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Le pas d'arme du Roi Jean

Saint-Saëns (1852)

Par Saint Giles,
Viens nous en,
Mon agile
Alezan;
Viens, écoute,
Par la route,
Voir la joute
Du Roi Jean.

Qu'un gros carme
Chartrier
Ait pour arme
L'encrier;
Qu'une fille,
Sous la grille,
S'égosille
A prier;

Nous qui sommes,
De par Dieu,
Gentilshommes
De haut lieu,
Il faut faire
Bruit sur terre,
Et la guerre
N'est qu'un jeu.

Cette ville,
Au longs cris,
Qui profile
Son front gris,
Des toits frêles,
Cent tourelles,
Clochers grêles,
C'est Paris!

Los aux dames!
Au roi los!
Vois les flammes
Du champ clos,
Où la foule
Qui s'écroule,
Hurle et roule
A longs flots!

Sans attendre,
Çà! piquons!
L'œil bien tendre,
Attaquons
De nos selles,
Les donzelles,
Roses, belles,
Aux balcons.

Là haut brille,
Sur ce mur,
Yseult, fille,
Au front pur;
Là-bas, seules,
Force aïeules
Portant gueules
Sur azur.

On commence!
Le beffroi!
Coups de lance,
Cris d'effroi!
On se forge,
On s'égorge,
Par Saint George!
Par le roi!

Dans l'orage,
Lys courbé,
Un beau page
Est tombé.
Il se pâme,
Il rend l'âme;
Il réclame
Un abbé.

Moines, vierges,
Porteront
De grands cierges
Sur son front;
Et dans l'ombre
Du lieu sombre
Deux yeux d'ombre
Pleureront.

Car madame
Isabeau
Suis son âme
Au tombeau.

‚à, mon frère,
Viens, rentrons
Dans notre aire
De barons.
Va plus vite,
Car au gîte
Qui t'invite,
Trouverons,

Toi l'avoine
Du matin,
Moi, le moine
Augustin,
Ce saint homme,
Suivant Rome,
Qui m'assomme
De latin,

Et rédige
En romain
Tout prodige
De ma main,
Qu'à ma charge
Il émarge
Sur un large
Parchemin.

Le vrai Sire
Châtelain
Laisse écrire
Le vilain;
Sa main digne,
Quand il signe
Égratigne
Le vélin.

Victor Hugo

King John's tournament

 

By Saint Giles,
let's be off,
my nimble
chestnut mount;
come, listen,
by road,
to see the joust
of King John.

Let a fat Carmelite
charter-keeper
have as a weapon
the inkwell.
Let a girl,
beneath the railing
grow hoarse
by praying;

We who are,
by the grace of God,
noblemen
of high rank,
we must make
noise on earth,
and war
is but a game.

This town
of enduring shouts,
which profiles
its grey façade,
frail roofs,
one hundred towers,
shabby steeples,
this is Paris!

Praise to the ladies!
To the King, praise!
See the flames
of the enclosure,
where the crowd
which is crumbling,
screams and rolls
in long waves!

Without waiting,
there, dive in!
Suitably tender eyed,
let's attack
from our saddles,
the damsels,
pink, beautiful,
on the balconies.

Up there shines,
on that wall,
Isolda, maiden,
with pure brow;
Over there, alone,
old ladies
bearing gules
on azure

It's starting!
The bell-tower!
Blows of lance,
Shouts of fear!
There are struggles,
throats are cut,
by Saint George!
by the King!

In the storm,
his lily drooping,
a handsome page
has fallen.
He faints,
he gives up the ghost;
he requests
an abbot.

Monks, nuns,
will carry
large candles
over his brow;
and in the shadow
of the dismal place
two eyes of shadow
will weep.

Because lady
Isabel
follows his soul
to the tomb.

On, my brother,
come, lets go home
to our baronial
eyry.
move on faster,
for at the lodging
which invites you,
we will find,

you the oats
for the morning,
me, the monk
Augustin,
that holy man,
following Rome,
who sends me to sleep
with latin,

and writes down
in roman script
all the valour
of my hand,
which, at my command,
he annotates
on a large
parchment.

The true Lord
of the Manor
lets the servant
write for him;
his worthy hand,
as he signs
scratches
the vellum.

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

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