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Bernat Etxepare


He was born in Eiheralarre, a village close to Donibane Garazi (Saint Jean de Pied de Port), capital of the part of Navarre that today forms part of France. This priest was the author of the first book printed in the Basque language in 1545. We know little about his life, but we do know he spent some time in prison, probably accused of political involvement at a time when the kingdoms of France and Castile were jostling to take over the old Kingdom of Navarre. In his book, he gathered autobiographical, religious, amatory and patriotic poems, some of which praise the Basque language.



        Bernat Etxepare , 1545



Lady, may God protect you. Now are we on equal ground.

If I were king, you would be queen.

Please give me a kiss. Fear not!

The sorrows I have suffered for you are worthy of one.


Go on! Begone! Who do you take me for!

I do not think I have ever seen the likes of you.

Do not say such harsh words to me.

Go and tell the others! I am not what you take me for.


If you were a bad woman, I should pay no heed.

Because you are who you are, I agonize over you.

I do not believe I have said anything indecent.

By giving a kiss you would not be slighted.


Your kiss, I know, demands something else.

Lady, you have guessed even before I spoke.

Then stop saying such things to me.

As you are so shrewish, I shall do something else.


As long as I live, then, I shall let you not.

That which I now desire, shall you do here.

— I truly believe you are not in jest.

— Is this man going to shame me here?

Oh, what shall I do? — Hush up a while!


Tralala, tralala, kisses galore and another one for good measure.

Lady, once again, speak more gently!



Translation: Toni Strubell

Original version: POTAREN GALDATZEA


© Bernat Etxepare    

© Translation: Toni Strubell    

Basquepoetry is a project of the Susa publishing house for the diffusion of Basque poetry