How Thomas Wyatt Poetry Expresses His Personal Feelings


Thomas Wyatt Poetry is a new kind of sonnet, we come to know that there had been many sonneteers, old as well as new in the history of English Literature. Petrarch who was an Italian poet, was regarded as the originator or founder of sonnet form, gained much fame and popularity in Italy and in other countries. But, in England, Petrarchan genius was affected by different changes in itself. The English writers, poets and sonneteers accepted and adopted his form of sonnet but they also made many changes in it; some elements were retained while others were discarded.

Wyatt was the first who introduced sonnet into English literature. Before him; there was no one who could handle sonnet form at its introductory level. He used his.god-gifted abilities and capabilities to accomplish this difficult task superbly and effectively. Having a huge urge for reforming and modifying it for its better popularity and fame among the people of his own country, he felt the need for a poetic medium for self-expression in the existing forms of the lyric which was suitable only for composing songs to be sung by the help of · music. In this way,Thomas Wyatt Poetry gave a new great appeal to the educated mind than before.

In his collection of thirty one sonnets, the first nineteen were the translation of the Italian sonnets. Though these sonnets followed the original rhyme-scheme yet these were some major and subtle differences. The very first difference was that these sonnets ended in a couplet which was lacking in Petrarch and his imitators. He modified it because the couplet ending answered to some genuine and deep-seated need. By: the help of couplet; he could gave a logical ending to his sonnet and this very ending changed the balance and rhyme scheme of the first three or four quatrains: Another difference was of the arrangement of syllables, the majority of Thomas Wyatt Poetry lines were decasyllabic while the lines in the Italian sonnet had eleven syllables; without having a regular system which sometimes gave an impression of being mechanical devices and they often ignored the natural speech-stress.

On the basis of this change, Wyatt attained a kind of freedom and hence we could say that in the early sonnet, there emerged two principles in it: the ten syllable line and the concluding couplet. It is also worthy to note here that it was not the case in all sonnets because in some sonnets he had to follow the set pattern framework of rhythm and decatallable line. He very carefully copied and translated word by word and stress by stress upon the original text of Petrạrchan style and presented the intrusion of traditional English rhythms and cleared the way for emerging a new contemporary English style.

But very soon Watt became of the view that Italian verification could not be translated into English because the texture of English weakened the delicate Italian rhythms and the result was lack of vigour of the native tradition and the subtlety of the borrowed, medium. After grasping the principles of sonnet verification, Wyatt became terribly concerned with an individual rendering. Though at first, his verbal changes were tentative, limited to variations of nuances but with the passage of time, he reacted progressively upon the Italian structure and versification and introduced the devices of the decasyllable and the final couplet. After knowing that the Italian language differed in structure, flexibility and rhythmic pattern, he also introduced technical modifications to suit his own language.

Further, Thomas Wyatt Poetry also introduced the line syllable in the final couplet and made modifications in the rhythm of the original to accommodate the rhythm of English language. On the basis of these above-mentioned changes, English sonnet is different from the Petrarchan sonnet. There is no doubt in saying that sonnet form played a very important role in the development of English poetry and till Shakespearean age; an individuality and tradition were primarily integrated in it.

As Wyatt worked on sonnet form, so the octave was to be divided into two clear-cut quatrains and sestet was divided into two parts, one consisting of four lines and the second on the couplet. He also made the rhyme scheme of the Italian so simple to mark his couplet and in this way the first four lines have the rhyme scheme c, d, d, c, similar to the two quatrains of the octave. Though it resulted in some minor changes in the content yet it largely remained Petrarchan. As he translated more sonnets of Petrarch; he also started introducing his own typical attitude of skepticism towards women. He began to ridicule the cult of adulation for the sonnet heroine. He also displayed or expressed his personal feelings, emotions and sentiments in the dejection of his beloved to him.

This is very prominent in his sonnet beginning with the line, “Was I never yet of your love graved”…. here he informs his mistress openly that he would neither die because of her attitude of disdain towards him nor would he have her name inscribed on his tomb. Wyatt’s such kind of treatment is quite different from the treatment, expressed by Petrarch in his sonnet. Wyatt rebukes or condemns the attitude or behaviour of his beloved in a very severe and acute manner that Wyatt’s attitude becomes cynical. So it is very evident now that in Wyatt’s sonnets, the shaping, force is the content and not the form. The sonnet is divided into three stanzas of four lines each, though the rhyme scheme is unaltered, – abba, abba, cddc – and in the final couplet is e.e. In this sonnet named as “The Lover For Shamefastness”; he personifies love as the lover’s master and it makes its appearance in his face while the beloved is displeased.

Here Wyatt follows the Petrarchan conceit by witty separation of love from the lover through personification. Wyatt’s version and treatment of the sonnet are harsh and rough but more intense in passion. He treats love masculinely. As in this sonnet we see that a lover’s love is rejected disdainfully and repulsive love retreats heart not, simply, but to the heart’s forest forcefully. The diction of the sonnet creates the harshness of tone. Three syllable words such as residence, reverence, negligence, harshness and enterprise obstruct the flow of the metre. The language used in the sonnet shows Wyatt as a plain, forthright man who cannot hide his acute and terse feelings as lovers usually do. As the lover vows, the sonnet comes to the conclusion:

“Bt in the field with him to live and did for good is the life, ending faithfully…

In his another sonnet named as “The Lover Despairing To Attain Unto His Lady’s Grace” Wyatt’s tone is of a rejected lover. Here he is of the views that his mistress is simply unable to requite long companionship of love life. He compares his beloved with a wild female deer that runs away from a hunter. He starts feeling rejected, dejected and dead tired in the pursuit of her love. Though he tried his best to occupy her exclusively, but all was in vain and he uttered:

“……I leave it off, therefore, Since in a net to hold the wind”:

In the first eight lines, an invitation to hunters is shown who wants to catch a hind but very soon the hunter (lover) admits his own failure and he attributes this failure to the fickle nature of the beloved who is as innocent as the wind. He also declares that he will not give up his pursuit easily, here he utters as:

“I am of them who furthest come behind”.

But in the last six lines, we see that the poet warns to those hunters who may capture or undertake to hunt this particular hind. He once again says here that she is wild yet she seems tame. To capture her is to hold the wind in a net which is no doubt, impossible.

To conclude this above mentioned discussion, we can say in the final analysis though Thomas Wyatt Poetry made Petrarch’s sonnet as the base of his sonnets yet his own. vigorous personality transformed the Petrarchan medium and laid a foundation of a new genre of sonnet in the history of English Literature. He wrote 31 sonnets in which 19 were translated from Petrarch and the rest of the sonnets were adaptations from Petrarch’s followers. He emancipated himself from the influence of Petrarch; he succeeded in it because he was a true poet. He was also a true representative of his age in which he lived. He was a man of truth and never ever compromised with his self-respect. On the basis of this quality of his personality, he was able to discard the romantic notion of love, that is, the lover must remain true to the beloved even though she repulsed him time and again or disdained him.


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