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Songs

Longuement me sui tenus - Lai - “Lay de bonne Esperance” (from 'Le Voir Dit')

by Guillaume de Machaut

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Text & Translation

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Longuement me sui tenus - Lai - “Lay de bonne Esperance” (from 'Le Voir Dit')
French source: GUILLAUME DE MACHAUT

Longuement me sui tenus
De faire lais,
Car d’amours estoie nus,
Mais des or mais
Ferai chans et virelais.
G’i sui tenus,
Qu’en amours me sui rendus
A tous jours mais.

Se un petit ay esté mus,
Je n’en puis mais,
Car pris sui et retenus,
Et au cuer trais
Tout en un lieu de .ij. trais
D’uns yex fendus,
Vairs, poingnans, ses et agus,
Rians et gais.

Car ma dame, que Diex gart,
Par un dous riant regart
D’Ardant Desir fist un dart
Et un d’Esperence.
Mais mort m’eüst, sans doubtance,
Desirs et sans deffiance
S’Espoirs ou j’ay ma fiance
Ne fust de ma part.

Car quant je senti l’espart
Dou regart qui mon cuer art,
Ne perdi, a tiers n’a quart,
Scens et contenance,
Mais tout maniere et puissance.
Lors me fist penre plaisence
En ma jolie souffrance
Espoirs par son art.

Mais ce durement m’esmaie,
Que ne say
Se ceste amoureuse plaie
Qu’au cuer ay
Vient d’Smours ou de cuer vray.
Car Dous Regars maint cuer plaie
Qu’ailleurs dame amy a gay.
S’en morray
S’einsi m’est; mais d’amour vraie
L’ameray.

Ne voloir que m’en retraie
Ja n’aray
Pour doleur que mes cuers traie.
Eins seray
Vrais et de cuer serviray
Ma dame plaisant et gaie.
Et quant mes jours fineray,
Sans delay
Mon cuer, que s’amour deplaie,
Li lairay.

For a long time I’ve refrained - Lay of good Hope
English translation © R. Barton Palmer

For a long time I’ve refrained
From composing lays,
Being empty of love,
But from now on
I’ll write songs and virelais.
This I’ve resolved,
Having surrendered to Love
For ever more.

If I’ve been somewhat quiet,
I can no longer be,
Being captured and held,
And shot through the heart
With two bolts right in one spot
By a pair of eyes,
Grey-green, piercing, charming, and striking,
Smiling and gay.

For my lady — may God save her! —
Through her sweet smiling look
Made one dart of burning Desire
And one of Hope.
But Desire, and there is no doubt,
Would have killed me with no warning
Had not Hope, in whom my trust is placed,
Been on my side.

For when I felt the glow
Of the look that burns my heart,
I lost not just a third or fourth
Of my wit and composure,
But all demeanour and power.
Then Hope made me take pleasure
In my sweet suffering
Through her skill.

But I am so completely dismayed,
Because I don’t know
If this lover’s wound
That’s in my heart
Comes from Love or a heart that’s true.
For Sweet Look wounds many a heart
When the lady has some other lover who pleases.
And I’ll die
Should this be so; but with a true love
I will love her.

I’ll never have the will
To draw back
Because of the pain that tries my heart.
Rather I’ll remain
True, serving from the heart
My pleasant and gay lady.
And when my days end,
At once,
My heart, wounded by her love,
I’ll bequeath to her.

Longuement me sui tenus - Lai - “Lay de bonne Esperance” (from 'Le Voir Dit')
French source: GUILLAUME DE MACHAUT

For a long time I’ve refrained - Lay of good Hope
English source: R. Barton Palmer

Longuement me sui tenus
For a long time I’ve refrained
De faire lais,
From composing lays,
Car d’amours estoie nus,
Being empty of love,
Mais des or mais
But from now on
Ferai chans et virelais.
I’ll write songs and virelais.
G’i sui tenus,
This I’ve resolved,
Qu’en amours me sui rendus
Having surrendered to Love
A tous jours mais.
For ever more.

Se un petit ay esté mus,
If I’ve been somewhat quiet,
Je n’en puis mais,
I can no longer be,
Car pris sui et retenus,
Being captured and held,
Et au cuer trais
And shot through the heart
Tout en un lieu de .ij. trais
With two bolts right in one spot
D’uns yex fendus,
By a pair of eyes,
Vairs, poingnans, ses et agus,
Grey-green, piercing, charming, and striking,
Rians et gais.
Smiling and gay.

Car ma dame, que Diex gart,
For my lady — may God save her! —
Par un dous riant regart
Through her sweet smiling look
D’Ardant Desir fist un dart
Made one dart of burning Desire
Et un d’Esperence.
And one of Hope.
Mais mort m’eüst, sans doubtance,
But Desire, and there is no doubt,
Desirs et sans deffiance
Would have killed me with no warning
S’Espoirs ou j’ay ma fiance
Had not Hope, in whom my trust is placed,
Ne fust de ma part.
Been on my side.

Car quant je senti l’espart
For when I felt the glow
Dou regart qui mon cuer art,
Of the look that burns my heart,
Ne perdi, a tiers n’a quart,
I lost not just a third or fourth
Scens et contenance,
Of my wit and composure,
Mais tout maniere et puissance.
But all demeanour and power.
Lors me fist penre plaisence
Then Hope made me take pleasure
En ma jolie souffrance
In my sweet suffering
Espoirs par son art.
Through her skill.

Mais ce durement m’esmaie,
But I am so completely dismayed,
Que ne say
Because I don’t know
Se ceste amoureuse plaie
If this lover’s wound
Qu’au cuer ay
That’s in my heart
Vient d’Smours ou de cuer vray.
Comes from Love or a heart that’s true.
Car Dous Regars maint cuer plaie
For Sweet Look wounds many a heart
Qu’ailleurs dame amy a gay.
When the lady has some other lover who pleases.
S’en morray
And I’ll die
S’einsi m’est; mais d’amour vraie
Should this be so; but with a true love
L’ameray.
I will love her.

Ne voloir que m’en retraie
I’ll never have the will
Ja n’aray
To draw back
Pour doleur que mes cuers traie.
Because of the pain that tries my heart.
Eins seray
Rather I’ll remain
Vrais et de cuer serviray
True, serving from the heart
Ma dame plaisant et gaie.
My pleasant and gay lady.
Et quant mes jours fineray,
And when my days end,
Sans delay
At once,
Mon cuer, que s’amour deplaie,
My heart, wounded by her love,
Li lairay.
I’ll bequeath to her.

Composer

Guillaume de Machaut

Guillaume de Machaut is presumed to have been born around the year 1300; the first surviving documentary evidence from 1330 lists him as a ‘clerk’ in the household of John of Bohemia and suggests that he had been in service since 1323. Machaut was…

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