Study Guide

Chiare Fresche et Dolci Acque Admiration

By Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch

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Clear, cool, sweet running waters
where she, for me the only
woman, would rest her lovely body (1-3)

In Petrarch's mind, Laura is, well, da bomb. She is literally the definition of womanhood for him. It's interesting to note, however, that he seems to be mostly focused on her youth and beauty. Perhaps that's to be expected from an unfulfilled love.

[...] and she was sitting there
humble in such glory
now covered in a shower of love's blooms:
a flower falling in her lap,
some fell on her blond curls
like pearls set into gold
they seemed to me that day (43-49)

Laura's an irresistible picture here, adorned with the "jewels" of nature, which seem more fetching on her than gold or diamonds could ever be. It's really an image that sticks with Petrarch, and one that clearly reaches into his heart as well as his memory.

How often I would say
at that time, full of awe:
"For certain she was born up in Heaven!"
And her divine behavior,
her face and words and sweet smile
so filled me with forgetfulness (53-58)

So we've stepped a bit beyond simple admiration here. We think the word for Petrarch at this stage is "gobsmacked." Absolutely everything about Laura's comportment ("divine behavior"?!) says Heaven. Interestingly, Petrarch suffers from geographical amnesia here, even though he seems to remember the physical details and emotional responses pretty well. Priorities, we guess.

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