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The Ethereal Love of Petrarch

The Ethereal Love of Petrarch

The Renaissance Period, literally meaning “rebirth,” insinuated that the instinctive drive of intelligence and artistry derived from ancient customs and traditions. Furthermore, “…artist and intellectuals of the Renaissance…” retained a particular “vision,” or idea, from the ancient world that was “reborn” through their oeuvres (Lawall and Mack, 2466). Francis Petrarch, an Italian Renaissance writer, was devoted to the revival of the classical acquisition of knowledge; thus his oeuvres corresponded with the Renaissance theme. Petrarch’s Sonnets are lyric poems that depict his “frustrated desire” for his beloved Laura (2466). In Sonnet 189, Petrarch uses symbolism to illustrate his overwhelming emotion induced by his infatuation with Laura, the indignation of circumstance, and his revulsion of straying from religious beliefs. This explication will analyze the symbolism of the poem.

“My ship laden with forgetfulness passes through a harsh sea, at midnight, in winter, between Scylla and Charybdis, and at the tiller sits my lord, rather my enemy…” (2489) Sonnet 189 transcends literal meaning and embraces figurative. Petrarch uses symbolism to express the depths of his emotionality. In the beginning of Sonnet 189, in the first section, the poem begins with “My Ship laden with forgetfulness” (2489). To be “laden” means to be overloaded or burdened with something. The literal meaning implies that there is an overload of neglect; however the figurative meaning delineates the foundation of the poem.

“My ship” refers to Petrarch’s tangible soul. The definition of a ship is a large boat that carries passengers or cargo over a large body of water; it is either wind-driven or engine-powered (computer dictionary). In regards to the poem, the “ship”, or his soul, has carried the burden of “forgetfulness,” or neglect, over a long period of time. According to the textbook, Petrarch struggled with his desire for “earthly pleasures” (his desire for Laura) and his “spiritual aspirations” (2477).Therefore, this phrase refers to Petrarch’s neglect of religious endeavors. The poem continues to explain the emotionality best fiends cheats tool of circumstance. His “ship”, or his soul, “…passes through a harsh sea, at midnight, in winter…” The “harsh sea” refers to the troubling times he has encountered due to his lack of self-restraint and his fall from religion. The fact that he is travelling “at midnight, in winter” signifies the intensity of his desolation and the callous nature of circumstance. The “ship” travels “…between Scylla and Charybdis…” which are creatures in the Odyssey, according to the textbook, that Odysseus encountered (2489). This refers to the trying times that Petrarch suffered through because of his pursuance of “earthly pleasures,” or his infatuation with Laura.

The next part of the poem elucidates the force that drives his actions. The poem continues to say, “…at the tiller sits my lord, rather my enemy…” This signifies that the “ship” is being steered by something. According to the textbook, a ship being steered by Reason “…is a traditional figure for the embodied soul” (2489). Therefore, “Reason” is the captain of the ship whereas “Love”, which is considered an “enemy”. “…each oar is manned by a ready, cruel thought that seems to scorn the tempest and the end; a wet, changeless wind of sighs, hopes, and desires breaks the sail…” (2489)

In this section of the poem, Petrarch explains how his reasoning was overwhelmed by emotionality. The first phrase of this section states that “…each oar is manned by a ready, cruel thought…” This indicates that his reasoning is becoming precarious because of the overwhelming emotion he feels. The “ship” is being “manned”, or staffed, by “cruel thoughts” The poem continues on by depicting what the distortion of his sanity causes to the “ship.” It says that his “cruel thoughts” appear to “scorn the tempest.” A tempest could be defined as best fiends hack ios either a storm or an upheaval of emotion; in this case, both definitions are accurate (computer dictionary). In a literal sense, the “tempest” could be in reference to a storm; however on a figurative level, the tempest is best defined as an upheaval of emotion. Thus, the distortion of sanity causes an angry storm of emotion.

The ending of this section of the poem states that at “…the end; a wet, changeless wind of sighs, hopes, and desires breaks the sail.” This indicates that Petrarch’s ceaseless yearning for Laura provokes the degeneration of his soul. The “wet, changeless wind of sighs, hopes, and desires…” refers to his unending feelings of “frustrated desire”. The “sail” breaking refers to his soul’s deterioration due to the failure of his desires and the anger of his drift from religious “…a rain of weeping, a mist of disdain wet and loosen the already weary ropes, made of error twisted up with ignorance…” (2490)

The next section illustrates the aftermath of the degeneration of Petrarch’s soul. The first phrase of this section states, “…a rain of weeping, a mist of disdain wet loosen the already weary ropes…” This refers to Petrarch’s disgust of the “tempest,” or storm of emotion, that has further weakened his already weak soul. He is appalled by his own emotionality towards the desire for his beloved, because he has lost his ability to reason due to his overpowering emotion. The “rain of weeping” refers to the tears he shed through his experience. The “mist of disdain wet” further describes his disgust of his emotion. The “weary ropes” that are “loosen[ed]” by the “rain of weeping” refers to his weakened soul that has been further abated

The poem continues with a further description of the “weary ropes,” or Petrarch’s weakened soul. The next phrase explains the comprised “error” that has been “twisted up with ignorance.” The “error” refers to the mistake of falling in love and losing track of a sense of spiritual-self. The “ignorance” refers to obliviousness to the consequence of falling in love. Therefore, Petrarch is disgusted with his distress of falling in love without knowing the consequence, thus, weakening his soul in the process.

“My two usual sweet stars are hidden; dead among the waves are reason and skill; so that I begin to despair of the port.” (2490) This last section describes Petrarch’s feelings of hopelessness due to circumstance. The first phrase of this section says that his “two usual sweet stars are hidden…” According to the textbook, this is in reference to “Laura’s eyes” (2490). He is unable to see Laura’s eyes, which indicates that he had been reliant on such for comfort. Petrarch’s “reason and skill” are “dead among the waves,” which signifies that his ability to reason and his aptitude for all else are no longer effectual. Therefore, he “begin[s] to world of tanks blitz cheats hack despair of the port” which means that he has lost.

According to the analysis, Petrarch was disgusted with himself for neglecting his “spiritual aspiration” due to his infatuation with Laura. He experienced various stages of grief, most of which was induced by his anger towards himself, which ends in utter despair. Petrarch’s use of symbolism manifests his “frustrated desire” for Laura, the unfairness of circumstance, and the disgust he felt for himself for drifting from religious morality.

Copyright (c) 2013 Morgan D

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