​​Troubadour Poems from the South of France

Translated by William D. Paden and Frances Freeman Paden.
D. S. Brewer 2014 . xiii + 278pp pb.
ISBN 978 1 84384 408 2

This contains 126 poems from the 10th century to Petrarch. I had a book some years ago which gave the music and first verse in Occitan and English, but I cannot now find it. As a musician, I regret that the syllables do not match those of the original, though I sympathise that any attempt to match the rhymes will disrupt the meaning. My days of learning the language started in 1960-61 at Magdalene College, just at the time John Stevens was doing the same thing, though I spent more time then and later on Latin poetry of the period. The publication of Occitan texts is sensible if the poems have a variety of sources, but otherwise at least two aspects should be covered (Occitan with vernacular or Occitan with music). It is unusual to print only English versions except in anthologies. The poems read very well, though characteristics of the Occitan world are modernised, so the relationship with the meanings of the text moves it rather far from the Troubadour period. Some of them stand by themselves extremely well. There are excellent introductions to each piece and you can get much of the background through it. Recommended!

Clifford Bartlett