Saturday, November 03, 2012

A translation of Guillaume de Machaut's "Un Po Apres Le Temps d'Autonne"

A little after autumn time

When those who cultivate the vine

Pick their grapes and fill the tun

And with work that’s lightly done

Each man offers to his fellow

Pears and grapes and peaches mellow

When in the soil the corn-seeds grow

And the leaf falls from the bough

By Nature’s or the wind’s design

In thirteen hundred forty-nine

On the ninth day of November

I was closed up in my chamber.

Had the sky been bright and clear

I should have gone to take the air

But the mountains and the meadows

Were hid in fog and deepest shadows

So I was taken by the gloom

Thinking in my lonely room

How all men everywhere are governed

By cronies meeting in the tavern

How truth and justice in the land

Are dead, slain by the hand

Of greed, who over them holds reign

As if she were a sovereign queen

How the rulers rob the ruled

Sack, plunder and assault the world

Crushing them in their distress

Merciless and pitiless

Great mischief seems it to my mind

When vice and power are combined
(Translation by blog author, 03 November 2012. Copyright.)
Original text:
Un po apres le temps d’autonne
Que chascuns vandange et entonne
Qui a vingnes a vandangier
Et qu’on a a petit dangier
Pesches moust poires et roisins
dont on presente a ses voisins
Que li blez en la terre germe
Et que la fueille chiet dou cherme
Par nature ou dou vent qui vente
L’an mil trois cens nuef et quarante
Le novisme jour de novembre
M’en aloie par mi ma chambre
Et se li airs fust clers et purs
Je fusse ailleurs mais si obscurs
Estoit que montaignes et plains
Estoient de bruines pleins.
Si que la merencolioie
Tous seuls en ma chambre et pensoie
Comment par conseil de taverne
Li mondes par tout se gouverne
Comment justice et verite
Sont mortes par l’iniquite
D’avarice qui en maint regne
Com dame souvereinne regne
Com li signeur leur subgiez pillent
Roubent raembent et essillent
et mettent a destruction
Sans pitie ne compation
Si que grans meschies ce me samble
Est de vice et pooir ensamble.

From Le Jugement du roy de Navarre  by Guillaume de Machaut (d. 1377)


Nick Drew said...

good man !

Paddington said...

Nicely done. My school French from 1973 recognized 'et'

James Higham said...

Well done, Sackers.

Why? ;-)

hatfield girl said...

Translation is just that. Carrying something into somewhere else but losing nothing. So you're moving through time, cultures, modes, even as you find the utmost accuracy in matches of words. Most of all in poetry. What might be called a moving experience for the translator.

Musicians too have to do all this; emoting, say, loss, in the 17th century is a different undertaking from emoting the feeling of loss in the 19th. Affekt they call it, always by the German word - surprisingly there is no English expression.

Truth, justice, vice, greed....very hard to choose just those English words without wearing your 14th century brain.

Enviable, to be able to do such a translation.

Sackerson said...

Thank you so much, HG, I came across it, felt it spoke to me today, thought I could do it. As you say, translation isn't replacing one word with another but recreating an experience.

James - see first sentence.