Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

What woman sings here?

It has been found that many Arabic and Hebrew strophic poems of the eleventh and twelfth centuries ended with lines in romance-dialect. The sophisticated poems, amorous or panegyrical, sung at the Andalusian courts, had this end-piece appropriate to the woman-singer. Usually these pieces were simple and direct, quite different from the poem to which they were attached.

It seems clear that the Arabic or Hebrew poet used the small romance-song as his starting point, the basis of his own invention. For instance, an Arabic poet took a romance love-song (often a well-known one) and built out of it his own more elaborated work.

Thus al-Tutili (c 1125) takes a romance-triplet in which a girl cries that her lover is sick with love and needs a doctor. He uses the same rhymes in a more sophisticated tripled about fire and water mixing, and uses a refrain in this system after each stanza (AAAA, BBBB and so on). There are five stanzas in all. In the last stanza he ends:

I’ve been abandoned, sick and wasting way,
but then she sings, half-serious, half in play:

and he cries out the originating triplet in which the girl speaks and which was called the jarcha (refrain, literally departure: compare the Troubadour’s tornada turning away).

The interesting thing is that the jarcha is always in its romance-form a folksong for a woman, a Fraulenlied,, a winileoda or cantiga de amiga.

-- Jack Lindsay, The Troubadours and their world (165)


Post a Comment

<< Home

Hit Counter
Internet Service Provider