Elizabethan Sonnet Month

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542)


Born: Kent.UK 1503
Died: Sherbourne UK 1542

1516 Wyatt entered court in 1516 as Sewer Extraodinary and also entered Cambridge University in that year.

1520 Wyatt married in 1520 to Elizabeth Brooke and they had a son in 1521. Wyatt was popular in the court and served King Henry VIII on foreign missions and held various offices at home.

1525 Wyatt separated from Elizabeth due to her adultery. Wyatt's alledged interest in Anne Boleyn probably dates from this time.

1526 Wyatt along with Sir Thomas Cheney undertook diplomatic missions to France.

1527 Wyatt and Sir John Russell undertook diplomatic missions to Venice and the Papal court in Rome.

1528-1530 Wyatt served as High Marshall of Calais.

1532 Wyatt became Commissioner of the Peace of Essex. He also accompanied the King and his Mistress, Anne Boleyn, on a visit to Calais.

1533 King Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn and Wyatt served at her coronation in June.

1535 Wyatt was knighted.

1536 Imprisoned in the Tower for quarrelling with the Duke of Suffolk. He was also suspected of being a lover to Anne Boleyn, and witnessed her execution on May 19. He wss released later in the year. In November his father died.

1537 Wyatt became ambassador to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.

1539 Wyatt returned to England as Charles ambassador until 1540

1541 Wyatt was charged with treason and again imprisoned in the Tower for which he was again pardoned.

1542 Wyatt was given various royal offices. He died 11 October, shortly after becoming ill welcoming Charles V's envoy at Falmouth.

Wyatt, along with Surrey, was the first to introduce the sonnet into English, with its characteristic final rhyming couplet. He wrote extraordinarily accomplished imitations of Petrarch's sonnets, including 'I find no peace' ('Pace non trovo') and 'Whoso List to Hunt'—the latter, quite different in tone from Petrarch's 'Una candida cerva', has often been seen to refer to Anne Boleyn as the deer with a jewelled collar. Wyatt was also adept at other new forms in English, such as the terza rima and the rondaeu. Wyatt and Surrey often share the title "father of the English sonnet."

Jem Farmer

Selected Works

"The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbor"

The long love that in my thought I harbour,
And in mine heart doth keep his residence,
Into my face presseth with bold pretence,
And therein campeth displaying his banner.
She that me learneth to love and to suffer,
And wills that my trust, and lust's negligence
Be reined by reason, shame, and reverence,
With his hardiness takes displeasure.
Wherewith love to the heart's forest he fleeth,
Leaving his enterprise with pain and cry,
And there him hideth, and not appeareth.
What may I do, when my master feareth,
But in the field with him to live and die?
For good is the life, ending faithfully.

"Yet was I never of your love aggrieved"

Yet was I never of your love aggrieved,
Nor never shall while my life doth last:
But of hating myself, that date is past;
And tears continual sore have me wearied.
I will not yet in my grave be buried;
Nor on my tomb your name have fixed fast,
As cruel cause, that did the spirit soon haste
From th' unhappy bones, by great sighs stirred.
Then if a heart of amorous faith and will
Content your mind withouten doing grief;
Please it you so to this to do relief:
If otherwise you seek for to fulfil
Your wrath, you err, and shall not as you ween;
And you yourself the cause thereof have been.

"Was never file yet half so well yfiled"

Was never file yet half so well yfiled
To file a file for any smith's intent,
As I was made a filing instrument,
To frame other, while that I was beguiled :
But reason, lo, hath at my folly smiled,
And pardoned me, sins that I me repent
Of my lost years, and of my time misspent.
For youth led me, and falsehood me misguided.
Yet, this trust I have of great apparence:
Since that deceit is aye returnable,
Of very force it is agreeable,
That therewithal be done the recompense :
Then guile beguiled plained should be never ;
And the reward is little trust for ever.

"The lively sparks that issue from those eyes"

The lively sparks that issue from those eyes
Against the which there vaileth no defence,
Have pierced my heart, and done it none offence,
With quaking pleasure more than once or twice.
Was never man could any thing devise,
Sunbeams to turn with so great vehemence
To daze man's sight, as by their bright presence.
Dazed am I ; much like unto the guise
Of one stricken with dint of lightning,
Blind with the stroke, and cying here and there:
So call I for help, I not when nor where,
The pain of my fall patiently bearing:
For straight after the blaze, as is no wonder,
Of deadly noise hear I the fearful thunder.

