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Petrarch: Songs and Sonnets (2e)

A Reading

Francesco Petrarch

Edited by Nicholas Kilmer

Translated by Nicholas Kilmer

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Series: Poetica
Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Edition: 2nd
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback 2e (184 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2011)
£12.95 £11.65
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author


    You call this action? Thought? This looking backwards?
    Past time can’t find its way into the future.
    The exercise adds wood to the fire where you are burning.

    Yes, you have catalogued kind words and sweet regards.
    They, in their turn, have been snatched out of this earth.
    It is too late to catch them.They are gone.

    You’ll start again what means to kill you,
    Chasing falsehoods and vagaries.
    No.Take a dependable guide.

    Look. Look into the heavens.
    You saw her beauty badly while it lived,
    And having died, it steals all hope of peace.


    The birds weep. That is weeping, those green
    Leaves scraping against each other in the summer wind.
    Clear water of rivers cries against banks blossoming.

    I sit, thinking love, and writing: what heaven revealed,
    Earth hides. Still, I can see and hear her, know her for
          a living being
    Answering my distress from a great distance,

    “You devour yourself with grieving.Why?
    This river of tears – how does your sadness match
         my circumstance?

    You think death closed my eyes? No, they are opened.
    The light within is lasting.” 

    ‘Petrarch deserves to be valued as a real man, a careful thinker, a good poet,’ writes Nicholas Kilmer introducing his enlarged selection of the great Italian poet who lived from 1304 to 1374. Free in form yet holding close to the central impulses of Petrarch's inspiration, Kilmer's ‘readings’ in this bilingual edition present Petrarch as a confessional poet and a humane moralist of startling honesty.

    The book is divided into two parts: poems written during Laura’s lifetime, and poems written after her death. In this last section Kilmer revisits Petrarch’s poems many years after translating the poems of Laura’s lifetime, thus completing his picture of Petrarch's abiding inspiration.

    Francesco Petrarch
        Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca) was born in 1304 in Arezzo, Tuscany, to Florentine parents. His early years were spent in the Avignon area of France, to which he repeatedly returned after many trips around Europe. Although he was a cleric in minor orders, his whole life was spent as a scholar ... read more
    Nicholas Kilmer
    Formerly Dean of the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, MA, Nicholas Kilmer has made his living as an art dealer and curator since leaving teaching in 1982. He is editor of the Frederick Carl Frieseke Catalogue Raisonné and the biographer of record for the American painter Thomas Buford Meteyard ... read more
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