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What does Petrarch's Sonnet 90 say about true love, and what poetic techniques does he...

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What does Petrarch's Sonnet 90 say about true love, and what poetic techniques does he use?

Petrarch: Sonnet 90

Upon the breeze she spread her golden hair
that in a thousand gentle knots was turned
and the sweet light beyond all radiance burned
in eyes where now that radiance is rare;

and in her face there seemed to come an air
of pity, true or false, that I discerned:
I had love's tinder in my breast unburned,
was it a wonder if it kindled there?

She moved not like a mortal, but as though
she bore an angel's form, her words had then
a sound that simple human voices lack;

a heavenly spirit, a living sun
was what I saw; now, if it is not so,
the wound's not healed because the bow goes.

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Petrarch's Sonnet doesn't speak of true love, it speaks of unrequited love that lives on in painful memories. True love is most logically equated with love is reciprocated between two people. In this Sonnet, The speaker reminisces about a bygone time when he watched the object of his affection, to whom he had not declared his affection ("I had love's tinder in my breast unburned, / was it a wonder if it kindled there?" or according to Norton's, "I had love's tinder heaped within my breast; / What wonder that the flame burnt furiously?") and he describes her and what he remembers seeing. His descriptions are examples of the literary technique (one of two literary device categories) of hyperbole in which things are exaggerated. For instance, "a thousand gentle knots" and "sweet light beyond all radiance burned / in eyes... " are both examples of the exaggeration of hyperbole.

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Posted (Answer #2)

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Petrarch's Sonnet 90 says, in subtext, that true love must be sought and that action must be taken if one is to have a chance of experiencing true love. As noted above by Karen P.L. Hardison, the sonnet speaks of this man who did not take advantage of the opportunity for true love presented to him in his life. This man missed his chance with her and "the wound's not healed."

Petrarch's Sonnet 90 does present the feelings of true love, even though this man has not really experienced it. His reminiscences of the woman are manifestations of a true love locked inside him. He didn’t take action; he is now left to ponder the beauty of the woman, her essence. This is evident in the line:

She moved not like a mortal, but as though

she bore an angel's form...

The man also speaks of the woman’s voice. It was a voice beautiful and exclusive, unlike anyone else’s. This is how one typically thinks when thinking of a true love – that their qualities, characteristics, and personality are truly one-of-a-kind. This is what draws one individual to another – this recognition and acceptance of their uniqueness.

Poetic techniques used in Petrarch's Sonnet 90 include the sonnet form itself. The fourteen-line rhyme scheme is ABBA, ABBA in the first two stanzas (4 lines each). For the last two stanzas (three lines each) the rhyme scheme is CDE FCC, a variation on the usual CDE CDE or CDC DCD rhyme scheme.

This sonnet also employs alliteration:

…radiance is rare

a sound that simple

was it a wonder

In addition, the technique of metaphor is used in this sonnet. The object of the man’s desire is being identified like or compared to a heavenly spirit, a living sun” and this reveals what the man truly sees her as. It also reveals that he realizes he has let her out of his life to his chagrin.

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