Castelloza, Revisited

In continuing with my trobairitz translations and analyses, I will now focus on Castelloza’s penultimate canso within her ouvre, and the last one which can be attributed to her without a doubt (Note: I am looking at them out of order; this is normally considered the second canso by most scholars, and “Mout avetz” is the third). Some, including myself, will argue that the last piece (forthcoming in this project) was undoubtedly hers considering its consistency of language and style, but there is yet hesitancy to unequivocally call it hers. However, today I will be translating “Ia de chantar,” which is found in all five manuscripts containing her work.

Four of these manuscripts contain a vida which not only briefly narrates her life, but consequently helps situate her activity between the latter quarter of the twelfth century and about the first decade of the thirteenth century, with perhaps an extension of a decade that is yet to be determined.

Despite the strong desire to historicize her works and bring them into context, while focusing solely on her cansos it has been stated her works, including the disputed fourth, comprise a cycle that progresses through the various stages of love to a final acceptance of her place in the lover’s life, and a forgiveness for his departure. I have recently argued the duality of her usage of “joi” to encompass both the joys of love, but also its other more literal meaning, to play, as a play on “jeu”. So I am not entirely convinced about a progression as much as a back and forth where she occasionally concedes only to reaffirm her grasp on the situation as she firmly posits herself within her lover’s sphere, controlling the outcome via her rhetoric. However I have merely been translating her works piecemeal and analyzing them in the same manner. Perhaps after I finish with the fourth, and finally step back to acknowledge the larger corpus, I too will see what Peter Dronke found and be able to trace a more sophisticated progression within her songs. In the meantime, here is my translation of “Ia de chantar:”

Ia de chantar non degra aver talan
car on mais chan
e pieitz me vai d’amor,
que plaing e plor
fant en mi lor estatge,
car en mala merce
ai mes mon cor e me,
e s’en breu no.m rete,
trop ai faich lonc badatge.

Despois vos vi fui al vostre coman
et anc per tan,
amics, n’aic meillor,
que preiador
no.m mandetz ni messatge
que ia.m viretz lo fre,
amics, non fassatz re.
Car iois no mi soste
a pauc de dol non ratge.

Si pro.i agues, membri’en chantan
q’aic vostre gan
q’enbliei ab gran temor,
puois aic paor
qe i aguessetz dampnatge
d’aicella rete,
amics, per q’ieu desse
lo tornei, car ben cre
q’eu non ai poderatge.

Dels cavalliers conosc que i fant lor dan,
car ia preian
dompnas plus q’ellas lor,
c’autra ricor
no.i ant no seignoratge,
que pois dompna s’ave
d’amar, preiar deu be
cavallier, s’en lui ve
proeza e vassalatge.

[this next stanza does not have manuscript consensus, and appears so differently each time it is practically impossible to create a reliable compilation – I will use manuscript N as my primary source here since I feel so far it has been one of the strongest resources for all the cansos]

Dompna Almucs, ancse
am so don mal mi ve,
car cel qui pretz mante
a vas mi cor volatge.

Bels Noms, ges no.m recre
de vos amar iasse
car viu en bona fe,
bontatz e ferm coratge.

I, of singing should not want,
because the more I sing
the worse for me it goes in love;
what pleas and tears
make their home in me,
because where there is no mercy
I have put my heart and myself,
and if he does not now take me,
I will have too long waited.

Since I saw you I’ve been at your command,
and still as for pain,
friend, I’ve had no better from you,
not a pleader
nor message do you send
for to look towards me,
friend, you do not this!
Because no joy comes to me,
I am mad with sorrow.

If it would help, I’d remind you in song
that I had your glove,
the one I stole trembling
then I feared
you would find damage
from the one who keeps you,
friend, right away
I returned it, because I well knew
I had no power to keep it.

Knights I know who themselves harm
when they plead
with ladies more than ladies plead with them,
for no other rank
or seniority is in it,
that when a lady has it
to love, she should plead
with the knight if she sees
fit and worth in him.



Lady Almucs, still
I love what does me harm,
for he who carries merit
has towards me a changing heart.

Fair Name, I never fail
to love you endlessly
for I live within good faith
good will and a constant heart.

Unlike her other two chansons I first notice her meekness here that seems almost uncharacteristic of her demanding voice to which by now I have become accustomed. She appears hesitant to fully voice her dismay at her lover’s lack of acknowledgement despite that she makes clear he is now with another. Yet even here she positions herself as superior to the other “d’aicella rete,” or who keeps him, almost against his will – surely if he had a choice he would rather be with Castelloza. In other words, should her narrative be reinterpreted, he did not turn away from her in this line, but rather was detained, or kept from her. Of course she negates her naiveté only a few lines earlier where she attests to his inconstant heart that has without a doubt abandoned her without as much as a message while simultaneously calling attention to her own complacency in her pain as she cannot help but be drawn to that which hurts her. She ends in much the same way her other cansos begin, reminding her lover, and more importantly her audience, that she will not bear ill feelings towards the one who abandoned her since her love is immutable, everlasting, and by implication superior.

NB I highlight “audience” here because I feel it is becoming an ever more important structure to explore in my larger project. While voice is axiomatically associated with the trobairitz, that voice had an audience that has not yet been fully explored.


Bruckner, Matilda Tomaryn. “Na Castelloza, Trobairitz, and Troubadour Lyric.”

Dronke, Peter. “The Provencal Trobairitz: Castelloza.”

Paden, William. “The Poems of the Trobairitz Na Castelloza.”

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