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THE TROUBADOUR CANSO AND LATIN LYRIC POETRY
The idea that the lyric poetry of mediaeval France had its begin-
nings in the rounds and songs of women, danced and sung in the valley
of the Loire during the festivals of springtime, was first put forward
by Gaston Paris in a review of Jeanroy's Origines de la poesie lyrique
en France} He had reached this conclusion by noticing the close
resemblance of sentiment in the remnants of the carole refrains, with
their allusions to spring, the woods, birds, and love — refrains origi-
nally sung in chorus by women as they danced — to those French poems
where a woman is the principal speaker, such as the chansons de mal
marine, or the pastourelles. In both classes free love in spring is the
theme, joy at escaping for the moment from the dull routine of ordi-
nary existence. And seeing that the idea of Troubadour lyric poetry
was also love outside wedlock, and that this peculiar conception of
was love often introduced by a strophe in which spring, flowers, and
birds summoned the poet to praise and petition his mistress, Paris
took the further step of seeking in these same carole dances the
reason for the especial characteristics of the artistic verse of Provence.
It would have the same origin as the semi-popular poetry of the
North. The canso would differ from the pastourelle only in the
manner of its development.^
To this view of the beginnings of lyric poetry on French soil M.
Joseph B^dier made notable exceptions. For the pastourelle and its
kind he would allow a mild infusion of folk poesy, or, to speak more
correctly, he would consider the pastourelle a parody of the real
thing, an artistic reflection of rustic wooing, contrived to amuse the
fashionable society of the day.'
1 Journal des Savants, novembre, decembre, 1891, mars, juillet, 1892.
2 Paris' words are: "Je voudrais en efitet rendre vraisemblable cette thSse que la
poSsie des troubadours proprement dite, imitge dans le nord % partir du milieu du XII*
siScle, et qui est essentiellement la poSsie courtoise, a son point de dSpart dans les chan-
sons de danses et notamment de danses printaniSres, et subsidialrement que les chansons
qui lui ont servi de point de dSpart appartenaient a une rggion intermediaire entre le nord
et le midi, et qu' elles ont rayonn6 au midi pour s'y transformer tres anciennement, au
nord pour y raster longtemps telles quelles." — Op. eit., July, 1892, p. 424; cf. p. 426.
s "Un peu avant 1150, se dSveloppe dans les coiu-s chevaleresques un certain goflt
de poesie pastorale; les f§tes du printemps, c61ebr6es & la fois par les vilains et les seig-
neurs, les chansons de maieroles et de danse en sont & la fois le ferment et I'allment. De
469] 1 [Modern Philology, April, 1912
2 F. M. Warren
But the great song of mediaeval France, the Troubadour canso,
would not claim relationship with the poetry of the people. Love,
youth, and rejoicing in the coming of spring are essential elements of
amatory verse always and everywhere. That they appear in the
Carole choruses on the one hand and in the canso on the other is
therefore not significant at all. Rather would it be surprising were
they absent. And the ties which to Gaston Paris were innate, link-
ing the rough melody of the Limousin peasant to the polished ode of
the feudal courtier, are to M. Bedier non-existent. Between the two
there is no vital connection. The peasant's chorus is natural. The
canso is artificial. Its sentiment is conventional, and was based on
an ideal, quite the opposite of actual love-making. Love as a wor-
ship, love which ennobles the lover, which bestows honor on him,
which causes the lover to admit his lack of merit, his unworthiness
to adore even at a distance, is the essential characteristic of Proven-
gal canso and French chanson. It is not found in popular poetry
Now if this difference really exists, and if M. Bedier's opinion
of the independent origin of the canso is more plausible than Gaston
Paris' theory of its descent from the same embryo as the pastourelle,
why is there a reference to Nature in the canso ? As we know it, this
perfect form of Troubadour verse is imbued with the feeling of its
period, the age of feudalism; it mirrors the environment of a par-
ticular locality, the court of Poitou or Orleans. But to dismiss its
allusions to springtime with the statement that descriptions of field
and wood make one of the commonplaces of all amatory poetry is to
state a fact and avoid an explanation. Yet an explanation imposes
itself here. The invocation of spring in the canso is peculiar. It is
the prelude to the poem. It serves to introduce the lover's petition
for favor. It does not accompany the petition. In one conception
and, saving exceptions, in one single strophe the Troubadour hails
the return of flower and song which bid him renew his pledge of devo-
tion to his lady. This greeting once given. Nature and her beauties
nobles poStes s'amusent S. exploiter ces thSmes: ainsi ont procSd6, presque en tout temps,
les poStes bucoliques. O'est un Jeu aristocratique, c'est une mode de sociStg, ou. — si
I'on ne craint pas Tanachronisme du terme — une mode de salon. "^ — Revue des Deux
Mondes, 1 mai, 1896 (p. 166).
' Por a later summary and discussion of the subject see C. Voretzsch, Einfiihrung
in das Studiuvi der altfranz&sischen Literatur, 188-96.
The Troubadour Canso and Latin Lyric Poetry 3
disappear for good and all. The remainder of the poem does not
know them. Indeed in its tenor it is far removed from them. So
great is the contrast between the opening strophe and what follows
that the formality of the introduction forces itself upon you at once.
You wonder why it is used, since it is not necessary to the poet's
thought. And yet it seems to have been used always. So far back
as the canso can be traced this kind of introduction appears to be
obligatory, traditional. We could well admit that the thought of
Troubadour poetry was conditioned by the ideas of a Limousin court
of the eleventh century, and still reserve our opinion regarding the
origin of this almost inevitable overture to Troubadour song.
