(tenson, tenzone)
   The tenso was a form of poetry originating in 12thcentury Occitan in the poetry of the Provençal TROUBADOURS. Eventually the form spread to poets in Italy and in Sicily. The term, meaning “dispute”or “rivalry” in Provençal, was applied to poems that consisted of a dialogue or debate between two poets, or sometimes between a poet and a fictional opponent. The poets occasionally included incentive against one another, and the subjects of the tenso could vary from love to politics to poetry itself. In one of the earliest tensos, MARCABRU and a poet named Ugo Catola engage in a debate on the nature and value of love. Ugo begins, “Marcabru, my friend, let us compose/a vers about love, for I have it in my heart,” (Goldin 1973, 89; ll. 1–2), and Marcabru answers him,“Ugo Catola, right, let’s do it now,/but I denounce false love/for never, since the serpent came down from the bough,/have there been so many women full of tricks” (Goldin 1973, 89; ll. 5–8). The poets alternate stanzas in this manner for 56 lines.
   In another well-known tenso, GIRAUT DE BORNELH and RAIMBAUT D’ORANGE debate the relative merits of two styles of troubadour poetry, the simple TROBAR LEU and the complex TROBAR CLUS. Raimbaut begins by asking,“Now, Giraut de Bornhelh, I would like/to know why you go denouncing/our difficult style” (Goldin 1973, 203; ll. 1–3), to which Giraut answers, “it seems to me/the song is better loved/and more applauded/when you make it easy and open to all” (Goldin 1973, 203; ll. 10–13). Eventually two specialized types of tensos developed. One was called the partimen. In this poem one poet would propose a question for dispute, usually containing hypothetical alternatives, such as whether it was better to love and serve a lady without ever achieving her love, or to be too easily granted the lady’s love. A second poet decides which position to defend, and makes a case. The first poet answers with an argument in favor of the other alternative. A typical partimen would alternate between three identical stanzas from each poet, and, in the end, would be submitted to an arbiter to choose between them. Occasionally three poets might take part in such a dispute, but that was rare.And though such poems give the impression of spontaneous debate, they were almost certainly composed over time and sometimes distance between poets, who might then perform them or have them performed at some noble court that could serve as arbiter.
   The other specialized type of tenso was the jeu parti, developed in the 13th century. This poem might have two characters arguing over a proposition, most often, again, concerning love. The characters alternate stanzas and, as in the partimen, submit the poem to an arbiter in the end.
   ■ Goldin, Frederick, ed. and trans. Lyrics of the Troubadours and Trouvères: An Anthology and a History. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1973.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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  • tenso — (Del lat. tensus.) ► adjetivo 1 Que está sometido a tensión: ■ los cables que sujetan la antena deben estar muy tensos. SINÓNIMO tirante 2 Que está angustiado o nervioso: ■ suele llegar muy tensa del trabajo. ANTÓNIMO relajado * * * tenso, a (del …   Enciclopedia Universal

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