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The most typical expression of Renaissance poetry was the sonnet. it derived from the Italian poet Dante and Petrarch. Petrarch's sonnet to Laura set a particular tradition of this kind of poem and the Italian poet established a new set of poetic conventions with which English poets could construct countless themes and variations. among the central concerns of the sonnets were love, friendship, beauty, the destructive effect of time and the desire for women who were unattainable or who could not return the poet's love.

Often the lady the poets loves is very beautiful but also presented as a cruel. we are given no real insight into her feelings but only learn about the poet's interior world: the poet has conflicting feelings, from great happiness to absolute desperation, from delight to pain and jealousy. for the poet, love is inspired by the beauty of the beloved which he tries to capture in poetic form, but this beauty, though it may contain something immortal, is itself mortal and fades with the passage of time. therefore the nature of the poet's desire contains a paradox: the poet often desire a lady but at the same time she will not surrender. the lady is an idealized figure, and this raises several questions: when we love a person, do we love the person or the idea that the person represent? can art recapture the lost beauty of the beloved and preserve it for all time?

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