Study Guide

Chiare Fresche et Dolci Acque Admiration

By Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch

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He sees her across a crowded piazza on a Sunday outside of church. She doesn't even know he exists. She will never care. This will not stop him from dedicating his entire life to her. Sound familiar? While the scenario may seem trite or cliché to us now, guys like Petrarch created the conventions we apply to one-sided crushes in our day.

Petrarch had his own betty to worry about. Laura is gorgeous, young, pure of heart. What he loves about her may not hold up on closer inspection, but it doesn't matter—he'll never get the chance to put those qualities to the test. It's kind of an ideal situation. This type of admiration isn't meant to go anywhere or gratify anyone else. Canzone 126 all about Petrarch and his emotional response to a beautiful, untouchable stimulus (or would that be "stimula"?).

Questions About Admiration

  1. What qualities does Petrarch admire about Laura? Can you tell from reading this poem? Why or why not?
  2. How does Petrarch's appreciation for Laura affect his relationship with the world around him?
  3. In what ways does Petrarch's general mode of admiration extend to the poem itself?
  4. How does the poet's sense of wonderment towards his beloved work with the sorrowful tone of the poem?

Chew on This

Looks schmooks—Petrarch's esteem for Laura is defined not primarily by her beauty, but by the poet's ability to be transported away from reality when he sees her.

In Canzone126, the poet's enjoyment of beauty is complicated by his emotional response to his absent beloved.

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