Aucassin and Nicolette

Old French poem from the 12th/13th century

Aucassin et Nicolette is an Old French story written in a mixture of prose and poetry. The name of the author is unknown, but he probably lived in Picardy during the early 13th century.

With these will I go, so only that I have Nicolette, my very sweet friend, by my side.

The translations used here are by Eugene Mason. [1]


  • Qui vauroit bons vers oïr
    Del deport du viel antif,
    De deus biax enfans petis,
    Nicholete et Aucassins,
    Des grans paines q'il soufri,
    et de proueces q'il fist,
    Por s'amie o le cler vis?
    • Who will deign to hear the song
      Solace of a captive's wrong,
      Telling how two children met,
      Aucassin and Nicolette;
      How by grievous pains distraught,
      Noble deeds the varlet wrought
      For his love, and her bright face!
    • Ch. 1
  • Nus hom n'est si esbahis,
    Tant dolans ni entrepris,
    De grant mal amaladis,
    Si il l'oit, ne soit garis,
    Et de joie resbaudis,
    Tant par est douce.
    • He who lists – though full of care,
      Sore astonied, much amazed,
      All cast down, by men dispraised,
      Sick in body, sick in soul,
      Hearing shall be glad and whole,
      So sweet the tale.
    • Ch. 1
  • C'en paradis ne vont fors tex gens con je vous dirai. Il i vont cil viel prestre et cil viel clop. et cil manke, qui totejor et tote nuit cropent devant ces autex et en ces viés cruutes, et cil a ces viés capes eréses et a ces viés tatereles vestues, qui sont nu et decauç et estrumelé qui moeurent de faim et de soi et de froit et de mesaises.
    • For into Paradise go none but such people as I will tell you of. There go those agèd priests, and those old cripples, and the maimed, who all day long and all night cough before the altars, and in the crypts beneath the churches; those who go in worn old mantles and old tattered habits; who are naked, and barefoot, and full of sores; who are dying of hunger and of thirst, of cold and of wretchedness.
    • Ch. 6
  • Mais en infer voil jou aler. Car en infer vont li bel clerc, et li bel cevalier, qui sont mort as tornois et as rices gueres, et li buen sergant, et li franc home. Aveuc ciax voil jou aler. Et s'i vont les beles dames cortoises, que eles ont deus amis ou trois avoc leur barons. Et s'i va li ors et li argens, et li vairs. et li gris; et si i vont harpeor et jogleor; et li roi del siecle. Avoc ciax voil jou aler, mais que j'aie Nicolcte, ma trés douce amie, aveuc mi.
    • But in Hell will I go. For to Hell go the fair clerks and the fair knights who are slain in the tourney and in the great wars, and the stout archer and the loyal man. With them will I go. And there go the fair and courteous ladies, who have friends, two or three, together with their wedded lords. And there pass the gold and the silver, the ermine and all rich furs, harpers and minstrels, and the happy of the world. With these will I go, so only that I have Nicolette, my very sweet friend, by my side.
    • Ch. 6


  • The most beautiful story of the Middle Ages, Aucassin and Nicolette, one of the few perfectly beautiful stories in the world…cannot be made into a representative medieval romance: there is nothing else like it; and the qualities that make it what it is are the opposite of the rhetorical self-possession, the correct and deliberate narrative of Chrestien and his school.
    • W. P. Ker Epic and Romance (London: Macmillan, [1897] 1922) p. 327
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