Study Guide

Italia Mia Speaker

By Petrarch

Speaker

The speaker of this poem is impassioned, impatient, and desperate to get this poem read by any nobleman who will listen. His love for Italy spurs him on and he appears to be fearless in his tone. We're not sure if we would even speak to our superiors in the way that Petrarch's speaker does. Take a listen:

What fault, what judgment, or what destiny
makes you harass your wretched
neighbor, and broken, scattered fortunes
persecute
(57-60)

He's definitely being saucy with the Italian princes, but he clearly feels that he has a right to his indignation. In stanza six (81-86), the speaker cedes the floor to Italians everywhere, giving them a general speech filled with love for the homeland and tinged with anger at the treatment of both land and self by their lords. It's their land, too.

The speaker rarely backs down from upbraiding the elite's stupidity. There are only two moments when he steps back to remind his audience that he has a duty to speak the truth (15-16) and that he speaks the truth with no malice (63-64). Even in the envoi (stanza 8), the speaker keeps up his low opinion of the nobility, telling his poem to "express your sentiments with courtesy,/ for you must go among a haughty people" (114-115).

Though he's asking for peace, don't expect this speaker to ask for it meekly.

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