Yet it was for the purpose of reconciling the open conflict between
the nature strophe and the remainder of the poem, and to demon-
strate the reasonableness of this constant preface to the canso that
Gaston Paris turned to the folk melodies of the Loire valley. What he
found there which would also bear on the lighter lyric of north France
may be readily accepted. The chansons de mat mariee, the pastourelles
cling closely to the facts of mediaeval courtship, whatever the social
circle. The woman either makes the advances or is not long besought.
But to assume that the canso of Provence, with its exaltation of the
weaker sex and its belittling of the stronger, derives from sources
antagonistic to its very life is perhaps carrying analogy too far. The
proof for the assumption rests entirely on the first, the nature strophe.
All the other strophes argue against it. And between this nature
strophe and the dance songs which are supposed to foreshadow it, the
connection is wholly conjectural.^
But whence comes the rhythm of Troubadour verse if not from
rustic song ? The strophic forms of William IX of Poitou are new
to literature. They cannot boast of any ancestor in Latin poetry.
> Paris' theory ol the origins of all the lyric, Ught or serious, rests In great measure
on the notion that the dance songs of the people were especially rife In spring. They
would be the siu-vlval of spring festivals. This Idea Is the natural one and Is supported
by the testimony of the lyric itself. But ciulously enough Latin documents, antecedent
to French and Provencal lyric, do not point that way. From the time of Hilary of Poitiers
(IVc) down to the twelfth century there are numerous allusions to the dances of the peo-
ple. To my knowledge, however, only one designates spring. In Saint Ouen's (d. 683)
life of Elol, bishop of Noyon (d. 659), a sermon of Elol's against pa«an practices on St.
John's Day, and saints' days In general, is quoted, and also against heathen rites in May:
"Nullus diem Jovis absque Sanctis festlvitatlbus nee in Madio nee ullo tempore in otlo
observet. " .... (Mon. Oerm. Hist., "Scriptores Rerum Merov.," IV, 706). On the
other hand references to dancing and singing at the Calends of January are not uncommon.
Cf. Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, XXVI (1911), 304,305.
4 F. M. Warren
There is, to be sure, a likeness between one of his strophes and the
three-line strophe of Latin trochaic tetrameter, a likeness which
would indicate a common origin, but the large number of trochaic
tetrameters which have come down from the tenth and eleventh
centuries do not offer a single exact counterpart. For the other
strophes used by William, Latin poetry does not give approximate
models even. Yet we must assume that such models existed, for him
or his predecessors. And we must also assume that these models be-
longed to a prosody of which no textual remains have yet been found.
Now if this prosody is not represented in the compositions of
Latin poets — exception being made for the trochaic tetrameter — it
may be because these more artistic writers looked down on it. Versi-
fiers who were their inferiors in training may have used it, or rhym-
sters who wrote only in the vernacular. It is noticeable that the
larger number of the strophes in William IX are built on either one
or two rimes. That is, they correspond to a theoretical original,
which would be the artistic development of a song sung in chorus
at first, and afterward as a solo and chorus. In other words, the
Troubadour strophe would be the lineal descendant of a non-literary
Latin or Latin-Romance strophe — which might rightly be called a
popular strophe — created for the people and set to a melody in which
the crowd could join. At some period in the history of France
educated poets would have adopted this popular strophe, and, in
modifying its rhythm to make it more musical and systematizing
its lines to make them more equal, would have replaced its common
sentiments and coarse expressions with the ideas and language of
the refined society of their day. Or rather, one poet would have
accomplished this transformation, the real inventor. He would
leave to the strophe its general form. Its content he would throw
away. And if the old content contained any praise of Nature, which
is open to serious doubt, that praise would disappear too.^
1 This view of the origin of the Troubadour strophe does not coincide with the
apparent trend of the Investigations now being carried on by M. Jean Beclc. M. Becli
has discovered that certain melodies of French and Provencal poems, on the one hand,
and of church hymns, on the other, are the same. Now correspondence in melody means
likeness of rhythm and therefore similarity In verse structure. Consequently M. Beck
is incUning toward the Idea that Latin chmch poetry, and in particular the sequence,
forms the point of departure for Provengal lyric poetry, an opinion which Wilhelm
Meyer advanced, but without musical proof, in his Fragmenta Burana (.Gesammelte
Abhandlungen, I, 51—55).
The Tboubadotjr Canso and Latin Lyric Poetry 5
Should such a hypothesis be considered tenable, and if we might
admit that the general outline of a Provengal song was retained by
the Troubadours, while its thought was entirely recast, how can we
account for the presence of the nature strophe in the canso, the obliga-
tory prelude on spring, birds, and love ? If the peasants' melodies
did not suggest this overture, what did ? One answer— the answer
given here — would be that the nature strophe of the canso was
prompted by the example of Latin lyric poetry, and in particular
that poetry describing spring and its beauty which was written or
was current in the valley of the Loire. For in all probability — ^we
are dealing altogether with hypotheses but with hypotheses which
we hope are reasonable — in all probability the pioneer composers of
artistic verse in Provencal, the poets who first wrote and sang artis-
tic poetry in their mother-tongue, were musicians who had received
their musical education in the abbeys of their native land, and espe-
cially in the school of St. Martial's of Limoges, the chief center of
sacred music in Europe during the tenth century.^ It is at St. Mar-
tial's that we might expect to see that inventor who found the new
song of worship and devotion, worship of his lady and devotion to
her cause. And who was this lady? The times and the environ-
ment, the return of peace after the foreign invasions and feudal strife
of the first half of the tenth century, with its revival of religion and
its restoration of church and shrine, and the place where these first
singers would be trained, point to a suzerain whose sway exceeded
earthly limitations, whose praise formed the theme of hymn and
sequence, who was the patron of many sanctuaries, the " domina mea "
of St. Dunstan^ (d. 988), and the holy being to whom Maieul (d. 994)
of Climy had pledged his faith .^
Scattered indications in the hymnology of the tenth century may
be adduced to support this notion that a personal prayer to the Virgin
was the first manifestation of the higher song of Provence. Traces
1 Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, XXIV (1909),
2 "Non patiatur domina mea, sancta mater Domini mel." — Vita 8. Dunslani
(about 1000), in Stubbs' Memorials of St. Dunstan, 18. Dunstan stood in close touch
with the abbey of Pleury, on the Loire. A line from the tenth-century manuscript of
Moissac is also pertinent: "Quem nos precamur, domina." — Dreves, Analecta Hymnica,
II, No. 71, strophe 7, 1. 1.
