Nominated for the 1996 Grand Prix des Discophiles
Critic's Choice, Gramophone Magazine (London)

Erato CD 4509-94B25-2


Anne Azéma, voice
Jean-Luc Madier, voice
François Harismendy, voice
Margriet Tindemans, vielle
Cheryl Ann Fulton, harp

Joël Cohen, voice, oriental lute

Bernard and the troubadours
Every since the middle ages, the troubadours of Provence have exerted a special kind of fascination for historians, poets, and lovers of music and literature. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, this relatively small coterie of creative spirits composed several thousand rhymed, strophic works, most of them delicate love poetry. They wrote in a magnificent, expressive literary language that was once a kind of Esperanto of Southern Europe, but that is now nearly forgotten, the Occitan (Provençal) of Southern France. The troubadours and their love lyrics left an enormous influence on the speech, the sound, the mannners, the values, and the lifestyles of succeeding generations, right down to our own day.

What is more, the troubadours helped to create a poeticized, romantic image of the Middle Ages that continues to hold sway in popular culture, from books and films to high-tech video games. Yet the troubadours were in most respects non- conformists, working and living against the grain of most medieval life. In his best known song, the greatest of the troubadours, Bernard (Bernatz) de Ventadorn, compares himself to the fool on the bridge. Most folks, we infer from Bernard's metaphor, cross the bridge lengthwise, from one riverbank to the next. The fool, instead, moves sideways, and he takes a plunge! Like the other troubadours, Bernard de Ventadorn had good reason for feeling and describing himself as someone different. Medieval society was by and large very harsh; the masses of men and women struggled for subsistence, and most men of higher station strove for power and riches. Bernard, on the other hand, created for himself, and for a tiny circle of connoisseurs, and exquisite dream worle, one of subtle feeling, self-contemplation, and diffused erotic yearning. The life-path of a "normal" medieval man was often centered around pillage and plunder. Marriage was a form of real estate, and sexual experience for most -- to paraphrase Thomas Hobbes -- was nasty, brutish, and short. Bernard chose instead the evanescent pleasures of sound and rhyme, a bachelor's existence, and the pursuit of idealized love with already-married women. In Le Fou sur le Pont , the Camerata Mediterannea performs representative selection of Bernard's songs, including some which we believe to be among the most beautiful in all of medieval music. To frame the songs, and to place them in the context of Bernard's life, you will also be hearing the medieval biography of Bernard, composed by another, later troubadour named Uc de Saint Circ. The voices are those of singers Anne Azéma, Jean-Luc Madier, Gérard Zuchetto, and Joel Cohen. Instrumental accompaniments to the troubadour's single-line melodies have been devised by Joel Cohen, lute; Margriet Tindemans, bowed strings; and Cheryl Ann Fulton, harps. Bernard's passionate creations, by turns sad, funny, and nostalgic deserve to be experienced and enjoyed. We invite you to take the plunge with us, as Camerata Mediterranea performs The Fool on the Bridge.

These notes are (c) 1996 by Joel Cohen

All texts and melodies by the troubadour Bernard de Ventadorn (fl. 1147-1170) unless otherwise noted.
Musical editions and arrangements: Joel Cohen
The spoken biography (vida) of Ventadorn is attributed to the troubador Uc de Sant Circ (fl. 1217-1253).

1. Can vei la lauzeta mover (instrumental)

2. Non es meravelha s'eu chan
Madier, Fulton, Tindemans

3. Cantarai d'aquest trobadors (text: Peire d'Alvernhe; music: Gautier de Coincy)
Harismendy, Cohen, Fulton, Tindemans

4. Lo gens temps de pascor (text: Ventadorn; music: Guiraut de Riquer)
Azéma, Tindemans

5. narration
Can l'herba fresch'e.l folha par
Madier, Fulton

Pois preyatz me, senhor

7. Tant ai mo cor ple de joya (text: Ventadorn; music: Anonymous, Chansonnier Cangé)
Madier. Fulton, Tindemans

8. narration

9. Per mels cobrir lo mal pes (text: Ventadorn; music: Uc Brunenc)
Azéma, Fulton, Tindemans

10. narration
Bel m'es can eu vei la brolha
Azéma, Fulton

11. narration
Lancan vei per mei la landa (text: Ventadorn; music: Anonymous, Chansonnier Cangé)
Harismendy, Cohen

12. narration
En cossirer e en esmai
Azéma, Tindemans

13. narration
Era.m conseillatz, senhor
Cohen (voice and lute), Fulton, Tindemans

14. narration
Can vei la lauzeta mover
Madier, Tindemans

15. narration
music: Lancan vei la folha (instrumental)
Fulton, Tindemans
text: Tuit cil que.m preyon qu'eu chan

16. Amics Bernart de Ventadorn (Peire d'Alvernhe and Bernard de Ventadorn)
Harismendy and Cohen; Madier and Fulton

17. narration
Can vei la lauzeta mover (envoi)
Madier, Fulton, Tindemans


le fou sur le pont.

Bernard de Ventadorn
Lo fols en pon (The Fool on the Bridge): The CD Script

séléction, rédaction, et édition musicale: Joel Cohen

musique: Quan vei la lauzeta (instrumental)

musique: Non es meravelha s'eu chan

         Non es meravelha s'eu chan
melhs de nul autre chantador,
que plus me tra.l cors vas amor
el melhs sui faihz a so coman.
Cor e cors e saber e sen
e fors' e poder i ai mes.
Si.m tira vas amor lo fres
que vas autra part no.m aten.

Cant eu la vei, be m'es parven
als olhs, al vis, a la color
car aissi tremble de paor
com fa la folha contra.l ven.
Non ai de sen per un efan
aissi sui d'amor entrepres;
e d'ome qu'es aissi conques
pot domn'aver almorna gran.

