She returns with a portrait of a world both familiar and alien: The Outer Ring, a pitch-black world of half-empty subdivisions, American flags hung over basement windows, big-box stores and strip malls and rage. In a year dominated by working-class alienation, EMA — a Midwesterner who has never lost her thousand-yard stare — has delivered an album that renders American poverty and resentment with frightening realism and deep empathy.
Erika Spring began writing music as part of a multimedia project in her schooldays. After graduating, she moved to New York and she soon found she was collaborating on songs after work with a couple of similarly synth-minded girlfriends, eventually forming officially as the band, Au Revoir Simone. Breathing vocals over mesmerizing keyboard phrases, Erika produces an effect that approaches the supernatural, with tough, spring-loaded beats lending gravity to the otherwise hazy, delirious songs. Erika Wennerstrom is best known as the lead singer and songwriter of Heartless Bastards.
Esther Vallee is a dream wave warrior whose music is laced with pop-consciousness from an unconscious part of this life - meaning all the dark parts and the means to process them. She has created a world for herself where the light better damn well inhabit the dark.
She is your angel for backwards-looking escapism, her soundscape of sultry soul banging that collage electro sounds with bounces of dark electropop are just exciting. Critics have titled them as "the crown jewel of Estonian music", Finnish music magazine Rumba was stunned by their performance at the biggest Baltic music festival Positivus, calling them "the best band at the entire fest" where they were on the line-up alongside Muse and Scissor Sisters.
When Ex Hex exploded onto the scene with their unfettered brand of rock and riffage, the power trio for our generation had finally arrived. Near-constant touring throughout and established the band as a force to be reckoned with: an audacious three-piece distilling rock music to its essence with formidable skills and a reputation for frenzied and unabashedly fun live shows. What started as a reaction to the blown-out aesthetic of Rips would test the sonic limits of the power trio and lead the band on a quest for a more immersive and three-dimensional sound.
Vocal harmonies are layered ten tracks deep, solos shimmer and modulate atop heaving power chords, and the codas linger and stretch toward new frontiers of sound. The new album, co-produced with Mckenzie Smith of Midlake, expands upon the ethereal soundscapes of their music while exploring the darker and more personal sides of their songwriting. She left the place she grew up, her family, and a community - where she started Wye Oak with Andy Stack - that shaped and loved her. On If You See Me, Say Yes, you can feel the intensity of this moment and it's one we can all relate to - when you're poised on the precipice, diving into the new, while looking back at what you left behind.
So many of these new songs are built around these ecstatic moments when it feels like something is spilling open, or breaking through. Described as Icelands best kept secret they create captivating electro pop that infilrates to the tips of your fingers to your toes. What started out as a studio project in has blossomed into a screaming monster of a live show that's been dancing through the continent.
FM Belfast will leave you sweaty with a smile on your face, as long as you accept to tag a long. Everyone is invited to participate in the party workout. Country whilst gliding seamlessly between them. Originally born of heartbreak and heartache Friska Viljor formed after endings, their journey has now taken them to new beginnings.
Over the past 4 years they have taken leaps through genres, from suffering and sorrow, to hope and happiness, in constant evolution using instrumentation from mandolin, ukelele and glockenspiel to accordion, clarinet and saw. The new direction delves into euphoric choruses as they explore the childhood nostalgia, soul searching and a touch of apathy. As an outfit they have been as successful in their investigations into bleep as they have elongated Krautrock wig outs, and creating breathy electro pop as fiercely as they do post-punk-indebted scratchy dance. Their new album, Flashback, is to be released in May and it finds a group re-connecting with the potent music of their youth and connecting it with their well-learned musical chops as adults.
Moving backwards and forwards in time, they occupy a space of elegant melancholy. Immersing himself in the work of house music legends like Larry Heard, Vincent Floyd and Maurizio and the fragile disco of Arthur Russell, along with contemporaries like Jessy Lanza and Kelly Lee Owens, Van Pelt built the album from the bottom up, rooting every track in the crude sequencer of the Roland SH synth, a decades-old dance music totem.
The result are melodies that are simple but affecting, anchored to deep, wandering basslines. Time Travels was engineered by twin brothers Mark and Matt Thibideau, whose techno roots deepened the grooves throughout the record. With more than two decades' experience first as frontman of the acclaimed Grant Lee Buffalo then and accomplished solo artist, Phillips awakens comfort and hope by shining light into darker corners.
Hannah Cohen has arrived home. Taking her time with the songs, she wrapped herself in the fulfilling quiet of a new home, and a new creative partnership that supported the clarity in her writing and vocals. Settled in the space between dreamy folk and electronic melancholy — Haux is the smoky-eyed silhouette of Woodson Black.
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Growing up in the Berkshires, Woodson found his voice while wandering the quiet woods and rural landscapes. He narrated life through film photographs, developing a pastoral aesthetic that would go on to inspire Haux. Helado Negro returns with This Is How You Smile, an album that freely flickers between clarity and obscurity, past and present geographies, bright and unhurried seasons. In an era in which the magnitude of cultural sickness is coming to light, Henry Jamison has had some time to reflect.
On his second record, Gloria Duplex, the Vermont songwriter deconstructs ideas of masculinity from boyhood to adulthood and what it means to be a white, middle class male in America today. Over twelve years and five albums, a passionate fan base has experienced this band as a precious commodity that they want to keep close to their hearts.
From her Stockholm base, in the Swedish artist delivered an extraordinary debut album in the shape of 'Hearts. Jacques Greene crafted a musical blueprint that inspired a generation who were raised at the intersection of contemporary music in the 90s: hip hop, RnB, house and techno.
Aïe Aïe Aïe !
For those who think they know Jaga Jazzist, the story of this Norwegian supergroup and Starfire - its fifth full-length studio album, hot on the heels of the acclaimed 20th anniversary vinyl box, ''14 - begins with a pop quiz:. The answer is, indeed, both l and m because across two decades Jaga has been all of these things but, at the end of the day, is really none of them. A point made all the more clear with Starfire - which, in some ways, returns to earlier roots while, at he same time, introducing new elements and, as ever, moving forward Jape began in as a solo project of Dublin musician Richard Egan.
Using an innovative mix of live instruments, hardware samplers and sequencers, the band create a sound that encompasses many different styles and spans genres, a sort of gothic pop. Jen likes best to tell the truth. Over the course of her fruitful career in music, she has collaborated with U. Ward, among others. Jesca Hoop is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, a Californian who is now an adopted daughter of Manchester.
Jessica Pratt is not a loud performer. She does not have to be. In a club of a few hundred, even the bar staff are known to go quiet while she's on stage. Her third album, Quiet Signs, feels like a distillation of this power. More details will be announced in the coming weeks. Things came easily for us. Although Engelbert played an acoustic guitar exclusively, his arsenal of effects and overdriven amplifiers put Johnossi in the same stylistic ballpark as other guitar-and-drum duos like the Black Keys, White Stripes, and Mr.
Airplane Man. Jonah Tolchin has wrestled with a wellspring of emotions in his 26 years, and in the process, has consistently found the means of integrating his sentiments into his songs. On Fires for the Cold, Tolchin lays bare the conflicts and quagmires that have engulfed him over the course of the last few years. The ending of a marriage and an upheaval in his mindset left him shattered, confused and struggling to find the solace that had eluded him for too long a time. Josh Rouse was born in Nebraska, and eventually landed in Nashville where he recorded his debut Dressed Like Nebraska His breakthrough album, Rouse expanded his palette to the warmer sound of albums back then, as well as the more communal feel of the soul music of the eponymous year.
After relocating to Valencia, Spain, Rouse has released a steady stream of high quality songs and albums. Subtitulo contained the international hit "Quiet Town". The pleasure of finding something new in what we already know. The strange face of someone close. The outsider we all carry inside. The unexplored path in our usual location. A secret, a hiding place, a surprise. This is what Juan Pablo brings us. Not long ago, Wauters released La Onda de Juan Pablo, an album that allowed him to reinvent himself and start writing a separate chapter in his exciting career.
Now, as a companion and as a prequel, he releases Introducing Juan Pablo. Introducing… is a bit timeless: at the time the album was made, Wauters left it on stand-by. At that time, I was away from an audience. I was going through an introspective moment. Then everything changed when I made La Onda…. I looked inside myself and, at the same time, I tried to see myself from the outside.
A reissue on Domino featured the Manitoba mix of Birthday, a Fennesz mix of the same track, and a new track. After the release of It's All True in , the duo pursued solo and side projects, which included Jeremy Greenspan's working on music by Caribou and Jessy Lanza. In October , the duo announced their fifth studio album and first release in five years, Big Black Coat. Junip brings you dynamic, melodic and shadowy rock. Like walking through a foggy city finding the sun light little by little. K-X-P esoteric space rock band from Helsinki, Finland.
