depends on such a division, between “fino” and “irte,” to make up an eleven-syllable line. The separation between these two words is highlighted by the placement of the caesura. Further, the oddness of such a construction is underlined by following this atypical rhythmic division with a syllable that includes three elided vowels, “ir-te e at-tor te.” Dividing the line in this way rhythmically separates “irte e attorte” from the rest of the rather-Petrarchan line, thus separating tradition and innovation: an odd rhythmic construction points out its own odd poetic description. The enjambment of the first two lines, “irte e attorte / senz’arte” then replicates the unruliness of these untamed snarls, as the image spills over from one line to the other. Thus, the poem is metrically calling attention to its relationship with the Petrarchan tradition. It is also exposing itself not as contradiction of the Petrarchan ideal, but as an exaggeration of it. What was once soft and twisted is now wiry and snarled, but even these snarls are themselves rooted in Petrarchan images. Berni’s lady’s hair falls so artlessly because of, not in spite of, Laura’s lovely locks.
Berni’s poem not only exaggerates the Petrarchan beloved’s untamed mane, but also makes a caricature of the Petrarchan beloved by emphasizing her fragmented nature. The comparisons that Berni makes-to gold, pearls, snow, milk, ebony, and musical harmony-and the feminine features that he includes in the description-hair, eyes, brow, hands, lips, teeth, and voice-are straight from the Petrarchan code. One finds the same objects used for comparison in the poetry of Petrarch and Bembo, just in a different order. Hence, while the described aesthetic, an old gray hag instead of a blonde beauty, is the polar opposite of the Petrarchan tradition, the way this image itself is presented is not so much a black and white negative of Petrarchan descriptive methods as it is a