Ai Deus! car se fosson trian
d'entrels faus li fin amador,
e.lh lauzenger e.lh trichador
portesson corns el fron denan!
Tot l'aur del mon e tot l'argen
i volgr'aver dat, s'eu l'agues,
sol que ma domna conogues 
aissi com eu l'am finamen.

Bona domna, re deman
mas que.m prendatz per servidor,
qu' servirai com bo senhor,
cossi que del gazardo m'an. m'al vostre comandamen,
francs cors umils, gais e cortes
Ors ni leos non etz vos ges
que.m aucizatz, s'a vos me ren.

A Mo Cortes, lai on ilh es,
tramet lo vers, e ja no.lh pes
car n'ai estat tan lonjamen.
(It's no wonder that I sing better than any other singer, for I am the one whose heart is most strongly drawn towards love, and the most obedient to Love's law. Heart and body, intellect and instinct, strength and power, all these have I engaged. And the bridle steers me so strongly to love that I pay no attention to anthing else.

When / see her, it's visible in my eyes, my face, my color, because I tremble with fear like a leaf in the wind. I have no more sense than a babe, so dominated am I by love; and for a man so vanquished, a lady should have great sollicitude.

Oh, God! If it were only possible to separate out the true lovers and the false; and if the flatterers and cheats only wore horns in the middle of their foreheads. All the gold in the world, all the silver, if I had them, I would give them away, so that my lady could see how truly I love her.

Good Lady, I ask you nothing else but that you take me as your servant, so that I could serve you as a good master, whatever my reward may be. You see me here at your orders, you who are honest and humble, cheerful and courtly. You are neither a lion nor a bear, who would kill me if I gave myself to you.

To my Courtly One, where she is, I send this verse, and may it not weigh that / am so far distant.) musique: Cantarai d'aquest trobadors (P. d'Alvernhe) strophe 1

         Cantarai d'aquestz trobadors
que canton de maintas colors
e.l pieier cuida dir mout gen;
mas a cantar lor er aillors
q'entrametre.n vei cen pastors
c'us non sap qe.s mont'o.s dissen.
(I shall sing of the troubadours who sing in every kind of way; and many think the worst of them. But I see a hundred shepherds, and don't know if they are going up or going down.)

texte recité avec musique:
Ieu, Uc de Sant Circ, sieu de Caersi, d'un borc qui a nom Tegra, fils d'En Arman de Sant Circ. E ai amparat letras, et sai cansos e vers, e sirventes, e tensos e coblas. Et sai faich dich dels valens homes e de las valens domnas que eron al mon, ni eron estat.

Bernartz de Ventador si fo de Lemosin, d'un chastel de Ventador, de paubra generation, fils d'un sirven e d'una fornegiera, si con dis Peire d'Alvergne de lui en son chantar, quan dis mal de tot[z] los trobadors:

(I, Hugh of Saint Circ, come from the Quercy, from a town called Tegra, son of Sire Armand of Saint Circ. And I have learned how to read and write, and I know songs and poems, and sirventes, and tensos, and coblas. And I know of the words and deeds of the valiant men and women who live and have lived in this world. Bernard de Ventadorn was from the Limousin, from the chateau of Ventadorn, of lowborn parents, the son of a serf and a bakery girl, as Peire d'Auvergne says in the song where he speaks ill of all the troubadours:)


         Lo terz Bernartz de Ventadorn
qu'es meindre d'En Borneil un dorn;
en son paire ac bon sirven
que portav'ades arc d'alborn;
e sa mair'escaldava.l forn
e.l pair'adusia l'essermen.
(The third is Bernard de Ventadorn, shorter by a handsbreadth than Sire Borneilh. And his father was a good serf, and carried the broom cuttings; and his mother got the oven hot, and his father supplied the kindling.)

texte recité avec musique: Mas de qui qu' En Bernart fos fils, Dieus li det bella persona et avinen, e gentil cor, don fo el comensamen gentilessa, e det li sen e saber e cortesia e gen parlar; et aveia sotilessa et art de trobar bos mots e gais sons.

(But regardless of whose son Sire Bernard was, God gave him a handsome and comely appearance and a noble heart, from which nobility springs, and gave him discernement and wisdom, courtesy and fair speech. And he had the subtle skill and art of composing good words and happy tunes.)

musique: Lo gens temps de pascor

          Lo gens temps de pascor
ab la frescha verdor
nos adui folh'e flor
de diversa color,
per que tuih amador
son gai e chantador
mas eu, que planh e plor
c'us jois no m'a sabor

a totz me clam, senhor
de midons e d'Amor,
c'aicist dui traïdor,
car me fiav' en lor
me fan viur'a dolor
per ben e per onor
c'ai faih a la gensor,
que no.m val ni.m acor.

Pois fom amdui efan
l'am ades e la blan;
e.s vai m'amors doblan
a chascu jorn del an.
E si no.m fai enan
amor e bel semblan,
cant er velha,.m deman
que l'aya bo talan.

Las! e viure que.m val,
s'eu no vei a jornal
mo fi joi natural
en leih, sotz fenestral,
cors blanc tot atretal
com la neus a nadal,
si c'amdui comunal
mesuram s'em egal?

Be fór'oimais sazos,
bela domna e pros,
que. m fos datz a rescos
en baizan guizardos, 
si ja per als no fos,
mas car sui enveyos,
c'us bes val d'autres dos,
can per fors'es faihz dos.

Bel Vezer, si no fos
mos enans totz en vos
laissat agra chansos
per mal dels enoyos.
(The fair season of Easter, with new green, brings us leaves and flowers of various colors, so that all lovers are gay, and sing, except for me, weeping and lamenting, for I taste of no joy. I make my case to you all, gentlefolk, against my lady and Love; for these two traitors, in whom I had trusted, make me live in sorrow, for all the good and honor I have done for the fair one, who neither values nor succors me.