» Mlgne, Patrologia Latina, CXXXVII, 759, 760.
6 F. M. Warren
of homage paid to her by devout poets of the day appear here and
there in monastic manuscripts. It is a sequence composed at St.
Martial's which tells us of Mary's "famuli" and their "fidelia pre-
camina."^ And an English collection of the same period echoes
and stresses the humble supplications of votaries for her aid and
And if we admit the possibility that the zeal of some gifted singer
of Limousin caused him one feast day to break out into phrases of
passionate adoration of the "queen of heaven," need we seek any
farther than Holy Writ itself for a justification of his act and a model
for his sensuous pleading? "En dilectus mens loquitur mihi:
Surge, propera, amica mea, columba mea, formosa mea, et veni!
Jam enim hiems transiit, imber abiit et recessit; flores apparuerunt
in terra nostra, tempus putationis advenit, vox turturis audita est
in terra nostra; ficus protulit grossos suos, vineae florentes dederunt
odorem suum. Surge, amica mea, speciosa mea, et veni!"^
For however allegorized and spiritualized the Song of Songs may
have been — and it was the subject of constant commentary and
mystical explanation from the early church fathers down — its burn-
ing words of love and its images of physical beauty could not fail to
stir the pulse of any but the most confirmed ascetic. And a hermit
our first Troubadour was surely not. This language of ardent desire
gave answer to his longings, offered to them perhaps a definite as
well as a consecrated pattern of expression, on some morning when
• Virginum o regina, te canimus, Maria,
Per quam fulsere clara mundo Imnlna.
Adesto famuUs, plissima,
Influa suspendens jam prece pericula.
Audi fidelia precamlna
Impetratam deferens coelitus venlam.
— Dreves. An. Hymn.. VII, No. 104, 6a, 8o. 8b.
2 Maria, virgo virginum,
Exaudi vota servorum,
Jugi prece nos conserva,
Ac te colentes adjuva.
Audemus proni rogare,
Audire nostros dignare
In tuo melos honore
Ac pro nobis intercede.
— Op. cit., XII, No. 76, 1, 2.
Maria, coeli regina,
Audi preccs famulorum
Et deprecare Dominum.
— Loc. cit.. No. 77, 1.
3 Canticum Canticorum. II. 10—13.
The Tboxjbadoxjr Can so and Latin Lyric Poetky 7
the voice of spring was calling to him and the bloom of the forest
and the mating notes of the birds found his religious zeal struggling
with his senses. Here before him was a solution of the strife, a means
of reconciling body with spirit. It was a woman he would be address-
ing, yet a woman whom the world's increasing adoration had raised
to a place beside Deity, the "domina," subordinate only to the
"Dominus," still human, though possessed of power almost divine
through her relationship with the Son. Therefore, heartened by
his forerunner of the old dispensation, whose amatory phrases had
ever been sanctified by canon and commentary, he would blend Our
Lady's attributes of both earth and heaven and would invoke her
aid and favor, as he doubtless would petition a mistress of flesh and
blood. And a fitting prelude to his prayer would also be found in
the nature setting of the Hebrew hymn.'
On the other hand it is possible that the nature verses of the Song
of Solomon were an incident only in the creation of the canso's open-
ing lines, an incident to be sure which would confirm the Trouba-
dour's intention of giving his appeal to spring the sanction of the
Scriptures, and that the real source of his overture is to be found
elsewhere, in Latin lyric poetry. Side by side with the Song of
Songs had run for ages other lyrics, both religious and secular in
content, where the coming of spring, the bloom of field and wood, the
love notes of birds had been celebrated time and again. Of the body
of this lyric we may well suppose the good monks of Limousin and
their non-clerical pupils to have been ignorant. But some of it at least
they must have known, for it had been written on their native soil,
and by men famous in the annals of their race. Assuming then that
it was the monks of St. Martial's of Limoges who gave the first Trou-
badour his musical education in the last half of the tenth century,
what part of this poetry which is still preserved may have been within
reach of teacher and student P
1 There may be more than a hypothesis In this suggestion, for one of the earliest
specimens of lyric poetry in Prance is in part a paraphrase, assimilated to so-called
popular strophic forms, of the Song of Solomon. See Bartsch, Chrestomathie de Vancien
frangaia, 61-64. — In a brilliant article recently pubUshed in the Zeitschrift f-Ur /ramSsische
Sprache und Litteratur (XXXVIII , 47-94), Jean Acher shows that this lyric was
indeed composed for the festival of the Assumption. Acher's convincing exposition
seems to support my argument here.
' The catalogue of St. Martial's library made early in the thirteenth century gives
very little assistance in respect to its manuscripts of lyric poetry. At the date of its
8 F. M. Waeeen
The collection of poems known as the Latin Anthology has come
down in several manuscripts which antedate the last half of the
tenth century.i Two of these manuscripts are now in Paris.
