Occitan poetry  980-2006

by Joan-Frederic Brun


 Teodor Aubanèl (1829-1886)

Medieval poetry: the kingdom of love
XVI-XVIII century: tasty baroque antiliteratures
XIX th century: toward a renaissance
XIX th century (1854-1914):  spreading and sclerosis of the Provençal miracle
XX th century (1920-1965): the anguish of no future
XX th century (1965-1981): "un país que vòl viure" (a country that just wants to live)
XX th century (1981-2000): postoccitanisme
XXI th century: just a living literature among many other ones? 


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Teodor Aubanèl

Born in 1829 in Avignon, deceased in 1886, he was a printer and a poet. He was also one of the closest friends of Frederic Mistral, and a founder, with him, of the Felibrige, the first organization devoted to the Provençal renaissance. The greatest master of love poetry in modern Provençal literature and surely one of the greatest love poets ever.

His first book of poems ("La Miugrana Entredobèrta", ie, The Half-Open Pomegranate) tells of his passionate and unrequited love for "Zaní" who declined to marry him and became a nun.   

He also wrote theatre full of burning passion, but his greatest book was "Li Filhas d'Avinhon" (Avignon Girls) whose vibrating and sunny eroticism scandalized Provençal society of his time, notwithstanding the poet’s deep and sincere Catholic faith. 

After the premature death of the poet rendered desperate by this scandal, his poems became a classic of Occitan literature. 

("La Miugrana entredobèrta")

this books starts with the two verses: 

Ai lo còr ben malaut, malaut a ne morir
ai lo còr bèn malaut e vòle pas garir

Later, it describes the desperate love of the poet for Zaní. This well-known fragment is a poem dedicated to Zaní's mirror: 


A ! vaquí pasmens la chambreta
Onte viviá la chatoneta !
Mai, ara, come l'atrobar,
Dins lis endrechs qu'a tant trevats ?
Ò mis uelhs, mi grands uelhs beveires,
Dins son mirau regardatz bèn :



Mirau, mirau, fai-me la vèire,
Tu que l'as vista tan sovènt...







My heart is sick, so sick that I shall die     

My heart is deadly sick and I don't want to recover.      



Ah! Here's the little bedroom

where the maiden used to live!

Where, however, would I find her

In those places where she lived for so long?

Oh, my eyes, my big thirsty eyes,

In her mirror please look well:



Mirror, mirror, please show her to me,

you who have seen her so often…


("li filhas d'Avinhon")


 Sis uelhs d'enfant, fons e verdaus,
Si grands uelhs purs vos dison: D'aut !
Un pauc risènta, un pauc moqueta;
Tèndri, se duerbon si boquetas;
Si dènts, pus blancas que lo lach,
Brilhan.... Chut ! qu'arriba : vètz-la !
Tot-just s'a quinze ans, la chatona.

Passes plus, que me fas morir,
Ò laissa-me te devorir
De potonas !


Arratge, son peu negrinèu
S'estropa a trenèla', en anèus;
Un velot cremesin l'estaca;
Foitat dau vènt, de roge taca
Sa cara bruna e son còu nus :
Diriatz qu'es lo sang de Venús,
Aqueu riban de la chatona.

Passes plus, que me fas morir,
Ò laissa-me te devorir
De potonas !


Ò ! quau me levarà la set
De la chata ? ... A ges de corset :
Sa rauba, fièro e sèns plecs, mòtla
Son joine sen que non tremòla
Quand marcha, mai s'arredonís
Tant fèrme, que subran fernís
Vòstre còr davant la chatona.

Passes plus, que me fas morir,
Ò laissa-me te devorir
De potonas !



("li filhas d'Avinhon")  

Her eyes of child, deep and greenish, /  her large pure eyes say you: get-up! / A bit merry, a bit  moching, her tender lips open; / her teeth whiter than milk, shine…/  Silence! She's coming! Look at her!  / She's just fifteen years old, the young maiden. 

Don't pass anymore, for you make me die, or let me devour you with my kisses!  


Her black hair disordered, / is folded up in wicks and rings; / it's tied with a crimson velvet ribbon / whipped by the wind, that stains of red / her face of brunette and her naked neck:/  One would believe it's Venus's blood, /that ribbon of the young maiden.

Don't pass anymore, for you make me die, or let me devour you with my kisses!!  