Since the time when we were both children I love and court her. And my love doubles evey day of the year. And if we don't make love now and aren't friendly, she can just try asking later on, when we are old, if I feel like it.

Alas! What is life worth to me, if I cannot see every day my true, natural joy in bed, under the window, her body all white like the Christmas snow, so that in common we can take measure to see if we are equal?

It's the season henceforth, fair and precious lady, that in secret you give me a kiss as recompense, for no other reason than that I desire it. For such a kiss is worth two of the other kind, those that are given by constraint.

Fair-to-See, if my welfare were not entirely dependent on you, I would have left off singing because of the meanness of the bluestockings.

texte recité avec musique: E.l vescoms de Ventadorn si avia moiller bella e gaia e joven e gentil; et abellic se d'En Bernart e de las soas chansos, et enamoret se de lui et el de leis, si qu'el fetz sos vers e sas chansos d'ella, de l'amor qu'el avia ad ella, e de la valor de la dompna.

(The count of Ventadorn had a wife who was beautiful and gay and young and good-natured. And she was charmed by Sire Bernard and his songs, and she fell in love with him and he with her, so much so that he wrote his poems and songs about her, about the love he had for her, and about the virtues of his lady.)

musique: Quan l'herba fresqu'el.h folha

         Can l'erba fresch'e.lh folha par
e la flors boton'el verjan
e.l rossinhols autet e clar
leva sa vots e mou so chan,
joi ai de lui, e joi ai de la flor
e joi de me e de midons major;
daus totas partz sui de joi claus e sens,
mas sel es jois que totz autres jois vens.

Tan am midons e la tenh car,
e tan la dopt' e la reblan
c'anc de me no.lh auzi parlar,
ni re no.lh quer ni re no.lh man.
Pero elh sap mo mal e ma dolor,
e can li plai, mi fai be e onor,
e can li plai, eu m'en sofert ab mens,
per so c'a leis no.n avenha blastens.

S'eu saubés la gen enchantar,
mei enemic foran efan,
que ja us no saubra triar
ni dir re que.ns tornes a dan.
Adoncs sai eu que vira la gensor
e sos bels olhs e sa frescha color,
e baizera.lh la bocha en totz sens,
si que d'un mes i paregra lo sens.

Be la volgra sola trobar,
que dormis, o.n fezés semblan,
per qu'e.lh emblès un doutz baizar,
pus no valh tan qu'eu lo.lh deman.
Per Deu, domna, pauc esplecham d'amor;
vai s'en lo tems, e perdem lo melhor!
Parlar degram ab cubertz entresens,
e, pus no.ns val arditz, valgués nos gens!

Ai las! com mor de cossirar!
que manhtas vetz en cossir tan:
lairó m'en poirian portar
que re no sabria que.s fan.
Per Deu, Amors! be.m tròbas vensedor:
ab pauc d'amics e ses autre senhor.
Car una vetz tan midons no destrens
abans qu'eu fos del dezirer estens?

Messatger, vai, e no m'en prezes mens,
s'eu del anar vas midons sui temens.
(When the new vegetation and the leaves appear, when the flowers bloom on the branch, and when the nightingale clear and loud raises its voice and begins to sing, I rejoice in the nightingale, and in the flowers, and in myself, and most of all in my lady. I am surrounded by joy on all sides, but she is the joy from which all other joys come.

So much do I love my lady, and hold her dear, and so much do I fear and honor her, that I dare not talk to her of myself. I ask her nothing and I send her nothing. But still she knows of my pain and sorrow, and when it pleases her she bestows on me grace and honor, and when it pleases her I submit to even less so that no blame may come to her.

If I knew how to cast spells on people, my enemies would become babes, so that none of them could discover anything that could be turned against us. I know now that I will see my lady, and her fair eyes and fresh color, and I will kiss her on the mouth every which way, so that for a month the marks will be visible.

I would like to find her alone, sleeping, or pretending to sleep, so that I could steal a sweet kiss from her, since I am not worth so much that I could ask it of her. By God, lady, little do we profit from our love; time passes, and we are losing the best moments. We should speak in a coded language, and since audacity is worth little, may ingenuity be the thing.

Alas! I die from desire. For often, I am so full of yearning that theives could carry me off, and I wouldn't even realize what was happening. By God, Love! you find me Defeated (vensedor=Ventadorn), with few friends and without another master. Why don't you, once, ensnare my lady, before I am consumed with passion?)

texte: E dieus li det tant de ventura, per son bel captenemen e per son gai trobar, qu'ella li volc ben outra mesura, que no.i gardet sen, ni gentilessa, ni honor, ni valor, ni blasme, mas fugi son sen, et seget sa voluntat.

(And God gave him such good fortune, because of his fine comportment and his joyful compositions, that she loved him without limit, and she kept neither reason nor nobility nor honor nor valor nor opprobrium, but she fled her reason, and followed her will.)

musique: Pois preyatz me, senhor

         Pois preyatz me, senhor,
qu'eu chan, eu chantarai;
e can cuit chantar, plor
a l'ora c'o essai.
Greu veiretz chantador
be chan, si mal li vai.
Vai me doncs mal d'amor?
Ans mels que no fetz mai!
E doncs, per que m'esmai?

Gran ben e gran onor
conosc que Deus me fai,
qu'eu am la belazor
et ilh me, qu'eu o sai.
Mas eu sui sai, alhor,
e no sai com l'estai!
So m'auci de dolor,
car ochaizo non ai
de soven venir lai.

Amors, e que.m farai?
Si garrai ja ab te?
Ara cuit qu'e.m morrai
del dezirer que.m ve,
si.lh bela lai on jai
no m'aizis pres de se,
qu'eu la manei e bai
et estrenha vas me
so cors blanc, gras e le.

