Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt

Not only was Sir Thomas Wyatt the prototype of the heartbroken young man but he also introduced the English language to the sonnet. That was between going in and out of prison, courting a queen and escaping from his captives in Rome. Here we will look at the life and work of Sir Thomas Wyatt.

Sir Thomas Wyatt: biography

Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503 in Maidstone, Kent. He was an English poet and was perhaps most famous for introducing the sonnet to English literature. It is widely assumed that Wyatt was educated at St John's in Cambridge. Soon after completing his education Thomas Wyatt became a member of King Henry VIII's court.

Sir Thomas Wyatt was a popular member of Henry's court. He was thought of as handsome and skilled in the arts and also in arms. Sometimes Wyatt's popularity would get him into trouble, particularly in his relationships with women. It was rumoured that Thomas Wyatt had a romantic affair with Anne Boleyn. Boleyn at the time was the object of Henry VIII's desires and Wyatt found himself arrested in 1536.

Sir Thomas Wyatt, Tower of London, StudySmarterSir Thomas Wyatt would often find himself imprisoned in the infamous Tower of London.

Wyatt was soon free and surprisingly found himself knighted in 1537 and taking part in diplomatic missions overseas. This may have been to keep Wyatt away from Henry and the new queen. Wyatt's time abroad was useful artistically as well as politically. It was in Italy where Thomas Wyatt familiarised himself with the sonnet and the poet Petrarch. After the execution of political ally Thomas Cromwell, Wyatt was again imprisoned in 1541. Despite all his adventures, Thomas Wyatt was most famous for his poetry. Sir Thomas Wyatt died from fever in Sherborne, Dorset.

Petrarch (1304-1374) Francesco Petrarch was an Italian poet and scholar. He is famous for his sonnets around Europe and his role in initiating the Italian Renaissane in the 14th century; when he rediscovered letters belonging to Cicero.

Thomas Cromwell was an English lawyer and eventually a member of King Henry VIII's court. He was an instrumental figure in the English Reformation.

Sir Thomas Wyatt: sonnets

Sir Thomas Wyatt was famous for introducing the sonnet to the English language. Wyatt used his experience overseas and skills with language to translate and perfect the sonnet from Italian to English. Many of Wyatt's sonnets are Petrarchan sonnets. Petrarchan sonnets consist of 14 lines usually an octave and a sestet.

A sonnet is a form of poem consisting of 14 lines. Traditionally a sonnet is written in iambic pentameter with rhyme. There are two types of sonnet; Petrarchan and Elizabethan.

Iambic pentameter is a form of meter which consists of five pairs of syllables in each line. These pairs are called iambs, with the first syllable unstressed and the second stressed.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

In this line the unstressed syllables are in bold.

'Whoso List to Hunt' (1530s)

'Whoso List to Hunt' is one of the first sonnets to be written in the English language. The sonnet draws parallels with 'Sonnet 190' by the Italian poet Petrarch. The poem uses an extended metaphor to compare love with a hunt. The speaker talks of their dejection at the failed pursuit of a woman they love. 'Whoso List to Hunt' is one of Wyatt's most well-known poems and it has been speculated that it refers to Wyatt's relationship with Anne Boleyn.

An extended metaphor is a metaphor that will run through a complete poem or stanza.

'The Pillar Perished' (1540s)

Another sonnet that has similarities to the work of Petrarch. In the poem 'The Pillar Perished' the speaker mourns the death of a close friend. It is rumoured that the close friend may be Wyatt's political ally, Thomas Cromwell. This theory can be supported by the reference to the 'pillar' that the speaker had 'leant' perishing. Cromwell was known to support Wyatt throughout his troublesome relationship with Henry VIII. Unlike many of Wyatt's other poems, the subject is not one of romantic rejection.

Thomas Wyatt: famous poems

Although more famous for the sonnet, Thomas Wyatt was also prolific in other forms of poetry. Here we will take a look at some of the more famous examples.

