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Je n’ay povoir de vivre 3v · Anonymous

Appearance in the five chansonniers:

*Laborde f. 22 »Je n’ay povoir de vivre« 2v [3v] (T and C only) PDF · Facsimile

Text: Incipit only in Laborde; the poem could be a rondeau quatrain by Alain Chartier, “Je n’ay povoir de vivre en joie”, which is found in Berlin 78.B.17 f. 65, ed. Löpelmann 1923, p. 79, and Jardin 1501 f. 161v (as part of La complainte du prisonnier d’amours faicte au jardin de plaisance, ff. 161-162) - for further poetic sources, see Fallows 1999 p. 207. David Fallows prefers a rondeau cinquain with the same opening line in the MS Paris 1719 f. 93v as text for this song: “Given that the poem in P1719 appears in a large group of poems concording with Lab and related sources, and is moreover in the correct form, this identification seems preferable to the much earlier R4:8 [rondeau quatrain] by Alain Chartier ...” (Fallows 1999, p. 207). However, as indicated by its appearance in the Rohan MS and Le Jardin de Plaisance, Chartier’s poem had not lost its appeal generations later, and given that the many ligatures in and the character of the preserved parts, it may be more plausible to connect this setting with a rondeau quatrain. This question can only be settled if a complete version of the song should surface.

After Berlin 78.B.17, f. 65:

Je n’ay povoir de vivre en joie
et si ne puis mourir de deuil;
et ne puis haïr ne ne veuil
selle qui tel doulleur m’envoye.

Helas! et comment guariroie
de la doulleur dont tant me dueil?

Je n’ay povoir de vivre en joie
et si ne puis mourir de deuil.

Se ung tout seul jour l’abandonnoie,
bien scay que ung gracieux accueil
me retrairoit par son doulx oeil,
et puis je recommanceroie.

Je n’ay povoir de vivre en joie
et si ne puis mourir de deuil;
et ne puis haïr ne ne veuil
selle qui tel doulleur m’envoye.


Evaluation of the source:

Of this chanson Laborde contains only the “Tenor” and “Contra” with short text incipits as the preceding folio containing the third, texted part has been torn out.

Comments on text and music:

The two preserved voices has a relation to each other, which seems curious if we presume that the setting was a ‘normal’ three-part structure with a high part supported by a tenor and a contratenor. As expected, they both are in the same tenor range, but the voice labelled “Contra” starts an octave above the “Tenor”; it is often placed very high above the tenor, up to a tenth above (bb. 20 and 32), and two times it has the discantus clausula, while the tenor holds the counter-voice an octave below (bb. 11-12 and 23-24). The most probable explanation of this behaviour is that the missing third voice was placed in the same range as the two remaining voices, and that the song was composed for three equal, low voices. This makes the loss of most of the music and text especially regrettable, as this type of song is rare.

If we presume three equal voices, the primary third part could start in bar 2 imitating the tenor in free unison canon. Canonic imitation could explain the short phrases, which characterize the first section of the rondeau (bb. 1-24). The two sections are of equal length, and if the third voice is similar to the others concerning the use of ligatures, it will be difficult to place more than two octosyllabic lines of text in the first section. Therefore the rondeau probably had four lines in its refrain (see above).

See also the article ‘The chansons of Basiron’s youth and the dating of the ‘Loire Valley’ chansonniers’.

PWCH January 2012