Barbara's Random Thoughts

Friday, April 07, 2006

Petrarch's muse

I came across this little tidbit today on Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1327, one of the most important events in the history of poetry took place: The Italian poet Petrarch saw the woman he called Laura for the first time at a Good Friday service in the church of Sainte-Claire. He would go on to write dozens of sonnets to Laura, providing a model for generations of sonnet-writers, including Shakespeare. But he didn't publish those sonnets until 1374, almost fifty years after Petrarch saw Laura for the first time. Most historians now think Petrarch's Laura was Laura de Noves, the wife of a nobleman named Hugues de Sade. She died on April 6, 1348, twenty-one years after Petrarch had first seen her.

I discovered Petrarch's sonnets in a World Lit class while I was studying in Florence (rather appropriately). This is one of my favorites:

I go my way regretting those past times
I spent in loving something which was mortal
instead of soaring high, since I had wings
that might have taken me to higher levels.

You who see all my shameful, wicked errors,
King of all Heaven, invisible, immortal,
help this frail soul of mine for she has strayed,
and all her emptiness fill up with grace,

so that, having once lived in storms, at war,
I may now die in peace, in port; and if my stay
was in vain, at least let my departure count.

Over that little life that still remains to me,
and at my death, deign that your hand be present:
You know you are the only hope I have.


| posted by Barbara | 1:57 AM