Quite as old as any of the numbers of the Anthology is the
famous Pervigilium Veneris, in trochaic tetrameters (the artistic
form, perhaps, of the popular verse of the Latin peoples), with a
refrain.^ Though written in South Italy or Sicily, and probably
toward the end of the first century, this Latin song of love, like the
canso of mediaeval Provence, tells of the advent of spring, with its
love and leaf and nesting, in one single strophe:
Ver novum; ver jam canorum; ver renactus orbis est!
V^re concordant amores, vera nubunt alites
Et nemus comam resolvit de maritis imbribus.
In the Anthology also may be found distichs by a certain Penta-
dius, who is supposed to have been a friend of the churchman Lac-
tantius, in the second quarter of the fourth century. Using that
peculiar form of repetition, of which Ovid may have set the fashion,'
and which was so admired by the Latinists of the tenth and eleventh
centuries — ^the first hemistich of the hexameter repeated in the
second hemistich of the pentameter — Pentadius gives utterance to
his joy at the return of spring with its buds and birds, and finds even
death sweet when it comes in the midst of love :
Sentio, fugit hiems; Zephyrisque animantibus orbem
Jam tepet Eurus aquis; sentio, fugit hiems.
Parturit omnis ager, persentit terra colores
Germinibusque novis parturit omnis ager.
Laeta virecta tument, folio sese induit arbor,
Vallibus apricis laeta virecta tument.
Jam Philomela gemit modulis, Ityn inpia mater
Oblatum mensis jam Philomela gemit.
Tunc quoque dulce mori, tunc fila recurrite f usis,
Inter et amplexus tunc quoque dulce mori.^
making there were several copies of the Song of Songs on hand. Whether the Per-
mgilium Veneris was to be found among the works of the authors of Latin antiquity it
mentions cannot be determined.^ — Chroniques de St. Martial de Limoges ("SociStS de
r Histoire de France ") , 323 fl.
1 E. Baelirens, Poetae Latini Minores, IV, 3 S.
2 Baehrens, op. cit., IV, 292-97.
3 Amores, I, 9, 1, 2; Fasti, IV, 365, 366.
4 Baehrens, op. cit., IV, 344, 345.
The Troubadour Can so and Latin Lyric Poetry 9
Here the nightingale, as we see, is called "philomela." In the Per-
vigilium Veneris the paraphrase, "Terei puella," had marked the
Outside the Anthology, which we may be allowed to believe was
accessible to the first Troubadours, Latin poetry knows little of
Nature and its beauty until the last half of the sixth century.^ Yet
it seems improbable that there was a real break in the continuity of
this kind of composition, because it is so abundant when once it
appears again. And the place it chose for its new manifestation was
that very valley of the Loire which was to see the future outburst
of romantic poetry. But the singer of the sixth century, if indeed
he was a singer and not a versifier only, was not a son of the soil.
He was a stranger to France, and brought from a more cultured land
the fruits of a more careful training. Venantius Fortunatus was an
Italian, who emigrated to central France about the year 660. Vary-
ing his residence along the Loire from time to time, he won the last-
ing friendship of Gregory of Tours and earned the protection of lay
and ecclesiastical rulers. The unusual loveliness of Nature in his
adopted home surely exercised on Venantius a peculiar charm, for
not once nor twice but many times does he devote his pen to the por-
trayal of her changing moods.
Venantius' first description of spring is given in some distichs
which celebrate King Sigebert's marriage with Brunhilda (566):
Vere novo, tellus fuerit dum exuta pruinis,
Se picturato gramine vestit ager,
Ad fetus properans garrula currit avis.'
A few years later, Chilperic's espousal of Fredegonda occasioned
another picture of this favored season, with a greater amount of
detail and a certain likeness to the simpler sketches of mediaeval
lyricists. The royal pair are urged to lay aside sadness and turn
' Adsonat Terei puella subter umbram populi,
Ut putes motus amoris ore dlci musico
Et neges queri sororem de marito barbaro.
Ilia cantat: nos tacemus ? quando ver venit meum ?
— Op. cit., IV, 296.
2 The lyrics ol Tiberiaiius, at one time resident in Gaul (in 336), make the only con-
siderable exception to this statement. Tiberianus describes flowers and trees, praises
the melodies of birds, but does mention love. Some manuscripts of his poetry are now
in Paris (Baehrens, op. cit.. Ill, 264, 265).
s Mon. Qerm. Hist., "Auctores Antiquissimi," IV, Carmina, vi, 1.
10 F. M. Warren
toward joy, as does spring when winter is vanquished and Easter
with the resurrection of the Lord draws near :
Post tempestates at turbida nubila caeli,
Quo solet infesto terra rigere gelu,
Post validas hiemes ac tristia frigora brumae,
Flamine seu rapidi rura gravante noti,
Succedunt iterum vernalia tempora mundo
Grataque post glaciem provocat aura diem.
Rursus odoriferis renovantur floribus arva,
Frondibus arboreis at viret omne nemus;
Dulce saporatis curvantur robora pomis,
Et redaunte sibi gramine ridet agar.'
And on another occasion it was the Resurrection and Easter again
that called out Venantius' best efforts in this kind of composition.
Did Easter suggest the praise of spring, or did the return of spring
lead the poet on to the Resurrection ? Venantius is writing to Felix,
bishop of Nantes (d. 582), in his favorite meter:
Tempora florigaro rutilant distincta serene
Et majore poll lumina porta patet,
Mollia purpureum pingunt violaria campum,
Prata virent herbis at micat harba comis.
