) is the first known rhyming poet in a modern European language.

Farai un vers, pos mi somelh; How the Count of Poitiers pretended to be mute

Ben vuelh; "I brought this song in from the shop", Guihem's master craftsman brag.

Companho, tant ai agutz; "Friends, so miserably I've fared."

Farai un vers de dreyt nien; "I've made this rhyme completely free of sense"

Ab la dolchor del temps novel; "New life: the woods are leafing out."

translations©2000, 2001 Leonard Cottrell


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In bringing over Guilhem's songs I've benefited from advice and encouragement offered by several friends including the experienced poet-translators Raymond Oliver (medieval European lyric) and Rodney Merrill (classical Greek).

The Prague site of Josef Prokop has a bibliography on Guilhem de Peitieu and links to related scholarly resources on the web.
Connected pages have text, translation, and biographical material on other Occitan (Provencal, Langue d'oc) writers besides Guilhem such as the Countess of Dia.

The language in which Guilhem and the Contessa wrote is still spoken. Rather than Langue d'oc or "Provencal", its speakers call it Occitan (ok sitan). There are several Occitan sites on the web including one maintained by Jan Urroz http://perso.libertysurf.fr/ujan/poelim/indexpo.htm

Another Occitan site is http://www.multimania.com/chamboliva/trobadors.html, which has a list of links to sites with troubadour songs (Guilhem's in particular) and is maintained by Ivon d'a Chamboliva, a native of the Limousin.

The Italian author and web-artist Roberto Gravina (Duke Lucifer) has the complete songs of Guilhem as well as those of other trroubadours, along with biographical material and interesting graphics. His troubadour index page is

Guilhem (1071-1127) was VII Count of Poitiers, IX Duke of Aquitaine, and Eleanor of Aquitaine's grandfather. He was excommunicated several times. He had more land than the king of France (a barbaric region to the north) and his domain extended south to the Pyrenees. Guilhem spent a fair amount of time over the Pyrenees in Spain, where he had friends. He may have learned song-making there (as Ezra Pound suggested.) There was a monastery of Saint Martial in Limoges near Poitiers where the monks were making up church songs in rhyming Latin. Guilhem stole their tunes and verse forms and set vernacular words to them to amuse his companions. It is pretty clear from the songs what they were for. Guilhem was the first troubadour we know of, which means the first rhyming poet in anything resembling a modern European language.

Pound Canto 8:

"And Poictiers, you know, Guillaume Poictiers,
had brought the song up out of Spain
with the singers and viels..."