trobar leu

   Trobar leu was a style of TROUBADOUR poetry that was characterized by simple, natural, and accessible diction and relatively simple verse forms. It was a style intended to appeal to the broadest possible audience. The term comes from the Provençal words trobar, or the art of composing verse, and leu, meaning “light” or “easy.” Perhaps the best-known troubadour in the leu style is BERNART DE VENTADORN, whose wide popularity probably owed much to his composition in a style that appealed to a broad audience. The term itself, however, seems to have been invented by GIRAUT DE BORNELH, who was more concerned than Bernart with developing a theory of composition, and who discusses the style in seven different songs. Giraut seems to have developed the theory of the leu style in reaction to the TROBAR CLUS. For Giraut trobar leu describes verse that is “easy to sing and understand, light and entertaining, apparently carefree, smooth and polished with obscurity planed away” (Paterson 1975, 208). But he insists that it takes as much skill and effort to produce verse that is smooth and polished as it does to compose something obscure, and therefore the trobar leu style should not be considered inferior to the trobar clus, even though it seems easier.
   In a well-known TENSO, or DEBATE POEM, with RIMBAUT D’ORANGE, Giraut engages in an argument over the relative merits of the two styles, suggesting that there may have been a controversy on the matter among troubadours in about 1170. Rimbaud cares nothing for popularity, but wants to be appreciated only by those with the most intelligence and the best taste. But Giraut, applying reasoning comparable to that of rhetoricians like GEOFFREY OF VINSAUF (Paterson 1975, 113–14), argues that he is making his verse appropriate to his audience. Since he is writing for a broader segment of the courtly audience, including those whom Rimbaut calls “fools,” he will use his skills to shape his verse to the tastes and understanding of that audience. Thus Giraut says:
   I have no complaint
   if each man writes the kind of song that
   suits him,
   but it seems to me
   the song is better loved
   and more applauded
   when you make it easy and open to all
   (Goldin 1973, 203, ll. 8–13)
   Trobar leu, then, is a style more popular, more appealing for a general audience, than the more obscure and exclusive style of the trobar clus.
   ■ Gaunt, Simon. Troubadours and Irony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
   ■ Goldin, Frederick, ed. and trans. Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouvères: An Anthology and a History. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973.
   ■ Paterson, Linda M. Troubadours and Eloquence. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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