Both Sir Thomas Wyatt in his poem ‘The Lover describeth his being stricken with sight of his Love’ and Sir Philip Sidney in his poem ‘You That With Allegory’s Curious Frame’ use different possibilities of the sonnet form and adapt to suit their own thematic purposes.
Sir Philip Sidney’s poem is closest to the English sonnet in its form - Compare poems introduction. Taking into account the structure of the verse and the use of iambic pattern, it can be viewed as a variation of this sonnet form. Structurally, the English sonnet consists of three quatrains and a couplet, and so does the verse ‘You That With Allegory’s Curious Frame’. The conventional rhyme scheme of the English sonnet is a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. Sir Philip Sidney uses the following rhyme scheme: a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a, c-d-c-d, e-e. Eventually, the rhyme scheme can be seen as a combination of the Italian and English sonnet forms.
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As for the utility of using such a form, the English sonnet offers the concept of a volta, or an unexpected twist in the last two lines, the couplet. Sir Philip Sidney suggests a rather daring idea in the couplet that is different from the overall thematic preoccupation of the verse. In the volta, he speaks of Love as the ultimate driving force behind his poetry, while in the quatrains he discussed the value of artistic simplicity as opposed to excessive reliance on allegory and philosophy.
The rhyme scheme of Sir Thomas Wyatt’s verse is the same as Sir Philip Sidney’s poem. As for the practical importance of using a variation of the English sonnet, Wyatt also uses the volta. Sir Thomas Wyatt gives all the necessary background information in the first three quatrains. The concluding two lines represents a move from specific to general when the poet starts speaking about abstract experiences and comparing his own experiences to them. This is a rather typical poetic device employed by many poets who preferred the sonnet form. At the same time, the division line between the quatrains and the volta serves the purpose of multiplying the strength of the climactic resolution. The ultimate manifestation of such a resolution is to be found in the last line of the poem when the poet speaks of hearing the ‘fearful thunder’; however, all the preceding lines of the volta are inherently linked to the climactic last line.
Both poets use perfect rhymes. Sir Thomas Wyatt in the first two quatrains relies on masculine rhyme (i.e. the stress is on the last syllable); in the third quatrain and the couplet, however, feminine rhyme is present (i.e. the stress is on the second from last syllable). Sir Philip Sidney uses masculine rhyme throughout the verse.
Speaking about the poetical devices utilized by the poets, Sir Philip Sidney uses an apostrophe. An apostrophe is an address, either to someone who is absent and therefore cannot hear the speaker or to something nonhuman that cannot comprehend. Apostrophe often provides a speaker with the opportunity to think aloud. Sidney addresses ‘You that with allegory’s curious frame’ which implies that he addresses an impersonal and broad audience of people. Another important literary device used in the poem is hyperbole. Hyperbole is a boldly exaggerated statement that adds emphasis without intending to be literally true. It is present in the following lines:
‘When I say ‘Stella,’ I do mean the same / Princess of Beauty, for whose only sake / The reins of Love I love…’
Calling his object of desire ‘Princess of Beauty’ implies ascribing nearly-supernatural attributes to her for the purposes of enhanced poetic expression.
Sir Thomas Wyatt relies on the use of metaphor in the following lines:
‘Of one stricken with dint of lightning / Blind with the stroke, and crying here and there / So call I for help…’
Metaphor, as a comparison of seemingly unlike objects or processes, consists of two parts, namely the tenor (the object certain qualities are attributed to) and vehicle (the object from which these qualities are borrowed). In this case, the poet himself is the tenor, while a person stricken with dint of lightning is the vehicle.
Speaking about the overall tone and message of the two sonnets, they share the chief thematic preoccupation, namely the power of love. However, Sir Thomas Wyatt seems to be overpowered by the forces of love; he compares them to the devastating manifestations of nature, like lightning or storm. The tone of his sonnet is less optimistic as compared to ‘You That With Allegory’s Curious Frame.’
While it seems that the main theme of Sir Philip Sidney’s verse is the discussion of the utility of using rhetorical figures and philosophical concepts in poetry, the theme of love still runs all through the poem. At first, poetic description of love is used as an example of how artistic simplicity is effective; in the concluding lines, love is admitted to be the source of artistic inspiration and the poet’s purpose.