La Masca

La Masca ("The Witch") is a poem in Occitan by Louis-Diogène Guiraldenc (1840-1869). Guiraldenc's poetry was first published post-humously in 1884 with annotations by Alphonse Roque-Ferrier (1844-1907), secretary of the Société pour l'étude des langues romanes, although La Masca itself appears to have been published as a preview or extract four years earlier in Revue des langues romanes, volume 18 (January 1880).

It was originally written and published in the montpellieran dialect of Occitan. Here I've done my best to translate it into English, as well as a modern Provençal version. For the English version, I haven't attempted to maintain any kind of rhyme or meter, focussing solely on getting the meaning as close as possible. For the Provençal version, I have tried to keep it as close to the original language as possible, although some rhymes and syllable counts are affected to various degrees. There are signs in the original that Guiraldenc may have wanted to keep working on the manuscript, had he not died so tragically young, so perhaps the flaws in mine are excused by the original itself being a draft.

As for Guiraldenc himself, Roque-Ferrier provided the following obituary (my translation). It is possible, perhaps, to see certain autobiographical elements in La Masca.

Louis-Diogène Guiraldenc: His life and poetry.

The one whose languedocian poems we will read later died at Montpellier on the 23rd of October, 1869, without anyone, except perhaps two or three friends, suspecting the loss to the philology and literature of the southern languages. Nothing sadder, more heartbreaking even, than the poor poet's existence: "Diogène Guiraldenc—Monsieur Barthélémy wants to tell me, in a biographical note of which I reproduce the emotional lines—was born in Montpellier on the 1st of November, 1840, in a house on Rue Argenterie, from the marriage of Jean-François Guiraldenc, former non-commissioned officer of engineering; later small grocer merchant, and Marie-Marguerite-Josephine Couilougnion. The death of his father left him almost destitute at the age of eleven. The poet's mother was a scrawny creature, unable to carry on her husband's business or even earn a living in any other way, resigning herself to misery.

The youth of our poet had, however, resisted the beginnings of the disease from which he was afflicted. He even recovered quite well, and contented himself with his lessons until 1863. At that time, wanting to get out of a very precariuous situation, he had the idea of entering the customs administration, successfully competed and, after two years of supernumeracy (1st of February 1863-1st of February 1865), was appointed clerk at Peschiers (administration of Toulon). The day of this impatiently awaited appointment was one of happiness for the son and the mother, but it was to remain short-lived. By a strange fate, the widow Guiraldenc became persuaded that the climate in Peschiers would be adverse to the health of her child and that he would inevitably succumb to it. Nothing could overcome her blind terrors. Guiraldenc, realizing that his mother's life depended on his decision, resigned.

It was two wasted years and a new career to be found. Guiraldenc, aged twenty-five, did not know which way to go. For another two years, he stagnated, pushed in various directions by people with an interest in him. It was in this way that he crossed the offices of the paymaster of the Hérault department, then those of the Tissié-Sirrus banking house, where he was to find in Monsieur Couiet the last contemporary of the Tandon school and the Rigaud brothers. He then became assistant to Monsieur Béchamp, then professor of chemistry at the Faculty of Sciences, and finally secretary to Monsieur Belin, professor of rhetoric at the Lycée de Montpellier. Thanks to the affectionate kindness of M. Belin, Guiraldenc, who moreover found himself in an environment that suited him, regained a little confidence; but his hopes were soon to be dashed. M. Belin died in the month of June, 1868, and the unfortunate young man again remained without position and without support.

One of this late master's best friends, Monsieur Cambouliù, then in all the brilliance of his teaching at the Faculty of Letters at Montpellier, took pity on the unfortunate Guiraldenc and wanted to attach him to himself as secretary. The brilliant professor had just founded the Society for the Study of Romance Languages, and he hoped for the best results. Guiraldenc also promised himself to find in it elements of study and success, when death decided otherwise, both for the master and the pupil. Cambouliù fell ill, and his condition soon took on such seriousness that Guiraldenc had no illusions for long about the new blow that was about to strike him. The extent of his setbacks was henceforth fulfilled: the evil that was undermining him made rapid progress, and he died on October 23, 1869, at the age of twenty-nine. M. Cambouliù survived him by a mere three days. Guiraldenc's poor mother continued, for almost two years, the most painful of existences, and it was in a state of profound misery that she in turn succumbed on July 14, 1871."

Guiraldenc's existence was therefore made up entirely of filial devotion, obscure sacrifice, and honesty. His poems belie nothing of the indications that M. Martin was good enough to give us. The hardcover notebook that has preserved them for us is an octavo of ninety-four pages, with fine, elongated, almost feminine writing, quite often strewn with copying distractions and involuntary spelling errors. No title. The author, who was no doubt looking for one, left the first page half blank. The French poems are forty-three in number, and twelve in montpellieran. Two Latin poems and a German piece also attest to the extent of Guiraldenc's linguistic knowledge. The burial took place on October 24, 1869, in the St-Lazare cemetery, nr. 1325, section R. S., nr. 83.


I am not a native French or Occitan speaker, or an expert on the Occitan language and culture. This translation is part of my effort to learn, and errors are bound to show up. I welcome corrections and insights that might help me improve it. You can contact me at

La masca

Òbra ternenca, version originala.


Sus un bèu bres fach d'amarina,
Sus un bèu bres flamament nòu,
Una jouina maire s'inclina
E pioi se charpina e se dòu.

D'ount ven soun lagui d'aquesta oura?
Soun enfantou es ben malaut;
Toujour crida, tresana e ploura,
Sans poudre i'amaisà soun mau.

Nioch e jour lou lum pres d'el velha[1];
Sa maire aussi velha pres d'el.
Tout es escut[2] d'aubres, la trelha[3]
Es atapada d'un ridel[4].

A pòu dau rebat qu'emblaïgue[5],
Lou paure agnelet que se plan[6],
Ela que, per pas que soufrigue,
Agoutariè fins à soun sang.

E res manca pas au malaute[7]:
Remedis, souens, res manca pas;
Mais lou milhou qu'à soun iol saute
Se fai pas veire tout escàs.

Soun cors es rede de frescura,
Soun pous es flac, soun iol macat;
De lou sauvà n'es pas segura,
Car lous medecìs l'an quitat.

Atabé, coussì pourriè vieure[8]?
Demanda à bieure[9] e vòu manjà,
E reçap ni manjà ni bieure,
'Mai sa maire vogue ensajà.

E, sus lou bres fach d'amarina,
Sus lou bèu bres flamament nòu,
La maire doulenta s'inclina,
E pioi se charpina e se dòu.

Oh! sa doulou es ben amara,
Soun sort es triste e pietadous.
Perdre la mitat de sa cara[10],
De soun cor, ô quante coudous[11]!

E sousca que noun sai, pecaire!
Soun cor es gounfle[12] e se doubrìs;
A fach tout ce qu'a pougut faire,
Amai soun pichotet mourìs.

Sous vesìs, que l'an atrouvada
Abourida à sous pensaments,
I'an dich: «Dins aquela virada,
I'a quicon de mai ou de mens.