They mix electronics, kraut, noise, pop melodies and even techno into a hypnotic and minimalistic groove with references to bands like Spacemen 3, Vangelis, Mr. K-X-P can be considered as "a perfect synthesis of disco glitterball and skull drinking" Q Magazine. Back in his hometown of Dunedin, New Zealand, Strang spent two curious months alone, housesitting for his parents. Re-nested, yet still isolated, Strang composed all of Blue Cheese over those quiet days. He has since amassed a band and has started playing his distinct psych-pop live.
Timo Kaukolampi is the shamanistic leader of space rock outfit K-X-P. From the echoes of these influences becomes his original sound that will see the first light of day in Sound is elemental like nature, moving tectonic plates. Destruction of the form followed by re-creation. Who is Kitt Philippa? They are human, they are searching and in music they find hope. Although raised on classical, the songs are strangely urban and often conveyed with digital sleight. An organ scholar and an experimentalist, KP plays piano, guitar, clarinet, prayer bowl and bicycle wheel.
The album depicts inner adjustment to outer change: being far from home, treading through perpetual uncharted territory while yearning for the comforts of the familiar. Balancing grace and ferocity, she creates a dusky universe of godless devotional music that comes straight from the beating heart. La Force is a meditation on the liminal, disruptive state of motherhood; the never-ending tightrope walk of life, and death; and the re-discovery of self.
The songs crackle and sparkle with instrumentation -- including vibes, woodwind, marimbas, pump organ and piano -- with layers of Gibson's distinctive voice, girlish and pretty, but cracked and splintered like glass. He found room in between to flex his commercial pop muscles, too, writing and producing for amongst others Giorgio Moroder and his compatriot Robyn. Johansson, meanwhile, had played bass in Swedish Grammy Award-winners Fireside since the early nineties and worked as a touring bassist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives.
Sonically spare yet sumptuous in its emotions, elemental power and expansive melodies, the record is a richly felt, vividly realised trip into the interior from the Duke Spirit singer. A serene-to-stormy series of deep dream-pop meditations on devotion and selfhood, creativity and parenthood, it treats unknown territory not as something to fear but as a seed-bed of possibility.
It is at once familiar and completely distinct; effortlessly absorbing multiple genres into a sparkly and cohesive landscape. Originating from the dark winters and light summer nights of Scandinavia, his music captures heavy emotions and intense energies of something painfully beautiful. In his thought through albums he explores the concept of music itself — through making, releasing and performing.
Casually he engineers an entire concert alone, playing sounds with his feet while juggling a bass drum and still being very much present in that moment. Perfection mixed with vibrating flaws makes his music easy to take in and hard to let go. This October, Madeline Kenney will release her sophomore album, Perfect Shapes -- a wholly unexpected leap forward in both composition and musicality. The record was produced by Jenn Wasner Wye Oak, Flock of Dimes and reflects a deeply collaborative and introspective process, apparent both in arrangements and lyricism.
Dealing with subjects of femininity, societal pressures, expectation, value and self-worth, Kenney stands tall in a moment of musical bravery and personal clarity. A discovery of records long stashed away at various dilapidated thrift stores in Alabama lead the entities of Man or Astro-Man? An oriental ambience fuses with the warm silhouettes of experimental pop and unpolished soul in a way that nourishes both body and mind. Written and recorded at home over four months during the winter of , it's a stunning reminder of not just Heroux's own remarkable talents as a singer and songwriter, but how unbridled creativity can both sound and feel as well.
Matteo Vallicelli is an Italian drummer and composer, best known as the live drummer of The Soft Moon, Death Index, and as a founding member of many renowned Italian punk bands. This winter he debuts his first solo project, 'Primo', on Captured Tracks. Heavily influenced by the pulsating techno scene of the German capital, Vallicelli began experimenting with synthesizers and drum machines. Merchandise is a band fighting against the easy categorization reserved for abbreviated biographies.
Formed as a trio in Tampa, Florida in , the band has undergone ceaseless revision and reinvention. The project is equal parts punk misanthropy, maudlin balladeering, fine art, low humor, classical study, psychedelic spacecasing, mad science and pop genius. Produced in the same manner as her previous releases, she combines dark realism with humour in smoky and intimate ballads delivered with cutting and fatalistic lyrics. Indeed, Krol has gone somewhere new; yes, he bludgeoned himself with over-analysis and self-loathing, but along the way he stumbled upon a trove of intricate guitar lines and artfully mutating melodies.
And then saved it. In chronicling that process, Krol has made his best record—painful, voyeuristic, and angry, but ultimately transcendent and timeless. It is the sound of Krol giving in to a force greater than himself, as though the chords are playing him rather than the other way around. Having impressed the online tastemakers with their early releases that continuously entered the top of the Hype Machine chart, Mt.
Wolf are set for their debut album release in May Now grouped as a formidable 3 piece, with singer and guitarist Sebastian Fox, guitarist Stevie McMinn and drummer Alex Mitchell, the band's hallmark splicing of electronic and acoustic elements and layered sounds has not been lost in their new EP recordings, earning them comparisons to the likes of London Grammar, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros. Murray A. Lightburn is a composer, musician, performer and music producer. Formed in , their orchestral, dark pop sound and dramatic live shows cemented The Dears at the foundation of the then-emerging Canadian indie rock renaissance.
The Dears released their two volume epic Times Infinity in and The project kept M. Ninos Du Brasil is a project whose origins and background have remained shrouded in mystery. Dedicated to a bold and unlikely mixture of noise, batucada, samba and electronic, their sporadic live appearances have already become legendary and mythological. Be it a punk squat in Belgium or the famous Venice Biennale of Architecture, Ninos Du Brasil, without fail, rally the troops, from every walk of life, and create some of the biggest festival style parties on the dance floor.
The Swedish artist and songwriter is about to follow up her Grammy nominated debut album from She is the sought after chart-topping, award-winning writer for some of the biggest artists in the world, but she also writes her own songs that are closer to her heart. For the first time, she is ready to share those songs with the world.
As such, Chung sees Parallels represents a kind of redemptive rebirth. What really matters is her ability to drive the songs with only her voice and her guitar electric together with the meticulous coproduction by Joan Pons El Petit de Cal Eril , who makes the songs almost ethereal allowing them to reveal all their magic at leisure. Combining the lulling ambiance of shoegaze with the iconic melodies and vocal prowess of classic American country music, outlaw cowboy, Orville Peck croons about love and loss from the badlands of North America.
The resulting sound is entirely his own. We can see something of this phenomenon in the Peterborough Chronicle. Take, for example, the phrase used to introduce each yearly record—in this year, such and such happened. The -um and -e endings signal the dative masculine singular forms of the adjective and noun, following the preposition. As the case endings began to lose their prominence in the spoken language, they became harder to reproduce in the written. Concord in grammatical gender has obviously gone by this time. This is a small but revealing illustration of how Old English was changing on its own.
These scribal forms, however, may not exactly reproduce the speech forms of the time. Modern scholars, in fact, believe that the entries dated from to were all written at the same time and back dated, and that the entries from to were similarly written down What changes such as these do reveal, though, are the ways in which writers try to represent their language as it changes. We see grammatical confusion, different conventions of spelling and letter formation, changing attitudes towards the relationship of writing to speech.
The value of the Peterborough Chronicle lies, therefore, not in its transcription of year-by-year spoken English but in its thoughtful evocation of an English prose style passing from the scene. They sought, as well, to use new words and forms for distinctive aesthetic, as well as political, ends. For the Peterborough annalist, his death becomes the occasion for a personal review of his rule—an entry dated whose emotional pitch echoes the pulpit voice of Wulfstan, with its exhortations and laments and its attention to the transitoriness of worldly goods.
He who was once a powerful king and the lord of many lands, received in death no other land but seven feet of it; and he who was once clothed in gold and gems lay then covered with earth. Beowulf, for example, is full of such elegiac moments, as when the poet comments on the burial mound of the dead hero. Like several entries in other versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Peterborough Chronicle entry for contains not just prose but poetry though, as in the case of all Old English poetry, its verse is written out continuously as prose.
Especially in entries on the death of kings or the martyrdom of men, the chroniclers would offer verse laments, shaped according to the patterns of alliterative metrics and the formulae of the traditional Germanic idiom. Such poems appear in other versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle on, for example, the death of King Edward , the coronation of King Edgar , and, most famously, the Battle of Brunanburgh The poem on the death of William, however, does something different. For one thing, it rhymes.
