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Lark in the Morning

The Verses of the Troubadours, a Bilingual Edition

Bilingual edition

Although the troubadours flourished at the height of the Middle Ages in southern France, their songs of romantic love, with pleasing melodies and intricate stanzaic patterns, have inspired poets and song writers ever since, from Dante to Chaucer, from Renaissance sonneteers to the Romantics, and from Verlaine and Rimbaud to modern rock lyricists. Yet despite the incontrovertible influence of the troubadours on the development of both poetry and music in the West, there existed no comprehensive anthology of troubadour lyrics that respected the verse form of the originals until now.

Lark in the Morning honors the meter, word play, punning, and sound effects in the troubadours’ works while celebrating the often playful, bawdy, and biting nature of the material. Here, Robert Kehew augments his own verse translations with those of two seminal twentieth-century poets—Ezra Pound and W. D. Snodgrass—to provide a collection that captures both the poetic pyrotechnics of the original verse and the astonishing variety of troubadour voices. This bilingual edition contains an introduction to the three major periods of the troubadours—their beginning, rise, and decline—as well as headnotes that briefly put each poet in context. Lark in the Morning will become an essential collection for those interested in learning about and teaching the origins of Western vernacular poetry.

280 pages | 4 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2005

History: European History

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

Music: General Music



"Only formal verse, respecting the troubadours’ metrical innovations and their prodigious achievements in sonority and rhyme, can hope to convey both their individual voices and their collective charm. It is here that Robert Kehew’s anthology succeeds so brilliantly."

Barbara Newman | London Review of Books

"Kehew’s anthology showcases ranges with Occitan text laid out beside English translations, prefaced with brief biographies of the composers. While troubadour verse has long been available in modern English, Kehew’s collection is distinctive for its attempt at representing the songs’ formal characteristics in translation....[T]he troubadours continue to delight and intrigue, and this anthology is testament to three translators’ vigorous attempts to listen to and communicate their fascinating songs."

Kathleen Palti | Times Literary Supplement

"A volume making the best-known troubadour poems accessible in English translation to a wide readership was long overdue. I am grateful to Robert Kehew and W. D. Snodgrass for their efforts—and also to Ezra Pound."

John Haines | Music and Letters

"Kehew is an enthusiast, and this anthology is a brave attempt to enthuse and inform."

Ruth Morse | Guardian

"This is an important book. . . . It is a handsomely produced and illustrated selection, in paperback, of some of the most important lyrics composed between the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. . . . [It] is likely to generate a new wave of interest, among undergraduates and the general reader especially, in the emotional vitality and rhetorical freshness of a group of poets who . . . influenced profoundly not only medieval poets such as Dante and Chaucer, but English and French Romanticism and even, distantly, rock lyricists. . . . A valuable book: a useful and stimulating introduction to a poetic tradition undergraduate students and the general reader might otherwise neglect."

Michael P. Kuczynski | Medieval Review

"A welcome gift to readers eager to know something of the poetic achievement of the troubadours but unschooled in their language."

Samuel N. Rosenberg | Encomia

Table of Contents

Part 1: Dawn of a New Age
Guillem de Peiteus
Ab la dolchor del temps novel / A New Song for New Days
Farai un vers de dreyt nien / The Nothing Song
Farai un vers, pos mi somelh / The Ladies with the Cat

Quant l’aura doussa s’amarzis / When the Sweet Air Goes Bitter

A la fontana del vergier / By the Bank
L’autrier jost’ una sebissa / The Peasant Lassie
Pax in nomine Domini! / The Cleansing Place

Jaufre Rudel
Lanquan li jorn / A Love Afar
Quan lo rossinhol el fulhos / The Nightingale

Part 2: Zenith of the Troubadours

Bernart de Ventadorn
Can vei la lauzeta mover / The Skylark
Can l’erba fresch’ / When Tender Grass and Leaves Appear
Pois preyatz me, senhor / You’ve Asked, My Lords, for Song
Lancan vei la folha / Now the Birds Are Leaving
Be m’an perdut lai enves Ventadorn / Farewell to Ventadorn
Non es meravelha s’eu chan / No Marvel If My Song’s the Best