» Acò's un mau pas couma d'autres:
Doumai vai, mai es endecat.
Counouissen pas as enfants, nautres,
Mais lou vostre es saique enmascat.

» Quauqu'us lou ten dins la soufrensa;
Vous cauriè saupre de quauqu'un[13]
De que n'es. Fasès diligensa. »
La maire taisa soun plagnun.

A la barra rouge de ferre
S'estacariè un negadìs;
Ela s'estai aquì; vai querre
La devignaira[14] dins soun nis.

E sus lou bres fach d'amarina,
Sus lou bèu bres flamament nòu,
La maire un derniè[15] cop s'inclina,
L'embrassa e sourtìs embé pòu.

La bauma

Au fin founs d'una bauma emb d'arounzes barrada,
Ounte ne pendoulava e lusissiè qu'un lum,
Ounte d'un pichot fioc fumava fossa fum,
La devignaira era assetada
E, sus sa fauda, d'una man,
Per fa ce que las mascas fan,
Lou sant clama[16] dau jour triava
D'erbages, de plantun, que de l'autra asengava.

La maire, que dau mau de soun fil se cosiè,
Intrava, estabourdida à tout ce que vesiè.

La vielha[17] aviè lou nas couma un croc de roumana,
E sa barba pounchuda anava lou toucà;
Sas dents, dempioi noun sai, avien l'er de mancà;
Aviè l'iol gris, lou pèu de lana,
Mais palla e magra era sa car;
Quauqu'us auriè fourviat d'escart
Se, de nioch, aviè vist la filha
Que fasiè pas d'encontra autant qu'[una] etoumia[18].

La maire, que dau mau de soun fil se cosiè,
Intret, estabourdida à tout ce que vesiè.

Mai la masca, espinchant la rauba de la maire,
A l'intrada dau roc: « Sabe per que venès,
S'ou dis. An emmascat vostre pichot. Vesès,
Sa vida pot pas pus mautraire;
S'acòs i'es dounat, a la mort,
Tout moun gaubi[19] n'es pas prou fort
Per lou tirà d'aquel martire;
Amai lou plegarés[20], pioi que vous ou cau dire[21].

La maire, que dau mau de soun fil se cosiè,
Plourava, estabourdida à tout ce qu'ausissiè,

Subran ie demandet, en essugant sa gauta,
Das plours que de sous iols rajou couma una font:
« Bona femna, digàs; oh! digàs-me quicon,
Per veire d'ounte ven la fauta?
Vous ne'n pregue couma un cors sant,
Tachàs de garì moun enfant:
Pietat, pietat per sa soufrensa! »
«- Vostre enfant deglesìs[22] per una mauvoulhensa[23]. »

La maire, que dau mau de soun fil se cosiè,
Plourava, estabourdida à tout ce qu'ausissiè.

«-Legisse acò d'aquì dessus vostra figura»,
Reprend la devignaira, e traguet dins lo fioc
Cauques pessuts[24] de sau qu'escoutet mai d'un cop;
Parlet una estranja parlura:
« - Se seguissès ce que dirai,
Vostre pichot es sauve. - O, si farai,
Lou bon Dieu m'en done l'ajuda!
E crese que de res serai pas esmouguda. »

La maire, que dau mau de soun fil se cosiè,
Plourava, estabourdida à tout ce qu'ausissiè.

« - Adoun vous cau croumpà un fege d'una feda
Negra e qu'age d'agnèls, e pioi lou roustirés
Dins la sartan, pounit d'agulhas, car sauprés
Qu'à caduna[25] la masca es reda;
Avisarés de l'avé cuioch
Davans l'oura de mieja-nioch.
Munida[26] d'una barra fòrta,
Sourtirés de l'oustau e vous metrés per orta[27]

La maire, que dau mau de soun fil se cosiè,
Plourava, estabourdida à tout ce qu'ausissiè.

A de que qu'ausigués sans s'atrouvà virada[28],
Anarés, anarés devès un crousadou.
Aquì, sus una souca, en tustant dau bastou,
Que lou fege tombe à floucada.
A l'oura la masca vendrà
E vostre enfant, lou garira. »
E la paura maire pagava
D'un tendre gramecìs la vielha[17] que parlava.

La maire, que dau mau de soun fil se cosiè,
S'entournava, en pensant à ce qu'arrivariè.

Lou crousadou

O moun Dieu! fasès-me la graça
D'acabà l'obra sans fali[29]!
Soui qu'una femna, e moun audaça
A cha pau sembla s'avalì.
Per ieu quanta trista niochada!
Couma una fiolha qu'es ventada,
N'estrementisse à la pensada.
Se me soustenès pas, moun Dieu[30],
Deman moun fil serà pas vieu[31]!

E per las potas, las ourtigas
E lous greses de las garrigas,
La maire, qu'afourtìs[32] lou mau de soun enfant,
Caminava de nioch, souleta, tout pregant.

La miecha d'ounze ouras picava,
Couma finissiè soun plagnun.
Lou treviès[33] era lion; passava[34],
Passava pus lesta qu'un fum.
Ai! s'anava mancà soun oura,
Quoura soun fil gaririè, quoura?...
Saique la mort deja s'auboura[35]
Per lou sagatà dins sous bras[36],
E mai aloungava lou pas.

E per las potas, las ourtigas,
E lous greses de las garrigas,
La maire, qu'afourtìs l'amour de soun enfant,
S'entachava de nioch, souleta, tout pregant.

Dins aquel crousadou tant orre,
Ben lassa, ben trista arribet;
Se vesiè pas la co[37] d'un porre,
De tant escut[2] que l'atroubet.
As entours, pas ges de masura,
Pas ges d'aubres, ges de verdura;
Jamai plaça pus mau segura.
Tout i'era siau: mais, de per cops,
S'ausissiè lou miaulà das chots.

E per las potas, las ourtigas,
E lous greses de las garrigas
La maire que crenìs ara per soun enfant,
S'aplanta[38] aquì de nioch, souleta, en tremoulant[39].

Sus la souca, à l'envès plantada,
Pausa lou fege tout pounit;
Ie baila una bona fretada,
Fin que seguet amoutelit;
Amai qu'era touta susousa,
E pioi una voues raufelousa
Ressoundissiè de çai de lai;
Mais se virava pas jamai.

Quitant las potas, las ourtigas
E lous greses de las garrigas,
La maire, que crenìs ara per soun enfant,
Demora aquì de nioch, souleta, en tremoulant.

Entramens que soula[40] tustava
Dins aquel sauvertàs[41] treviès,
L'enfant, que la mort trigoussava,
S'arrapava au picoul dau bres,
Jingoulava e, de sa bouqueta,
Fasiè lous badaus e l'aisseta;
Luchava[42] sus sa palhasseta,
Mai ela, dins un grand rembal[43],
Se n'era enfangada aiçaval.

Quitant las potas, las ourtigas
E lous greses de las garrigas,
La maire, que crenìs ara per soun enfant,
Espera aquì, de nioch, souleta, [en] tremoulant.

