a certain way, so much as a Mr. Potato Head, whose various interchangeable parts invite a myriad of final images. At the same time, however, each of these diverse final images still always recalls a past ideal.
Thus, one finds another self-reflexive moment in the poetry. Berni’s sonnet describes the beloved’s teeth not as a solid string glistening pearls but rather as “denti d’ebeno rari e pellegrini.” Her teeth are themselves migrant, so sparse and separated that they seem to rearrange themselves each time the beloved open’s her twisted mouth. These transient teeth expose the mosaic nature of Berni’s new aesthetic. They move themselves around just as the poem rearranges the Petrarchan features. They do not have a fixed place in the woman’s mouth just as the ebony and pearl-like features no longer have a fixed place on the Petrarchan image. Beyond this, the assonances in this line of sonnet further replicate the destabilized nature of the teeth and of the descriptive metaphors. In this line, there is a constant repetition of the “e” that is joined by and mixed with the “i”: “denti d’ebeno rari e pellegrini.” In fact, Berni changes the typical spelling of “ebano” to “ebeno” to reinforce the feeling of movement in the line and to emphasize the now-unstable ebony image. Neither the teeth nor the descriptive metaphor, like the vowels sounds themselves, have a fixed position. Hence, the poem seems to be acting out its resistance to a new codified aesthetic, further supporting the claim initially made in Montanile’s article.
Furthermore, by acting out this resistance, the sonnet is not so much a description of a woman as a meditation on art, a comment by art both on itself and on an artistic tradition. In fact, it is not just this line and this image that parody Petrarchism, but the entire poem and the poor old woman’s entire face. The “bel viso d’oro” of this atypical