Tempore sub hiemis foliorum crine revulso
Jam reparat viridans frondea tecta nemus:
Myrta, salix, abies, corylus, slier, ulmus, acernus
Plaudit quaeque suis arbor amoana comis.
Ad cantus ravocatur aves, quae carmine clauso
Pigrior hiberno frigora muta fuit.
Hinc filomela suis adtemperat organa cannis
Fitqua repercusso dulcior aura melo.
• hoc. cit., ix, 3, U. 1-10. — See also the lines to Radegonda (d. S87):
Tempore vemall, Dominus quo Tartara vicit,
Surglt aperta suis laetlor herba comis.
Inde vlri postes et pulplta floribus ornant,
Hinc mulier roseo complet odore sinum. — hoc. cit., viil, 7, 11. 3-6.
Some dlstlchs, in a more secular tone, on the queen's garden (after 586), begin with
Virgil's "Hie ver purpureum" (Be. Ix. 40), and tell of the fruits of summer (Joe. ci<.,vi, 6).
Another poem has winter for theme (loc. cit., xi, 26). Venantius' life of Radegonda
was among the books in the library of St. Martial's (Chroniques de St. Martial dt
The Tboxjbadoub Can so and Latin Lyric Poetry 11
Ecce renascentis testatur gratia mundi
Omnia cum Domino dona redisse suo.
Si tibi (Christ) nunc avium resonant virgulta susurro,
Has inter minimus passer amore cano.^
With Venaixtius the nightingale begins his long career in the lit-
erature of France, not as the mythological philomel of the Pervigi-
lium Veneris and Pentadius, but a genuine bird of the woods, the
finest singer of them all. He has come down to real life. Venan-
tius knew Virgil almost by heart, but Virgil did not give him the pro-
tot3rpe, nor did Ovid, who applies to the nightingale the epithet of
"garrula." Venantius' words are his own here, as they are else-
where,^ and the credit of naturalness is his too.
But while we are rendering Venantius his just deserts as a lover
of Nature and an admirer of the nightingale's song, we should not
forget that in this second r61e, at least, he is soon to be surpassed by
a younger poet of the Latin race, though of another nation. Euge-
nius of Toledo (d. 657) may by good rights consider himself the chief
of the devotees of the nightingale. Whole poems of his are con-
secrated to her praise, and for him her notes far transcend in charm
and loveliness all other music of the forest. Still we may surmise
that Eugenius did not stand alone in this cult. He may have had a
more inspiring predecessor than Venantius, a writer on whom he
modeled himself perhaps, for the phrases with which the nightingale
introduces herself in one of his distichs ring as though they had been
coined in an older mint:
Sum noctis socia, sum cantus dulcis arnica,
Nomen ab ambiguo sic philomela gero.'
The "noctis socia," the "cantus dulcis amica" sound borrowed,
conventional. Could unknown poets of a more worldly stripe than
Eugenius have exercised their talents on this his favorite theme ?
Another run of distichs in Eugenius prompts the same query.
There we are told that Philomel's mission is to keep watch by night,
1 Loc. cii., iii. 9. — The last distich echoes Georgics ii. 328.
2 Solllcltante melo nlmlo fllomela volatu,
Pignora contemneus lessa cucurrit avis.
—Loc. cit., vll, 1, 11. 7, 8.
3 Mon. Germ. Hist., "Auctores Antlquissitni," XIV, 253.
12 F. M. Warren
to drive harm away, and this conception is so unexpected, so foreign
to the general trend of sentiment in the poem, that again we wonder
whether Eugenius is not following in someone's footsteps. Yet his
praise of the bird's song is thoroughly spontaneous and heartfelt:
Vox, philomela, tua cantus edicere cogit,
Inde tui laudem rustica lingua canit.
Florea rura colis, herboso caespite gaudes,
Frondibus arboreis pignera parva foves.
Nulla tuos umquam cantus imitabitur ales,
Murmure namque tuo dulcia mella fluunt.
Die ergo tremulos Ungua vibrante susurros
Et suavi liquidum gutture pange melos.*
Admirers of the nightingale, whose verse has disappeared, would
then have preceded Eugenius, and it is probable that other admirers,
whose works are lost to posterity, succeeded him. For his ardent
eulogies were followed by a silence more than a century long. At
last Charlemagne came, and with him a revival of literature, and with
this revival renewed delight in Nature and the nightingale. First
it is the sober scholar Alcuin, who voices this delight, with a decided
return to mythology, yet with sincere admiration for the singer and
Quae te dextra mihi rapuit, luscinia, ruscis.
Ilia meae fuerat invidia laetitiae.^
Or when spring alone is the burden of his thought, Alcuin again
finds solace in the warbler's notes :
Suscitat et vario nostras modulamine mentes
Indefessa satis rutilis luscinia ruscis.'
• Op. cit., XIV, 254. The phrases, "Irondibus arboreis" and "dulcia mella fluunt"
recall Fortunatus' words (p. 478 above) and his "Cuius ab eloquio dulcia mella fluunt"
(op. cit., iv, 1, 15, 1. 102), and perhaps go back to an original common to both poets.
The "gamilairundo," which appears in Eugenius' poem, is VirgUian (Georgics iv. 307).
But the idea here is neither Venantius' nor Virgil's, and inasmuch as the dlstichs conclude
most devoutly, with an invocation to the Savior of mankind, I suspect a secular source
for them, a source which Eugenius has consciously diverted and purified.
