The poems include the freshness of medieval love lyrics, exuberance of the drinking song, the zest of the sinner's 'confessions', the wild humour of the hymns to gambling and gluttony, the stoic litany to Lady Luck ('Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi') which Orff chose to open and close his score. Sex is also a dominant theme in many of the songs. The Richard Hickox production has further details in the cover notes.
Who were these richly gifted poets? They called themselves 'goliards' (defrocked monks and minstrels). Traditionally they have been identified as 'vagantes' (vagrant students, vagabond monks and minor clerics), said to have been 'better known for their rioting, gambling and intemperance than for their scholarship'. Yet whatever their social status, their artistic and technical skill seem to place them among the clerical and academic elite of the age.