Thibaut de Champagne

(1201 - 1253 / France)

I can’t prevent myself from singing


I can’t prevent myself from singing,
And yet I’m full of grief and sadness,
Though joy is always a lovely thing,
And no one takes pleasure in distress.
I don’t sing as one loved will sing
But as one troubled, downcast, weeping,
Since I’ve no more hope of happiness,
Ever deceived by what words are weaving.

I will tell you one thing without lying:
Love greatly depends on fate and chance,
If I could sever from her, cease loving,
It would be better than ruling France.
Now I’ve spoken like a mad thing,
Her beauties I’d rather die recalling
Her great wisdom and sweet acquaintance,
Than see the whole wide world bowing.

I’ll never be happy, I’m sure that’s true,
Since Love hates, and my lady forgets me,
Yet there’s sense for one with love in view
In not fearing death, or pain, or folly.
As I give myself, with Love so willing,
To my lady, then it’s of his desiring,
That I shall die or regain my lady,
Or my life will be not worth living.

The Phoenix seeks the wood of the vine
And plunging there dies an incendiary.
So I sought death and this torment of mine
When I saw her, should pity not find me.
God! How beautiful that first seeing
That brought upon me so much suffering!
The memory makes me die of my need
For her, my desire, and my great longing.

The marvellous power of Love is such
He gives joy and sadness as He wishes,
Me he keeps in misery overmuch.
Reason tells me to think of other issues.
But I have a heart beyond discovering:
‘Love! Love! Love!’ ever commanding.
No other argument’s there but kisses,
And I’ll love, from that there is no turning.

Mercy, my lady, who knows all things!
All goodness and everything worth having
Are yours: more than any woman living.
Help me, now, it is in your giving!

Song! To my friend, Philip, go running!
Since he’s become a Courtly being,
All his love is transformed to hating:
He’s scarcely loved by the fair and loving.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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