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Medieval Music Database

Je puis trop bien ma dame comparer

ballade by Guillaume de Machaut


New York: Wildenstein Collection, fol. 28 (text), 311 (3/1);
Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 843, fol. 195 (text), 241v (text); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 1584 (MachA), fol. 205 (text), 468 (3/1); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 1585 (MachB), fol. 45 (text), 310 (3/1); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 1587 (olim 612), fol. 35 (text); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 9221 (MachE), fol. 148v (3/1); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 22546 (MachG), fol. 143v (3/1);
Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Library, French MS 15, number 153 (text).


1. Guillaume de Machaut: Musikalische Werke. Erster Band: Balladen, Rondeaux und Virelais, edited by Friedrich Ludwig, Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1926, p. 31.
2. The Works of Guillaume de Machaut, Second Part, edited by Leo Schrade, Monaco: Editions de L'Oiseau-Lyre, 1956. Polyphonic Music of the Fourteenth Century III, p. 112.
3. Historical Anthology of Music. Vol. I. Oriental, Medieval and Renaissance Music, edited by Archibald T. Davison and Willi Apel, Cambridge/Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1966, no. 45 [R Ludwig].
4. La Louange des Dames, edited by Nigel Wilkins, Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1972, New York: Barnes and Noble, 1973, p. 143 (NYw).
5. Musikgeschichte in Beispielen von der Antike bis Johann Sebastian Bach, edited by Otto Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven: Heinrichshofen, 1976, p. 23.

Text Editions

Guillaume de Machaut: poésies lyriques, 2 vols., edited by V. Chichmaref, Paris: 1909, p. 183.


1. REANEY, Gilbert. 'Fourteenth-century harmony and the ballades, rondeaux and virelais of Guillaume de Machaut', Musica Disciplina, VII (1953), p. 133., p. 138.
2. MACHABEY, Armand. Guillaume de Machault, 130?-1377: La vie et l'oeuvre musicale, 2 vols, Paris: Richard-Masse-Editeur, 1955. Bibliothèque d'études musicales, pp. 41-42.
3. GÜNTHER, Ursula. Der musikalische Stilwandel der französischen Liedkunst in der zweiten Hälfte des 14. Jahrhunderts, dargestelt an Virelais, Balladen und Rondeax von Machaut., Ph.D. dissertation, University of Hamburg: 1957, Chapter 4.1.
4. MARTINEZ, Marie L. Die Musik des frühen Trecento, Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1963. Münchener Veröffentlichungen zur Musikgeschichte 9.
5. HASSELMAN, Margaret P. The French Chanson of the Mid-Fourteenth Century, 2 vols., Ph.D. dissertation, University of California (Berkeley), pp. 168-169, 170, 171.
6. SALOP, Arnold. 'The secular polyphony of Guillaume de Machaut', [chapter 2 of his] Studies on the History of Musical Style, Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1971, pp. 64-65.
7. GÜNTHER, Ursula. 'Zitate in französischen Liedsätzen der Ars nova und Ars subtilior', Musica Disciplina, XXVI (1972), p. 57.
8. DÖMLING, Wolfgang. 'Aspekte der Sprachvertonung in den Balladen Guillaume de Machauts', Die Musikforschung, XXV/3 (1972), p. 305.
9. SWARTZ, Anne. 'A new chronology of the ballades of Machaut', Acta Musicologica, XLVI (1974): 192-207.
10. POIRION, Daniel. 'Le monde imaginaire de Guillaume de Machaut', Guillaume de Machaut, poète et compositeur. Colloque - Table Ronde, 1978, p. 224.
11. ZIINO, Agostino. 'Guillaume de Machaut, fondateur d'école?', Guillaume de Machaut, poète et compositeur. Colloque - Table Ronde, 1978, p. 334.
12. GÜNTHER, Ursula. 'Contribution de la musicologie à la biographie et à la chronologie de Guillaume de Machaut', Guillaume de Machaut, poète et compositeur. Colloque - Table Ronde, 1978, pp. 95-116.


1. Guillaume de Machault (c.1300-1377) [secular works], H. Guermant (S), F. Mertens (T), E. Jacquier (B), Brussels P, directed by Safford Cape (1940): Anthologie Sonore AS 67 [78rpm. mx.135-1, 140-1].
2. The Ars Nova in France. Guillaume de Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Ten Secular Works, Brussels Pro Musica Antiqua, directed by Safford Cape (1956): Archiv ARC 3032 [US].
3. 1000 Jahre Musikgeschichte, vol. I, anonymous singers and instrumental ensemble (1967): Eterna 820 347.
4. Historical Anthology of Music in Performance. Vol. 1: Late Medieval Music (1300 - 1400), University of Chicago Collegium Musicum, South Illinois Univ, directed by Howard Mayer Brown, Wesley Morgan (1968?): Pleiades P 250.
5. [Machaut], Accademia Monteverdiana and soloists, directed by Denis Stevens (1973): Musical Heritage Society Orpheus 437.


Je puis trop bien ma dame comparer
A l'ymage que fist Pymalion.
D'yvoire fu, tant belle et si sans per
Que plus l'ama que Medee Jazon.
Li folz toudis la prioit.
Mais l'ymage riens ne li respondoit.
Einssi me fait celle qui mon cuer font.
Qu'ades la pri et riens ne me respont.

Pymalion qui mouroit pour amer
Pria ses dieus par telle affection
Que la froideur de l'ymage tourner
Vit en chalour et sa dure facon
Amolir, car vie avoit
Et char humeinne et doucement parloit.
Mais ma dame de ce trop m'i confont
Qu'ades la pri et riens ne me respont.

Or weille Amours le dur en dous muer
De celle a qui j'ay fait de mon cuer don.
Et son froit cuer de m'amour aviver.
Si que de li puisse avoir guerredon.
Mais Amour en li conjoit
Un fier desdaing, et le grant desir voyt
Qui m'ocirra; si croi que cil troy font
Qu'ades la pri et riens ne me respont.


I may well compare my lady
To the statue which Pygmalion made.
It was of ivory, so beautiful and peerless
That he loved it more than Jason loved Medea.
The foolish man prayed to it constantly.
But the statue answered him nothing.
So to me does that lady who melts my heart.
For I pray to her ceaselessly and she answers me nothing.

Pygmalion who died for love
Prayed to his gods with such feeling
That he saw the coldness of the statue
Turn to heat and its hard construction
Soften, for it had life.
And human flesh and spoke kindly.
But my lady confounds me in this
For I pray to her ceaselessly and she answers me nothing.

Now may Love transform the hard to soft
In her to whom I have given my heart.
And her cold heart enliven with my love.
So that I may have reward from her.
But Love in her welcomes
Proud disdain, and sees the great desire
Which will kill me; and I believe it is because of these three
That I pray to her ceaselessly and she answers me nothing.

Text revision and translation © Jennifer Garnham

Content Approved by: MMDB Director
Last updated: Wednesday, 19 March 2003

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