The White Doe, by Francesco Petrarch

The White Doe, by Francesco Petrarch

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Through language a poet allows himself the license to hint at things unrevealed by the literal meaning of a poem. The use of one distinct word over another often suggests a double meaning. “The White Doe” functions on two levels. First on a literal level, a man on a pursuit after a beautiful white doe; and secondly on a figurative level, suggesting that the white doe is really the speakers ideal woman.
     The “antlers of gold” mentioned in line two represent the duality of the woman. The antlers conjure up images of pain while gold suggests a certain beauty. Thus the paradoxical statement reveals the internal battle the speaker must face when presented with the push and pull of being scorned by the woman he loves. Likewise in lines seven and eight the speaker says he is “like the miser who was looking for his treasure/ sweetens with that delight his bitterness.” He likens himself to a miser whose delight in finding treasure is undermined by his bitterness. The love he has for this woman is like a misers love for treasure, it is bittersweet because he always wants more. This woman has become his ideal, and he expects perfection from the relationship that cannot be achieved.
     The references regarding time of day serve as symbol of the budding relationship. In stanza one it is only “sunrise” and the author is yet unsure of what turn the relationship will take. By stanza three the sun had already climbed “toward noon,” the hottest time of the day. As the day, or the relationship progressed, his uncertainty and apprehension grew into a hot blazing passionate love. In line eleven a historical allusion to Caesar makes the speakers desired love seem unattainable. Mentioning Caesar, a powerful man who had what he wanted proposes that someone already has this woman and will not let her go.

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     The paradoxical images that permeate the poem scream that this love makes him feel alive while bringing him tremendous pain. The elements in opposition put forward the duality of his love, placing in juxtaposition images of beauty and pain. At the end she vanished without a trace, the speaker is left only with his fantasy and his vision of the woman he believes her to be.
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