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"Wandering lost, it was already night" | "Andando perdido, de noche ya era"

Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España MS, VITR/17/7, f.138r [Public domain]

Introduction to the Text

This poem is a serranilla, an evolution of the Provençal pastorela. Written in short verse (arte menor), serranillas narrate a courtly poet’s encounter with a mountain woman. This is one of six compositions in the genre by fifteenth-century author Carvajal (or Carvajales). Very little is known about Carvajal’s life. His poetry is linked to the court of Alfonso the Magnanimous in Naples (r. 1442-1458) and to that of Alfonso’s son Ferrante (r. 1459-1494). In addition to his famous serranillas, Carvajal is also known for his literary epistles and ballads.

In this poem, the poet meets a fierce-looking wild woman who surprisingly offers courtly advice to the love-afflicted poet. It has been interpreted as a burlesque gloss of Juan Ruiz’s Libro de buen amor, one that conflates the serranas episodes with the discourse on dueñas chicas (‘little women,’ stanzas 1606-1617). The Libro de buen amor (1330/1343) is one of the masterpieces of medieval Castilian literature, a heterogenous, polysemous and oftentimes parodic text in which the narrator gives an account of his love life.

Introduction to the Source

The poem is copied in Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, VITR/17/7, fol. 138r-139r. This manuscript is a copy of the poetry collection known as the Cancionero de Estúñiga, ca. 1465. It has been digitized: It contains a compilation of mostly Castilian poems, including ballads, as well as a few Italian compositions. Their authors attended the King of Aragon, Alfonso the Magnanimous, in Naples in the mid-fifteenth century.

About this Edition

The text has been punctuated. Word separation and capitalization follow modern usage. Elisions have been marked with an apostrophe.

Further Reading

Carvajal. Poesie, edited by Emma Scoles. Edizioni dell’Ateneo, 1967.

  • Critical edition of Carvajal’s poetry.

Gerli, E. Michael. “The Libro in the Cancioneros.” Reading, Performing, and Imagining the ‘Libro del Arcipreste’. U of North Carolina P, 2016. esp. pp. 194-203.

  • Reassessment of Caravajal’s serranas in view of their intertextual relationship with the Libro de buen amor.

Marino, Nancy F. La serranilla española: notes para su historia e interpretación. Scripta Humanistica, 1987.

  • Study of the serranilla genre, with attention to Carvajal’s poems in chapter 5.


Transcription by M. Camila Vera AriasTranslation by M. Camila Vera AriasIntroduction by Albert LloretEncoded in TEI P5 XML by Danny Smith

Suggested citation: Carvajal. ""Wandering lost, it was already night"." Trans. M. Camila Vera Arias. Global Medieval Sourcebook. Retrieved on July 02, 2022.