Blason Poetry

Here is a later English example of a genre of poetry called "the blason" which first appeared in poetry collected by Clement Marot in France during the 16th century.

There Is A Garden In Her Face
by Thomas Campion (1567-1620)

There is a garden in her face
Where roses and white lilies grow;
A heav'nly paradise is that place
Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow.
There cherries grow which none may buy,
Till "Cherry ripe" themselves do cry.


Those cherries fairly do enclose
Of orient pearl a double row,
Which when her lovely laughter shows,
They look like rose-buds fill'd with snow;
Yet them nor peer nor prince can buy,
Till "Cherry ripe" themselves do cry.


Her eyes like angels watch them still,
Her brows like bended bows do stand,
Threat'ning with piercing frowns to kill
All that attempt with eye or hand
Those sacred cherries to come nigh,
Till "Cherry ripe" themselves do cry.

And here is a parody of that type of poem:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun (Sonnet 130)
by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Shakespeare's sonnet makes fun of blason poetry, the poetry that glorifies a female lover by comparing each of her body parts to something beautiful or precious. This picture parodies the same tradition in a different way:

Sonnet Lady

Wouldn't she be ugly, monstrous even, if her breasts really were "globes," her lips either "cherries" or "coral," her teeth "pearls"?

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