Tristeza, pues yo soy tuyo,

This is a lovely example of early Renaissance intellectual word play around the paradoxical opposition and linkage of concepts. Most of the great poets of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries wrote poems a bit like this, aimed of course at the educated elite who loved the stimulus of figuring out meaning and disentangling paradox.

So here is Boscan, on sadness – if sadness is his natural state, he must be happy being sad, so where did the sadness go?


Juan Boscán

Tristeza, pues yo soy tuyo,
tú no dejes de ser mía;
mira bien que me destruyo
sólo en ver que el alegría
presume de hacerme suyo.

¡Oh, tristeza!
que apartarme de contigo
es la más alta crueza
que puedes usar conmigo.
No huyas ni seas tal
que me apartes de tu pena;
soy tu tierra natural,
no me dejes por la ajena
do quizá te querrán mal.

Pero, di:
ya que estó en tu compañía,
¿cómo gozaré de ti,
que no goce de alegría?
Que el placer de verte en mí,
no hay remedio para echallo,
¿quién jamás estuvo así?
que de ver que en ti me hallo,
me hallo que estoy sin ti.

¡Oh ventura!
¡Oh amor, que tú hiciste
que el placer de mi tristura
me quitase de ser triste!
Pues me das por mi dolor
el placer que en ti no tienes,
porque te sienta mayor,
no vengas, que si no vienes,
entonces vernás mejor.
Pues me places,
vete ya, que en tu ausencia
sentiré yo lo que haces
mucho más que en tu presencia.
From <;

The first stanza sets out the problem, – if the poet’s natural state is to be sad, he will be completely destabilised if happiness comes along. The second stanza is a plea to sadness to not abandon him, sadness is his friend and companion, his comfort zone. The poet appreciates sadness on a way which perhaps others would not.

The third stanza poses the central question which the poet asks us to grapple with. If he is so happy being sad, where did the sadness go?

The final stanza explores this opposition further, imploring love and pleasure to go away so the poet can again enjoy his sadness in its pure form. But if it is the sadness which has brought about the pleasure? The conundrum is unresolvable, a bit like a Buddhist koan.

So is the poet sad, or happy?

The Poetry Dude


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