Thursday, 24 December 2015

Troubadour Song


Due to personal matters I've had to neglect this blog for the last few months. Apologies. I hope to be back, perhaps with good news, in the New Year.  In the meantime here's an unseasonal medieval song (though for some reason, medieval songs always feel Christmassy to me.)  The author is anonymous, the approximate translation is mine; the music is by the Follorum Ensemble. A happy Christmas or winter holiday to you all!

Voulez vous que je vous chante
Un son d’amours avenant?
Vilain nel fist mie,
Ainz le fist un chevalier
Sous l’ombre d’un olivier
Entre les bras s’amie.

Would you like me to sing you
A fine song of love?
By no peasant was it made:
But a gentle knight who lay
With his true love in his arms
In an olive tree’s shade.

Chemisete avoit de lin
Et blanc peliçon hermin
Et bliaut de soie
Chauces ot de jaglolai
Et solers de flours de mai
Estroitement chauçade

Her chemise was of linen
And her white pelisse of ermine
Of silk was her dress.
Her stockings were of iris leaves
And her slippers of mayflowers
Her feet to caress.

Ceinturete avoit de feuille
Que verdist quant li tens meuille,
D’or est boutonade
L’aumosniere estoit d’amour
Li pendant furent de flours
Par amours fu donade.

Her belt was of leaves
Which grow green when it rains,
Her buttons of gold so fine.
Her purse was a gift of love,
And it hung from flowery chains
As it were a lovers’ shrine.

Et chevauchoit une mule
D’argent ert la ferruere
La sele ert dorade;
Sus la croupe par derriers
Avoit plante trois rosiers
Pour faire li ombrage.

 And she rode on a mule
The saddle was of gold,
All silver were its shoes;
Behind her on the crupper
To provide her with shade
Three rose bushes grew.

Si s’en va aval la pree
Chevaliers l’ont encontree
Beau l’on saluade:
“Belle, dont estes vous nee?”
“De France sui la louee,
De plus haut parage.”

As she passed through the fields
She met gentle knights
Who begged courteously:
“Fair one, where were you born?”
“From France am I come,
And of high family.

“Li rossignol est mon pere
Qui chant sor la ramee
El plus haut boscage.
La seraine est mon mere
Qui chante en la mer sale
Li plus haut rivage.”

 “The nightingale is my father
Who sings from the branches
Of the forest’s highest tree.
The mermaid is my mother
Who sings her sweet chant
On the banks of the salt sea.”

“Belle, bon fussiez vous nee!
Bien estes emparentee
Et de haut parage.
Pleüst á Dieu nostre pere
Que vous ne fussiez donee
A femme esposade.”

“Fair one, well were you born!
Well fathered, well mothered,
And of high family.
If God would only grant
That you might be given
In marriage to me!”

Picture credits:

Lovers: The Maastricht Hours,

Lady riding: Gerard Horenbout, 16th century, Wikipedia

Maastricht Hours, Southern Netherlands (Liège), 1st quarter of the 14th century - See more at:


Maastricht Hours, Southern Netherlands (Liège), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Stowe 17, f. 273 - See more at:
Maastricht Hours, Southern Netherlands (Liège), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Stowe 17, f. 273 - See more at:
Maastricht Hours, Southern Netherlands (Liège), 1st quarter of the 14th century, Stowe 17, f. 273 - See more at:

Mermaid:  Besançon - BM - ms. 0069, detail of p. 458. Breviary, use of Besançon. Rouen, before 1498.


  1. I hope all is well with you. Best wishes for the new year.

  2. Oh, yes, I know that song, lovely! Never seen the translation, though. Thanks for doing that. And have a great festive season and new year. I am looking forward to more posts, as this in one of my favourite blogs.

  3. I haven't paused to read your post... but i hope all is well with you.
    Merry Christmas.

  4. I agree with Sue B - this is one of the best posts!
    Sending you best wishes.

    This here peasant resents the song's implication that only songs written by gentle (ha!) knights are worth listening to!

  5. I've just discovered your blog and have had a wonderful time reading through some of your posts this evening. I do hope you are well.