Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Girls of Llanbadarn

Dafydd ap Gwilym
Translated from Welsh by Joseph P. Clancy

Passion doubles me over,
Plague take all the parish girls,
Because, frustrated trysting,
I've not had a single one,
Not lovely longed-for virgin,
Not a wench or witch or wife.

What's the hindrance, what mischief,
What flaw, that I'm not desired?
What harm if a slim-browed girl
Has me in a dark forest?
No shame for her to see me
Lying in a bed of leaves.
Not a time I wasn't loving,
Never's been so binding a spell
Surpassing Garwy's passion,
One or two each single day,
And for all that, no nearer
To finding a friendly one.

No Sunday in Llanbadarn
I'd not be, as some would swear,
Facing a dainty maiden,
The nape of my neck to God.
And when I've long looked over
The parish across my plume,
Says one radiant clear-voiced dear
To her pert pretty neighbor:
'That lad pale-faced as a flirt,
Decked in his sister's tresses,
Lascivious are his eyes'
Slanting glances: he's shameless.'
'Is that what he had in mind?'
Says the one who is next her,
'He'll never have an answer:
To the devil, foolish thing.'

Cruel the bright girl's cursing,
Poor pay for a love-dazed man.
I'm compelled to call a halt
To these ways, to such nightmares.
I'm forced to become like one
Who's a hermit, an outlaw.
Too much looking, stern lesson,
Behind me, a sorry sight,
Leaves me, lover of strong song,
Head bowed, with no companion.