Bona domna, merce
del vostre fin aman!
Mas jonchas, ab col cle,
vos m'autrei e.m coman.
Qu' pliu per bona fe
c'anc re no amei tan.
E si locs s'esdeve,
vos me fatz bel semblan,
que molt n'ai gran talan.
(Since you request me to sing, my Lords, I shall sing.And when I think of singing, I weep just at the moment when I begin. You will hardly ever here a singer who sings well, if he is unhappy. Am I thus unhappy in love? No, rather better than ever. Then why I am I in disarray?

I know that God has done me a great honor, since I love the most beautiful of women and she me, as far as I know. But I am elsewhere, and I do not know how she is, which kills me with sorrow, for I do not often have the opportunity to go there.

Now, Love, what shall I do? Shall I ever be cured of you? Right now I think I will die of the desire that comes upon me, if the fair one invites me to be near her, where she sleeps, so that I can caress and kiss and hold next to mine her body, white, round, and smooth.

Sweet lady, have pity on your faithful lover! Hands joined, head bowed, I commend myself to your mercy. For I swear to you in faith that I have never loved anyone as much as you. And if the right moment occurs, show me your best behavior, for I really desire it so.)

musique: Tant ai mo cor

         Tant ai mo cor ple de joya,
tot me desnatura.
Flor blancha, vermeilh'e groya
me par la frejura,
c'ab lo ven et ab la ploya
me creis l'aventura,
per que mos chans mont' e poya
e mos pretz melhura.
Tan ai al cor d'amor,
de joi e de doussor, 
per qu'el gels me sembla flor
e la neus verdura.

Anar posc ses vestidura,
nutz en ma chamiza,
car fin'amors m'asegura
de la freja biza.
Mas es fols qui.s desmezura,
e no.s te de guiza,
Per qu'eu ai pres de me cura,
deis c'agui enquiza
la plus bela d'amor,
don aten tan d'onor,
car en loc de sa ricor
non volh aver Piza.

Eu n'ai la bon'esperansa.
Mas petit m'aonda,
c'atressi.m ten en balansa
com la naus en l'onda.
Del mal pes que.m desenansa,
non sai on m'esconda.
Tota noih me vir'e.m lansa
desobre l'esponda.
Plus trac pena d'amor
de Tristan l'amador
que.n sofri manta dolor
per Izeut la blonda.
(My heart is so full of joy that everything is changed for me. The cold season seems like a flower, white, vermillion, and yellow. For with the wind and the rain my good fortune grows, so that my singing rises up, and my worth augments. I have so much love in my heart, so much joy and sweetness, that the ice seems like flowers, and the snow like greenery.

I go around without clothes, naked under my nightshirt, for true love protects me from the cold wind. But he is mad who goes beyond measure and does not behave according to custom. And so I have been on my guard since I have sought the love of the most beautiful lady, from whom I expect much honor. For I would not give up all her riches for Pisa itself.

I have good hope. But that's of little help, because she holds me in balance like a ship on the waves. From the bad thoughts that depress me I do not know how to escape. Every night I toss and turn on my bed. I have more pain from love than Tristan the lover, who suffered many woes for Iseult, the Blond.

texte (François): Mout duret lor amors longa sason enens que.l vescoms, sos maritz, s'en aperceubes. E quan s'en fo aperceubutz, mout fo dolens e tris; e mes la vescomtessa, sa moiller, en gran tristessa et en gran dolor; e fez dar comjat a Bernart de Ventador qu'el issis de la sua encontrada, si con dis En Bernart en son chantar:

(Their love lasted a long time, until the count, her husband, grew aware of it. And when he became aware, he was unhappy and sorrowful. And he plunged the countess, his wife, into great sorrow and sadness. And he caused leave to be given to Bernard de Ventadorn, that he go away from the count's domain, as Sire Bernard says in his song:)

         Mas fals lauzengier engres
m'an lunhat de so pais
que tals s'en fai esdevis
qu'eu cuidera qu'ens celes
si.ns saubes ams d'un coratge.
(But the false intriguers have distanced me from her country; and that one has become a spy whom / thought would have helped us, if he knew our souls had one will.)

musique: Per mels cobrir lo mal pes (Anne)

         Per melhs cobrir lo mal pes e.l cossire
chan e deport et ai joi e solatz;
e fatz esfortz car sai chantar ni rire,
car eu me mor e nul semblan no.n fatz;
e per Amor sui si apoderatz,
tot m'a vencut a forsa e batalha.

Anc Deus no fetz trebalhas ni martire,
ses mal d'amor, qu'eu no sofris en patz;
mas d'aquel sui, si be.m peza, sofrire,
c'Amors mi fai amar lai on li platz;
e dic vos be que s'eu no sui amatz,
ges no reman en lai mia nualha.

Midons sui om et amics e servire,
e no.lh en quer mais autras amistatz
mas c'a celat los seus bels olhs me vire,
que gran be.m fan ades can sui iratz;
e ren lor en laus e merces e gratz,
qu'el mon non ai amic que tan me valha.

Dins en mo cor me corrotz e.m azire,
car eu sec tan las mias volontatz.
Mas negus om no deu aital re dire,
c'om no sap ges com s'es aventuratz.
Que farai doncs dels bels semblans privatz?
Falhirai lor? Mais volh que.l mons me falha!

Corona, man salutz e amistaz,
e prec midons que m'ayut e me valha.
(To better hide the dark thoughts and the pain, I sing and play around, I have pleasure and solace; I make an effort, because I know how to sing and laugh. Still, I am dying, but show no sign of it, and by Love am so overcome, for Love has conquered me by force and battle.

Never has God created martyrdom and travail that I could not undergo peacefully, except for lovesickness. Still, although it weighs on me, I suffer it, for Love makes me love where he pleases. And I say to you that if I am not loved, it is not the fault of my passivity.

