Monday, 15 April 2019

Walther von der Vogelweide: 'Owê war sint verswunden alliu mîniu jâr!' in English translation

Owê war sint verswunden alliu mîniu jâr!
ist mir mîn leben getroumet, oder ist ez wâr?
daz ich je wânde ez wære, was daz allez iht?
dar nâch hân ich geslâfen und enweiz es niht.
nû bin ich erwachet, und ist mir unbekant
daz mir hie vor was kündic als mîn ander hant.
liut unde lant, dârinne ich von kinde bin erzogen,
die sint mir worden frömde reht als ez sî gelogen.
die mîne gespilen wâren, die sint træge unt alt.
vereitet is daz velt, verhouwen ist der walt:
wan daz daz wazzer fliuzet als ez wîlent flôz,
für wâr mîn ungelücke wande ich wurde grôz.
mich grüezet maneger trâge, der mich bekande ê wol.
diu welt ist allenthalben ungenâden vol.
als ich gedenke an manegen wünneclîchen tac,
die mir sint enpfallen als in daz mer ein slac,
iemer mêre ouwê.

Owê wie jæmerlîche junge liute tuont,
den ê vil hovelîchen ir gemüete stuont!
die kunnen niuwan sorgen: wê wie tuont si sô?
swar ich zer werlte kêre, dâ ist nieman vrô:
der jugende tanzen, singen zergât mit sorgen gar:
nie kein kristenman gesach sô jæmerliche schar.
nû merkent wie den vrouwen ir gebende stât:
die stolzen ritter tragent an dörpellîche wât.
uns sint unsenfte brieve her von Rôme komen,
uns ist erloubet trûren und vreude gar benomen.
daz müet mich inneclîchen (wir lebeten ie vil wol)
daz ich nû für mîn lachen weinen kiesen sol.
die vogele in der wilde betrüebet unser klage:
waz wunders ist ob ich dâ von an vreuden gar verzage?
ôwê waz spriche ich tumber man durch mînen bœsen zorn?
swer dirre wünne volget, hât jene dort verlorn,
iemer mêre ouwê.

Owê wie uns mit süezen dingen ist vergeben!
ich sihe die bittern gallen in dem honege sweben:
diu werlt ist ûzen schœne, wîz grüene unde rôt,
und innân swarzer varwe, vinster sam der tôt.
swen si nû habe verleitet, der schouwe sînen trôst:
er wirt mit swacher buoze grôzer sünde erlôst.
dar an gedenkent, ritter: ez ist iuwer dinc,
ir traget die liehten helme und manegen herten rinc,
dar zuo die vesten schilte und diu gewîhten swert.
wolte got, wan wære ich der segenunge wert!
sô wolde ich nôtic armman verdienen rîchen solt.
joch meine ich niht die huoben noch der hêrren golt:
ich wolte sælden krône êweclîchen tragen:
die mohte ein soldenære mit sîme sper bejagen.
möht ich die lieben reise gevarn über sê,
sô wolte ich denne singen "wol" und niemêr mêre "ouwê",
niemer mêre ouwê.



Alas what has become of all my years now past!
has my life been a dream, or real from first to last?
that formerly imagined, was it really so?
I have slept since then and I really do not know.
now I have awakened to find all that I knew
as closely as my own hand seems strange and untrue.
the folk and land to which since boyhood I’ve close ties
feel now so unfamiliar as were they but lies.
those who were my playmates are lethargic and old.
the fields destroyed by fire, the woods all felled and sold:
Had not the river flowed where long since it did before,
my misery indeed I believe had pained me sore.
I get but distant greeting from those who knew me well.
and everywhere the world is a thankless place to dwell.
and when I recollect many blissful days of yore,
they’ve vanished as in water the marks left by an oar,
ever more alas.

Alas young folk’s behaviour is wretched or worse,
with wit and keen refinement they once did converse,
but now are merely mournful: ah, why is that so?
Whichever way I turn, no happiness they show:
Where young folk danced and sang, all go with heads quite bowed,
no christian ever saw such a miserable crowd.
just notice how the ladies huge headdresses bear:
and proud knights put on clothes such as poor peasants wear.
from Rome disturbing missives arrive at our door,
that only grief afford us and joy permit no more.
this causes such distress (our spirits once were high)
that I instead of laughter would now choose to cry.
the birds at large in nature grow sad since we complain:
it scarcely is surprising that I from joy abstain.
alas what stupid words do I speak, by anger torn?
who here would seek delight has later joy forsworn,
ever more alas.

Alas things far too sweet us poison and enthrall!
in honey I see floating what is but bitter gall:
outside the world is beauteous, is white, green and red,
and inside black as death that fills us with such dread.
let anyone seduced here consolation find:
small penances absolve great sins if true in kind.
be mindful of this knights: remember without fail,
you wear your shining helmets and tightly meshed chain mail,
as too your sturdy shields and consecrated swords.
may god me some day later just victory afford!
then I, poor and needy, a great reward would reap.
I do not speak of land, rich men their gold may keep:
I yearn to wear that crown for all eternity
which mercenary soldiers with spear would gain for free.
and if I that longed-for sea-voyage should ever come to pass
then I would sing ‘how glorious’ and never more ‘alas’,
never more alas.



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