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Analysis of Petrach’s Poetry: a Translation of Italian Poem Rime 140

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This is a translation of the Italian poem “Rime 140” by Petrarch. The following link – shows the original form and two translations – each poem is different. They are built around the conceit of love as a warrior or knight, who, in the octave, makes bold to declare himself through a blush, and is promptly rebuked by the beloved; the sestet finds him running away to hide, leaving the poet to reflect on his plight as a faithful servant of a cowardly master. By attributing the offensive, cowardly, and ridiculous behavior to a third-party “love,” he appears to be distancing himself from an embarrassing situation.

He can condescendingly paint this personified love as a blustery miles glorious one moment and a coward the next, while at the same time depicting himself as the constant but hapless servant, bound willy-nilly to attend a capricious master. All the while, of course, we see the machinery of the metaphor; we see the puppet-strings by which “love” moves; we understand the specious distinction on which the face-saving dodge is built; we are not taken in. Nor are we meant to be. In the process, we wind up laughing along with the poet. By letting us in on the joke, he turns it into an occasion for amusement and light reflection.

Literary works have certain meanings displayed throughout their entirety. A single literary work however can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Petrarch whose poetry was about the idealistic approach to love, caused for several Renaissance writers to revisit them and translate them to represent different meanings. Basically, Sir Thomas Wyatt in his poem “The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbour” and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey in his poem “Love That Doth Reign and Live Within My Thought,” both explored the varying view of the original poem created by Petrarch. Their views on the aspect of love helped to be shaped by the Renaissance ideas, help to display the changing times as created by this period of rebirth and also help to reflect the views of each author on love.

The poem “The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbour” by Wyatt essentially depicts one view on love while the poem “Love That Doth Reign and Live Within My Thought” by Surrey, depicts an almost contrasting view. Although they both hold Petrarch’s poem as the origin, they show the difference in the effects of the Neo-Platonism during the Renaissance. The notion that the need for love still existed, but the idea that perfect love could never exist was what basically what drove the entirety of their ideas, and what made them stream from the Petrarchan idea of idealistic love. Both authors while focusing on the idea that love can not be idealized show in their own depictions two different views of that love. They portray the means of keeping love or holding onto love with two different mind sets and basically help to back up the notion idealized love can not truly exist and can not be a product of only perfection. The poem by Wyatt refers to the heart as the means of a place in which the love ultimately hides because it is like a forest. Wyatt is pretty much debating whether he should side with love or lust in this case, and ultimately the idea prevails that most likely the speaker chooses.

Courtly love or domnei was a medieval European conception of nobly and chivalrously expressing love and admiration.[1] Generally, courtly love was secret and between members of the nobility.[2] It was also generally not practiced between husband and wife.[2][3] Courtly love began in the ducal and princely courts of Aquitaine, Provence, Champagne, ducal Burgundy and the Norman Kingdom of Sicily[4] at the end of the eleventh century. In essence, courtly love was an experience between erotic desire and spiritual attainment that now seems contradictory as “a love at once illicit and morally elevating, passionate and disciplined, humiliating and exalting, human and transcendent”.[5] The term “courtly love” was first popularized by Gaston Paris in 1883, and has since come under a wide variety of definitions and uses, even being dismissed as nineteenth-century romantic fiction. Its interpretation, origins and influences continue to be a matter of critical debate. Stages of courtly love

(Adapted from Barbara Tuchman[43])
* Attraction to the lady, usually via eyes/glance
* Worship of the lady from afar
* Declaration of passionate devotion
* Virtuous rejection by the lady
* Renewed wooing with oaths of virtue and eternal fealty
* Moans of approaching death from unsatisfied desire (and other physical manifestations of lovesickness)
* Heroic deeds of valor which win the lady’s heart
* Consummation of the secret love
* Endless adventures and subterfuges avoiding detection

Though the love that masters him may betray him, the poet proclaims in “Love that doth reign and live within my heart” that he will remain faithful to the end, for “[s]weet is the death that taketh end by love.”

A comparison of the themes of Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard
A comparison of the themes of Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard Both Henry Howard and Thomas Wyatt made significant contributions towards the development of English literature during the reign of King Henry VIII. Through their translations of Petrarchs’ work, these men were responsible for introducing sonnet form into English. “Both Wyatt and Surrey helped to change the nature of English poetry,”(textbook, p.187). They both traveled to Italy and borrowed, as well as imitated other poets and each other. Instead of originating fresh themes, they repeated conventional subject matter, mainly focusing on idealized love. Works from both poets had similar themes of confusion, sadness, and reflection. Both Howard and Wyatt have translated sonnets, written by Petrarch. In these poems, the speaker loves a lady, but she will not permit him to declare his love (textbook, p.192). Wyatt’s translation is called “The Long Love” and is a insightful representation of the poet’s dual observation of love. Wyatt shows two sides of love, physical and spiritual, but never a bond between them. He shows his confusion in line 11, “And there him hideth and not appeareth,” wondering

The sonnets, “The long love that in my thought doth harbor” by Sir Thomas Wyatt, and “Love, that doth reign and live within my thought” by Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey are based on Petrarch’s poem #140 in his Rime. For me the superior translation is “The long love that in my thought doth harbor” by Sir Thomas Wyatt. My read on Petrarch’s Rima 140 is that there is a definitive Petrarchan conceit, a clever metaphor or idea, clever notion of Love being likened to a warrior, who “with bold pretense” flaunts his presence by means of the “banner.” Elaborate metaphors of this kind are common in Petrarchan love poetry, and the entire sonnet turns on this single conceit. As well, the last two lines of Petrarch, Rima 140 proclaims faithfulness to the dying end. Rima 140 last two lines read, “What can I do, when my lord is afraid, except stay with him until the last hour? For he makes a good end who dies loving well” (595).

Although that message is clearly presented in “The long love that in my thought doth harbor,” it is unclear and vague, and nearly presents another idea all together in “Love, that doth reign and live within my thought.” In the former the poem ends, “But in the field with him to live and die? For good is the life ending faithfully” (594). However, in the latter poem ends, “Yet from my lord shall not my foot remove: Sweet is the death that taketh end by love” (609). Although both poems present Petrarchanism, an attitude in love poetry where the object of desire, a woman, is wicked. In “The long love that in my though doth harbor” more accurately reflects the meaning of the ending and clearly has a Petrarchan conceit, which is unclear in “Love, that doth reign and live within my thought.” Therefore, I believe “The long love that in my thought doth harbor” is the superior translation and a better English poem.

In the first decade of the 16th century the two most important poets were, Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, earl of Surrey. They have made significant contribution towards the development of English literature during the reign of King Henry VIII. Both translated Petrach’s work but with comparative difference in form and style. “The Long Love” by Wyatt and “Love that doth reign” by Surrey are translation of Petrach’s 150th {109} sonnet. Each of these translated sonnet mirrors their respective poets’ strength and distinguished conception of `love’.

The sonnets deal with the speaker who loves a lady, but she will not permit him to declare his love. It is the portrayal of emotions complaints and personal expression of love by lover. Wyatt’s sonnet is the insightful representation of the poet’s dual observation of love. He exposes two sides of love, physical and spiritual but there is no bond between them. This concept is different from the Petrach’s mold of love concept. However, Surrey follows the traditional petrachian theme version. His sonnet is much more commanding version.

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