With no Saints to honor today, we note that on this date in 1327 the young Petrarch saw Laura in the church of Sainte-Claire d’Avignon; the sight awoke in him a lasting passion, celebrated in his poetry.
On this date, which was Good Friday in 1327, the twenty-three year old Italian poet Francesco Petrarca, having given up his vocation to be a priest, saw a young woman named Laura in the church of Sainte-Claire d’Avignon; this sight awoke in him a lasting passion, celebrated in the Rime sparse (Scattered rhymes). Later, Renaissance poets who copied Petrarch’s style named this collection of 366 poems Il Canzoniere (Song Book). Laura may have been Laura de Noves, the wife of Count Hugues de Sade (an ancestor of the Marquis de Sade). There is little definite information in Petrarch’s work concerning Laura, except that she was lovely to look at, fair-haired, with a modest, dignified bearing. Laura and Petrarch had little or no personal contact. According to his “Secretum”, she refused him for the very proper reason that she was already married to another man. He channeled his feelings into love poems that were exclamatory rather than persuasive, and wrote prose that showed his contempt for men who pursue women. Upon her death in 1348, the poet found that his grief was as difficult to live with as was his former despair. While it is possible she was an idealized or pseudonymous character, particularly since the name “Laura” has a linguistic connection to the poetic “laurels” Petrarch coveted, Petrarch himself always denied it. His frequent use of the Italian phrase “l’aura” is also remarkable: for example, the line “Erano i capei d’oro a l’aura sparsi” may both mean “her hair was all over Laura’s body”, and “the wind (“l’aura”) blew through her hair”. There is psychological realism in the description of Laura, and Petrarch’s love is by no means conventional, unlike some clichéd women of troubadours and courtly love. Her presence causes him unspeakable joy, but his unrequited love creates unendurable desires, inner conflicts between the ardent lover and the mystic Christian, making it impossible to reconcile the two, his quest for love a hopeless, endless agony. Laura is unreachable – the few physical descriptions are vague, almost impalpable as the love he pines for, and such is perhaps the power of his verse, which lives off the melodies it evokes against the fading, diaphanous image that is no more consistent than a ghost. Laura is too holy to be painted; she is an awe-inspiring goddess. Sensuality and passion are suggested rather by the rhythm and music that shape the vague contours of the lady.
I neglected to mention in yesterday’s Daily Update that Richard and I received word from the casino that our request to have Sunday, May 1st, and Monday, May 2nd off from work had been granted. Our #15 ranked LSU Tigers won their single home Baseball game with Southern University by the score of 11 to 1.
I woke up this morning at 8:30 am, and did my Book Devotional Reading. I then started the Weekly Computer Maintenance; meanwhile, Richard had gone to the store, and made us breakfast (thank you very much, Richard), and I ate my breakfast while reading the morning paper. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading, finished the Weekly Computer Maintenance, started the Weekly Virus Scan, and did an Advance Daily Update Draft for this weblog (I am nearly a month ahead). At 1:30 pm Richard took a nap (he has been being very low impact, since he is getting over a cold). I finished my laundry, then finished reading The Wine-Dark Sea by Patrick O’Brian, and started reading The Commodore by Patrick O’ Brian. I then finished the Weekly Virus Scan, and did my Book Review for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts for The Wine-Dark Sea by Patrick O’Brian. At 4:30 pm I watched Jeopardy!, then I ironed my Casino pants, apron, and shirts.
At 5:30 pm Richard and I left the house; we ate dinner at D.C.’s Sports Bar and Steakhouse (I wanted fried shrimp, and it was very good). At the Hit-n-Run I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing, and at Dollar General Richard got some snacks. We arrived home at 6:30 pm, and I got on the computer to do today’s Daily Update. When I finish this Update I will get ready to go to bed, as I have a long day tomorrow (more anon). Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away Pro Basketball game with the Boston Celtics tonight; I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.
Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint John Baptiste de la Salle, Priest (died 1719), and the birthday of my friend Danette in Louisiana (1955). Richard’s earliest call-in within the last twelve months (on April 7th, 2015) will drop off of the calendar tomorrow; his next call-in will drop off on December 11th. I will be getting up quite early, as I want to leave the house sometime around 6:30 am or 7:00 am to head to New Orleans; I will meet my friend Julie there (it will be the first time I’ve seen her since 2009), and I will also do some used book shopping and eat some beignets. The New Moon will arrive at 6:25 am tomorrow. I hope to get home from New Orleans late tomorrow afternoon; on my way home I will get my salad supplies, and once home I will make my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday, then do my Daily Update. Our #15 ranked LSU Tigers will next play the first game of a three-game home Baseball series with #2 Vanderbilt tomorrow evening; I will post the score of the game in Friday’s Daily Update.
Our Parting Quote on this Wednesday evening comes to us from Corin Redgrave, English actor and political activist. Born in 1939 in Marylebone, London, he was the only son and middle child of actors Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson. He was educated at the independent Westminster School and at King’s College, Cambridge. Redgrave played a wide range of character roles on film, television and stage. On stage, he was noted for performances by Shakespeare (such as Much Ado About Nothing, Henry IV, Part 1, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest) and Noel Coward (notably a highly successful revival of A Song At Twilight co-starring his sister Vanessa Redgrave and his second wife, Kika Markham). For his role as the prison warden Boss Whalen in the Royal National Theatre production of Tennessee Williams’s Not About Nightingales, Redgrave was nominated for an Evening Standard Award, and after a successful transfer of the production to New York, his performance garnered him a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play in 1999. On screen he is best known for his roles in such acclaimed and diverse films as A Man for All Seasons (1966), Excalibur (1981) as the doomed Cornwall, In the Name of the Father (1993) as the corrupt lead police investigator, Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) as Hamish, the fiancee of Andie MacDowell’s character, and Persuasion (1995). In 1996 he wrote a memoir about his strained relationship with his father titled Michael Redgrave – My Father, which incorporated passages from Michael Redgrave’s diaries. It was also noted for revealing his father’s bisexuality. In 2005 Redgrave had just finished an engagement playing the lead in King Lear with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London when he suffered a severe heart attack. He returned to the stage in a highly praised portrayal of Oscar Wilde in the one-man-play De Profundis in 2008. The next year he starred in Trumbo, which opened only hours after the death of his niece, Natasha Richardson. Redgrave was a lifelong activist in left-wing politics; with his elder sister Vanessa, he was a prominent member of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party. More recently, he had become a defender of the interests of the Romani people. Both Redgrave and his second wife, Kika Markham, expressed support for Viva Palestina, a humanitarian convoy, led by British MP George Galloway, attempting to break the siege of the Gaza Strip (died 2010): “Our goal is to ring the alarm bells about the human rights abuses our government is sanctioning, and to act as a focus for people who want to stand up against them.”