Arnaut Daniel (Occitan: [a?'nawd dani'?l]; fl. 1180-1200) was an Occitan troubadour of the 12th century, praised by Dante as a "the best smith" (miglior fabbro) and called a "grand master of love" (gran maestro d'amore) by Petrarch. In the 20th century he was lauded by Ezra Pound in The Spirit of Romance (1910) as the greatest poet to have ever lived.
According to one biography, Daniel was born of a noble family at the castle of Ribérac in Périgord; however, the scant contemporary sources point to him being a jester with pernicious economic troubles. Raimon de Durfort calls him "a student, ruined by dice and shut-the-box". He was the inventor of the sestina, a song of six stanzas of six lines each, with the same end words repeated in every stanza, though arranged in a different and intricate order. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow claims he was also the author of the metrical romance of Lancillotto, or Launcelot of the Lake, but this claim is completely unsubstantiated; Dante's reference to Daniel as the author of prose di romanzi ("proses of romance") remains, therefore, a mystery.
In homage to these lines which Dante gave to Daniel, the European edition of T. S. Eliot's second volume of poetry was titled Ara Vos Prec. In addition, Eliot's poem The Waste Land opens and closes with references to Dante and Daniel. The Waste Land is dedicated to Pound as "il miglior fabbro" which is what Dante had called Daniel. The poem also contains a reference to Canto XXVI in its line "Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina" ("Then hid him in the fire that purifies them") which appears in Eliot's closing section of The Waste Land as it does to end Dante's canto.
Arnaut's 4th canto (see "Arnaut Daniel: Complete Works" external link below) contains the lines that Pound claimed were "the three lines by which Daniel is most commonly known" (The Spirit of Romance, p. 36):
There are sixteen extant lyrics of Arnaut Daniel; there is music for at least one of them, but it was composed at least a century after the poet's death by an anonymous author. No original melody has survived.