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From The Trobador Poets, Selections from the Poems of Eight Trobadors translated from the Provençal with Introduction and Notes, by Barbara Smythe; Chatto & Windus: London, New York: Duffield & Co., 1911; pp. 183-185.


Two Anonymous Albas


WITHIN an orchard, ’neath the mayflowers white,
Two lovers dreamed away the livelong night,
Until the watcher cries the East grows light.
Ah God, ah God, the dawn, how soon it comes!

“Would God the night might never yield to morn,
And that my love might leave me not forlorn,
And that the watcher ne’er might see the dawn.
Ah God, ah God, the dawn, how soon it comes!

“Beloved, when I kiss thee, kiss thou me,
While in the fields the birds make melody;
Let us do this in spite of jealousy.
Ah God, ah God, the dawn, how soon it comes!

“Beloved, let us dream together here,
Within the garden, where the birds sing clear,
Until the watcher warns us day is near.
Ah God, ah God, the dawn, how soon it comes!

“Sweet is the breeze that wafts to me the kiss
Of my fair joyous love, and it is bliss
To drink his sweet breath with my lips like this.
Ah God, ah God, the dawn, how soon it comes!”


Gentle the lady is, and courteous too,
And many men her beauty love to view;
Her heart is given to faithful love and true.
Ah God, ah God, the dawn, how soon it comes!

[This was such a popular motif, that it was imitated by the famous German minnesinger Walther von der Vogelweide, in Tagalied, according to Taylor, here.  — Elf.Ed.]


WHEN the nightingale is crying
To his mate, and she replying,
My true love and I are lying
         ’Mid the flowers,
Till the watcher from the towers
Calls out: “Lovers, now arise!
I see daylight in the skies.”



I and II.

Metrical Form. — That of both originals has been exactly preserved in the translation.

We have already met with an example of this genre among the works of Guiraut de Bornelh.

The originals of the above translations are preserved in only one MS., and it is quite impossible to tell who may have written them. The longer alba is perhaps the most beautiful specimen of Provençal verse that has come down to us. The refrain of Swinburne’s poem “In the Orchard” (Poems and Ballads, First Series), “Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon,” is borrowed from it.

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