I am the servant and friend and vassal of my lady, and I do not ask from her any other favor but this: secretly, to turn her fair eyes to me, for when I am distraught they do me much good. In my heart I blame and accuse myself for following so my desires. Noone should say such things, because we never know what our destiny will be. What shall I do, then, with her beautiful, secret glances? Shall I fail them? Better that the world itself fail me.

Corona, I send greetings and love, and I pray my lady that she aid and assist me.)

(Francois:) E (Bernart) se'n issi e se'n anet en Normandia, a la dukessa qu'era adonc domna dels normans, et era joves et gaia e de gran valor e de prez e de gran poder, et entendia mout en honor et en prez...

(And Bernard left, and went to Normandy, to the duchess who was at that time the mistress of the Normans. And she was young and gay, of great worth and valor, and powerful, and wise in the ways of honor and merit...)

musique: (harpe)

Francois: Et enaissi con el s'enamoret de la moiller de son seignor, enaissi s'enamoret de la duchessa, et ella de lui.

(And so just as he had fallen in love with the wife of his lord, he fell in love with the duchess, and she with him.)

poème récitée avec musique: Bel m'es can eu vei la brolha (Anne)

         Bel m'es can eu vei la bròlha
reverdir per mei lo brolh
e.lh ram son cubert de folha
e.l rossinhols sotz de folh
chanta d'amor, don me dolh;
e platz me qued eu m'en dolha,
ab sol qued amar me volha
cela qu'eu desir e volh.

Eu la volh can plus s'orgolha
vas me, mas oncas orgolh
n'ac va lei. Per so m'acolha
ma domna, pois tan l'acolh
c'a tota autras me tolh
per lei, cui Deus no me tolha.
Ans li do cor qu'en grat colha
so que totz jorns s'amor colh.

S'amor colh, qui m'empreizona,
per lei que mala preizo
me fai, c'ades m'ochaizona
d'aisso don ai ochaizo.
Tort n'a, mas eu lo.lh perdo,
e mos cors li reperdona,
car tan la sai bel'e bona
que tuih li mal m'en son bo.

Bo son tuih li  mal que.m dona;
mas per Deu li quer un do:
que ma bocha, que jeona,
d'un douz baizar dejeo.
Mas trop quer gran guizerdo
celei que tan guizardona;
e can eu l'en arazona,
ilh me chamja ma razo.

Ma razo chamja e vira;
mas eu ges de lei no.m vir
mo fi cor, que la dezira
aitan que tuih mei dezir
son de lei per cui sospir.
E car ela no sospira,
sai qu'en lei ma mortz se mira,
can sa gran beutat remir.

Ma mort remir, que jauzir
no.n posc ni no.n sui jauzire;
mas eu sui tan bos sofrire
c'atendre cuit per sofrir.
(It pleases me to see the trees turning green in the middle of the forest, when the branches are covered with leaves and the nightingale under the leaves sings of love, that from which I suffer. And it pleases me to suffer from love, if only she whom I desire wants to love me.

I want her, though she is haughty towards me, but I have never been haughty towards her. May thus my lady welcome me, since I welcome her so well that I abandon all the others for her, provided that God does not abandon me. May it inspire in her rather the desire to acknowledge the fact that I acknowledge each day her love in me.

I acknowledge her love that imprisons me, for her who casts me into a bad prison. Now she reproaches me things for which I bear her reproach.Wrong she is, but I pardon her, and my heart pardons her, for I know the season to be fair and good, and that all wrongs to me are good.

Good are all the wrongs she does me, but I ask God one gift: that my mouth, which is fasting, receive from her a sweet kiss as break-fast. I demand too great a reward of she who rewards so generously; and when I reason to her, she changes my reasons.

My reason changes and shifts, but I hardly change at all my faithful heart, which desires her so much that all my desires are for her for whom I sigh. And since she does not sigh [for me], I know that in her my death is contemplated, when I contemplate her great beauty.

I contemplate my death, since I cannot pleasure in her and am not pleasured. But I am such a good patient that I can await in patience.)

(François:) Lonc temps ac gran joia d'ella, e gran benenansa, entro qu'ella tolc lo rei Enric d'Angleterra per marit e que la.n menà outra lo braç del mar d'Angleterra.

(Long did he have great joy from her, and great happiness, until the day when she took for husband King Henry of England who took her beyond the channel of the sea of England.)

musique: Lancan vei per mei la landa (François)

         Lancan vei per mei la landa
dels arbres chazer la fòlha,
ans que.lh frejura s'espanda
ni.l gens termini s'esconda,
m'es bel que si' auzitz mos chans,
qu'estat n' aurai mais de dos ans,
e cové que.n fass' esmenda.

Mout m'es greu que ja reblanda
celeis que vas me s'orgòlha
car si mos cors re.lh demanda,
no.lh platz que mot m'i responda.
Be m'auci mos nescis talans,
car sec d' amor los bels semblans
e no ve c' amors lh' atenda.

Deus, que tot lo mon garanda,
li met' en cor que m'acòlha,
c' a me no te pro vianda
ni negus bes no.m aonda.
Tan sui vas la bela doptans,
per qu' e.m ren a leis merceyans:
si.lh platz, que.m don o que.m venda!

Mal o fara, si no.m manda
venir lai on se despòlha,
qu'eu sia per sa comanda
pres del leih, josta l'esponda,
e.lh sotlars be chaussans,
a genolhs e umilians,
si.lh platz que sos pes me tenda.

Faihz es lo vers tot a randa,
si que motz no.i deschapdòlha,
outra la terra normanda,
part la fera mar prionda;
e si.m sui de midons lonhans,
vas se.m tira com azimans
la bela cui Deus defenda.

