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engaging that tradition in ways other than faithful reproduction of the aesthetic ideal.  This is not to say, of course, that Berni did not Petrarchize his works, which is to predicate the function of certain elements of his poems on a direct relationship to original Petrarchan works, and even, in certain cases, to the tradition of Petrarchism itself.  Consider, for example, Berni’s sonnet “Chiome d’argento fino,” also referred to as the Sonetto alla sua donna, which directly confronts the constrictive aesthetic reproduction of works such as Bembo’s “Crin d’oro crespo.”23  Berni’s sonnet criticizes the vacuous project of Petrarchism while at the same time breathing new life into the original Petrarchan poetic project.

Chiome d’argento fino, irte e attorte

senz’arte intorno ad un bel viso d’oro;

fronte crespa, u’mirando io mi scoloro,

dove spunta i suoi strali Amor e Morte;

occhi di perle vaghi, luci torte

da ogni obietto diseguale a loro;

ciglie di neve, e quelle, ond’io m’accoro,

dita e man dolcemente grosse e corte;

labra di latte, bocca ampia celeste;

denti d’ebeno rari e pellegrini;

inaudita ineffabile armonia;

costumi alteri e gravi: a voi, divini

servi d’Amor, palese fo che queste

son le bellezze della donna mia.

This poem’s deviation from the Petrarchan aesthetic tradition is readily evident.  The beautiful Petrarchan blonde has aged, and time has not treated her kindly.  The seductive

23 Ernest H. Wilkins, in his 1949 Italica article “Berni’s Belleze,” argues against the claim that Berni’s Chjome d’argento fino” is a direct parody of Bembo’s “Crin d’oro crespo.”  He argues rather nicely instead that Berni based the parody on a sonnet by an unknown author, published by Giolito in a collection of poems in 1547.  In any event, which exact poem Berni is mocking is not entirely relevant to the arguments of this paper.  In either case, it remains that Berni is parodying the dominant poetic practice, no matter who the practitioner.  See Ernest H. Wilkins, “Berni’s Bellezze,” in Italica 26, No. 2 (June, 1949), 146-147

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