The Poet of Love by Laura Owens

The Biography

  • Petrarch was born on July 20, 1304, in Arezzo, Italy.
  • He spent most of his life, when he wasn't traveling, in Avighon.
  • Petrarch spent his early and teen years going to grammar, rhetoric, Latin schools, and then went on to the University of Montpellier and Bologna, both schools of law.
  • He lived a life of solitude and simplicity, and traveled only when he needed to.
  • He wrote poems and some of his works are The Canzoniere, The Africa, and The Triumphus Cupidinis.
  • One of his patrons was Cardinal Giovanni Colonna, Petrarch wrote reliogious poems for him. And another possible patron was his love Laura who inspired The Canzoniere.

Se la mia vita da l'aspro tormento-If my life of bitter torment and tears

"If my life of bitter torment and tears

could be derided more, and made more troubled,

that I might see, by virtue of your later years,

lady, the light quenched of your beautiful eyes,

and the golden hair spun fine as silver,

and the garland laid aside and the green clothes,

and the delicate face fade, that makes me

fearful and slow to go weeping:

then Love might grant me such confidence

that I’d reveal to you my sufferings

the years lived through, and the days and hours:

and if time is opposed to true desire,

it does not mean no food would nourish my grief:

I might draw some from slow sighs" ("The Canzoniere").

The 'Se la mia vita de l'aspro tormento' was created between the date of April 6, 1327, the day he saw Laura, and till his death, when he finished the 366 poems.

Style of Work

This piece and the other 365 had a different technique that other poems did not have during that time. These poems were and are called Petrarchan Sonnets. They all have 14 lines, the first eight are called the Octave, and the last six are the Sestet, and the beggining of the Sestet is called the Volta.

The Octave introduces a problem, which the poem will follow. The Volta is when things change to the Sestet and the solution. And the Sestet offers a a solution to the problem. It may not give a direct answer, but it may comment of it.

The Canzoniere

First off, Petrarch wrote 366 intense lyrical poems called The Canzoniere for his love, Laura, who he loved at first sight ("Petrarch").

I find The Canzoniere so interesting because Petrarch focuses so much on this one person, who has supposedly stolen his heart. He literally devotes his life to writing to her, not even knowing if she could return his love or if she even would. And I found it amazing that he could deal with this unrequited love till he died.

The "Founder" of Humanism

Petrarch was known as the "founder" of humanism. "He observed the external world and analyzed his own interior life with a new awareness of values" ("Petrarch"). He was one of the first people to write about someone who wasn't God or another religious figure, and although he wrote religious works for his patron, Cardinal Giovanni Colonna, that was not what he was most known for. He was and is most known for The Canzoniere, where he wrote humanistic feelings towards his one true love, Laura.

Works Cited

  • "Petrarch (1304-1374)." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 10 Jan. 2013.
  • Petraca, Francesco. "Petrarch: The Complete Canzoniere."people.Virginia.EDU. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2013. <
  • da Verona, Altichiero . Petrarch. N.d. Unknown, Unknown. . Web. 29 Jan. 2013.