Petrarch's Canzonieri as a Sonnet Cycle and the Sonnet Tradition

        Sidney and Spenser innovatively imitate Petrarch's Canzoniere, which were arranged chronologically by whether they were written before or after the death of his beloved, Laura (de Noves?, first seen on April 6, 1327 at church in Avignon--he wrote it in his manuscript of Virgil's works, where he recorded everything important to him).  Sidney's poems invent a speaking persona, "Astrophil," whose identity punningly alludes to his own name and to the Latin meaning, "star lover."  The "star" in question, "Stella," may stand for Penelope Deveraux (later married to Lord Rich [no joke!]--see #37), but she is also just a convenient replacement for the literal woman by an obsessive idea that afflicts "Astrophil" (and probably not, the real Sir Philip Sidney).  To see the difference, compare Wyatt's two most obviously autobiographical poems, "Stand whoso list" and "Who list his wealth and ease retain" (657-8) with the tricky voice of any of Sidney's "Astrophil" poems.  Astrophil doubts his own sanity in several of the poems.  What should readers keep in mind when listening to poems by a speaker who might be mad?  Examine Petrarch's Italian as a source for Wyatt and Surrey.  This link will take you to a side-by-side comparison.  Sidney would have known Petrarch, Wyatt, and Surrey, so you might say he had three poetic "teachers," as well as the same Latin and Greek poets who informed Petrarch.  Spenser (next Wednesday) knew Sidney.  See if you can spot his literary "homage" to Astrophil and Stella in poem 1 Amoretti.   The whole poetic tradition or inheritance which brought the sonnet to Shakespeare was extremely highly evolved before the Bard of Avon ever put pen to paper.