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The Power of Love in Sonnets by Petrarch Surrey and Wyatt

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Wyatt and Surrey, who lived and were close friends during the tumultuous reign Of Henry VIII in England, composed respective translations of some of Petrarch’s most famous works. In their writings, though their words are quite similar to those of Petrarch, it is clear they have their individual interpretations of the texts and the theme of love affects them in distinct ways. In Petrarch’s sonnets, as well as Surrey’s translations, the love they feel consumes them, leaving them powerless over their own lives; yet as for Wyatt, he makes a onscious choice to resist love so that as the poet, he controls his own fate.

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Petrarch’s ‘Rima 140,” is a sonnet which tells the story of love who takes power over the poet in the figure of a knight. Love takes the poet captive in both mind and heart, however, when Love is refused by the object of his affection he flees and abandons the poet. In his description of Love’s conquest over him, Petrarch’s use of metaphors presents images of a soldier’s triumph on the battlefield as the poet is completely is helpless but to blush so that all who see him will know he is under Love’s command: “Love… metimes comes forth all in armor into my forehead, there camps, and there sets up his banner.

” When he introduces the object of Love’s affection in the next stanza, “She who teaches us to love and to be patient,” it is almost as if he is referring to the female sex in general and the “us” refers to all males who are desirous of women. She becomes angry when she realizes she cannot use logic, guilt or their admiration to quell men’s lust and passion: “She… wishes my great desire, my kindled hope, to be reigned in by reason, shame, and reverence, at our boldness is angry within herself.

When Love is rejected, he retreats, weakened and broken, into the poetis heart: ‘Wherefore Love flees terrified to my heart, abandoning his every enterprise, and weeps and trembles; there he hides and no more appears outside. ” At this point, the poet is given the opportunity to rule over his own emotions since Love which subjugated him has proven to be paralyzed by defeat. Instead, however, Petrarch chooses to remain Love’s servant and even as Love IS dying he will not free himself.

As a knight who has lived and died bravely, Petrarch admires his ruler who has loved well: ‘What can do, when y lord is afraid, except stay with him until the last hour? For he makes a good end who dies loving well. i’ In Surrey’s translation, “Love, that doth reign and live within my thought,” love has absolute power over the writer’s life as it does in Petrarch’s sonnet but Surrey feels tortured by it. Once again, love is described as a metaphor for a figure who is like a knight, or army captain, and it is evident early on that the writer is no match for love’s strength.

However, unlike Petrarch, Surrey presents a more violent image of the battle for control between the poet and love in the first stanza. This is a fight Surrey has lost more than once, whereas Petrarch describes one incident of his submission to love. “Clad in the arms wherein with me he fought, oft in my face he doth his banner rest. ” In the next stanza when he writes, “She that taught me love and suffer pain,” he changes Petrarch’s “‘us” to “me” giving the poet a more direct relationship with the unnamed woman.

Instead of patience, as in Petrarch’s sonnet, the “she” in Surrey has caused him great anguish by teaching him to “suffer” with love. When Love flees after his rejection, Surrey writes, “And coward Love hen to the heart apace taketh his flight, where he doth lurk and plain, his purpose lost, and dare not show his face. ” He seems to be disgusted with Love by calling him a coward; instead of weeping and trembling in his retreat, Love lurks and complains as would an exiled villain.

There is no respect or admiration Surrey feels for Love as he is dying and he resents his own powerlessness to be released from Love’s hold: “For my lord’s guilt thus faultless bide pain, yet from my lord shall not my foot remove: Sweet is the death that taketh end by love. ” Yet despite his resentment, he remains with Love and in the final two lines of the sonnet, he changes Petrarch’s question into a statement that dying by love IS a sweet death. In Wyatt’s translation of Petrarch’s Rima 140, love has no authority over the poet but instead seems to be a visitor, who has only been allowed at the poet’s invitation.

His translation is truer to the original than Surreys translation of the sonnet, except there is no image of the conquering knight. In the first stanza, he writes: “The long love that in my thought doth harbor, and in mine heart doth keep his residence, into my face presseth with bold retense and therein campeth, spreading his banner. ” Wyatt shelters Love in his thought and allows it to stay temporarily in his heart, but the poet remains in control. For Wyatt, Love does not “live” or “‘reign” nor is allowed to hold the “chief seat” Love is not the ruler here.

The only mention of Love stepping outside of Wyatt’s limitations is when he boldly displays his blush on the poet’s face. In writing of the female of the sonnet, Wyatt also changes the “us” to “me” when he writes: “She that me learneth to love and suffer. ” This gain, as in Surrey, gives the author a more direct relationship with the woman. When Love is rebuffed, Wyatt writes: “Wherewithal unto the heart’s forest he fleeth, Leaving his enterprise with pain and cry. ” With his loud cries, Love in this sonnet has been truly injured by his heartbreak; this is not the quiet brokenness of Petrarch’s nor the humiliated retreat of Surrey.

