Poems from Petrarch's Canzoniere

Notes on the Poems and Illustrations


THE POEMS


I
This poem was apparently written after the others and serves as introduction and apology for the work.

XVI
"the likeness": the Veronica, a cloth preserved in St. Peter's Basilica said to be imprinted with the features of Christ.

LII
The musical setting of "Non al suo amante" is from the CD "A Medieval Banquet," performed by the Newberry Consort, on the Classical Express label.


CXXXII
From Chaucer's
Troilus and Creysede.

CXC
9-11. The warning on the collar derives from a legend that tells how, three hundred years after Caesar's death, a deer was found wearing a collar with the inscription "Noli me tangere, Caesaris sum". Caesar here is probably God.

See Sir Thomas Wyatt's lovely adaptation: Whoso list to hunt

CCIX
The hills are Petrarch's beloved refuge of Vaucluse, near Avignon, where Laura lived.

CCLXIX
"The lofty column and the laurel tree": plays on the names of Petrarch's dear friend, the cardinal Giovanni Colonna, and Laura, who both died of the plague in 1348.





THE ILLUSTRATIONS*


Portrait of Petrarch,
fresco by Andrea del Castagno
c.1450
Petrarch in Study,
by Altichiero,
14th Century

French tapestry,
16th century

French manuscript,
"Visions de Pétrarque"
c.1533

Portrait of Petrarch,
by Carpaccio,
15th Century

Italian, 16 Century?
from manuscript of
Chaucer's
"Troilus and
Criysede"
c.1399-1413

Petrarch and Laura,
16th Century?

"Les tres riches heures
du Duc de Berry" Flemish manuscript,
c.1415

French manuscript,
"Visions de Pétrarque"
c.1533

Vaucluse, ink drawing by Petrarch
in the margin of his manuscript of
Pliny

French manuscript,
"Visions de Pétrarque"
c.1533

Petrarch and Laura,
Northern Italian manuscript,
late 15th Century.

Portrait of Petrarch,
fresco by Andrea del Castagno
c.1450
Click on an image to go to the page on which it appears.
*Some of the images have been digitally altered.