Cobla esparsa

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A cobla esparsa (Old Occitan  [ˈkubla esˈpaɾsa] literally meaning "scattered stanza") in Old Occitan is the name used for a single-stanza poem in troubadour poetry. They constitute about 15% of the troubadour output, and they are the dominant form among late (after 1220) authors like Bertran Carbonel and Guillem de l'Olivier. [1] The term cobla triada is used by modern scholars to indicate a cobla taken from a longer poem and let stand on its own, but its original medieval meaning was a cobla esparsa taken from a larger collection of such poems, since coblas esparsas were usually presented in large groupings.

Sometimes, two authors would write a cobla esparsa each, in a cobla exchange; this corresponds, in a shorter form, to the earlier tenso or partimen . [2] Whether such exchanges should be regarded as a "genre" unto themselves, as a type of short tenso, or as coblas esparsas, one of which happens to be written in response to the other, is debated. The Cançoneret de Ripoll distinguishes between the cobles d'acuyndamens, which bonds of vassallage, love, or fidelity, and cobles de qüestions, which posed dilemmas. The acuyndamentum was a special bond of vassallage-fidelity in medieval Catalonia. [2]


  1. Simon Gaunt and Sarah Kay, edd. (1999), The Troubadours: An Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN   0-521-57473-0).
  2. 1 2 Martín de Riquer (1964), Història de la Literatura Catalana, vol. 1 (Barcelona: Ariel), 509ff.

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N'Iseut de Capio was a noblewoman and trobairitz from Gévaudan. She was a neighbour and contemporary of the trobairitz Almucs de Castelnau, with whom she shared the composition of a tenso. It is her only surviving piece of work.

Alais and Yselda were two young noble trobairitz, probably sisters or nuns, who wrote an Occitan tenso with an elderly woman named Carenza. Their poem begins Na Carenza al bel cors avinen, and the first two stanzas were composed by Alais and Yselda. It is the last two stanzas, composed by Carenza, that are the most difficult to interpret. Magda Bogin and Peter Dronke have read the opening line of both her stanzas as beginning with the address N'Alais i na Iselda. There is, however, an alternative interpretation that sees the address as to a "N'Alaisina Iselda". Under this interpretation, there are two, not three, interlocutors in the poem: Carenza and Alaisina Yselda. Within the poem, in favour of the multiplicity of younger women is the phrase nos doas serors, but against it is the continuous use of the first person singular. The poem is preserved amidst a collection of coblas esparsas in only one Italian chansonnier.

N'At de Mons was a troubadour of the latter half of the thirteenth century. He was from Mons, near Toulouse. Kings James I of Aragon (1213–76) and Alfonso X of Castile (1252–84) acted as his patrons and he addressed "La valors es grans e l'onors", a sirventes on the rights of kings, to James. At is also credited as the author of a cobla esparsa, "Reys rix romieus mas man milhors".

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Las, qu'i non sun sparvir, astur, which translates "Oh, to be a sparrow-hawk, a goshawk!", is the incipit of an anonymous Old Occitan cobla. It was found in the margins of an eleventh-century manuscript in the British Library. Possibly it was added late in that century, certainly by a German scribe. It was first published in 1984, and has been translated into French and English.

Bonfilh or Bonfils was a Jewish troubadour from Narbonne. He is the only known Jew who wrote in the troubadour style and language, Old Occitan. His only known work is a partimen (debate) with Guiraut Riquier, Auzit ay dir, Bofil, que saps trobar. It has been suggested that Bonhilh may have been a poetic invention of Guiraut and not a historical person, or that he was the same person as the Jewish poet Abraham Bedersi. There is a lacuna in the only surviving manuscript version of this song that lasts from the middle of the third stanza through to the middle of the fifth. The seventh stanza is also missing the ending of its final line. Each stanza has eight lines, but the last two are tornadas of four each.

Montan was a Provençal troubadour whose real name, as well as any biographical detail, is unknown: his sobriquet means "the mounter", which has pornographic overtones, evidenced in his piece Eu venh vas vos, seinher, fauda levada, which is considered the most obscene ever produced by a troubadour. Other than this, three pieces are extant, a single stanza in a tenso with Sordello and two coblas esparsas.