Martín Codax

The identity of Martin Codax is essentially synonymous with his seven surviving Cantigas de Amigo, which have been dated somewhat precariously to 1230. The “cantiga de amigo” is a particular genre of Iberian medieval poetry, intended to express the female perspective on absent love. Together with other genres of cantiga, they survive in quantity. However, those of Martin Codax are the only ones to survive with music, and indeed the only medieval cantigas aside from the massive Cantigas de Santa María to survive with music. As the only secular examples of a primarily secular tradition, they are thus of unique value, even though the music for the sixth cantiga has not survived. They are written in Galician-Portuguese, the dominant vernacular literary language of medieval Spain, and apparently form a cycle. They are the most representative Iberian example of the broader phenomenon of troubadour songs.

Text attributed to Todd M. McComb


by Martín Codax (13th Century)
Translation © John Rutherford

O waves of the sea of Vigo…

O waves of the sea of Vigo,
if only you’ve seen my lover,
and, oh God, if only he’d come soon!

O waves of the heaving sea,
if only you’ve seen my darling,
and, oh God, if only he’s come soon!

If only you’ve seen my lover,
the man for whom I’m sighing,
and, oh God, if only he’d come soon!

Oh God, would that my lover knew…

Oh God, would that my lover knew
I’m all alone in Vigo town
and I’m in love.

Oh God, would that my darling knew
I’m left alone in Vigo town
and I’m in love.

I’m left alone in Vigo town
and I have no guards with me
and I’m in love.

And I have no guards with me
except my eyes, which weep with me,
and I’m in love.

Have brought no guards with me
except my eyes, which weep together,
and I’m in love.

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