As such, this poem stands in stark contrast to the surrounding prose annal. It turns formal, metrical and linguistic choice into social criticism. It is a narrative of foreign imposition told through the imported word and meter. Here are the opening lines. The king was very severe, and he took from his underlings many marks of gold and hundreds of pounds of silver.
All this he took from the people, and with great injustice from his subjects, to gratify his trivial desire.
Time and the Crystal
He had fallen into avarice, and he loved greediness above everything else. He established many deer preserves, and he set up laws concerning them, such that whoever killed a hart or a hind should be blinded. The word itself, a loan from Norman French, makes clear the immediate impress of Norman life on English soil. As William reshaped English lands, so his elegist in the Peterborough Chronicle reshaped English poetry.
His poem here shows us a writer intent on using the principles of Continental verse against a Continental subject. Linguistic and prosodic choices have political meaning—even in Peterborough Abbey, the monks could recognize the words of Norman imposition and the rhyme and meter of non-English literature. By half a century later, Norman rule had been consolidated and, with it, new words and expressions had begun to percolate up through the grounds of Anglo-Saxon.
The Peterborough Chronicle annal for , like that of , offers a sustained response to social change through the nuances of linguistic choice. Like that of , this entry presents a distinctive literary, as well as an annalistic, voice, and it remains one of the most effective pieces of early English prose. The entry dated surveys the entire nineteen-year reign of King Stephen — who presided over strife and famine, cruelties and deprivation so great that, as modern readers would well know, no other English king would ever take his name.
It begins traditionally, but soon moves into uncharted social and linguistic turf. Micel hadde Henri king gadered gold and sylver, and na god ne dide me for his saule tharof. We enter an Old English verbal world, even down to the barely surviving dative case of the opening words. But that changes when we get to Normandy. For the most part, that landscape is syntactically Old English. For when Stephen returns, he takes his bishops, Roger of Salisbury and Alexander of Lincoln and puts them in prisun. Like tresor, it is a new word from the administrative vocabulary of the Normans.
Again, the familiar Old English terms taken from the heroic vocabulary mild, softe, god ; again, the familiar word for terror. Wundor means not just wonder but something atrocious; it is the kind of thing that Grendel did, and in Old English, this noun had an unmarked plural: one wundor, two wundor.
We are in the old linguistic landscape here—except for justise. Originally from the Latin justus, fair or equitable, the word took on a special New words keep popping out of the English matrix here. Now, the annalist rises to the occasion, offering a list of all the torments in these prisons. Me henged up bi the fet and smoked heom mid ful smoke. They were hanged by the thumbs or by the head and mail-coats were hung on their feet.
They had strings knotted about their head and twisted to the point that it sank into the brains. They the bad guys put them the good guys in prisons where there were adders and snakes and toads, and killed them in this way. But this is a catalogue not Specialized terms jostle with the familiar here. The word bryniges is cognate with Old English byrnie, coat of mail; but here, it is the Old Norse form of the word. Nadres and snakes and pades: each word a history of pain and language.
Snake comes from Old English snaca, a word virtually unchanged during the entire life of English. The words, as well as the works, come from everywhere: Old English, Scandinavianisms, regionalisms, and even Latin technical terms. There is a sense here not just of a new word being used in writing but a new word being introduced into the populace: as if the warlords were instructing English men and women in the language of power. New and old words jostle throughout this entry in ways that make politics and language inseparable.
French terms from Norman power come in, but Old English phrases, syntax, and idioms remain the expressive baseline of the land. Indeed, when the annalist speaks in his own voice, he is clearly drawing on the diction of the Anglo-Saxon pulpit and the scop. Hi hadden him manred maked and athes sworen, ac hi nan treuthe ne heolden. They all perjured themselves and abrogated their fealty, for every nobleman made for himself castles and held them against him i. The English writing of the late eleventh and the twelfth centuries shares with the poetry and prose of the Peterborough Chronicle a concern with how a personal, vernacular voice can express the changing social order.
At Worcester Cathedral, poets and scribes were still attempting to preserve the old alliterative metrics of the scop. In their laments for learning we may hear the sounds akin to those of Peterborough. Now there is another people that teaches our folk, And many of our teachers are dead, and our people with them. They share, too, a distinctive vernacular diction.
The phrase forleten and. These are the thanes of lore, much as students were leorningcnihtas, knights of learning. While the school system was monastic and its subject matter Christian, the relationships of teacher and student remain modeled on the old Germanic tiers of thane and knight. Loss is everywhere. The word for But perhaps the most notable new thing about this stanza from The Latemest Day is its last word. It comes from the Old French word engin, ultimately from the Latin ingenium, and it begins to appear in English texts at the beginning of the thirteenth century.
When you live and die on English soil, you live and die in English. No imported ginne can matter. And yet, for the poet of The Owl and the Nightingale, writing at about this same time, ginne is power. New towns took on new names, each one of which signaled that they were breches: Gilbertesbreche, Parkeresbreche, Brechehurne. With each new clearing came, too, a new castle. In an English landscape full of newer castles and older burgs, what remains in the aftermath of conquest and anarchy is not so much brute strength as ingenuity.
Though there were many regional dialect variations, speakers and writers of English two centuries after the Conquest largely thought of themselves as having a shared vernacular. The Norman impact lay in more than nouns. French grammar and syntax had their effect, and by the end of the thirteenth century English idioms even if they were made up completely of originally Old English terms were shaping themselves to French order.
Even though the words in these expressions are English, the idioms are French.
Rather than building new words out of the familiar stock of roots or morphemes, as Old English did, Middle English borrowed terms directly from other languages. The Normans brought new words for learning, commerce, Such words are easily recognizable: they are often polysyllabic, with distinguishing sounds and spellings. Old English and new French words stood side by side, but differed in shades of meaning or connotation. In the early nineteenth century, the novelist Sir Walter Scott developed one of the most famous if overstated distillations of this verbal doubling in his analysis of words for food.
The Anglo-Saxon raised the food, whereas the Norman Frenchman ate it. Thus our words for animals remain Old English: sow, cow, calf, sheep, deer. Our words for meats are French: pork, beef, veal, mutton, venison. Of course, Anglo-French linguistic contact was more complicated than that, and the development of Middle English involves far more than the layering of a Gallic veneer on an Anglo-Saxon base. What it does involve is a larger set of social and political relationships among the speakers and writers of three languages English, French, and Latin and an emerging sense of nationhood associated not just with a geographical residence but with a vernacular identity.
Latin was the language of the Church, French of noble culture and administration, English of the people. Henry had sworn to observe the Magna Carta, that famous document of English legal history in which King John in had ceded absolute authority to a baronial confederation and a nascent Parliament. But Henry reneged on his promise. He styled himself far more a European than an English monarch, favoring his French relatives in power and preoccupied with maintaining his inheritance from the Angevin royal line.
It is a fascinating piece of writing, not just revealing the details of the English language of the mid-thirteenth century but illuminating the relationships of language and national identity emerging at the time. The English text is, scholars have long noted, a translation of the French, and certain facets of the language emerge by comparing the two versions. Henri, par le grace Deu, Rey de Engleterre, sire de Irlande, duc de Normandie, de Aquitien, et cunte de Angou, a tuz sez feaus clers et lays saluz. The French le grace Deu becomes the English Godes fultume.
The word fultume comes from Old English, where it meant aid, support, or help. It could be used in both secular and sacred contexts: one could help someone else or God could Etymologically, the word has full at its root: fullness, completion, a making whole. It passes into Middle English, but it seems clear that by the late thirteenth century, the word was gone, and the Proclamation of may be, in fact, the last datable appearance of the word in English writing.
Throughout the English text, the language seems reluctant to admit French terms. Only the technical terms of power and position appear: Duk is French, as is the title Mareschal, used later in the text. The English text, by the way, was sent to all the counties in the country, and in this surviving copy it is clear that this was the copy sent to Huntingtonshire. The loandes folk, the folk of the land, is a phrase that connotes not political brilliance or baronial entitlement but everydayness.
It is a phrase less to describe the counselors to the king and more to evoke the audience for this English text. Some of these English words, then, are familiar; some are strange to us now. But a look at the French shows us what would become the common These words were clearly part of not just the French but of the Middle English public vocabulary by the middle of the thirteenth century. For what we have here is not simply a translation of a French document for a wider circulation among a non-French audience. What we have is a political statement about the English language and the English people.
By the end of the thirteenth century, the politics of English had become explicit. Chronicles, lyrics, and narrative poems of the early fourteenth century take a special interest in the ways in which English and French, for all their intermingling, still had social associations. The multilingual quality of British literature at this time, however, crosses many boundaries, and the best and best-known testimony to trilingual medieval England is the set of poems written in the manuscript now catalogued as British Library Manuscript Harley Compiled sometime in the s or s, this manuscript preserves some of the most exquisite and most famous Middle English lyrics.
