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THE SONNET.



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L„.>«««' '""'^^



THE SONNET

ITS ORIGIN, STRUCTURE, AND PLACE
IN POETRY



©tiginal SCranBlattons from tfje Sonnttg of Wmtt,
Petratcb, rtr.



REMARKS ON THE ART OF TRANSLATING



By CHARLES TOMLINSON, F.R.S.



LONDON

JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET

1874



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TO THE

BAEONESS BUEDETT-COUTTS

IN GRATEFUL BEMEMBRAXCE OF

HER ACTIVE SYMPATHY

WITH THE AUTHOR DURING A GREAT TROUBLE

THIS VOLUME

IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED.



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PREFACE.



In this little book I endeavour to give some
account of the Sonnet, and to compare the regular
Italian form of that short poem with the English
variety. I seek to prove that while the Italian
Sonnet of the best writers, taking Petrarch as their
exponent, is made up of several organic parts, each
of which has its determinate function, and the
result of the whole is a logical, consistent struc-
ture, the English form is generally more loose and
inaccurate. My purpose is also to prove, from a
critical analysis of some English translations of a
number of Petrarch's best productions, that this
great master of the Sonnet has not hitherto been
properly represented in this country.

In the Second Part a number of Petrarch's
Sonnets are 'arranged according to their metrical
structure, serving to illustrate his three types and
their variations, together with notes derived, to



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viii PREFACE.



some extent, from a study of several of the best
Italian commentators. I also venture to put forth
my views as to the duties of a Translator ; and al-
though my attempts to render many of these cele-
brated productions into English are doubtless open
to some of the censures that I so liberally bestow
on others, yet I may claim for them this differ-
ence, namely, that they are so far distinguished from
the performances of my predecessors as to be closer
to the original, not only in their literal meaning
but also in their metrical form.

My desire has been not to obtrude myself at
the expense of my author; but, as far as possible,
to reproduce his simple, eloquent, and beautiful
language into equivalent expressions in our own
tongue. I have also, in many cases, placed the
original Italian by the side of my ^wn work, so
that the reader who has but a mpderate knowledge
of the language wiU, it is hope4, be able to derive
instruction from this small performance in a not
unpleasant form.

Some illustrative matter has been thrown into an
Appendix, together with an attempt to support the
opinion that the Laura of Petrarch was never married.



HiGHQATB, N., May 1874.



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ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS.



PART THE FIRST.

. PAOB

V 1, Origin of this work — The regular Italian Sonnet — Its divi-

sions into Quatrains and Tercets — Order of the Rhymes
in the Quatrains or Bad — Enclosed and Alternate Rhyme 1

V 2. Order of the Rhymes in the Tercets or VciUe — ^Interlaced

and Alternate Rhyme 3

8. The three hundred and seventeen Sonnets of Petrarch metri-
cally arranged 8

Type I. — Numher of Sonnets . .116

Type 11. „ „ . . 107

Type III. „ ,, . . 67

Variations on the Three Types . . 27

817
Order of the Rhymes in the Yariatioiis.

4. Illustration of Type I. from Petrabch .... 5

Sonnet CCLXL — Lewmvnd U mio pensier in parte, ov* era,

5..Dante's Sonnets metrically arranged 5

Sonnet from the Vita Nuom — Negli occM porta la mia
Donna, Amore,

6. Sonnets of Michael Anoelo metrically arranged. . . 7

^^^PE I ( ^^^ ^ VoUimo artista alcun concetto,

7. Sonnets of Tasso metrically arranged . . . . . 7
Sonnet LXV.



Type L ( •^''"^^ ^"^^^"^ ^ ^ mondo.



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s ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS.

PAGE

8. Sonnets of Abiosto 8



9. Of VlTTORIA COIiONNA



st 10. yummary — ^Functions of the Quatrains and Tercets — ^Refer-
^^— ^ ence to the Greek Choral Ode — Derivation of the Sonnet
traced to the Proven9als — Various examples of compli-
cated metre derived from them and adopted by Dante,
Petrarch, etc. — Law which regulates the metre of the
Sestina — The place of the Sonnet in poetry ... 9




I of the Sonnet among the Italian Troubadours — Grounds
for this Theory — Remarks thereon — The Jongleurs or itine-
rant singers — Petrarch's account of . . . .17

12. The regular Italian Sonnet examined— Its logical structure-

Differences between English and Italian poetry — Method
of reading Italian poetry — Full lines . . . .27

