minstrel: Ja nus on Pris

Lesley Anne leslyann at voyager.snetnsa.com
Thu May 15 09:07:20 PDT 1997

>I'm looking for the words to "Ja nus on pris," the song supposedly written
>by Richard the Lionhearted as he languished as a hostage.

I asked about this earlier on the SCA-arts list and got the following response.


---------------Original Message---------------
I think the song you are thinking about is one called "Ja nuns hons
pris".  I have found it in two books; one calls it b anonymous, the
other says "attributed to Richard the Lion Hearted", and the words go
like this:
  Ja nuns hons pris ne dira sa raison
  Adroitement, se dolantement non;
  Mais par effort puet il faire chancon.
  Mout ai amis, mais povre sont li don;
  Honte i avront se por ma reancon
          Sui ca deus yvers pris
 for the first verse, with the 'c' in cancon, reancon, and ca all
soft--this set-up has no cedilla available.  
A very liberal translation goes "No prisoner can say what's on his mind
In good verse, if his sadness be not heard.  But if he strive, still he
may make his song.  I've many friends and yet their gifts are small.
The shame will be on them if ransomless I'm held two winters here"  This
translation, along with the French words and music are in _A Medieval
Songbook:  Troubadour and Trouvere_  edited and transcribed by Fletcher
Colllins Jr, with Robert F. Cook and Roger Harmon.  University of
Virginia Press, Charlottesville, 1982 .  This gives 6 verses, with
English translations.
My other source is a book called _Chanter M'estuet:  Songs of the
Trouveres_, edited by Samuel N. Rosenberg, music edited by Hans
Tischler.  Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1981.  This gives
about 8 verses, and the music, along with listing the manuscript
sources, and providing historical notes and explaining the song type
(it's called a rotrouenge, if this matters to you--I'm fairly ignorant
about verse from this era--after villanelles and rondeaux and aubades
I'm lost, so I am grateful for this detail, but not any better off for
having it! :-})  The general course of the song is that of all his
vassals, no one has come up with any cash, and Phillip of France is
making trouble, and it ain't fair that he should be treated this way.
Of course, the poet, whether Richard or another, expresses these
sentiments far more elegantly.
    Both these books are of inestimable value to anyone looking for more
information on troubadour verse and music--bearing in mind that in their
own period these weren't usually separated from each other.  The first
one inlcudes pieces from various parts of France and also from Germany,
and has useful hints on pronunciation and the like--it's aimed at people
who want to perform the songs.  The second book is aimed at researchers,
although a performer with a desire for serious research would find it
very worthwhile.  Have I gone into far too much detail here, or what?
;-}  Theodelinda

----------End of Original Message----------

Name: Lesley Anne Baker
E-mail: leslyann at voyager.snetnsa.com
05/15/97     09:07:20

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