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"Movesi un vecchierel canuto et bianco...": Notes On A Sonnet Of Petrarch

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Chapter Summary

Towards the end of book 2 of the Secretum, written between 1347 and 1354, Petrarch, agonising over why it is he is so sorely afflicted with accidia, or what Cicero called aegritudo, passes, in response to the probing questions of his interlocutor Augustinus, from one possible cause to another. The context of Petrarchs introduction of accidia is the relation of the spiritual and the temporalof spirit and body, of spiritual love and erotic love, of the desire for fame and the self-sufficiency of the solitary life. The sonnets double-takethe getting there which is not quite getting thereestablishes a gap, an interval, which because of the layering of quick-slow rhythm, the rapid succession of tired limbs and bright hopes, has an effect of density. In the glass darkly of the Veronica-cloth, eros is fused with an austere version of enlightenment.

Keywords: Augustinus; Cicero; Petrarch; sonnet



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