122.1: Claudia Keelan:: [You so blubber in my luver junk,] & [Girlfriend, I’m begging, don’t be rude] & [Friend, I’m bankrupt] 122

We begin our special issue on progressive translation with this series of translations from Claudia Keelan of the trobairitz, female troubadours who wrote at the end of the eleventh century and beginning of the twelfth. In Keelan's own words, the trobairitz "wrote a poetry that spoke truth to power, calling the bluff on a system that alternately worshipped and enslaved them." The style of language Keelan uses in these translations diverges from the usual elaborate, court-stylings of the more common troubadour translations. Rather than the elevated language of Ezra Pound's troubadours ("Though this measure quaint confine me, / And I chip out words and plane them, / They shall yet be true and clear"), the trobairitz spit lines like:

        Your upper town-town skanks my stutter,
        your stanky rank-rank burns my butter;
        Smug in the stats choking my home-speech.
        Suss it served up, pup-pup like a brother–
        No chow use for abuse to my luck lover...

Keelan locates the political and revolutionary nature of these poems by translating them using language that has more in common with Azealia Banks than the preceding Pound. What Keelan's choices remind us as readers is that at one point all poems and uses of language are new and revolutionary. Rather than bury this newness and revolutionary nature under an artificially old-sounding language, Keelan lets these trobairitz sing out, producing poems that are as radical and provocative today as they were nearly a millenia ago. Andrew Wessels

               [Vos que. m semblatz dels corals amadors,]

                       Garsenda de Dorcalquier (born c. 1170)
                       Tenso with Gui de Cavaillon

Vos que. m semblatz dels corals amadors,
ja non volgra que fossetz tan doptanz;
e platz me molt quar vos destreing m’amors,
qu’atressi sui eu per vos malaanz.
Ez avetz dan en vostre vulpillatge
quar no. us ausatz de preiar enardir,
e faitz a vos ez a mi gran dampnatge;
que ges dompna non ausa descobrir
tot so qu’il vol per paor de faillir.

Bona dompna, vostr’ onrada valors
mi fai temeros estar, tan es granz,
e no. m o tol negun’ autra paors
qu’eu non vos prec; que. us volria enanz
tan gen servir que non fezes oltrage–
qu’aissi. m sai eu de preiar enardir–
e volria que. I faich fosson messatge,
e presessetz en loc de precs servir;
qu’us honratz faitz deu be valer un dir.

[You so blubber in my luver junk,]

You so blubber in my luver junk,
so don’t go so slow to my nose worth.
Then you’ll flubber in the grassy cover,
because I’m phew with snotty hurt.
You dead bunny in the long run,
if you blob the talk of our dovey case;
and ouch ow ow for two you so refuse
while lady junk floats in outer space:
Mr Mute throw dirty over our two-face.

Your upper town-town skanks my stutter,
your stanky rank-rank burns my butter;
Smug in the stats choking my home-speech.
Suss it served up, pup-pup like a brother–
No chow use for abuse to my luck lover,
(see, I do lob to the bird’s case).
If only my lonely might message you,
you make big halo through sex’s place,
my lonely stats my mouth, my stake space.

               [Dompna n’Almucs, si us plages]

                       Almucs de Castelnau and Iseut de Capio (born c. 1140)

Dompna n’Almucs, si us plages
be. us volgra pregar d’aitan
que l’ira e.l mal talan
vos fezes tenir merces
de lui que sospir’ e plaing,
e muor languent e.s complaing
e quier perdon humilimen;
be. us fatz per lui sagramen,
si tot li voletz fenir,
qu’ el si gart meilz de fallir.

Dompna n’Iseus, s’ieu saubes
qu’el se pentis de l’engan
qu’el a fait vas mi tan gran,
ben fora dreich que n’agues
merces; mas a mi no. s taing,
pos que del tort no s’afraing
ni. s pentis del fallimen,
que n’aja mais chauzimen;
mas si vos faitz lui pentir,
leu podretz mi convertir.

[Girlfriend, I’m begging, don’t be rude]

Girlfriend, I’m begging, don’t be rude,
drop this bad act and trade in your rage,
& forgive your low down dude.
Put on a good face;
though he just lies there dying,
He’s sorry and keeps on trying;
if you want him dead, at least let him take
The last rites, the showdown, and he will wake
to stop hurting you, to stop playing fake.

Girl, if he even showed a little sad,
He might be able to erase
the upshot of his disgrace,
and I might pull back from being mad—
But I won’t be dumb,
since he’s gone deaf-mute, the bum,
and think he’s regrets his wrong; no release
for the liar who took away my peace.
Still, if you think you can make him come clean,
there might still be some love left in me.

