And like Plato, it seems that critics would deny poetry a place in their carefully-wrought Republic. There is evidence of a relationship between the lyric first person and the characters of other medieval genres, which suggests that medieval readers were prepared to take the first person as referring to an ontological entity a person.
The troubadours celebrate love and desire in a way that is true to immediate experience, true to the life that men and women of flesh actually inhabit, an attitude that may have been an unexpected side-effect of the first Crusades:. A new world had revealed itself to them: a civilization that was not Christian, that accorded a positive attitude to life on earth, that gave free expression to love and sensual pleasures rather than dwelling on sin, contrition, and penitence. The beauty they celebrate is here, in living and breathing never-to-be-replicated individuals.
Unlike so many of the Italian and English poets who will follow them, the troubadours point—with Aristotle—to the Earth beneath their feet. In these poems, you are invited to see, not through an allegory or the doctrines of a philosophical position, but through a pair of eyes; and what these eyes are gazing into is not a gateway to a soul, or a vision of the love that moves the sun and the other stars—they are gazing with rapture and delight into the eyes of another person just like you.
One prominent argument suggests that it is indebted to Spanish-Arabic poetry of the eleventh century in terms of its themes and motifs:. It introduces new fashions in composition, as in its hymns to Spring. We can see, if not direct influence, at least shared poetic genes, by looking at a Spanish Arabic poem contemporary to those of the troubadours. Is it more of an internal struggle, the spirit who took me and forced me to struggle with and confront my own yearning?
Perhaps the spirit Arabi is wrestling with is the difficulty he experiences in discovering the meaning of his own yearnings, the desires that dogmatic religion would tell him to reject. We are not sinful because we desire; we are not broken because we want. This is an emphatically humane vision. In Farai chansoneta nueva I will write a new song , Guilhem asks what the use could possibly be in withdrawing from the world of life, love, and pleasure:.
What can it bring you if I cloister myself And you do not keep me for your own? All the joys of the world are ours Lady, if we love each other in turn. As the later poet Bernart de Ventadorn argues, love must be mutual in order for it to be true. Neither is Companho faray un vers… convinen I will make a poem as it should be , in which Guilhem compares two mistresses to horses he greatly enjoys riding: If I could tame them to my desire, I would not move my equipment anywhere else, For I would be mounted better than any man alive.
God give me a life long enough To get my hands beneath her dress. This is the expression of frankly physical desire. The first troubadour was not a man who regarded love as a path to the divine, or the woman right in front of him as a window through which he should learn to see God. For the passionate and sometimes violent Guilhem, love was a crucial part of a life here and now that is to be celebrated without apology and without genuflection to gods above or devils below.
Love—in all its emotional and physical glories—needed no justification. Guilhem was a man many modern academics would not like, and the feeling would probably be mutual.
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In Pus vezem de novel florir Since we see new blossoms , Guilhem complains:. So I know less than any what is good Because I want what I cannot get. I have seen all the works done beneath the sun; behold, all are vanity, a striving after the wind. He is dissatisfied with it and the small amount of Jois it affords.
Let the ideas they are so proud of bring them to bad ends. The mutual desire between lovers is both physical and emotional. It is not merely a repressed or sublimated eros ; it is the fully and powerfully physical expression of love and desire, combined with mutual choice and honesty. It is a love which does not live by rapina , by taking, forcing, pillaging, raping. For Marcabru, such people see the world as fragmented, frait , rather than whole, entier.
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This search for wholeness and Jois was not a disguised religious quest. Most of them […] frankly said that they did. He is truly dead who has no sense of love or its sweet savor in his heart. In pleasing and in wanting is the love of two noble lovers. Nothing in it can be good If the will is not mutual. When fresh grass and leaves appear And flowers bloom among the orchards, And the nightingales, high and clear, Lift their voices, pouring out their songs; Joy to them and joy to the flowers, And joy to me, and to my Lady even more, Joy is all around me; Joy enfolds my mind, But here my joy quite overwhelms the rest.
We see it reflected later in Chaucer: the opening reference to springtime, the budding of growth, and the reawakening of nature. The main theme is the repeated expression of the painful effect of the passion he feels, the desire that he has for a woman, the lady Aliu Anor, better known as Eleanor of Aquitaine.
According to the vida the later biography of Bernart, ostensibly written by Uc de Saint Circ , the love was mutual:. Bernart de Ventadorn […] went to the duchess of Normandy, who was young and of great merit, and devoted herself to reputation and honor and praise. And the songs and verses of Sir Bernart pleased her very much, and she received him and welcomed him warmly. He stayed in her court a long time, and fell in love with her and she with him, and he made many good songs about her. And while he was with her, King Henry of England took her as his wife and took her from Normandy and led her to England.
Sir Bernart remained on this side [of the Channel], sad and grieving, and went to the good Count Raymond of Toulouse, and stayed with him until the count died. And because of that grief, Sir Bernart entered the order of Dalon, and there he died. He has developed an urgent passion for a woman of wealth, nobility, and power, a woman whose station far exceeds either his reach or his grasp. And though the poems suggest that perhaps this passion was requited at some point, Bernart often appears to berate himself over the ridiculous inequality in terms of rank, wealth, influence, and power between himself and his beloved.