"Such vain thought as wonted to mislead me"

Such vain thought as wonted to mislead me
In desert hope, by well assured moan,
Makes me from company to live alone,
In following her whom reason bids me flee.
And after her my heart would fain be gone,
But armed sighs my way do stop anon,
'Twixt hope and dread locking my liberty ;
So fleeth she by gentle cruelty.
Yet as I guess, under disdainful brow
One beam of pity is in her cloudy look:
Which comforts the mind, that erst for fear shook;
That bolded straight the way ; then seek I how
To utter forth the smart I bide within ;
But such it is, I not how to begin.

"Unstable dream, according to the place"

Unstable dream, according to the place
Be steadfast once, or else at least be true :
By tasted sweetness make me not to rue
The sudden loss of thy false fained grace..
By good respect, in such a dangerous case,
Thou broughtest not her into these tossing seas;
But madest my sprite to live my care t' encrease,
My body in tempest her delight t'embrace.
The body dead, the spirit had his desire ;
Painless was th' one, the other in delight.
Why then, alas, did it not keep it right,
But thus return to leap in to the fire ;
And where it was at wish, could not remain?
Such mocks of dreams do turn to deadly pain.

"Yet that in love find luck and sweet abundance"

Yet that in love find luck and sweet abundance
And live in lust of joyful jollity,
Arise for shame, do way your sluggardy:
Arise, I say, do May some observance.
Let me in bed lie dreaming in mischance
Let me remember my mishaps unhappy,
That me betide in May most commonly ;
As one whom love list little to advance.
Stephan said true, that my nativity
Mischanced was with the ruler of May.
He guessed (I prove) of that the verity.
In May my wealth, and eke my wits, I say,
Have stond so oft in such perplexity :
Joy ; let me dream of your felicity.

"If waker care; if sudden pale colour"

If waker care; if sudden pale colour
If many sighs, with little speech to plain:
Now joy, now woe, if they my chere distain;
For hope of small, if much to fear therfore;
To haste, or slack, my pace to less, or more:
Be sign of love, then do I love again.
If thou ask whom : sure, since I did refrain
Brunet, that set my wealth in such a roar,
Th' unfeigned cheer of Phyllis hath the place
That Brunet had ; she hath, and ever shall.
She from my self now hath me in her grace;
She hath in hand my wit, my will, and all.
My heart alone well worthy she doth stay,
Without whose help scant do I live a day

"Caesar, when that the traitor of Egypt"

Caesar, when that the traitor of Egypt,
With th'honorable head did him present,
Covering his gladness, did represent
Plaint with his tears outward, as it is writ;
And Hanniball, eke, when fortune him shut
Clean from his reign, and from all his intent
Laughed to his folk whom sorrow did torment,
His cruel despite for to disgorge and quit.
So chanceth it oft that every passion
The mind hideth by colour contrary
With feigned visage, now sad, now merry;
Whereby if I laughed any time or season,
It is for because I have n'other way
To cloak my care but under sport and play.

"Each man me telleth I change most my devise"

Each man me telleth I change most my devise
And on my faith, methink it good reason
To change purpose, like after the season.
For in each case to keep still one guise,
Is meet for them that would be taken wise ;
And I am not of such manner condition ;
But treated after a diverse fashion ;
And therupon my diverseness doth rise.
But you, this diverseness that blamen most
Change you no more, but still after one rate
Treat you me well, and keep you in that state ;
And while with me doth dwell this wearied ghost,
My word, nor I, shall not be variable,
But always one ; your own both firm and stable.

"Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind..."

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, alas, I may no more;
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that furthest come behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow; I leave off therefore,
Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I, may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain,
There is written her fair neck round about,
"Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame."

"Was I never yet of your love grieved"

Was I never yet of your love grieved
Nor never shall while that my life doth last.
But of hating myself that date is past
And tears continual sore have me wearied.
I will not yet in my grave be buried
Nor on my tomb yoiur name yfixed fast
As cruel cause that did the spirit soon haste
From th'unhappy bones by great sighs stirred.
Then if an heart of amorous faith and will
May content you without doing grief,
Please it you so to this to do relief.
If otherwise ye seek for to fulfill
Your disdain, ye err and shall not as ye ween,
And ye yourself the cause thereof hath been.