Aviè grep, aviè pòu. La crenta,
L'esfrai, fasien cricà sas dents.
De l'espinchà antau mourenta,
I'aviè per plagne sous tourments;
Lou vent sus la terra bufava,
Lou ciel ilhaussava[44], trounava,
E la ploja que regoulava
Menava un bruch tant sabarnau[45]
Qu'acò [i'][46]afounzissiè soun mau.

Quitant las potas, las ourtigas
E lous greses de las garrigas,
La maire, que crenìs ara per soun enfant,
Espera aquì de nioch, souleta, en tremoulant.

Enfin, dins lou trelus d'un nibou[47]
Vei la masca sortre[48] emb un cat,
Autant perloungada qu'un pibou[49],
Negra que soun cat mascarat,
Se sarra de soun pas laugeire[50]
E dis, emb un parlà riseire:
«M'as vencit, n'ou vouliei pas creire. »
Subran sus lous rocs courriguet
E, lèu, lou cat la seguiguet.

Devès las potas, las ourtigas
E lous greses de las garrigas,
La maire, que crenìs pas pus per soun enfant,
La regarda enanà encara en tremoulant.

Pioi vira net, prend la travessa
Per estre pus lèu à l'oustau;
Car soun cor, [tout] ple d'amaressa,
Languìs de veire soun malaut.
Oh! que de joia e de chabença[51]!
Soun fil prend [mai] de sussistença,
A bon esquiol[52], bona aparença;
Reven couma l'oli as lampious
E lèu i'alanda sous brassous.

De tant de bonur aboundada,
Dins una amistousa brassada,
La maire, que jouïs d'avé sauvat l'enfant,
Lou teniè ben sarrat, tout plourant, tout pregant.


These are the original annotations in French by A. Roque-Ferrier. I've decided against translating these, as subtle nuances might be lost that are invaluable to the translation effort.

  1. ^ Ms. veïa.

  2. ^ ^ Escut (obscur), fém. escuda; prov. escur, escura; ainsi que je l'ai dit, note 5 de la Gloriousa, la prononciation du montpelliérain substitue un d à l'r, lorsque ce dernier est placé entre deux voyelles.

  3. ^ Ms. treïa.

  4. ^ On dit couramment ridèu. Ridel est une exigence de la rime.

  5. ^ Emblaï, éblouir.

  6. ^ On dit comunément planìs.

  7. ^ Malaute, forme courante. Dans cette pièce et dans celle qui la précède, malaut ne se trouve qu'à la rime.

  8. ^ Ms. vioure.

  9. ^ Forme lodévoise. On dit beure en montpelliérain.

  10. ^ Cara, visage: au figuré, vie. Ce mot s'est maintenu dans le lodévois; il a disparu du langage populaire de notre ville.

  11. ^ Bringuier orthographiait de même. (Voyez Un michant rêve, et A perpaus de Petrarca; Revue, 1re série, II, 284 et VI, 276). D'autres poëtes écrivent courous.

  12. ^ Gallicisme que l'on commet bien rarement, Car la forme coufle est couramment employée.

  13. ^ Ms. caucus, quoique la rime exige quauqu'un. Quauqu'us conserve encore les préférences de quelques vieillards.

  14. ^ Ms. divignaira.

  15. ^ On dit aussi darniès, darniè, darriès et darriè.

  16. ^ On dit couramment sent clame dau jour, en supposant que sent représente ici sanctus. Le sens de cette phrase est : l'étendue, la durée de la journée.

  17. ^ ^ Ms. vieïa.

  18. ^ Etoumìa, squelette, anatomie. Le ms. donne qu'etoumia; mais on peut voir, par le nombre des mots suppléés, que les distractions de copie sont fréquentes dans la Masca.

    Etoumìa manque dans Honnorat. On lit loutoumia, letoumia, à l'article Esqueleta de son Dictionnaire.

  19. ^ Gaubi est un mot à peu près inconnu aujourd'hui à la langue populaire de la nouvelle génération.

  20. ^ Plegà, plier [dans le suaire], mourir.

  21. ^ Cette strophe deviendrait peut-être intelligible, à la condition d'appliquer les mots : s'acòs i'es dounat, à un breuvage malfaisant que la devineresse montre à la mère, en supposant qu'il a été donné à l'enfant de celle-ci.

    Acòs, qui est resté courant dans le lodévois actuel, ne se dit guère aujourd'hui en montpelliérain. Acò est de règle presque générale. La forme sifflante s'est maintenue dans quelques chants populaires:

    Acòs èra una de mas camaradas.

    (Atger, Poésies populaires, 54.)

    Acòs's est, comme on sait, la forme contractée de acò es = c'est.

  22. ^ Deglesì, se dit surtout d'un édifice, d'une construction qui menace ruine.

  23. ^ On dit aussi mauvoulensa et mauvoulensia, qui est peut-être le seul cas où l'on puisse constater aujourd'hui l'existence de la terminaison ensia.

  24. ^ On prononce pessus. Le nominatif est pessuc, mais quelques personnes disent pessut.

  25. ^ Caduna, forme lodévoise. Voyez la note 1 de la pièce: Souveni d'una journada de mai.

  26. ^ Ms. E munida, qui donne au vers un pied de trop. Même cas deux vers plus haut. On lit dans le ms : avisarés de l'avédre cuioch.

  27. ^ Orta, champ; per orta, per ortas, par champs, par chemins. Ce mot tend à disparaître.

  28. ^ Ms. A de que qu'ausigués sans s'atrouvà virada, vers que je ne puis comprendre. La même strophe contient une nouvelle distraction: sousca, pour souca (souche), qui se lit un peu plus loin.

  29. ^ Sans fali, sans manquer. Ce verbe et celui d'avali, avec lequel il rime, deviennent de moins en moins fréquents. On dit nioch-falit, nuit close.

  30. ^ Ms. Diou.

  31. ^ Ms. viou.

  32. ^ Afourtì, qui prend déjà le sens de rendre fort dans la pièce: Souveni d'una journada de mai, se dit surtout avec le sens de garantir une nouvelle, un fait. Ex.: Afourtìs acò couma s'ou aviè vist.

  33. ^ Treviès, garrigue, herme (?) Ce mot manque au Dictionnaire d'Honnorat.

  34. ^ Ms. E passava, qui donne un pied de trop.

  35. ^ Le verbe aubourà tend à disparaître. Il est déjà considéré dans le peuple comme un provençalisme.

  36. ^ Provençalisme. Il faudrait dins sous brasses.

  37. ^ Co (queue) ne se dit que dans cette phrase populaire: Plòu à co d'ases. Cf. dans le poëme des Las d'amour, de M. Langlade:

    E trona e plòu a coua d'ase.

    (p. 31)

    Le diminutif coueta a usurpé à Montpellier la place de co et de coua.

  38. ^ S'aplanta, provençalisme emprunté aux félibres. On dit: se planta.

  39. ^ Forme périmée. Elle se maintient néanmoins dans les villages des environs.

  40. ^ Cette strophe ne compte pas moins de quatre vers de neuf pieds. Le ms. donne la maire. Je substitue soula, que justifie peut-être le goût de G. pour les répétitions.

  41. ^ Ms. sauvertasses, sauvages. La distraction de G. est évidente ici, car l'adjectif démonstratif aquel, qui précède, exige un singulier.

