- (Marcabrun)(ca. 1105–1150)Marcabru was one of the earliest of the Provençal TROUBADOURS. He was born in Gascony, in the city of Auvillar, in the first decade of the 12th century. Unlike most other troubadours, he was not of noble birth, but he seems to have been educated, perhaps as a cleric.He found patronage among the high nobility of Provençe and Spain, including Guillaume X of Aquitaine (son of the first troubadour) and Alfonso VII of Castille. Some 42 of his lyrics survive, including four with their musical settings.Marcabru is the first practitioner of what is called the TROBAR CLUS, the deliberately obscure, hermetic troubadour style. In one of his lyrics,“Per savi.l tenc ses doptanssa,” he begins with the lines “I say he’s a wise man, no doubt about it/who makes out, word for word,/what my song signifies,/ and how the theme unfolds:/for I myself take pains/to cast some light on the obscurity” (Goldin 1973, 83, ll. 1–5).Most often his lyrics deal with the corruption and depravity of the noble class, for which he blames the troubadours in part for their glorification of lust, which Marcabru calls amars, or bitter love. This he contrasts with amors, the good love that he extols: a love that does not cause pain but brings joy; that is not selfish but responsible. His style is often satiric, as he depicts false lovers with bitter irony. He categorizes those in his courtly audience who practice or uphold amars as false lovers, jealous ones, gossipmongers, and spies. Those who respect amors he calls his friends. In the same lyric cited above, Marcabru says that “whoever settles down with Lust [amars]/wars against himself ” (Goldin 1973, 83, ll. 15–16), and later asserts:It fills me with anger and griefto hear that pack of perjurers telling usthat Love deceives and torturesa man by cooling down his lust.They are liars, for the happiness of lovers is Joy, Patience, Restraint.(Goldin 1973, 83, ll. 19–24)Marcabru significantly influenced later poets, particularly those writing in the trobar clus style. His categories of groups like “talebearers” and “jealous ones” among the courtly audience were also taken up by a number of later poets.Bibliography■ Goldin, Frederick, ed. and trans. Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouvères. New York: Anchor, 1973.
Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.