Patience in Adversity: The Courtly Lover and Job in Machaut's Motets 2 and 3
Huot, Sylvia, Medium Aevum
Guillaume de Machaut has long been recognized for his intellectualization of love poetry. In his oeuvre, love is a rarefied and sublimated meditation, in which sexual consummation plays but a minor role.(1) Machaut's narrative poetry in particular has been studied for its treatment of love as the paradigmatic human experience, a vehicle for moral teachings of larger implications. The Remede de Fortune, for example, has been analysed as a recasting of Boethian philosophy in the guise of the Roman de la Rose; the Fonteinne amoureuse and Jugement dou roy de Navarre have been linked to the tradition of the speculum principum.(2) Less attention, however, has been paid to the literary analysis of Machaut's lyric poetry. This critical neglect is most striking with regard to the motets, which pass virtually unmentioned in many accounts of Machaut's literary production.(3) Yet his motet corpus is far from insignificant, comprising twenty-three compostions, each with two texted voices: six Latin, fifteen French, and two bilingual. Of these, twenty employ Latin tenors, while three feature French songs -- a rondeau and two virelais -- as tenors. The Latin motets treat political and devotional themes, but the French texts offer a series of variations on the traditional themes of the courtly love lyric. The use of amorous material in conjunction with a Latin tenor allowed Machaut to set courtly rhetoric against a different rhetorical tradition, that of Scripture and liturgy, and to elaborate a moral and spiritual critique of fin'amor. In this light the motets can be seen to reflect concerns similar to those of his narrative poetry.
The vernacular motet already had a long and illustrious tradition by the time of Machaut. The majority of Old French motets in the thirteenth-century repertoire fit the general pattern of combining secular texts for the upper voices with a Latin tenor derived ultimately from the liturgy, usually by way of the corpus of organa and clausulae.(4) The creative juxtaposition of sacred and profane discourse was thus a central feature of the motet as a vernacular literary genre, and thirteenth-century poets and composers -- nearly all of them anonymous -- explored many thematic parallels between the two registers. An examination of the corpus of thirteenth-century French motets shows that the tenor plays a decisive role in textual dynamics. As a citation of a familiar liturgical text -- whose ultimate source is usually the Bible -- the tenor is the explicit link between devotional and secular discourses. A given motet must thus be read according to two different interpretative contexts: that of the vernacular lyric tradition exemplified in the upper voices, and that of Scripture and liturgy.(5)
The motet was not, of course, the only literary form to explore these issues. The allegorization of erotic discourse was a well-established practice in mediaeval literature and biblical exegesis; and, conversely, the eroticization of scriptural passages is a feature of much mediaeval parody. Thus the maiden pining for her lover can become a figure of Ecclesia, bereft of the Bridegroom; the suffering lover, cruelly rejected by his chosen one but continuing to love anyway, is an image for the Man of Sorrows, betrayed by his bride Synagoga. These and other parallels are exploited in thirteenth-century motets, with varying degrees of irony. In some examples the upper voices can be read as an allegorical recasting of the sacred event commemorated in the tenor, while in other cases the relationship is one of parody. In many motets, in fact, it is difficult to choose between allegorical and parodistic readings: the two possibilities coexist, resulting from the motet's fundamentally hybrid structure.
None of the tenors used by Machaut figures in the thirteenth-century motet corpus. Like the thirteenth-century tenors, however, Machaut's Latin tenors are of liturgical origin, consisting of a word or phrase from the chant.(6) And, like the thirteenth-century composers, he selected his tenors carefully to correspond to the rhetoric of courtly love employed in the upper voices of the motets. In motet 5, for example -- Aucune gent m'ont demande que j'ay / Qui plus aimme plus endure / FLAT VOLUNTAS TUA -- the persona of the upper voices laments his lady's hard-heartedness, but vows to submit himself to her will.(7) The tenor, adapted from the musical setting of the Paternoster, underscores the lover's submission to the omnipotent lady. And in motet 14 -- Maugre mon cuer, contre mon sentement / De ma dolour confortes doucement / QULA AMORE LANGUEO -- the persona of the upper voices complains that his love is unrequited, and fantasizes about the fulfilment of his desires. The tenor, taken from the Assumption antiphon Anima mea liquefacta est, has its textual origins in the Song of Songs: the famous statement of love-sickness glossed in exegetical tradition as the love-longing of the soul or Ecclesia for Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom.(8) In both cases the tenor crystallizes the sentiments of the upper voices, while also suggesting an analogy between courtly and spiritual love. Our interpretation of this analogy, however, depends on whether the courtly or the devotional context is seen as dominant. The statement of submission in the tenor of motet 5, for example, might elevate the lover's sentiments to the status of religious adoration; it might illuminate the idolatrous nature of his passion, which has led him to substitute a human lady for God; or it might even represent the deeply hidden seeds of a true conversion from erotic to spiritual passion, a recognition that the denial of sexual desire is in fact the will of God and an embracing of the religious ideal.(9)
For a closer look at Machaut's treatment of the interplay between devotional and courtly models, I shall focus on a particular figure: that of Job, evoked in two of Machaut's motets. As teh locus classicus of undeserved suffering, whose constancy and faith were eventually rewarded, Job is an intriguing counterpart to the courtly lover. He is also, of course, of much larger significance, a focal point for discussions of human suffering, social and cosmic justice, Fortune and Providence. The Book of Job figured prominently in the mediaeval Office of the Dead.(10) It is not hard to imagine that Job might have become a figure of some interest during the difficult years of the fourteenth century. Machaut briefly summarizes the story of Job in the Confort d'Ami, and he draws on Job's lament (Job iii.1--10) as a model for the description of personal suffering in his ballade 'Dou memoire des hommes degrades' (Louange des dames, CCLII).(11) He does not cite Job by name in any of his motets. He does, however, use one tenor that definitely derives from a responsory based on the Book of Job, and another tenor that carries a textual echo of Job and may also derive from a Jobian responsory. The tenors thus create an implicit citation of Job within the motet. As I shall show, the responsories with which the tenors are associated mirror the courtly paradigm elaborated in the upper voices of each motet respectively. And the devotional model, integrated into the motet, allows for an expansion of scope, a way of moving beyond the limitations of courtly discourse.