These are beautiful poems, voicing a lyric sensibility that melds vernacular nuance with an attentiveness to the natural and the emotional world. Leaf and grass and blossom spring in April, I know, And love has gone into my heart with a spear so sharp— Night and day, love drinks up my blood; my heart makes me suffer. But it took on, in Middle English verse, both a secular and a sacred connotation. Often interlarded with one another on the page, these different texts evoke an engaging trilingualism for the manuscript and its intended audience.
On one page, in particular, poems in English, French, and Latin follow each other in sequence, and this linguistic meshing takes on a new and deft form in the concluding lines of the last, Latin poem. The story of that Middle English, therefore, must be told as part of a larger story of a multilingual England. And yet, the French that men and women knew was not some uniform language. The Norman dialect had its own special words and sounds. It teaches a conception of language itself: a sense of how the lexicon articulates a social register; of how the grammar of English and French differ; and of how command of spoken and of written language are two different skills.
The Treatise is in French verse, with some English words written between the lines. He establishes what modern linguists would call a minimal pair, that is, two words that differ only in one phoneme, in distinguishing livere and levere. Writing in the middle of the thirteenth century, Walter makes unmistakably clear that the concept of grammatical gender needs to be taught and that it has disappeared from English.
What he also makes clear is that the study of language is an education in culture as well as grammar. The terms he addresses are for parts of the body, hunting, commerce, and learning. This is an education in the social arts, in words for polite conversation, courtiership, and intellectual discourse. And by good French he means skill in both speaking and reading. Walter distinguishes between the spoken and the written, and so did Henry III. His Proclamation opened with a greeting to everyone in his purview, clers et lays clerics and laymen. The clerics and the lay, the learned and the lewd, are the literate and the illiterate.
Clerics, quite simply, read. In fact, that The Old French word espelir, by contrast, meant to set out by letters, and it is only late in Middle English that this word converges with spellian to produce a verb, spellen, that could mean both speak and spell. But even when an Englishman would spell in spoken English, it might not be spelled out in that form. But just what was la dit Roialme? Even Chaucer himself, some modern scholars think, began his career as a French court poet.
Still, English remained a language of imaginative expression. There emerged not just a wide use of English but a vernacular sensibility: a way of understanding just what the political and social consequences were of praying, doing business, dreaming, writing, and living in English. English, in other words, became a vehicle of social and emotional movement. Julian of Norwich, whose Revelation of Divine Love was composed in the s, can still move us in her tongue.
Look, for example, at this brief passage from the so-called Short Text of her work. Botte God forbade that ye schulde saye or take it so that I am a techere, for I meene nought soo, no I mente nevere so. For I am a woman, leued, febille, and freylle. But I wate wele that this I saye. I hafe it of the schewynge of hym that es soverayne techare. Botte sothelye, charyte styrres me to tell yowe it, for I wolde god ware knawenn and my eveynn-Crystenne spede, as I wolde be myselfe, to the mare hatynge of synne and lovynge of God. For I am a woman, unlearned, feeble, and frail. But I am fully convinced of what I say.
I have received it from the revelation of him who is the sovereign teacher. And truly, charity moves me to tell it to you, because it is my wish that God be known and that my fellow Christians prosper, as I would myself, through hating sin more and loving God. Its sentences are short, evocative of everyday speech. Its vocabulary is local, native, even—at times, perhaps, to modern readers—naive.
In such a language, the very word for the community of Christians is an old-fashioned, AngloSaxon-sounding compound: eveynn-Crystenne, fellow Christians. There are few words from French or Latin here. Febille and freylle come originally from the Latin by way of French, but their juxtaposition here, in what reads as an old-fashioned, English alliterative pairing, calls attention away from their etymological origins and toward their native sound.
Yes, he did use words in new ways; he did develop a decasyllabic line that would become a metrical standard for English verse; and he did wrest a personal, poetic voice out of the mix of available dialects and idioms. But he did so not in the vacuum of a solitary imagination but on busy streets and crowded docks, in the midst of parliamentary argument and courtly feigning. Pronunciation Consonants: OE lost its characteristic consonant clusters hl, hn, hr became l, n.
Lengthening in open syllables: a vowel in an open syllable is one followed by a single consonant or a consonant and another vowel. Metathesis: the transposing of two sounds pronounced in sequence. While this is often a function of everyday speech or regional dialect variation e. This is also often a function of everyday speech e. Morphology The endings of the ME verb remained pretty much the same as in OE, even though the elaborate system of verb classes disappeared.
OE distinguished between strong and weak verbs. Strong verbs signaled change in tense by changes in the root vowel: e. All verbs borrowed into English from the ME period onwards are borrowed as weak verbs. The endings of the ME noun illustrate the loss of the OE case system. It kept, however, the two forms of the second person to distinguish formal and plural from informal and singular. The Middle English pronominal system by the time of Chaucer latefourteenth-century, London , is as follows: With the loss of grammatical gender, ME came to use the word hit, or it from the old neuter third person singular to refer to inanimate objects and concepts regardless of their original OE gender.
ME also saw the rise of interrogative pronouns used as relative pronouns. Vocabulary The core vocabulary of English comprised the monosyllabic words for basic concepts, bodily functions, and body parts inherited from Old English and shared with the other Germanic languages. These words include: God, man, tin, iron, life, death, limb, nose, ear, foot, mother, father, brother, earth, sea, horse, cow, lamb. Words from French are often polysyllabic terms for the institutions of the Conquest church, administration, law , for things imported with the Conquest castles, courts, prisons , and terms of high culture or social status cuisine, fashion, literature, art, decoration.
Words which end in -ous are adjectives; words which end in -us are nouns. Thus, in Modern English, callous is an adjective, while callus is a noun. Norman French and Central French The Normans were originally a Germanic people, and they spoke a dialect of French that retained some of the sounds of the Germanic languages.
Words from Norman French or what is also known as Anglo-Norman came in with the Conquest and are attested from the eleventh through the early thirteenth centuries.
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Words from Central, or Parisian, French, came in to English beginning in the thirteenth centuries, with kings and courtiers from France itself and with greater intellectual, social, and commercial contact with France. Note the following: Wiles William War Warden. Notice the following: Castle Cap. Compared with his contemporaries, he does seem to have brought into literary English a wide range of loan words from French and Latin.
But he did more than simply enlarge the vocabulary of the language. He often juxtaposed terms from Old English against those of French and Latin, creating, in the process, striking literary effects. He often placed words strategically in the poetic line for heightened emphasis, rhymed words in often memorable ways, and, on occasion, stretched syntax and word order almost to their breaking point.
More than these technical achievements, Chaucer was acutely conscious of linguistic difference as a social, historical, and even philosophical problem. In this pose lies the brilliance of Chaucerian English. Like many later writers—Milton, Wordsworth, Dickens, Twain, or Norman Mailer—he is able to create the impression of linguistic innovation, not so much by genuinely coining new words or new phrases as Shakespeare really did but by making us feel as if he did so.
Nowhere is that transformation more brilliantly accomplished than in the famous opening of the General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales. Its line of sight moves from the heavens to the earth, focusing down from the zodiacal empyrean, through the clouds of meteorological reality, to the tops of the trees, to the earth itself. Two parallel contractions, one vertical, the other horizontal, bring the world of everyday experience into sharp focus. That focus, though, is calibrated metrically and lexically, and Chaucer emerges in these opening lines as a linguistic innovator.
Words such as engendred and inspired would have been, by the late fourteenth century, part of the new vocabulary taken from the Romance languages, while words such as vertu and melodye—long in the Middle English lexicon—appear in distinctive ways. The histories of words come to the fore vertu, for example, appears in all its etymological force from the Latin vir, masculine prowess. Figuration takes precedence over denotation the word melodye, for example, evokes, as it did for many in the later fourteenth century, a sense of heavenly bliss or mirth. The Anglo-Saxon and the French contend the nature that pricks these birds to melody, for example, gets them in their corages—their very francophone hearts.
Juxtaposed against these learned and Romance words is an English landscape. Reproduced by permission of the Huntington Library. There is a sense of a resurgent English vernacularity here—a poem in decasyllabic couplets that apposes words of English and French origin; a poem in which the alliterative idiom can rear up; a poem in which, for all the learning of astrology or the sophistications of science, there is still an old familiar holt and heeth. The General Prologue is an essay in the arts of language. The relation of word and deed echoes a sustaining medieval debate about verba and res.
