Adieu: A Song for Lady Mary of Burgundy (1482)

Adieulied voor Vrou Marie van Bourgounien (t 1482)
(from “Breviarium der Vlaamsche Lyriek” by Marnix Gijsen, 2nd Ed. 1938, Die Poort:Brussels)

O felle Fortuyne, wat hebdy gewracht,
Wat hebt ghi nu bedreven
Aen een lansvrou van groter macht,
Te Brugghe liet si haer leven.
Cranck avontuer schent menighen man,
Gods gracie wil haer bistaen nochtan,
God wil haer zijn rycke gheven.
O fell fortune, what have you wrought,
What have you now committed
On a countrywoman of great might,
In Brugge she left her life.
Mad adventure ruins many men,
But God’s grace will still stand by her,
God will give to her his riches.
Och edel prince Maximiliaen,
Mijn man, mijn edel heere,
Hier moet een scheyden zijn ghedaen,
Mijn herte doet mi seere,
Ende mijnen natuere wort mi so cranck.
O God almachtich, lof ende danck,
Van deser werelt ick mi nu keere.
O noble prince Maximilian,
My husband, my noble lord,
Here a parting must take place,
My heart does me sore,
And my nature makes me so insane.
O God almighty, praise and thanks,
From this world I now turn.
Oorlof van Ghelre, neve reyn,
Oorlof mijn heeren alte samen ;
Eylaes, het moet gescheyden zijn,
God behoede u allen van blamen.
Adieu Philips van Ravensteyn;
Adieu van Bever, neve reyn,
Ende Simpol, hooch van namen.
Farewell van Ghelre, cousin pure,
Farewell my lords all together;
Alas, a parting it must be,
God preserve you from all blame.
Adieu, Philip of Ravensteyn;
Adieu van Bever, cousin pure,
And to Simpol, high of name.
Oorlof mijn lieve nichte soet,
Van Ghelre hertoginne;
Oorlof mijn reyn Keyserlick bloet
Dien ic so seer beminne;
Tscheyden van u doet mi so wee,
Ghi en siet mi levende nemmermeer.
Oorlof alle mijn ghesinne.
Farewell my sweet beloved cousin,
Duchess of Ghelre;
Farewell my pure Imperial blood
Which I loved so much;
Parting from you does me such pain,
You shall see me living no more.
Farewell all my family.
Adieu Margrite, edel bloeme reyn,
Mijn liefste dochter, bidt voor mi,
Mijn herte is in grooten weyn.
Eylaes, die doot is mi so bi;
Het moet doch eens ghestorven zijn.
Adieu Philips, lieve sone mijn,
Ick scheyde noch veel te vroeg van dijn.
Adieu Margrite, pure flower of nobility,
My dearest daughter pray for me,
My heart is weighted down.
Alas, the death is so close to me;
It must, however, always death be.
Adieu Philip dear son of mine,
I part much to early from thine.
Adieu mijn vrienden altemale,
Ghi hebt mi redelijc wel ghedient.
Nu bidde ick u met corter tale:
Weest doch mijn kinderkens vrient,
Ende mijnen man wilt doet bistant,
Ende zijt eendrachtich in u lant,
Ic hope, het wert u noch wel versien.
Adieu my friends everyone,
You have served me right well.
Now I pray to you with little time left:
Be however my children’s friend,
And my husband will stand by you,
And be united in your land,
I hope, you will be cared for well.
Oorlof lieve man, mijn heere,
God verleene u paeys ende vrede.
Ick ben so moede, ick en mach niet meere.
Die doot beroert mi alle mijn lede.
Adieu Brugghe, schoon stede soet,
God wil u nemen in zijn behoet,
Daertoe elck lant ende stede.
Farewell dear husband, my lord,
God grant you tranquility and peace.
I am so tired, I may no more.
Death calls me, to my sorrow.
Adieu Brugge, sweet beautiful city,
God will take you in his guard,
As with every land and city.


Mary of Burgundy died in 1492 at the age of 25 in a riding accident on her estates near Torhout south of Brugge (Bruges) in what is now the province of West Flanders in Belgium. She left behind her husband Maximilian of Austria and two young Children, Philip (later “the fair”) and Margrite. Her tomb in the Church of Our Beloved Lady in Brugge is a minor tourist attraction, partly because of its elaborate Burgundian/Gothic nature and also because the life-size effigy of the late Duchess shows her as both young and beautiful (she was the last of the non-Hapsburg Burgundians, so she missed out on the funny nose and the fat lip).

Mary ruled the Low Countries in her own right as Duchess of Burgundy, Countess of Flanders, Duchess of Brabant etc. etc. Her marriage to Maximilian was an important turning point in European history as it linked the wealth of Burgundy with the Imperial pretensions of the Hapsburgs. She was also the first of a long series of female rulers in the Low Countries (although her feminine successors – Margaret of Austria, Margaret of Parma etc. – were all regents rather than rulers in their own right). At the time of her death Brugge was extremely rich and powerful. It was arguably the wealthiest city in Western Europe. However, its harbour was already experiencing problems with silt and, following her death, it was rapidly eclipsed by its rival Antwerp (which in turn was eclipsed by Amsterdam and Rotterdam at the end of the 16th century as the Scheldt estuary, the entrance to Antwerp’s harbour, was seized by the rebel provinces).

The translation is by no means perfect. I am a novice at modern Dutch and this is my first attempt at late Burgundian Flemish. Cairistiona has very kindly checked my translation and removed the obvious errors but I am sure that a few have slipped past. If those of you who are genuine Dutch or Afrikaans speakers spot any errors, please write and tell me. Correction will only help me to improve. In addition to helping you spot my mistakes, I hope that the original text will also help you to get a feel for the rhyme and meter that the poet used.

I remain as always, your humble servant,
Jan van Seist