^^^^^pp, TT ' X Tvo piafigendo i miei pasaati tempi,

13. Critical examination of this Sonnet — The laws of the Sonnet

— Petrarch's Sonnet examined thereby — Difficulties of the
Translator — ^Wordsworth's attempts to translate the Son-
nets of Michael Angelo — Critical examination of one of
Petrarch's inferior Sonnets 32

Why this Sonnet is defective — Confusion of metaphor —
Metaphor well sustained in

Sonnet CLVL ) n„^^„ . ^^^^ .„

14. Why the Alexandrine and the rhymed couplet at the end are

objectionable 38

Sonnet LXXXIII. — Vaspettaia mrtu,

in which a rhymed couplet is made to close the transla-
tion — Why this is wrong — This Sonnet resolved into a
logical form.

15. Petrarch's Sonnets in the three types — ^Variations from these

generally inferior — Some of the defects of Petrarch's Son-
nets — Conceits and exaggerated language. . . .41



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ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS. xi

PAOS

16. Dante free from these defects — Character of his Sonnets . 43

17. Petrarch and Laura — Dante and Beatrice — Dante's love of

philosophy — ^His Sonnets 44

Type XL — Due Donne in dma delle mente mia.

And
Type L — Nulla miparrd, maipiHk crudel com.

18. The Lanra of Petrarch and the Beatrice of Dante compared . 47

Type I ' \ ^^'^^'"'^ Amor, a veder la gloria nostra.

Sonnet XIX. \ "^ <^^^^ ^ ^'*^* ^'^ gentile sckiera.

19. Attention to method on the part of the great Sonnet-writers

— Large amount of care bestowed on their Sonnets —

Example from Dante 51

Sonnet — Vede perfettamente ogni salute.
The Author's gloss on this Sonnet — Example from Petrarch
— Some account of his MSS. corrections — Extract from one
of his letters, in which he describes his mode of working.

V 20. Character of the poetry thus elaborated — ^The poet's life at

Vaucluse— True poetry of the Sonnets . . . .56

vQ21^^ow this poetry was influenced by chivalry — ^by the Trouba-
dours, but mostly by the Platonic theory of love — ^Abstract
of this theory 59

7 22\lnfluence of this theory on Dante's poetry — Extract from
^^ ^ the Vita Nuova — Dante's account of Beatrice . . .61
Sonnet — TarUb gentile e tanto on^tapare,

23. The language of Petrarch's Sonnets defended — His power
of expressing the feeling of bereavement — His record of
Laura's death 65

Sonnet CCCXVIL
Type II.



> Vago augelleito, che cantando i



24. Early popularity of Petrarch's verses — Illustrated by an an-
swering Sonnet 67

Sonnet VII. ) r t »»
Type III. { ^^ ' ^ ^ sonno, etc.

Anecdote respecting this Sonnet.



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xii ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS,

PAGE

25. Petrarch's estimate of his Italian poetry . . . .69

26. The Sonnet originally snng to music — Petrarch's Inte—

Great popularity of the Poet himself — Reasons which led
the Poet to collect his Italian verses . . . .70
Sonnet CCLII.



y



5NNET CCLII. I ^ . . , ^

Type III i « "^ avesai pensato, etc.



27. Why the Sonnet Is not popular in England, France, and

Germany — The Song preferred 73

28. The hest English Sonnets — Arrangement of Milton's Sonnets

into Types 74

29. Wordsworth's Sonnets — Compared with the Italian . . 76

30. Revival of the Sonnet in England hy Gray, Mason, War-

ton, Roscoe, Bowles 79

/ 31. Earlier Sonnet-writers — Spenser and Shakspere — The struc-
ture of their Sonnets — Raleigh — ^The Earl of Surrey — His
Sonnet ''Set me whereas the sun," etc., a translation
from Petrarch — Sonnet CXIII., Ponmi, ove *l Sol, etc, —
The same in English— Surrey's version— Drummond^He
borrows largely from Petrarch — ^Known as " the Scottish
Petrarch" — One of his Sonnets compared with the 233d of
Petrarch 80

32. Practice of our Early Poets of borrowing from the Italian

Poets — Chaucer takes one of Petrarch's Sonnets — Spenser
borrows from Tasso— Tasso from the Classical Poets — Sup-
posed principle on which this practice rested — Changes
that attended the decay of the practice — Anecdote of
Piron — Modem examples 84

33. Petrarch borrows sparingly from the Latin Classics — Ex-

amples — Quotes from Holy Scripture several times —
Examples 88

34. Fetrarch's obli^tions to the Troubadour Poets — Example

"^ ' ' of a Sonnet suggested by one of them . . . .90

Sonnet CIV. ) p^^^ ^^ .,„,^ .

