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Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN:
Pages: 352
Publication Date: January 10, 2017

ProensaAn Anthology of Troubadour Poetry

selected and translated from the Occitan by Paul Blackburn, edited and with an introduction by George Economou

$13.56 $16.95

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It was out of medieval Provence—Proensa—that the ethos of courtly love emerged, and it was in the poetry of the Provençal troubadours that it found its perfect expression. Their poetry was also a central inspiration for Dante and his Italian contemporaries, propagators of the modern vernacular lyric, and seven centuries later it was no less important to the modernist Ezra Pound. These poems, a source to which poetry has returned again and again in search of renewal, are subtle, startling, earthy, erotic, and supremely musical.

The poet Paul Blackburn studied and translated the troubadours for twenty years, and the result of that long commitment is Proensa, an anthology of thirty poets of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, which has since established itself not only as a powerful and faithful work of translation but as a work of poetry in its own right. Blackburn’s Proensa, George Economou writes, “will take its place among Gavin Douglas’ Aeneid, Golding’s Metamorphoses, the Homer of Chapman, Pope, and Lattimore, Waley’s Japanese, and Pound’s Chinese, Italian, and Old English.”

Praise

Shortly after Proensa was first published by Robert Creeley in Mallorca in 1953, Paul Blackburn wrote his own best definition of these songs: ‘To give / and man enough to receive, LOVE, / when he finds it offered. / To take the sun and the goods of earth, while it lasts.’ Over sixty years later his voicings of the troubadours still ring fresh—leaping with joy, sorrowing with duende.
—Richard Sieburth

Blackburn’s forgotten translation of Troubadour poets, Proensa, is a testament to translation as a test of truth...never did strings plucked at such a distance reverberate so closely.
—Paul Pines, Big Bridge

Blackburn has skillfully incorporated musical elements and also "high" diction and syntax...a great translation.
—Stephen Fredman, Chicago Review

Spare, modern, and abstract without violating the artistic intricacy of the original...Proensa is a boon to those who will never experience the pleasure of studying the troubadours in their original accents but who now can appreciate their complex beauty in Paul Blackburn’s dense dynamic re-creations.
—Patricia Harris, Romance Philology