I begin with motet 2, Tous corps qui de bien amer / De souspirant cuer dolent / SUSPIRO, in which the identification of the tenor cannot yet be established with complete certainty. The two upper voices are conventional laments of unrequited love. The triplum opens with a rationale for love-service: in obedience to Nature, the lyric persona follows his heart and places his person at the service of the lady he loves. The central lines of the triplum are a classic statement of desire engendered by the contemplation of the lady's beauty; the lover speaks of his pain,
Qui me fait en desirant
Languir, quant vois remirant
La douce faiture
De son tres gracieus vis. (tr., 15--18)
Nonetheless the overall tone is optimistic: the lady has granted him no mercy as yet, but he feels confident that she will in due time reward his loyal service if he makes his feelings known. The triplum closes with an affirmation of the power of speech (or song):
Miex vient en joie manoir
Par proier qu'ades languir
Par trop taire et puis morir. (tr., 32--4)
The attainment of joy is thus associated with the articulation of desire, while silence leads to death.
The optimism of the triplum is somewhat muted by the motetus, where the focus is more on the lover's suffering and his fears of refusal, which hamper his efforts to ask for mercy:
Car, quant j'ay pris hardement
De ma grant doleur retraire,
Lors m'estuet il tout coy taire. (m., 37--9)
Again the lover alludes to his visual contemplation of the lady, commenting: 'Si sui pris en regardant' (m., 40). And, like the triplum, the motetus closes with a statement of the two possible outcomes of the lover's suit:
Ou merci procheinnement
De ma dame debonnaire,
Ou morir en languissant. (m., 46--8)
The tenor, finally, is completely appropriate to the love-longing of the upper voices. The two texts of unfulfilled desire, balanced between the hope of mercy and the fear of death, rest on the underpinnings of a tenor that distils the composition's affective content into a single world -- SUSPIRO -- echoed in the souspirant cuer with which the motetus opens (m., 35). An examination of the tenor's biblical associations and its probable source, however, suggests that its function within the motet goes beyond that simple underscoring of courtly languor. The word suspiro appears but once in the Vulgate, and that is in Job's famous lament: 'Antequam comedam suspiro; et tanquam innundantes aquae, sic rugitus meus' (Job iii. 24).(12) If nothing else, then, the one-word lament that underpins motet 2 is a verbal echo of Jobian grief. Musically, the tenor has always eluded identification. Significantly, however, its first seven notes -- that is, the first of its four taleae -- do correspond to the setting of the words comedam suspiro in a responsory based on Job's lament:(13)
Antequam comedam suspiro, et tamquam inundantes aquae sic rugitus meus, quia timor quem timebam evenit mihi, et quod verebar accidit. Nonne dissimulavi, nonne silui? et jam quievi, et venit super me indignatio tua, Domine. V. Nolo multa fortitudine contendat mecum, nec magnitudinis suae mole me premat, aequitatem proponat contra me.
The text of the reponsory is extracted almost verbatim from the Bible, consisting of Job iii.24--6 and xxiii.6--7. After a brief examination of the responsory and the traditional interpretation of the texts it uses, we shall be better able to assess its relevance to Machaut's motet and the likelihood that the tenor is, in fact, a quotation, albeit somewhat altered, of this portion of the chant.
The Book of Job is a long meditation on Fortune and Providence. It addresses the issues of human suffering and divine justice, stressing that no one can know the reasons for God's acts; that he is free to bestow and to remove his blessings; that worldly riches are unstable; and that adversity should be viewed as a trial and a tempering of the spirit. The good and just man will not necessarily be spared earthly suffering, but he will receive his reward in heaven. The responsories based on the Book of Job crystallize these ideas in a series of short statements. The above example, Antequam comedam. Nolo multa fortitudine, is a juxtaposition of two different perspectives. The first part is Job's cry of despair at the seeming injustice of his afflictions: in spite of his unquestioning obedience and resistance to temptation, his worst fears are realized, and now he is reduced to sighs and lamentations. In his Moralia in Job,(14) widely read throughout the Middle Ages, Gregory the Great interprets eating as a metaphor for the soul's contemplation of the divine; the sighs are thus those of the soul longing for union with God:
Comedere namque est animae, supernae lucis contemplationibus pasci. Suspirat ergo antequam comedat quia prius gemitibus tribulationis afficitur, et postmodum contemplationis refectione satiatur ... Suspirat autem qui comedit, quia quos amor ueritatis afficit etiam refectio contemplationis pascit.
(Moralia, v, viii, 14)
Silence and dissimulation in turn are interpreted as the moral peace of the soul that resists the temptations of the flesh by repressing desire and avoiding vain speech.(15) Speaking of sancti uiri, Gregory states:
Cor namque a consideranda sua gloria reprimunt, linguam ab immoderata locutione restringunt, opus ab inquietudinis uagatione custodiunt.
