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Petrarch and the Sonnet Tradition

Vocabulary: sonnet, Petrarchan, meter, poetic speaker, implied audience, octave, sestet, sonnet cycle.


Lecture or Handouts: Be able to use scansion markings and/or rhyme markings to identify the parts of a sonnet.

Identify the following characters:

Cupid ("Love")

Reading Questions:

  • Explain the difference between an Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet and an English (Shakespearean) sonnet.
  • On what day did the speaker have his fateful encounter with the girl?
  • What caused the speaker's guard to go down? What bound him and captured him? Why is that image of being captured an impossible one?
  • What does the speaker mean by claiming his eyes were an open highway to the heart?
  • What is the classical allusion used in the poem concerning "love wounding the speaker with his shaft"? (I.e., what deity does the poem allude to here from mythology?) Why do you suppose that way of fighting is "no honourable part"?
  • Why does love not lift the bow to shoot the girl? How is she armed or dangerous?


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