Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ballad of Count Arnaldos

Who ever had such fortune
By the waters of the sea
As once did Count Arnaldos
On the morn of St. John's feast?
While hunting for his quarry then
His falcon for to feed
He saw a galley coming
That was riding on rough seas
Its anchors were of purest gold
With silken sails and sheets
The mariner who led it came
Singing a melody
His music made a tail wind blow
Yet calmed the surging sea
The fish that swim down in the depths
Came up for air to breathe
The birds that fly in heaven above
On the mast did perch to hear
And then spoke Count Arnaldos
And the words he said were these:
"By God I beg you, mariner
that song to me to teach!"
The mariner replied to him
And such reply gave he:
"Good sir, I only teach that song
To those that sail with me."

 - Anonymous broadsheet, Spain, early 16th c. Translation: Craig B. Daniel, 2009.

The "Romance del Conde Arnaldos" is one of the best-known poems of the "Romancero Viejo," a broadsheet tradition that flourished from the late 15th to late 16th century. Several texts survive; this translation is based on one of the shorter ones. It is likely intended as a religious allegory, with the mariner representing Christ offering the song only if the Count will set aside his life as a powerful noble and follow him.

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