(Moralia, v, xi, 17)
Overall, then, the first half of the responsory can be read as the outcry of the soul hungry for God, sighing with desire for spiritual union, and lamenting the adversities it encounters in spite of its best efforts to avoid the snares of sin.
The second half of the responsory, in turn, addresses the topic of divine judgement. These lines are interpreted by Gregory as an allusion to the intercession of Christ. In explanation of Job xxiii.6--7, he states:
Id est, ad redarguendas uias meas incarnatum Filium mittat et tunc insidiantem aduersarium per absolutionis meae iudicium uictor excludam.
(Moralia, XVI, xxx, 37)
The response thus strikes a more optimistic note: a good Christian can have faith that God will not deal harshly with him in the end, but will consent to grant him justice and mercy.
When we look at the responsory in conjunction with the motet, an interesting parallelism emerges. In both, a male persona sighs with an as yet unfulfilled longing, one linked to the contemplation of an all-good and all-powerful object of desire and adoration. He laments that silence and the repression of his baser desires have resulted only in suffering and the realization of his fears, but clings to the belief that the entity responsible for his suffering, towards whom his love and hope as well as his laments are directed, will eventually accord him the justice he deserves. The position of the courtly lover vis-a-vis his lady is thus analogous to that of the pious Christian vis-a-vis God. These parallels, together with the verbal echo -- a single word, but, again, one that appears nowhere else in the Vulgate -- and the musical correspondence in the first talea, point to the strong likelihood that Machaut did in fact have the figure of Job, and the responsory Antequam comedam. Nolo multa fortitudine, in mind when he composed motet 2. The tenor, like those in Machaut's other motets, invites meditation on the possible conflation or differentiation of courtly and devotional models.
And what, indeed, are we to conclude from the implied juxtaposition of Job and the courtly lover? This question must be answered in two different contexts. First, there is the context of courtly love. From this standpoint, the overlay of Jobian suffering and piety intensifies and ennobles the sentiments of love. We see that the lady is truly all-powerful, and that the lyric persona is devoted and immovable in his love. His suffering, though profound, will not be for nothing. As is so often claimed in courtly texts, the tribulations of love are a moral testing-ground. After passing through a long period of trial and exemplary service, the lover can hope to emerge, vindicated, and to receive at last his lady's mercy and the signs of her love. In the meantime he must be patient, and not allow the desires of the flesh to distort his thinking. Her ways, however capricious they may seem, are not to be questioned. This attitude is similar to that elaborated at much greater length in Machaut's Remede de Fortune, where it is explained that love is to be maintained independent of sexual desire or gratification. The tribulations of Fortune, or the lady's indifference, hurt only those who believe in an attachment to worldly success. True love asks nothing in trturn; it is simply the contemplation of the lady's goodness and beauty.
The other context, equally important, is that of spiritual redemption. Ultimately, the tenor serves to widen the scope of the motet, leading to the consideration not just of amorous suffering, but of all suffering. From this perspective, love is merely one of many sources of tribulation in this world. To believe that the key to life and death, suffering and joy, lies in the lady is short-sighted, for only God has the power to bestow damnation or blessing. The courtly model of patient lover and powerful lady is but an imperfect and partial mirror of humanity's real situation within the cosmos.
Before proceeding to further conclusions, let us turn to our other example, Machaut's motet 3, He! Mors, com tu es baie / Fine Amour, qui me vint navrer / QUARE NON SUM MORTUUS?. This one employs a definitely Jobian tenor, and since it follows the preceding example in nearly all Machaut's manuscripts, it is possible that the two motets were actually conceived as a pair.(16) Motet 3 also treats of a man whose lady has died; he enumerates her many qualities and expresses the wish that he too might die, since he has lost all hope of joy. The triplum closes with his statement of unwavering loyalty to love:
Qui bien aimme a tart oublie.
Et pour ce qu'il ha I'ottroy
D'amours, soit sages de soy
Et si serve en bonne foy,
Car il n'est, pour voir I'affie,
Nulle si grief departie,
Com c'est d'ami et d'amie. (tr., 39--47)
The motetus, without specifying that the loved one is dead, states that the lyric persona has lost all hope of joy in love, owing to the ravages of Fortune. Again, he looks forward only to his own death:
Helas! or me puis dementer,
Plourer et pleindre a grant foison,
En atendant, pour bien amer,
La mort en lieu de guerredon. (m., 58--61)
As in the previous example, the tenor crystallizes the despairing sentiments of the two upper voices in a single phrase: QUARE NON SUM MORTUUS?
The responsory that is the source of the tenor is part of the same series of Jobian responsories that includes Antequam comedam. Nolo multa fortitudine:
Inclinans faciem meam ingemisco, commovebor omnibus membris meis; scio enim, Domine, quia impunitum me non dimittis; et si sum impius, quare non sum mortuus sed laboro? V. Quae est enim fortitudo mea ut sustineam, aut quis finis meus ut patienter agam?(17)
The first half of the responsory is not taken verbatim from Job, but does employ phrases and ideas from Job's laments (cf. Job ix.28--9, iii.11). The second half is a direct quotation of Job vi.II. As in the case of motet 2, the figure of Job is highly relevant to the motet as whole. Job's intense grief and his wish that death would end his sufferings are closely parallel to the sentiments expressed in the two upper voices. And of course Job's prominent role in the Office of the Dead -- well known even to the laity, owing to its inclusion in the standard Book of Hours -- makes him a particularly appropriate figure of reference in this lament for a deceased loved one. Again, the tenor serves to open up the motet, to widen its scope. The two upper voices address the problem of death and despair within the narrow context of love, conceived in the terms of courtly poetry; the tenor addresses this same problem in the context of human life in general. By pointing to the Book of Job, indeed, the tenor suggests an answer to the lyric persona's wish for death: that despair is never justified, that it is never appropriate to 'curse God and die', as Job's wife recommended.