When Wyatt chooses to not abandon Love in his time of fear, he does so out of pity and without obligation. He respects Love (as he is dying) for his devotion to his beloved. In the end, he poses the same question as Petrarch: “What may o, when my master feareth, but in the field with him to live and die? For good is the life ending faithfully. ” In Petrarch’s “Rima 190,” the poet is so completely transfixed by a beautiful white doe that he loses all sense of himself. In the first stanza, he draws the reader into a serene portrait of nature at sunrise and he is drawn to the doe, as if she is a vision or some other-worldly creature.

He is under the spell of the doe and because of his immense attraction, he is powerless and can do nothing except to pursue her and abandon all else. “Her look was so sweet nd proud that to follow her I left every task, like the miser who as he seeks treasure sweetens his trouble with delight. ” He understands his desire is foolish and irrational by the way compares himself to a “miser” yet he is unable to control his emotions. The doe wears a diamond collar with an inscription proclaiming: “Let no one touch me… It has pleased Caesar to make me free. This proves that his obsession with the doe is futile, however, he is not deterred until he falls in the water and loses sight of her. “And the sun had already turned at midday; my eyes were tired by looking but not ated, when I fell into the water, and she disappeared. ” Wyatt’s ‘Whoso list to hunt,” is a translation of “Rima 190” and he transforms the poet into a hunter who refuses to pursue the attractive doe. This sonnet is strikingly different from Petrarch’s because Wyatt is taking the opportunity to demonstrate his authority over love by his resistance instead of being blindly led by his infatuation.

It is believed to have been written about Anne Boleyn during Henry VIII’s courtship of her and Wyatt opens the first quatrain with a challenge, likening Anne to a deer for any would-be unters, or suitors: “Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind, but as for me, alas, may no more. The vain travail hath wearied me so sore, am of them that farthest cometh behind. ” He invites others to try their hand at pursuing her, but as for Wyatt, he is done with the game of love as his unrequited affections have left him bitter and he has decided to stop chasing that which is unattainable for him.

He describes how futile the hunt is for himself and for the others: “Since in a net I seek to hold the wind. Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt, as well as l, may spend his time in vain. As he closes the sonnet, it is unclear whether Wyatt’s deer is as liberated as she appears; she wears a collar, like Petrarch’s doe, but her inscription declares: “Noli me tangere; for Caesar’s I am, and wild for to hold, though I seem tame. ” In this he presents a contradicting portrayal of the deer, she is wild yet held captive, seemingly free but owned by Caesar.

Since she is Caesar’s Wyatt is correct in denying any feelings he may have for her, for he know she will never be his. In Petrarch’s “Rima 164,” the poet is debilitated by the love that keeps him ormented, while everything around him is calm and at peace. In the first stanza, he describes a still and quiet night which completely clashes with the poet’s unrestin the next stanza: “l am awake, think, burn, I weep; and she who destroys me is always before me, to my sweet pain: war is my state, full of sorrow and suffering, and only thinking of her do I have any peace. Petrarch is not clear if he is dreaming or awake and by equating his lovesickness to war seems as if it will eventually annihilate him. However, immediately afterwards he says thoughts of his beloved bring him peace hich is almost as if he’s being dishonest with himself for how can his love bring him any such peace when it brings him such destruction. His emotions are never consistent and that is because of his fickle beloved, whom he has given the ultimate supremacy over his passions. Thus from one clear living fountain alone spring the sweet and the bitter on which I feed, one hand alone heals me and pierces me. ” This anguish is endless for the poet and it has affected both his physical and mental health: “And that my suffering may not reach an end, a thousand times a day I die and a thousand am born, so istant am I from health. ” In Surrey’s “Alas! so all things do hold their peace” as well as Petrarch’s “Rima 164” the relentless obsession of love is a constant vexation for both of the poets.

Petrarch this time in the evening, when all is quiet and asleep and the poet is kept awake by the love which enslaves him. In Surrey, the setting is the same, however, the first word of the sonnet is “alas” and from that it is evident that the writer is not at peace with the world around him. Love is all consuming for these two poets, and while Surrey seems tormented by love tself, with Petrarch, it is clear that he IS suffering for the love of one particular woman.

It is almost as if love’s demands clash with the order of God’s “heaven and earth” and both Petrarch and Surrey battle with the feelings which bring them pain as well as joy. “war is my state” yet almost immediately after he says thoughts of his beloved are only what brings him peace. With this statement, it is almost as if he’s being dishonest with himself for how can his love bring him any such peace when it brings him such destruction. Both end their sonnets in despair, knowing that they will remain owerless and never gain true satisfaction or relief from the love which tyrannizes them.

Cite this The Power of Love in Sonnets by Petrarch Surrey and Wyatt

The Power of Love in Sonnets by Petrarch Surrey and Wyatt. (2017, Jul 21). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-power-of-love-in-sonnets-by-petrarch-surrey-and-wyatt-42708/

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