Because of my interest in older Occitan literature, though, I've also been reading a translation of the twelfth-century Canso d'Antioca put out by Carol Sweetenham and Linda M. Paterson a few years back. While I don't have my "review" ready just yet, it's no secret that this epic from the Lemosin (French Limousin) deals with the crusaders' victory at Antioch during the course of the First Crusade. In anticipation of a follow-up post on the work later in the week, here's the first six verses from the opening laisse of the poem. I hope it gives those who might be new to the language at least a little taste of medieval Occitan's inherent aesthetic "coolness."
La batalha renguero lo divenres mati
pres la bafumaria al cap del pont perri.
Reis Corbarans de Persa demandet Arloÿ,
al cortes dogroman qe enten so lati:
'Quals es aqesta gens que vei estar aisi?
On vai, ni que demanda, ni qe quer, ni qe ditz?'
[On the Friday morning they drew up the order of battle,
near the mosque at the end of the stone bridge.
King Kerbogha of Persia asked Herluin,
the courtly interpreter who understands his language:
'What are these people I see standing here?
Where are they heading, what claims are they making,
what do they want and what do they say?']
This text and translation can be found on pages 192-193 of the fine study by Carol Sweetenham and Linda M. Paterson, eds., The Canso d'Antioca: An Occitan Epic Chronicle of the First Crusade, Aldershot and Burlington: Ashgate, 2003.