The question stated in the versicle of the source responsory holds the key to the double interpretation -- courtly and devotional -- of the motet: 'Quae est enim fortitudo mea ut sustineam, aut quis finis meus ut patienter agam?' According to Gregory's commentary, this is not merely a rhetorical question, for there are two kinds of fortitude:
Iustorum quippe fortitudo est carnem uincere, propriis uoluptatibus contraire, delectationem uitae praesentis exstinguere, huius mundi aspera pro aeternis praemiis amare, prosperitatis blandimenta contemnere, aduersitatis metum in corde superare. Reproborum uero fortitudo est transitoria sine cessatione diligere, contra flagella conditoris insensibiliter perdurare, ab amore rerum temporalium nec ex aduersitate quiescere. (Moralia, VII, xxi, 24)
Job's question, repeated in the responsory, thus serves to define two fundamentally different reactions to the travails of earthly life, two forms of strength: the perverse strength of the sinner, and the moral strength of the devout. The latter, of course, is the fortitude shown by Job.
The question of virtuous and perverse constancy is crucial to the interpretation of both motets. Which kind of fortitude can we attribute to the personae of the upper voices? Clearly, neither is about to abandon his love. Whether this loyalty represents moral strength or perversity depends entirely on the moral value granted to the love. Within the courtly framework, in which love is the supreme value, each motet is an eloquent and moving expression of devotion. From this perspective, the persona's determination to continue his love-service represents a high ideal -- indeed a courtly, amatory version of Job's continuing faith in God. But the interpretative framework of Jobian piety, and the resulting question of moral and immoral fortitude, allow us to distinguish between the positions taken in each motet respectively. From this perspective, the persona of motet 2 is one who clings to the desires of the flesh in spite of the pain that such desire causes; he is unable to transpose his longing into the desire for God that is represented in the tenor. The persona of motet 3, on the other hand, is one who maintains a selfless love completely detached from any possibility of sensual gratification. It is true that, limited by the rhetoric of courtly love, the lyric persona sees only the cruelty of Fortune and the pain that he experiences as a result. He does not look beyond the cycle of fortune and misfortune to the larger context of divine Providence. In this respect, however, he is not very different from Job himself before his encounter with the voice of God speaking from the whirlwind. And the source text cited by the tenor of motet 3, rather than suggesting a renunciation or sublimation of the persona's sentiments, underscores the wretchedness of earthly life and the moral strength needed to resist despair.
To sum up briefly: both motets 2 and 3 exemplify the polytextuality characteristic of the vernacular motet, constructed with two built-in interpretative contexts -- in this case, courtly love lyric and the Book of Job. From the first perspective, the tenors underscore, and epitomize, the courtly sentiments of the upper voices: I sigh with desire, I want to die. From the second perspective, they provide a corrective depassement of the upper voices, reminding us that one can escape the prison of desire and pain by turning to God, always a source of justice and mercy. The composite nature of the motet is such that the courtly and devotional readings coexist, held in balance.
I would like to suggest two literary analogues for the motets examined here. One is a pair of linked dits from within Machaut's own oeuvre: the Jugement dou roy de Behaingne and the Jugement dou roy de Navarre.(18) In the first of these poems, Machaut describes a debate held to determine who has suffered the most: a knight whose lady left him for another man, or a lady whose lover died. The question is decided by the king of Bohemia -- a fictionalized representation of Machaut's patron, John of Luxembourg -- in favour of the knight. In the Jugement Navarre, Machaut's persona learns that the decision offered in the Jugement Behaingne has proved offensive to women. The question is reopened and placed before another of Machaut's patrons, Charles of Navarre; after considerable debate, he decides in favour of the lady. Although they do not address the question of gender, motets 2 and 3 do present the two forms of suffering treated in the Jugement poems: unrequited love and bereavement. No judgement is offered in the motets, but their juxtaposition does illustrate a passage from one form of grief to another. The persona of motet 2 claims to be faced with the prospect of imminent death if his lady refuses him mercy; but it is in motet 3 that we see the effects of actual death. By comparison with the real tragedy of motet 3, the grief experienced by the persona of motet 2 appears superficial, indeed rather pleasurable: the douz mal or delicious pains cultivated by courtly lovers. It is precisely this self-indulgent love-sickness that is questioned in the Jugement Navarre, in which several of the king's counsellors cast doubt on the notion of men driven to despair by female infidelity. Thus the Jugement Bebaingne, like motet 2, is dominated by the topos of male desire in conflict with female resistance; the Jugement Navarre, like motet 3, is dominated by the theme of death and of the power of true love to survive beyond the grave.