From Saint Augustine, through Macrobius, Boethius, the scholastics, and the nominalists, philosophers of language and behavior recognized the complexities among intention and expression, word and object. Here in the real world, words cannot have a one-to-one correspondence to the things they denote or to the wills of their speakers.
Instead, there is but a rough association—cousinhood rather than, say, brotherhood. Noun endings did not indicate grammatical gender, nor did they largely indicate cases though there were a few exceptions. These include sets of words that formed their plurals by changing the root vowel of the word: foot, feet; goose, geese; mouse, mice.
They also included words that formed their plural with an -en ending: child, children; brother, brethren; ox, oxen. Word-order patterns were the primary determiners of meaning and effect in a sentence. Such forms as thou, thy, thine, and thee were singular and informal; such forms as you, your, and ye, were plural and formal. This distinction worked in literature and in society much as it does in modern French, German, Italian, or Spanish—that is, to mark personal relationships of power, intimacy, age, social status, and affection.
She speaks to him in the formal you form. When the Host brutally responds also in the thou form , it takes the Knight to come in and restore both social and dramatic balance—but he does so by maintaining hierarchies through pronouns. At moments such as this one, Chaucer reaches deep into the grammatical resources of his language to make social and dramatic claims claims lost on modern readers unaware of the old pronouns.
But here, as elsewhere, there is no single kind of English that is emblematically Chaucerian. No individual passage, however extended or extensive, can convey the Chaucer evokes the high style of the Francophile court, the coarseness of the commoner, the Latinism of the scholar—and everything in between. I wol yow telle a tale which that I Lerned at Padowe of a worthy clerk, As preved by his wordes and his werk.
He is now deed and nailed in his cheste; I prey to God so yeve his soule reste! Fraunceys Petrak, the lauriat poete, Highte this clerk, whos rethorike sweete Enlumyned al Ytaille of poetrie. I pray to God that He give his soul good rest. Francis Petrarch, the laureate poet, was the name of this clerk, whose sweet rhetoric illuminated all of Italy with poetry.
O blissful light of which the bemes clere Adorneth al the thridde heven faire! O sonnes lief, O Joves doughter deere, Plesance of love, O goodly debonaire, In gentil hertes ay redy to repaire! O veray cause of heele and of gladnesse, Iheryed be thy might and thi goodnesse! Troilus, 3. O true cause of health and of happiness, may your might and your goodness be praised! You had to be immensely well read in late-fourteenth-century England to know these words, let alone to use them effortlessly in vernacular poetry.
His trans The old idiom for knowing a language—using The Prologue to the Treatise on the Astrolabe, in addition to establishing the framework for instruction, offers a lesson in language itself. And Lowys, yf so be that I shewe the in my lighte Englissh as trewe conclusions touching this mater, and not oonly as trewe but as many and as subtile conclusiouns, as ben shewid in Latyn in eny commune tretys of the Astrelabie, konne me the more thank. And preie God save the king, that is lord of this langage, and alle that him feith bereth and obeieth, everich in his degree, the more and the lasse.
But consider wel that I ne usurpe not to have founden this werk of my labour or of myn engyn. And Lewis, if it should happen that I reveal to you in my easy English the conclusions concerning this material in as true a fashion as any ordinary treatise shows in Latin—conclusions not only as true, but as many and as subtle as in those treatises—then you can thank me the more. And I pray to God to save the king, who is lord of this language, and to save all of But recognize truly that I have not taken over the authority for this work, nor originated any of it through the activity of my imagination.
I am nothing but a simple compiler of the work of old astrologers, and I have translated it into my English only for your instruction. This is the point of the Treatise, more than any technical education in the arts of astrology. Lest we think that he has made all this up, he avers that he has stuck closely to his sources.
As my earlier chapters illustrated, English was gradually coming into political prominence by the close of the fourteenth century. True, parliamentary records were still kept in French, but the language of its arguments was mandated as English. And yet, French was still there. There is no surviving parliamentary petition in English after until about Richard II did not work his lordship in English, and usurpation was a threat to all. Second, great in his dignity, was the rightful inheritor of England, in whose time there was great abundance of wealth and earthly joy without distress.
The shimmering high-concept words—remembrance, antiquity, alliance, adversity, dignity, inheritor, abundance, languor—evoke not just a political but a linguistic former age: an age of Francophile inheritance. This is no naked text in English. Even when he is at his most straightforward, his most Saxon, his most monosyllabically simple, Chaucer is never without ambiguity or double edge. Even if he did not coin many new words, he deployed an emerging vocabulary in a new and critically effective way. Even if he used the resources of Middle English available to him, he used all those resources, writing in the registers, the dialects, and the idioms of an entire English-speaking nation.
Even if at the close of the Prologue to the Astrolabe Chaucer avows that he has done nothing original—that he has not founden, that is, invented, anything—and even if he claims this stance throughout his literary works, it is clear that he transformed the legacy of Latin, French, Italian, and English literature available to him into a unique synthesis of styles. Chaucer, it may be said, usurped a nation of new words, and in the process, made himself a lord of language that no king—rightful or usurping—could become. Such was my introduction to the dialects of English: to the ways in which the language harbored often mutually incomprehensible pronunciations, to the lies of spelling.
In the course of my tutorial, however, I learned more than how to pronounce the names of German philologists after the fashion of British academics. I learned that the English were possessed by dialects: Dialectology was, in many ways, a form of social history. But it was also a practice demanding such precision, such skill at making distinctions among vowel sounds and consonants, and such technical facility with transcription, that it had become, in mid-twentieth-century Oxford, the empirical discipline of the humanities.
Because they conformed to standards and were recognizable as standard, and because their currency was less than nationwide, we might call them cultivated regional, or regional standard. Standard implies a hierarchy of values and the institutions in place to sustain them. And writing implies that medieval scribes not only wrote as they heard but that they could and in fact did translate texts from other dialects into their own, and that there were, within regional dialect areas, certain agreed-upon forms of spelling. Literary culture for the Middle English period, in this assessment, was literate culture, and the purpose of literary writing was, to some degree, to record the local voice of verbal artists of the region.
In each of these texts, ranging from the late thirteenth to the midfourteenth centuries, we can see how scribes recorded local pronunciations and regional differences in grammar and idiom. In these two works, regional differences appear not as cultivated written standards but, instead, as representations of either country-bumpkin-ness or affectation. These literary evocations of regional and class dialects have as their purpose social satire and humor.
Their goal is to reveal how differences in language point to differences in culture; how the north and south of England, in particular, stand as opposing poles of politics and power; and, perhaps most broadly, how the diversity of human speech reveals something of the transitoriness of earthly life—that language is a mutable thing, and that, in a post-Babel world, our inability to understand one another leads to social strife as St.
John of Trevisa, writing in the middle of the s, understood this principle. This corruption of the native language is due to two causes. The sec In addition, socially ambitious men want to present themselves as if they were gentlemen, and they try with great effort therefore to speak French in order to be thought better of.
It seems a great marvel just how English, which is the native language of the Englishmen and here our own language and tongue, is so diverse in sound in this island. And the language of Normandy, which comes from another land, nonetheless has one way of sounding for all men that speak it correctly in England. Still, there are as many different forms of French in the realm of France as there are different forms of English in the realm of England.
The whole language of the Northumbrians, and specially that of York, is so sharp, cutting and scratching, and unshapely, that we Southern men may scarcely understand it. I believe that this is because they live near strange people and aliens that speak strangely, and also because the kings of England always stay far away from that part of the country. These three points have remained the main lines of inquiry into Middle English dialectology. The Old English dialect boundaries, like those of the Middle English period, were determined by particular natural and manmade barriers.
North of the Humber River was Northumbria, since the seventh century a distinctive linguistic and social group. The old Roman road that ran from London north through the Midlands bisected English speakers into what would be called East and West Midland. The Thames river separated Southern English speakers, while, in the southeast, the Kentish coast remained the site of another distinctive group. Middle English dialect In all of the dialects except that of Northumbria, the sound was, linguists would say, raised and rounded.
In Northumbria, this sound change did not happen; thus the Northern Middle English forms of these words stayed with the long a. Other Old English sounds changed in distinctive ways according to region. In the East Midlands, Old English short a followed by a nasal and a consonant for example, in the words, land, hand, band became a short o: lond, hond, bond.
Old English regional dialects had different sounds, too, that passed into their Middle English descendants. Words such as ill, ugly, and muggy come into English originally through the Northern dialect. In the Scandinavian languages, the third person plural would have been thei. In Old English, and in the Midland and Southern dialects of Middle English, this word would have been hey similarly, them would have been hem; their would have been hir.
