A statue of Froissart at the LouvreThree Translations of the Poetry of Jean Froissart, by Margaret Coats The Society January 18, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Deconstructing Communism, Poetry, Translation 2 Comments Translator’s note: The following consists of three poems by Jehan (or Jean) Froissart (c.1335–c.1410), translated not very literally but as far as possible in the original form, with its elaborate repetition and rhyme scheme. The form appears to have been created by Froissart. He calls these poems rondiaus qui sont entés en es balades qui s’ensuivent or “rondeaux grafted onto the ballades that follow.” As the eight-line rondeau he employs is now called a triolet, here are three “triolets with ballade glose.” Understanding Nature Nature fashions nothing By random evolution; Without real causes prompting Nature fashions nothing. Though scholars rant in plotting Against her constitution, Nature fashions nothing By random evolution. Nature fashions nothing Except as God created, In wisdom once allotting The forms she propagated; To her He delegated Sure means of distribution; She is not animated By random evolution. Without real causes prompting, Researchers permeated By ignorance besotting Trust theories outdated, But Nature has re-stated That chance is no solution, And time is overrated By random evolution. Though scholars rant in plotting Their unsubstantiated Denials when confronting What Nature legislated, Such science fabricated Against her constitution Discredits them, deflated By random evolution. French original Nature ne fait rien De dissolucion, Se ce n’est par moien, Nature ne fait rien; Quand le naturien Y met solucion, Nature ne fait rien De dissolucion. Nature ne fait rien Que par comandement Du roy celestien, Qui la fist proprement Et donna sentement De bonne intencion, Non pas entendement De dissolucion. Se ce n’est par moyen D’aucun qui folement Preingne divers maintien En son esbatement, Ou Nature ne sent En sa condition Aucun atouchement De dissolucion. Quant le naturien Bien congnoisant entent Parler contre le bien De Nature, il ne tent Qu’a honneur et briefment Y met solucion, Et l’escuse humblement De dissolucion. Translator’s Note: Yes, the medieval author defies evolution. He calls it “dissolution,” meaning “disorder” and thereby denouncing the idea of creation from chaos. He would also reject another concept known in his time, that life can come from non-living matter, such as rotting wood that in “dissolution” seems to produce maggots. If he knew of it, he would affirm the second law of thermodynamics, which states that disorder in natural systems always increases, and thus cannot give rise to more complex order in nature, no matter how much time there is for chance to operate. True Likeness Love is the bread that nourishes A family’s hearts with honeyed grace; Love is the wine a home relishes, Love is the bread that nourishes, Love is the counsel that banishes Contrary claims when kindred embrace; Love is the bread that nourishes A family’s hearts with honeyed grace. Love is the bread that nourishes Health in pure hearts, and spiritual gain; Love is the key that furnishes Freedom and friendship in duty’s domain; Love shows kind hearts how virtues reign; Love is the consecrated space Where banquets of manna entertain A family’s hearts with honeyed grace. Love is the wine a home relishes, Sweetening lives austere or plain; Love understands and cherishes Those of his own who suffer pain; Love soothes the troubles that vex life in vain. Love is the fruit whose flavor can brace Courage in households ready to train A family’s hearts with honeyed grace. Love is the counsel that banishes Anger from honor’s noble terrain; Love in itself accomplishes Anything gentle words ordain. Love is a bridle, quick to restrain Contrary claims when kindred embrace, Offering comforts fit to sustain A family’s hearts with honeyed grace. French Original Amours est le pain qui repaist Par grace les cuers familleux; Amours est le vin qui tant plaist, Amours et le pain qui repaist. Amours est le conseil tout prest A refraindre les merveilleux; Amours est le pain qui repaist Par grace les cuers familleux. Amours est le pain qui repaist Le cuer de creature humaine; Amours est la clef et l’arrest Qui tient les cuers en son demaine; Amours les bons cuers à bien maine; Amours est le grain vertueux Qui repaist de manne