Bertran de Born: a Provençal troubadour who composed both love songs and political songs


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  • The Lord of Oc and No
  • The beautiful spring delights me well,
  • When flowers and leaves grow;
  • And it pleases my heart to hear the swell
  • From the sweet chorus of flowing birds
  • In the resonant wood;
  • And I like to see, all scattered,
  • Pavilions, tents, on the martial field;
  • And my mind finds it good
  • To see, on the flat plains beyond,
  • Cheerful knights and caparisoned steeds.
  • I like it when daring spearmen
  • Make men and armies fly;
  • And it makes me happy to hear around
  • The voice of soldiers shouting;
  • And the joy is mine
  • When the fortified castles, besieged, tremble,
  • And the walls, uprooted, totter and crack;
  • And I see the enemies joining,
  • On the shore surrounded by moats
  • With the palisade and the tumulus guarded.—
  • Spears and swords, stained helms,
  • And shields dismantled and broken,
  • At the edge of the bloody battle scene,
  • The field of anger announces;
  • And the vassals are there,
  • And there fly the couriers of the dying and the dead;
  • And, where mingled quarrels spread,
  • The care of the noblest warrior
  • Is to split the limbs and the head of the enemy,
  • The winner less of the living than of the dead.
  • I tell you that nothing of my soul can rejoice,
  • Or banquet, or rest,
  • As the apparition cry of “Charge ’em” sounded
  • On each side, as at the end of the battle,
  • where the horses neigh,
  • And the call for “help” rings loudly;
  • And there on earth the humble and the proud
  • In the ditch together lie;
  • And over there is piled the mangled heap
  • Braves who climbed the steep slope of the trench.
  • Barons! your castles in a safe place,
  • Your towns and villages too,
  • Before rushing to the battle scene;
  • And Papiol! go quickly,
  • And tell the Lord to “Oc and No”
  • This peace has already been for too long!

Bertran de Born

Bertran de Born (c. 1140-1215) was a Provençal troubadour and baron of Limousin in France. He composed both love songs and political songs (the latter were called sirsales). Due to his involvement in the political rebellions of the time, Dante places him in hell as a schism-sower, where he is depicted carrying his severed head like a lantern. In an attempt to resurrect the poet’s reputation, 20th-century poet Ezra Pound both translated his work and wrote original poems based on de Born’s life and songs.

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