She used to let her golden hair fly free
For the wind to toy and tangle and molest;
Her eyes were brighter than the radiant west.
Seldom they shine so now. I used to see
Pity look out of those deep eyes on me.
"It was false pity," you would now protest.
I had love's tinder heaped within my breast;
What wonder that the flame burned furiously?
She did not walk in any mortal way,
But with angelic progress; when she spoke,
Unearthly voices sang in unison.
She seemed divine among the dreary folk
Of earth. You say she is not so today?
Well, though the bow's unbent, the would bleeds on.
Petrarch understands his love for Laura in opposite ways. On one hand, he sees it as a force that will lead him toward the divine. On the other hand, he sees it as a dangerous impulse leaving him prey to some of his own worst characteristics. This uncertainty leads to his characteristic use of the Oxymoron. Petrarch, like all of the great sonneteers reveals more about philosophy and self than about the beloved. Laura, the beautiful but enigmatic muse who inspired these lyrics died of the Black Plague of 1348. Petrarch's sonnets recorded the various change in his thoughts and emotions between his first vision of Laura until after her death. His sonnets were much more concentrated upon the psychology of the poet than on the beloved.