The Canzoniere of Petrarch (1304–74) is among Europe's most famous and influential books of lyrics. The focus of this large collection (7,500 lines) is Petrarch's lifelong love for the mysterious Laura, but the themes he treats are many and various. Often regarded as the first modern man to emerge from a mediaeval world, Petrarch remains modern in his perplexities, uncertainties, the hesitancies and diffidence he reveals, paradoxically, with assured artistry. J.G.Nichols brings out the obsessive passion, but also his wit and serious humour: The saying's all too true: we lose our hair but not our habits; and our failing sense does not make mortal feelings less intense. The shade our bodies cast is guilty here. from 'Poem 122' This is a rare event — a new verse translation of the whole of the Canzoniere, with notes on the page which illuminate difficulties and suggest the many connections between the poems. They are not randomly collected; they constitute a complex whole which continues to disclose new aspects as we look from different angles. Even those poems which have long been famous in the English of Wyatt and Surrey gain when read in context.