Maria de Ventadorn writes in a style common to the trobairitz of her time in the south of France. Meg Bogin’s collection The Women Troubadours will be used to outline general aspects of courtly love. This type of lyric is called a tenson, a common form of performed collaborative song with alternating stanzas (16). In the lyric, courtly love is presented as a game and Lady Maria’s interest is to win. This can be observed in the treatment of her counterpart and her ideas about courtship.
The tone of the poem is conversational and pert written in a plain, informal style. Neither voice uses a lot of poetic imagery in any of the verses and the language is considerably colloquial not employing metaphor and ambiguity in terms of the meaning. A question is posed as the introduction and the address is clear; Lady Maria implores Gui D’ussel to engage with her in this dialogue and confronts him with questions regarding the dynamic of lovers. The taunting tone of the dialogue is suggestive of a courting between the two, however, it is not explicit about the nature of the relationship as they do not, on any occasion specify the lady and man in question. The ambiguity that does exist revolves around the authors’ position in the text and whether or not they are debating about courtly love in particular or whether the generality of the “lady” and “man” in question are their potential selves.
Even though the speakers are identified as the authors, they can more accurately be described as characters based on themselves. We know that this type of lyric was most likely performed in front of an audience probably set to music. The public’s relationship to such work can be likened with dramatic performance of today such as a musical or a dance rather than most of the modern poetry we read in collections. The lyric can even be compared to the modern pop-song with the essential music video to accompany it. The most ubiquitous male pop star is paired with a female counterpart and the rest is created for them to stage but the audience often cannot resist the temptation of wanting to look at the performance as truthful and search the cover of gossip magazines for evidence of a “real life affair”. We often attribute Victorian prudishness to every era and culture before it. However, For an aristocratic, married woman like Lady Maria to be voicing considerably salacious things such as this speaks highly of her culture’s sense of humour.
In the first stanza, Lady Maria specifies “free” (6) love as a choice. This distinction is significant in consideration that free love is not the prevailing variety. A marriage is not the ideal kind of relationship and this is why courtly love is flirted with in this poem. It is a fantasy being carried out by the Lady Maria and Gui d’Ussel not merely for the amusement of the audience but the exhilaration of the possibility of such things happening in reality. Juxtaposed with the plain, expositional style, there is a...