Varied and imaginative in their use of poetic forms, the 366 love poems that make up Petrarch's "Canzoniere" are simple in their aim: to glorify the poet's muse, Laura. But more than an expression of devotion, they planted the seeds of the Renaissance and influenced all lyric poetry that followed, including the work of Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare. Meditating on his beloved and the gap between them, both during her life and after her death, Petrarch focuses internally and infuses his earthly love with the sacred love of the Virgin Mary. Combining spiritual and personal introspection, Petrarch intermingles the supernatural with the personal in a truly revolutionary and illuminating collection of poems.
Francesco Petrarca (1304--1374) was one of the great figures of Italian literature. He traveled widely in the service of the church, was involved in Italian politics, and wrote extensively. In 1341 he was crowned laureate at Rome for his poetry.