12.1 = 108.1



Alaisina  ·  Carenza





    Na Carenza al bel cors avenenç,   Fair, lovely Lady Carenza, give some counsel to us two sisters; and since you best know how to choose the better side, in the light of your experience do you advise me to take a husband, in your judgment? Or shall I remain a virgin?—I find this attractive, for childbearing doesn’t appeal to me; yet it seems very wretched not to have a husband.
    dunaz conseil a nus duas serors,  
    e car saubez mielz triar la meilors,  
4   consilaz mi secund vostra ’scienç  
    penre marit, a vostra conoscença?  
    O ’starai mi pulcela? — e si m’agença,  
    que far fillos non cuit que sia bons  
8   e ssens marit mi par trop anguisos.  
    N’Alaisina ’Yselda, ’nsenghamenç,   Lady Alaisina and Yselda, I see that you are well brought up, and that you have merit and beauty, youth, a fresh complexion, courtliness and worth, above all other well educated ladies; so I advise you to take a husband crowned with wisdom in order to produce good seed, through which you will make fruit of a glorious son. Honoured is the wife of such a spouse.
    prez e beltaz, jovenz, frescas colurs  
    conusc c’avez, cortisia e valurs  
12   subre tuttas las a[u]tras conoscenz,  
    per qu’i[e]·us conseil, per far bona semenza,  
    penre marit coronat de scïenza,  
    en cui farez fruit de fil glorïos.  
16   Retenguta ’s sela d’aque[l e]spus.  
    Na Carenza, penre marit m’agenza,   Lady Carenza, I like the idea of taking a husband, but I think it must be a great penance to make babies, for your breasts sag right down to your flabby, wrinkled, disgusting belly.
    mas far infanz cuit qu’es gran penitenza,  
    que las tetinas penden aval jos  
20   el las[c] ventril aruat e ’nnoios.  
    N’Alascina ’Yselda, sovinenza   Lady Alaisina and Yselda, keep me in your remembrance; when you leave, pray to the Glorious One that at our parting he will keep me close to you, beneath the shadow of his protection.                   
    aiaç de mi: in l’umbra de ghirenza,  
    quant isiretz, preiatz lo Glorïos  
24   qu’al departir mi ritenga pres vus.  




Text: Linda Paterson, Rialto 10.xi.2011.


1. Bec (followed by Rieger) eliminates the initial A, seeing it as part of the line and therefore syntactically incompatible with the second a; however Dronke rightly sees it as an initial for the name of the trobairitz Alais, C (11, previously unremarked by any editor) standing for Carenza. — Nelli regularises the inflexions of the rhyme-words in 1, 4, 9, 12, and the abstract nouns in 10, but not the rhyme-word of 3. Rieger (as other editors hitherto) does not comment on the inflexion of the rhyme-words avinenç 1, meilors 3, escienç 4, ensenhamenç 9, conoscenz 12, and the abstract nouns in 10-11. She rejects the cedilla at the rhyme word and notes that the scribe uses the ç and z indisciminately. Dronke emends the inflections in 1, 4, 9, 10, 12, but this produces an inconsistency with valurç 10 and conoscenz 12, so intervention is probably misguided. — Given the emphasis on physical appearance in the first tornada, it seems rather unlikely that Carenza, praised for her bel cors avenenç, is a nun.

2. As Rieger observes, seror can denote either a ‘nun’ or blood relation.

3. Schultz-Gora (followed by subsequent editors) emended to lo melhors. Bec however retained la in his first edition of the poem, translating ‘choisir la meilleure part’; compare also BdT 201.5, 11 (ed. by Ruth Harvey and Linda Paterson, The Troubadour Tensos and Partimens: A Critical Edition, Woodbridge, Cambridge 2010, p. 527) who take the ellpisis as la melhor [partida] rather than la melhor [domna]). In his second edition he printed lo, possibly on the grounds that la melhors, with the ending confirmed by the rhyme, violates the norm for f. obl. sg., though still translating ‘la meilleure part’. The only example in the tensos corpus of Harvey and Paterson, The Troubadour Tensos, of an f. sg. ending in -s occurs in BdT 248.11, 56 (p. 719) on the adjective (a pros dona): see pp. xxi-xxii for further discussion. Correction to lo in the present piece would certainly be possible, since m. obl. sg. -s is not infrequently attested (Harvey and Paterson, The Troubadour Tensos, p. 719 n. 22), but would still be unusual at the rhyme. It might equally be possible to correct the article to the pl. las, interpreting «you know how to recognise the best ladies (so you know how to advise us to emulate them)»: see SW, VIII, 460, 2 under tr. a ‘erkennen an’. However, despite the aberrant f. obl. sg. form I consider Bec’s original interpretation to be right, especially as the formula is found elsewhere in the introduction to partimens. The author may well not have been an Occitan speaker; compare BdT 75.5, also a unicum in ms. Q, where Harvey and Paterson, The Troubadour Tensos, p. 155, accepted «that the presence or absence of final -s or -z’ [...] is to a large extent fortuitous».

