Ce fut en mai

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Ce fut en mai
by Moniot d'Arras, translated by Anonymous
Mid-13th century trouvere song. It is a monophonic French song, with improvised accompaniment. The setting of the song is strophic, with 5 verses, each with the internal form of AABB. The rhythm scheme of each internal form is aabaaabccbccb. An instrumental interlude, quite brief, is improvised between each verse.

This story's plot is about an unhappy lover finding joy in the arms of another couple. This music is folk-like and charming, and there is no attempt of the unhappiness of the plot in the text.

French text[edit]

Ce fut en mai
Au douz tens gai
Que la saisons est bele,
Main me levai,
Joer m'alai
Lez une fontenele.
En un vergier
Clos d'aiglentier
Oi une viele;
La vi dancier
Un chevalier
Et une damoisele.

Cors orent gent
Et avenant
Et molt très bien dançoient;
En acolant
Et en baisant
Molt biau se deduisoient.
Au chief du tor,
En un destor,
Doi et doi s'en aloient;
Le jeu d'amor
Desus la flor
A lor plaisir faisoient.

J'alai avant.
Molt redoutant
Que mus d'aus ne me voie,
Maz et pensant
Et desirrant
D'avoir ausi grant joie.
Lors vi lever
Un de lor per
De si loing com j'estoie
Por apeler
Et demander
Qui sui ni que queroie.

J'alai vers aus,
Dis lor mes maus,
Que une dame amoie,
A cui loiaus
Sanz estre faus
Tot mon vivant seroie,
Por cui plus trai
Peine et esmai
Que dire ne porroie.
Et bien le sai,
Que je morrai,
S'ele ne mi ravoie.

Tot belement
Et doucement
Chascuns d'aus me ravoie.
Et dient tant
Que Dieus briement
M'envoit de celi joie
Por qui je sent
Paine et torment:
Et je lor en rendoie
Merci molt grant
Et en plorant
A Dé les comandoie.

English translation[edit]

It happened in May, when skies are gay
And green the plains and mountains,
At break of day I rose to play
Beside a little fountain.

In garden close where shone the rose
I heard a fiddle played, then
A handsome knight that charmed my sight,
Was dancing with a maiden.

Both fair of face, they turned with grace
To tread their May-time measure.
The flowering place, their close embrace:
Their kisses brought them pleasure.

But shortly they had slipped away
To stroll among the bowers.
To ease their heart, each played his part
In love's games on the flowers.

I crept ahead, all chill with dread,
Lest someone there should see me.
Bemused and sad because I had
No joy in love to please me.

Then one of those I'd seen there rose
And from afar off speaking,
He questioned me, who I might be,
And what I came there seeking.

I stepped their way to sadly say
How long I'd loved a lady,
Who all my days my heart obeys,
Full faithfully and steady.

Though still I bore a grief so sore
In losing one so lovely,
That surely I would come to die
Unless she deigned to love me.

With wisdom rare, with tactful air
They counseled and relieved me.
They said their prayer was God might spare
Some joy in love that grieved me.

Where all my gain was loss and pain
So I in turn extended
My thanks sincere, with many a tear,
And them to God commended.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.