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Se pour ce muir qu’amours ay bien servi (Ballade: from 'Le Voir Dit')

Se pour ce muir qu’amours ay bien servi (Ballade: from 'Le Voir Dit')

Se pour ce muir qu’Amours ay bien servi,
Y fait mauvais servir si fait signour
Car je n’ay pas mort d’Amours desservi
Pour bien amer de tres loyal amour.
Mais je croy bien que fine sont mi jour
Quant je congnoy et voy tout en appert
Qu’en lieu de bleu, dame, vous vestes vert.
Pour ce maudi les yex dont je vous vi,
L’eure, le jour, et le tres cointe atour
Et la biauté qui ont mon cuer ravi,
Et le plaisir enivré de folour.
Et si maudi Fortune et son faus tour
Et Loyauté que sueffre et a souffert,
Qu’en lieu de bleu, dame, vous vestez vert.

If I die because I served Love well

If I die because I served Love well,
To serve such a lord is bad luck
Since death I’ve not deserved from Love
For loving her with a faithful affection.
But I see well my days are numbered
When I recognize and readily perceive
That instead of blue, lady, it’s green you wear.
And so I curse the eyes I saw you with,
The hour, the day, the quite appealing display
And beauty that have ravished my heart,
Also the pleasure drunk with folly.
So I curse Fortune and her faithless turning
As well as Loyalty, who suffers and has suffered,
That instead of blue, lady, it’s green you wear.

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Guillaume de Machaut is presumed to have been born around the year 1300; the first surviving documentary evidence from 1330 lists him as a ‘clerk’ in the household of John of Bohemia and suggests that he had been in service since 1323. Machaut was instated as a canon of Reims Cathedral in 1337 and established a residence in the city in 1340. During his later years he enjoyed the patronage of a number of French nobles, including the wife and son of Jean II. In his sixties he enjoyed a close relationship with a young noblewoman, a relationship he chronicled (and embellished) in a long narrative poem, Le Voir Dit, which included many of their lyrics and letters. From these we learn something of his view of his own music, and of the process by which he preserved his work for posterity. His poetry also supplies a limited degree of biographical information; he suffered from gout and was blind in one eye, yet he was evidently enthusiastic about falconry, horseback riding and the French countryside. Machaut died in Reims in 1377.

© Daniel Leech-Wilkinson


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