Songs of a Friend: Love Lyrics of Medieval Portugal

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UNC Press Books, Oct 12, 2005 - Literary Criticism - 136 pages
Portugal enjoyed one of the richest and most sophisticated cultures of the Middle Ages, in part because of its vibrant secular literature. One popular literary genre of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was the cantigas de amigo, love songs in which male poets wrote from a female perspective. More than five hundred of these mysterious poems depicting a young girl's love for an absent lover survive today. Until now, however, they have remained inaccessible except to a small circle of scholars. In her translation of nearly one hundred representative examples of the cantigas de amigo, Barbara Hughes Fowler recovers the beauty of these poems for the modern reader. Her accurate and elegant renderings capture the charming spontaneity of the lyrics and show them to be a uniquely appealing form of medieval literature. (excerpt of one of the poems) Lovely mother, I saw my friend but did not speak with him and so I lost him, but now I'm dying of love for him. I did not speak because of my disdain; I'm dying, mother, for love of him.


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About the author (2005)

Barbara Hughes Fowler, a well-known classicist, translator, and poet, is author of The Seeds Inside a Green Pepper, a volume of original poems. Her translations include Love Lyrics of Ancient Egypt, Hellenistic Poetry, and Archaic Greek Poetry. She is John Bascom Professor Emeritus of Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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