I actually listened to this collection and did not read it.
After having a discussion with a friend over who the Italian poet from the 13th century was in “Tangled Up in Blue,” I did a little research and found an except from a Bob Dylan interview where he stated it was “Plutarch. Is that his name?” But Plutarch was Greek and lived well before the 13th century. Petrarch, however, was born at the beginning of the 14th century and is a reasonably close in spelling.
Petrarch had a serious thing for Laura, whom he had never spoken to, and devote a good deal of his poetry to her. He was training to be a priest and the mere sight of Laura de Noves send Petrarch into a frenzy of romantic poetry writing.*
Blessed be the Day
Oh blessed be the day, the month, the year,
the season and the time, the hour, the instant,
the gracious countryside, the place where I was
struck by those two lovely eyes that bound me;
and blessed be the first sweet agony
I felt when I found myself bound to Love,
the bow and all the arrows that have pierced me,
the wounds that reach the bottom of my heart.
And blessed be all of the poetry
I scattered, calling out my lady’s name,
and all the sighs, and tears, and the desire;
blessed be all the paper upon which
I earn her fame, and every thought of mine,
only of her, and shared with no one else.
Laura de Noves
After listening the poems it is not hard to believe this is who Dylan was referring to because:
…every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin’ coal
Pourin’ off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue
Petrarch nails it as a romantic poet.
Next up is his complete collection of sonnets. This was enough of a taste to motivate me to read the rest of his work.
* An other story says that Laura is close to the laurels he wore around his head. I don’t chose to believe that story, even though Petrarch wore enough laurels around his head that he could have been mistaken for a modern combat sniper.