Sort of Translation of Cantiga #165

In honor of Our Lady of Syria. Unfortunately I can’t be sure this is accurate, because I don’t have any kind of dictionary of medieval Galician-Portuguese.

Here are the actual lyrics and a prose summary. Here’s sheet music. In the original, the refrain is AA, and the verses are BBBA.

“How St. Mary of Tortosa of Ultramar defended the town from the Sultan.”

No power in the world can do anything at all
against the Virgin’s power, which is all spiritual.

In Ultramar,* there was a great and very beautiful miracle
Which was shown by St. Mary, Mother of God-Emmanuel
to a powerful sultan, because he was very cruel
and the Christians he hated more than any.


Now this sultan was called Boudoudar by name;
he had Egypt and Aleppo under his command,
and Damascus and La Chamelle; and he began to war.
He always wanted to do the Christians great wrong.


He sent spies to mix with the Christians all the time
to know more what they were doing, and what they told him was
that the city of Tortosa was a glorious and great prize
and that it did not have many to defend it.


So the Sultan moved on it with a great host, when with his own eyes,
he saw that Tortosa was very near a convenient hill
and that there were so few people of the town
that he knew that his Moorish spy had not told a lying tale.


When Tortosa’s people saw them come with such great power
of Moors that came against them, they considered themselves to be dead.
They went to the church to make their prayers,
Saying, “Ay, St. Mary, may your mercy not lack after this!”


And how many people prayed, “Show us we are yours;
Guard us that we may not fall into the unbelievers’ power,
Lest they should not believe that you are Mother of God;
And grant on this feast that you show them some great sign.”


After they made this prayer, when they wanted to learn,
they counted how many they were; they were fewer than they thought.
So with very great voices they said like this,
“Lord, don’t run from us, we are in great trouble.”


The Sultan next day commanded his people to arm
So as to take the city, for they had more forces than its guard did.
But when they came to it, as many people as the stars
Were inside the city; they could not force the gate.


Neither tower nor barbican nor wall anywhere
Nor fosse was without many people, all armed very well.
When the Sultan came there, he was in a bad mood,
And he called the Moorish spy, “False, lying man!”


“Why did you do such a thing with my host here,
Saying that this town could not defend itself
From men of arms, from the manner that I could go to war?
And I have not seen a city defended like this!”


The Moor with great fear responded with this reasoning.
“Lord, I tell you the truth and nothing else.
All these knights you see are from the Heavens.
They are brighter and clearer than snow or crystal.”


Then the Sultan said, “And what summoned them here?”
Said the Moor, “By command of the Virgin, Mother of the Son.
You see that she has a church inside the town
Which is near the walls in the beach area.”


The Sultan said to the Moor, “The Al-Quran said
that St. Mary stayed always a virgin, and after this sign,
I will make no manner of war with her, the King’s Daughter,
And I will turn back from here, and I will give her respect.”


And when he had said this, he did what he’d said
And in this way the city was guarded by those good angels,
And after, they departed. A great thing done against the Sultan
By the love of the Holy Virgin, the Celestial Queen.


* Ultramar – Literally, “beyond the sea.” The name of the Crusader kingdoms.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.