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salves his wounded vanity by telling himself that now she is not utterly indifferent. While she lives, this is the very thing he complains of—her obduracy, her cruelty.
Petrarch, in his moments of soberness, recognises the folly of this attachment. He sighs over lost The spirit and days and nights spent in idle thoughts, the flesh. and lje prays the lather of Heaven that
he may return to another life and fairer enterprises. The sonnet enshrining this petition was written eleven years after his subjection to the "tyrannous yoke," and was doubtless inspired by the solemnities of the fast. But when his prayer is answered, and he obtains some relief from his yoke, even then he is not satisfied—
"Oime! il giogo e le catene e ceppi
He has loved so long that to cease from love would be a sort of suicide. And yet, when she is dead, he would not, if he could, see her once more alive. Not for her sake—he is too great an egoist for that—but inasmuch as her death was a providential deliverance from trouble and temptation. Now that the danger is past, he is profoundly thankful that she never yielded to his wishes—
"Oh quant' era peggior farmi contento!"
"Benedetta colei ch' a miglior vita
Were it not for the "white lies" in which Petrarch can be shown to have indulged, I should be inclined to take these hints literally. Avignon was in the heart of Troubadour-land, and, morally, in bad odour, while Petrarch himself was very far from being immaculate. But the general character of his allusions would imply that their acquaintance was rather distant; and, in Petrarch's verse, an ounce of fact leavens an indefinite amount of imagination. He professes to know what he is very unlikely to have known—for instance, the precise manner of Laura's passing. The description in the Triumph of Death is admirable, but is written so as to suggest that he was present on the occasion; and who will credit that? Is not the entire passage a reminiscence, not of Laura's removal from the world, but of the Vita Nuova?
This raises the larger question of this poet's relations with his predecessors. Petrarch would have us i m . believe that he was a kind of poetical Pallas, that he owed nothing to earlier rhymers. It seems that his long silence with respect to Dante had given rise to suspicions of envy and jealousy. In a letter to Boccaccio he denies this imputation, remarking that, when a young man, he had purposely abstained from reading poetry in the vernacular lest he should be betrayed into imitation. It is extremely unfortunate, but no less indubitably true, that no reliance can be placed on this, and little on any other of Petrarch's assertions, however deliberate. Thus in his sonnet & io avessi pensato he declares that he sought
"Pur di sfogare il doloroso core
whereas in his Poetical Epistles he affirms the contrary, that he had written his Italian verses for the sake of glory. So also, with regard to his professed ignorance of Komance poetry, the statement cannot be received implicitly. It may be that he did not possess a wide acquaintance with modern productions, but it is simply incredible that he should have lived at Avignon yet know nothing of Provencal letters; and equally so that he should have obtained such a mastery of Italian verse without a novitiate in the art.
Of actual verbal imitation the Canzoniere certainly contains but little. Commentators long
ago pointed out the resemblance between
"Benedetto sia '1 giorno e '1 mese e 1' anno" and Peire Vidal's
"Ben aial temps el jorns e 1' ans el mes."
The ode Mai non vo' pin cantar is an essay in the "obscure manner" of the Troubadours, while & il dissi mai is an escondig, in composing which Petrarch had probably before his mind Bertran de Born's Eu m' escondisc domna que mal non mier. If we turn to the Italian poets, it is hard not to think that the sonnet Gli angeli eletti e I' anime beate was suggested by Cino's consolatory ode to Dante on the death of Beatrice. Petrarch says that the denizens of Heaven press round his lady—
"Piene di maraviglia e di pietate."
They say among themselves—
"Che luce fe questa, e qual nova beltate?"
In the earlier and ruder poem we find analogous expressions—
"Secondo ch' era qua giu maraviglia
"Per nova cosa ogni santo la inira."
Petrarch feigns that Laura, in her celestial progress, half turns from time to time to see if he follows. But neither is Beatrice indifferent. Dante's spirits, which "often make that voyage," have brought back tidings that she was welcomed by the angels with sweet laugh and song; and Cino goes on to say, "she speaks of you to those blessed ones," and "prays God, their true Lord, to comfort you."
The resemblances are not perhaps so close as absolutely to exclude the theory of coincidence.
Suppose the two poets to have lighted by
Die Triumphs. \r r , 11 1
accident on the same germinal thought, and they would be certain to develop the idea in much the same way. Anyhow, these isolated loans are very trifling matters. Weighed against Petrarch's solid and well-earned reputation, they are as dust in the balance. The case of the Triumphs is no doubt somewhat different. In projecting the series he went, so to speak, out of his way. He was born to be, not a painter, but a singer. He did not see—he felt. Then why should he have attempted poetry so directly opposed to his own natural genius? The reason is plain. Just as with respect to his Africa his emulation was fired by the jEncid, so, in later days, the glory of Dante's Comedy rendered him ambitious of a like success. That this was his motive is proved by the identity of the metre.
Petrarch designed his poem on a scale not less magnificent than that of Dante. Like Dante, too, he dealt with vast questions, affecting humanity as a whole, in relation to his own vicissitudes. The general idea is that of a vast procession, or series of processions, similar to the triumphs of victorious Eoman leaders as pictured in the bas-reliefs of ancient monuments —for example, in the "historical poem" of Trajan's Column, the sculptures whereof
And lead through various toils up the rough steep
In Petrarch's scheme Love triumphs over Man — Charity over Love—Death over Charity—Fame over Death—Time over Fame—and God over Time. Each of these conquerors is attended by a train of celebrities, most of them taken from ancient history or legend. The poem is a failure. The fundamental notion — that of an endless succession of the dead filing before the eyes of the spectator—does not admit