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La Vie de Saint Alexis (196-200; 216-225; 236-250; 276-280)

Brigitte L.M. Bauer and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old French with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old French Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old French language and its speakers' culture.

La Vie de Saint Alexis: 196-200; 216-225; 236-250; 276-280

A un des porz ki plus est pres de Rome,
Iloec arivet la nef a cel saint home.

Quant vit sun regne, durement s'en redutet
De ses parenz, qued il nel recunuissent
E de l'honur del secle ne l'encumbrent.

Eist de la nef e vint andreit a Rome;
Vait par les rues dunt il ja bien fut cointe,
Altra pur altre, mais sun pedre i ancuntret,

Ansembl'ot lui grant masse de ses humes;
Sil reconut, par sun dreit num le numet.

"Eufemïen, bel sire, riches hom,
Quar me herberges pur Deu an ta maison;

Suz tun degrét me fai un grabatum
Empur tun filz dunt tu as tel dolur;

Tut soi amferm, sim pais pur sue amor".

Quant ot li pedre le clamor de sun filz,
Plurent si oil, ne s'en puet astenir:

"Por amor Deu e pur mun cher ami,
Tut te durai, boens hom, quanque m'as quis,
Lit ed ostel e pain e carn e vin".

Sovent le virent e le pedre e le medra,
E la pulcele quet il out espusede:
Par nule guise unces ne l'aviserent;

N'il ne lur dist, ne il nel demanderent,
Quels hom esteit ne de quel terre il eret.

Soventes feiz lur veit grant duel mener
E de lur oilz mult tendrement plurer,
E tut pur lui, unces nïent pur eil.

Danz Alexis le met el consirrer;
Ne l'en est rien, si'st a Deu aturnét.

Soz le degrét ou il gist sur sa nate,
Iluec paist l'um del relef de sa tabla.

A grant poverte deduit sun grant parage;
Ço ne volt il que sa mere le sacet:
Plus aimet Deu que trestut sun linage.

Trent'e quatre anz ad si sun cors penét:
Deus sun servise li volt guereduner:
Mult li angreget la sue anfermetét.

Or set il bien qued il s'en deit aler:
Cel son servant ad a sei apelét.


In one of the ports that is closest to Rome,
There the ship of that holy man arrives.
When he saw his country, he is very worried
About his parents, that they recognize him
And overload him with the honors of the world.
He leaves the ship and went directly to Rome;
He goes through the streets with which he was already very familiar,
One after the other, eventually he there runs into his father,
Together with him is a large group of his men;
And he recognized him, he calls him by his proper name.
"Eufemien, dear Lord, powerful man,
may you lodge me in your house for the sake of God;
Make me a simple bed under your staircase
For the sake of your son, about whom you have such grief;
I am utterly weak and thus feed me for his love".
When the father hears the appeal of his son,
His eyes shed tears, he cannot contain himself:
"For the love of God and for my beloved friend,
I will give you, good man, all you have asked me for,
A bed and lodging and bread and meat and wine."
They saw him often, his father and his mother,
And the girl whom he had married:
They never recognized him in any way;
He did not tell them, and they did not ask,
Who he was nor what country he came from.
Many times he sees them display great grief
And shed tears from their eyes with great tenderness,
Entirely for him, never for themselves.
Sir Alexis takes it in resignation;
It does not matter, that much he is turned to God.
Under the staircase where he lies on his matting,
There they feed him of the remains of the table.
In great poverty he lives his high social rank;
He does not want his mother to know:
He loves God more than his entire lineage.
He has tortured his body that way during thirty-four years:
God wants to reward his devotion:
His physical weakness becomes much more painful for him.
He now knows well that he has to die:
He has called his servant to see him.

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