Medieval Love Poetry was greatly influenced by the Troubadours
In medieval love poetry, besides being known as a famous poet, Machaut was one of the greatest composers of the 14th Century. Working in Paris, he was at the heart of the development of polyphony. The featured song, Foy porter ( I want to stay faithful ) which I have chosen to illustrate his medieval love poetry, is a love song with typically intricate rhyming.
This translation by Paul Brians doesn't aim at poetry, but does get the essential theme across: the irresistibility of love. It was believed that gemstones could be used to heal various sufferings. Only the lady can heal his suffering. The poet claim loving the lady has made him a better person. This idea that courtly love improved one's character was a crucial part of the whole tradition which had a seminal influence on medieval love poetry.
Foy porter ( I want to stay faithful)
I want to stay faithful,
guard your honor,
Seek peace, obey,
serve and honor you,
For I love you so much, truly,
that one could could sooner dry up
the deep sea
and hold back its waves
than I could constrain myself
from loving you,
without falsehood; for my thoughts
my memories, my pleasures
and my desires are perpetually
of you, whom I cannot leave
or even briefly forget.
There is no joy or pleasure
or any other good that one could feel
or imagine which does not
seem to me worthless,
whenever your sweetness
wants to sweeten my bitterness.
Therefore I want to praise
and adore and fear you,
more than I desire any reward.
I want to stay faithful . . .
You are the true sapphire
that can heal and end all my sufferings,
the emerald which brings rejoicing,
the ruby to brighten and comfort the heart.
Your speech, your looks,
Your bearing, make one flee
and hate and detest
all vice and cherish
and desire all that is good.
I want to stay faithful. . .
Let us now move on to the greatest poets of the age, whose contributions to medieval love poetry are indelible, Dante Alighieri and Francesco Petrarch.
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