Ma bouche rit (Johannes Ockeghem)

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  • (Posted 2011-12-02)  CPDL #25089:  This edition has been withdrawn at the request of the editor.
Editor: Benjamin Stone (submitted 2011-12-02).   Score information: Letter, 3 pages, 80 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Performing edition, transcribed from the original notation as found in the Dijon Chansonnier, ca. 1475. French text is given using the original spellings from the manuscripts, which differ slightly from modern French.

General Information

Title: Ma bouche rit
Composer: Johannes Ockeghem

Number of voices: 3vv   Voicing: STT
Genre: SecularChansonVirelai

Language: French
Instruments: A cappella

    Manuscript ca. 1475 in the Dijon Chansonnier
First published: 1501 in Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, Volume 1, no. 78, p. 60
    2nd published: 1538 in Trium vocum carmina (Hieronymous Formschneider), no. 86

External websites:

Original text and translations

French.png French text

1.5. Ma bouche rit et ma pensée pleure,
Mon oeil s’esjoye et mon cueur mauldit l’eure
Qu’il eut le bien qui sa santé deschasse
Et le plaisir que la mort me pourchasse
Sans resconfort qui m’aide ne sequeure.

2. Ha, cueur pervers, faulsaire et mensonger,
Dictes comment avez osé songer
Que de faulser ce que m’avez promis.

3. Puis qu’en ce point vous vous voulez venger,
Pensez bien tost de ma vie abreger;
Vivre ne puis au point ou m’avez mis.

4. Vostre rigueur veult doncques que je meure,
Mais Pitié veult que vivant je demeure;
Ainsi meurs vif et en vivant trespasse,
Mais pour celer le mal qui ne se passe
Et pour couvrir le dueil ou je labeure,

5. Ma bouche rit…

English.png English translation

My mouth laughs, and my thoughts weep,
My eye looks merry, and my heart curses the hour
When it acquired the benefit that dissipates its health
And the pleasure for which death pursues me,
Without comfort to aid or console me.

Ah, perverse, false, and deceitful heart,
Tell me how you dared to dream,
Of lying about what you promised me.

Since in that respect you wish to avenge yourself,
Think soon of shortening my life;
I cannot live in the situation in which you have placed me.

Your hardness, then, wills that I die,
But Pity wishes that I remain alive;
Thus alive I die and in living perish,
But to hide the pain that will not go away,
And to conceal the sorrow under which I labor,

My mouth laughs…

Translation by Richard Wexler