Oh! Who'll deliver me from the thirst / of the young maiden ? … She has no corset: / her proud dress has no fold, and moulds, / her young breast that never shivers. / When she walks, it suddenly swells, / so firm that suddenly your heart / quivers in front of the maiden.

Don't pass anymore, for you make me die, / or let me devour you with my kisses!


Venús d'Arle


Siás bèla, ò Venús d'Arle, a faire venir fòu!
Ta tèsta es fiera e doça, e tendrament ton còu
Se clina. Respirant li potons e lo rire
Ta fresca boca en flor de qu'es que vai nos dire?

Lis Amors, d'una veta, emé gràcia an nosat
Ti lòng peus sus ton frònt pèr ondadas frisat.
Ò blanca Venús d'Arle, ò rèina provençala,
Ges de mantèu n'escond ti supèrbis espatlas

Se vei que siás divessa e filha dau cèu blu;
Ton bèu pitre nos bada, e l'uelh plen de belucs
S'espanta de plesir davant la joina autura
Di pomas de ton sen tan redona' e tan puras.

Que siás bèla! Venètz, pòbles, venètz tetar
A si bèu sens bessons l'amor e la beutat.
Ò! Sensa la beutat de qué seriá lo monde?
Luse tot çò qu'es bèu, tot çò qu'es laid s'esconde!

Fai veire ti braç nus, ton sen nus, ti flanc nus;
Mòstra te tota nusa, ò divina Venús!
La beutat te vestís mielhs que ta rauba blanca;
Laiss a ti pè tombar la rauba qu'a tis ancas

S'envertolha, mudant tot çò qu'as de pus bèu:
Abandona ton vèntre i potons dau solèu!
Coma l'èurre s'aganta a la rusca d'un aubre
Laissa dins mi braçada' estrénhe' en plen ton maubre;

Laissa ma boca ardènta e mi dets tremolants
Córre' amorós pertot sus ton cadavre blanc!
O doça Venús d'Arle: ò fada de jovença!
Ta beutat que clareja en tota la Provènça

Fai bèlas nòstri filha' e nòstri dròlles sans;
Sota aquela carn bruna, ò Venús, i a ton sang,
Sempre viu, sempre caud. E nòstri chata' alèrtas
Vaquí perqué se'n van la peitrina dubèrta;

E nòstri gais jovènts vaquí perqué son fòrts
I luchas de l'amor, di braus e de la mòrt;
E vaquí perqué t'ame - e ta beutat m'engana, -
E vaquí perqué, ieu crestian, te cante, ò grand pagana!



Venus of Arles  

You're so gorgeous, oh! Venus of Arles, that you make us crazy! / Your face is proud and sweet, and, tenderly, your neck is inclined. Breathing kisses and laughter, your flower-like fresh mouth, / what will it tell us? The Loves have bound with a ribbon, with many grace, your long hair on your forehead, curly of wavelets.  You so shining, oh!  Venus of Arles, queen of Provence, there's no coat covering your wonderful shoulders. It’s clear you’re a goddess, a daughter of the blue sky; Your so beautiful breast dazzles us, and the eye, full of sparks, is astonished with pleasure in front of the youthful height of apples of your breast, so round, so pure. How beautiful you are! Come here, nations! come here to nibble at her two beautiful twin breasts love and beauty. Oh! Without beauty, what would the world be? Let all that is beautiful be lit and all that is ugly be hidden! Show your naked arms, your naked breast, your naked sides; Appear fully naked, oh divine Venus! Beauty dresses you up better than your white dress; Let drop at your feet the dress which, on your hips, is rolled up, covering the most beautiful part of you. Offer your belly to the kisses of the sun! As ivy clings to the bark of a tree, let me in my embrace fully embrace your marble; Let my burning mouth and my trembling fingers run in love on your immaculate body! Oh sweet Venus of Arles, oh fairy of youth! Your beauty which shines over whole Provence makes our daughters beautiful and our boys healthy; Under your brunette skin, oh Venus, your blood, always alive, always boils. And our alert girls, it’s for this that they walk, showing their gorgeous breasts, and our merry young men it’s for this that they’re strong in the fights of  love, bulls and death; And therefore I love you - and your beauty bewitches me, - And therefore me, Christian, I sing you, oh great pagan!  

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