Petrarch's Canzoniere And Whoso List To Hunt And Sonnet 23

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Petrarch’s Canzoniere is a volume of 365 sonnets and songs that explore the poet’s desire for a woman who is beautiful but chaste, and therefore unattainable. The speaker’s inability to attain the woman’s love is a common thread weaving throughout these sonnets and songs and gave rise to the concept of Petrarchan love, a theme that many poets have since emulated. Sir Thomas Wyatt’s sonnet Whoso List to Hunt and Sonnet 67 by Edmund Spenser are adaptations of Petrarch’s Canzoniere sonnet, Rima 190, Una candida cerva. Although both poets adhere to concepts of love in their sonnets, they also add variations that reflect the times in which they were composed.
In Una candida cerva, Petrarch employs the metaphorical image of a white doe to describe
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Although deer imagery was employed as a metaphor for the male speaker’s pursuit of the woman he loved, it also had a spiritual resonance, derived “from the 42nd Psalm, where the deer is a symbol of the soul’s longing for God” (Angus 29). In Petrarch’s sonnet, this transcendence resides in the speaker’s descriptions of the doe and his being content to watch her, a classic Petrarchan effect. In contrast, although Wyatt retains the theme of unrequited love, his sonnet focuses on the reality of desire, the chase and the speaker’s obsession with catching the deer. The hind of Wyatt’s sonnet, like that of Petrarch, wears a collar “graven with diamonds” (Line 11) that bear the phrase “Noli me tangere, (touch me not) for Caesar’s I am” (13). Unlike Petrarch’s deer whose topaz and diamond collar represents the idea that “It has pleased my Caesar to set me free” (Norton 595), the desire of Wyatt’s speaker “bumps into social, and specifically royal boundaries. The deer, like the hunt itself, belongs to the king” …show more content…
In this cycle, Spenser moves away from the tradition of Petrarchan love, as Elizabeth is someone he can and does win. Spenser modifies the image of the hunter as the speaker realises he is the one being hunted and his love is accepted. Petrarch’s spiritual connection recurs throughout the Amoretti cycle; each sonnet connects to ideas about Christian love and marriage as well as to moments in the Church liturgy. Sonnet 67 is set the evening before Easter, the traditional “procession of the catchumens to the front of the church to be baptised while Psalm 42, a psalm of spring, was sung” (Femino 21). Spenser further references the psalm in his image of the deer returning to “quench her thirst at the next brooke” (Line 8), which echoes the first two lines, of the psalm, “As the Hart panteth after the water brookes, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. / My soule thirsteth for God, for the liuing God: when shall I come and appeare before God?” (King John’s Version Psalm 42) Although Wyatt and Spenser treat the subjects of their sonnets differently, both retain the Neoplatonist elements of heavenly beauty described in Petrarch’s

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