First Variation of the Quatrains. } ^^ "^ ^«^' ^



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0HHi



ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS. xiii



PAGE

Sonnet after the manner of the Troubadours —

Sonnet CLXXXVIII. ) ^una fede arruyrosa, un cor non
Type I. J Jinto.

35. The art of translating — Metaphrase^ or literal rendering,

and Paraphrase, or free rendering — Remarks hy Dryden
examined — Example from Petrarch . . . .97

36. Impediments in the way of translating Petrarch's Sonnets

into English verse — A line-for-line translation generally
succeeds best — Illustration from the Tercets of Sonnet
CXXVI. — Bemarks as to the best mode of ti'anslating
these lines 100

37. Necessity for literal rendering in single lines marked by their

great poetical beauty — Illustrations by various hands — . 103

Ttfe II * r ^^^ ^^^ ^^ ^' ^ parlai si caldamerUe.
Bemarks on the mode of translating this Sonnet — ^The
principle that ought to guide the Translator — Bemarks by
Voltaire, Diderot, and the Abb6 de Sade — ^Dangers of what
are called free translations illustrated by examples from
this Sonnet

88. Bemarks on Petrarch's style — Its simplicity, directness,

and clearness — Sparing use of adjectives — . , . 108

Sonnet XXVIII. ) « , ^ «^,«^^ ^/^
rpypj, J I Solo, epensoso, etc.

as an illustration — Specimens of the mode in which this
Sonnet has been translated.

39. DifiSculties of producing translations that shall be adequate

and popular — Faults in existing translations arising from
five sources — (a) defective knowledge of Italian, whereby
positive mistranslations are produced ; (5) substitution of
the translator's ideas for the poet's, thereby leading to
paraphrase ; (c) inelegant unpoetical English ; (d) general
absence of attempts to reproduce the simple style of the
original ; (e) want of attention to form and metrical arrange-
inent — Numerous examples illustrating these defects . 112

40. A mistake to translate Petrarch in the language of gallantry

— His reverential tone in writing of Laura illustrated by
examples 129



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xiv ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS.



I Onde toUe Amor VorOf etc.



Sonnet CLXXXIV.
Type I.

Scanty use of the heathen gods and goddesses or of cLissi-
cal literature — Tone of the Sonnets during Laura's
sickness —

Sonnet CCXI. | ^ , ^ ^ ,
Type I \ ^^'' i^**^^ ^t ^^'

The Poet's tone after Laura's death —

Sonnet CCLIV. ) « , ...

Second Variation of Quatrains. } ^^^'^ * 'T^ P^^'^^'
Tercets as in Type L ) *^'

Sonnet CCCVIII. > ^ ,. . .

Type L r^onpuo/ar morte, etc

41. An example of Petrarch's strong and indignant style . .134



Sonnet
Type



CV )

jj ' [ Fiamjna del del, etc.



42. Necessity for new translations of Petrarch's Sonnets — ^The

principle upon which they ought to be made — . . 135

43. The translator should follow Petrarch in his mode of working 135

44. Necessity for studying in Petrarch's life, letters, etc., the cir-

cumstances under which each Sonnet was produced

45. Qualifications of a poet and of a translator .

46. Best method of translating — Advantages to the translator

47. Necessity for consulting the Italian commentators — lUus

trated hy an extract from the 24l8t Sonnet — Another
example from the 51st Sonnet ....

48. Conclusion



187
138
188



139
143



PAKT THE SECOND.

ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PETRARCH OF THE THREE TTPES AND
THEIR VARIATIONS.

Note on the Numbering of Petrarch's Sonnets.
Type L

BONNET

1. Voi, ch* ascoltate in rime sparse U stwno. Annotation . 147
48. Padre del del, dqpo i perdiUi giomu Do. . 148



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ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS.



