Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Obsession with maps

Maps may be more important to poets than even I thought. And I like maps.

Troubadours were travelling poets who went from court to castle performing their poems often with musical accompaniment. The traditional view associates the troubadour with the Pyranees and southwest France in the 11th century Occitania, but the art may have its roots in the Moorish kingdoms of southern Spain and North Africa. And of course courtly love (their main theme) has something in common with the love poetry of Arab tradition too.

But back to maps. These men and women had to memorise their route as they travelled from wealthy patron to patron in the same way as they memorised their poetry. And it might be considered that better mapping techniques were a positive advantage in the successful promotion of their wares.

A link between maps and poetic form? Oral poetry has long been a repository of genealogy, so why not geography? Maybe our early explorers and cartographers had more in common with the venturing poet than the action man/pensive artist dichotomy would lead us to suppose.

More on troubadours here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubadour.

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