Rudel, Jaufré


Rudel, Jaufré
(fl. 1125–1148)
   Jaufré Rudel was one of the earliest TROUBADOURS, composers of love songs in the vernacular Provençal language of southern France. He seems to have been a nobleman, and tradition says he was lord of Blaye. Only seven of his songs survive, and in them he created the persona of the hopeless lover whose lady is unattainable, a persona that became so conventional that it turned into cliché in the late medieval courtly love tradition. Next to nothing is known of Jaufré’s biography. Certain details have been gleaned from his poetry, but none of these has any real evidence to support it. He is believed to have joined the Second Crusade in 1147, mainly because in one of his poems, Jaufré says that he intends to do so.MARCABRU addresses one of his songs to “Lord Jaufré Rudel beyond the sea,” which also indicates that he had made a journey, most likely on a crusade. In the VIDA, or short biography of Rudel that was written toward the end of the 13th century, the famous story of his love for the lady of Tripoli appears. According to the vida, Jaufré heard so many good things about the countess of Tripoli from pilgrims returning from Antioch that he fell in love with her without ever having seen her. He wrote many love songs to her, and purely out of a burning desire to see her he joined a crusade and crossed the sea. But he became so ill during the journey that he was nearly dead when he arrived in Tripoli. He was taken to an inn, and his story was told to the Countess. She came to see him and took him in her arms, whereupon he recovered enough to thank God for giving him the joy of seeing her; then he died in her arms.He was buried with great honor by the Templars, and the lady became a nun out of grief for her lover’s death.
   There is no reason to believe that any part of the vida is true, since all such vidas were written well after the deaths of their subjects and their stories gleaned not from facts but legends that had grown out of images in the poems. But the romantic idea of the distant lover is one that Jaufré cultivates in his poetry, as he does, for example, in the first stanza of his best-known poem, Lanquan li jorn son lonc en may, where the new season of spring fails to lift the poet’s mood because he is so far from his lady:
   When days are long in May,
   I enjoy the sweet song of the birds far away,
   And when I am parted from their song,
   And parting reminds me of a love far away:
   I go bent with desire, head bowed down;
   Then neither the song nor the hawthorn’s flower
   Pleases me more than the winter’s ice.
   (Goldin 1973, 105, ll. 1–7)
   Bibliography
   ■ Goldin, Frederick, ed. and trans. Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouverès: An Anthology and a History. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973.
   ■ Pickens, Rupert T. The Songs of Jaufré Rudel. Studies and Texts, 41. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1978.
   ■ Wolf, George, and Roy Rosenstein, eds. The Poetry of Cercamon and Jaufre Rudel. Garland Library of Medieval Literature, 5. New York: Garland, 1983.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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