For a speaker of Modern English, the northern forms seem familiar again, a function of migration patterns and dialect contact in the late Middle English and early Modern English period. Odd, too, would have been the ending of the present participle: -and in the north, in contrast to -end in the Midlands and south. The major Middle English Dialects. Middle English dialect variation according to key words and sounds. Him boes serve himself that has na swayn. He best serves himself who has no servant. Yet saugh I nevere, by my fader kyn, How that the hapur wagges til and fra.
There is the maintenance of the Old English long a: fra for fro , gas for goes. There is the s for the sh sound sal for shall. The thirdperson singular in the north ends in -s rather than in -th thus the form goes rather than goeth ; the plural of the verb ends in -s rather than in -en workes, rather than worken. But writers in the north of England could make fun of southerners, too.
Instead, his lines are full of forms which appear in the Southern, Kentish, and the Midland dialects. The following scene is a dialogue between the three shepherds and Mak: 2s: Mak, where has thou gone? Tell us tithing. Vide ergo, lector, quanta licentia data sit cantiones poetantibus, et considera cuius rei causa tam largum arbitrium usus sibi asciverit; et si recto calle ratio te duxerit, videbis autoritatis dignitate sola quod dicimus esse concessum.
See, therefore, reader, how much freedom is allowed to those who write canzoni, and consider for what reason custom has assigned to itself such large choice; and if reason leads along the right path, you will see that it is only on account of the dignity of authorship that this freedom has been granted. It is in the disposition of the parts of the stanza, the establishing of the complex harmonies of proportion resulting from the interaction of the numbers of syllables and the number of lines from part to part, that the poet's mastery is especially shown; an entire chapter is devoted to this topic 2.
It is especially striking to the modern reader, who is used to thinking of stanzas in terms of rhyme schemes, that so far rhyme has not been referred to as in any way constitutive of the form of the stanza. Dante does think of rhyme as a unifying or binding factor, but he speaks of it as if, in the planning of the stanza, it were added to the lines after their number and order and therefore the syntactic units they can hold had been determined.
He does not speak of it as a musical or melodic factor; there is no association between line endings and musical phrase endings cadences or semicadences , and therefore the choice between alternate, equally permissible rhyme schemes does not affect the melodic structure of the stanza. Rather, Dante thinks of rhyme in rhetorical terms, as the rhetorical ornament of similiter desinens.
In assigning the rhymes, the poet again has great freedom—virtually unlimited in frons and sirma, subject to a few rules in pedes and versus. ABBC is the scheme of the pedes in "Donne ch'avete intelletto d'amore. There is no doubt some inconsistency in Dante's analysis, for if rhyme had no constitutive relation to stanza form, there would be no way of determining the division, or lack of it, of any canzone stanza whatever. In practice, and historically, rhyme is constitutive of stanza form in the vernacular, and it is precisely for that reason that Dante's exclusion of it from the numerical or spatial phase of stanza design is so significant.
He is establishing ontological priorities among activities. One of the most interesting aspects of the metaphors Dante uses for the construction of the canzone stanza is that they envisage the establishing of the stanzaic scheme as a kind of demarcation of space. This is. The metaphor of the bundle of sticks is in a real sense closer to the literal, for if the sticks are the lines of verse that are bound together, then the bundle that is formed of these actual lines of verse literally does occupy space.
The design of the bundle, then, which is prior to the writing of the lines, is the assignment of empty spaces; that is, the number of syllables in each line, the number of lines in each frons, pes, versus, or sirma, are the limits that demarcate the spaces. The activity of. Dante's terminology, from coartare 2. Quam igitur eius vim quamve esse naturam putandum est? Opinor, omnium quae gignuntur receptaculum est, quasi quaedam nutricula.
Timaeus 46a [Plato 46]; emphasis added. What then shall we consider its power or its nature to be? I think that it is the receptacle of all things that come into being, as it were a kind of nurse. Decet ergo facere comparationem similitudinemque impertiri illi quidem quod suscipit matris, at vero unde obvenit patris, illi autem naturae quae inter haec duo est prolis. Timaeus 50d [ 48]. Let us use a comparison and say that that which receives is comparable to the mother, that which is the source to the father, and the nature that is between them to the child. Quae quidem corpora cum sola et per se ac sine suscipiente [ex] eadem essentia esse non possunt, quam modo matrem, alias nutriculam, inter-.
Plato —; emphasis added. Although this theme is not made explicit in what survives of the De vulgari eloquentia, it is implied by its entire analysis; and, as we will try to show, the conception is the key to the form of the petrose, in which the principle of imitation of the musica mundana pervades the poems from the most abstract level of stanza design to theme and the shape of sententia see Chapter 5, note 9. The idea that human song imitates the cosmos is explicit in the Timaeus, of course, but Dante also knew of Plato's idea of the circling orbits of the planets as song the idea later known as the music of the spheres from Cicero's Dream of Scipio and Macrobius's Commentary on it, one of the most widely read books of the Middle Ages, and a principal source of Dante's knowledge of Platonic and Neoplatonic lore.
Macrobius explains that human music imitates the music of the cosmos even in its strophaic forms:. Hinc Plato in Re publica sua cum de sphaerarum caelestium volubilitate tractaret, singulas ait Sirenas singulis orbis insidere significans sphaerarum motu cantum numinibus exhiberi. Commentary 2. Therefore Plato, when in his Republic he came to treat of the revolutions of the celestial spheres, said that a Siren was sitting on each orb, signifying that the motion of the spheres was to the gods audible music.
For Siren in Greek means a singing goddess. The theologians have explained the nine Muses to be the musical song of the eight spheres plus the one. In the very hymns to the gods they demonstrated out of what two motions that first hymn sung to God by nature took its beginning,. Exactly what Macrobius may have had in mind in comparing the classical strophe to the motion of the Same, the antistrophe to the motion of the Other, is difficult to say, since we cannot determine what kinds of performance of choral odes may have been accessible to him. But for Dante the basis of the analogy lies in the parallel between the recurring form of the stanza and the motion of the heavens as cyclical, as well as in the notion that the stanza is made up of contrasting or opposing motions.
For, returning to the De vulgari eloquentia, diesis divides the canzone stanza into two parts governed by different melodies, different formal patterns. Diesis thus involves a transition to difference. In the stanza with diesis as practiced by Dante, there are always two pedes: that is, the stanza proceeds through a subdivision involving repetition of an identical scheme the pes ; at the diesis the identity is abandoned and the stanza enters into its other motion, usually involving many more rhymes.
In the canzone as a whole, then, the entire complex system of cycles and subcycles is repeated in each stanza, the principle of identity the motion of the Same thus governing and carrying forward the whole. The elements of stanza form are not of Dante's invention, but he was tireless in seeking theoretical foundations for his practice, even—or perhaps especially—when it was based on tradition. And the influence of Dante's practice though perhaps not the influence of the De vulgari eloquentia, which remained virtually unknown until published by Trissino in the sixteenth century reinforced certain structural possibilities at the expense of others.
Dante's preferences were certainly based in part on the ontological and cosmological considerations we have outlined. After him it became normative for canzoni to consist exclusively of hendecasyllables and settenarii, for stanzas with diesis to have two pedes and a sirma, and for them to be joined by what Dante calls a pulcra concatenatio —a last element of stanza form which in the petrose has clear cosmological significance.
In the De vulgari eloquentia he explains that. Et quidam diversos faciunt esse rithimos eorum que post diesim carmina sunt a rithimis eorum que sunt ante; quidam vero non sic, sed desinentias anterioris stantie inter postera carmina referentes intexunt. Sepissime tamen hoc fit in desinentia primi posteriorum, quam plerique rithimantur ei qui est priorum posterioris: quod non aliud esse videtur quam quedam ipsius stantie concatenatio pulcra.
And some make the rhymes after the diesis different from those before it; others do not so, but interweave rhymes from the first part of the stanza with those of the second. But this is done most frequently with the first line of the second part, which many rhyme with the last line of the first part: and this seems to be none other than a lovely chaining together [concatenation] of the stanza.
The concatenation is a particular kind of echo effect, which Dante uses skillfully for a variety of purposes in different poems; significantly, in the context of the microcosmic concerns of the petrose Dante thinks of it as a kind of concrete linking of the two parts of the stanza. In the petrose, in a small way, it is like the point at which the Demiurge joins the circle of the Same to the circle of the Other.
The idea of stone and especially of precious stone is naturally fundamental to the rime petrose, which develop as their central motif the idea that the lady is a petra: as hard as a stone, but also as beautiful and as powerful as a precious stone. In Dante's time, precious stones are believed to have powers deriving from the star or planet that fashioned them.
