natural phenomena like stars and snow, or more abstract things like musical harmony, which is not itself a material object but is rooted in the physical experience. Notably, these reoccurring images always appear in fixed places. The gold, for example, is always the hair, whether in poem 52, 90, 157, 196, or in 220. Some materials, pearls for example, can be fixed in two positions; they can be teeth, as in poems one 157, 200, and 220, or the fingers, as in sonnet 199.
Thus, by predicating the image of the beloved not on the woman’s body itself but rather on the material comparisons used to recreate it, the poetry not only establishes an aesthetic ideal but also, at the same time, codifies that beauty’s poetic description. Both the speaker and the reader access the beloved through a standardized series of poetic incantations. Communion with the female ideal thus becomes based on the successful repetition of the formulaic worship of her physical beauty. Canzoniere 157 is perhaps the epitome of this stylized worship, presenting the one almighty beloved created by the poet and the poetry. While the work itself is an atypically complete vision of the face of the desired lady, it is still only a fragment of the woman herself. This fractured image is constructed from the alignment of the various disassociated physical objects:
Quel sempre acerbo et onorato giorno
mandò sì al cor l’immagine sua viva
che ‘ingegno o stil non fia mai che ‘l descriva;
ma spesso a lui co la memoria torno.
L’atto d’ogni gentil pietate adorno
e’l dolce amaro lamentar ch’i’udiva
facean dubbiar se mortal donna o diva
fosse che ‘l ciel rasserenava intorno.
La testa or fino, et calda neve il volto,
ebeno i cigli, et gli occhi eran due stele