The Complete Canzoniere - Petrarch. A translation into English by A. S. Kline. Published with illustrations (various).
Petrarch’s Canzoniere is an innovative collection of poems predominantly celebrating his idealised love for Laura, perhaps a literary invention rather than a real person, whom Petrarch allegedly first saw, in 1327, in the Church of Sainte Claire in Avignon. Mostly using the sonnet form the poems were written in the Italian vernacular rather than Latin, and Petrarch, like Dante, exploited and extended the language to convey a wider range of feeling and expression.
As well as his love for Laura, Petrarch communicates not only his own personality but also his humanist, secular and religious values, providing, like Dante, a body of work focussed, in a major way, for the first time in later European literature, on the poet himself, his individuality, and his spiritual journey, although he also looks back to the Roman achievements of Ovid, Horace, and Propertius.
The poems were written over a forty year period, the earliest dating from shortly after 1327, and the latest from around 1368, and were a major influence on the poetry of the European Renaissance, especially in France, Spain, and England, where sonnet sequences were written until well into the seventeenth century, the form being revived and extended later by the English 19th century poets.
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