Lyrics for Singing

Note: These are “singing translations,” made to fit music composed for the original poems.

Can vei la lauzeta

Bernart de Ventadorn (12th c.)

When I have seen the skylark wing
Its way in joy against the light,
And with the sweet beams entering
Its rapt heart, falter in its flight,
Ah, to what envy I fall prey
Of all who in contentment go;
I marvel my heart doesn’t fray
Or burst outright desiring so.

Oh, I thought I knew everything
Of love; my knowledge proved so slight,
That I could not help worshipping
One who my love would not requite.
She took my heart, all of me, nay,
Herself, with the whole world in tow,
And on me, nothing but dismay
And heart-longing did she bestow.

I lost the power to do one thing,
Nor was I mine, since in those bright
Eyes I saw my own imaging,
A mirror that entranced me quite.
O Mirror, since I looked your way,
I die in deep sighs, and die slow,
Like that fair Narcissus they say
Lost himself in the water’s glow.

Ah, ladies are disheartening!
I feel nothing for them but spite;
They had my fervent championing,
But I for them no longer fight.
I see not one enter the fray
Against my murderess and foe;
I doubt them and distrust them, yea,
They’re all the same, and that I know.

From women’s ways not varying,
My lady’s to blame in my sight,
To all she ought to want won’t cling,
And only does what isn’t right.
Disgraced, I seem compelled to play
The fool upon the bridge, with no
Idea how I came to stray;
Too high did my ambitions grow?

That grace, it seems, has taken wing,
That never did on me alight,
Since she from whom it most should spring
Does not show any, who then might?
Seeing her, who would ever say
That this same love-sick wretch, although
Without her he will pine away,
She would let die, not cure his woe?

Since nothing from her can I wring
By prayers or pity, or by right,
And never pleasure to her bring
By loving her, my lips are tight:
I leave, renounce her, will not stay.
I, whom she murdered long ago,
Speak from the dead, and from this day,
Go exiled, where I do not know.

Tristan, ask no more of me, pray.
I, wretch, gone where I do not know,
Renounce my singing from this day,
And all of joy and love forgo.

[Music presumed to be poet’s; preserved in various sources, esp. Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan, R71 sup.]

Meeres Stille


Stillness deepens on the water,
Calm, unstirring, lies the sea.
Round him sees the worried sailor
Glassy flatness endlessly;
Not a breath from any quarter,
Deathly still, a fearful pall!
Nowhere on the monstrous border
Stirs there any wave at all.

[Music: Franz Schubert, D. 216]