The movement from Jugement Bebaingne to Jugement Navarre also entails a redefinition of the parameters of the debate, a passage from the narrow context of courtly love casuistry to a much broader context of human suffering.(19) The Jugement Bebaingne cannot be dated precisely, but must surely have been composed before John of Luxembourg's death in 1346. The Jugement Navarre dates from 1349, and opens with an account of the terrible events that intervened between the composition of the two poems: earthquakes and other natural disasters, war, social and political turmoil, and plague. This dark chronicle, which occupies several hundred lines, portrays a consmos nearly destroyed by the virulence of human depravity and its consequences. The calamities begin with widespread warfare and other forms of social violence: deadly conflicts between Jews and Christians, the heretical flagellants. Dismayed by this spectacle of wanton destruction, Nature herself turns against the human race, unleashing earthquakes, storms and other fearful events, such as showers of stones and fires from heaven. The resulting corruption of the air causes the Black Death; now God himself releases Death into the world, giving him full licence to take whomever he will. Faced with these terrors, the narrator tells us that he saw no recourse other than to prepare for death:
Si que tres bien me confessay
De tous les pechiez que fais ay,
Et me mis en estat de grace
Pour recevoir mort en la place,
S'il pleust a Nostre Signeur. (437--41)
His only source of consolation during this period lay in adopting the attitude of Ecclesiastes, identified as 'le sage' (129). One must simply accept what one cannot change, striving to live a virtuous life, and remembering:
Le monde, c'est tout vanite,
Et qu'il n'i a autre salaire
Fors d'estre liez et de bien faire. (134--6)
It is after emerging from this nightmarish era of universal death and destruction that the narrator ventures out to enjoy the spring weather, is accosted by a noble lady, and finds himself called upon to defend the decision of the Jugement Behaingne.
The sober prologue of the Jugement Navarre serves a purpose analogous to that of the tenor in motets 2 and 3. In the Jugement Navarre, the question of love is placed in the context of universal tragedy. From this new perspective, the knight's courtly sufferings are diminished, even frivolous, compared to the much more serious ills of war, heresy and death. The duplicity of his lady, a teenage girl who falls in love with someone else, pales next to the account of social violence and upheaval so extreme that it caused Nature herself to turn against the human race, acting at last on the destructive impulses that she had resisted in De planctu Naturae. And just as the tenors place the motets in implicit juxtaposition with the Book of Job, so the Jugement Navarre must be read in conjunction with the Book of Ecclesiastes. Both biblical texts offer similar reflections on the vanity of earthly life, teaching that happiness can be achieved only through the exercise of virtue and moderation and through the pious acceptance of fortune and misfortune alike.
The movement from Jugement Behaingne to Jugement Navarre thus involves a far more complicated set of transformations than the simple reversal of a point of love casuistry. Just as our perceptions of the courtly lover's travails are changed by the juxtaposition with Job, so we cannot read the Jugement Behaingne in the same way after having read the Jugement Navarre. The concerns addressed in the prologue of the Jugement Navarre necessitate a complete revision of the terms of the debate and a new conclusion. The transformation of the debate -- indeed, of the very vision of love -- is apparent in many textual details. Here I shall indicate only one, the identity of the counsellors who aid the respective kings in their judgements. In both texts the counsellors are allegorical personifications of qualities associated with the ideology of love. In the Jugement Behaingne, we find figures chosen to emphasize the pleasures and the opulence of aristocratic life: Largesse, Hardiesse, Prouesse, Richesse, Amour, Biaute, Loiaute, Leesse, Desir, Penser, Volente, Noblesse, Franchise, Honneur, Courtoisie and Juenesse. This list differs almost completely from that of the Jugement Navarre, where the participants in the debate are Congnoissance, Avis, Raison, Attemprance, Pais, Concorde, Foy, Constance, Charite, Honnestez, Prudence, Largesse, Doubtance de Meffaire, Souffisance and Mesure. From a self-indulgent idealization of aristocratic life in terms of chivalric prowess, youthful pleasures, wealth, and leisure, we have moved to the arena of moral and spiritual virtues. In this context, what is valorized is not the persistence of desire in the face of rejection, but rather the constancy of love and devotion in the face of death.
Even in the Jugement Navarre, of course, love still is the paradigmatic experience, the overarching framework in which social and psychological issues are addressed. The king's ability to cast an appropriate judgement in the case of the two lovers reflects his more far-reaching capacity to restore social order by implementing such ideals as charity, prudence and concord on a global scale. Although the lessons of the Jugement Navarre apply far beyond the immediate question of male and female suffering in love, the experience of love remains the vehicle whereby these larger issues are addressed. One could therefore associate the textual pair Jugement Behaingne--Jugement Navarre with a 'courtly' reading of the motets, in which lessons about patience and adversity are absorbed into the amatory model of the upper voices.
The second analogue that I wish to propose is a Latin text, one that Machaut certainly knew very well: the De consolatione Philosophiae.(20) The general relevance of this text to any meditation on human suffering and the moral strength needed to sustain one's faith is obvious, and needs no special demonstration. What I wish to stress is the particular relevance of its opening passage to the poetics of the vernacular motet. The imprisoned Boethius has given himself over to despair and, with the aid of the Muses, expresses his grief in the form of elegiac couplets. Indeed, he specifically wishes for death:
Mors hominum felix quae se nec dulcibus annis
Inserit et maestis saepe vocata venit.
