Medieval Love Poetry reached its peak with Francesco Petrarch's Rime sparse

Let us look at 5 more medieval love poetry from Petrarch's Rime sparse as collated in the Canzoniere (song book).

34. 'Apollo, s'anchor vive il bel disio'

Apollo, if that sweet desire is still alive

that inflamed you by the river of Thessaly,

and if with the passing years you've not already

forgotten that beloved blonde hair:

defend the honoured and sacred leaves now,

where you long ago, and I lately, were caught,

through the slow frost and harsh and cruel time

that is endured while you hide your face:

and by the power of that amorous hope

that sustained you, though life was bitter,

disburden the air of this dark weather:

so we may see by a miracle together

our lady seated on the grass

lifting her arms to make herself a shade.

Poem 34 is a classic of sorts. Petrarch calls upon Apollo, the Greek sun god as his ally in their joint foray into the vagaries of unfulfilled love. If Apollo's is steeped in antiquity, the poet acknowledges that his own fired passions are recent. He invokes the deity to illustrate the depth of his own feelings for Laura, which equates the sun god's longing for his love. Powerful medieval love poetry!

Here is Medieval love poetry 36, from the Rime sparse:

36. 'S'io credesse per morte essere scarco'

If I believed I could free myself, by dying,

from amorous thoughts that bind me to the earth,

I would already have laid these troubled limbs

and their burden in the earth myself:

but because I fear to find a passage

from tears to tears, and one war to another,

I remain in the midst, alas, of staying and crossing

on this side of the pass that is closed to me.

There has been enough time now

for the merciless bow to fire its final arrow

bathed and dyed already with others' blood:

yet Love does not take me, or that deaf one

who has painted me with his own pallor,

and still forgets to call me to him.

Medieval love poetry 42, from the Rime sparse continues to illustrate Petrarch's impeccable classic background:

42. 'Ma poi che 'l dolce riso humile et piano'

But now that her clear sweet humble smile

no longer hides the freshness of her beauty,

that Sicilian smith of ancient times

works his arms at the forge in vain,

for Jupiter lets the weapons fall from his hand,

tempered though they were in Etna's fires,

and Juno his sister begins to clear the air

under Apollo's lovely gaze on every side.

A breeze blows from the western shore

that makes it safe to sail without art,

and fills the grass with flowers in every meadow.

Harmful stars vanish from the whole sky,

scattered by that beloved, lovely face,

for which I've already shed so many tears.

56. 'Se col cieco desir che 'l cor distrugge'

If, through blind desire that destroys the heart,

I do not deceive myself counting the hours,

now, while I speak these words, the time nears

that was promised to pity and myself.

What shade is so cruel as to blight the crop

which was so near to a lovely harvest?

And what wild beast is roaring in my fold?

What wall is set between the hand and grain?

Ah, I do not know: but I see only too well

that in joyous hope love led me on

only to make my life more sorrowful.

And now I remember words that I have read:

before the day of our final parting

we should not call any man blessed.

59. 'Perché quel che mi trasse ad amar prima,'

Though another's fault takes me away

from what drew me to my first bitterness,

I am not moved from my fixed desire.

Love hid the noose he caught me with

among that golden hair:

and cold ice came from those lovely eyes

that passed into my heart,

with the power of a sudden splendour,

that, merely remembering it, all other wishes

are driven from my soul.

Alas, since then, the sweet sight of that

blonde hair

has been taken from me:

and the vanishing of those two true and lovely


has saddened me with their flight:

but since dying well brings us honour,

despite grief or death,

I do not wish Love to loose me from this knot.

There are more examples from Petrarch's medieval love poetry from his Rime sparse:

Petrarch 7

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