71. On the death of Cino. Piangete, donne. Annotation, with
a Sonnet by Cino

111. Quand *io v* odo parlar si dolcemente

112. J^i cost bello U Sol giammai levarsi .
143. Per mess^ i hoschi inospiti. Annotation
210. Chi vuol veder quantunque puo Natwra
247. /* ho pien di sospir guest^ aer tutto. Am
260. VaUe, che de ^lamenti miei se' plena.
2Sl. Levommi U mio pensier in parte.
262. ATnor^ che meco aZ buon tempo U stavi,
268, Z' alto, e novo miracoL
283. Z* aura, e V odore, e V refrigerio,
289. Vide fra mille Donne una gia tale.
291. Questo nostro caditco, e fragile bene.
803. Donna, che lieta colprindpio nostro
306. L* aura mia sacra ....





151




. 162




. 162




163


notation


. 154


Do.


155


Do.


. 156


Do.


168


Do.


159


Do.


162


Do.


163


Do.


164


.


165


.


165



Type H.

173. Bapidojmme, che d* aXpestra vena. Annotation on the use

of technical words in poetry 166

205. Fresco, ombroso, jvorito, e verde coUe .... 169
246. On the death of Sennuccio. Sennuccio mio. Annotation,

with a Sonnet from Fra Guittone . . . . 169
264. Anima hella, da quet}nodo sciolta. Note . . .171

269. Zefiro toma, e *l hel tempo rimena 172

279. Sento V av/ra mia antica. Note 173

295. Conclbbi, quanto U Ciel gli occhi m*aperse. Annotation . 173

299. Ripensando a quel 176

302. Qli Angeli detti, e V anime heate . . . . .175







Type III.


25.


Quanto piU m* awicino.


Annotation


69.


JErano i capei d* oro.


Do.


80.


Lasso! hen so.


Do,


248.


V alvMi miaJUmma.


Do.


807.


Ogni giomo mi par.


Do.



176
177
179
180
181



First Variation of the Quatrains.

59. S' al pnndpio risponde il fine. Note .... 182
240. Quantefiate al mio dolce ricetto. Do 183



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xvi , ANALYSIS OF THE CONTENTS,
somrar paob

Second Vakiation op the Quatrains.
238. Se lamentar augellu Note 184

Third Variation op the Quatrains.
176. Non dodV Ispano Ibero cUT Indo Idaspe. Annotation . 185

First Variation op the Tercets.

76, AM/ beUaZdberta/ 187

109. Amor, che nel pensier mio. Annotation, together with an

Abstract of Michael Angelo's Lecture on this Sonnet . 187
241. Alma /dice, che sovente tomi. Annotation . . . 193
270. Quel roaiffniuolf che si soave piagne. Do. . . .194

Second Variation op the Tercets
72. PvH volte Amor m* avea gidt detto : Scrivi. Annotation . 196

Third Variation op the Tercets.
78. Quando gitigne per gli occhi. Annotation . . 198

Fourth Variation op the Tercets.
74. Con poteai io hen cMvder in versi. Note . . 199

APPENDIX.

I. Sbstdta from Petrarch. Chi ^fermato di m^nar sua

vita 201

IL Madrigal rBOM Petrarch. Perch* al viso cT Am/frpor-

tava ivsegna 203

in. Ballata from Petrarch. Perchi quel, che mi trasse ad

amarprima 203

iv. Madriqal from Petrarch. Or vedi. Amor, che giove-

netta Donna ... .... . 204

V. Madriqal from Petrarch. Nova angeletta sovra Vale

accorta 205

VI. On the Literary Habits of Petrarch's Time . . 205

vn. On the Identification of Lajjra .... 209

vin. Allboort on Laura. Sonnet CLVII. Type I, Urui

Candida cerva sopra V erba. Explanation of this Sonnet 223

IX. German Translations of Petrarch's Sonnets . 225



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TO THE EEADER



The dark-eyed stranger from yon sunny clime,
An exile 'neath our colder, cloudier skies.
For native brightness, native gladness sighs,
And the soft speech that yields the softer rhyme ;

Sighs for the Love he knew in happier time.
In the responsive sunshine of her eyes ;
Sighs 'midst the coldness of the worldly-wise.
Who dull their sense of beauty in their prime.

So these sweet sonnets, in my rougher speech.
As exiles, lose their native loveliness.
The tones unheard of Dante's, Petrarch's lyre ;

But should they lead thee upwards, 'till thou reach
Their burning source, to greater from much less,
I need not blush for my reflected fire.



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PART THE FIRST.



AN ESSAY ON THE SONNET:

ITS OEIGIN, STRUCTURE, AND PLACE
IN POETRY.



