Francesco Petrarca and His Poetry

Francesco Petrarca, known in England during the fourteenth century as Petrarch, is the father of the Petrarchan (or Italian) Sonnet structure.  Unlike William Shakespeare’s simple ababacacefefgg rhyme scheme, Petrarca was famous for his abbaabbacdecde rhyme scheme.  

What does this mean?  Well, I can’t say that it meant his style was harder, but it did require knowing more than one rhyme for the last words of the first two lines.

Not all of his poetry was in Italian, though, let alone in his sonnet format.  Some of his works were done in Latin. Rerum vulgarium fragmenta  (which translates to Fragments of Ordinary Thoughts) was his first work and now goes by Il Canzoniere (commonly translated to The Songbook).  Il Canzoniere is a beautiful collection of romantic poetry revolving around longing and anguish.

In quella parte dove Amor mi sprona is listed at the one hundred and twenty seventh poem (that’s not even halfway through) it translates to In the part where Love spurs me. It chronicles the development of a girl into a woman over the changing season as well as the author’s blossoming love for the woman.  He speaks of Love as a physical being, much as Shakespeare’s sonnets chronicled Time and Death’s works in our human realm.

Without going into a deep poetic analysis, I just wanted to entice everyone to read a bit of this beautiful Italian poetry.  I suggest reading it in Italian first, at least the first stanza, because the passion with which it was writ is present and has the ability to impact the reader.

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One thought on “Francesco Petrarca and His Poetry

  1. judithgarcia says:

    Buona sera Alyssa,
    Great post! I happen to love Petrarca’s Canzoniere and he was particularly influential in the development of lyrical poetry in the European Renaissance, especially in Spain and England. As an English literature graduate, I found your information very interesting, 🙂

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