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The love story of Petrarch and Laura

Ah, love… It is that magical feeling that fills our every action with meaning. In the month of love, we can’t help but tell some of the most intriguing stories about it. Stories full of excitement and trembling. Sometimes with moments that were not fully experienced. It is no surprise that a country like Italy – charming and magnetic, is home to some of the most romantic love stories. Those that would make everyone dream. Feel the love this month and read about three of our favorites.

The first one we will focus on is the one about Petrarch and Laura. This love story can be characterized as sublime and unconditional. But let’s start from the beginning …

Petrarch or Francesco Petrarch is an Italian scientist, diplomat, poet, and early humanist. He lived in the 14th century, between 1304-1374. Italian Renaissance poetry finds its artistic peak in his poetry.

Petrarch is considered a controversial figure of his time. He concluded that man is faithful to his nature and subject to the tremors of the heart, even when under the monastic robe. Francesco Petrarch accepted spiritual rank, but his thought remained secular and not subject to the religious dogmas of Catholicism.

Laura is the love of Petrarch’s life. However, her true identity remains a mystery because the poet never shared her last name. Over the years, opinions have been expressed that Laura is not a person, and the name is a play on words behind which hides laurel the leaves which Petrarch was honored with for being the poet laureate.

However, there is enough evidence to refute this. They show that Laura existed and that she is Laura de Noves, who was born in 1310. She married Count Jug de Sade when she was 15-year-old.

Petrarch and Laura’s first meeting takes place in the most unexpected place. Maybe “meeting” isn’t even the right word. Petrarch sees Laura at St. Clare’s Church in Avignon during the Easter Liturgy and falls in love with her at first sight. He is captivated by her beauty, which haunted him for the rest of his life. His heart is filled with such love that, but he cannot act upon his feelings, though. Those feelings become one of the most wonderful poetry of all time.

Such strong and deep feelings, which remain unshared, could do severe damage to the human psyche, bordering on despair and depression. However, Petrarch, instead of sinking into oblivion, tormented by an unreachable woman, channels his emotions by turning them into a gift to the world to enjoy forever. It is his most famous work called The Canzoniere – a huge collection of more than 300 sonnets dedicated to Laura. It is only thanks to the white sheet and the pen that Petrarch manages to touch the love of his life, thus allowing his love, passion, and emotion to live forever.

Despite the impossibility of this relationship, this does not mean that Laura was not aware of the poet’s feelings. She never responded to them because of her dignity, though. Years after her death, her grave had been opened by humanist Maurice Scève. There he found a lead box in it. The contents of this box were a medal with a woman tearing out her heart and below it one of the sonnets written by Petrarch.

It is not in vain when they say that the greatest love in a person’s life is the impossible one that you could not experience. The one you could not enjoy in the fullest sense of the word. This love does not give you peace and does not allow you to blink. The story of Petrarch and Laura is tragic, but at the same time sublime. It is a story of unattainable love, in which one was forced to abandon his feelings in the name of debt, and the other – never finds peace. Or, as one of Plato’s most memorable phrases puts it, “Every heart sings a song, incomplete until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.