Many scholars have commented on the instances of reference and reading across Machaut’s works, sometimes linked to their placement within a complete-works manuscript, sometimes as citational or referential moments between works.  Hoepfner frequently referred to clusters of lyric works linked to the narrative works. His list of lyrics associated with the Fonteinne Amoureuse have been discussed elsewhere, and, as Earp states, "Hoepffner's notes relating Fonteinne to various lyrical poems have been treated more cautiously by more recent scholars."[i]   The Rondel in the Fonteinne, however, is a complete re-writing of an existing ballade from the Loange des Dames – a relationship that has not been described previously, and one which raises interesting questions about the role of self-borrowing in this context.




The Embedded Rondel in the Fonteinne Amoureuse:

Guillaume de Machaut’s Dit de la Fonteinne Amoureuse concludes with the departure of a nobleman for a foreign land and, as Deborah McGrady has shown, explores the shifting relationship between poet and patron during the mid-fourteenth century.[ii]  Further complicating the relationship between poet and patron, however, is the way Machaut represents the authorship of the lyrical insertions (of which there are three) in the narrative poem.  In all cases, he gives pride of authorship to others:  twice to the nobleman and once to the Lady.  The blurring of authorial ownership provides another outlet for exploration of the poet/patron relationship[iii], and never more so than in the final rondel sung by the young nobleman as his ship sails away.

Ou pays ou ma dame maint
Pri Dieu qu’a joye mi remaint
Se j’ay eu peinne et mal maint
Eu [ou] pays ou ma dame maint
Espoir ay qu’en aucun temps m’aint
S’en dit mes cuers qui siens remaint
Eu [ou] pays ou ma dame maint
Pri Dieu qu’a joye mi remaint

This rondel, or rondeau, built entirely on a single a-rhyme (“(m)aint”) is somewhat unusual in structure:  we would normally expect a contrasting b-rhyme to appear in lines 2, 6, and 8.  Nonetheless, the basic structure (opening line repeated at lines 4 and 7, second line repeated at line 8) is typical for a rondeau.

The poem itself is one of separation and love, appropriately.  In the context of the narrative in which it is embedded, the young nobleman bound for a foreign shore as a political hostage, it is entirely suited to the singer and his situation.  It provides a structural break between the narrative and the concluding, somewhat humorous, direct address by the narrative authorial voice to the audience.

Reference and Re-Writing:

On closer examination, though, it would appear that Machaut’s singing nobleman is borrowing a slightly older poem and sentiment – one that was possibly written as much as twenty to thirty years prior.  The rondel in the Fonteinne Amoureuse is actually a restructuring of Machaut’s ballade Loange 17 (“Ou pais ou ma dame maint”) with absolutely no new textual material added.

Six ballades (Loange12-17) seem to have been arranged together in most of the manuscript sources because of their shared theme of separation.[iv]  The dating of the Loange poems is uncertain as they were doubtless consciously arranged in the early sources, in some cases, in ways that are not strictly chronological.  However, it is clear that Machaut is here revisiting an earlier poem and rewriting it to suit the new narrative context – drawing on a work that was grouped previously with others on the theme of physical separation.[v]

A New Understanding of Formal Contrast in Genre Definition

In fact, the typical ABaAabAB form of a rondeau is produced here not from contrasting rhyme sounds (as usually indicated by "a" or "b") but by borrowing from different parts of the structure of the parent ballade.  The Rondel achieves its form through knowledge of its citational origin.  "A/a" segments are drawn from the first line of each stanza of the parent ballade, "B" segments are drawn from the ballade refrain, and the sole "b" segment is drawn from an internal line from the third stanza.  That is, the distinction between A/a and B/b segments in the Rondel arises from the their original location in the parent ballade (first line of a stanza vs. non-first line), with the B/b distinction being between the structurally important refrain (ie. final stanza line) or a simple interior line (see comparison below).

