01 November - Castelloza (born c. 1200) May 16, 2008 19:06:32 GMT 2
Post by moira on May 16, 2008 19:06:32 GMT 2
Castelloza (born c. 1200)
For today, one of the women troubadors (trobairitz):
Both poems are taken from Meg Bodin's still invaluable The Women Troubadours:
Friend, if you had shown consideration,
meekness, candor and humanity,
I'd have loved you without hesitation;
but you were mean and sly and villainous.
Still, I make this song to spread your praises
wide, for I can't bare to let your name
go on unsung and unrenowned,
no matter how much worse you treat me now.
I won't consider you a decent man
nor love you fully nor with trust
until I see if it would help me more
to make my heart turn mean or treacherous.
But I don't want to give you an excuse
for saying I was ever devious with you;
something you could keep in store
in case I never did you wrong.
It greatly pleases me
when people say that it's unseemly
for a lady to approach a man she likes
and hold him deep in conversation;
but whoever says that isn't very bright,
and I want to prove before you let me die
that courting brings me great relief
when I court the man who's brought me grief.
Whoever blames my love for you's
a fool, for it greatly pleases me,
and whoever says that doesn't know me;
I don't see you now at all the way I did
the time you said I shouldn't worry,
since at any moment I might
rediscover reason to rejoice:
from words alone my heart is full of jay.
All other love's worth naught,
and every joy is meaningless to me
but yours, which gladdens and restores me,
in which there's not a trace of pain or of distress;
and I think I'll be glad always and rejoice
always in you, friend, for I can't convert;
nor have I any joy, nor do I find relief,
but what little solace comes to me in sleep.
I don't know why you're always on my mind,
for I've searched and searched from good to evil
your hard heart, and yet my own's unswerving.
I don't send you this; no, I tell you myself:
if you don't want me to enjoy
the slightest happiness, then I shall die;
and if you let me die, you'll be a guilty man;
I'll be in my grave, and you'll be cruelly blamed.
God knows I should have had my fill of song
the more I sing
the worse I fare in love,
and tears and cares
make me their home;
I've placed my heart and soul
and if I don't end this poem now
it will already be too long.
Oh handsome friend, just once before I die
of grief, show me
your handsome face;
the other lovers say
you are a beast --
but still, though no joy comes to me from you,
I'm proud to love you always
in good faith, with an unfickle heart.
Nor ever from me a treacherous heart
toward you will turn --
though I be your inferior,
in loving I excel;
this I believe,
and this I think
even when I ponder your great worth,
and I know well that you deserve
a lady higher born that I.
Since I first caught sight of you I've been
at your command; and yet, friend,
it's brought me naught,
for you've sent neither
messages nor envoys.
And if you left me now,
I wouldn't feel a thing,
for since no joy sustains me
a little pain won't drive me mad.
If it would do me any good, I'd remind you singing
that I had your glove --
I stole it trembling;
then I was afraid
you might get scolded
by the girl who loves you now:
so I gave it back fast, friend,
for I know well enough
that I am powerless.
Knights there are I know who harm themselves
in courting ladies
more than ladies them,
when they are neither
higher born nor richer;
for when a lady's mind
is set on love, she ought
to court the man, if he shows strength and chivalry.
Lady Almucs, I always
love what's worst for me,
for he who's most deserving
has the heart most fleeting.
Good Name, my love for you
will never cease,
for I live on kindness,
faith and constant courage.
It happens that on my small yahoo list we are reading Meg Bodin's[/size]
Women Troubadours for the next 6 weeks or so, and in the last
couple of days I've read two essays on women troubadours and have
begun rereading this little volume -- which remains as important as
ever, though there has been a new edition of the poetry of the
troubadours which (perhaps the first time) includes a strong
representation of the women.
