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Medieval Music Database

Mes esperis se combat a Nature

ballade by Guillaume de Machaut


Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 843, fol. 206v (text); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 1584 (MachA), fol. 212 (text); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 9221 (MachE), fol. 149v (3/1); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds français 22546 (MachG), fol. 149 (3/1); Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds nouv. acq. français 6221, fol. 19 (text).


1. Guillaume de Machaut: Musikalische Werke. Erster Band: Balladen, Rondeaux und Virelais, edited by Friedrich Ludwig, Wiesbaden: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1926, p. 47.
2. Examples of Music Before 1400, edited by Harold Gleason, Rochester, New York: Eastman School of Music Series, 1942, p. 85.
3. 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. 134.
4. La Louange des Dames, edited by Nigel Wilkins, Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1972, New York: Barnes and Noble, 1973, p. 145 (Pn22546).

Text Editions

Guillaume de Machaut: poésies lyriques, 2 vols., edited by V. Chichmaref, Paris: 1909, p. 226.


1. MACHABEY, Armand. Guillaume de Machault, 130?-1377: La vie et l'oeuvre musicale, 2 vols, Paris: Richard-Masse-Editeur, 1955. Bibliothèque d'études musicales, p. 53.
2. 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.
3. FISCHER, Kurt von. 'Les compositions à trois voix chez les compositeurs du Trecento', L'Ars nova italiana del Trecento I: Certaldo 1959, 1962, p. 23.
4. DÖMLING, Wolfgang. Die mehrstimmigen Balladen, Rondeaux und Virelais von Guillaume de Machaut: Untersuchungen zum musikalischen Satz, Tutzing: Schneider, 1970. Münchener Veröffentlichungen zur Musikgeschichte 16, pp. 21-25, 30.
5. 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. 43-45, 65-66.
6. DÖMLING, Wolfgang. 'Aspekte der Sprachvertonung in den Balladen Guillaume de Machauts', Die Musikforschung, XXV/3 (1972), p. 303.
7. SWARTZ, Anne. 'A new chronology of the ballades of Machaut', Acta Musicologica, XLVI (1974): 192-207.
8. HIRSHBERG, Jehoash. 'Hexachordal and modal structure in Machaut's polyphonic chansons', Studies in Musicology in Honor of Otto E. Albrecht, 1980.
9. 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. Recorder Music of Six Centuries, Musicians' Workshop Recorder Consort (1953): Classic Editions CE 1018.
2. [Guillaume de Machaut], Illinois Collegium Musicum, Thomas Binkley (lute), directed by George Hunter (1956): Westminster XWN 18166.
3. Guillaume de Machaut (c.1300 - 1377). La Messe de Nostre Dame. 9 Weltliche Werke, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis and soloists, directed by August Wenzinger (1969): Archiv-IMS 2533 054 (INT).
4. The Art of Courtly Love. Vol. I. Guillaume Machaut and His Age [Contemporaries], Early Music Consort of London, directed by David Munrow (1973): HMV SLS 863(3) (GB).
5. The Art of Guillaume de Machaut, Ars Antiqua Paris, directed by Michel Sanvoisin (1974): Arion ARN 38252 (FRA)/ ARN 90814 (USA).


Mes esperis se combat a Nature
Dedans mon corps, dont moult sui esbahis.
Car se Nature est a desconfiture.
Durer ne puet en moy mes esperis.
Si me couvient sans cause estre peris
Par un refus qui en riant m'amort.
Se ma dame n'en fait briefment l'acort.

Leur bataille est si crueuse et si dure
Et de dolour m'a si fort entrepris
Qu'en moy n'a mais joye n'envoiseure.
Esperance, sens, maniere n'avis.
Helas! ainsi morray, ce m'est avis.
Tout par defaut de joie et de confort.
Se ma dame n'en fait briefment l'acort.

Et quant elle n'a de ma sante cure.
Et si ne puis estre sans li garis.
A ma folour, a sa gente faiture.
A ces dous yeus, a son gracieus vis.
A son dur cuer, plus dur que marbre bis.
Et a Amours demanderai ma mort.
Se ma dame n'en fait briefment l'acort.


My mind is in conflict with Nature
Within my body, by which I am greatly troubled.
For if Nature is in disarray
My mind cannot resist in me.
So I must perish without cause
For a refusal which slays me laughing.
If my lady does not quickly make accord between them.

Their battle is so cruel and so hard
And has so overcome me with sorrow
That in me there is no more joy or happiness.
Hope, feeling, good sense or reason.
Alas! thus I shall die, I believe.
All for want of joy and comfort.
If my lady does not quickly make accord between them.

And since she has no concern for my health.
And yet I may not be cured without her.
Then from my madness, from her sweet person.
From her gentle eyes, from her lovely face.
From her hard heart, harder than dark marble.
And from Love I will demand my death.
If my lady does not quickly make accord between them.

Text revision and translation © Jennifer Garnham

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

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