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Authors: Mark Musa

Petrarch

BOOK: Petrarch
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P
ETRARCH’S
Canzoníere

Publication of this work was assisted by a grant from the Publications Program of
the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency.

PETRARCH

THE
Canzoníere
OR
Rerum bulgaríum
fragmenta

T
RANSLATED INTO
V
ERSE WITH
N
OTES AND
C
OMMENTARY BY

Mark Musa

I
NTRODUCTION BY

Mark Musa

WITH
Barbara Manfredi

T
HIS BOOK IS A PUBLICATION OF

I
NDIANA
U
NIVERSITY
P
RESS

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© 1996
BY
M
ARK
M
USA

O
RIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 1996 BY
I
NDIANA
U
NIVERSITY
P
RESS
.

F
IRST REPRINTED IN PAPERBACK IN 1999
.

A
LL RIGHTS RESERVED

N
O PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE REPRODUCED OR UTILIZED IN ANY

FORM OR BY ANY MEANS, ELECTRONIC OR MECHANICAL, INCLUDING

PHOTOCOPYING AND RECORDING, OR BY ANY INFORMATION STORAGE

AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEM, WITHOUT PERMISSION IN WRITING FROM THE

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. T
HE
A
SSOCIATION OF
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MERICAN
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NIVERSITY
P
RESSES

R
ESOLUTION ON
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ERMISSIONS CONSTITUTES THE ONLY EXCEPTION

TO THIS PROHIBITION
.

T
HE PAPER USED IN THIS PUBLICATION MEETS THE MINIMUM

REQUIREMENTS OF
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MERICAN
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ATIONAL
S
TANDARD FOR
I
NFORMATION

S
CIENCES
—P
ERMANENCE OF
P
APER FOR
P
RINTED
L
IBRARY

M
ATERIALS
, ANSI Z39.48–1984.

M
ANUFACTURED IN THE
U
NITED
S
TATES OF
A
MERICA

L
IBRARY OF
C
ONGRESS
C
ATALOGING-IN
-P
UBLICATION
D
ATA

P
ETRARCA
, F
RANCESCO
, 1304-1374.

[R
IME
. E
NGLISH
& I
TALIAN
]

P
ETRARCH
: T
HE
C
ANZONIERE, OR
, R
ERUM VULGARIUM FRAGMENTA
/

[F
RANCESCO
P
ETRARCA
];
TRANSLATED WITH NOTES AND COMMENTARY BY
M
ARK
M
USA
;

INTRODUCTION BY
M
ARK
M
USA WITH
B
ARBARA
M
ANFREDI
.

P. CM
.

I
NCLUDES BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES AND INDEX
.

ISBN 0-253-33944-8 (
CLOTH : ALK. PAPER
)

I. M
USA
, M
ARK
.

PQU496.E23M8   1996

851′.
I
-DC20      95-35943

ISBN 0-253-21317-7 (
PAPER : ALK. PAPER
)

3 4 5 6 7 05 04 03 02 01

for
Isabella

My quick-winged one, my Love,

sacred-profane-profound,

you know how Love has bound

your lovely image to my heart,

and deep in me it dwells,

most marvelous of angels,

forever bathing in the secrets

of my heart’s naked art,

splashing the chilly waters of my words,

wetting my soul most softly with your light,

burning my mind in showers of your sound,

you streak my body with supreme delight.

O you who are intelligent in Love,

you are the one who makes my world go round.

(from
Almost Sonnets)

… non far idolo un nome
vano, senza soggetto
(128.
76–77
)

C
ONTENTS

Preface

Introduction

THE
Canzoníere

Notes and Commentary

Works Cited

Index of First Lines

Index

P
REFACE

Petrarch took no chances. He left us an autographed copy of his
Canzoniere.
How lucky we are!

The Italian text for this edition of the lyric poems is edited from the diplomatic
edition of the Vatican Library’s codex Vat. Lat. 3195 by Ettore Modigliani (Rome,
1904), part of which was written by Petrarch himself and includes the final revisions
of individual poems and their ordering. I have not, however, reproduced all of Petrarch’s
spellings from that manuscript as did Gianfranco Contini in his edition, nor have
I modernized Vat. Lat. 3195 in an inconsistent fashion as do most of the editions
I have consulted. While I do not retain all of the Latinisms of orthography, I always
keep Petrarch’s different spellings of the conjunction
and
: e, ed, and et. Since the punctuation of Vat. Lat. 3195 is not consistent and seems
to be overdone, I have adopted modern conventions of punctuation, at times introducing
quotation marks and parentheses when I thought the sense of the verse would be better
served, particularly when complicated syntax is involved. I have not, however, altered
the manuscript by using variations of indentation to indicate the parts of a ballata
(the
ritornello)
or a canzone (
fronte, sirma
, and
piedi
).

