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medieval poetic and musical form, cultivated especially among the trouveres, or poet-musicians, of northern France in the 12th and 13th centuries but also among their slightly earlier, Provencal-language counterparts, the troubadours, and, called Leich, by the German minnesingers. The lai was a long poem having nonuniform stanzas of about 6 to 16 or more lines of 4 to 8 syllables. One or two rhymes were maintained throughout each stanza. The text might address the Virgin Mary or a lady, or in some cases might be didactic. The lais of the poet Marie de France (late 12th century) are short stories in verse on romantic and magical themes and are not lais in the musical sense