Petrarchan possibility from stylized linguistic repetition to a sophisticated thematic dialogue between the original poetic father and his rebellious, but nonetheless loving, offspring.
Sonetto del bacciliero
Francesco Berni’s typical revelries in the physical homoerotic experience and his glorifications of the homosexually coded images of eels, needles, gelatin, and peaches may not immediately call to mind Petrarch’s sublime musings on his troubling and consuming desire for the perfect and unattainable Laura. Yet, these vulgar works can rely just as heavily on and maintain just as intimate a relationship with the Petrarchan tradition as can their more elegant and refined cousins. Berni’s paradoxical encomium (which is to say a text of formal praise for something that is not itself considered praiseworthy) “Piangete destri,” a work also known as the Sonetto del bacciliero, serves as an example of just such a vulgar poem whose most interesting features exhibit a return to Italian poetry’s Petrarchan roots, pulling out of them a rich interpretive complexity that it both exaggerates and exploits.
Piangete, destri, il caso orrendo e fiero,
piangete, cantarelli, e voi, pitali,
né tenghin gli occhi asciuti gli orinali,
ché rotto è ‘l pentolin del bacciliero.
Quanto dimostra apertamente il vero
di giorno in giorno a gli occhi de’ mortali,
che por nostra speranza in cose frali
troppo n’asconde el diritto sentiero.
Ecco, chi vide mai tal pentolino?
Destro, galante, leggiadretto e snello:
natura il sa, che n’ha perduta l’arte:
sallo la sera ancor, sallo il mattino,