'My Lute Awake' (1530s)

A poem that deals with a familiar theme in Wyatt's work: rejection and giving up. The speaker in the poem is asking their lute to perform one more song. The speaker wishes to sing no more because they have been spurned by a lover. They have been rejected by a woman who 'repulses' their affection 'cruelly'. The poem consists of eight quintets and has a rhyme scheme of AABAB.

A quintet is a poetic stanza (or verse) that is made up of five lines, can also be known as a quintain.

'They Flee From Me' (1530s)

Another poem dealing with spurned love and was rumoured to reference Wyatt's relationship with Anne Boleyn. The speaker talks of a woman they were once romantic with but no longer are. The speaker uses similar imagery to the sonnet 'Whoso List to Hunt', where a once 'tame woman has become wild'. The poem is written in a technique known as 'rime royal' which uses iambic pentameter and a rhyme scheme of ABABBCC.

'Forget Not Yet' (1540s)

In this poem, its speaker asks those who knew him to remember his qualities and loyalty. The poem reflects on how volatile life in the Tudor court can be where one's popularity can go as quickly as it comes, something Wyatt himself experienced. The poem is made up of five quatrains and uses a rhyme scheme AAA with a refrain of the 'forget not yet' at the end of each quatrain. In the final quatrain, the refrain is altered slightly to 'Forget not this.'.

Sir Thomas Wyatt: facts

Thomas Wyatt led a short but adventurous life. Here we will look at some of the more interesting elements.

  • Thomas Wyatt's first role in court was 'Sewer Extraordinary', a job that was not as gruesome as its name suggests. The job is more akin to that of a butler rather than one who deals with sewage.
  • Wyatt found himself in and out of prison often despite his lofty positions in court. Sometimes it was because of the volatile nature of the times he lived in. Other times it was due to his own misconduct: in 1534 he was arrested for 'street brawling'.
  • While on a diplomatic mission in Rome, Thomas Wyatt was captured and imprisoned by Emperor Charles V's armies. Not only did Wyatt escape his captives but he returned to England with a mastery of the sonnet, translating the form into English for the first time.
  • After the execution of Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas Wyatt once again found himself imprisoned, this time in the Tower of London. He narrowly avoided his own execution through the political manoeuvring of his close friend, Thomas Cromwell.

Sir Thomas Wyatt: poem analysis

Here we will take a closer look at one of Sir Thomas Wyatt's most famous poems, 'Whoso List to Hunt', looking briefly at its context, meaning and form.

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

But as for me, hélas, I may no more.

The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,

I am of them that farthest cometh 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,

Sithens 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.

Context

The poem is a Petrarchan sonnet that is presumed to be written in the 1530s. This makes it one of the first sonnets to be written in English. Wyatt's 'Whoso List to Hunt' is a reworking of a sonnet written by Petrarch himself called 'Sonnet 190'. Many historians have suggested that the poem refers to Thomas Wyatt's relationship with Anne Boleyn. Although we can never fully know the truth the final lines suggest it is a possibility; the object of the speaker's desire says in Latin that she should not be touched because she belongs to Caesar. Caesar, like Henry VIII, was also a powerful ruler.

Meaning

Wyatt's sonnet is an extended metaphor. The speaker in the poem talks of a hunt for a deer that they can no longer keep up with. The deer is really a woman and the fellow hunters are her suitors. In the final volta, the speaker reveals that the deer no longer considers herself tame but wild. The speaker has given up hope of ever catching her love.

Form

As the poem is a Petrarchan sonnet it consists of a strict form. It has 14 lines made of one octave and then a sestet. The sestet at the end works a volta, which is used by poets to challenge a poem's original argument. The poem uses iambic pentameter, a meter that uses five pairs of stressed/unstressed syllables. Its rhyme scheme is ABBA with a final rhyming couplet at the end.

