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April 15, 2011

by Kit Fryatt

from “Erscotz,” a cycle of translations from Old Occitan into a synthetic and artificial dialect using elements of Scots and Middle English

& we hae cam tae the cauld.
snaw, haar & sleet
wee brids mute
sang unheard
buss bare nu
unbud there nu
nae jug-jug saul-reveille
as aince in May.

Ma hert’s deranged
estranged from ilka mate
we are in retreat
rather than we advanced
true words fail me
dreich pains assail me
frae nations adjacent
nae comfort.

I ca hir misled
whaes cap is set
at sic as a magnate,
unco daft, gey unred.
We say at hame
luve for meed is shame
a gowddigger
founds hir ain dishonour.

Ma leman is a canny lad
hicher than maist o em.
He does me nae trahaison
& the boss o ma bodie gud.
Ma luve is his o richt
& whae woud contradict
draws doon malhaison
I’m siccar neuth his blazon.

Bels amics, in aa dutie
I’m yirs i treuth, at ilka turn
couthy, & sheenen lik the mune
gin ye dae naething ootrie.
We’ll pit ye tae question;
I’ll tak yir protectioun.
Ye’ve gien yir promise
tae dae naught amiss.

Dryhten keep Beauregard
& he that int resides
& aa the bastides
o his laird
whae fares nu weel?
honour whummlt─
he’s deid, maikless make:
his saul save, min take.

Gleg makar, gie this rattle,
this scrip o rime tae hir
whae’s gouerned oor
by wheteir’s kittle.


untitled poem by Azalais de Porcairagues (fl. c.1175)

Ar em al freg temps vengut
que-l gels e-l neus e la fanha
e l’auzelet estan mut
qu’us de chantar non s’afranha
e son sec li ram pels plais
que flors ni folha no-i nais
ni rossinhols no-i crida
que am s’en mai me reissida.

Tant ai lo cor deceubut
per qu’eu soi a totz estranha
e sai que l’om a perdut
mout plus tost que non gazanha
e s’eu falh ab motz verais
d’Aurenga me moc l’esglais
per qu’eu m’estauc esbaida
e-n pert solatz en partida.

Domna met mout mal s’amor
que ab ric ome plaideia
ab plus aut de vavassor
e s’ilh o fai ilh foleia
car so ditz om en Velai
que ges per ricor non vai
e domna que n’es chauzida
en tenc per envilanida.

Amic ai de gran valor
que sobre totz senhoreia
e non a cor trichador
vas me que s’amor m’autreia
eu dic que m’amors l’eschai
e cel que dis que non fai
Deus li don mal’escarida
qu’eu m’en tenh fort per guerida.

Bels amics de bon talan
som ab vos totz jors en gatge
cortez’e de bel semblan
sol no-m demandetz outratge
tost en veirem a l’essai
qu’en vostre merce-m metrai
vos m’avetz la fe plevida
que no-m demandetz falhida.

A Deu coman Bel Esgar
e plus la ciutat d’Aurenga
e Gloriet’e-l Caslar
e lo senhor de Proensa
e tot quan vol mon ben lai
e l’arc on son fag l’assai
celui perdei qu’a ma vida
e-n serai totz jorns marrida.

Joglar que avetz cor gai
ves Narbona portatz lai
ma chanson ab la fenida
lei cui jois e jovens guida.

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Azalais de Porcairagues

Azalais as depicted in a 13th-century illuminated manuscript

“Ar em al freg temps vengut” was composed by the trobairitz (female troubadour) Azalais de Porcairagues (Wikipedia page), probably in the last quarter of the 12th century. It exists in variant versions in manuscripts of the following century. Azalais’s thirteenth-century vida (biography) claims that she loved Gui Guerrejat (d.1178). The speaker of the poem refers to a living lover (“ma leman is a canny lad”), so the text may have been composed before this date. The song may also allude to the death of Raimbaut d’Aurenga (c.1147-1173), in which case (though the vidas are not always to be trusted) we can date it quite precisely to the mid-1170s. The lady (“hir/ whae’s gouerned oor / by whateir’s kittle”) to whom she instructs the jongleur (“makar”) to take the poem may be Ermengarda de Narbonne (c.1127-1197), a celebrated patroness.


Kit Fryatt lectures in English at Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin. With colleagues there she co-ordinates the activities of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies. She also runs the Wurm im apfel series of poetry readings and its associated small press, Wurm Press.

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  1. April 18, 2011 at 4:07 am

    Riveting! I love this. It’s full of resonances from Burns and the dialect ballads that inspired him and then, towards our time, the defiantly Scottish patois poems of Hugh MacDiarmid. Set it to music and give it to Dick Gaughan to sing!

  1. April 16, 2011 at 12:03 am
  2. May 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm
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