  42. ^ Ms. E. luchava. Cette forme ne s'est maintenue que dans le couplet populaire:

    Quau voudrà luchà,
    Que se presente;
    Quau voudrà luchà,
    Que vengue au prat!

    Le gallicisme lutà prend partout ailleurs la place de luchà.

  43. ^ Ms. Un pus grand rembal. On dit plus communément rambal.

  44. ^ Ms. ïaussava.

  45. ^ On dit aussi sabarnòu.

  46. ^ Si le pronom que je place entre crochets n'est pas absolument indispensable, il adoucit, du moins, un de ces hiatus dont G. ne s'est pas assez gardé.

  47. ^ Ms. Nivou.

  48. ^ Sortre, forme à peu près périmée.

  49. ^ Ms. pivou.

  50. ^ Laugeire, forme extrêmement rare et que je n'ai rencontrée que dans G.

  51. ^ Chabença, peut-être emprunté aux poésies des félibres.

  52. ^ Bon esquiol, bonne mine. Lous blats an bon esquiol; Les blés encore en herbe ont bonne apparence (Sauvages).

La masca

Òbra ternenca, version provençala.


Sus un bèu brèç fach d'amarina,
Sus un bèu brèç flamament[1] nòu,
Una joina maire se clina
E puei se charpina e se dòu.

D'onte vèn son lagui[2] d'aquesta ora?
Son enfanton es ben malaut;
Totjorn crida, tresana e plora,
Sens'[3] podra i amaisar son mau.

Nuech e jorn lo lume près d'eu velha;
Sa maire pereu velha près d'eu.
Tot es escur d'aubres, la trelha
Es atapada d'un ridèu.

A paur dau rebat qu'esbleugigue[4],
Lo paure anhelet que se planh,
Ela que, per pas que sofrigue,
Agotariá fins a son sang.

E res manca pas au malaute[5]:
Remèdis, suenhs, res manca pas;
Mai lo melhor qu'a son uelh saute
Se fai pas veire tot escàs.

Son còrs es redde de frescura[6],
Son pous es flac, son uelh macat;
De lo sauvar n'es pas segura[7]
Car lei medecins l'an quitat.

Autanben[8], coma poiriá viure?
Demanda à beure e vòu manjar,
E receup ni manjar ni beure,
'Mai sa maire vòugue assajar.

E, sus lo breç fach d'amarina,
Sus lo bèu breç flamament nòu,
La maire dolenta se clina,
E puei se charpina e se dòu.

Ò! sa dolor es ben amara,
Son sòrt es triste e pietadós.
Pèrdre la mitat de sa cara,
De son còr, ò quant codors!

E sosca que non saup, pecaire!
Son còr es gonfle e se duebre;
A fach tot ce qu'a pogut faire,
E mai son pichotet mòre.

Sei vesins, que l'an atrobada
Aborida[9] a sei pensaments,
I an dich: « Dins aquela tornada,
I a quicòm de mai o de mens.

« Aquò's un mau pas coma d'autres[10]
Donte mai vai, mai es endecat.
Conoissèm pas ais enfants, nautres,
Mai lo vòstre es belèu emmascat.

« Quauqu'uns lo tèn dins la sofrença;
Vos faudriá sacher de quauqu'un
De qué n'es. Fasètz diligéncia. »
La maire taisa son planhum.

A la barra roja de fèrre
S'estacariá un negadís;
Ela s'ista aquí; vai quèrre
La devinaire dins son nis.

E sus lo breç fach d'amarina,
Sus lo bèu breç flamament nòu,
La maire un darrier còp se clina,
L'embraça e sòrte ambé paur.

La bauma

Au fin fons d'una bauma amb d'arronzes barrada[11],
Onte ne pendolava e lusissiá qu'un lum[12],
Onte d'un pichòt fuòc fumava fòrça fum,
La devinaire èra assetada
E, sus sa fauda, d'una man,
Per far çò que las mascas fan,
Lo sant clame dau jorn triava
D'èrbas e de plantum, que de l'autra asegava.

La maire, que dau mau de son fiu se cosiá,
Intrava, estabosida a tot çò que vesiá.

La vièlha aviá lo nas coma un cròc de romana,
E sa barba ponchuda anava lo tocar;
Sei dents, dempuei non sai, avián l'èr de mancar;
Aviá l'uelh gris, lo peu de lana,
Mai palla e maigra èra sa carn;
Quauqu'uns auriá forviat d'escart
Se, de nuech, aviá vist la filha
Que fasiá pas d'encòntra tant coma una etomia.

La maire, que dau mau de son fiu se cosiá,
Intrèt, estabosida a tot çò que vesiá.

Mai la masca, espinchant la rauba de la maire,
A l'intrada dau ròc: « Sabe perqué venètz,
Çò ditz. An emmascat vòstre pichòt. Vesètz,
Sa vida pòu pas pus mautraire;
S'aquò i es donat, a la mòrt,
Tot mon gaubi n'es pas pron fòrt
Per lo tirar d'aqueu martire[13];
E mai lo plegaretz, puei que vos lo fau dire.

La maire, que dau mau de son fiu se cosiá,
Plorava, estabosida a tot çò qu'ausiá.

Subran i demandèt, en eissugant sa gauta,
Dei plors[14] que de seis uelhs rajan coma una fònt:
« Bòna femna, digatz; ò! digatz-me quicòm,
Per veire d'onte vèn la fauta?
Vos ne'n prègue coma un còrs sant,
Tachatz[15] de garir mon enfant:
Pietat, pietat per sa sofrença! »
« Vòstre enfant deglesís per una mauvolença. »

La maire, que dau mau de son fiu se cosiá,
Plorava, estabosida a tot çò qu'ausiá.

« Legís aquò d'aquí dessús vòstra figura, »
Repren la devinaire, e traguèt dins lo fuòc
Quauquei peçucs de sau qu'escotèt mai d'un còp;
Parlèt una estrani parladura:
« Se seguissètz çò que dirai,
Vòstre pichòt es sauve. » - « O, si farai,
Lo bòn Dieu m'en done l'ajuda!
E crese que de res sarai pas esmoguda. »

La maire, que dau mau de son fiu se cosiá,
Plorava, estabosida a tot çò qu'ausiá

« Adonc vos fau crompar un fetge d'una feda
Negra e qu'ague d'anhèus, e puei lo rostiretz
Dins la sartan, ponhut d'agulhas, car saupretz
Qu'a caduna la masca es redda;
Avisaretz de l'aguer cuech
Avans l'ora de miejanuech.
Munida d'una barra fòrta,
Sortiretz de l'ostau e vos metretz per òrta.

La maire, que dau mau de son fiu se cosiá,
Plorava, estabosida a tot çò qu'ausiá.

A de qué qu'ausiretz[16] sans l'atrobar virada
Anaretz, anaretz devèrs un crosador[17].
Aquí, sus una soca, en turtant dau baston,
Que lo fetge tombe a flocada
A l'ora la masca vendrà
E vòstre enfant, lo garirà. »
E la paura maire pagava
D'un tendre gramací la vièlha que parlava.

La maire, que dau mau de son fiu se cosiá,
S'entornava, en pensant a çò qu'arribariá.

