One of the things I love reading is the Medieval Review’s book reviews that come through my e-mails regularly. The site for them is «https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/handle/2022/3631»
. Most of the reviews are for books I can never afford, but they still make good reading.
One of the places I love for research is The Rossel Hope Robbins Library «http://www.library.rochester.edu/robbins/home»
& the Koller-Collins Center for English Studies «http://www.library.rochester.edu/kcenglish/home»
. They are located in the same space on the fourth floor of the University of Rochester’s Rush Rhees Library.
Recently, I was struck by a review of Ruth Harvey and Linda Patterson, The Troubador Tensos and Partimens, a Critical Edition.
Boydell & Brewer Ltd., 2010. «https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2022/9160/10.09.15.html?sequence=1»
. Upon checking the UR’s catalog and finding this three-volume set, which costs $450, I made sure I had a day to visit the Robbins Library to do some research.
What I found is a poetry form that essentially is a poetic debate. Harvey and Patterson define the two forms, partimen
Partimens [sing. Partimen]: Pieces in which a question in the form of a dilemma is posed by the first interlocutor, while the second interlocutor, by choosing to defend one side, leaves the original proposer to defend the case for the other.
Tensos [sing. Tenso] on the other hand are characterised by the absence of an explicit original "either ... or" choice: "A tenso is an altercation or debate in which each [interlocutor] maintains and pleads in favor of some proposition or action" (Harvey:xix)
“Broadly speaking, the criteria ... lead us to accept pieces which feature a change of interlocutor with each stanza and which in their surviving copy constitute a single text of more than two stanzas. We include poems involving at least two living, human participants whose historical existence we have no compelling reason to doubt." (Harvey:xix-xx)
Both of these forms deal with themes that were of importance to Occitanian troubadors..The themes which are presented by the editors are: Courting, Sex, Marriage, Reputation, Troubador life, "Personal" questions [such as "why have you stopped singing, why did you abandon a lady, what do you think of a certain lady and should her lord be concerned about your attentions toward her], Wealth Knowledge and Knightly prowess, Religion, Politics, Miscellaneous [which is better; Catalans or French, what is your opinion of a knight's sisters]. (Harvey:xxxii-xxxix)
The real joy of these volumes is the presentation of the partiments
. I’m reprinting two of them below. What you will see is first, the poems transcribed in the original Occitan, followed by a prose English translation. The “PC” number is a cataloguing number assigned by Pillet and Carstens, Bibliographie der Troubadors.
Partimen of Ademar (lo Negre?) and Raimon de Miraval - PC 1.1
Should a man abandon a lady who has grown old, and for no other reason?
Miravel, tenzon grazida
voil qe fassam, si·us sap bon.
E digatz mi ses faillida
s'om deu laissar per razon
sidonz pos es veillezida,
Respkindez d'oc o de non.
N'Aàëmar, tost hai chauzida
la part del preç e del pron:
drutz q'a domna conqezida
non du moure partizon
q'ades val mais la guazida
qan dura longa sazon.
Per q'aiqi non veig tenzon.
Miraval, molt m'es estragna
dompna pos h·al pel ferran,
per q'eu lau q'ab vos remaigna,
q'ambdui seretz d'un semblan:
veils e veilla s'acompagna
e joves ab joves van.
Per q'eu veill domnei desman.
N'Aësmar, pos e mesclagna
voletz tornar vostre chan,
ben voill sapch'om en Espagna
qe vostra dompna val tan
qe per nien se gazagna;
e·l partir no vos ten dan
per q'es bon'a viandan!
I [Ademar] Miraval, I wish us to make an agreeable dispute, if you please. Tell me frankly whether a man should rightly abandon his lady because she has grown old and for no other reason. Answer yes or no.
II [Raimon] Sir Ademar, I have quickly chosen the side of the argument which corresponds to good repute and proper advantage: a lover who has won a lady ought not to propose separation from her, for the pleasure that is long lasting is always of more value. That is why I see no cause for dispute here.
III [Ademar] Miraval, I should find a lady revolting once she has gray hair; that is why I recommend she should remain with you, for you will be two of a kind: an old man and an old woman suit each other, whereas the young go with the young. That is why I abandon old loves.
IV [Raimon] Sir Audemar, since you are determined to turn your song to vulgar brawling, I would like the people of Spain to know your lady is of such high repute that she can be had for nothing; but separation can do you no harm, for she is welcoming to any wayfarer.
Partizen of Gui d'Uisel and Elias d'Uisal. PC 194.2
Is it better to be lover or husband of the lady you love?