4. Ms. secundu, not recorded by Rieger. Nelli prints segon without comment. The extra u could have arisen from erroneous transcription of an earlier word division secunduostra. For ms. uostra scienç see Analysis of the ms. Bec (also Rieger), without comment, prints vostr’escïens. He rejects ‘expérience’ in favour of ‘avis’: «autre formule habituelle de l’introduction des tensons».

5. Schultz-Gora (also Nelli, Bogin, Dronke, Rieger), unlike Bec, emends ms. penre to penrai to make it consistent with the fut. of 6 (’starai). The infinitive, which I have retained, entails seeing 4-5 as interrogative rather than imperative. I have not found examples of conselhar + inf. in other troubadour pieces, but as it occurs in 13-14 I accept it. Bec also preferred to retain «l’impersonnalité de l’infinitif, qui correspond mieux à une question d’ordre général, transcendant la situation particulière». — Schultz-Gora (also Bogin) translates a vostra c., on the basis of a faulty reading by Bartsch (a nostra c.) ‘einen Gemahl aus unserer Bekanntschaft’. Bec (also Nelli) sees a vostra c. as taking up segon vostr’escien. Rieger wonders whether there is a real question here (does Carenza know something?).

6-7. Rieger notes that while stare pulcela could either mean ‘remain unmarried’ or refer to being a nun, 17 indicates the wish is for marriage without children. Her suggestion of a possible Cathar interpretation of 7 (also Nelli) seems unlikely: see note 14. Bruckner translates et si m’agenza as ‘as it suits me’.

8. Ms. pare is perhaps explicable as an Italianism; compare triare in 3. — Ms. essens: Schultz-Gora transcribed this as essems; Bec emends to e sens. For examples of the doubling of initial s after a monosyllable (including the conjunction e) in a spelling unit, see François Zufferey, Recherches linguistiques sur les chansonniers provençaux, Genève 1987: p. 116, §16 (R); pp. 144-45, 16 (C); p. 178, § 16 (E); p. 214, § 16 (f); p. 241, § 16 (V, rare); p. 307 (Ta).

14. Schultz-Gora capitalised coronat de scienza, presumably seeing it as a senhal, which as Bec suggests, may have prompted various possible mystical interpretations (Thomas: «Jésus-Christ»; Nelli: «Jésus-Christ ou quelque unité céleste?»; Bogin: «Perhaps a Cathar (or gnostic) name for Christ»; Dronke: «Christ as a nun’s bridegroom»). Rieger points out that the expression is placed between punctus, so Schultz-Gora could be right in seeing it as a name, and so Carenza might be advising marriage to a particular man. Bec translates neutrally as ‘couronné de science’, «c’est-à-dire sans doute un clerc et un clerc tonsuré coronat»; I concur with his view that a religious interpretation of coronat de scïença is ruled out because if this referred to Christ, the young woman would not have returned in the first tornada to her preoccupation with the physical effects of maternity. Rieger interprets the phrase as denoting a courtly, educated, experienced husband, adding that even if mystical interpretations are to be excluded, it may be understood on three levels: 1) a man adorned (coronatz) with cleverness, so the equal of the beautiful and clever Alaisina; 2) a tonsured cleric, having a guaranteed level of education; 3) a senhal for the author of the model for this tenso, the tonsured clergues Arnaut de Maroill, who was considered highly educated (see BdT 372.2, 31; compare LR, I, 488, and Arnaut’s representation in the miniature of Ms. A, 103v).

15. Nelli argues that as ‘bride of Jesus’ (14) Alaisina could only produce spiritual fruit. Rieger objects that then filh would be completely superfluous. The logic of the tenso requires that what is under discussion is motherhood as expected within marriage; glorios can only signify worldly fame here, on the principle of avoidance of repetition (it is used in a spiritual sense in 23). It is also logical that only a ‘glorious’ son can be the outcome of such a perfect marriage.

