[ANONYMOUS]. La Puissance d’Amour.

N.pl., N. pr., N. d., c. 17th century.


4to. 8 unnumbered leaves of satin. Italic letter. Slight age yellowing, satin has a most attractive warm tone, some loose threads to outer edges, a little ink transfer to blank versos, small marginal worm holes to lower blank margin or last two leaves, and to final blank. A most lovely example, loosely inserted in C1900 quarter red morocco over boards in slipcase with red morocco title gilt.

A beautiful and rare collection of anonymous French love poems, printed on satin. The work, entitled La Puissance d’Amour, ‘The Power of Love’, lacks indication of author, printer or date, but was stylistically produced during the seventeenth century. It is probably a privately printed collection of poems; perhaps a gift from one lover to another. The work comprises six poems in Alexandrine verse, the first, ‘Les Momes’ 16 lines, and the rest, ‘Les Mercures’, ‘Les Eunuques’, ‘Les Chastes Vestales’, ‘Venus, & Cupidon’ and ‘Les Vestales Amoureuses’ 24 lines each.

Many of the poems utilise classical themes including Venus, & Cupidon, a charming poem which utilises the Horatian and Ovidian perception of Cupid as a troublesome and powerful force that can overcome all men. He is the enemy of chastity, and causes those within his grasp to behave in an uncontrollably erotic manner; the poem decries “Que le Monde n’arien d’esgal à son pouvoir”, reflecting the title of the work and theme of many of the poems: the power of love. As well as this, the power is placed in the hands of the many charms that women yield. The author’s advice is thus: one is powerless to stop these forces, if the ‘flames’ of lust are ignited, there is no choice but to give in.

An amusing poem entitled Les Eunuques proffers a satirical solution to the irresistible power of feminine charms. Written from the perspective of a eunuch, it states that although they are mocked and laughed at, at least they are can admire ladies without falling victim to the fatal forces of love and romantic relationships. They are thus immune to the tortuous suffering that love inflicts, for this they say “Pardonnez à tant de froideurs, inutiles à vos ardeurs”, but go on to say that if they weren’t eunuchs, they would, like the rest of the world, be hopelessly enslaved to womanly charms.

Embroidered book bindings on satin were produced in small numbers during the seventeenth century, but satin printed leaves are extremely rare and precious, their production was technically very difficult. This is an example perhaps of a unique gift.

We have not located any other copies, neither have we found the verses in any other published work.

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