Riche d'espoir et povre d'autre bien,
ComblÚ de dueil et vuide de l´esse,
Je vous supply, ma loyalle maţtresse,
Ne me tollez ce que je tiens pour mien.
Se je le pers, je n'auray jamais bien:
Souffrir pour vous? Helas, je le vueil bien!
Rich in hope and poor in all other goods,
Heaped with grief and emptied of comfort,
I beg of you, my loyal mistress,
Do not take away that which I keep as mine.
If I lost it, I would never be well:
To suffer for you, alas, that is what I want,
Literal translation by J. Friedman
Rich in hope and poor in earthly gold,
Heaped with grief and void of easefulness,
I pray you from the depths of my distress:
Leave me my hope; without it, I am cold.
Without it, I would suffer pains untold.
Alas, that I want more than what I hold:
Poetic translation by J. Friedman
Alain Chartier was from Bayeux. He studied philosophy and law at the University of Paris, then became a member of the household of Yolande d'Anjou, Queen of Jerusalem and Sicily. After the future Charles VII of France left Yolande's household, Alain went with him as a royal notary and secretary. He travelled around Burgundy and elsewhere with the Court, and served as a royal ambassador several times towards the end of his life.
My poetic advisor and I disagreed on the interpretation of the latter part of this poem. He saw the narrator as "not truly pathetic, but posing; not pining, but scheming". I didn't; I see him as genuinely depressed to the point where he holds onto a shred of hope, but doesn't truly believe he can influence his lady love in his favor. I think he might believe that it is better to hope against hope, than to give up and look elsewhere. I definitely didn't sense any scheming or posing in this poem. But he made a good argument for it, and a poem that shades the lover's complaint in this fashion would be a valid variation on the original.