Here is a modern edition of the poetry a scholar and critic of this
poetry, William Paden, did together with Frances Freeman Paden, his
wife, a translator. It's expensive:
According to Bodin and apparently still (at least in the one more
recent essay I read), we know little of this remarkable poet. Bodin
says she "was from the Auberge, from the region of Le Puy." A third
poem mentions her husband so she was married and Bodin suggests she
was "probably the wife of a nobleman who fought int he Fourth
Crusade." Three of her poems have survived.
The two essays which discuss her poetry are Marianne Shapiro, "The
Provencal Trobairitz and the Limits of courtly Love, Signs, 3:3
(1978):56-71 and Matilda Tomaryn Bruckner' "Fictions of the Female
Voice: The Women Troubadours," Speculum, 67:4 (1992):865-91. Bruckner
discusses the poetry of the Countess of Dia (who I made foremother
poet posting for early on when I came onto the list) and
Castelloza. Bruckner says these differ radically in perspective from
the men's poetry: they both care about the subjective life of the
beloved. The Countess has to justify her right to write poetry and
her complaint her love is not returned; her argument is she has been
faithful and deserves to be loved for this and her virtues; beauty,
courtesy, intelligence. LIke the men, the Countess decries her
lover's pride. Castelloza's poems remind me of numerous Renaissance
women in their sonnets (Mary Wroth, Gaspara Stampa immediately come
to mind): she is betrayed; she gains superiority by her higher
loyalty and faithfulness; she too is aggressive in asserting her
right to love and has the right to not be haughty and rejecting
(which undermines the norms of this poetry which themselves depend
upon the sexist norms of the real world outside).
What I find particularly interesting in Bruckner is her assertion
that the women wrote in different genres than the men: tensos and
cansos. Of course they would not sing songs to their lord
asserting knightly valor, but their choice of debate and love song
was until recently (and still is) called inferior. Since reviewing
Paula Backscheider's book on 18th century women poets I've become so
aware how women prefer different genres and invent their own, and
these are often dismissed as inferior. Bruckner also catalogues a
whole group of mostly men whose articles are devoted to arguing there
were no women, most of these poems are by men and just anonymous or
to denigating some of it. Bruckner adds more women to Bodin by
taking seriously arguments about what is feminine poetry and
including more anonymous poems in women's modes, which seem strongly
to be by a woman, using women's imagery. archetypes, perspectives.
This poetry comes from a world which is supercomplicated and about
which many books have been written. For women it was one where they
had hardly any rights. It's still thought the few poems we have left
(hundreds for men, and only 23 women at most -- Bruckner's number --
identified) were able to write and assert themselves partly because
the men went on crusade, and the importance of powerful women at the
time at court is brought out (Eleanor of Aquitaine and her daughter
are mentioned by Bodin). But much historical work has been done
since. I like the chapter in Peter Dronke's Women Writers of the
Middle Ages: A Critical Study of Texts from Perpetua to Marguerite
Porete. He looks upon their poetry as personal. There's an online
book people can read: Catherine Ganiere's Women Troubadours in
Southern France: Personal Character, Unhappiness, and Revolting
Against Conventions: which concentrates mainly on the tenso, while drawing on
Shapiro and Bruckner and other essays:
Two more sources which really contain a good deal of material on the
William Paden's The Voice of the Trobairitz. This collection of
essays is wholly on the women troubadours, and looks really
excellent. There are two essays on the poetry of Castelloza. Another
questions whether Bieris de Romans was lesbian; one that attracts me
is called "The Troubled existence of Three Women Poets," and more.
Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay's The Troubadours, An Introduction. One
essay is just on the women: "The trobairitz" by Tilde Sankovitch.
There are many books on the troubadours but until recently they
hardly ever mentioned women and women are still in a single (minority
type) chapter in some. Linda M. Paterson's The World of the
Troubadours, Medieval Occitan society, c 1100-1300 one one where you
get women discussed; hers is mostly hard history (and I'm with
Catherine Morland on this most of the time), but it has a
section devoted to court life and another called "Women" (a separate
category you see) where there are subsections on marriage and also courts.