Eheu quam surda miseros avertitur aure
Et flentes oculos claudere saeva negat. (1, m. i, 13--16)
As he is lamenting his misfortune, however, Philosophy arrives, banishes the Muses, and offers a consolation far superior to that afforded by poetry. Poetry and song may provide a beautiful and moving record of human suffering, but they neither relieve it nor address its causes unless they are informed by the teachings of Philosophy. As she says of the Muses:
Quis ... has scenicas meretriculas ad hunc aegrum permisit accedere quae dolores eius non modo nullis remediis foverent, verum dulcibus insuper alerent venenis? Hae sunt enim quae infructuosis affectuum spinis uberem fructibus rationis segetem necant hominumque mentes assuefaciunt morbo, non liberant. (1, pr. i, 28--34)
The discourse of Philosophy, supplanting that of the Muses, allows Boethius to view his tribulations in a larger historical and philosophical context, and to realize that the source of true happiness is not in the transitory goods of Fortune, but in the eternal and always accessible blessings of divine Providence.
This same shift in perspective is embodied in the vernacular motet through the juxtaposition of upper voices and tenor. The poetry of the upper voices is beautiful, but remains obsessively within the endless cycle of desire and pain. It is in fact a commonplace of courtly love lyric that the distraught lover, in singing, vents his sorrow and renews his commitment to love. The rhetoric of courtly love serves, as Philosophy stated, not to release a man from passion but only to accustom him to its rigours. Within the motet, however, the tenor leads outside the closed system of courtly rhetoric, pointing the way to scriptural consolation that, in the case of motets 2 and 3, addresses some of the same issues as the De consolatione Philosophiae.(21) Reading the motets through the lens of the tenor rather than that of the upper voices entails a reorientation of perspective very like that outlined at the beginning of the De consolatione.
This analysis of the interplay of courtly and devotional rhetoric could be extended to Machaut's other motets. Here, a single example will suffice: Helas! pour quoy virent onques mi oueil / Corde mesto / LIBERA ME (motet 12), one of Machaut's two bilingual motets. This piece is governed by the topos of the conflict of the eye and the heart. The triplum treats the motif within a courtly framework, that of the pining lover whose heart has been captivated through visual contemplation of the lady. He acknowledges that his emotional torment could have been avoided had he not seen her, or had his heart been capable of resisting her allure:
Dont vraiement plus chier eusse,
Quant ma dame vi, que je fusse
Sans yex ou que mes corps tel cuer eust
Que ja mais jour dame amer ne peust. (tr., 9--12)
The motif of the heart recurs throughout the triplum, setting up a contrast between the unresponsive heart of the lady and the devoted heart of her male admirer:
Puis qu'einsi est que pite ne merci
Ses crueus cuers ne vuet avoir de mi. (tr., 15--16)
Et si la serf de cuer en tel cremour
Que nulle riens ne li pri, eins l'aour. (tr., 19--20) einsi souhaideroie
Que s'amour fust envers trestous d'un fuer,
Fors vers celui qui l'aimme de mon cuer. (tr., 28--30)
In the rhetoric of courtly love, the heart consumed with passion is idealized; the heart that resists passion is condemned as cruel and pitiless. And although he expresses regret at the grief that his passion costs him, the lover is clearly committed to persevering in love.
The motetus recasts the courtly model of the triplum in the language of spiritual conversion. It opens with the motif of the tormented heart:
Serviens maceror. (m., 35--8)
The lady, object of sexual desire, has been replaced with the figure of Fortune, an abstraction of feminine caprice and hard-heartedness who is most notably associated with the unapproachable lady in the Remede de Fortune:
Fortuna te ponis
Malis; sed a bonis
Tollis risum. (m., 43--9)
And the artificial courtly repentance of the triplum here becomes true penance, a rejection of Fortune and her blandishments and an appeal not for erotic but for divine mercy:
Ut lauto venia
Promatur gloria. (m., 51--8)
The Latin motetus, in other words, constitutes a complete rewriting of the French triplum: a transformation of courtly sentiment into spiritual conversion.
The tenor, finally, is taken from the responsory Minor sum, itself an adaptation of Jacob's appeal for divine assistance as he fled from Esau.(22) The Glossa ordinaria interprets Jacob's prayer as an example of the mixture of hope and fear that characterizes the human condition:
Sic orat ut spem timore moderetur, et timorem spe consoletur, significans ut vitae nostrae et domesticorum ratione consolamus, et tamen Dei auxilium invocemus.(23)
The appeal for salvation -- DELIVER ME -- could apply equally well to either the triplum or the motetus; it easily admits of both a courtly and a devotional reading. But the persona of the motetus, though fearing for his soul, maintains the hope of divine grace; whereas the persona of the triplum is so consumed with fear that he dares not even voice an appeal to the one for whose mercy he longs. From the spiritual perspective of both the motetus and the tenor, the courtly lover is one who has fallen victim to the lust of the eyes. The allure of visual desire lies at the heart of Original Sin, as countless theologians and exegetes have pointed out: 'Vidit igitur mulier quod bonum esset lignum ad vescendum, et pulchrum oculis, aspectuque delectabile' (Genesis iii.6). In spiritual terms, the lover's salvation lies not in his lady's mercy but in that of God. It is not the lady's heart that is the cause of death, but his own, ruled as it is by the undisciplined eye and the desire it engenders. The conflict of eye and heart is a well-established motif in devotional literature, leading all the way back to the Bible itself.(24) In motet 12, the presence of motetus and tenor explodes the courtly model of the triplum and subverts its valorization of love-longing, even more completely than was the case in motets 2 and 3.
Machaut was heir to a long tradition of courtly poetry and a well-developed ideology of love. His work represents both a critique and a renewal of that tradition; and his motets, intricate compositions requiring considerable poetic and musical skill, are an integral part of this vast project.