Peire d’Alvernhe
Rossinhol, el seu repaire / Nightengale, for Me Take Flight
Deiosta ls breus iorns e ls loncs sers / When Days Grow Short and Night Advances

Raimbaut d’Aurenga
Er resplan la flors enversa / Splendid Are the Flowers Reversed
Escotatz, mas no say que s’es / Beg Pardon, Lords

Guiraut de Bornelh
Reis glorios / Day’s Glorious Lord
Can lo freitz e l glatz e la neus / When the Ice and Cold and Snow Retreat

Peire Bremon lo Tort
En abril, quan vey verdeyar / From Syria

Bertran de Born
Be m platz lo gais temps de pascor / A War Song
Un sirventes on motz no falh / Quarrels Where Words Don’t Miss Fire
Domna, puois de me no us chal / Lady, Since You Care Nothing for Me
Ieu m’escondisc, domna, que mal no mier / He Protests His Innocence to a Lady
Belh m’es, quan vey camjar lo senhoratge / The Secret to Staying Young
Si tuit li dol e il plor e il marrimen / Planh for the Young English King

Comtessa de Dia
Estat ai en greu cossirier / Cruel Are the Pains I’ve Suffered
A chantar m’er de so q’ieu no volria / I’m Forced to Sing

Maria de Ventadorn and Gui d’Ussel
Gui d’Ussel be m pesa de vos / When a Lady Loves

Monge de Montaudon
Mout me platz deportz e gaieza / What I Like
Be m’enueia, s’o auzes dire / What I Don’t Like

Arnaut Daniel
Chansson do il mot son plan e prim / I’ll Make a Song
Autet e bas entrels prims fuoills / Now High and Low, Where Leaves Renew
Doutz brais e critz / Sweet Cries and Cracks
Can chai la fueilla / When Sere Leaf Falleth
L’aura amara / The Bitter Air
En cest sonet coind’e leri / Canzon: Of the Trades and Love

Arnaut de Marueill
Si m destreignetz, dompna, vos et Amors / Lady, by You and Love I Am So Swayed
Belh m’es quan lo vens m’alena / Fair Is It to Me

Gaucelm Faidit
Del gran golfe de mar / From the Depths of the Sea

Peire Vidal
Pos tornatz sui en Proensa / To Provence I Can Return Now
Ab l’alen tir vas me l’aire / The Song of Breath

Atressi co l signes fai / Even as the Swan

Raimbaut de Vaqueiras
Kalenda maya / May Day

Guillem de Cabestanh
Lo jorn qu’ie us vi, dompna, primeiramen / That Day, My Lady, When I First Discovered That You Exist

Part 3: Destruction of the Southern Courts
Folquet de Marseilla
Tant m’abellis l’amoros pessamens / So Pleasureth Me the Amorous Thought

Peire Cardenal
Una ciutatz fo, no sai cals / There Was a Town
Ar me puesc ieu lauzar d’Amor / I Dare to Claim, Now, Love Cannot
Un sirventes novel vueill comensar / A New Protest Song

Guillem Figueira
D’un sirventes far en est son que m’agenssa / Rome, Where Goodness Declines

Planher vuelh En Blacatz en aquest leugier so / I Want to Mourn Blacatz

Guillelma de Rosers and Lanfranc Cigala
Na Guillelma, maunt cavalier arratge / Which of the Two Behaved Most Fittingly?

Guiraut Riquier
Be m degra de chantar tener / It Would Be Best If I Refrained from Singing

Appendix: Alternate Translations
When the Soft Wind Turns Bitter (Quant l’aura doussa s’amarzis)
Folquet de Marseilla
So Much Does the Anxiety of Love Please Me
(Tant m’abellis l’amoros pessamens)

Index of First Lines and Titles

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