A Lai is “a short narrative or lyrical poem, usually in octosyllabic couplets, intended to be sung” . These poems fit into this form of a Lai in that they are multiple short stories recounted by Marie de France.The poems draw on folktales for educational purposes in that it gives the reader educational insight as to issues related to relationships between men and women during Celtic times. Also, the write Marie de France uses the literary “narrative technique” in the Lais to give it an interesting and personal touch.
These Lais recounted by Marie De France are narrative poems of Celtic culture-based folktales passed on through history by oral dictation.
Narrative Technique is a strategy poets use to express an emotional and creative affect to the reader, generally to make it appear more personable. In relevance to the relationships between men and women the themes of romantic love, secret love, and consequences of love could be found in the Lais recounted by Marie De France.
In the poem titled “Lanval” Queen Semiramis and a knight named Lanval meet in hiding. During their romantic dinner Lanval could not wait to kiss and adorn his lover with affection. Romantic love is seen in the Lai title “Lanval” where France narrates “There was an entremet that vastly pleased the knight for he kissed his lady often and held her close” (lines185-189). Secret love is seen in the Lai titled “Laustic (nightingale) where France narrates “They loved each other discreetly and well, concealed themselves and took care that they weren’t seen or disturbed or suspected (lines29-32).
The king’s wife and his best friend are having a secret affair. Every night the queen is awaken by the beautiful sound of a “nightingale” outside her window.
However, secretly the wife and next door neighbor are speaking to each other through their windows nightly. Things take a bad turn when her husband questions her why does she awake every night to which she responded the nightingale’s calls bring her joy. The husband is curious of his wife’s answer and spitefully responds by killing the bird. Consequences of love could be seen in the Lai title “Laustic” where Marie narrates “The affair of a woman and her husband’s friend comes to a brutal end when the beautiful nightingale, whose nighttime songs fuels the dreams of lovers, is killed by the jealous husband” (pg. 1030). I do not agree with the lessons of the text because in each the women were married before they met their lovers, this conveyed the idea that love was as much meaningless as it was true. Marriage is supposed to be with the one you love yet in each poem the participants of marriage were unhappy in some way pining for the love of another. In the poem “Lanval”, Queen Semiramis married to another sought Lanval’s affections because she heard tales of his beauty and in the poem “Laustic” the wife and husband’s neighbor and friend had a long lasting affair.