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The Poetry of Petrarch

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  • Posted March 24, 2013

    David Young's refreshing translation of Petrarch's anatomy of ly

    David Young's refreshing translation of Petrarch's anatomy of lyric poems brings the vernacular to English speech in a collection of 366 sonnets written more than six hundred years ago by the first modern poet.

    Francesco Petrarch, (1304-1374) simply known as Petrarch, a Latin scholar, poet, and the first sonneteer who has profoundly influenced European poetry of the Renaissance; including Shakespeare, Boccaccio, Spencer, and some of the principle poets of American literature.

    While reading this book it became abundantly clear to me why Petrarch's work has become the phenomenon that stands behind a stylistic revolution of poetry. It is no hyperbole to say that he has influenced some of the foremost love poets in literary history. Petrarch's unparalleled prowess gave him the ability to psychologically transpose a poem into a living proximity in his conscious, whereas he would then assign that cerebral stimulation in its own voice, tone, and personality on the page.

    It is evident that the poet composed his sonnets only to mirror his altruism, and paradigms of affection for Laura; who he devotedly fell in love with when he first met her at the church of S. Claire, in Avignon, the 6th of April in 1327. He would define her as lovely to look upon with sunny tresses, eyes of pearl, and lips of rose. But Laura could never reciprocate his admiration as she was married to Count Hugues De Sade.

    Therefore, Petrarch would commit his life into writing love poems to his beloved "Laura." At times, you can almost hear his cries of suffering in the words he expresses about his ardent love and harrowing despair for Laura's unattainable affection in his poetry. He continued to write about Laura with an enthusiastic passion even after her death on Good Friday, 22 years after he first saw her in 1327.

    Petrarch wrote 366 sonnets about Laura in a period of 47 years, although her death was as heavy on his heart, as it was to attain her love. On July 19th 1374 Petrarch was found dead with his body resting over his desk with a pen in his hand. Perhaps the true cause of his death will remain unanswered; I believe he died from a broken heart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2004

    Great intro and great read.

    At first I looked for the Italian original, not that I would understand it but it looks nice. Well the book would be a bulky twice the size tome. Then I looked to see who David Young the translator is and he is a poet, so what, I thought. Then I started reading the Introduction and I was delighted. The first line,'Time is our delight and our prison.' Not bad. Further'...the exploration of temporality might be seen as the special province of lyric poetry, which records moments of heightened awareness in the temporal process and can accumulate a rich and moving record of an individuals lifelong engagementwith time.' Nice, this guy seems to speak nicely and do everything to make his translation a reader friendly edition.

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