My work on mediaeval motets has been supported by a grant from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation and by faculty research grants from Northern Illinois University, which I gratefully acknowledge. I would also like to thank Margaret Bent, Nigel Palmer and Anne Robertson for their comments and suggestions during the preparation and revision of this study.
(1)See the discussions by William Calin, A Poet at the Fountain: Essays on the Narrative Verse of Guillaume de Machaut (Lexington, Ky, 1974); Douglas Kelly, Medieval Imagination: Rhetoric and the Poetry of Courtly Love (Madison, Wis., 1978), pp. 121--54.
(2)In addition to the works cited in n. 1, see Kevin Brownlee, Poetic Identity in Guillaume de Machaut (Madison, Wis., 1984); Margaret Ehrhart, 'Machaut's Jugement dou roy de Navarre and the Book of Ecclesiastes', Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 81 (1980), 318--25; and Ehrhart's 'Machaut and the duties of rulers tradition', French Forum, 17 (1992), 5--22.
(3)See, however, Kevin Brownlee, 'Machaut's Motet 15 and the Roman de la Rose: the literary context of Amours qui a le pouoir / Faus Samblant m'a deceii / Vidi Dominum', Early Music History, 10 (1991), 1--14; and Margaret Bent, 'Deception, exegesis, and sounding number in Machaut's motet 15', Early Music History, 10 (1991), 15--27. Brownlee has also presented literary analyses of Machaut's motets 4, 7 and 8 in a series of unpublished papers presented at the International Musicological Society (Madrid, 1992), the Modern Language Association (New York, 1992), and the conference 'A Question of Genre: Lyric Poetry and Song in the Middle Ages' (Northwestern University, 1992). Lawrence Wright offers a formal analysis of poetic and musical structure in 'Verbal counterpoint in Machaut's motet Trop plus est belle -- Biaute paree de valour -- Je ne sui mie', Romance Studies, 7 (1985--6), 1--11.
(4)For general catalogue of thirteenth-century motets, showing musical correspondences among Latin and vernacular motets, organa, and clausulae, see Hendrik van der Werf, Integrated Directory of Organa Clausulae, and Motets (published by the author, 1989). For overview and analysis of the vernacular motet as a genre, see Beverly Evans, 'The unity of text and music in the late thirteenth-century French motet: a study of selected works from the Montpellier manuscript, fascicle VII' (unpub. Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1983); Hans Tischler, The Style and Evolution of the Earliiest Motets (to circa 1270), 4 vols, Musicological Studies 40 (Henryville, Ottawa and Binningen, 1985); Mark Everist, French Motets in the Thirteenth Century: Music, Poetry and Genre (Cambridge, 1994). I am grateful to Dr Everist for allowing me to consult his study in manuscript form.
(5)I have analysed the interaction of sacred and profae discourse in the Old French motet in my forthcoming book, Allegorical Play and Textual Polyphony: The Sacred and the Profane in Thirteenth-Century French Motets.
(6)Identification of most of Machaut's tenors -- compiled from the work of various scholars -- is provided in Gordon A. Anderson, 'Responsory chants in the tenors of some fourteenth-century continental motets', JAMS, 29 (1976), 119--27. Identification for three others (nos 5, 7 and 14) appears in Ernest Sanders, 'The medieval motet', in Gattungen der Musik in Einzeldarstellungen: Gedenkschrift Leo Schrade, ed. Wulf Arlt et al., 2 vols (Bern, 1973), I, 497--573 (pp. 563--4 n. 287).
(7)All citations of Machaut's motets are from his Poesies lyriques, ed. V. Chichmaref, 2 vols (Paris, 1909), II, 483--533. Somewhat illogically, Chichmaref numbers all lines consecutively from the beginning of the triplum to the end of the motetus, thereby obscuring the simultaneity of the texts in performance. To avoid confusion, I have retained his line numbers, but I additionally identify all citations as triplum (tr.) or motetus (m.).
(8)See Corpus antiphonalium Officii, ed. Renato-Joanne Hesbert, Rerum Ecclesiasticarum Documenta, Series Major: Fontes 7--10, 4 vols (Rome, 1963--70), III, no. 1418.
(9)For an analysis of the juxtaposition of courtly and sacred models in another of Machaut's motets, see Brownlee, 'Machaut's motet 15 and the Roman de la Rose', and Bent, 'Deception, exegesis, and sounding number in Machaut's motet 15' (cited in n. 3).
(10)On liturgical uses of the Book of Job, see Adelheid Hausen, Hiob in der franzosischen Literatur: Zur Rezeption eines alttestamentlichen Buches (Frankfurt a. M. and Bern, 1972), pp. 28--9; Barbara Sargent-Baur, Brothers of Dragons: 'Job Dolens' and Francois Villon, Garland Monographs in Medieval Literature 3 (New York and London, 1990), pp. 35--41. Sargent-Baur prints the lessons for the Office of the Dead -- drawn from the Psalms and from the Book of Job -- as Appendix I (pp. 139--46). The Book of Job also provided lessons as well as prayers, responsories and antiphons that were used in the divine Office during the first two weeks of September or, in the fifteenth century, during the month of August.
(11)See Jan Nelson, 'Guillaume de Machaut as Job: access to the poet as individual through his source', Romance Notes, 23 (1982), 185--90.
(12)The word suspirare appears six times in the Vulgate, but only once in the first-person singular form; see F. P. Dutripon, Bibliorum Sacrorum concordantiae (Paris, 1880; repr. Hildesheim and New York, 1986).
