670 years ago Francesco Petrarch settled down to write of his love for young Laura, spied by him on an April day and stolen by the plague exactly a year later. His work is one of civilization’s most immaculate achievements, opening out into spirituality and nature and refining the sonnet form. Following his acclaimed translation of Dante’s Inferno, ‘immediately joins ranks with the very best available in English’ (Richard Lansing), Peter Thornton brings the poetry of Petrarch to the 21st Century in direct and luminous verse.
Here’s a sample madrigal, number 52 in a sequence of 366 poems:
However much Diana may have pleased
the lover who by like chance spied her bare
amid the frigid water, I no less
delighted in the shy hill shepherdess
washing a wisp of veil to keep her hair,
glinting with gold, protected from the breeze.
And even now, when the sky burns above,
she makes me shiver with a chill of love.