Trobadores- Johan Arias de Santiago

I saw a young girl walking
At Cresente through the woods
And there she started singing
Far from the view of the world
Tying her skirt at the waist
As the sun with dawn gold chased
The banks of the river Sar.

There were birds flying above
Through the breaking light of dawn
They were all singing their loves
Through the branches all around.
Well, I don’t know anyone
Who could have thought anything
But of love there, only love.

There I was, all quiet,
Wanting to speak but too scared
But finally, fearfully,
Said, “Lady, can I talk
A bit, if you will hear me,
And I’ll leave when you tell me
And I won’t be here any more…”

“Sir, by Our Lady,” she said,
“Don’t stay here any more.
Get on with you on your way.
It is best for you before
The others who are coming
See you and think something
Happened to me here, for sure!”

This poem is by Johan Arias de Santiago, a troubador poet working in the court of Alfonso X the Wise around the year 1270. A native of Santiago de Compostela he was writing at a time when Gallego was the courtly language of Christian Spain.

This shows typical features of the Provenzal tradition of love poetry with a local flavour. The unrequited lover with his ideal and courtly love of the distant lady is here replaced by a very real, if still unrequited, love for a peasant girl. The sense of place is vivid. It is worth noting that Rosalía de Castro’s last book of verse was titled ‘On the Banks of the River Sar‘.

Source: Locus Amoenus, ed. C. Alvar (Barcelona: Gutenburg, 2009)

I am reposting this poem with a link to another blog, Musica Antiguawhich has a beautiful rendition of a song by Martín Codax, which I translate below:

Ondas do mar de Vigo,
se vistes meu amigo?
E ai Deus!, se verra cedo?

Ondas do mar levado,
se vistes meu amado?
E ai Deus!, se verra cedo?

Se vistes meu amigo,
o por que eu sospiro?
E ai Deus!, se verra cedo?

Se vistes meu amado,
por que ei gran coidado?
E ai Deus!, se verra cedo?

Martín Codax gives his name to a fine Albariño wine.

Waves of the Vigo sea,
Have you seen my love?
Dear God, will he come soon?

Waves of the wind-blown sea.
Have you seen my love?
Dear God, will he come soon?

Have you seen my love
The one I am sighing for?
Dear God, will he come soon?

Have you seen my love
Who has me so worried?
Dear God, will he come soon?

Martín Codax wine is made in the south of Galicia in the pretty seaside town of Cambados, not far from Vigo.

(Cantiga de Amigo V)

Martín Codax was a mid 13th century to early 14th century Galician troubador, possibly from Vigo, we guess from the many references to the city in his poems.  There are scarcely any records of his life.

There are only seven cantigas de amigo attributed to him which are to be found in the old Galician-Portuguese songbooks and the Vindel Manuscript where his name appears as the author of the works.  This is his entire oeuvre.

The discovery of this manuscript was pure chance.  In 1914 the bibliographer Pedro vindel found it in his library where it was the inner frontispiece of a copy of Cicero’s De Officiis.

The Martín Codax poems in the manuscript are the following (the first line is used as the title):

Ondas do mar de Vigo
Mandad’ei comigo ca ven meu amigo
Mia yrmana fremosa treides comigo
Ay Deus se sab’ora meu amado
Quantas sabedes amar amigo
En o sagrad’ e Vigo (Solo texto, sin notación musical)
Ay ondas que eu vin veer

Thanks to the manuscript the musical notation of these compositions survives as well.

If you are interested in old music it is well worth looking up Jordi Savall and Eduardo Paniagua on Youtube.  It will inevitably lead you on a treasure hunt!

Try looking at Alia Vox for more information on Savall.

About Jason Preater

Working on Projects
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1 Response to Trobadores- Johan Arias de Santiago

  1. Nice painting, it’s intriguing whether it’s a direct image or a feflection


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