Tuesday, 7 June 2011
01:11:27 AM (GMT)
Contrary to popular belief, "emo" had very early beginnings it history, and is one
of the first non-mainstream subcultures to develop in the Western World.
Remember the Italian Renaissance? The one we all learned about in school, that
influenced the arts in England. One poet in particular is of interest here.
Francesco Petrarca—more commonly known as Petrarch—is one of the fathers of the
Renaissance. He was a great scholar and helped revive classical learning. You have
heard of the "Petrarchan Sonnet"? That was from Petrarch. He also wrote about
philosophy and politics. He even wrote epic poems. However, he is best remembered for
Those sonnets—all 366 of them—were addressed to a woman named Laura. If the
number of sonnets written to a person is an indicator of love, Petrarch truly loved
Laura. By all other indications, he didn't even know her. He saw her in church one
day, and instantly fell in love. Unfortunately, the relationship was doomed. She was
That didn't stop Petrarch. He quickly gave up trying to possess her and instead
idolized her. His poems speak of love and admiration, but Petrarch keeps his distance
and avoids sensuality. In fact, he condemns pursuing women and other "fleshly
desires." He is content being sad and lonely, "happy" in his unrequited love.
In 1547, about fifty years before Shakespeare's play appeared, Petrarch's sonnets
were published in English. They were a smash hit with the Elizabethans. Poetry of
this type would have been entertaining in a slow-paced society with no telephones,
television, or radio.
Petrarch became the latest thing. Adolescent boys everywhere went around acting like
him. These "Petrarchan lovers" played at being isolated, introspective, melancholy,
and in love with women they could not have. Their language was filled with Romeo's
"Oh heavy lightness, serious vanity," (I, i, 167)
Just like Petrarch. They were the original emo kids.