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

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tuckingfypo | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 9, 2010 at 5:26 PM via web

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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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K.P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted June 14, 2010 at 3:07 AM (Answer #1)

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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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