Si.l reis engles e.l ducs  normans
o vol, eu la veira abans
que l'iverns nos sobreprenda.

(parlé)Pel rei sui engles e normans,
e si no fos Mos Azimans,
restera tro part calenda.
(When I see the leaves of the trees fall off in the middle of the fields, before the cold spreads and the good season disappears, it seems good to me that my song be heard, for I have not done so in over two years, and I should atone for that.

It is painful for me to serve still the one who is so haughty towards me, for if my heart demands something of her she doesn't wish to speak even a word. My foolish desire kills me, because it pursues the fair appearance of love, and does not see that love awaits.

May God, who guards the universe, place in her heart a welcome for me, for no food is of benefit to me, and no bounty consoles me. I am so uncertain concerning the fair one that I deliver myself, pleading for mercy, to her. So if she wishes, she can give me away, or sell me.

She would do a wrong if she did not invite me to come to the place where she undresses, so that I may be at her command, next to her, at the edge of the bed, and I would take off her graceful slippers, on my knees and humble, if it pleased her to extend to me her feet.

This poem is perfectly made, without a single badly-made word, beyond the land of Normandy, beyound the wild and deep sea. And although I am far from my lady, I am drawn to her like a magnet, she whom God may protect.

If the English king and the Norman duke wish it, I shall see her before the winter takes us by surprise. By grace of the king I am English, and Norman, and if it were not for My Magnet, I would remain here until after Christmas.)

(Anne): Mas En Bernart no vi mai la dukessa, ni so messatge. (But Sire Bernard never saw the duchess again, and never heard from her.)

(François:) Bernartz de Ventador si amà una domna gentil e bella e si la serví tant e la honret q'ella fetz so q'el volc en dics et en faics. Mas pois cambiet voluntatz a la domna, q'ella volc autr'amador; et el o saup e fo tris e dolens e creset se partir d'ella, car mout era greus la compania de l'autre. (Bernard de Ventadorn loved a fair and noble lady and he served her and honored her so well that she did all that he wished, in words and in deeds. But then the lady changed her will, for she wanted another lover. And he learned of it, and was sad and mournful and thought he would leave her, for the society of his rival was painful to him.)

musique: En cossirer e en esmai (Anne)

          En cossirer et en esmai
sui d'un amor que.m lass'e.m te,
que tan no vau ni sai ni lai
qu'ilh ades no.m tenh' en so fre,
c' aras m'a dat cor e talen
qu' eu enqueses, si podia,
tal que, si.l reis l'enqueria,
auria faih gran ardimen.

Ai las, chaitius! e que.m farai?
ni cal cosselh penrai de me?
Qu'ela no sap lo mal qu'eu trai
ni eu no.lh aus clamar merce.
Fol nesci! ben as pauc de sen,
qu'ela nonca t' amaria
per nom que per drudaria,
c'ans no.t laisses levar al ven!

E doncs, pois atressi.m morrai,
dirai li l'afan que m'en ve?
Vers es c'ades lo li dirai.
no farai, a la mia fe.
si sabia c'a un tenen
en fos tot' Espanha mia;
mais vol morir de feunia
car anc me venc en pessamen.

Pois messatger no.lh trametrai
ni a me dire no.s cove,
negu cosselh de me no sai;
mais d'una re me conort be:
ela sap letras et enten,
et agrada.m qu'eu escria
los motz, e s'a leis plazia,
legis los al meu sauvamen.
(In anguish and torment am I because of a love that grips and holds me so that I can go neither here nor there without her holding me in her harness. And now I have courage and desire to court, if I can, one who, if the King himself were to pursue her, he would show great audacity.

Alas, unhappy one that I am! What shall I do? What counsel shall I take? For she does not know the sorrow that I bear, nor do I dare beg her for mercy. Fool, you have little understanding, since she will never love you, neither in name nor through intimacy. Let yourself be blown away by the wind. And so, since I must die, shall I confess to her my sorrow? Truly, I should do it right away. I won't do it, by my faith, even if I knew that all Spain would be mine. I would rather die of shame than to have entertained such a thought.

Since I shall not send her a messenger, and it is not fitting for me to speak myself, I don't know how to advise myself. But one thing consoles me: she knows the alphabet, and how to read, and I enjoy writing words, and if she pleases, may she read them so that I may be saved.)

(François:) Puois s'en penset, con hom vencuz d'amor, qe miels li era q'els agues en leis la meitat qe del tot la perdes. E Don Bernartz de Ventador si fez aquesta chanson que dis: Ar m'aconseillaz, seignor.

(But then he thought, as a man conquered by love, than it would be better to have half of her than to lose her entirely. And Master Bernard de Ventadorn wrote the song that begins: "Now give me counsel, Lords.")

musique: Era.m conseillatz (Joel)

          Era.m cosselhatz, senhor,
vos c'avetz saber e sen:
una domna.m det s'amor,
c'ai amada lonjamen;
mas eras sai de vertat
qu'ilh a autr'amic privat,
ni anc de nul companho
companha tan greus no.m fo.

D'una re sui en error
e.n estau en pensamen:
que m'alonje ma dolor,
s'eu aquest plai li cossen,
e s'aissi.l dic mon pessat,
vei mon damnatge doblat.
Cal que.n fassa o cal que no,
re no posc far de mo pro.

E s'eu l'am a dezonor,
esquerns er a tota gen;
e tenran m'en li pluzor
per cornut e per sofren.
E s'aissi pert s'amistat,
be.m tenh per dezeretat
d'amor, e ja Deus no.m do
mais faire vers ni chanso.

Pois voutz sui en la folor,
be serai fols, s'eu no pren
d'aquestz dos mals lo menor;
que mais val, mo essien,
qu'eu ay' en leis la meitat
que.l tot perda per foldat,
car anc a nul drut felo
d'amor non vi far so pro.