As one might expect, this power is thought of as radiating invisibly from them; it is hidden, but its propagation is nonetheless thought of on the model of light.
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Dante writes of the influence of the donnapetra as if it were a kind of light proceeding in a straight line toward him from her, against which he has no shield; often it is implicitly or explicitly identified with the lady's gaze. As one would expect, the petrose give special prominence to the term petra. Petra is the only generic substantive for stone or precious stone used in the entire series; such generic terms as gemma, sasso, scoglio, roccia, speco, and grotta never appear. The third petrosa, "Amor, tu vedi ben," in which petra is used as a rhyme-word thirteen times, deploys the full range of Dante's use of the term.
It is used generically in lines 11, 12, 18, 41, and 57, with metaphorical reference to the lady in line It is used of a rock or stone the normal word would be sasso in line 16, and of precious stones in lines 19 and 26, with metaphorical reference to the lady in lines 22 and It is used of a specific precious stone, crystal, in line In "Al poco giorno e al gran cerchio d'ombra" there is a similar range of usage: generic in lines 5, 9, 18, 26, and 34 metaphorically of the lady in line 5 , and of precious stone metaphorically, again in line For the most part, the names of specific stones or precious stones are not used in the rime petrose.
In each of the petrose, then, one kind of stone is specified either explicitly or by the context. As we shall see, the stones are significantly related in terms of opacity versus transparency: crystal permitting all to be seen, but jasper, marble, and the hidden stone opaque in differing ways. They are also related rhetorically, tropically: marmo and diaspro are the proper specific terms for what they name; in cristallina petra the substantive is generic, the specification adjectival; in "Al poco giorno" the specification is suppressed, and the generic term is troped but occulte, in a hidden way to refer to the specific one.
Moreover, Dante draws widely on the lore of precious stones and of stones in general. In the Middle Ages occult or hidden powers were attributed to precious stones, as well as to a number of metals.
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These beliefs no doubt had their origin in popular superstition, but in the. In the universe as conceived by the more Aristotelian as well as the more Platonic thinkers of the high Middle Ages, the heavenly bodies governed all modes of change in the sublunar world, the realm of the elements and of things made out of them, including human bodies and temperaments.
Aquinas's commentary on the passage explains:. Ita quod principium activum principale est virtus coelestis, quae dicitur virtus mineralis, a qua habent fossilia quaedam, puta lapides pretiosi, quandam virtutem coelestem et occultam: per quam occultas operationes vere exercent. Lectio 13 [Aquinas ].
Thus, because the heavenly bodies are the principal active principle, through a power of theirs known as the mineral-producing power, certain minerals, for instance precious stones, have a certain hidden power: through which they actually work hidden operations. The supposed properties of precious stones were the subject of a large number of treatises of various lengths. The shorter and more typical form consists of a simple list of the properties of individual stones, often in alphabetical order. In many cases these go back to Pliny  and Isidore of Seville's adaptation of him,  as well as to treatises supposedly by Aristotle and Theophrastus; they exist in both prose and verse, in both Latin and vernacular versions.
The most famous literary account of the formation of precious stones is in Guido Guinizelli's canzone "Al cor gentil rempaira sempre amore";  we may call it the simple Aristotelian theory:. The fire of love is lit in a noble heart as is the virtue in a precious stone, for the power does not descend into it from its star until the sun makes it a noble thing; after the sun has drawn from it all that is base, its star gives it power: so a heart that nature has made elect, pure, noble: a lady, like the star, fills it with love.
Here three phases are distinguished in the production of the precious stone: the existence of a suitable material, the preparation of the material by the sun, and the descent of virtue into the stone from the star—which clearly implies the idea of the imposition of a substantial form on the prepared material. The next stanzas further develop the analogy between lover and gem, distinguishing between the proud, who are like the mud opaque to the rays of the sun and thus incapable of being prepared to receive the valore from the star , and the noble, who are like clear water transparent and capable of form.
A further stanza compares the lover, who takes his cues for action from the starlike lady, to the angels taking intention from the sight of God and turning their heavens according to it. It was generally agreed that the light of the heavenly bodies, along with their motion and their changing positions, was the major principle of becoming in the sublunar realm.
Even Aquinas asserted that the light of each of the heavenly bodies differed formally i. Si autem lux primo die facta, intelligitur lux corporalis, oportet dicere quod lux primo die fuit producta secundum communem lucis naturam;. Summa theologica Ia, quaest. For if the light made on the first day is understood to be corporeal light, we must say that on the first day light was produced according to the common nature of light; but that on the fourth day the heavenly bodies received specific powers ordered toward specific effects, as we see that the rays of the sun have effects different from those of the moon, and so on.
The simple or naive form of this doctrine has the inconvenience of making the earthly material entirely passive, attributing all imposition of form to the direct agency of the heavenly bodies thus violating Aristotle's principle of indwelling causes. Est enim lumen supremarum formarum corporalium diffusio per naturam corporalis formae materiis inferiorum corporum se applicans, et secum delatas formas divinorum et individualium artificum per medium divisibilem caducis corporibus imprimens, suique cum illis incorporatione novas semper formas specificas aut individuas producens, in quibus resultat per actum luminis divinum artificium tam motorum orbium quam moventium virtutum.
For the light of the forms of the heavenly bodies is the diffusion through nature of the corporeal forms that apply themselves to the material of sublunar bodies, and, having brought down the forms of the divine individual makers into the mode of the divisible and imprinting them on bodies that pass away, through its incorporation with them it produces ever new specific or individual forms, in which we can see, because of the active light, the divine workmanship both of the heavenly spheres and of the intelligences that move them.
Witelo is thinking of the light of the stars and planets especially, of course, that of the sun as actually carrying down from above and imprinting on the elements the substantial forms they bear. Somehow the visible forms of things were transmitted by light through the air. Witelo is here expressing a view close to Robert Grosseteste's "metaphysics of. For many reasons, the most interesting medieval mineralogical treatise is the Mineralium liber by Albertus Magnus —99 —55 ,  which has been translated and annotated by Dorothy Wyckoff After his general discussions, he includes alphabetically arranged lists that subsume most of the "information" contained in earlier lapidaries.
Albert used a fairly wide variety of sources;  he also adds comments of his own and refers frequently to his own experience. All stones, Albert says, are formed from either earth or water: from earth by conglutinatio, from water by congelatio. Transparent stones are a kind of mean between earth and water, retaining qualities of each. Albert thinks of the four elements as embodiments of the basic qualities: hot, cold, wet, dry. The transformation of one element into another involves its gradual taking on of the other's properties.
Thus if water is cold and wet, earth cold and dry, he finds it logical to think of stones as formed by water's gradually taking on the dryness of earth, which accounts for its solidity:. Cum enim terra ad se convertit aquam, primo virtutes terrae intrant substantiam, et alterant eam, et aquae quasi dominantes tenent eam: et tunc incipit aqua stare et terminari, et tamen adhuc perspicuitatem non omittit, et tunc deinde corrumpitur, et transit in terram, et accipit terrae qualitates, quae sunt opacum siccum. Albertus Magnus —99 5: For when Earth converts Water into [Earth], first of all the power of Earth enters into the substance [of Water] and alters it, but that of Water, still dominant, contains it; then the Water begins to grow firm and be limited by a boundary, although as yet it does not lose its transparency; and then finally it is destroyed and passes into Earth, and takes on the qualities of Earth, opacity and dryness.
Albertus Magnus 33; translation revised. Thus if the process is fixated while the material still retains the transparency of water, we have crystal and other transparent stones. The influence of external cold is thought of as a kind of pressure:. In montibus altissimis frigiditas est perpetua, quae est excellens. In very high mountains there is perpetual and extreme cold.
And this cold, by squeezing out the moisture, attacks the Water frozen by the snows, and induces in it the properties of dryness—for this is the nature of extreme cold—and then, out of that dryness, solidifies the ice into crystal or some other transparent stone. This is very close in conception to Seneca's description of the formation of crystal:. Aqua enim caelestis minimum in se terreni habens, cum induruit longioris frigoris pertinacia spissatur magis ac magis, donec omni aere excluso in se tota compressa est, et umor qui fuerat lapis effectus est.
For when water from heaven, that has very little of earth in it, has hardened through the persistence of long cold, it grows thicker and thicker, until, all the air having been expelled, it is entirely compressed into itself, and what was liquid has become a stone. Seneca attributes the transparency of crystal to the purity of the air from which the water itself had been formed. Albert follows Aristotle's notion of transparency as a quality supremely possessed by the heavenly spheres:. Aliquando autem vis terrea apprehendit aquam ita quod frigidum iam exprimit humidum, et siccum terminat materia in seipsa, manente aquae transparentia.
