Courtly And Uncourtly Views Of Essay

This essay has a total of 1809 words and 7 pages.

Courtly And Uncourtly Views Of


Between the twelfth and fifteenth century, the form of the lyric was founded in and became
very popular within England. Few of the lyrics that were composed remain in existance
today. This is mainly due to the fact that these lyrics were transferred orally. This
meant they were never printed or published. The ones we do have paint for us a vague but
sufficient picture of life as it was in these times. Particularily they give us a peek
into the lives of the women of the medieval era and how they were viewed by their
patriarchal society. The ways women were portrayed in much of the poetry can be expressed
in two broad categories: courtly and uncourtly. The former of these categories developed
from the lyrics of the Provenc-al troubadours. The latter is, in relation, a more modern
view of women, one that sees them as irritating and stupid.

Courtly poetry, as I said, developed from the lyrics of the troubadours. Although there
are many similarities, such as the woman's high status, there are also many
dissimilarities. One of the most obvious of these is these poets acceptance of the real
world. It is difficult to find references to other women in the troubadours' poetry let
alone other relationships as one would find in the Middle English courtly lyric. An
example of such a reference can be found in the refrain: "An handy hap ich habbe ihent! /
Ichot from hevene it is me sent; / From alle wimmen my love is lent, / And light on
Alisoun"(Luria, 27). This poet tells his lady that his heart is set on her and no other
woman can pull him away. To a troubadour saying that there was anything but his lady would
be abominable.

There is little of the intensity of devotion and the analysis of love that is
characteristic of the Troubadours. Nor are these personal lyrics of private, intimate
love. On the contrary, they are public poems operating through well-recognized
conventions.

These conventions are a little different from those of the troubadours as well. The lady
has hair of gold, a long neck, a slender waist and is often described as being prudent and
wise. But these poems focus not on the lady but on the lover and his suffering for derne
love or secret love. The lover's day is spent sighing and begging his lady to pity and
have mercy on him. His night is spent lying awake, thinking unending thoughts of her. He
often tells us that he feels condemned to death because his heart aches so badly for her.

The poets of the courtly lyrics often use literary devices to express their anguish and
desire as well as to entertain the readers. An example of this is the alliteration found
in, "Brid one brere, brid, brid one brere! / Kind is come of love, love to crave"(Luria,
22). The repetition of ‘br' and ‘k' give this quotation and very harsh sound. Another
is the oxymoron found in, "Ich unne hire well and heo me wo; / Ich am hire frend and heo
my fo"(Luria, 31). The poet of this quotation is expressing the relationship between he
and his lady through opposites, his wishing her well and her wishing him woe and his being
her friend and her, his foe.

The appeal of these lyrics comes from their song-like form. They celebrate love through
motif and convention, which is pleasing because of its familiarity, and they are in
language that finds its music in a harmony of rhyme and alliteration. The above-mentioned
conventions do not make the poetry dull and repetative though, in fact they have the
opposite effect. Because the poets play with the conventions, every poem seems new and
fresh. An example of variation on the common conventions can be found in the fourth lyric
in Luria and Hoffman's compilation, "Wormes woweth under cloude, / Wimmen waxeth wounder
proude". This poet is expressing the irony in nature. He marvels at the fact that even
worms are wooing but women make life so difficult for men that they are not.

The uncourtly poetry follows many of the same structural rules as the courtly but portrays
women in a very different manner. The women of these poems can be divided into two groups,
the married nag and the naive, unmarried maiden.

The latter are often the speakers of their poems. Usually they are lamenting over being
abandoned by a lover and in worst case senerios are with child. They say they were
promised love and loyalty, but once the lover had taken advantage of their innocence they
were left alone to deal with the aftermath. They are portrayed as innocent and trusting
and usually, when reading these poems, we feel that this is how she saw the wooing and
love making described by the man in the courtly poetry. An example of this type of
portrayal of women can be found in lyric eighty-three in Luria's compilation. The speaker
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