Pois vol autre amador
ma domn', eu non lo.lh defen;
e lais m'en mais per paor
que per autre chauzimen;
e s'anc om dec aver grat
de nul servizi forsat,
be dei aver guizerdo
eu, que tan gran tort perdo.

De l'aiga que dels olhs plor,
escriu salutz mais de cen,
que tramet a la gensor
et a la plus avinen.
Mantas vetz m'es pois membrat
de so que.m fetz al comjat:
que.lh vi cobrir sa faisso,
c'anc no.m poc dir oc ni no.

Garsio, ara.m chantat
ma chanso, et la.m portat
a mo Messager, qu'i fo,
q'elh quer cosselh qu'el me do.
(Now give me counsel, Lords, you who are wise and intelligent. A lady, whom I long loved, gave me her love. But now I know for sure that she has another lover in secret, and never the company of another companion was so hard to bear.

One thing makes me out of sorts and pensive: that I prolong my suffering if I agree to this case. And if I say what I think, I see my injuries doubled. Whatever I do, or don't do, I can't accomplish for my own good.

And if I love her in dishonor, I shall be scorned by all; and the majority will consider me a passive cuckold. But if I lose her friendship, I hold myself disinherited by love, and may God never permit me again to compose verses and songs.

Since I am involved in madness, I should be mad if I did not chose the lesser of these two evils. for it is better, in my opinion, to have half of her than to loose everything through folly; for I have never seen an unfaithful lover win out for himself in love.

Since you want another lover, my lady, I shall not forbid it. And I agree more from fear than from anything else. And if ever someone should be grateful for forced labor, I should be rewarded, who have pardoned so great a wrong.

With the water that flows from my eyes, I send greetings, more than a hundred, that I transmit to the most fair and noble one. Often do I remember what she would do on parting -- how she would cover her face, so that she would be saying neither yes nor no.

Garsio, now go and sing my song, and bring it to my Messenger, who was there, and to whom I demand what counsel he [she] would give.)

(Anne): E apelava la Bernart "Alauzeta" per amor d'un cavalier que l'amava, e ella apelet lui Rai. E un jorn venc lo cavaliers a la duguessa, e entrat en la cambra. La dona que.l vi, leva adonc lo pan del mantel, e mes li sobr'al col, e laissa si cazer e leig. E Bernart vi tot, car una donzela de la domna li ac mostrat cubertamen. E per aquesta razo fez adonc la canso que dis: Quan vei l'alauzeta mover.

(And Bernard called her "the Lark," because of the love of a knight who loved her, and she called him Ray. And one day the knight came to the duchess, and went into her room. The lady, when she saw him, raised the corner of her dress, lifted it up to her neck, and lay down on her bed. And Bernard saw everything, for a servant girl of the lady showed him everything in secret. And for this reason he wrote the song that goes "When I see the lark moving..")

musique: Can vei la lauzeta (Jean-Luc)

          Can vei la lauzeta mover
de joi sas alas contra.l rai,
que s'oblid' e.s laissa chazer 
per la doussor c'al cor li vai,
ai! tan grans enveya m'en ve
de cui qu'eu veya jauzion,
meravilhas ai, car desse
lo cor de desirer no.m fon.

Ai las! tan cuidava saber
d'amor, e tan petit en sai,
car eu d'amar no.m posc tener
celeis don ja pro non aurai.
Tout m'a mo cor, e tout m'a me,
e se mezeis e tot lo mon;
e can se.m tolc, no.m laisset re
mas dezirer e cor volon.

Anc non agui  de me poder
ni no fui  meus de l'or' en sai
que.m laisset en sos olhs vezer
en un miralh que mout me plai.
Miralhs, pus me mirei en te,
m'an mort li sospir de preon,
c'aissi.m perdei com perdet se
lo bels Narcisus en la fon.

De las domnas me desesper
ja mais en lor no.m fiarai;
c'aissi com las solh chaptener,
enaissi las deschaptenrai.
Pois vei c'una pro no m'en te
vas leis que.m destrui e.m cofon
totas las dopt'e las mescre,
car be sai c'atretals se son.

D'aisso's fa be femna parer
ma domna, per qu'e.lh o retrai,
car no vol so c'om deu voler,
e so c'om li deveda, fai.
Chazutz sui en mala merce,
et ai be fai co.l fols en pon;
e no sai per que m'esdeve,
mas car trop puyei contra mon.

Pus ab midons no.m pot valer
precs ni  merces ni.l dreiz qu'eu ai,
ni a leis no ven a plazer
qu'eu l'am, ja mais no.lh o dirai,
Aissi.m part de leis e.m recre;
mort m'a, e per mort li respon,
e vau m'en, pus ilh no.m rete,
chaitius, en issilh, no sai on.
(When I see the lark joyfully moving its wings against the sun's rays, and falling because of the sweetness that enters its heart, ah! a great envy comes upon me of all those who I see happy. I am astonished that my heart does not melt with desire.

Alas! I thought I knew so much about love, and I know so little, because I cannot stop loving the one from whom I will never obtain anything. She has taken my heart, myself, herself, and the whole world, and has left me with nothing but yearning and a languishing heart.

I no longer have power over myself, and am no longer my own person, from the moment when she lets me look into her eyes, that mirror that pleases me so. Mirror, since I am mirrored in you, my sighs have caused my death, for I am lost just as Narcissus lost himself in the fountain.

I despair of women; never more shall I trust them. As once I exalted them, now shall I cast them down. Since I see that not one of them is for me against she who destroys and confounds me, I doubt and mistrust them all, since I well know they are all the same.

A nd in this I see that my lady is very much a woman, and that is why I criticize her. For she does not want that which she should want, and that which she is forbidden, she does. I am fallen very low, and I have acted like the fool on the bridge. And I don't know why this has happened to me, unless it's because I tried to mount too high.