8 E. Diimmler, Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini, I, 274.
3 Loc. cit., 273. Alcuin left England for Aix. Yet in 796 he was made abbot of
St. Martin's of Tours, and resided at Tours imtil his death, in 804. If the poems cited
here were written after his occupancy of St. Martin's, we may well believe that they
were suggested by the same landscape which had inspired Venantius. Should the Con-
flictus Veris et Hiemis also belong to Alcuin, we should have another witness to his love
The Troubadour Canso and Latin Lyric Poetry 13
There are no greater names on the pages of post-classical literature
than those of Fortunatus, Eugenius, and Alcuin, and we may suppose
that through their authority more than one poet of the Carolingian
renaissance was led to celebrate the charm of the sweet warden of
the night. Alvarus of Cordova (d. 861) twice imitated Eugenius'
distichs, while a third poem, in hexameters, lists the nightingale with
other birds and animals.^ In France, Bishop Engelmodus of Sois-
sons sends a poem to Radbert of Corvie (d. 865), with an allusion
to her melody:
Dum lucina melos noeturnis personat hymnis,^
a sentiment in which Sedulius Scottus, master of the school at Li^ge
from about 840 to 868, heartily joins.^ And in the valley of the Loire
itself, an anonymous and semi-popular account of the destruction of
the Mont Glonne monastery (St. Florent-le-Vieil, near Angers),
toward 849, ranks the nightingale's strains with the music of the
Gravis det organum tuba;
Alte resultet fistula;
Omnis eanat armonia;
Det philomela cantica.^
The chaos which resulted from the breaking up of the Carolingian
empire enveloped literary life also, and for half a century, at least,
descriptions of Nature and her people are lacking to the barren
records of France. But in Italy, where feudal strife and foreign
inroads were far less wasting, a poet of the first quarter of the tenth
century, Eugenius Vulgarius by name, perhaps a monk of Monte
Cassino, found leisure to hymn the charms of spring and the music
of its birds.'* And a contemporary of Eugenius Vulgarius — he may
for vernal nature. Notice that both his mentions of the nightingale make use of the
common, popular term, "luscinla," rather than the learned "philomela." Some of
Alcuin's more didactic treatises were still at St. Martial's m the thirteenth century
(Chroniques, etc., 328, 344, 346).
1 Dtlmmler, op. cit.. Ill, c. 1, 2 (pp. 126, 127); c. 4 (pp. 128, 129).
2 Ibid., c. 3 (p. 63).
' Praepetes pennis volucres volatu
Temperat et pernox nunc philomela melos.
— Op. cit.. Ill, 232, 233.
i Op. eit., II, 147.
4 Op. cit., IV, 430, 431 ("myrto sedens lusciola").
14 F. M. Waeren
also have been older or younger — ^whose name is lost, but who may
have lived in Spain (possibly in France), was moved by the example
of Eugenius of Toledo to begin a verbal reproduction of the cries of
beasts and birds with an invocation to Philomel.^
But as the tenth century advanced and the harassed Loire
regained comparative tranquillity, admiration for the nightingale,
which seems to have been a lasting sentiment there, was expressed
anew in reviving poetry. In a trope of St. Martial's on the Resur-
rection, this admiration is once more connected with the observance
Jam philomelinis promat fibris chorus instans.
Arbiter aethre micans populis quod fabitur almis.^
So the Philomel cult did evidently survive in France, but what, we
may ask, had become of the other features of nature poetry ? One
might say that this one element had alone been saved, for it is the
nightingale only that is mentioned in the lines of Alcuin's successors.
Such a conclusion, however, must lack real foimdations. Nature
poetry in its broader sense may have been composed by artistic poets,
and either have not survived or still lie unknown in unexplored
manuscripts. But we should prefer, we admit, the more attractive
alternative, that as literature declined nature poetry faded away with
it, and that when love for Nature returned to man, and demanded
literary expression, literature was born again. For we find that
when peace had been restored and trade re-established, the desire
to write spread beyond the convent walls of France. Other produc-
tions than hymns and tropes marked the progress of this desire, and
in these productions delight in Nature showed itself once more. One
would suppose that poetry would first embody this new joy, and it
probably did, but to us the date of its reappearance is definitely
fixed by a prose work. Richer, who had been Gerbert's pupil at
' Dulcis arnica, venl, noctls solatlo praestans;
Inter aves etenlm nulla tui similis.
Tu, Philomela, potes vociun dlscrimlna mllle,
Mille vales varies rite referre modos.
Scribere me voces avium philomela coegit.
Quae cantu cunotas exsuperat volucres.
— Baehrens. op. cit., V, 363, 364.
Though the first line quoted here looks like a direct paraphrase of the Toledan poet,
the larger part ol the description seems to have been suggested by Suetonius' Prata, now
' Dreves, Analecta Hymnica, XLIX, No. 111.
