In "Sonnet 131" (I'd sing of Love in such a novel fashion) by Petrarch, what is the intent of the author/speaker? What message is supposed to be conveyed? Is the message stated directly or indirectly?...

In "Sonnet 131" (I'd sing of Love in such a novel fashion) by Petrarch, what is the intent of the author/speaker? What message is supposed to be conveyed? Is the message stated directly or indirectly? Please include quotes.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Petrarch's speaker first conveys the message that the woman he loves is cruel and cold to him. If he could, he would force her to sigh with longing for him, and he would fill her with warm desires for him.

He continues this fantasy in the second stanza, in which he envisions her crying and growing more compassionate, to the point she regrets making him suffer the way she has done.

In the third stanza, the speaker conveys that this fantasy is as likely to take place as seeing roses bloom in the snow or ivory turn into marble.

He finishes by saying he would be glad to turn her coldness to regret—in essence, to continue the painful process of being in an unsatisfactory relationship with her—because, after all, he is more focused on his future glory that his current discontent. What he means by future glory is ambiguous: he could be talking about heaven, or he could he mean his future fame as a poet.

Essentially, the speaker wants to communicate his discontent to his beloved by sending her (or having her read) this verse. He would like her to change and become more compassionate and warm towards him. While he thinks this is unlikely to happen, he says directly that this is his wish.

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mitchrich4199 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the first two stanzas, the speaker relates to a "love" that he is unable to woo at first. He must work hard at it, drawing “by force/a thousand sighs a day, kindling again/in her cold mind a thousand high desires.”  The second stanza suggests that this person has done him wrong. He’s comparing his love to someone “who feels regret...for causing someone’s suffering by mistake.” While this is a comparison, it still suggests that she’s not treated him fairly, but that he’s willing to look past that.

The scarlet roses in the snow and the ivory that “turns to marble those who see in near them” can be looked at symbolically. There’s a sense of purity, but also of blemish. Again, he’s willing to let the “blemish” of the roses roll past him because of his love for her. Finally, in the last stanza, he knows that this will cause great suffering, but he doesn’t “mind/[his] discontentment in this one short life,/but [looks for] glory rather in [his] later fame. The later fame is the afterlife.

 

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booksnake eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The message in Petrarch's "Sonnet 131" is that love is hard and leaves one discontented but is still considered glorious to pursue. This message is stated in a way that is not particularly direct. The body of the poem, while essential for understanding the ways the poet things that love is cold and that it only takes but does not give, interrupts the sentence that gives the clearest idea of the poem's meaning:

I'd sing of love in such a novel fashion...because I do not mind
my discontentment in this one short life,
but glory rather in my later fame.

Here, Petrarch appears to be making a bit of a joke about his position as a poet. The glory he expects seems to be the glory of a poet well remembered. So, the message of the poem revolves around the idea that people will glorify poets who speak of love in such novel ways, even though love itself is cold, unfeeling, and so often disappointing.

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