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Débat, Partimen, Eclogue Débat

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry

French Poetry


Débat , French for debate, is a poetic dialogue between 2 sides of an argument. It is the French version of the Italian, Tenso. The argument usually is over moralistic themes. It was a common genre of verse in medieval European literature and the center of late 12th early 13th century poetic contests. It is the descendant of the 11th century Partimen, a favorite of the Occitan troubadours, verse in which one troubadour would pose a dilemma in the form of a question, then he and another would debate the answer in verse.


Since the Débat is a genre of poetry rather than a verse form, the frame or structure of the poem is at the discretion of the poet. When the argument or debate is between opposing sides who care for one another, such as lovers or parent and child, the verse is called an Eclogue Débat. The Spanish version of this genre adds a slightly different twist in the Pregunta.


A Dialogue Between Soul and Body by Andrew Marvel (a Débat) was written in 10 line stanzas made up of rhyming couplets in iambic tetrameter with the last stanza adding a quatrain envoy.


O who shall, from this dungeon, raise

A soul enslav'd so many ways?

With bolts of bones, that fetter'd stands

In feet, and manacled in hands;

Here blinded with an eye, and there

Deaf with the drumming of an ear;

A soul hung up, as 'twere, in chains

Of nerves, and arteries, and veins;

Tortur'd, besides each other part,

In a vain head, and double heart.



O who shall me deliver whole

From bonds of this tyrannic soul?

Which, stretch'd upright, impales me so

That mine own precipice I go;

And warms and moves this needless frame,

(A fever could but do the same)

And, wanting where its spite to try,

Has made me live to let me die.

A body that could never rest,

Since this ill spirit it possest.



What Magic could me thus confine

Within anothers Grief to pine?

Where whatsoever it complain,

I feel, that cannot feel, the pain.

And all my Care its self employs,

That to preserve, which me destroys:

Constrain'd not only to endure

Diseases, but, whats worse, the Cure:

And ready oft the Port to gain,

Am Shipwrecked into Health again.



But Physic yet could never reach,

The Maladies Thou me dost teach;

Whom first the Cramp of Hope does Tear:

And then the Palsie Shakes of Fear.

The Pestilence of Love does heat:

Or Hatred's hidden Ulcer eat.

Joy's chearful Madness does perplex:

Or Sorrow's other Madness vex.

Which Knowledge forces me to know;

And Memory will not forego,

What but a Soul could have the wit

To build me up for Sin so fit?

So Architects do square and hew

Green Trees that in the Forest grew.

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