Sunday, April 22, 2012

Italian Poetry - Petrarch's Sonnets

Dante Gabriel Rosetti: The Day Dream, 1880.

Back in the 1300's, before card stores and chocolate manufacturers all conspired to commercialize the true spirit of love, passion, and romance, Francesco Petrarca literally wrote the book on infatuation. The collection of Italian verses, Rime in vita e morta di Madonna Laura (after 1327), translated into English as Petrarch's Sonnets, were inspired by Petrarch's unrequited passion for Laura (probably Laure de Noves), a young woman Petrarca first saw in church. 

Head-over-heels in love with Laura, Petrarca wrote 365 sonnets, one passionate poem a day dedicated to his true love. Considered the first modern poet because of his interest in individuality, the Italian poet perfected the sonnet during the 14th century. The sonnet, a lyric poem of 14 lines with a formal rhyme scheme, expresses different aspects of a thought, mood, or feeling.
When Love within her lovely face appears
now and again among the other ladies,
as much as each is less lovely than she
the more my wish I love within me grows.

I bless the place, the time and hour of the day
that my eyes aimed their sights at such a height,
and say: 'My soul, you must be very grateful
that you were found worthy of such great honour

From her to you comes loving thought that leads,
as long as you pursue, to highest good,
esteeming little what all men desire;

there comes from her all joyous honesty
that leads you by the straight path up to Heaven-
already I fly high upon my hope.'


Quando fra l'altre donne ad ora ad ora
Amor vien nel bel viso di costei,
quanto ciascuna è men bella di lei
tanto cresce 'l desio che m'innamora.

I' benedico il loco e 'l tempo et l'ora
che sí alto miraron gli occhi mei,
et dico: Anima, assai ringratiar dêi
che fosti a tanto honor degnata allora.

Da lei ti vèn l'amoroso pensero,
che mentre 'l segui al sommo ben t'invia,
pocho prezando quel ch'ogni huom desia;

da lei vien l'animosa leggiadria
ch'al ciel ti scorge per destro sentero,
sí ch'i' vo già de la speranza altero.

Francesco Petrarca, 1304-1374.


Anna said...

I love poetry. I think Francesco Petrarca, with his deep, somehow passionate love for Laura, is very contemporary.
Thank you for posting in (old) Italian, as I believe that poetry is the language of the soul and it should be read, when possible, in its original language.

I love the image you posted, by the father of the PreRaphaelite brotherhood, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I love his "Bocca Baciata" most of all!



Thyra said...

Hello Anna, yes, poetry is a hard nut to crack when it comes to translation. There is so much wonderful Italian, French and Spanish poetry - and I think it is important to bring the poetry in its original language. (if it's possible). Isn't it amazing that a man from the 1300s, 700 years ago, wrote about his passionate love in a way which is as fresh as if it was written today.

I looked for the picture you mentioned - she's absolutely lovely, and her face is more soft and friendly. His usual model from many Rosetti-portraits looks a little cold. But she's beautiful too.

Have a nice day in lovely Italy. Send a little sun up to me in the North!
Grethe ´)