Blind in darkness was I, cold and alone,
Seeking but to feel Death’s forgiving smart.
Then did young Cupid send his ribbèd dart
And, with eyes open, I saw how night shone.
Lustrous twilight that blindness overthrown!
Thy tresses would I wind about mine heart,
Enwrapped in midnight thus without depart
To warm what, until now, I feared was stone.
I wagered Love had dealt me a fair hand,
But that blind boy had blinded me the more.
Lost in the graceful wild of that dark land,
I guessed not the heavenly prise in store:
Twin suns that rose from beneath those black locks,
Whose light, so clear, revealed me my new stocks.
5. “Lustrous twilight…” While I strive to imitate poetic conventions wherever possible, the lady for whom I wrote this sequence has dark hair (beginning with Petrarch and imitated endlessly, the object of a sonnet sequence stereotypically had blindingly golden-blonde hair … yet also generally possessed dark eyebrows). Rather than poetically bleach it for her, I took Shakespeare’s route and commented on the beauty of her black (rather than golden) tresses. I tried to make up for it by playing up another Petrarchan feature: eyes that shine like the sun.
10-11. “I wagered … the more.” This is a fairly obscure reference to Elizabethan playwright John Lyly’s play Campaspe, from which is often quoted the poem “Cupid and My Campaspe Played,” in which the title characters play a card game, and the lovely Campaspe wins from Cupid his accoutrements to show her mastery over him and his dominion.