Sir Thomas Wyatt - Key takeaways

  • Sir Thomas Wyatt was an English poet who was also a member of King Henry VIII's court.
  • Sir Thomas Wyatt was perhaps most famous for introducing the sonnet to English literature.
  • Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503 in Maidstone, Kent.
  • Thomas Wyatt's work was greatly inspired by the Italian poet, Petrarch.
  • Wyat's most famous poem is the sonnet 'Whoso List to Hunt' (1530s).

Frequently Asked Questions about Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt was an English poet who was also a member of King Henry VIII's court.

Sir Thomas Wyatt died as a result of fever in Sherborne, Dorset.

Sir Thomas Wyatt was perhaps most famous for introducing the sonnet to English literature.

Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503 in Maidstone, Kent.

Wyatt found himself in and out of prison often, he was also held captive in Rome.

Final Sir Thomas Wyatt Quiz

Question

What is the poem 'Whoso List to Hunt' about?

Show answer

Answer

The poem 'Whoso List to Hunt' is about the speaker's desperate pursuit of love.

Show question

Question

What is the tone of 'Whoso List to Hunt'?

Show answer

Answer

The tone of 'Whoso List to Hunt' is exasperated and desperate.

Show question

Question

When was 'Whoso List to Hunt' written?


Show answer

Answer

It was likely that 'Whoso List to Hunt' was written in the 16th century.

Show question

Question

What does the deer symbolise?

Show answer

Answer

The deer symbolises the object of the speaker's desire, a woman.

Show question

Question

How is love presented in the poem?


Show answer

Answer

In the poem, love is presented as a hunt.

Show question

Question

What form of poetry is 'Whoso List to Hunt'?

Show answer

Answer

'Whoso List to Hunt' is a Petrarchan sonnet.

Show question

Question

What is the rhyme scheme used in 'Whoso List to Hunt'?

Show answer

Answer

The rhyme scheme used in 'Whoso List to Hunt' is ABBA ABBA CDD CEE

Show question

Question

In which meter is 'Whoso List to Hunt' written?

Show answer

Answer

'Whoso List to Hunt' is written in the iambic pentameter.

Show question

Question

Who was Sir Thomas Wyatt rumoured to have an affair with?

Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt was rumoured to have an affair with Anne Bolyen

Show question

Question

How many lines in the poem 'Whoso List to Hunt'?

Show answer

Answer

There are 14 lines in the poem 'Whoso List to Hunt'.

Show question

Question

Who was Sir Thomas Wyatt?

Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt was an English poet who was also a member of King Henry VIII's court.


Show question

Question

How did Sir Thomas Wyatt die?


Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt died as a result of fever in Sherborne, Dorset.


Show question

Question

What was Sir Thomas Wyatt famous for?


Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt was perhaps most famous for introducing the sonnet to English literature


Show question

Question

Where was sir Thomas Wyatt born?


Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt was born in 1503 in Maidstone, Kent


Show question

Question

What happened to Sir Thomas Wyatt?


Show answer

Answer


Show question

Question

What is Sir Thomas Wyatt's most famous poem?

Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt's most famous poem is the sonnet 'Whoso List to Hunt' (1530s)

Show question

Question

Which Italian poet influenced Sir Thomas Wyatt's sonnets?

Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt's sonnets were influenced by the Italian poet Petrarch.

Show question

Question

Sir Thomas Wyatt was rumoured to have had a romantic relationship with which former Queen?

Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt was rumoured to have had a romantic relationship with Anne Boleyn.

Show question

Question

'Whoso List to Hunt' is a reworking of which Petrarchan sonnet?

Show answer

Answer

'Whoso List to Hunt' is a reworking of the Petrarchan sonnet '190'. 

Show question

Question

What was Sir Thomas Wyatt's first role at court?

Show answer

Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt's first role at court was 'Sewer Extraordinary'.

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Sir Thomas Wyatt quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.