chapter  10
17 Pages

Love as Metaphor in Christine de Pizan's Ballade Cycles

WithTracy Adams

Christine de Pizan's "Seulete suy, et seulete vueil estre" epitomizes the late fourteenth-century ballade, a form that works by transferring its subjectivity to its listeners or readers and guiding them through the collective expression of a single emotion. Perdurably moving as an expression of the pain of being abandoned by a lover, "Seulete suy" assumes added meaning as an element in the life narrative elliptically recounted in Christine's first lyric cycle, the Cent balades. The new distinction between artificial and natural music affected the poetic tradition that Christine inherited in two principal ways. First, it reversed the trend begun in the thirteenth century toward a tightening of the rules of composition. Second, this distinction gave rise to a new lyric voice. In La Subjectivite litteraire, Michel Zink describes the contrast between sung poetry, with its standard form and impersonal narrator, and recited poetry, whose narrator represents himor herself as a personalized individual.