               [Amics, en gran cossirier]

                       Raimbaut d’Aurenga and Anonymous Domna (born c. 1147-1173)

Amics, en gran cossirier
sui per vos et en greu pena,
e del mal qu’ieu en suffier
non cre que vos sentatz guaire;
doncs, per que. us metetz amaire,
pus a me laissatz tot lo mal?
Quar abdui no. l partem equal?

Domna, amors a tal meistier,
pus dos amics encandena,
que. l mal qu’an e l’alegrier
senta quecs a son vejaire;
qu’ieu pens, e non sui gubaire,
que la dura dolor coral
ai ieu tota a mon cabal.

Amics, s’acsetz un cartier
de la dolor que. m malmena,
be viratz mon encombrier;
mas no. us cal del mieu dan guaire,
que quan no m’en puesc estraire,
com que m’an, vos es cominal,
an me be o mal atretal.

Domna, quar ist lauzengier
que m’an tout sen e alena
son nostr’ anguoissos guerrier,
lais m’en, non per talan vaire,
quar no. us sui pres, qu’ab lor braire
nos an bastit tal joc mortal
que non jauzem jauzen jornal.

Amics, nulh grat no. us refier
quar ja. l mieus dans vos refrena
de vezer me que. us enquier;
e si vos faitz plus guardaire
del mieu dan qu’ieu non vuelh faire,
be. us tenc per sobreplus lejal
que no son cilh de l’espital.

Domna, ieu tem a sobrier
qu’aur perda, e vos arena,
que per dig de lauzengier
nostr’ amors torne s’en caire;
per so deg tener en guaire
trop plus que vos, per sanh Marsal,
quar etz la res que mais me val.

Amics, tan vos sai leugier
en fait d’amorosa mena
qu’ieu cug que de cavalier
siatz devengutz camjaire;
e deg vos o be retraire,
quar be paretz que pessetz d’al,
pus del mieu pessamen no. us cal.

Domna, jamais esparvier
non port, ni cas ab carena,
s’anc pus que. m detz joi entier
fui de nulh’ autra enquistaire;
ni non sui aitals bauzaire–
mas per enveja. l deslial
m’o alevon e. m fan venal.

Amics, creirai vos per aital
qu’aissi. us aja totz temps lejal.

Domna. aissi m’auretz lejal:
que jamais non pensarai d’al.

[Friend, I’m Bankrupt]

So “friend,” I’m bankrupt,
my pain a debt,
you don’t pay and don’t regret–
It costs too much, my wound, I bet.
You called me and I came,
I couldn’t stand a sequel–
pay back’s a bitch that makes us equal

Girl, love’s a tall mister
who two lovers share
so the good and the blister–
he’s a little queer to each.
I’ve though and no shit
that the durable dollar collars
me total to your cabal.

Dude, if you had a quarter
of my built in dolor
there be virtue in my briar;
You call my pain your thwarter,
and my real locale calls you liar.
So I wear the happy mask, or the blue:
my expressions, they’re all the same to you.

Girl, you bought those pictures from twisted sisters
who bash my rep and rap,
who sink you too until your listing;
I can’t come for you, but I’m still in your trap.
The twisted sisters keep on yapping,
You’re at risk on this stage,
the sex is gone that once was our gauge.

Frere, you’ll find no merci from me
since my pain bars your eyes
from the me that calls to you for free;
you want to save me from lies
from idiots whose talk is toxic to me;
I’m a shrine you travel by
and you, dog, loyal, but chained to a tree

Yeah, well now I’m almost bust
set to lose cash and amour, our alchemy,
twisted sisters staking misery,
making dumpy ruins of our lust;
I’d spot you before you know you’re found,
better than a cop, a saint, a stalker,
you my one, I’m your streetwalker.

Dude, I know you make all girls
baggage, target, and/or shrine,
though you front a different line
with bros who call us pearls.
No matter how close you keep me in sight,
there are other marks there too.
You can’t know the blot in my dreams at night—
I can’t shatter if your aim is true.

Trick, I will never again shoot my piece,
or ride with my posse,
if since we got raunchy
I signed another lease.
I’m not a con;
but twisted sisters give no peace,
until their lies show me cheat.

Boy, no choice but to catch your cred,
that no other will make our bed.

Darlin’, my cred is our bed,
no one else inside my head.

These translations are forthcoming in the collection Truth of My Songs: Poems from the Trobairitz from Omnidawn Press in 2015.