By God, my Lady, we have little success in love! I so love and cherish my lady, That I am afraid and draw back; I do not speak of myself in her hearing, Nor do I ask for anything from her. While many of the troubadours are knights and minor nobles, a number of them are referred to as Joglars from which we get our word juggler , mere performers, like Bernart, who have nothing else to fall back on. Such performers, because of their art, are invited into circles to which they would normally have no access. And yet, desire cannot and will not be reasoned with:.
How hard would you have to kiss someone for the effects to show after an hour, much less a month? The most famous story that illustrates the high stakes of the loves the troubadour poets celebrate comes from the vida of Guilhem de Cabestanh:. Guilhem de Cabestanh [loved] a lady who was called My Lady Sermonda, the wife of Sir Raimon del Castel de Roussillon, who was very rich and noble and wicked and cruel and proud.
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And this was told to Raimon del Castel de Roussillon, and he, like a wrathful and jealous man, investigated the story and learned that it was true and had his wife guarded closely. And one day, Raimon del Castel de Roussillon found Guillem eating without much company and killed him and drew his heart from his body and had a squire carry it to his lodging and had it roasted and prepared with a pepper sauce and had it given to his wife to eat.
And when the lady had eaten it, the heart of Sir Guilhem de Cabestanh, Sir Raimon told her what it was.
When she heard this, the lady lost sight and hearing. And when he heard what she said, he ran to his sword and tried to strike her on the head, and she went to the balcony and let herself fall, and she died.
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Oy Dieus! Bels dous amicx, fassam un ioc novel yns el iardi on chanton li auzel tro la gaita toque son caramelh, Oy Dieus! La dompna es agradans e plazens per sa beutat la gardon mantas gens et a son cor en amar leyalmens, Oy Dieus! In an orchard under leaves of hawthorn the lady holds her lover beside her until the watchman cries out the coming of dawn, O God! O God! Please God, do not let the night end already nor let my lover part from my side nor let the watchman see the dawn, Fair sweet friend, let us kiss, you and I, down in the meadow where the songbirds sing, let us do all this in spite of that jealous man.
Fair sweet friend, let us play a new game in the garden where the songbirds sing until the watchman plays his pipe.
Assembling the Lyric Self: Authorship from Troubadour Song to Italian Poetry Book
For the gentle breeze which comes from there from my lover, beautiful, and courteous, and merry, of his breath I have drunk a sweet ray of sun. The lady is delightful and pleasing And many admire her for her beauty, and for her heart which is true in love. Two lovers, who choose each other in the face of law, arranged marriages, social convention, church doctrine, and the very real possibility of getting caught and punished, wish the night could last just a few moments longer.
Only in the darkness is their freedom possible, only at night can they feel the one they love next to them, hear the rise and fall of breath, and know themselves as one and at peace. But with light comes the law, with light come the claims of ownership and property, church and state. The watchman cries out the coming of dawn so that the lovers can escape undetected, and hopefully, live to love again another night. The evident frustration in these poems is fueled by the absurdity of being unable to love the one of your choice except under the cover of darkness and lies.
This poem expresses an idea we can see as early as the Song of Songs: the right to decide for oneself, and the insistence that love is a personal choice, a potentially risky enterprise engaged with, and embarked upon, by two partners. Der tac mit kraft al durh diu venster dranc. The morning light shone, and the Watchman sang, while a lady secretly lay in the arms of her lover. Because of this, she lost all her joy, and her moist though beaming eyes filled with tears. What will become of me?
Now my beloved can no longer stay here with me, for your light chases my lover away. The day shone powerfully through the windows, and though they bolted many locks, they were of no use against sorrow.
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Inseparable, we remain truly connected to each other. The sorrowful man would soon have departed, but their bright, smooth bodies came close again, although the day already shone. Any painter who wanted to represent their companionship as they lay beside each other, would be overwhelmed. Although their love caused them great care, they gave themselves entirely to each other.
Diu frouwe begunde weinen.
Unfortunately, we will both soon awake. When will you return to me again? Alas, you take my joy away with you! Two hearts and only one body we have , but O God , the dawn! It comes too soon! Neither are the poems written by the two poets below, who each found love famously vexing. In Non chant per auzel ni per flor I do not sing for bird or flower , Raimbaut references the conventional vernal opening to Troubadour poetry by renouncing it. He then writes directly and openly of his physical desire for his lover, and the joy he takes in her:.
It shall be, Lady, a great honor if you will grant me the benefit under the covers Of having you in naked embrace; for you are worth more than a hundred; And though I do not boast: At this thought alone my heart joys more than were I the emperor. I have been in great distress about a knight I once had, I want it known for all time how much I loved him but now, I feel betrayed because I did not tell him of my love and I am in great torment naked in my bed or fully dressed.