Petrarch and Laura: 366 sonnets of unrequited love

Petrarch and Laura: 366 sonnets of unrequited love

Aify recalls the love story that marked the beginning of the Italian Renaissance.

6 April, 1327, the first meeting with Francesco Petrarca with Laura. A married woman became the great poet’s longtime Muse, sublime, and unattainable dream. It is unknown, she knew Laura about his feelings or not.

366 sonnets

Bless the day, minute, share
Minutes, time of year, a month, a year,
And place, and the chapel of the miraculous one
Where bright eyes tricked me captive.

So Petrarch reminisced about his first meeting with the blonde beauty Laura, who forever stole his peace.

That fateful meeting occurred on Easter, April 6, we know from the words of the poet who left about this day not only poetic lines, but detailed remembering: “Laura, famous for its virtues and long celebrated in my songs, first appeared to my eyes at the dawn of my youth, in the year of our Lord 1327, on the morning of 6 April, in the Cathedral of St. Clara, in Avignon”.

She was twenty years old, he is twenty — three. Their meeting could be the beginning of a happy love story: Laura was already married, and Petrarch was the vow of celibacy. The lover could only throw languorous glances on the Beautiful Lady and sing her praises in his sonnets, canzone, sexting, ballads, madrigals….

366 sonnets dedicated to Laura, the poet joined in the “Book of songs”, which glorified not only his feelings but also the poetry itself — and celebrating the love of man to woman, not a slave to God, Petrarch initiated the era of proto-Renaissance through (to the stage in the history of Italian culture before the Renaissance).

Angel in the flesh

Three years after a fateful encounter, the poet, who preferred to lead a wandering life, spent in Avignon.

Researchers do not know the answer to the question: if they exchanged during this time, one word?

Did Laura about a passionate feelings of the great Italian? But that the Muse of Petrarch was a worthy consort, no doubt, and in the eyes of a lover she is a real angel:

Among thousand women, only one was
My heart struck invisibly.
Only with the appearance of good Seraphim
She matched the beauty could.

Historians are inclined to believe that the Muse of Petrarch was Laura De New — Golden-haired daughter of Sindika Avignon Debera de New, the mother of 11 children. However, the love of Petrarch in many ways is like the story of Dante and Beatrice in both cases, skeptics doubt the real existence of Muses. In their opinion, a Beautiful Lady was just a figment of the imagination of romantic poets.

In any letter of Petrarch Laura’s name is not mentioned (with the exception of letters to the descendants, where he talks about his past love, and letter, which denies accusations that it is not real). Basic information about Laura can be gleaned from the handwritten notes of Petrarch and his poetic lines, where her name is usually found in the pun — Golden, Laurel, air. But the accuracy of the image of the Muse is the fact that once the poet ordered a cameo with her portrait painter of the Avignon Curia:

Us this the face of a beautiful says
What on Earth is heaven she’s a tenant,
Those best places where flesh the spirit is not hidden,
And that such a portrait could not be born,
When the Artist with the ethereal orbit
Went here on mortal wives to marvel

His fanatical Platonic love of Petrarch was justified by the fact that it was she who helped him to get rid of earthly weaknesses, it was she who raised him. But even this noble sense didn’t prevent the great poet to have two illegitimate children from different women (their names, history is silent).


Laura and Petrarch last met September 27, 1347, six months before the death of a Beautiful Lady, which, by fateful coincidence occurred 21 years after their first meeting, but in the same city on the same day and month.

So far it is not known from which he died beloved of the poet. Perhaps it was the plague (was raging in those years in Avignon), and possibly, tuberculosis. But for Petrarch the death of his beloved became a disaster:

Extinguished my light, and darkness enveloped the spirit —
So, the sun is hiding, the moon holds the Eclipse,
And in Gorky, a fateful stupid
I’m death to get away from this death happy.

The great Italian was not able to come to terms with the death of Laura. The poet continued to annually celebrate the day of a new sonnet, referring to his beloved as a living. Russian translator of Petrarch Alexey Berdnikov wrote about it this way: “it Seems that Laura is dead he has been, could not be. Just had another one, but again live.”

And shortly before his own death, which occurred 26 years later, Petrarch confessed that in life he had only two wishes — Laura and Laurus (i.e. glory). Glory caught up with the great poet during his lifetime, with Laura, he hoped to be reunited in the other world: “nothing I think, except for her.”