trobar ric

(trobar car, trobar prim)
   The term trobar ric describes a style of TROUBADOUR poetry that made use of elaborate technical contrivances and ornate language, but whose sense was clear to the audience. The phrase combines the Provençal trobar (the composition of verse) and ric (“precious,” “noble,” “valuable”). Some scholars have seen the style as a deliberate sort of middle ground between the TROBAR CLUS and the TROBAR LEU, but it seems likely that the troubadours themselves used the term more loosely, and seem to have used it interchangeably with the terms trobar car or trobar prim.
   Peire VIDAL was one of the first troubadours to use the term trobar ric. In one of his songs he says:
   I can put together and interlace
   words and music with such skill
   in the noble art of song
   no man comes near my heel,
   when I have a good subject.
   (Goldin 1973, 255, ll. 1–5)
   Here the term is translated as “noble art of song.” Peire claims to be the premier practitioner of the style. But here it seems simply a general way of describing what he sees as a high style.
   ARNAUT DANIEL writes probably the best examples of what are loosely called trobar ric lyrics. Arnaut is sometimes considered a writer in the trobar clus style, but generally he seems to separate the technical aspects of trobar clus, including elaborate rhyme and stanza structure, from the deliberately obscure meaning of the trobar clus, thereby combining ease of understanding with complexity of form.Arnaut invented the complex verse form, the sestina, in which the same six words appear in an alternating pattern at the ends of the lines of six six-line stanzas, and a three-line concluding stanza repeats all six words, two per line. The complexity of this stanza form owes something to the trobar clus style, but the clear sense of Arnaut’s poems put them into the category of trobar ric.
   But the category remains vague.As Linda Paterson notes, it is convenient to call trobar ric all poems, like Arnaut’s, that search for complex or ornate forms without the obscure sense of the clus style, “but it is doubtful whether the troubadours themselves ever did so” (Paterson 1975, 184). Still trobar ric remains a convenient category in considering the variety of troubadour styles.
   ■ 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.

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