Lo crosador

Ò mon Dieu! fasètz-me la gràcia
D'acabar l'òbra sans falhir[18]!
Siáu qu'una femna, e mon audàcia
A cha pauc sembla s'avalir.
Per ieu quanta trista nuechada!
Coma una fuelha qu'es ventada,
N'estrementisse a la pensada.
Se me sostenètz pas, mon Dieu,
Deman mon fiu sarà pas viu!

E per lei pòtas, leis ortigas
E lei greses de lei[19] garrigas,
La maire, qu'afortís lo mau de son enfant,
Caminava de nuech, soleta, tot pregant.

La mieja d'onge oras picava,
Coma finissiá son planhum.
Lo trevièrs èra luenh; passava
Passava pus lèsta qu'un fum.
Ai! s'anava mancar son ora,
Quora son fiu gaririá, quora[20]? ...
Saique[21] la mòrt dejà s'arbora
Per lo sagatar dins sei braç,
E mai alongava lo pas.

E per lei pòtas, leis ortigas
E lei greses de lei garrigas,
La maire, qu'afortís l'amor de son enfant,
S'esforçava de nuech, soleta, tot pregant.

Dins aqueu crosador tant òrre,
Ben lassa, ben trista arribèt;
Se vesiá pas la coa d'un pòrre,
De tant escur que l'atrobèt.
Ais entorns pas ges de masura,
Pas ges d'aubres, ges de verdura;
Jamai plaça pus mau segura.
Tot i èra suau: mai, de per còps,
S'ausiá[22] lo miaular dei chòts.

E per lei pòtas, leis ortigas
E lei greses de lei garrigas
La maire que crenhe ara per son enfant,
S'aplanta[23] aquí de nuech, soleta, en tremolant.

Sus la soca, de l'envèrs plantada,
Pausa lo fetge tot ponhit[24];
I baila una bòna fretada,
Fins que siguèt amotelit[25];
E mai qu'èra tota susosa,
E puei una votz raufelosa
Restontissiá de çai e lai;
Mai se virava pas jamai.

Quitant lei pòtas, leis ortigas
E lei greses de lei garrigas,
La maire, que crenhe ara per son enfant,
Demòra aquí de nuech, soleta, en tremolant.

Enterin que sola turtava
Dins aqueu sauvatjàs trevièrs[26],
L'enfant, que la mòrt trigossava,
S'arrapava au pecolh[27] dau breç,
Jangolava e, de sa boqueta,
Fasiá lei badaus e l'aisseta;
Luchava sus sa palhasseta,
Mai ela, dins un grand rambalh,
Se n'èra enfangada aiçavau.

Quitant lei pòtas, leis ortigas
E lei greses de lei garrigas,
La maire, que crenhe ara per son enfant,
Espèra aquí de nuech, soleta, en tremolant.

Aviá grep, aviá paur. La crenta,
L'esfrai fasián crussir lei dents.
De l'espinchar antau morenta,
I aviá per plànher sei torments;
Lo vent sus la tèrra bofava,
Lo cèu ulhauçava, tronava,
E la plueja que regolava
Menava un bruch tant subrenaut[28]
Qu'aquò i enfonsava[29] son mau.

Quitant lei pòtas, leis ortigas
E lei greses de lei garrigas,
La maire, que crenhe ara per son enfant,
Espèra aquí de nuech, soleta, en tremolant.

Enfin, dins lo trelutz d'un nívol
Vetz la masca sortir amb un cat,
Aitant perlongada com'un píbol,
Negra coma son cat mascarat,
Se sarra de son pas laugeire[30]
E ditz, amb un parlar riseire:
«M'as vencut, n'en lo voliáu pas crèire. »
Subran sus lei ròcs correguèt
E, lèu, lo cat la seguiguèt.

Devèrs lei pòtas, leis ortigas
E lei greses de lei garrigas,
La maire, que crenhe pas pus per son enfant,
La regarda s'enanar encara en tremolant.

Puei vira net, pren la travèrsa
Per èstre pus lèu a l'ostau;
Car son còr, tot plen d'amaressa,
Languís de veire son malaut.
Ò! que de jòia e de chabença!
Son fiu pren mai de subsisténcia,
A bon escuòlh[31] bòna aparéncia;
Revèn coma l'òli ais lampions
E lèu i alanda sei braçons.

De tant de bonur abondada[32],
Dins una amistósa braçada,
La maire, que joís d'aguer sauvat l'enfant,
Lo teniá ben sarrat, tot plorant, tot pregant.


These are my own notes regarding the transcription into modern Provençal.

  1. ^ Modern Provençal would likely say flame nòu here, but I've kept the word intact to not make the line sound too short.

  2. ^ Lagui ("chagrin") seems to be languedocian. Modern Provençal says lanha or pegin, but the former implies anger more than grief. I've kept the original, even if it might be a little un-Provençal.

  3. ^ Modern Provençal says sensa, but I've cut it a little short to maintain the number of syllables.

  4. ^ I'm not sure what the original infinitive of this verb was, but modern Provençal has two variants: emberlugar, esbleugir. I've chosen the latter to maintain the rhyme.

  5. ^ Modern Provençal says malaut, but that would break the rhyme, so I've kept the -e at the end.

  6. ^ Modern Provençal says frescor, but that would break the rhyme.

  7. ^ Modern Provençal says segur, but that would break the rhyme.

  8. ^ Modern Provençal would likely just say tant here, but that makes the line a bit short.

  9. ^ This should perhaps be aboriva (masculine: aboriu), but I'm unsure enough about this sentence that I've left the word alone just in case.

  10. ^ This should be autrei, but that would break the rhyme.

  11. ^ This should be ambé de romis barrats, but that would break the rhyme.

  12. ^ Modern Provençal would say lume, but that would break the rhyme.

  13. ^ Modern Provençal would say martiri, but that would break the rhyme.

  14. ^ Modern Provençal would perhaps say lagremas, but that might make the line a bit long.

  15. ^ Modern Provençal would perhaps prefer veire de or cercar de, but tachar de might be acceptable too, so I've left it as it is.

  16. ^ I cannot find a conjugation of the verb ausir that matches the original ausigués, but I assume it's supposed to be future tense, hence ausiretz.

  17. ^ Not sure there is any way to salvage the rhyme here. Modern provençal would probably say una crosiera, which would definitively destroy even the hint of a rhyme, so I've left it as is and we'll just pretend it kinda rhymes.

  18. ^ Modern Provençal would perhaps prefer mancar, but that would break the rhyme.

  19. ^ This should be dei, but I've decided to be blatantly ungrammatical to maintain the number of syllables. Much leeway is afforded the poet, no?

  20. ^ Modern Provençal would say quand, but that would break the rhyme.

  21. ^ Modern Provençal might say belèu here. I've kept the original word for its poetic effect.

  22. ^ Again the conjugation is unclear and doesn't match any modern conjugation I know of. I've gone with imperfect tense, even though the original gave the impression of perhaps being conditional.

  23. ^ Modern Provençal might prefer s'arrèsta here. I've kept the original word for its poetic effect.

