Online Medieval Sources Bibliography

An Annotated Bibliography of Printed and Online Primary Sources for the Middle Ages

Source Details

Whicher, George F., trans., The Goliard Poets (Cambridge Mass: University Press [Rpt: New York: New Directions])

Text name(s): The Archpoet's Confession; O Fortuna; De Ramis Cadunt Folia

Number of pages of primary source text: 280

Author(s): 

Dates: 850 - 1250

Archival Reference: Primarily MS. of Benedictbeuern (Carmina Burana).

Original Language(s): 

  • Latin

Translation: 

Translation Comments: Facing page verse translations, mimicking the forms of the original Latin.

Geopolitical Region(s): 

  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • France
  • Europe
  • England

County/Region: 

Record Types: 

  • Literature - Verse

Subject Headings: 

  • Reform
  • Literature - Comedy / Satire
  • Classics / Humanism
  • Clergy - Anticlericalism

Apparatus: 

  • Index
  • Bibliography
  • Facsimile
  • Introduction

Comments: 

This volume is a translation into English verse of the body of 12th, and 13th century poetry called Goliardic , a body of poetry published by a group of churchmen from the 12th and 13th centuries who wrote satirical poems whose matter tends to be wine, women, and gambling, and whose aim is often to ridicule abuses by the establishment, especially the Church. It should be noted that many “Goliards” demonstrate a strong classical influence, situating them within the general revival of reading that marked the “12th Century Renaissance”.

The most well-known body of Goliardic poetry, and the majority of the verses in the present volume, can be found in in the Benedictbeuern Codex (the Carmina Burana ), a deluxe 13th century MS discovered in a Bavarian Monastery in 1803.

The volume also includes poems by the 9th century Irish poet Sedulius Scottus, on the grounds that he can be read as a “proto-goliard.”

Faithful to the Latin verse forms (which are printed in a facing page format) these translations, while not always literal, are enjoyable to read and avoid the archaism often associated with older verse translations, making this a friendly introduction for students (or for one’s self) to this remarkable body of poetry. To add to this, the volume contains a number of reproductions the illustrations from the manuscripts in which this poetry is found.

George Frisibie Whicher was a friend and colleague of the American poet Robert Frost (to whom this work is dedicated) making this volume of interest to anyone looking at the reception of the middle ages by 20th century poets.

Introduction Summary: 

The introduction (6pp) briefly sets out an account of who the goliards were, what they wrote, and how they were viewed by their contemporaries.

Cataloger: JPR

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