Chanson de Roland

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Chanson de Roland


An epic poem and one of the chansons de geste.

Old French.


De ço qui calt? Se fuit s'en est Marsilies,

Remes i est sis uncles, Marganices,

Ki tint Kartagene, Alfrere, Garmalie

E Ethiope, une tere maldite.

La neire gent en ad en sa baillie;

Granz unt les nes e lees les oreilles,

E sunt ensemble plus de cinquante milie.

Icil chevalchent fierement e a íre,

Puis escrient l'enseigne paenime.

Ço dist Rollant: «Ci recevrums ma[r]tyrie,

E or sai ben n'avons guaires a vivre;

Mais tut seit fel cher ne se vende primes!

Ferez, seignurs, des espees furbies,

Si calengez e voz (e) mors e voz vies!

Que dulce France par nus ne seit hunie!

Quant en cest camp vendrat Carles, mi sire,

De Sarrazins verrat tel discipline,

Cuntre un des noz en truverat morz .XV.,

Ne lesserat que nos ne beneïsse

(But what avail? Though fled be Marsilies,

He's left behind his uncle, the alcaliph

Who holds Alferne, Kartagene, Garmalie,

And Ethiope, a cursed land indeed;

The black moors from there are in his keep,

Broad in the nose they are and flat in the ear,

Fifty thousand and more in company.

These canter forth with arrogance and heat,

Then they cry out the pagans' rallying-cheer;

And Rollant says: "Martyrdom we'll receive;

Not long to live, I know it well, have we;

Felon he's named that sells his body cheap!

Strike on, my lords, with burnished swords and keen;

Contest each inch your life and death between,

That near by us Douce France in shame be steeped.

When Charles my lord shall come into this field,

Such discipline of Saracens he'll see,

For one of ours he'll find them dead fifteen;

He will not fail, but bless us all in peace.)

Selected editions

Chanson de Roland, ed. L. Gautier (Tours: 1897).

The Song of Roland, trans. D. L. Sayers (Harmondsworth: 1970).

La Chanson de Roland, ed. L. Cortes and introduction by P. Gabaudan (Paris: 1994).