  24. ^ Modern Provençal would say ponhut, but that would break the rhyme.

  25. ^ The verb amotelir appears to be an old one that's fallen out of use. I think the modern variants would be amotassir or amotir, but these appear quite rare themselves, and I'm unsure enough to just keep the original as is.

  26. ^ As the annotations on the original mention, there's some uncertainty surrounding the word trevièrs, which makes it unclear whether this sentence should use the singular or the plural.

  27. ^ I'm guessing the modern word is pecolh and not picolh, because the latter appears to refer to a type of axe or hoe, which has nothing to do with a crib.

  28. ^ Lo Tresor dóu Felibrige notes that Sabarnau(d), which in all other circumstances refers to a clumsy person, appears in this case to be a corruption of the Old Provençal subrenaut ("very loud"). I've chosen to adopt the old word by interpreting it as subre + aut ("over + loud") with an added n to soften the hiatus.

  29. ^ Once again I can't find the original verb and have had to assume that what's meant is the modern verb enfonsar.

  30. ^ Modern Provençal would say leugier, but that would break the rhyme.

  31. ^ Modern Provençal would say aguer bòna mina, but that makes the line a bit too long.

  32. ^ Modern Provençal might prefer abondosa, but that diminishes the rhyme.

The witch

Third work.

The house

Over a beautiful wicker crib,
Over a beautiful, brand new crib,
A young mother leans
And aches with worry. [4]

Whence her present grief?
Her little boy is very ill.
Daily he wastes away, crying, [7]
With no remedy for his pain. [8]

Night and day the lamp close by,
And his mother also, watches over him.
Everything is shaded by trees, the crib [11]
Is covered by a curtain.

She fears the glow should dazzle
The poor little lamb who pleads
She who—that he should not suffer—
Would bleed herself dry.

And the patient lacks for nothing:
Remedies, care, nothing is lacking;
Yet the best that catches her eye [19]
Barely makes its effect known.

His body is rigid with cold,
His pulse weak, his eyes dark-rimmed;
To save him from this is not certain,
For the doctors have given up on him.

And how could he live?
He asks for drink and wants to eat
Yet takes neither food nor drink [27]
Much as his mother would try.

And so, above the wicker crib,
Above the beautiful, brand new crib,
The plaintive mother leans
And aches with worry.

Oh! How bitter is her pain,
Her lot is sad and pitiable.
To lose one half of her life,
Of her heart, oh such burdens! [36]

She sobs that she doesn't know, alas!
Her heart is swelled and bleeds openly. [38]
She has done all that she could do;
Even so, her child is dying.

Her neighbors, who found her
Conclusion to be hasty, [42]
Told her: "In this turn of events
There is more than meets the eye. [44]

"This is an illness like no other,
Where he just keeps wasting away. [46]
Us, we don't know about children, [47]
But yours is perhaps bewitched.

"Some are experts on suffering; [49]
You'd have to consult such a one,
To know what it is. Make haste."
The mother quiets her grieving.

The red iron pole should mark
The borders of a marshland. [54]
There she resides; she goes to seek
The diviner in her nest.

And over the wicker crib
Over the beautiful, brand new crib
The mother leans one last time,
Hugs him, and leaves with fear.

The cavern

At the deep ends of a cavern by brambles barred, [61]
Where but a single light dangled and burned,
In the prodigious smoke of a small fire,
The diviner was sitting
And, in her lap, with one hand,
To do what witches do,
All day long she sorted [67]
Herbs and sprouts that her other hand prepared.

The mother, hurting from her son's illness, [69]
Entered, stunned by all that she saw.

The old woman had a nose like a hook, [71]
Which almost touched her pointed beard; [72]
Her teeth seemed long since gone; [73]
She had grey eyes, wooly skin, [74]
But pale and thin was her flesh;
Some would have scattered [76]
If, at night, they had seen the girl
Who moved to meet naught but a skeleton.

The mother, hurting from her son's illness,
Entered, stunned by all that she saw. [80]

But the witch, eyeing the mother's dress, [81]
At the cave's entrance: "I know why you've come," [82]
She said. "They've bewitched your child. You see,
His life can no longer worsen;
If that was given him—to the dead— [85]
All my skill ain't strong enough
To pull him from that torment; [87]
You'll wrap him in a shroud, since you'll know. [88]

The mother, hurting from her son's illness,
Cried, stunned by all that she heard.

Suddenly she asked, drying her cheeks
of the tears that sprang like fountains from her eyes:
"Good woman, tell; Oh! Tell me something,
To know whence the fault?
I beg you like a saint,
Try to heal my child:
Pity, pity for his suffering!"
"Your child falls apart under a malevolence."

The mother, hurting from her son's illness,
Cried, stunned by all that she heard.

"I read that on your brow,"
Said the diviner, and threw in the fire
Pinches of salt to which she listened more than once;
She spoke in a strange dialect: [104]
"If you follow my word,
Your child is safe." "Oh, yes I will,
The good God grant me aid!
And have faith that nothing will stop me." [108]

The mother, hurting from her son's illness,
Cried, stunned by all that she heard.

"Then you must buy a liver from
A black ewe with lambs, then roast it [112]
In the frying pan, poked with needles, cause you'll know
The witch is cruel to everyone; [114]
Make sure it's cooked
Before the hour of midnight.
Equipped with a strong staff,
You'll leave the house and go across the fields." [118]

The mother, hurting from her son's illness,
Cried, stunned by all that she heard.

"At what you'll hear but not see, you'll turn, [121]
And head towards a crossroads.
There, on a tree stump, beat it with the stick,
Till the liver becomes flossy. [124]
On time the witch will come
And heal your child."
And the poor mother paid
The old woman with many tender thank-you's.

The mother, hurting from her son's illness,
Returned home, thinking of what might happen.

The crossroads

Oh God! Show me your favor
To finish the work without failing!
I'm but a woman, and my bravery
Seems to be fading bit by bit. [134]
Such a sad night for me!
Like a leaf blown by the wind,
I quiver at the thought of it.
If you don't sustain me, my God,
Tomorrow my son will not be alive!

And by the thyme, the nettles, [140]
And the stones of the garrigues, [141]
The mother, conscious of her child's affliction,
Walked all night, alone, praying.

The clock struck half past eleven [144]
As she finished her pleading. [145]
The crossroads was far; she passed, [146]
Passed more nimbly than a cloud.
Alas! She was going to be too late. [148]
When would her son be healed, when?
Perhaps death was already getting ready
To slit his throat in its arms,
And the longer her steps grew.

And by the thyme, the nettles,
And the stones of the garrigues
The mother, conscious of her child's love,
Hurried all night, alone, praying.

In that terrible, awful crossroads
Very weary, very sad she arrived;
She didn't see a single hyachinth, [159]
In such darkness she found the place.
All around, not a single farmhouse, [161]
No trees, or anything lush and green;
Never a less safe place.
All was quiet here: but, at times
She heard the mewlings of the owls.

And by the thyme, the nettles,
And the stones of the garrigues
The mother who now feared for her child,
Stops here for the night, alone, trembling.