16. This problematic line has given rise to a variety of interpretations. Schultz-Gora corrects to retengud’ es pulcel’ a qui l’espos; Thomas retengud’ es pulcela qui l’espos; Nelli Retengua’es pulcel’a qui l’espos, translating ‘Car celle qu’il épouse, il la garde pucelle’; Bogin, rightly rejected by Bec: ‘saved is the chastity of her who marries him’; Bruckner: ‘She who has him as spouse remains a virigin’. Bec, who sees this line as heavily italianised, and who seems to have been the first to realise that espos cannot be taken as a 3 p. ind. v., prints Retenguda ’s pulcel’a qui l’espos (followed by Rieger with cui), understanding espos as a subjunctive; he translates ‘une vierge est bien accueillie par celui qui doit devenir son mari [?]’, interpreting «Na Alaisina, c’est dur de rester vierge, mais quand vous aurez trouvé un mari, cette virginité conservée sera par lui bien appréciée». In note 16 he adds: «Le a transcrit par Schultz (a qui l’espos) nous paraît donc pertinent quant au sens, même si, en bon occitan médiéval, on attendrait a cui. C’est d’ailleurs peut-être ce sens de la préposition a introduisant ici un complément d’agent que le copiste italien a essayé de rendre par da: da quil spuse étant une sorte de croisement entre: da quel(lo) sposo, d’aquel espos et (d) a qui l’espos». — All editors agree that the final e (spuse) is impossible; compare the supernumerary e in 3, 8 and 13. Bec rightly highlights the a in daque (or daqu*); it is hard to see why a scribe would have written the a unless it was clear in his exemplar, in which case this collocation, which seems to have given rise to scribal difficulties, looks very like a botched d’aquest or d’aquel. But in this case emendation to correct Occitan would produce a hypermetric line retenguda·s pulsela d’aquel espos. It would be possible to follow the ms. and leave an italianate spos. Alternatively, which is the option I have followed, the first syllable of pulsela could be suppressed, on the hypothesis that the scribe’s eye caught pulcela in 6. — For retenguda ‘honoured, preserved in memory’, compare LR, V, 340, s.v. retener, ‘conserver dans la mémoire’ (Arnaut de Maroill, Razos es e mezura: «Sapcha Dieu retener / Et onrar e temer»; this is the GIKNQc reading as opposed to that of R, which Mario Eusebi «L’ensenhamen di Arnaut de Mareuil», Romania, 90, 1969, pp. 14-30, p. 18, line 60, chose because of its Languedoc origin). I hesitate to emend a graphy which appears to be an italianism and not out of line with other bizarre features of this text.

19. I follow previous editors in omitting si, pendre being otherwise unattested as v. refl. and the line being hypermetric. Dronke, Rieger print pendon, unnecessarily.

20. Ms. El los uentril aruat en noios. Schultz-Gora (also Bogin, Nelli) did not understand aruat and hesitantly corrected to e·l ventrilhs es cargatz e enojos. According to SW, I, 84, Appel proposed arnat (? ‘troubled, wearied’), which makes the line hypometric. Gabrielle Kussler-Ratyé, «Sur un passage de Alaisina Iselda et Carenza», Archivum Romanicum, 1, 1917, p. 227, retained aruat ‘fältig’, providing examples of ruas and ruon and emending to e·l ventrilh[s] [es] aruat[z] e’nnoios. Bec notes that aruat is a hapax, but ruat ‘ridé’ and its derivatives (ruament, rua) are well attested (LR, V, 116-17); he prints e lo ventrilh es rüat e ’nojós (also Rieger, Bruckner), while Dronke E·ls ventrilhs es aruats e enojos. — Bec translates enoios as ‘douloureux’, but as Rieger argues, rüat suggests a matter of aesthetics; Bogin’s ‘and it’s too anguishing to be a wife’ looks like haplography in her own translation, of which see line 8. — Our conjectural emendation, giving a perhaps more audacious interpretation than previous ones, is paleographically more conservative, retaining ms. aruat, avoiding the clash of sg. ventril with pl. los while retaining the original s, and retaining the word division and the two ls. It is easy to see how a scribe could have misread a for o, and been puzzled enough by the c to eliminate it. (For another example of dropped c after l, compare the quotation from BdT 421.5a, 34 cited in n. 22 below.)

21-24. I have chosen a conservative interpretation of this tornada: Na Carenza is simply saying farewell to the young women, asking them to keep her in their thoughts and to pray that God will protect them all and keep them close in spirit. The ms. use of punctus after mi in 22 may be intended to indicate a break in the sense (see above).