The Troubadour Can so and Latin Lyric Poetry 15
Rheims, and who had set himself about 996, at Gerbert's bidding,
to narrate the history of his day, gives us our earliest intimation of
Still if Richer is first among the known authors of the new school
to celebrate the return of spring, he could have anticipated his fellow-
pupil at Rheims, Fulbert, bishop of Chartres, by a few years only at
the most. Fulbert occupied the see of Chartres from 1006 to 1028,
but before this promotion he had reorganized the cathedral school of
his diocese and started it on its greater career. Later, when he had
become bishop, he rebuilt the church of Notre Dame of Chartres,
preached the sermons that we know, and wrote the larger number
of his extant letters. Some of his verse was also composed, without
much doubt, during the years of his bishopric, but the poem which
interests us most, on spring and the nightingale, written in trochaic
tetrameters like the Pervigilium Veneris, yet in regular strophes of
three lines each, in monorime, contains no indication of the approxi-
mate date of its composition. It may have been contemporaneous
with Richer's chronicle, or it may belong to a later decade. Its
sentiment, which might decide the question, offers little help, for
it is pious rather than amatory, and after giving voice to the poet's
joy in the warbler's song, and the happy season which brings back
flower and leaf, it expends itself in a devout prayer to the Trinity,
quite after the manner of Eugenius of Toledo.^
Fulbert's stanzas sing the glories of spring, but on love they are
silent. This omission of an essential element of nature poetry is, of
course, conscious and deliberate. But the scruple which guided
Fulbert's pen found no reason for existence with two unknown
authors, whose poems are preserved by the same manuscript which
1 "Nam cum vernalis dementia eodem amio rebus bruma aillictis rediret, pro rerum
natura immutato afire Interea rigore hiemali elapso, cum aere mitlorl ver rebus
arrideret, et prata atque campos virescere faceret." — Historiarum, III, c. 109; IV, c. 21.
We should suppose tliat Rlclier had predecessors in these allusions to spring.
' Here are typical strophes of this well-lniown poem:
Cum tellurls vere novo produountur germiua
Nemorosa clrcumdrca froudescunt et brachla,
Flagrat odor quam suavls florlda per gramlna,
Felix tempus, cui resultat talis consonantia!
Utlnam per duodena monsium curricula
Dulcls Philomela darot sue vocis organa.
— Zeitschrift fiir deutschea AUerthum, XIV, 490, 491; cf. Philip Schuyler Allen in Modern
Philology, V, 450, 451.
16 F. M. Warren
has given us Fulbert's. These poems are more recent than Ful-
bert's ode, by a score of years perhaps, and it is not certain that they
were rhymed in France, but the probabilities point that way. One
of them, the so-called "Verna Feminae Suspiria," is a genuine pro-
duct of artistic popular poetry, for here the woman calls on buds and
birds to listen to the sighings of unrequited love:
Levis exsurgit zephyrus
Et sol procedit tepidus;
Jam terra sinus aperit,
Dulcore suo diffluit.
Tu saltim, veris gratia,
Exaudi et considera
Frondes, flores et gramina;
Nam mea languet anima.^
The other is not popular in tone at all, but wholly learned. It is
written in the classical Sapphic meter, it describes spring and the
song of birds, and dwells on the melody of the nightingale. But
there is no allusion to love in it.^
But central France produced during Fulbert's lifetime another
witness to the joy which its people felt at the return of spring, a wit-
ness of far more consequence in the history of mediaeval literature
than those we have so far cited. A tenth-century manuscript, now
at Vienna, contains an erotic poem of unknown origin and date,
rhymed like the "Verna Feminae Suspiria," but made of quatrains
of nine-syllable verses rather than eight, and called after its first
line, "Jam dulcis amica, venito." This poem also appears on the
blank leaf of a St. Martial's manuscript in a hand of the early eleventh
century, but the version is a poor one. It offers a text obviously
' hoc. cit., 492, 493; Allen, loc. cit., 430.
2 The so-called "Carmen Aestlvum," of which the first strophe Introduces spring
and birds :
Vestiunt silve tenera merorem
Virgulta, suis onerata pomis;
Canunt de celsis sedibus palumbes
The third strophe is devoted to the nightingale:
Hie leta canit Philomela frondis,
Longas eJTundit sibilum per auras
SoUempne; milvus tremulaque voce
Aethera pulsat. — Loc. cit., 491, 492.
Both of these anonymous compositions, thotigh one is rhymed and the other metrical,
show an intimate acquaintance with Virgil and Ovid.
The Troubadour Canso and Latin Lyric Poetry 17
inferior to tiie Viennese and it omits several strophes given by the
latter. But it makes ample atonement for all these deficiencies in
an addition which stands as its final quatrain. For summarizing
what we have learned to be the vital ideas of nature poetry in the
centuries which had gone before, this quatrain blends in one concep-
tion and one melody deUght in spring, pleasure in the nightingale's
song, and the emotions of newly awakened love:
Jam nix glaciesque hquescit.
Folium et herba virescit,
Philomela jam cantat in alto,
Ardet amor cordis in antro.*
And what have we reached after this thousand years' wandering
through the ruins of nature poetry in the partially uncovered Latin
city? Our starting-point. The conventional strophe of Romance
lyric which we come upon in the great abbey of Limousin at the
beginning of Franco-Provengal civilization is the strophe which we
left in southern Italy near the close of the Greco-Roman. So much
is certain. All else is wavering. And what conclusion may be
drawn from a fact so striking? That the summarizing of amatory
poetry in one strophe — one melody — had gone on constantly from
the time of the Pervigilium Veneris down to the day of the St. Mar-
tial's "Dulcis amica, venito"? That each generation of the Latin
race had greeted the advent of spring with the same formula ? Our
review gives some basis for this belief, and the chain may lack its
connecting links only because so many documents have perished.
Yet it may also be because the documents never existed. Human
aspirations remain much the same, and human emotions are repeated
with a considerable degree of similarity, but these aspirations and
emotions do not always find expression in literature with the same
regularity. The essential elements are not always present in the
same proportion. Circumstances are not always equally favorable.
1 Dreves, op. cit., XI, No. 91; Publications of the Modern Language Association of
America, XXIV (1909), Ixxi, Ixxii. This poem was also copied Into the manuscript
(Cambridge) which contained the other three just mentioned, (Z. f. d. Alt., loc. cit., 494), but
was afterward erased so completely that we cannot use this version at all to control the
other two. Both the Vienna and St. Martial's manuscripts give the musical notation for the
song. It will be noticed that the first line recalls the " Dulcis amlca, venl" of the anony-
mous imitator of Eugenius of Toledo (p. 482, n. 1). One feels In dealing with the docu-
ments of this Important period in the history of modern literature that the key to the
whole situation may lie provoklngly near his grasp.
