Medieval Poetry

2022

14" x 18"

This series was completed in the spring of 2022, when we were hopeful that Covid was going to fade from our lives and we would be liberated from the masks and caution that the past two years wrought on our lives. At one of the first in person piano recitals I attended, I turned to my friend Robert Launay, an anthropology professor who’s hobby is translating French medieval poetry into modern English and I requested he send me four poems in order to create a series of illustrations depicting these ancient times of the Black Plague. During their catastrophic epidemic, there was no recourse but death, while today’s medical knowledge prevented many from falling ill. This series is representative of the development of poetic and musical styles of that time.

The Chanson de toile style of poem from the early 13th century is called Bele Doette It is a “poem of cloth” that was sung by women while they embroidered or wove cloth and is a poem of lover lost to a joust. The poem Dame, Merci also early 13th century, is an irreverent poem in two-person dialogue format of a wandering lover threatening his death if not for the fealty of his clear-eyed woman who forgives him of his cheating ways. It was composed by the famous Thibaut de Champagne a virtuoso trouvère who composed more than thirty books of poems. The poem of death, Plourez Dame, was composed by the famed Machault in the early 14th Century who was both a poet and composer and was famous for the motet form of music. The poem of jealousy, Le Basile, describes a fantasy animal part snake and part bird which kills with its glare. It was composed by Solage in the late 14th century whose music was deemed experimental for the time.  

1 Belle Doette©2022s_edited.jpg

Bele Doette by Anonymous 

2 Dame Merci©2022s_edited.jpg

Dame, Merci, une rien vous demant 

4 Plurez dame©2022s_edited.jpg

Plourez, dames plourez vostre Servant 

3 Le Basile©2022s_edited.jpg

Le Basile