Since nothing works any more with my lady -- neither prayers nor pity nor my rights concerning her; and since it no longer pleases her that I love her, I will never more say it to her. And so I take my leave and go away from her. She has killed me, and I respond to her with death. And I leave, since she doesn't retain me, I the unhappy one, into exile, I know not where.)

(François, avec musique:) Et partic se de Normandia e venc se.n al bon comte Raimon de Toloza, e estet ab lui en sa cort entro qu.els coms mori. E quan lo coms fo mortz, En Bernartz abandonet lo mon e.l solatz del segle e pois se rendet a l'órden de Dalon.

(And he left Normandy, and went to the good count Raymond of Toulouse. He remained at that court until the count died. And when the count was dead, Sire Bernard abandoned the things of this world and composition and song and the pleasures of life, and he entered the order of Dalon.)

[musique: Lancan vei la folha (instrumental)] poème récité:

          Tuit cil que.m preyon qu'eu chan,
volgra saubesson lo ver,
s'eu n'ai aize ni lezer.
Chantes qui chantar volria,
qu'eu non saup ni chan ni via,
pois perdei ma benanansa
per ma mala destinansa.
(All those who ask me to sing should know the truth about whether I have the time or the inclination. Let he who wants to sing, sing, for I know neither song nor style, since I have lost my joy through my cursed destiny.)

musique: Amics Bernart de Ventadorn (François et Jean-Luc)

          Amics Bernartz de Ventadorn,
com vos podetz de chant sofrir,
can aissi auzetz esbaudir
lo rossinholet noih e jorn?
Auyatz lo joi que demena!
Tota noih chanta sotz la flor,
melhs s'enten que vos en amor.

Peire, lo dormir e.l sojorn
am mais que.l rossinhol auvir;
ni ja tan no.m sabriatz dir
que mais en la folia torn.
Deu lau, fors sui de chadena,
e vos e tuih l'autr' amador
etz remazut en la folor.

Bernartz, greu er pros ni cortes
que ab amor no.s sap tener;
ni j tan fara doler
que mai no valha c'autre bes,
car, si fai mal, pois abena.
Greu a om gran be ses dolor;
mas ades vens lo jois lo plor.

Peire, si fos dos ans o tres
lo segles faihz al meu plazer,
de domnas vos dic eu lo ver:
non foran mais preyadas ges,
ans sostengran tan greu pena
qu'elas nos feiran tan d'onor
c'ans nos prejaran que nos lor.

Bernatz, so non es d'avinen
que domnas preyon; ans cove
c'om las prec e lor clam merce;
et es plus fols, mon escien,
que cel qui semn' en l'arena,
qui las blasma ni lor valor;
e mou de mal ensenhador.

Peire, mout ai lo cor dolen,
can d'una faussa me sove,
que m'a mort, e no sai per que,
mas car l'amava finamen.
Faih ai lonja carantena,
e sai, si la fezes lonhorn,
ades la trobara pejor.

Bernartz,  foudatz vos amena,
car aissi vos partetz d'amor,
per cui a om pretz e valor.

Peire, qui ama, desena,
car las trichairitz entre lor
an tout joi e pretz e valor.
(-- Friend Bernard de Ventadorn, how can you refrain from singing when thus you hear the nightingale rejoicing day and night? Listen to the joy he manifests. Every night he sings under the flowers; he is wiser in the ways of love than you.

-- Pierre, I prefer sleep and rest to the nightingale's voice. And you can speak this way to me for a long time before I relapse into folly. God be praised, I am free of the chains, while you and the other lovers remain in folly.

-- Bernard, it is difficult to be courtly and successful for him who does not persevere in love. Neither can love cause us such sorrow that it is not worth more than any other good. For if it hurts, later it consoles. It's hard to have a great boon without suffering; but joy conquers tears.

-- Pierre, if for two or three years the world were made as I would like, the ladies (I tell you the truth) would no longer be pursued. Instead they would undergo such extreme pain that they would do us the honor of bring suit, rather than us to them.

-- Bernard, it is not seeming for women to court, it is rather the man who pursues and asks for mercy. Madder than he who sows in the sand, in my opinion, is he who denigrates their virtue, and such a man is badly educated.

-- Pierre, my heart is very sad when I remember that false one who killed me, I know not why, unless it was because I loved her truly. I have long been in quarantine, and if I prolonged it, I would find her worse still. -- Bernard, folly has gained you, for you leave off love, through which one gains worth and valor.

-- Pierre, he who loves is mad, for the traitresses among them have undone joy and worth and valor.)

(François, avec musique:) E lai, a l'orden de Dalon, En Bernard fenic. E lo coms N'Ebles de Ventadorn, que fo fils de la vescomtessa qu'en Bernartz amet, comtet a me, N'Uc de Saint Circ, so qu'ieu ai fait escriure d'En Bernart de Ventadorn.

(And there, at the abbey of Dalon, Sire Bernard ended his days. And the Count, Sire Ebles of Ventadorn, who was the son of the countess that Sire Bernard loved, told to me, Hugh of Saint Circ, that which I have written about Sire Bernard de Ventadorn.)

musique: Can vei la lauzeta ( l'envoi chanté par Jean-Luc):

         Tristans, ges no.n auretz de me,
qu'eu m'en vau, chaitius, no sai on,
De chantar me gic e.m recre
e de joi e d'amor m'escon.
(Tristan, you will have no more of me, since I go away, unhappy, I know not where. I leave off and renounce singing, and refuse joy and love.)

October 7, 1993

The translations, and the ordering of the material, are © by Joel Cohen. These texts are provided for study purposes. Le Fou sur le Pont is a copyrighted work. Please write for permission to reproduce or perform.

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