Friday, August 11, 2006

Petrarch and our Laura's

Among the poets perhaps the best is Petrarch. He almost inspires me to learn Italian. What gets me most as his poems to Laura. Yes, it's lame. Yes he's sort of pathetic in that he probably didn't even talk to the woman, but rather wrote poems about her for two decades, but it doesn't matter. That's the beauty of it. When we find our own Laura's we begin to understand him. I haven't yet pined for twenty years, but I have it in me. The unrequited love... the kind that cannot stand the inevitable 'no', that's the kind that burns the stomach and churns to inner acid.

So far I've had two candidates for 'Laura' status, especially the one several years ago. The untouchable ones who reject all of our advances despite themselves. The chaste suppression of feelings in favor of committments... those are the ones men like me yearn for.

Petrarch, The Canzoniere

You who hear the sound, in scattered rhymes,
of those sighs on which I fed my heart,
in my first vagrant youthfulness,
when I was partly other than I am,

I hope to find pity, and forgiveness,
for all the modes in which I talk and weep,
between vain hope and vain sadness,
in those who understand love through its trials.

Yet I see clearly now I have become
an old tale amongst all these people, so that
it often makes me ashamed of myself;

and shame is the fruit of my vanities,
and remorse, and the clearest knowledge
of how the world's delight is a brief dream.

Letter to Posterity (fragment)

In my younger days I struggled constantly with an overwhelming but pure love affair - my only one, and I would have struggled with it longer had not premature death, bitter but salutary for me, extinguished the cooling flames. I certainly wish I could say that I have always been entirely free from desires of the flesh, but I would be lying if I did.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm a happily married man and I can tell you that someday it will happen for you too, or maybe not, but don't worry about it. Life is too short to take yourself this seriously. Relax. Wait, bide your time, and live in the present moment.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Roland said...

Thanks for the comment, although I've yet to decide if being married would spell "Laura's" relief, or increase their number:-p

9:02 AM  

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