"If amorous faith in heart unfeigned"

If amorous faith in heart unfeigned,
A sweet languor, a great lovely desire,
If honest will kindled in gentle fire,
If long error in a blind maze chained,
If in my visage each thought depainted
Or else in my sparkling voice lower or higher
Which now fear, now shame, woefully doth tire,
If a pale colour which love hath stained,
If to have another than myself more dear,
If wailing or sighing continually,
With sorrowful anger feeding busily,
If burning afar off and freezing near
Are cause that by love myself I destroy,
Yours is the fault and mine the great annoy.

"My heart I gave thee, not to do it pain"

My heart I gave thee, not to do it pain;
But to preserve, it was to thee taken.
I served thee, not to be forsaken,
But that I should be rewarded again.
I was content thy servant to remain
But not to be paid under this fashion.
Now since in thee is none other reason,
Displease thee not if that I do refrain,
Unsatiate of my woe and thy desire,
Assured by craft to excuse thy fault.
But since it please thee to feign a default,
Farewell, I say, parting from the fire:
For he that believeth bearing in hand,
Plougheth in water and soweth in the sand.

"Some fowls there be that have so perfect sight"

Some fowls there be that have so perfect sight
Again the sun their eyes for to defend;
And some because the light doth them offend
Do never 'pear but in the dark or night.
Other rejoice that see the fire bright
And ween to play in it, as they do pretend,
And find the contrary of it that they intend.
Alas, of that sort I may be by right,
For to withstand her look I am not able
And yet can I not hide me in no dark place,
Remembrance so followeth me of that face.
So that with teary eyen, swollen and unstable,
My destiny to behold her doth me lead,
Yet do I know I run into the gleed.

"Because I have thee still kept from lies and blame"

Because I have thee still kept from lies and blame
And to my power always have I thee honoured,
Unkind tongue, right ill hast thou me rendered
For such desert to do me wreak and shame.
In need of succour most when that I am
To ask reward, then standest thou like one afeard,
Alway most cold; and if thou speak toward,
It is as in dream, unperfect and lame.
And ye salt tears, again my will each night
That are with me when fain I would be alone,
Then are ye gone when I should make my moan.
And you so ready sighs to make me shright,
Then are ye slack when that ye should outstart,
And only my look declareth my heart.

"I find no peace, and all my war is done..."

I find no peace, and all my war is done:
I fear, and hope; I burn, and freeze like ice;
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have, and all the world I seize on;
That locketh nor loseth holdeth me in prison,
And holdeth me not, yet can I 'scape nowise:
Nor letteth me live, nor die at my devise,
And yet of death it giveth me occasion.
Without eyen I see, and without tongue I 'plain;
I desire to perish, and yet I ask health;
I love another, and thus I hate myself;
I feed me in sorrow, and laugh in all my pain.
Likewise displeaseth me both death and life,
And my delight is causer of this strife.

"Though I myself be bridled of my mind"

Though I myself be bridled of my mind,
Returning me backward by force express,
If thou seek honour to keep thy promise,
Who may thee hold, my heart, but thou thyself unbind?
Sigh then no more since no way man may find
Thy virtue to let though that frowardness
Of fortune me holdeth; and yet as I may guess,
Though other be present, thou art not all behind.
Suffice it then that thou be ready there
At all hours, still under the defence
Of time, truth, and love to save thee from offence,
Crying, "I burn in a lovely desire
With my dear master's that may not follow,
Whereby his absence turneth him to sorrow."

"My galley charged with forgetfulness..."

My galley charged with forgetfulness
Through sharp seas in winter nights doth pass
Tween rock and rock, and eke my foe (alas)
That is my lord, steereth with cruelness.
And every oar, a thought in readiness,
As though that death were light in such a case;
An endless wind doth tear the sail apace
Of forced sighs and trusty fearfulness;
A rain of tears, a cloud of dark distain,
Have done the wearied cords great hinderance;
Wreathed with error and eke with ignorance,
The stars be hid that lead me to this pain.
Drowned is reason that should me confort,
And I remain, despairing of the port.

