Love in “Sonnet 131” by Petrarch Love has many faces. Though being a universal value, love may be romantic or tragic, spiritual or earthly, overwhelming and opening from within or killing and making one hollow. Love is one of the main themes of poetry. The topic is highly emotional, it has nothing to do with objectivity usually. Petrarch gently covers the topic of love in his “Sonnet 131.” This type of love is not a happy and mutual one; rather it reflects on the heightened sorrow of an unrequited love which may lead to a reflection of the deep perception and acceptance.
Love is a challenge. It sets a net of the expectations and vulnerabilities: what will be of this contact? Will it be a happy mutual love or a sad or even tragic unrequited one?
Nevertheless, even though it is hard and painful, it is the desired challenge. There is a novelty in a meeting of the two people as two worlds.
Petrarch shares he wants to sing of love “in such a novel fashion” (1). It is always a secret, what will it be of any love which is unique even though there are shared patterns, so widespread scenarios that might be found. While this first line sets a mystery, the second line resolves it at the same moment: “that from her cruel side I would draw by force” (Petrarch 2). Now it is clear: he faced a cruel side. Noting “by force” allows assuming that the author of these lines is suffering.
Moreover, the following words regarding “a thousand sighs a day” and “her cold mind” lead to an idea that the tragedy of love that ruins lives is about to appear (Petrarch 3-4). At this point, a reader might expect anything, any further flow of events and feelings, expectedly based on personal and deep drama. Love is not innately cruel. Even though it may cause a vulnerable state of being open – and ruined – the other person might not be willing to cause such severe pain to another. After the line about the cold mind, Petrarch admits though that the object of his unrequited love feels compassion for him and regrets that she has become a cause of his emotional pain: I’d see her lovely face transform quite often her eyes grow wet and more compassionate, like one who feels regret, when it’s too late, for causing someone’s suffering by mistake; (Petrarch 5-8) He realizes she did not want to. Petrarch admits that she feels regret for causing his suffering by mistake.
In this way, he accepts that the object of his love is not an evil that sadistically enjoys his suffering; she is just a woman whose heart is closed for him. He does not blame her but accepts reality as it is, even though he may not like it. Nevertheless, love may lead to heightened feelings. Despite being a cause of emotional pain and suffering, often quite severe, love may also sharpen feelings of beauty and adoration. Petrarch uses bright metaphors such as “scarlet roses in the snows, tossed by the breeze” and “ivory that turns to marble those who see it near them” to share his fragile and open emotional state (9-11). I might suggest that scarlet roses tossed by the breeze might be attributed to the drops of blood. It feels like it is his soul bleeding and aching. Turning to marble might be also interpreted as a state of freezing inside as if turning into the stone. Petrarch writes about his discontentment but finds renunciation from it through accepting his forthcoming glory to mitigate his sorrow and soul wounds. To underline everything before-mentioned, Petrarch treats the topic of unrequited love gently and thoughtfully. He aims to depict love as a tender phenomenon that just may emerge when it is not expected – or it may not emerge when expected. He shows it as it is no one’s fault but it has its price composed of sorrow. The vulnerable state it gives might be of high value for any form of art creator. It opens the eyes of the heart and widens the perspective so that a poet or any other artist starts to notice things that he or she would never see before. An elevated and often exalted state of mind urges an artist to create as it is hard to hold these feelings of love inside.