Galicia: Songs of Love

Miniature from Cantiga 120 (Alfonso X), from supramusica.com via Wikimedia Commons
Miniature from Cantiga 120 (Alfonso X), from supramusica.com via Wikimedia Commons

In Chapter Eight of The Spanish Patriot, Louisa translates some lines from a troubadour song as it is being played. It’s a small note in the scene, but comes from a deeper place: my discovery of this beautiful song and my search to learn more about it and about the Portuguese-Galician troubadour tradition. Cantigas are medieval monophonic melodies, songs of love and songs of friendship, or of satire, or of faith. In one of the cantigas de amigo, a father warns his daughter to listen to him and not her boyfriend (!), but most are in the female voice.

Lovely daughter, look what I’m telling you:
Do not talk with your boyfriend
Without me, o lovely daughter.

And, daughter, if you want my love,
I ask you that you never talk with him
Without me, o lovely daughter.

And there’s something else you’re careless about:
You lose every word you talk with him
Without me, o lovely daughter.

Of course I fell for a cantiga de amor, attributed to King Dinis of Portugal, “O que vos nunca cuidei a dizer.” Here’s one version of the lyric:

Never did I dare tell you one thing,
that now I must, my lady,
for I want to die for you.
I never told you
how my love for you was killing me;
for you know well that of any other woman
neither was I afraid nor I am.

And that is why
I fear you,
since I made it known that
I love another, of whom,
as you know, I fear nothing;
and now, my lady,
were you to kill me, I accept is as my lot.

And, I beg you, do think
I die with relish, as I know that
I will have no pleasure whilst
I yet live,
and I know that,
if I die of my love for you, my lady,
I could not be other than glad.

[here’s  another translation, and the original text w/audio from a male singer.]

Want more? The Galician-Portuguese Medieval Songs site is a treasure-trove, mainly in in Portuguese with some English. A hIstory page at the Portico of Galician Literature talks about the cantiga tradition and discusses the Gallego language, as well.

As for love in modern times, Julio Iglesias, whose father was from Galicia, wrote this ode to “terra do meu pai. miña terra nai” (land of my father, my mother earth).

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