The Poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt: A Selection and a Study

The Poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt: A Selection and a Study

The Poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt: A Selection and a Study

The Poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt: A Selection and a Study

Excerpt

The aim of this book is to call attention to an author who, though sometimes appreciated justly, has never really received his due. Wyatt to the general literary public is still the importer of the Sonnet into England, and the author of some half a dozen lyrics that deserve a place in the anthologies. In reality he is something more: a man of remarkable character, part of which has been made accessible to us through the medium of a number of short poems. Less precisely he can be called an important lyric poet.

To further my aim two things seemed necessary: a new anthology and a new appreciation.

Selections from Wyatt exist within anthologies of Tudor lyrics, but they are not full enough to give an adequate idea of him. On the other hand, the complete works can be unduly forbidding. Most of the poems are apprentice work, and the general reader who attempts the bulk may easily tire of the business of picking out poetry from experiment, and conclude that on the whole Wyatt is rather tedious. A more generous anthology than exists at present seems the required mean between the two extremes.

A fresh appreciation seems no less necessary. One recent writer maintains that "the important thing is that in Wyatt's work the early Tudor found examples of a large variety of verse forms, coldly but carefully worked out", and another does not trouble to exclude Wyatt's lyrics from what he calls "stilted Italianate compositions", which "judged by themselves were worthless". These are not the prevailing opinions, but they show that it is time someone spoke up in Wyatt's praise.

My choice of poems has been ruled by intrinsic merit rather than by historical importance. Few of . . .

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