Eros and the Poetry At the Courts of Mary Queen of Scots and by S. Dunnigan

By S. Dunnigan

Eros and Poetry examines the erotics of literary wish on the Stewart court docket in Scotland through the reigns of Mary, Queen of Scots and James VI. Encompassing the interval from the early 1560s to the overdue 1590s, this is often the 1st examine to hyperlink jointly Scottish Marian and Jacobean court docket literatures, offering a comparatively unknown physique of writing, newly theorized and contextualized. It argues that during this era erotic poetry can basically be thought of on the subject of the determine of the monarch, and that the formation of elite lyric tradition happens lower than the shaping impact of wish for, and opposed to, the sovereign, and her or his 'passional' and symbolic powers.

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Nor is there such an irreparable breach between the sonnets and the later, authentic sonnets of expiation and penance which Mary wrote. One ironic reading may ultimately be proposed which escapes the closure of anti-Marian interpretation: namely, that the sonnets glorify, and martyr, feminine desire in their abrogation of the corrupt, earthly beloved. ‘Un corps privé de coeur’: erotic and spiritual martyrdom ‘O Dieux… ayez de moi compassion’ (1: 1, O Goddis haue of me compassioun’); ‘…de vous seul ie cerche l’alliance’ (9: 14, ‘…I seke the aliance of you onely’; ‘Dieu détourne tout malheureux augure’ (11: 14, ‘O God turne abacke all unhappy augure’): there may be a third interlocutor in Mary’s sequence, as implied by these three assertions.

While some of these allusions to the material fail to evoke the sensuality of Labé’s poetics but seemingly serve to endorse the ‘aberrant’ morality of the Marian lover, the violation sonnet more profoundly spurns the common neo-Platonic idiom of corporeal insubstantiality and evanescence. Its literal, rhetorically visceral conception of the body is far removed from Bembo’s transcendent notion of the body as a beautiful ‘veil’. In the proclaimed division from le coeur, le corps insists on its own irreducibility.

65 Historically, this sonnet has repeatedly been interpreted as Mary’s confession that Bothwell raped her. 68 Mary provided her own gloss on Bothwell’s alleged physical coercion at Dunbar (though here the truth may equally be veiled) in a missive written partly to placate French unease at her subsequent marriage to Bothwell, but granting him clear absolution: in oure returning he awayted ws be the way, accumpaneit with a greit force, and led ws with all diligence to Dunbar … Being thair, we reprochit him, the honour he had to be estemit of ws, his ingratitude, with all uther remonstrances quhilk mycht serve to red ws out of his handis.

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