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Gandia, c. 1400 - Valencia, 1459. Medieval Valencian poet and knight

Ausiàs March, the grandson of a Barcelona notary and son of a cavalier poet, lived in Valencia at the end of the fourteenth or the start of the fifteenth century. The poetry of Ausiàs March is a meditation on the question of pure love -a meditation that implies a struggle to avoid failure, pain, anger, and doubt. Over and above the commonplaces -and the language- of the troubadours, and leaving aside the Petrarchan mode, March explores, in language that often borders on harshness, the tension between the world and the individual. His opus, constituted by the one hundred and twenty-eight poems that are extant, has been widely translated and has exercised a great influence on lyric poetry written in Spanish and other European languages. They were first published in 1543.

Ausiàs March è senza dubbio il piú grande poeta lirico europeo del quindicesimo secolo, un poeta la cui conoscenza e la cui influenza sono state fortemente limitate, piú che dalla sua difficoltà, come spesso si dice, dal rapido declino della cultura catalana, che proprio nel corso di quel secolo aveva toccato il massimo splendore.

Costanzo Di Girolamo, Ausiàs March. Pagine del canzoniere (Milano, Luni Editrice, 1998)

"What is it that makes Ausiàs March an extraordinary poet?"

"His ability to tell the truth. His extraordinary ability of expression. His language is extraordinary and, besides telling the truth, he knows it strikes fear. I am referring to the leap he makes from a seemingly innocuous word to the very act of screwing that nobody takes. That leap strikes fear. Ausiàs March has been very badly read. Seeing him start by being a more or less stupid little idiot -in the conception of angelic and bestial love- and the whole of the Ausiàs March cycle seen as a whole, that has not been seen, it is not seen, nobody highlights it in their writings about him. Just think, a man such as Joan Fuster should have realised it, and I don't recall him saying anything. And nobody reads Ausiàs March. I stress that point. The truth that Ausiàs March says does not interest anyone. People who make a living studying literature do not realise it. They go about their business... People should go around with Ausiàs March under the arm. Telling it like it is does not interest the wise. They read the word "delight" and they don't see that it should be a tumble, as they say on TV."

Joan Ferraté, interviewed by Lluís Bonada: "He was wild and insolent", El Temps, num. 645 (October 1996)

Reclam a tots los meus predecessors,

cells qui Amor llur cor enamorà,

e los presents e lo qui naxerà,

que per mos dits entenguen mes clamors;...


(XXV, 33-36)

So exclaims Ausiàs March, and so movingly, demanding five centuries after his corporeal death the attention of everyone who has felt the power of love, to proclaim the immortality of one's own feeling.

E lo desig en mi jamés morrà

(Ibid. 10)

And thanks to the wonderful evocative strength of the poetic word, that cry of his, as does the whole of the rest of his vast work, remains alive in our midst and is still capable of conveying to us the shiver of emotion, clearly proving what we all know: that literature, and especially poetry, is an artistic sublimation of the word, and word is communication: the essential bridge of the expression of thought and of feeling, the basis of dialogue and of understanding between humans.

Albert G. Hauf, "Ausiàs March: el clamor del silenci" published in L'illa. Revista de lletres Num. 18 (1997)

From the exemplum that introduces the part of this book that I devote to March's lyric poetry, two corollaries are gleaned. First, that just as every generation of critics invariably produces (at least "up north") their interpretation of the ancient texts, it is little wonder if, in 1992, the idea occurs to us to rail against the core ideology that informs such essential books as those that Amadeu Pagés devoted to defining love in Ausiàs March. Second, the love-marriage relationship should in no way be taken for granted and neither is it so evident as was thought by Friar Matfre Ermengaud, of Béziers, the Toulouse poets of the Leys d'amors or C.S. Lewis. Nowadays, the cultural constants that, to cut to the chase, serve up March on a plate, the arguments for his multi-faceted and suffocating reflection on the inanity of love are so powerful, clear and conclusive that you feel like proclaiming them: simply to try to read the poet's verses from a safe point of reference. Continue reading...

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