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PAKT THE FIKST.



1. In the winter of the year before last, finding
myself in the presence of a great and abiding grief,
I felt the need of some kind of employment that
could be taken up and laid down as best suited the
occasion, without injury to it or to my power of
mastering it; and at the same time sufficiently
difficult to absorb my best attention. Among my
avocations in previous years, I had read a good deal
of Italian poetry, and had several times attempted
to enter into the spirit of Petrarch's sonnets, but
without much success. The occasion seemed to be
now more favourable to a better appreciation of
these famous productions, especially in the second
part. The gentle being who had engaged some of
the best thoughts of Petrarch's life was dead, and
the varied notes of sorrow poured out by him be-
came grateful'to me. I attempted to translate some
of these sonnets into English verse as literally as
possible, and with the same metrical arrangement.
From these I was led to examine similar composi-
tions by the best Italian writers, such as Dante,
Tasso, Ariosto, Michael Angelo, and Vittoria Colonna.



/ -
^



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2 ANALYSIS OF THE SONNET.

I need hardly remark that I found the poetical value
of these sonnets worthy of their fame; but what
claimed my attention also was their greater precision
in structure^ as compared with the sonnets of our
English masters — ^a precision which gives to the
regular ItaUan sonnet a peculiar place in poetry^
unlike that of any other established form of modem
lyric, for no other form is bound by such rigid
rules. The sonnet, according to the regular Italian
type, resolves itself into an octave of eight lines and
a sestet of six ; these being further subdivided into
two quatrains and two tercets, each of the two sepa-
rate parts having its own system of rhymes. Thus
the most common form for the quatrains is for the
first line to rhyme with the fourth, the fifth, and
the eighth, and the second line with the third, the
sixth, and the seventh ; or as the arrangement may
be more concisely expressed in the formula —

12 2 1

12 2 1

The quatrains are sometimes named the Basi, or
" bases " of the sonnet, and the above arrangement
is known as rima chvusa, or " shut-up " or " enclosed
rhyme."

The second mode of arranging the quatrains is in
alternate rhyme, as in the following formula : —

12 12

12 12



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QUATRAINS AND TERCETS.



This structure is more sparingly used than the first,
and is occasionally varied thus —

12 12

2 12 1

2. The tercets, or volte or ''turnings," as they
are sometimes named, have much greater powers of
variation in their rhymes than the quatrains. They
may be either in rima incaUnata, or " interlaced," or
'' interlocked " rhymes ; or rima altemata or " alter-
nate " rhymes. Of the former, the arrangement

3 4 5
3 4 5

is the most common ; varied by

3 4 5

4 3 5
or by

3 4 5
3 5 4

and several others, which must, however, be regarded
as exceptional.

3. I took the trouble to make a metrical arrange-
ment of the three hundred and seventeen sonnets of
Petrarch, and to place them in a tabular form accord-
ing to the order of the rhymes. The result of this
analysis is that one hundred and sixteen sonnets, or
upwards of one-third of the total number, belong to



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PETRARCH'S SONNETS.



what I venture to name Type I., or the normal Italian
type, as expressed by the formula —



TypeLJ^



2 2 112 2 1

3 4 5 3 4 5



Upwards of another third, or one hundred and
seven sonnets, have the tercets alternately rhymed,
and this arrangement, which may be named Type IL,
has the formula —

jfl 22 1122 1
^^ \ 343434

In sixty-seven sonnets the metrical arrangement is
according to the formula —



(12 2 11221



Type III. .
^^ ( 345435

Now it wiU be seen that in the three types, which
include two hundred and ninety out of three him-
dred and seventeen sonnets, the variations are but
slight. The structure of the quatrains is the same
in all three types, and in the tercets three lines
rhyme with three lines. Of. the remaining twenty-
seven sonnets, which do not fall under any one of
the three types already given, the quatrains in
eleven sonnets are arranged as in the three types ;
in another eleven they are in alternate rhyme, and
in the remaining four they are arranged thus —

12122121



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SONNET BY PETRARCH.



As to the arrangement of tlie tercets, many of them
follow one or other of the first three types, and a few
fall imder one or other of the following formulas : —

3 4 3, 3 4 3

3 4 4, 4 3 3

3 4 5, 5 4 3

3 4 5, 4 5 3

4. Of the first or normal type, the following
translation from Petrarch may serve as an illustra-
tion : —


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

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