(13)To my knowledge, this identification has not previously been suggested. I base my comments on the musical setting of the responsory as it appears in Le Codex 601 de la Bibliotheque Capitulaire de Lucques: Antiphonaire Camaldule (XIIe siecle), ed. R. P. Dom Andre Mocquereau et al., Paleographie Musicale 9 (Tournai, Paris and Leipzig, 1905--9); and Le Codex F 160 de la Bibliotheque de la Cathedrale de Worcester: Antiphonaire monastique (XIIIe siecle), ed. R. P. Dom Andre Mocquereau, Paleographie Musicale 12 (Tournai and Paris, 1922--5). The Jobian responsories are identified in the latter source as belonging to the first two weeks of September. I cite the text from Corpus antiphonalium Officii, IV, no. 6106.
(14)Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, ed. Marc Adriaen, Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 143 (Turnhout, 1979--85).
(15)The responsory is closely based on the text of the Vulgate, in which the construction with 'Nonne ... nonne ... nonne' clearly forms a series of three rhetorical questions. The Authorized and Revised Standard Versions treat these verbs as statements rather than questions: 'I am not at ease; nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes' (Job iii.26, RSV). Thus in the Latin version, unlike the English one, Job implies that he has maintained silence and tranquillity.
(16)Motet 3 follows motet 2 in four principal manuscripts of Machaut's collected works: Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MSS f. fr. 1584 (A) and 1586 (C), and the Wildenstein MS (Vg), all of which date from within Machaut's lifetime and were probably made under his supervision, as well as Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS f. fr. 25546 (G), which dates from the later fourteenth century. The two motets are not consecutive in Paris, Bibliotheque Nationale, MS f. fr. 9221 (E), which dates from the late fourteenth century, following Machaut's death, and which often departs from the other manuscripts in its ordering of Machaut's lyric compositions.
(17)Corpus antiphonalium Officii, IV, no. 6947.
(18)Both poems appear in Machaut's Oeuvres, ed. Ernest Hoepffner, Societe des anciens textes francais, 3 vols (Paris, 1908--21), I. Interestingly, Machaut's motet 3 -- along with his motets 8 and 9 -- is echoed in the lament against Fortune in Chaucer's Book of the Duchess, a text that also draws heavily on the Jugement Behaingne. Parallels between motet 3 and the Jugement dits were clearly apparent to at least this one note-worthy fourteenth-century reader. Chaucer's use of Machaut's motets as a source for poetic language and imagery demonstrates, moreover, that the motets were not only appreciated as musical performance pieces, but also admired and read as poetry. See James I. Wimsatt, Chaucer and His French Contemporaries: Natural Music in the Fourteenth Century (Toronto, 1991), 129--31.
(19)For comments on the moral and political message of the Jugement Navarre, and the relevance of its opening passage to the treatment of love, see Ehrhart, 'Machaut's Jugement dou roy de Navarre and the Book of Ecclesiastes', and 'Machaut and the duties of rulers tradition' (cited n. 2 above); D. G. Lanoue, 'History as apocalypse: the "Prologue" of Machaut's Jugement dou Roy de Navarre', Philological Quarterly, 60 (1981), 1--12.
(20)I cite The Consolation of Philosophy, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1973).
(21)Parallels between the story of Job and that of Boethius did not escape mediaeval attention: Job is cited among other victims of Fortune in the glosses of the Old French Livre de Boece de Consolacion. See Glynnis M. Cropp, 'Le Livre de Boece de Consolacion: from translation to glossed text', in The Medieval Boethius: Studies in the Vernacular Translations of 'De Consolatione Philosophiae', ed. Alastair J. Minnis (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 63--88 (p. 82).
(22)Chichmaref's identification of the tenor LIBERA ME with the Pro defunctis is false. The correct identification -- though transcribed as Memor sum -- appears in Anderson, 'Responsory chants in the tenors of some fourteenth-century continental motets', p. 122. The first half of the responsory, which can be followed by a variety of versicles, is as follows: 'Minor sum cunctis miserationibus tuis, Domine Abraham; in baculo meo transivi Jordanem istum, et nunc cum duabus turmis regredior. Libera me, Domine, de manibus Esau, qui valde contremit cor meum, illum timens' (Corpus antiphonalium Officii, IV, no. 7156). The melody of the tenor corresponds to the words 'Libera me, Domine'. The text is adapted from Genesis xxxii. 10-11. The responsory carries strong penitential associations, being used for the second Sunday in Lent.
(23)Glossa ordinaria (PL, CXIII), gloss on Genesis xxxii. 11--19.
(24)Job, e.g., protests that his heart has not been ruled by his eyes, arguing that his suffering would be justified only if it had been: 'Pepigi foedus cum oculis meis, ut ne cogitarem quidem de virgine ... Et si secutum est oculos meos cor meum, et si manibus meis adhaesit macula, seram, et alius comedat, at progenies mea eradicetur' (Job xxxi. 1, 7--8). Gregory's commentary on this passage includes a lengthy discussion of the corruption of the heart through the influence of the eyes (Moralia in Job, XXI).…
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Publication information: Article title: Patience in Adversity: The Courtly Lover and Job in Machaut's Motets 2 and 3. Contributors: Huot, Sylvia - Author. Journal title: Medium Aevum. Volume: 63. Issue: 2 Publication date: Fall 1994. Page number: 222+. © 1999 Society for the Study of Mediaeval Languages and Literature. COPYRIGHT 1994 Gale Group.
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