Rudel’s twelfth-century song, ‘Lanquan li jorn son lonc en may’,
embodies the pain and longing of amor de lonh, or love from afar. The
convention of amor de lonh, which originated in Provençal lyric poetry,
stimulates the lover towards agonised introspection at the same time as
impelling his thoughts outward, towards the distant object of his desire.
This motif of the distant beloved means that Rudel’s lyrics express love as
a desire for travel: when the defining – indeed, only – feature of the
beloved is her distance, desire and the impulse to travel become
compacted together. In the thirteenth-century Life of Rudel (described by
one editor as ‘a narrative transformation and concretization of the dreams’
of this song [Rudel 1978: 54]) the poet falls in love with the countess of
Tripoli after hearing pilgrims speak of her: in order to see her he takes up
the cross of pilgrimage and sets sail (‘se croset et mes se en mar’, [ibid.:
58]). In this fictionalised biographical account, love is framed by two acts
of pilgrimage, one a religious pilgrimage, which incidentally carries the stories of the countess to Rudel, and the other an amorous pilgrimage
which cloaks itself as a religious journey.