Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Italian Poetry: The Canzone

The canzone is an Italian poetic form, along with canzone II. This week is devoted to Italian poetry, at least for now, so get used to it. :p

The canzone it a type of ballad, originating in the Provencal region of Italy. It’s typically closer to song lyrics and originated in the Middle Ages, meant to be recited to music. Dante and Petrarch utilized the form and helped make it popular. The most famous example, according to Wikipedia, so take this with a grain of salt or six, is “Voi che sapete” by Mozart.

The form itself has seven to eleven syllables per line with seven to twenty lines per stanza, with anything from one to seven stanzas per poem. It’s called similar to a sonnet on one website, , only easier to write. Another example of the form, this one by Dante. Dante’s rhyme scheme is quite complicated, but you can use whatever you like, even rhyming couplets. Webexibits also has a great explanation of how to layout the poem, define the subject, address the theme, etc. But if you don’t like that, the other suggestion comes from my combination of PoetryBase and Wikipedia. Together, those seem to indicate that the first two stanzas are usually similar in rhyme scheme, while the third is different, and the form usually addresses itself to someone, usually illustrious, but I assume this isn’t necessary. There is no set stanza structure, but, that said, the stanzas should have a pattern of similarity or dissimilarity. In the third stanza, the poem usually closes with a farewell of some kind.

The canzone II has five verses of twelve lines, each line with seven to eleven syllables, with a five line coda, or sixty-five lines. A coda is just a fancy way of saying ending, a way of wrapping up the poem. The rhyme scheme, however, is far more complex. It looks like this:

The rhyme scheme looks to be based on Dante’s work, so read the work, know the rules, and then feel free to break them.