On the tree stump, planted upside down, [170]
She puts the well-poked liver;
She gives it a good beating,
Until it was well shredded; [173]
Even though she was all sweaty. [174]
And then a hoarse voice
Resounded all around her; [176]
But she never turned to look. [177]

Leaving the thyme, the nettles,
And the stones of the garrigues
The mother, who now feared for her child,
Rests here all night, alone, trembling.

While the lone mother was toiling [182]
In this savage crossroads,
The child, whom death was tearing at,
Grabbed the foot of the crib,
Groaned and, with his little mouth,
Sighed with his last breaths; [187]
He struggled on his little straw mattress
But it, in a grand jumble,
Left the crib in a terrible mess. [190]

Leaving the thyme, the nettles,
And the stones of the garrigues
The mother, who now feared for her child,
Waits here all night, alone, trembling.

She was numb with cold and fear. The shame, [195]
The terror, made her grind her teeth.
To see him dying like that, [197]
Had her pitying his torments;
The wind blew across the earth,
Lightning lit up the sky, thunder,
And the rain that poured
Brought a sound so loud
That it broke his illness.

Leaving the thyme, the nettles,
And the stones of the garrigues
The mother, who now feared for her child,
Hopes here all night, alone, trembling.

Finally, in the crepuscular rays [208]
She saw the witch descend with a cat,
As tall as a poplar tree and
Black as her swarthy cat,
She approached with light steps
And said, in a laughing voice:
"You've defeated me; unbelievable." [214]
Suddenly on the rocks she ran
And, quickly, the cat followed.

Towards the thyme, the nettles,
And the stones of the garrigues
The mother, who feared no longer for her child,
Watched her leave, still trembling.

Then she turns right round, takes the shortcut
So as to get home faster;
Because her heart, full of bitter sadness,
Longed to see her sick one.
Oh! Such joy and good fortune! [225]!
Her son takes nourishment again,
Looks healthy, good appearance;
Revived as a lamp receiving oil
And quickly opens wide his little arms.

Such happiness abounds,
In a warm embrace,
The mother, who rejoices at having saved her child,
Held him tightly, crying, praying.


These are my own notes regarding the translation into English.

  1. ^ Charpinar means "to cause worry or distress" and dòler means "to (make) suffer or hurt." I believe "ache with worry" is apt as a translation.

  2. ^ Tresanar means to expire or wither. In this case "to waste away" seems a good translation. Cridar ("to cry") and plorar ("to weep") have enough overlap that I've gone with just the one to keep the line short.

  3. ^ At first I thought the word poudre in the original was a variant of the verb poguer ("to be able", also spelled poder), or perhaps the corresponding noun ("power"), and that the sentence should be read as "without being able to ease his pain" or "without the power to ease his pain". But none of the dictionaries I've searched seem to support this, while some do support reading poudre as podra ("powder"), in which case the meaning becomes: "without (a) remedy (powder, ie. medicine) there to ease his pain." But then I wonder if it shouldn't be per amaisar, and the presence of the pronoun (i) in there seems odd as well. Perhaps I'm missing something about this sentence.

  4. ^ As far as I can tell, trelha refers either to an arbor or a trellis, wattle: a wall, roof, or other structure woven from branches. In this context I interpret it as a reference to the crib itself, or some part of the crib, since we know it's made from wicker and I assume the trees are outside. Though I suppose the scene could be taking place outside in an arbor or garden with a trellis; that just seems a bit weird to me. If it's a trellis, modern Provençal would perhaps say l'autin, which doesn't rhyme.

  5. ^ Sautar ais uelhs (literally "to jump to the eyes") means "to be evident" or "to stand out", "to catch the eye." The literal translation of this and the next line appears to be: "but the best that jumps to his/her eye barely makes itself seen" (tot escàs = "just now" or "barely"). I interpret this as the mother trying every remedy she can find, but even the ones that look most promising to her have little to no effect. This matches with my reading of line 8 above.

  6. ^ These three lines are hard to parse, since they seem to conflict with lines 17-18 above, where it says he lacks for nothing, yet here it says he receives no food or drink? I interpret this stanza to mean that the child cries to be fed, but however much the mother tries and wants to feed him, he either doesn't feed or throws it all back up again ("receives" nothing in a figurative sense).

  7. ^ Coudous appears to refer to bags of coal that one added as extra load on a beast of burden (for some reason), and can also be translated more generally as "overload" or "surcharge". Here I've simply gone with "burden".

  8. ^ This line literally reads "Her heart is swelled and opens itself", but I think "bleeds openly" gets the intended meaning across.

  9. ^ As far as I can tell, aborida (or aboriu, aboriva) means "hasty, hurried", or "early" and "pensaments" means "worries" or "concerns" (not "thoughts"; this appears to be a false friend in French), which makes this line read: "who found her concerns hasty", which doesn't quite chime with how they then go on to say that her child is indeed afflicted by something serious. I suspect "concerns" should be understood more like "conclusions": the mother thinks her child is dying from an illness, and that there's nothing more she can do, which her neighbors think is wrong (a hasty conclusion).

  10. ^ This line literally translates to "There is something more or less", which I interpret to mean "more than meets the eye".

  11. ^ The literal translation is "Where the more it goes on, the more he wastes away," which to my mind isn't exactly "like no other illness", but I assume the intention is that most illnesses get better with time and remedies, and this one doesn't.

  12. ^ Another strange line. I assume it implies that the neighbors have no children of their own, but I'm not sure what significance that fact has. Maybe it's to imply that these neighbors, while well-meaning, don't really have much experience with either illnesses or children, which is why, in the next stanza, they refer the mother to someone who does.

  13. ^ The verb tenir ("to take"), in addition to its more common uses, can mean "to master something", "to be an expert in", "to take an interest in." I assume that's what is meant here: "some people are experts on suffering: its causes and (perhaps) how to treat it."

  14. ^ This and the previous line literally translate to "To the red iron pole (or bar) should attach itself a marshland." I assume it means that the borders of the marshland are marked with red iron poles.

  15. ^ The word arounzes (also: arronzes, ronzes, romes, romis) refers to brambles in general and blackberry brambles in particular.

  16. ^ The annotation wasn't particularly helpful here. In fact, Lou sant clama dau jour (like the French toute la sainte journée) means "all day long" or "all the livelong day."

  17. ^ The verb cóser can mean either "to stitch" or "to cook" (variant: coire), which can also be used figuratively: to be hurt, as if by a great heat.

  18. ^ Croc de roumana refers to the hook on a spring scale (croc = hook, roumana = spring scale), on which you hang things to be weighed.

  19. ^ I'm having a really hard time interpreting this line. The literal translation is "And her pointed beard was going to touch it." I assume it's the nose that's "going to" touch the beard, as in "almost touching," but the phrasing sounds odd to me.

  20. ^ Dempioi noun sai literally means "Since I don't know (when)" and aguer l'er de (literally "to have the air of") means "to seem."

  21. ^ Although I write "skin" here, it's important not to confuse lo peu ("the body hair" or "the fur") and la pèu ("the skin"). The witch, it seems, has a lot of wooly body hair, but "wooly skin" works better in English.

  22. ^ In the original, this line was unindented. Since all the stanzas in this part have four indented lines, I assume this was a typesetting error, which I've corrected.

