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,

Until death,

Peerless Lady.


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,

suffer everything,

experience everything,

endure everything

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.

Dante 1

Petrarch 1

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