Pervietas enim aquae non convenit eidem in quantum est frigidum vel humidum vel utramque habens qualitatem, sed in quantum convenit cum coelesti corpore. Sometimes, too, an earthly force attacks Water in such a way that cold expels its moisture, and dryness causes it to take on the shape of a solid, although the transparency of the Water remains unchanged.
For the. Albert criticizes four theories of the production of stones in general: three of them are erroneous— 1 that they are formed by volcanic heat; 2 that they are produced by a soul of the stone; 3 that no substantial forms are produced—and the fourth is too general 1. The same pattern appears in his critique of the theories of the "virtues" of precious stones; three are erroneous— 1 that they derive from the elements that compose the stones; 2 that in them the supernal idea or form is less submerged in matter than in other objects; 3 that they are produced by the imaginings of the movers of the spheres i.
The fourth, general cause in each case is the influence of the heavenly bodies. On the powers of precious stones, Albert explains, "Hermes"  and his followers believed. Omnes autem virtutes infundi in inferioribus omnibus per circulum Alaur, quem primum circulum imaginum coelestium esse dicebant. Has autem virtutes descendere in res naturae nobiliter et ignobiliter. Nobiliter autem quando materiae recipientes has virtutes, fuerint superioribus imaginibus similes in lumine et perspicuitate.
Ignobiliter autem, quando materiae fuerint confusae et foetulentae, in qua quasi opprimitur virtus coelestis. Haec igitur causam isti dicunt, quoniam lapides pretiosi prae aliis habent mirabiles virtutes: quia videlicet in substantia magis simulantur superioribus, et in lumine et perspicuitate: propter quod a quibusdam eorum stellae elementales esse dicuntur lapides pretiosi.
Mineralium liber 2. For all powers are poured into sublunar things by the circle Alaur, which they said was the first circle of constellations, but they descend into natural things either nobly or basely: nobly when the materials that receive them are more similar to the heavenly bodies in brightness and transparency, basely when the materials are confused and muddy, in which the heavenly virtue is almost drowned.
And this is the reason, they say, why precious stones have marvelous powers beyond other things, for they are in substance more like the heavenly bodies in brightness and trans-. Except that it does not mention the phase in which the material is prepared, this theory is exactly the one implied by Guinizelli's analogy. Indeed, we have just seen that Albert attributes the transparency of certain stones precisely to their similarity to the heavens. He does not deny this theory, he regards it as too general:. Mineralium liber 1. Here we are not inquiring into the first active and moving causes, which may be the stars and the virtues and positions of the stars, for this is the subject matter proper to another science; but we are inquiring into the proximate efficient causes that, existing in matter, transmute matter.
Albert's explanation is elaborate; the vis mineralis, he argues, comes into being only where the appropriate materials exist in a place naturally apt to produce minerals,  and it functions in a way strictly analogous to that of the vis formativa in the father's seed as it shapes the embryo in the womb: .
Dicimus igitur quod sicut in semine animalis quod est superfluum nutrimenti, descendit a vasis seminariis vis formativa animalis, quae format et efficit animal, et est in semine per modum illum quo artifex est in artificiato quod facit per artem: sic est etiam in materia aptata lapidibus virtus formans et efficiens lapides et producens ad formam lapidis hujus vel illius.
Et hoc est quod dicit Plato, secundum merita materiae infunduntur virtutes caelestes. We say, therefore, that as in the seed of an animal, which is superfluous food, there descends from the seminal vessels the animal formative power, which forms and fashions the animal, and which is in the seed in the mode by which the craftsman is in the object shaped by his craft: so also.
And this is what Plato says: the celestial powers are infused according to the merit of the material. Where there is suitable material in a suitable place, then, the stars infuse the vis mineralis, which operates purposefully as an entelechy through the hot and cold of the elements as through tools. It prepares the materials and imposes on them the substantial form of the stone. Albert insists that the vis mineralis is infused into the matter, operates within it, and eventually becomes the substantial form of the stone and thus, in the case of a precious stone, the source of its power —99 , Striking in Albert's theory is the projection onto the cosmic scale of the principles of sexual reproduction, the influence of the heavens being parallel to the pouring of seed into the womb of the earth.
At another level it is interesting as an effort to devise a theory that will give a certain autonomy to earthly process, thought of as initiated by the first causes but proceeding in some sense on its own. When he attempts to answer the question of why some places and not others are capable of producing minerals, Albert produces a clear statement of an analogy—very important for our understanding of the petrose —between the influence of the stars and the activity of human craftsmen:.
Virtus autem sic determinata a stellis infunditur loco generationis unicuique rei, et modo quo in naturis locorum determinatum est. Haec enim virtus et elementi et elementati omnis est productiva et generativa. Et est ista virtus loci ex tribus virtutibus congregata, quarum una est virtus motoris orbis moti. Secunda est virtus orbis moti cum omnibus. Tertia autem est virtus elementaris.
Est autem prima harum virtutum ut forma dirigens et formans omne quod generatur, sicut virtus artis ad materiam artificiati se habet. Et secunda est sicut operatio manus. Et tertia sicut operatio instrumenti quod manu movetur et dirigitur ad finem inceptum ab artifice. Et ideo dixit Aristoteles quod omne opus naturae est opus intelligentiae. Locus enim recipit has virtutes, sicut matrix recipit virtutem formativam embrionis.
Haec igitur virtus determinata ad lapidum generationem, in materia terrestri vel aquea est, in qua conveniunt omnia loca in quibus lapides generantur. The power of the stars, determined in this way, is poured into the place of the generation proper to each single thing, as has been explained in The Nature of Places.
For this power generates and produces both the elements and elemented things. The power of a place, then, is a combination of three [powers]. One of these is the power of the Mover that moves the sphere. The second is the power of the sphere that is moved, with all its parts, and the figures that result from the varying position of the parts with respect to each other as they move more rapidly or more slowly. The third is the power of the elements. Now the first of these powers, since it is the form that shapes everything that is generated, is related to the matter of the thing made as is the virtue of art.
And the second is related to it as is the operation of the hand. And the third corresponds to the operation of a tool that is moved by the hand and directed to the end conceived by the artisan. And therefore Aristotle said that every work of nature is a work of Intelligence: for the place receives these powers just as the womb receives the power that forms the embryo.
This power, then, determined to the generation of stones, is in the earthy or watery materials which are common to all places where stones are generated. Albert was extremely fond of this analogy between human art and the operation of the heavens, and it occurs frequently in his works. The elemental powers—the qualities hot, cold, dry, and wet—are like tools held by the hand because they act on the matter that is being shaped, as we have seen: "primo virtutes terrae.
As we have already suggested, this is one of the fundamental principles of Dante's new poetics. Also, the petrose ask what kind of causality can be exerted by human art—whether in the shaping of the artifact or through the shaped object itself. The connection of human art with the causality of the heavens is more than just an analogy, for human intelligence and the capacity for artistic creation are themselves to some extent produced by the influence of the stars and planets in the horoscope of the individual; Dante unmistakably takes this view in his invocation of the stars of Gemini in Paradiso Sciendum est tamen quod, licet corpora coelestia directe intelligentiae nostrae causae esse non possint, aliquid tamen ad hoc operantur indirecte.
Licet enim intellectus non sit virtus corporea, tamen in nobis intellectus operatio compleri non potest sine operatione virtutum corporearum, quae sunt imaginatio, et vis memorativa, et cogitativa. Dispositio autem corporis humani subiacet coelestibus virtutibus. Ideo indirecte corpora coelestia ad bonitatem operantur; et sic, sicut medici possunt iudicare de bonitate intellectus ex corporis complexione, sicut ex dispositione proxima, ita astrologus ex motibus coelestibus sicut ex causa remota talis dispositionis.
Et per hunc modum potest verificari quod Ptolomaeus in Centiloquio dicit: "Quum fuerit Mercurius in nativitate alicujus, in aliqua domorum Saturni, et ipse fortis in esse suo, dat bonitatem intelligentiae medullitus in rebus. However, we should note that, though celestial bodies cannot be directly the causes of our understanding, they may do something indirectly in regard to it.
For although the understanding is not a corporeal power, the operation of understanding cannot be accomplished in us without the operation of corporeal powers: that is, the imagination, the power of. And as a result, if the operations of these powers are blocked by some indisposition of the body, the operation of the intellect is impeded, as is evident in demented and sleeping persons, and in others similarly affected.
And that is why even the good disposition of the human body makes one able to understand well, for, as a result of this, the aforesaid powers are in a stronger condition. Thus it is stated in De anima 2.
Related Les Disciples de Seth (Les 13 Crânes de Cristal t. 2) (French Edition)
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