    Fourviat d'escart seems to mean "created distance between" or "scattered to the four winds" (fourviar = "to avoid, shun, turn away", escart = "distance between"). Basically the meaning of these three lines appears to be that most people would have run at the sight of the witch, but the mother didn't.

  23. ^ It's worth noting the change from imperfect tense to preterite: intrava in the previous stanza, but intret here. This subtlety can't really be expressed in English without getting terribly verbose and unpoetical: "The mother was entering" and then "The mother (had) entered."

  24. ^ This sentence confuses me greatly. The noun rauba generally means "dress", "robe", or "skirt" or "fur (of an animal)", "skin (like that shed by a snake)", or "(dead) body". None of which really seems to fit the context. I suppose maybe the mother's dress is very colorful and thus what catches the diviner's attention, or perhaps something about the dress tells her why the mother has come, but I really don't know what the intention is here.

  25. ^ More confusion. The word roc means "rock" or "stone", but here I assume it refers either to the cave itself, or to some sort of stone that serves as a doorstep.

  26. ^ As the annotation at the end of this stanza suggests, this should probably be understood as the witch showing the mother some kind of poison or other cursed object that might have been given to her child, and if that's the case, then the witch can do nothing for him. I thus take a la mort to mean "to the dead (one)," refering again to the child which, if not already dead, will surely be so soon enough that it makes no difference.

  27. ^ Here, martire seems to mean "torment" rather than "martyr(dom)".

  28. ^ Based on the annotation, assuming the witch showed the mother some cursed potion, the literal translation of this sentence ("But you'll wrap him (in his funeral shroud), since you'll have to say") should likely be understood as "since you'll be able to tell (that he has indeed been given this potion)".

  29. ^ Parlura (or parladura) refers to a manner of speaking, an accent or dialect.

  30. ^ I'm unsure about the conjugation in this and the previous line. I think the done in the prevous line is definitely subjunctive and should be read as "May God grant me aid". I'm reading the crese in this line as a continuation of that, despite the exclamation mark, and thus read it as subjunctive as well ("and may He have faith in me that I will not be moved from my path.") as opposed to being an imperative directed at the witch ("and you better believe me ...") or present indicative ("and I believe that ...")

  31. ^ After much head-scratching and fruitlessly poring over dictionaries, I've concluded that the age in this sentence is the subjunctive of the verb aguer, so that it should be read "a black ewe that has lambs."

  32. ^ This line, which literally reads "That to everyone, the witch is stiff", doesn't really make sense to me, except perhaps to say that the witch is "cruel" or "hard" (as in unkind).

  33. ^ Per òrta means "across country" or "across the fields", as in directly over the countryside rather than by roads.

  34. ^ Hard to make sense of this sentence, but as the annotation says, at least I'm not alone. I choose to read the virada at the end as connected to the first anarés in the next sentence (anarés virada, "you'll go (turn) around") and read it as: "at the thing you can hear but not see you'll take a turn." This is one of the places where the unfinished nature of the poem seems evident.

  35. ^ Floucada appears to mean "adorned with tassels", so this sentence should probbaly be read as: "until it falls to pieces/strips (becomes flossy like a tassel)".

  36. ^ Pau a cha pau means "bit by bit".

  37. ^ Pota has a number of meanings, including "lip" (in particular thick ones) and "jellyfish", but here it refers to the Lamiaceae family of plants and to thyme in particular. The alternative name for the family, Labiatae, is derived from Latin labia ("lip"), referring to the flowers typically having petals fused into an upper lip and a lower lip.

    Likewise, ortiga refers to the Urtica family.

  38. ^ A garrigue refers to a kind of low scrubland found in southeren France.

  39. ^ Somewhat unsure if it says "half to eleven" or "half past eleven", but I'm guessing "half eleven" should be interpreted as the former. Picar means "to strike", as in a clock striking the hour.

  40. ^ Here and in several other places I'm struggling to decide how best to translate plagnun and related words, since the typical meaning of "complaining" doesn't really seem to match the intention.

  41. ^ The annotation suggests treviès, which Roque-Ferrier couldn't find in any dictionary, might be synonymous with garrigue (above), ie. a kind of low scrubland. My own search suggests it refers to a place that's often frequented (from trevar = "to frequent"), such as a crossroads. If so, it should perhaps be trevaire or trevadís in the modern language.

  42. ^ Alas, English doesn't seem to have an interjection that really expresses the sort of emotion expressed by Ai! (french: Aïe!). Things like "Oh dear" and "dang" just sound comical, and "alas" isn't quite the same, but it's the best I can do.

  43. ^ Co d'un porre (literally "tail of a leek") refers not to leeks, but to the tassel hyacinth or grape hyacinth (Leopoldia comosa), which is a very striking and colorful flower. The point seems to be that she doesn't see anything colorful or green in this dark and horrible place.

    I can't tell what the se is doing in this sentence. I see no reason for a reflexive pronoun here, and "If she didn't see a hyachinth" doesn't make sense either, so I assume it's just poetic flair.

  44. ^ Masura (from mas) refers to a farmhouse, especially an old, dilapidated one. Appears to be a rare word, likely no longer used, or only in a few dialects.

  45. ^ This stanza only has 8 lines instead of 9 like the others in this part. One of the biggest signs that Guiraldenc wasn't quite finished working on it.

  46. ^ Amoutelir means "to become lumpy", "to lump together", or "to become covered in sod." Given the diviner's instructions, I assume it's meant to refer to the appearance of grass (sod), that is: the liver becomes shredded. Like pulled pork.

  47. ^ Amai means "even though" or "also", but the original punctuation connects this line with the one that follows, which makes no sense, so I've corrected that.

  48. ^ Çai e lai means "here and there", "hither and thither".

  49. ^ I assume the intention here is that the mother doesn't stop her work or turn around at the voice, but continues to beat the liver.

  50. ^ Turtar means "to hit", "to strike", but that doesn't quite work here, so I've gone with "toil."

  51. ^ Both badau and aisseta means "sigh", but faire lei badaus means "to breathe one's last." It's obvious that the child isn't actually breathing his last, so the intention here is likely that he's saved at the very last moment, that one more second and he'd have been dead.

  52. ^ Enfangar means "to get stuck in the mud", "to get bogged down", or "to be covered in filth" and aiçaval means "down here", so "But it, ..., was a mess down here" is the closest to a literal translation.

  53. ^ Crenta is a false friend in French. It means "shame" (french: honte) not "fear" (french: crainte).

  54. ^ Another confusing set of lines. I assume it's the mother who's afraid and grinding her teeth, not the child, and it's obviously the child who's dying, but how can she see that if the child is back home and she's out there at the crossroads? Also, since it's her boy who's dying, why is it mourenta (feminine) and not mourent?

  55. ^ Trelus means "exceptional brilliance" or "splendor" and nibou means "cloud", so I read that as crepuscular rays (a sunbeam seen just after sunset or just before sunrise, caused by a cloud below the horizon).

  56. ^ This line literally reads "You've defeated me, I didn't want to believe it," but that doesn't work very well in English.

  57. ^ Chabença refers to property, or the good things that one has.