"Avising the bright beams of these fair eyes"

Considering the bright beams of these fair eyes
Where he is that mine oft moisteth and washeth,
The worried mind straight from the heart departeth
For to rest his worldly paradise
And find the sweet bitter under this guise.
What webs he hath wrought well he perceiveth,
Whereby with himself on Love he plaineth
That spurreth with fire and bridleth with ice.
Thus is it in such extremity brought:
In frozen thought now, and now it standeth in flame,
'Twixt misery and wealth, 'twixt earnest and game,
But few glad and many a diverse thought,
With sore repentance of his hardiness.
Of such a root cometh fruit fruitless.

"My love to scorn, my service to retain"

My love to scorn, my service to retain
Therein, methought, you used cruelty ;
Since with good will I lost my liberty,
To follow her which causeth all my pain.
Might never woe yet cause me to refrain ;
But only this, which is extremity,
To give me nought, alas, nor to agree
That, as I was, your man I might remain :
But since that thus ye list to order me,
That would have been your servant true and fast ,
Displease you not, my doting time is past ;
And with my loss to leave I must agree :
For as there is a certain time to rage,
So is there time such madness to assuage.

"Such is the course that nature's kind hath wrought"

Such is the course that nature's kind hath wrought
That snakes have time to cast away their stings :
Against chain'd prisoners what need defence be sought ?
The fierce lion will hurt no yielden things :
Why shoul such spite be nursed then by thought?
Sith all these powers are prest under thy wings;
And eke thou seest, and reason thee hath taught,
What mischief malice many ways it brings:
Consider eke, that spite availeth nought.
Therefore this song thy faul to thee it sings :
Displease thee not, for saying thus my thought,
Nor hate thou him from whom no hate forth springs :
For furies that in hell be execrable,
For that they hate, are made most miserable.

"The flaming sighs that boil within my breast"

The flaming sighs that boil within my breast
Sometime break forth, and they can well declare
The heart's unrest, and how that it doth fare,
The pain thereof, the grief, and all the rest.
The water'd eyen from whence the tears do fall,
Do feel some force, or else they would be dry;
The wasted flesh of colour dead can try,
And sometime tell what sweetness is in gall:
And he that lust to see, and to discern
How care can force within a wearied mind,
Come he to me, I am that place assign'd:
But for all this, no force, it doth no harm;
The wound, alas, hap in some other place,
From whence no tool away the scar can raze..

But you, that of such like have had your part,
Can best be judge. Wherefore, my friend so dear,
I thought it good my state should now appear
To you, and that there is no great desert.
And whereas you, in weighty matters great,
Of fortune saw the shadow that you know,
For trifling things I now am stricken so,
That though I feel my heart doth wound and beat,
I sit alone, save on the second day
My fever comes, with whom I spend my time
In burning heat, while that she list assign.
And who hath health and liberty alway,
Let him thank God, and let him not provoke,
To have the like of this my painful stroke.

"The pillar perish'd is whereto I leant"

The pillar perish'd is whereto I leant
The strongest stay of my unquiet mind;
The like of it no man again can find,
From east to west still seeking though he went,
To mine unhap.  For hap away hath rent
Of all my joy the very bark and rind :
And I, alas, by chance am thus assign'd
Daily to mourn, till death do it relent.
But since that thus it is by destiny,
What can I more but have a woful heart
My pen in plaint, my voice in careful cry
My mind in woe, my body full of smart ;
And I myself, myself always to hate,
Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state.

"I abide, and abide ; and better abide"

I abide, and abide ; and better abide
After the old proverb the happy day
And ever my Lady to me doth say,
' Let me alone, and I will provide.'
I abide, and abide, and tarry the tide,
And with abiding speed well ye may.
Thus do I abide I wot alway,
N' other obtaining, nor yet denied.
Aye me ! this long abiding
Seemeth to me, as who sayeth
A prolonging of a dying death,
Or a refusing of a desired thing.
Much were it better for to be plain,
Than to say, 'Abide,' and yet not obtain.

"To rail or jest, ye know I use it not"

To rail or jest, ye know I use it not
Though that such cause sometime in folks I find.
And though to change ye list to set your mind,
Love it who list, in faith I like it not.
And if ye were to me, as ye are not,
I would be loth to see you so unkind :
But since your fault must needs be so by kind:
Though I hate it I pray you love it not.
Things of great weight I never thought to crave,
This is but small ; of right deny it not:
Your feigning ways, as yet forget them not.
But like reward let other Lovers have;
That is to say, for service true and fast,
Too long delays, and changing at the last.

