OVERRIDE

The Poetry of Petrarch

Petrarch; Translated by David Young

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Ineffable sweetness, bold, uncanny sweetness
that came to my eyes from her lovely face;
from that day on I'd willingly have closed them,
never to gaze again at lesser beauties.
--from Sonnet 116

Petrarch was born in Tuscany and grew up in the south of France. He lived his life in the service of the church, traveled widely, and during his lifetime was a revered, model man of letters.

Petrarch's greatest gift to posterity was his Rime in vita e morta di Madonna Laura, the cycle of poems popularly known as his songbook. By turns full of wit, languor, and fawning, endlessly inventive, in a tightly composed yet ornate form they record their speaker's unrequited obsession with the woman named Laura. In the centuries after it was designed, the "Petrarchan sonnet," as it would be known, inspired the greatest love poets of the English language--from the times of Spenser and Shakespeare to our own.

David Young's fresh, idiomatic version of Petrarch's poetry is the most readable and approachable that we have. In his skillful hands, Petrarch almost sounds like a poet out of our own tradition bringing the wheel of influence full circle.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Poetry of Petrarch

“David Young’s version of Petrarch will refresh our images of the West’s crucial lyric poet. We are given a Petrarch in our own vernacular, with echoes of Wyatt, Shakespeare, and many who come after.” --Harold Bloom

"To read love poetry--to speak of the language of love--is to read Petrarch, who is largely responsible for inventing what W. B. Yeats called 'the old high way of love.' David Young has made the old way new again: his translation is limpid, uncluttered, rhythmically alive, and, above all, readable. Lovers of poetry will discover here the language they have spoken all their lives." --James Longenbach

“David Young’s new version of Petrarch makes this great poet seem closer to us than before, both in language and as a living presence. His marginal comments and introduction help to convey a coherent sense of Petrarch the man, his life and the myth he made of it.” --W.S. Merwin

"True love--or rather, the truest --is always obsessive and unrequited. No one has better dramatized how it scorches the heart and fires the imagination than Petrarch did, centuries ago. He dipped his pen in tears and wrote the poems that have shaped our sense of love--its extremes of longing and loss--ever since. Now in David Young's elegant new versions, his songs are as soaring and searing as ever. Indeed, not only is this a vibrant translation for our day but, their immense range slowly savored, these poems will sound anew the depths of each reader's own heart." --J.D. McClatchy

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Petrarch; Translated by David Young

  • The sonnets of Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca, 1304-74) helped to establish Italian as a literary language. David Young is the author of nine volumes of poetry, most recently of At the White Window.
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The Poetry of Petrarch

Petrarch; Translated by David Young

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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