« VorigeDoorgaan »
it also was in Castile; but the Italian style was likewise imitated in sonnets. The Infante Dom Pedro translated some of Petrarch's sonnets into Portuguese.* It may therefore without hesitation be inferred that Dom Pedro, who has never been mentioned as having struck out a new path on the Portuguese Parnassus, merely followed the example of some of his countrymen who lived before him. It is probable, that the mercantile intercourse between Lisbon and the ports of Italy, made the Portuguese early acquainted with Italian literature. But at the period now under consideration, the imitation of the Italian style appears to have been very limited in Portugal; for the old lyric poetry in the national style, began about this time more particularly to unfold its characteristic beauties. According to the testimony of
* One of these sonnets is printed, as a specimen, in the beforementioned Discurso de los Sonetos. There is in the antiquated diction a degree of precision which approximates to the style of the original:
Vinha Amor por o campo trebelhando
com så fremosa Madre, e sàs donzellas;
el rindo, e cheo de lédice entre ellas,
Brioranja hi a sazom sia pensando
na gram coita que ella ha, e vendo aquellas
Des hi volveo o rosto hu Amor sia.
Her, disse: ay traidor que me has falido;
Largou a mano, quedou Amor ferido :
e catando a sa sestra endoa do grita,
a Spanish writer,* the Portuguese Cancioneiro Geral contains some poems of the fourteenth century, with the names of the authors affixed to them.
CHRONICLES IN PROSE.
In the fourteenth century too, Portuguese prose improved in precision, after a certain degree of literary consideration had been given to it, in consequence of chronicles being written in the national language. From this period the Portuguese vied with the Castilians in the patriotic task of recording the memorable events of their national history. The style of the Portuguese chronicles of the fourteenth century is, however, completely in the chronicle manner. Indeed the Por
* See Sarmiento's Obras Posthumas, p. 323.
f The Cronica do Condestabre de Portugal Nun Alvarez Pereyra, printed in gothic letters at Lisbon 1526, in folio, may serve for an example. That this chronicle was composed about the end of the fourteenth century is a fact which admits of no doubt. Though written quite in the dry style of the chronicles, yet the author seems to have had a vague idea of historical arrangement; and he sometimes aims at a certain degree of skill and eloquence in antithesis. Thus in the preface, which commences in the following
Antigamente foy costume fazerem memoria das cousas que se faziam, assi erradas, como dos valentes e nobres feitos; dos erros, porque dellos soubessem guardar, e dos valentes e nobres feitos, aos boðs fizessem cobiça a ver peras cousas semelhantes fazerem.
With this artificial commencement, the simplicity of the following passage forms a remarkable contrast:
E por nom fazer longo prollego (prologo), farei aqui começo em este virtuoso Senhor, do qual veo o valente y muy virtuoso conde estabre Dom Nunalvaréz Pereyra. E assi dehi em diante siguiremos nossa historia.
tuguese literature of the fourteenth century presents no prose work, which in point of style equals those written during that period, in the Castilian language, by the Infante Juan Manuel.
INTIMATE CONNECTION OF THE PORTUGUESE AND GALICIAN POETRY-THE GALICIAN POET MACIAS.
In Portugal as in Spain the fifteenth century was the period during which the old national songs and romances flourished in the greatest luxuriance. Since that time Portuguese and Spanish poetry have in general occupied the same degrees of cultivation, and have lent to each other a mutual support, though neither stood in need of the other's aid. The correspondence between the Castilian and the Portuguese poetry, was at that time particularly promoted by the Galician poets, who though faithful subjects of the Castilian monarchy, still remained true to their mother tongue. Galicia seems to have been the land of romantic sentiment whence the poetry of love exhibited in the lyric compositions of Spain and Portugal was transplanted. No Portuguese or Spaniard is so celebrated in poetic literature, for the influence of love on his fate, as the Galician poet and knight Macias, who lived in the first half of the fifteenth century, and of whose remarkable history a brief sketch may properly be introduced here. Macias, who obtained the surnames of the enamoured and the great, distinguished himself as a brave warrior against the Moors of Granada, and as an accomplished writer in the literary retinue of the
Marquess of Villena.* But though the marquess appreciated the merits and talents of Macias, he did not approve the romantic passion with which that enthusiast interwove his poetic fancies into the affairs of real life. The marquess strictly prohibited him from continuing a secret intrigue in which he had embarked with a lady, who, through the intervention of the marquess, had become the wife of another knight. But Macias conceived that he could not better prove his chivalrous constancy in love, than by boldly disobeying the commands of his patron. The marquess, however, availing himself of his power as grand master of the order of Calatrava, sent the refractory poet a prisoner to the kingdom of Jaen, on the frontiers of Granada. In his captivity Macias composed his songs of ill-fated love in the Galician language, which at the period of their production were highly esteemed, but which are now lost with the exception of a few trifles. He contrived to forward copies of these songs to his mistress. On the discovery of the correspondence, the poetic boldness of Macias roused the husband of the lady to the most furious pitch of jealousy. Armed cap-a-pee, he set out with the intention of slaying the unfortunate poet. He proceeded to the town of Arjonilla, where Macias was confined, and espying the prisoner at a window, he threw a javelin at him, and killed him on the spot.
* See the preceding vol. p. 74.
+ Dieze, in his Remarks on Velasquez p. 105, has printed a commencing stanza of one of these songs, which presents no great merit, together with a translated passage from Argote de Molina's Nobleza de Andalusia.
Some idea of the sensation which this affair produced may be formed from the contents of the old Spanish Cancionero, in which it is frequently mentioned. But the story has more properly its place in the history of Portuguese poetry. The Spanish amatory poets, however extravagant might be their extacies in verse, confined themselves, in real life, within certain boundaries, which were consistent with the habits of society. The Portuguese, on the contrary, and as it would appear, the Galicians likewise, when they indulged in the poetic expression of violent and enthusiastic feelings of love, conceived that it was still necessary they should seek to impress the stamp of perfection on their songs, by exhibiting all kinds of sentimental excesses in their own personal conduct. The Spaniards seem always to have felt convinced that they could not attain the romantic tenderness of the Portuguese.* A certain simplicity and intensity in the expression of tender sentiments, to which the language of Portugal is particularly favourable, has always been one of the characteristic features of Portuguese poetry, from the fifteenth century down to the present times.
THE CANCIONEIROS GERAES.
But in order to pursue the comparison between the romance and lyric poetry of Portugal and of Spain, an intimate acquaintance with the old Portuguese Cancioneiros geraes (general song books), is indispensable.
* Even Cervantes in his Journey to Parnassus, makes Mercury assign to Lusitania the supplying of Amores, in order to collect together the ingredients of romantic poetry.