A fool’s love is like verse poor in the making

December 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

From the first edition of Proensa, Paul Blackburn's translation of the troubadour poets.

From the first edition of Proensa, Paul Blackburn’s translation of the troubadour poets.

CANSO

It is worthless to write a line
if the song proceed not from the heart :
nor can the song come from the heart
if there is no love in it.

Maligning fools, failing all else, brag
but love does not spoil,
but countered by love, fills,
fulfilling grows firm.
A fool’s love is like verse poor in the making,
only appearance and the name having,
for it loves naught but itself, can
take nothing of good,
corrupts the rhyme.

And their singing is not worth a dime
whose song comes not from within the heart.
If love has not set his roots there
the song cannot bud from the heart : whence
my song is superior, for I turn to it
mouth    eyes    mind    heart
and there is the joy of love in it.
And the binding glance is food for it
and the barter of sighs is food for it
and if desire is not equal between them
there is no good in it.

God grants me no strictness to counter my desire
yet I wonder if we afford its acceptance,
responsible for what we have of it. Though
each day goes badly for me
fine thought at least will I have from it
though no other thing :
for I have not a good heart and I work at it,
a man with nothing.

Yet she made me rich, a man with nothing.
Beautiful she is and comely, and the more
I see her openness and fresh body, the more
I need her and have smarting.
Yet so seldom her fine eyes look on me
one day must last me a hundred.
Yet her fine body—
when I gaze on it, I
grow like a canso, perfect.
And if desire is equal between us
the desire enters my throat.

— Bernart de Ventadorn (ca 1150-1180). Trans. Paul Blackburn, Proensa, Mallorca: Divers Press, 1953.

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