Thursday, November 24, 2011

Amadis's angry song: three English translations

We have the words, now we need the music. 

Text from the 1526 edition printed in Seville by Jacobo and Juan Cromberger.

Who knew that Amadis could sing, let alone compose music? We still have the lyrics but the tune is lost — that is, the tune awaits someone to write it anew. As ye might expect, though, the English translations vary.

First, here is the original Spanish:

Pues se me niega vitoria
do justo m'era devida,
allí do muere la gloria
es gloria morir la vida.

Y con esta muerta mía
morirán todos mis daños
mi esperança, mi porfía,
el amor y sus engaños;
mas quederá en mi memoria
lástima nunca perdida,
por me matar la gloria
me mataron gloria y vida.

Here is my translation. I've taken the liberty to switch some lines to preserve the meter and rhyme:

Being denied the victory
that I justly deserved,
wherever dies that glory,
death with glory is served.

And with that I shall die
and with me die my woes,
love and all its lies,
my struggles and my hopes.
But this one thought remains
from sorrow never free:
that with my glory slain,
glory and life killed me.

Robert Southey, in his 1803 translation, for some reason used a French translation of Amadis for his lyrics, although he used a Spanish edition for the text. Here is the French version and Southey's translation:

Pues qu'a grand tort la victoire
meritee on me denye,
Alors que fine la gloire,
Gloire est de finir la vie.

Et aussi par mièsme mort
Maurent mes plus grands malheurs,
Mon espoir et mon confort,
Amour me fine et ses chaleurs.

Mas toujours t'auray memoire
De perpetuel esmoy:
Car pour fin meure á ma gloire,
On meuririst ma gloire et moy.

Sith that the victory of right deserved
By wrong they do withhold for which I served,
Now sith my glory thus hath had a fall,
Glorious it is to end my life withall.
By this my death, likewise my woes release,
My hope, my joy, my inflamed love doth cease.
But ever will I mind my during pain,
For they, to end my glory and my gain,
myself have murdered, and my glory slain.

Finally, Edwin Place and Herbert Behm translated Amadis in 1974, and here is their version:

Since victory is denied me
Where rightly it was owed to me,
There where glory dies
It is glory for life to die.

And with this death of mine
Will die all my hurts
My hope, my striving,
Love and its deceits.
But there will remain in my memory
A lament never lost,
For in order to kill my glory
My glory and life have been slain.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hello Sue Burke,
    Southey originally meant to simply correct and edit Anthony Munday's translation from de Herberay's French version. The translation in Southey of Beltenebros's lament is Munday's rendering slightly modernized.

    Sith that the victory of right deserv'd
    By wrong they do withhold for which I serv'd;
    Now sith my glory thus hath had a fall,
    Glorious it is, to end my life withall.
    By this my death likewise my woes release,
    My hope, my joy, m'inflamed love doth cease.
    But ever will I minde my during paine:
    For they to end my glory, and my gaine,
    My selfe have murthered, and my glory slaine.

    Half a hundred chapters finished, less than ninety left to go. Congratulations on the work so far. I will admit I am rereading Place & Behm for the umpteenth time while waiting for your complete version.

  3. A fourth translation! Thanks, Scott.

    The chapters tend to get longer as the work goes on, but I'm still having lots of fun translating, and I'm glad you're enjoying the results.