The notes to the poems were undertaken with the aim of highlighting Petrarch’s special
effects (both in language and logic) and of revealing the interconnectedness of image,
metaphor, and structure among the individual poems; the notes do not attempt to provide
an exhaustive listing of his sources and allusions, material which may be found, for
example, in editions of the lyrics by Giosuè Carducci and Severino Ferrari, or by
Nicola Zingarelli. The hope has been, first, to open up access to each poem’s complexities
and, ultimately, to show the
Canzoniere’s
value as an integrated work—as a lyrical drama to be read consecutively from beginning
to end.

Latin and Provençal sources are generally cited in the original to indicate the manner
in which Petrarch borrowed from them. Biblical sources are from the
New English Bible,
except in cases where the Latin Vulgate more nearly translates the Italian. The dating
of individual poems, unless otherwise indicated, is based on Ernest Hatch Wilkins’s
commentary in
The Making of the Canzoniere and Other Petrarchan Studies,
as well as on the Chronological Conspectus in that volume. References to Vat. Lat.
3196 derive from Wilkins’s examination of Petrarch’s working manuscript, in which
the poet composed and conserved, then revised and edited poems for his final
autograph manuscript, Vat. Lat. 3195. Some of the citations from classical authors
and from early commentators on Petrarch come from the editions of Alberto Chiari,
Nicola Zingarelli, and Giosuè Carducci and Severino Ferrari. The chronology given
on pages xxxv–xxxvi of the Introduction was selected from that outlined in Chiari’s
edition of the
Canzoniere.

Petrarch’s verse does not always flow freely and easily. At times, the syntax can
be rather convoluted or distorted, depending, of course, on the special effect the
poet is trying to achieve. His language always strives to imitate the mood and meaning
of his poems. My goal in these translations has been to preserve this delicate element
in Petrarch’s poetry and never to sacrifice the movement and meaning of the verse
to the tyranny of rhyme. I am, however, concerned with the sounds of words and their
position in my translation of each of the poems. When sound in the Italian text seems
to be the dominant element in a particular poem, I am careful to imitate this sound
by choosing words that play with and echo each other. I have strived to maintain the
same rhythm and meter in English that Petrarch uses in each of his Italian poems.
In short, I have tried to be faithful to the poem’s meaning without being too literal,
and faithful to its sound and music without being archaic or restricting myself to
a formal rhyme scheme. Nothing is as good as the original, and if any of my translations
should tempt the reader to look at Petrarch’s original on the facing page, then part
of my goal has been achieved. Petrarch’s poetry, I feel, is meant to be read aloud.
And I hope my reader will do so both in the Italian and the English. For a translation,
especially of lyric poetry, this is the decisive test.

I
NTRODUCTION

In the last months of Francesco Petrarca’s life, in 1373–1374, nearly all of the goals
he had set his heart on in his young manhood had failed to materialize. Peace was
remote as war raged not far from the little town of Arquà where he lived (an ongoing
conflict between Padua and Venice in which mercenary Turkish troops were engaged).
Hope for a return of the papal court to its seat in Rome was postponed again with
the departure of Pope Urban V for Avignon after a brief stay in the Holy City. Emperor
Charles IV remained in Bohemia, unpersuaded to extend his rule over Rome and Italy.
The established authorities continued to interpret Petrarch’s appeals for a new humanistic
age with narrow chauvinism. His wish for fame had gained him as much notoriety as
honor among people whose opinion he wanted to influence. There was a new outbreak
of plague in Bologna. And not only were the roads to Rome too often dead ends, they
were swarming with wild pigs and bandits in the absence of humane and intelligent
governing. But Petrarch was not daunted. Although he was ill with tertian fever and
attacks of dizziness, and weak in his legs from old injuries, he continued to rally
after each disappointment and to work toward what he believed was the good of the
community. His mind did not falter but became even sharper, judging from the last
letters he was known to have written. With some of his old energy he made diplomatic
journeys to restore peace, and when he could no longer travel, he sent his advice
by courier. He wrote, edited, and revised with intense concentration during this period,
bringing grand projects to a conclusion; his book of lyric poems, the
Canzoniere,
was the most important of them. The many voices speaking from these poems record
Petrarch’s hopes, struggles, losses, and disappointments, his engagement with some
of the most crucial issues of the turbulent fourteenth century.

Also called in Latin
Rerum vulgarium fragmenta
(Fragments of vernacular poetry), or in Italian
Rime sparse
(Scattered rhymes), the
Canzoniere
was anything but casually put together. It came into being as a carefully wrought
collection of lyric poems of varied form, style, and subject matter. The poems themselves
had been written over many decades, then revised, polished, and gathered by Petrarch
from time to time into manuscripts which he sent out to patrons and friends. These
were brought together in one final form and recorded in his own hand during the last
year of his life. The collection includes three hundred and seventeen sonnets, twenty-nine
canzoni, nine sestinas (one double), seven ballads, and four madrigals.

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