mondaine Par grace les cuers familleux. Amours est le vin qui tant plaist, Odourant souef comme graine, Amours scet bien comment il est A ses gens et lesquels ont paine; Amours scet qui en vain se paine, Amours est le fruit gracieux Qui raemplist, oudoure, alaine Par grace les cuers familleux. Amours est le conseil tout prest A conseiller honnour haultaine; Amours donne, sans faire prest, Ses biens par vertu souveraine; Amours est frain et bride saine A refraindre les merveilleux, Et qui assouage et ramaine Par grace les cuers familleux. Why Study Love? You ask how many kinds of love there are, Since you would serve the love of highest honor; If not, explain why in particular You ask how many kinds of love there are. Is it to learn love’s merit singular, Or understand its incandescent fervor You ask how many kinds of love there are, Since you would serve the love of highest honor? You ask how many kinds of love there are, And whether more than one loves loyally. My common sense observes dissimilar Desires exciting love confusedly When hearts love idiosyncratically In modes as many as the mind can map. Most human hearts are stable as the sap That slithers from a tree with nervous vigor, And as things stand, you bear a handicap, Since you would serve the love of highest honor. If not, explain why in particular You shrink from girls who speak immodestly And from the men who find a vow bizarre, Not treasuring true love responsibly But rousing sentiments licentiously. Such lovers leave a monumental gap Between their words and music that might wrap The doubtful notes in melodies of candor. I know you hold the two should overlap, Since you would serve the love of highest honor. Is it to learn love’s merit singular, Which is not comprehended easily? I know no man whose studied repertoire In music tunes his soul sufficiently To sing of dissonant loves honestly. Why study love so eagerly? To tap Strange energies that make the senses snap, Or understand its incandescent fervor? In love, prepare yourself against mishap, Since you would serve the love of highest honor. Original French Vous demandez quantes amours ils sont, Pour vous tenir a la plus honnourable; S’il n’est ainsi, dites moi pour quoy don’t Vous demandez quantes amours ils sont, Ou pour savoir que leaulz amours font, Ou pour aucun penser a honnour able? Vous demandez quantes amours ils sont, Pour vous tenir a la plus honnourable. Vous demandez quantes amours ils sont, Ou s’ils s’en font plus d’une loyaument? Mon petit sens a ce fait vous respont Qu’autant qu’il a dessoubz le firmament De cuers humains qui ont entendement, De manieres d’amours est il autant, Qui pas ne sont l’une a l’autre semblant, Nes que les cuers sont d’un propos estable. Or y visé de ce jour en avant, Pour vous tenir a la plus honnourable. S’il n’est ainsi, dites moy pour quoy don’t On ne fait nul amoureux jugement Juste et loyal; quant aval et amont G’y pense bien, homs n’en puet proprement Parler au vray que de son sentement. Ils sont amours, ce dient maint amant, Où il a plus de note que de chant; Le chant est bon, et la note est doubtable; Siques pensez a ces ij maintenant Pour vous tenir a la plus honnourable, Ou pour savoir que leaulz amours font, Ce qu’on ne puet savoir legierement, Mais je ne scay homme de si parfont Sens qui peüst sentir si vraiement Du fait d’autrui que du sien. Et comment Estes vous dont en estude si grant Pour deux amours où il n’a qu’un garant, Ou pour aucun penser a honnour able? Appareillez vous comme est afferant Pour vous tenir a la plus honnourable. Margaret Coats lives in California. She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. She has retired from a career of teaching literature, languages, and writing that included considerable work in homeschooling for her own family and others. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 2 Responses Rod January 18, 2020 You have done wonderful work Margaret in resurrecting these poems and giving them new life. In reading your excellent translations I am reminded that despite the passing of centuries we humans of poetic heart are not so different. I am reminded of the words in Ecclesiastes “There is nothing new under the sun” . Thank you for the work you have done in order that we may all share in it. Reply Peter Bridges January 18, 2020 This is elegant and lovely work, Dr. Coats. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.