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

The Lord of Oc and No

  • The Lord of Oc and No
  • The beautiful spring delights me well,
  •   When flowers and leaves are growing;
  • And it pleases my heart to hear the swell
  •   Of the birds’ sweet chorus flowing
  •           In the echoing wood;
  • And I love to see, all scattered around,
  • Pavilions, tents, on the martial ground;
  •           And my spirit finds it good
  • To see, on the level plains beyond,
  • Gay knights and steeds caparison’d.
  • It pleases me when the lancers bold
  •   Set men and armies flying;
  • And it pleases me to hear around 
  •   The voice of the solders crying;
  •           And joy is mine
  • When the castles strong, besieged, shake,
  • And walls, uprooted, totter and crack;
  •           And I see the foemen join,
  • On the moated shore all compassed round
  • With the palisade and guarded mound.—
  • Lances and swords, and stained helms,
  •   And shields dismantled and broken,
  • On the verge of the bloody battle scene,
  •   The field of wrath betoken;
  •           And the vassals are there,
  • And there fly the steeds of the dying and dead;
  • And, where the mingled strife is spread, 
  •           The noblest warrior’s care
  • Is to cleave the foeman’s limbs and head,
  • The conqueror less of the living than dead.
  • I tell you that nothing my soul can cheer,
  •   Or banqueting, or reposing,
  • Like the onset cry of “Charge them” rung
  •   From each side, as in battle closing,
  •           Where the horses neigh,
  • And the call to “aid” is echoing loud;
  • And there on the earth the lowly and proud
  •           In the foss together lie;
  • And yonder is piled the mangled heap
  • Of the brave that scaled the trench’s steep.
  • Barons! your castles in safety place,
  •   Your cities and villages too,
  • Before ye haste to the battle scene;
  •   And, Papiol! quickly go,
  • And tell the Lord of “Oc and No”
  • That peace already too long hath been!
Bertran de Born

Bertran de Born (c. 1140-1215) was a Provencal troubadour and baron from Limousin in France. He composed both love songs and political songs (the latter called sirventes). Because of his involvement in political rebellions at the time, Dante places him in hell as a sower of schism, where he is depicted carrying around his severed head like a lantern. In an attempt to resuscitate 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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  • The Lord of Oc and No
  • The beautiful spring delights me well,
  •   When flowers and leaves are growing;
  • And it pleases my heart to hear the swell
  •   Of the birds’ sweet chorus flowing
  •           In the echoing wood;
  • And I love to see, all scattered around,
  • Pavilions, tents, on the martial ground;
  •           And my spirit finds it good
  • To see, on the level plains beyond,
  • Gay knights and steeds caparison’d.
  • It pleases me when the lancers bold
  •   Set men and armies flying;
  • And it pleases me to hear around 
  •   The voice of the solders crying;
  •           And joy is mine
  • When the castles strong, besieged, shake,
  • And walls, uprooted, totter and crack;
  •           And I see the foemen join,
  • On the moated shore all compassed round
  • With the palisade and guarded mound.—
  • Lances and swords, and stained helms,
  •   And shields dismantled and broken,
  • On the verge of the bloody battle scene,
  •   The field of wrath betoken;
  •           And the vassals are there,
  • And there fly the steeds of the dying and dead;
  • And, where the mingled strife is spread, 
  •           The noblest warrior’s care
  • Is to cleave the foeman’s limbs and head,
  • The conqueror less of the living than dead.
  • I tell you that nothing my soul can cheer,
  •   Or banqueting, or reposing,
  • Like the onset cry of “Charge them” rung
  •   From each side, as in battle closing,
  •           Where the horses neigh,
  • And the call to “aid” is echoing loud;
  • And there on the earth the lowly and proud
  •           In the foss together lie;
  • And yonder is piled the mangled heap
  • Of the brave that scaled the trench’s steep.
  • Barons! your castles in safety place,
  •   Your cities and villages too,
  • Before ye haste to the battle scene;
  •   And, Papiol! quickly go,
  • And tell the Lord of “Oc and No”
  • That peace already too long hath been!
Bertran de Born

Bertran de Born (c. 1140-1215) was a Provencal troubadour and baron from Limousin in France. He composed both love songs and political songs (the latter called sirventes). Because of his involvement in political rebellions at the time, Dante places him in hell as a sower of schism, where he is depicted carrying around his severed head like a lantern. In an attempt to resuscitate 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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