know your history – 20th july – Petrarch born

know your history - writingOn this day… 20th July, 1304 – Petrarch born.

Francesco Petrarca (July 20, 1304 – July 19, 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch was an Italian scholar and poet in Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch’s rediscovery of Cicero’s letters is often credited for initiating the 14th-century Renaissance. Petrarch is often called the “Father of Humanism”. In the 16th century, Pietro Bembo created the model for the modern Italian language based on Petrarch’s works.

About the Writing

Petrarch is best known for his Italian poetry, notably the petrarchCanzoniere (“Songbook”) and the Trionfi (“Triumphs”). However, Petrarch was an enthusiastic Latin scholar and did most of his writing in this language.

Sonnet 227

English Translation by A. S. Kline

Breeze, blowing that blonde curling hair,

stirring it, and being softly stirred in turn,

scattering that sweet gold about, then

gathering it, in a lovely knot of curls again,

you linger around bright eyes whose loving sting

pierces me so, till I feel it and weep,

and I wander searching for my treasure,

like a creature that often shies and kicks:

now I seem to find her, now I realise

she’s far away, now I’m comforted, now despair,

now longing for her, now truly seeing her.

Happy air, remain here with your

living rays: and you, clear running stream,

why can’t I exchange my path for yours?

Did You Know?..

Petrarch was the first to characterise the Middle Ages as a period of darkness.