"Ever mine hap is slack and slow in coming"

Ever mine hap is slack and slow in coming,
Desire increasing, mine hope uncertain,
That leave it or wait it doth me like pain
And tiger-like swift it is in parting.
Alas, the snow shall be black and scalding,
The sea waterless, fish in the mountain,
The Thames shall return back into his fountain,
And where he rose the sun shall take lodging
Ere that I in this find peace or quietness
In that Love or my lady rightwisely
Leave to conspire again me wrongfully.
And if that I have after such bitterness
Anything sweet, my mouth is out of taste,
That all my trust and travail is but waste.

"Love and Fortune and my mind, rememb'rer"

Love and Fortune and my mind, rememb'rer
Of that that is now with that that hath been,
Do torment me so that I very often
Envy them beyond all measure.
Love slayeth mine heart. Fortune is depriver
Of all my comfort. The foolish mind then
Burneth and plaineth as one that seldom
Liveth in rest, still in displeasure.
My pleasant days, they fleet away and pass,
But daily yet the ill doth change into the worse,
And more than the half is run of my course.
Alas, not of steel but of brickle glass
I see that from mine hand falleth my trust,
And all my thoughts are dashed into dust.

"How oft have I, my dear and cruel foe"

How oft have I, my dear and cruel foe,
With those your eyes for to get peace and truce
Proffered you mine heart! But you do not use
Among so high things to cast your mind so low.
If any other look for it, as ye trow,
Their vain weak hope doth greatly them abuse.
And thus I disdain that that ye refuse:
It was once mine, it can no more be so.
If I then it chase, nor it in you can find
In this exile no manner of comfort,
Nor live alone, nor, where he is called, resort,
He may wander from his natural kind.
So shall it be great hurt unto us twain
And yours the loss and mine the deadly pain.

"Like to these immeasurable mountains"

Like to these immeasurable mountains
Is my painful life, the burden of ire:
For of great height be they and high is my desire,
And I of tears and they be full of fountains.
Under craggy rocks they have full barren plains;
Hard thoughts in me my woeful mind doth tire.
Small fruit and many leaves their tops do attire;
Small effect with great trust in me remains.
The boist'rous winds oft their high boughs do blast;
Hot sighs from me continually be shed.
Cattle in them and in me love is fed.
Immovable am I and they are full steadfast.
Of the restless birds they have the tune and note,
And I always plaints that pass thorough my throat.

"Farewell love and all thy laws forever..."

Farewell, love, and all thy laws forever,
Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more.
Senec and Plato call me from thy lore
To perfect wealth, my wit for to endeavor.
In blind error when I did persever,
Thy sharp repulse that pricketh aye so sore
Taught me in trifles that I set no store,
But scape forth, since liberty is lever.
Therefore, farewell, go trouble younger hearts,
And in me claim no more authority;
With idle youth go use thy property,
And thereon spend thy many brittle darts.
For hitherto though I have lost my time,
Me list no longer rotten boughs to climb.

"Unstable dream, according to the place..."

Unstable dream, according to the place,
Be steadfast once, or else at least be true;
By tasted sweetness make me not to rue
The sudden loss of thy false feigned grace.
By good respect in such a dangerous case,
Thou broughtest not her into this tossing mew,
But madest my sprite live, my care to renew,
My body in tempest her succour to embrace.
The body dead, the sprite had his desire,
Painless was th' one, th' other in delight.
Why then, alas, did it not keep it right,
Returning, to leap into the fire?
And where it was at wish, it could not remain,
Such mocks of dreams they turn to deadly pain.

"Divers doth use, as I have heard and know..."

Divers doth use, as I have heard and know,
When that to change their ladies do begin,
To mourn and wail, and never for to lin,
Hoping thereby to pease their painful woe.
And some there be, that when it chanceth so
That women change and hate where love hath been,
They call them false and think with words to win
The hearts of them which otherwhere doth grow.
But as for me, though that by chance indeed
Change hath outworn the favor that I had,
I will not wail, lament, nor yet be sad,
Nor call her false that falsely did me feed,
But let it pass, and think it is of kind
That often change doth please a woman's mind.

If you have any suggestions or questions regarding these poems please email me

Elizabethan Sonnet Month
The Poets Garret
Tir Na nOg Poetry Community

Only after the last tree has been cut down
Only after the last river has been poisoned
Only after the last fish has been caught
Only then will we realise that money cannot be eaten
- Cree Indian Prophesy