Study Guide

Italia Mia Stanza 7

By Petrarch

Stanza 7

Lines 97-102

My lords, take note of how time flies
on earth as well as how our life
is fleeing, and how Death is at our backs.
Now you are here, but think of your departure:
the soul, alone and naked,
one day will come to face the perilous pass.

  • If he can't convince them with logic, Petrarch hopes to sober up his audience with visions of a personified Death nipping at their heels. 
  • And Death will be the least of their problems. He's reminding the Italian nobility that they will have to make it through the "perilous pass"—an image of the tricky terrain of the afterlife popularized by Dante in his epic poem Purgatorio.
  • The idea behind all of these threats is really a simple one: if the nobility screws up morally in this life, divine judgment will be wicked for them.

Lines 103-112

As you pass through this valley,
Now put aside your hatred and disdain,
those winds that blow against a peaceful life;
and all the time you spend
in giving others pain, to some more worthy act
of hand or intellect,
to some beautiful praise,
to worthy dedication be converted:
thus here on earth is joy,
and open is the pathway to the heavens.

  • In line 103, Petrarch is talking about earthly life (not the afterlife, as in lines 97-102) when he speaks of "pass[ing] through this valley." He's pretty likely referencing the line of a prayer (Salve Regina), which talks about earth as "this valley of tears."
  • This would put the next few lines into perspective. Petrarch advises the nobles to quit the destructive behavior and get on with projects that make the world a better place—you know, like maybe building chicken coops, or doing needlepoint.
  • Whatever positive things they choose to do will make everything fall into place: Italy gets to be the Garden of Eden, as it should be, and the nobles get to go to heaven after death for being good leaders.

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