Relationships of Rondel Fonteinne 3 to Ballade Loange 17


Ou pais ou ma dame maint
Sont mi desir et mi penser
Et mes cuers qui pas ne se feint
De li bien server et amer
Car il ne fait fors que penser
A s’onneur qui toute autre veint
Et je aussi pour li honnourer
Pri Dieu qu’a joie m’i remaint

Si j’ay eu peinne et mal maint
Encor me vient par desirer
Une doleur qui me destreint
Si doleureuse a endurer
Que morir ou desesperer
Me fera s’Amours ne l’estaint
Mais ains que me face finer
Pri Dieu qu’a joie m’i [remaint]

Espoir ay qu’en aucun temps m’aint
Ma douce dame et que muer
En joie fera mon complaint
Quant vers li porray retourner
Mais que loyal me puist trouver
S’en dist mes cuers qui siens remaint
Et je pour joie recouvrer
Pri Dieu qu’a joie m’i remaint

Rondel:                                                                       Structure:

Ou pais ou ma dame maint                                   A – first line
Pri Dieu qu’a joie mi remaint                              B - refrain

Se j’ay heu peinne et mal maint                           a – first line
Ou pais ou ma dame maint                                   A – first line

Espoir ay qu’en aucun temps m’aint                  a – first line

S’en dit mes cuers qui siens remaint                 b – verse line
Ou pais ou ma dame maint                                   A – first line
Pri Dieu qu’a joie mi remaint                               B - refrain

Questions of Recognition:

This relationship was not explicitly noted in any of the extant manuscript copies.  There are no notas in the margins, no marginal directions in the Loange section pointing to the Fonteinne, no indication at all that this re-working was recognized by its early readers (see additional examples below).  Nonetheless, the narrative context of this lyric insertion, its complete reliance (for both content and, as I have shown, formal construction) on an existing work, and its use within a complicated exposition on the relationship between poet and patron and between fictional author and real author, suggests that it may have resonated with a specific audience in the chronological immediacy of its initial composition - especially in the early 1360s and for the likely nobleman depicted in the poem, Jean, duc de Berry.


The insertion of an apparently new Rondel, attributed within the narrative to the young nobleman being sent into captivity, can be seen as a compositional trope similar to the other lyric insertions in the Remede de Fortune, the Voir Dit, and other fourteenth-century works.  While "Ou pais ou ma dame maint" does fit into this larger context of lyrical insertions, the fact that it is demonstrably a structural re-working of an earlier poem begs for additional readings which take into account resonances with other works, adding those referential layers on to our understanding of the Fonteinne. This lyric insertion serves a structural and narrative role, in this instance, but also raises questions about structure, citational meanings, and text/audience interactions that might lead to reappraisals of:
  • the place of contrasting rhyme in the definition of a generic form in a lyric poem
  • the relationship of the Fonteinne to the matrix of lyrical and narrative poems with which its audience would have been familiar 
  • and, especially, to those poems with which it is most frequently transmitted in the collected-works manuscripts of Machaut
  • and finally, to the role of audience recognition when transformed works appear in a new context - what is communicated in such instances, and how would reception of the work be effected by such recognition.


 All of the image examples in this post were created from the Gallica "zoom" view using their select function and generated embed code.  Future posts will be devoted to annotation of digital surrogates - especially the intersection of Shared Canvas and Open Annotation - but for now, it's really great to be able to produce detailed examples that can be easily embedded.

    [i]Lawrence Earp, Guillaume de Machaut: A Guide to Research, Garland Composer Resource Manuals 36, Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 996, (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995), p. 222.
    [ii]Deborah McGrady, “’Tout son païs m’abandonna’: Reinventing Patronage in Machaut’s ‘Fonteinne amoureuse’,” Yale French Studies 110 (2006), pp. 19-31.
    [iii] I discuss the conceit of role-reversal between poet and patron further in Albritton, “Citation and Allusion in the Lays of Guillaume de Machaut,”Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, pp. 272-278.
    [iv]Lawrence Earp, Guillaume de Machaut: A Guide to Research, Garland Composer Resource Manuals 36, Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 996, (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1995), p. 259.
    [v]Thematic revisiting, and reshaping, is fairly common in Machaut (see, for instance, Elizabeth Eva Leach, Guillaume de Machaut: Secretary, Poet, Musician, (Ithaca and London:  Cornell University Press, 2011), p. 239, note 100).


    25 January 2013