Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt

By Kenneth Muir | Go to book overview

VIII
Wyatt's Poetry

(1) THE MANUSCRIPTS Some account of the manuscripts, apart from a recently discovered one, in which Wyatt's poems appear will be found in all recent editions of his poetry. By far the most important is Egerton MS. 2711 (E) in the British Museum, which contains 101 of his lyrics, as well as the satires and the psalms. The early part of the manuscript is in the hand of a scribe, with occasional corrections in Wyatt's own hand; the later poems in the manuscript, including the Penitential Psalms, are mostly in Wyatt's hand, and some of them appear to be first drafts with numerous corrections. The next manuscript, identified as Blage's (B) in 1959, contains 15 of the Egerton poems and nearly 100 other poems of which at least half are probably Wyatt's. This is in the library of Trinity College, Dublin (D.2.7). A third manuscript, known as the Devonshire (D), is in the British Museum (Add. MS. 17492). It is an anthology of early Tudor poetry, containing 18 poems also found in B and about 50 others which have been ascribed to Wyatt, though his authorship is by no means certain. The Arundel manuscript (A) contains four poems which appear in no other manuscript, and 40 more poems which appear in other manuscripts, including the Penitential Psalms. Other poems are to be found in Add. MS. 36529 (P) and Harleian MS. 78 (H) in the British Museum. Royal MS. 17 A. xxii contains the Penitential Psalms (R).

Tottel Songes and Sonnettes contains 16 poems which are not to be found in any of the manuscripts together with many which are. The texts have been 'improved' by an editor who did not appreciate the subtleties of Wyatt's rhythms. The Court of Venus contains a number of his lyrics in a garbled form.

-222-

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Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I Early Life 1
  • II Wyatt and Anne Boleyn 13
  • III Ambassador in Spain 38
  • IV Ambassador in France 95
  • V Ambassador in Flanders 131
  • VI Cromwell's Fall and Wyatt's Trial 172
  • VII Lauda Finem 211
  • VIII Wyatt's Poetry 222
  • Appendix A 261
  • Appendix B 270
  • Appendix C 273
  • Bibliography 277
  • Index 279
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