A Translation

Bernart de Ventadorn

“Can vei la lauzeta mover”


When I see the lark break

its wings against a sunbeam,

forget itself,

and fall

from that sweet joy

that pierces the heart,

O—my own could melt,

envying all those I see rejoicing.


Alas—how I hoped to know love,

yet how little have I learned!

For I now cannot help but love,

even if in vain.

My heart is given up—my whole self,

the world entire.

And I am left bereft

of everything but desire.


I have not ruled myself—

no—not been myself—

since I saw in those eyes

a mirror of delights.

O Mirror, since seeing myself in you,

those whispers from the deep have drowned me,

for I lost myself

like beautiful Narcissus in the fountain.


I’ve given up on women—

I won’t trust them again.

I will no longer defend them,

for I see none will help me

against the one who destroys and

confuses me—I fear them,

and I mistrust them,

for I know they are all alike.


My lady has proven herself a woman:

she does and loves as she pleases.

I have fallen into disgrace;

I have behaved

like the madman on the bridge.

I do not deserve this,

though perhaps

I climbed too high on the mountain.


I am beyond mercy’s reach,

and yet I never realized—

if mercy lacks where it should most thrive,

where shall I ever find it?

O—how cruel she has become,

she who will neither help nor let die

this disgraced yearner

who is lost without her.


Since I will not gain her favor

with pleading, with piety, or by rights,

and it gains me nothing to declare my love,

I’ll declare it no longer.

So I leave her and desist—

she has killed me; I speak as one among the dead.

I depart into exile, broken,

and I know not where I go.


You’ll hear nothing more from me, Lara—

I am broken, and I know not where I go.

I have no more songs to sing.

I hide myself from love and joy.

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