As I mentioned in my Purgatorio, Part 3 post, Arnaut was called by Ezra Pound the greatest poet to ever have lived, and Ezra Pound knew poets. For this Music Tuesday, I want to post a rendition of one of Arnaut’s compositions. As I said Arnaut is in purgatory repenting for his erotic love poetry, and this is a very sultry piece. I guess Arnaut was a sort of rock lyricist of his day, but with far more sophistication than rock lyrics.
Before I get to the piece, let me also say I love Medieval music. I spent a few years trying to learn as much as I could. It is not all religious. There is very much a secular tradition, though it seems that a great deal of the secular music might have been lost. There was no repository like the Catholic Church to preserve secular music. That’s a pity, because both secular and religious, medieval music is wonderful. As always, Wikipedia has an excellent site on medieval music.
The title of this piece is taken from the song’s first line, “Lo ferm voler qu'el cor m'intra,” which translates to “The firm will that my heart enters.”
Here are the first three stanzas in Arnaut’s Provencal:
Lo ferm voler qu'el cor m'intra
no'm pot ges becs escoissendre ni ongla
de lauzengier qui pert per mal dir s'arma;
e pus no l'aus batr'ab ram ni verja,
sivals a frau, lai on non aurai oncle,
jauzirai joi, en vergier o dins cambra.
Quan mi sove de la cambra
on a mon dan sai que nulhs om non intra
-ans me son tug plus que fraire ni oncle-
non ai membre no'm fremisca, neis l'ongla,
aissi cum fai l'enfas devant la verja:
tal paor ai no'l sia prop de l'arma.
Del cor li fos, non de l'arma,
e cossentis m'a celat dins sa cambra,
que plus mi nafra'l cor que colp de verja
qu'ar lo sieus sers lai ont ilh es non intra:
de lieis serai aisi cum carn e ongla
e non creirai castic d'amic ni d'oncle.
And here is the translation of those three stanzas.
The firm will that my heart enters
can't be scraped by beak nor by nail
of slanderer who damns with ill speaking his soul;
since I don't dare beat them with bough or rod,
at least, secretly, where I won't have any uncle,
I'll enjoy pleasure, in the garden or in the room.
When I remember the room
where, to my scorn, I know no man enters
-instead they are all to me more than brother or uncle-
I have no limb that doesn't shake, not even the fingernail,
just as a child is before the rod:
such is my fear of not being close to her soul.
Were I close to her body, not to her soul,
were she to let me hide in her room,
since it hurts my heart more than strike of rod
that her servant isn't there where she enters:
I'll be with her what flesh is to nail
and I won't follow advice of friend or of uncle.
Oh do read the entire translated song.