22. Schultz-Gora printed the ms. illumbra de ghirenza commenting «ist mir unverständlich». Bogin prints i lumbra de g., ‘may memory of me shine as your protection’, apparently relating illumbra to illuminar (on which Bec comments «hispanisme inconscient?»); Bec notes that her translator in the French version of her book (Meg Bogin, Les femmes troubadours, Paris 1978, pp. 168-68) misrepresents her original with ‘à l’ombre’. Nelli, a lumbra, en l’umbre, sees this as divine protection (which I do), but elaborates: «De toute façon, c’est dans une maison religieuse – cathare ou catholique – que les deux s’apprêtent à entrer. Et Dame Carenza, toujours prudente, leur demande de prier pour elle dès qu’elles y seront». Bec conjecturally emends to e’us membre de ghuirença, ‘et n’oubliez pas ma protection (?)’, commenting that he has chosen something hypothetical but neutral relating to what precedes it: in other words, «aux affres de la maternité qui sont pour Na Alaisina une hantise, Na Carenza offre son éventuel secours», an interpretation rather less neutral than ours. Rieger (in l’umbra) adapts Nelli’s a lumbra, en l’umbre, as she sees it as more convincing paleographically, and interprets ‘in the protection of marriage’, translating ‘im Schatten des Schutzes [einer Ehe?]’; also Bruckner en l’umbra, ‘in the protecting shadow’ (but of what?). I accept Rieger’s emendation to in (= en): though this preposition in unusual with ombra, compare: Breviari d’amor, «abitans en ombre de mort» (v. 21410, ed. by Peter T. Ricketts, Le Breviari d’amor de Matfre Ermengaud, vol. IV, Turnhout 2003); Auzels cassadors, «meja·n ombra, meja·n soleill» (v. 624, ed. by Alexander H. Schutz, The Romance of Daude de Prades Called Dels Auzels Cassadors, Columbus 1945; Vangeli provenzali dell’infanzia, «Jozep, vulham pauzar / en esta ombra e demorar?» (ed. by Giovanni Caravaggi, Vangeli provenzali dell’infanzia, Modena 1963, pp. 123-24. — ghirenza can apparently mean ‘salvation’, but only as a context-specific extension of the usual sense: see PD, s.v. and BdT 421.5a, 33-37: «Que fassatz pregar e preges / Cel qu’en la crois vol[c] mort suffrir, / Per nostre tortz a garenza, / Qu’al pro conte de Proenza / Fassa perdo e·l met’ el seu repaire» (ed. by Joseph Anglade, «Les chansons du troubadour Rigaut de Barbézieux», Revue des Langues Romanes, 60, 1918-19, pp. 201-310, pp. 287-88), and compare LR, III, 431, s.v. garir ‘racheter, sauver’ (see BdT 167.14, 22-23: «car Dieus nos ditz que l’anem lai servir, / on el fo mortz per nos dampnatz garir»), but this is not the usual sense. — The punctus after mi may indicate a pause, which would support our interpretation.

23. Ms. isireç: as Bec notes this may be interpreted either as issirez (‘when you leave’) or i seretz (‘when you are there’); he sees neither as wholly satisfactory. For the form siretz, adopted by Bec and Rieger, see Joseph Anglade, Grammaire de l’ancien provençal ou ancienne langue d’oc, Paris 1921, p. 315. But Bec asks what i can then refer to: «A l’ombre hypothétique d’un non moins hypothétique abri divin (couvent ou autre)?». He suggests it simply refers to the previously described situation, namely problems linked to maternity: Na Carenza offers her help as a mature woman when N’Alaisina is near to childbirth. And if this protection were to falter, she should pray to Christ or God (the Glorïos) to ensure that it would remain with or return to her. So departir would not be death, but a temporary separation which a simple prayer could end. I have preferred to interpret according to the word division in the ms. — It might conceivably be possible to retain los glorïos and emend to ritengan, the glorious ones perhaps representing the heavenly host, a missing titulus being a simpler error from a scribal point of view, but the sense seems less likely.

24. Ms. al departir. Nelli translates ‘à l’heure de la mort’, interpreting: «Les deux soeurs sont assurées de leur salut si elles entrent au couvent: elles intercèderont auprès de Dieu pour Dame Carenza». Rieger thinks it could also mean the farewell of the woman as she follows her husband into marriage. Bec translates ‘au moment de nous séparer’, suggesting that Carenza may be offering her help at the point of childbirth: «Le departir ne serait pas la mort mystique, mais une simple séparation, et l’intervention du Glorïos ne correspondrait qu’à une simple périphrase d’adieu». I agree that it is a simple farewell, but not that there is any suggestion of child birth.



BdT    Alaisina    Carenza