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Francesco Petrarch

Edited by J.G. Nichols

Translated by J.G. Nichols

Cover Picture of Canzoniere
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Categories: Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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(Pub. Feb 2000)
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  • Laura, renowned for her own virtues and so long celebrated in my poems, was first seen by me in my early manhood, in the year of our Lord 1327, on the sixth day of April, in the church of Saint Clare, Avignon, in the morning hour; and in the same city in the same month of April on the same sixth day at the same first hour of the morning, but in the year 1348, was that light taken from the light of day, when I as it happened was in Verona, unaware, alas, of my fate. The sorrowful news, however, reached me in Parma the same year...

    A note made by Petrarch in his copy of Virgil

    The Canzoniere of Petrarch (1304-74) is among Europe's most famous and influential books of lyrics. The focus of this large collection (7,500 lines) is Petrarch's lifelong love for the mysterious Laura, but the themes he treats are many and various. Often regarded as the first modern man to emerge from a mediaeval world, Petrarch remains modern in his perplexities, uncertainties, the hesitancies and diffidence he reveals, paradoxically, with assured artistry. J.G.Nichols brings out the obsessive passion, but also his wit and serious humour:

    The saying's all too true: we lose our hair
    but not our habits; and our failing sense
    does not make mortal feelings less intense.
    The shade our bodies cast is guilty here

    from 'Poem 122'

    This is a rare event - a new verse translation of the whole of the Canzoniere, with notes on the page which illuminate difficulties and suggest the many connections between the poems. They are not randomly collected; they constitute a complex whole which continues to disclose new aspects as we look from different angles. Even those poems which have long been famous in the English of Wyatt and Surrey gain when read in context.

    J.G. NICHOLS was born in 1930 and graduated from Liverpool University. He has published translations of the Colloquies of Guido Gozzano, of Halcyon by Gabriele d'Annunzio, and of Leopardi's Canti, all with Carcanet; a volume of his own poetry, The Flighty Horse; and criticism of the work of Ben Jonson and Sir Philip Sidney.
    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
    J.G. Nichols
    ... read more
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