Era·m digatz vostre semblan,
n'Elias, d'un fin amador
c'ama ses cor galiador
et es amatz ses tot enjan.
De cal deu plus aver talan
segon drecha razon d'amor
qe de si donz sia drutz, o maritz,
can s'esdeve qe·il n'es datz lo chauzitz?
Cosin, cor ai de fin aman
e non jes de fals trichador,
per qe·m tein a maior honor
s'ieu ai domna coind'e prezan
totz temps qe s'ieu l'avia un an
e pren marit domneiador
qe de si donz sia tostemps aisitz
c'autres dompneis ai maintz vezutz partitz.
La ren per c'om vai meilluran,
n'Elias, tenc eu per meillor
e cella tein per sordeior
per c'om vai totz jorns sordeian:
per dona vail bos pretz enan
e per moiller pert om valor;
e per donei de dona es om grazitz
e per donei de moiller escharnitz
Cozin, s'amassetz tan ni can
vos aurias dig gran folor,
qe re non cost'a fegniedor
si n'a un plazer e pois n'an;
mas ieu voil remaner baizan,
qe res tant n·om plairi'allor,
qe per bon dreit n'iria pois faiditz
se, can mi vol, ieu l·in era faillitz
N'Elyas, s'ieu mi donz soan
per moiller, no·ill fatz desonor,
q'ieu non o lais mais per paor
e per onor q'ieu·l port tan gran;
qe s'ieu la pren e pois la blan
n·on puesc far failliment maior,
e s'ieu li sui vilanz ni deschauzitz
faill vas amor, e·l domneis es delitz
Cozin, be·m tengatz per truan
s'ieu posc aver gardador
e ses parier e ses segnor
zo q'eu plus voill, s'alre deman!
Maritz a son joi ses afan
e·l drutz l'a mesclat ab dolor,
per q'eu voill mais, cal qe sia lo crtiz,
esser maritz jauzenz qe drutz marritz.
A Na Margarita lo man,
N'Elias, com a la meillor,
qe jutj'est plai, et eu en sia aunitz
s'eu mai non am mi donz qe sos maritz.
Cozin, ben conosc q'ill val tan
q'ill sap jutjar en dreit d'amor;
e, car sos pretz es tan fis e chauzitz,
sai qe dira qe vos i etz faillitz.
I [Gui] Tell your opinion, now, Sir Elias, about a sincere suitor who loves without deceitfulness and is truly loved in return. Which ought he to desire more according to the laws of love, when it comes to pass that he is given the choice: to be his lady's lover, or her husband?
II [Elias] Cousin, my heart is that of a true lover, not a false deceiver, and so I consider it is a greater honour if I have a charming and worthy lady for ever than if I has her for a single year. And so I choose the loving husband who will always be pleasured by his lady, for I have seen many other sorts of love affair broken off.
III [Gui] That whereby a man is improved, Sir Elias, I hold to be better, and I hold that to be worse whereby a man grows ever more base. Through a mistress a man's good name is advanced but through a wife he loses his worth; for paying court to a mistress a man is esteemed, but for paying court to his own wife he is mocked.
IV [Elias] Cousin, if you were at all in love what you have said would be a great foolishness, for a deceiver thinks nothing of it if he receives a single favour from his beloved and then goes on his way. I on the other hand want to kiss and go on kissing, for other creature could please me so much, for I would rightly be banished from her presence once I had been founding wanting when she needed me.
V [Gui] Sir Elias, if I decline to take my lady for my wife, I do her no dishonour, for I refrain from this solely because of the great awe and respect in which I hold her: if I take her as a wife and then pay court to her I can do her no greater wrong, but if I am boorish and discourteous to her I am sinning against love, and the love relationship is destroyed.
VI [Elias] Cousin, think me a deceiver if, when I can have what I most desire, without the attentions of any guardian or rival or husband, I then ask for something else! A husband has his joy without burdens whereas the lover's is mingled with suffering: that is why I prefer, whatever the outcry, to be a joyful husband rather than a downcast lover.
VII [Gui] Sir Elias, I send this dispute to Lady Margarita as being the best of women, that she may pass judgement on it; and may I be shamed by her if I do not love my lady more than her husband does.
VIII [Elias] Cousin, I acknowledge she is of such worth that she is well able to pass judgement according to the law of love; and, since her good name is so pure and so exalted, I am sure she will say it is you who are the loser.
As usual, these poems got me to thinking about applying this form in the SCA. And that thought leads to this one: What are themes from the SCA that could be used for partimens
? One the first I thought of is something like: "Which is superior: to fight to win honors or to fight for honor itself?" I'm open to other suggestions...... Post them in comments.