(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Although this first lyric, Sonnet 1, in Canzoniere was probably written well after many of those poems eventually included in the collection, Petrarch placed it first as an entry piece for the reader. The poem is by no means “original” in the modern sense of the term, for the rhetorical technique of renouncing previous positions was already conventional in poetry by the time that Petrarch wrote the piece. In this acceptance of poetic tradition and convention, the poem is typical of much in the Canzoniere. Later poets would follow this example, notably Sir Philip Sidney in Astrophil and Stella (1591) and Edmund Spenser in the Amoretti (1595). As an “entrance poem,” the sonnet introduces some of the major themes and characteristics of the entire collection.

The poem is a typical Petrarchan sonnet, with a rhyme scheme of abbaabba cdecde, and the syntax adheres to the octave/sestet structure, each portion composed of a single sentence. In the octave, the speaker renounces his former foolishness, the “errant youth” that he had spent pursuing the “vain and empty hope” of earthly “Love.” He presents himself as “Another man,” one who has learned from his experience and is now imploring “Pardon” and “Pity” from the reader. This first speech of the unifying persona of the Canzoniere not only creates the speaker and the audience but also establishes the relationship between the...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

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