What does Petrarch's "Sonnet 131" ("I'd sing of Love in such a novel fashion") mean?

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In Sonnet 131, Petrarch writes of his ambition to express his love in such a new way as to claim the attention of both his mistress and posterity. There is some irony in this, since the tropes he employs are rather well-worn, borrowed from Latin lyric poets such as Catullus and Propertius, with traditional imagery of roses and marble.

Petrarch begins the octave by wishing that the sheer novelty of the way in which he expresses love (rather than intensity or poetic skill, both of which are more in evidence), would force Laura to love him as he loves her. It is striking that he thinks of reciprocity rather than consummation: not of the two of them being united in love, but of her sighing for him as he now sighs for her. He would like to excite her compassion and regret, looking to the past rather than the future, focusing on the pain she has already caused him rather than any notion of joy in the future.

The sestet turns from Laura to Petrarch's hopes of posthumous fame, whereupon the poet's...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 914 words.)

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