Petrarch, Francesco (13041374)

Petrarch, Francesco, the famous Italian lyric poet, born at Arezzo, in Tuscany, whither his father had gone when exiled with Dante from Florence; spent his youth in Avignon; intended for the profession of law, devoted his time to the study of Cicero and Virgil; met Laura in the church of St. Clare there in 1327, a lady of surpassing beauty; conceived a passion for her which she could not return, and wrote sonnets in praise of her, which immortalised both himself and her; after travel in France and Germany he retired in 1337 to the valley of Vaucluse, where he composed the most of his poems, and his reputation reached its height in 1341, when he was crowned laureate in the Capitol of Rome; he was in Italy when tidings reached him of the death of Laura in 1348, on the anniversary of the day when he first met her, upon which he gave expression to his feelings over the event in a touching note of it in his Virgil; we find him again at Rome in 1350, and after moving from place to place settled in Arqua in 1370, where he died; his Latin works are numerous, and include an epic on the Second Punic war, Eclogues, Epistles in verse, and Letters of value giving the details of his life; his fame rests on his lyrics; by those alone he still lives, and that more from the finished art in which they are written than from any glow of feeling they kindle in the reader's heart (13041374).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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