18 F. M. Waeeen
And whatever may have been the real situation during the inter-
vening centuries this much we know, that in the closing years of the
tenth century a new life was stirring in France and Aquitania, and
the strophe of the Roman poet — might we add of the Hebrew also ? —
which had voiced his delight in springtime was fashioned anew.^
I should then like to picture to myself some singer of talent of the
last quarter of the tenth century, who had been trained in letters
and music at the school of St. Martial's of Limoges, or one of its off-
shoots, conceiving under the stress of great spiritual exaltation the
idea of addressing the Virgin in ardent terms of adoration and plead-
ings for her favor. The consecrated explanation of the language of
the Song of Songs would have been to him a justification. And
moved by the expressions of this familiar invocation, influenced by
the authority of the Latin Anthology perhaps, and by Fortunatus
probably, he would have responded to the new delight in Nature
which he felt around him by recreating out of all these elements the
typical strophe on spring, the song of birds, and love. And this
strophe he would have set as a finale or an overture to his song of
worship and supplication. To suppose that the reverse of this process
took place, that the illiterate rhymsters of the people had furnished
Latin lyric for ages with its notions of flower and leaf and the
nightingale's strains, would be to run counter to the usual trend of
literary creation and challenge the validity of all documentary evi-
dence. And when the disciples of this inventor, this first Trouba-
dour, straying from the free life of church schools to the dependent
existence of an Aquitanian court, yielded to the necessities of their
secular environment, and, substituting their mother-tongue for the
Latin of their master, ventured to transform the homage he had paid
to a heavenly mistress into pledges of service to earthly ones, the
nature strophe, which suited the new theme even better than it did
the old, since it no longer required a pious commentary, remained,
1 It Is more than probable, of course, that the strophe of the St. Martial's manu-
script was not imique in its time, that it is, in fact, the representative of a class. Richer's
allusions to spring would show that Natiu'e was claiming again a share in man's thoughts
and was demanding again a place in literature. Various matin hymns from the tenth-
century manuscript of the Moissac abbey (Dreves, op. cit., II, Nos. 10, 13, 16, 20) confirm
this impression, as does also the much debated bilingual alba of the same approximate
date. One might say that the last decades of the tenth century saw in Prance and
Provence — and Germany also — the rise of a Romantic school of literature, as well as of
music, architecture, and the fine arts.
The Teoubadour Can so and Latin Lyeic Pobtky 19
a logical introduction to their sensuous words of praise and vows of
personal devotion. And when it had entered with these words, then
or afterward, into the forms of popular verse which these poets or
their successors polished and developed to a high degree of artistic
excellence, it was retained generation after generation because it
represented to the minstrels of Provence, we may believe, a literary
tradition, the confused memory of a glorious estate, which their
ancestors had in a sense renounced, when they turned away from the
cultivation of Latin poetry in honor of the saints to the composition
of vernacular songs at the bidding of temporal suzerains.^
F. M. Warren
» Should the plausibility of some theory like the one here outlined be admitted,
there might be found in it an explanation for the sublimated conception of many Proven-
cal cansos. Dedicated as they would have been originally to the worship of a piu-e and
holy being, they wotild have transmitted to posterity an abiding trace of their origin.
And so the tone of the homage they proffered would be quite as conventional as the sub-
stance of their introductory strophe on Nature. The transfer of the canso's adoration
from the Virgin to a feudal suzerain would take place dm:ing the rule of WiUiam the Great
(990-1030) of Aqultanla, and at some court of his domains. By his time the title of lady
(or lord) seems to be currently prefixed to the proper name. In a charta of the abbey
of Saint Fides of Oonques, imder the date of 1013, we read: domno Bernardo ....
domna Guarsinde .... (G. Desjardlus, Cartulaire de Congues [Paris, 1879], 23).
Bernard of Angers uses the phrase: domnam Beatricem" (Miracula S. Fidis [about 1020],
II, c. 6). In Fulbert's letters we find "Domnus namque Tetfridus" and "Domnus vero
papa" (Migne, Pat. Lat., CXLI, 220, 231). But in references to the Virgin or the Savior
the contraction seems to be consistently avoided (cf. Fulbert's " Dominae nostrae," Sermo
V [loc. cit., 324]). No help In solving the question of the canso's source can be had from
Provencal poets. WilUam IX calls three of his compositions "vers" ("verset") and one
'chansoneta." Cercamon makes use of the term "chanz" as well as "vers." The
Chanson de Ste. Foy (about 1100) calls a popular dance song, "canczon (audi q'es
bell'n tresca"). Now the non-literary poetry of the eleventh century is generally
referred to by Latin writers as " cantilenae." Sometimes "sonus" occurs. "Oantio,"
from which chanson (canso) naturally derives, appears but once so far as I know, and in
the Cambridge manuscript, already dted, where the fable of the woU and priest begins:
"Quibus Indus est animo Et jocularis cantlo." I do not meet it again until we reach
Orderic Vital (about 1130). I have not found any instance of "versus" ("vers"). In
view of this marked difference of poetic terminology between Latin writers on the one
hand and the Troubadours on the other, one is inclined to ask himself whether there were
not in fact two distinct schools of poetry existing side by side, throughout the eleventh
century, at least, and perhaps since the very beginning of artistic composition in the