Alba (poetry)

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The alba (Old Occitan [ˈalba]; "sunrise") is a genre of Old Occitan lyric poetry. It describes the longing of lovers who, having passed a night together, must separate for fear of being discovered.

A common figure found in the alba is the guaita ("sentry" or "guard"), a friend who alerts the lovers when the hour has come to separate. The lovers often accuse the guaita of dozing, being inattentive or separating them too early. The lovers fear not just the lady's husband but also the lauzengiers, the jealous rival.

The following example, composed by an anonymous troubadour, describes the longing of a knight for his lady as they part company after a night of forbidden love. Though generally representative of the style, this particular verse uses an atypical strophic pattern.

Under the influence of the Occitan troubadours, the Minnesingers developed a similar genre, the Tagelied, in Germany, and in northern France the trouvères developed an equivalent aube genre. The alba itself was imported into the Galician-Portuguese trovadorismo movement, but only one example of it, by Nuno Fernandes Torneol, survives.

In 1263, as a counterpart to the alba, Guiraut Riquier composed a song he called a serena (evening song), in which a lover complains about waiting for the evening.

List of Occitan albas[edit]

Only 18 albas are known.[1]

Composer Incipit Type Notes
Bernart de Venzac Lo Paire el Filh el sant Espirital religious
Raimbaut de Vaqueiras Gaita be gaiteta del castel profane
Guiraut de Bornelh Reis glorios, verais lums e clartatz profane
Folquet de Marselha Vers Dieus el vostre nom e de Sainta Maria religious
Cadenet S'anc fui belha ni prezada profane
Raimon de las Salas Deus aidatz profane
Bertran d'Alamanon or Gaucelm Faidit Us cavalier si jazia profane
Guilhem d'Autpol Esperansa de totz ferms esperans religious
Guiraut Riquier Ab plazer profane
Guiraut Riquier Qui vuelha ses plazer religious
Uc de la Bacalaria Per grazir la bon'estrena profane
Peire Espanhol Ar levatz sus, franca cortesa gen religious
Anonymous En un vergier, sotz folha d'albespi profane
Anonymous Ab la gensor que sia profane
Anonymous Quan lo rossinhol escria profane cobla esparsa
Anonymous Drutz que vol dreitamen amar profane cobla esparsa
Anonymous Eras airay co que·us dey dir profane
Cerveri de Girona Aixi com cel c'anan erra la via religious

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Zemp, Josef (1978). Les poésies du troubadour Cadenet. Berne: Peter Lang. p. 107. ISBN 3-261-03019-4.