Common-Place Jotting: “Unto the hert’s forest”

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) died before he reached forty: a man of double lives, he was an English courtier and diplomat during the reign of Henry VIII, by whom he was imprisoned twice in the Tower of London but managed to escape execution both times. He was infamous as a rumored lover of one of the king’s many wives (Anne Boleyn) but also famous for introducing the sonnet form into English literature.

The following sonnet could be interpreted in two different ways: either the speaker must renounce his love out of fealty to his wife (Wyatt was married) or he must flee his love out of fear of the king. Either way, unattainable love is the cause of the poet’s lasting pain and his heart must go into hiding.

Portrait of Sir Thomas Wyatt by Hans Holbein the Younger

The Long Love that in my Thought doth Harbour            Sir Thomas Wyatt

The longë love that in my thought doth harbour
And in mine hert doth keep his residence,
Into my face presseth with bold pretence
And therein campeth, spreading his banner.
She that me learneth to love and suffer
And will that my trust and lustës negligence
Be rayned by reason, shame, and reverence,
With his hardiness taketh displeasure.
Wherewithall unto the hert’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.

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