Comparing The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbor and The Flea
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Comparing Wyatt’s The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbor and Donne’s The Flea
Every century has its own poetry; poetry has its own personality and
aspects, especially love poems. In the sixteenth century, poems about
love were more about the court than the lover. In the next century (the
seventeenth), the poems of love were more about courting the lover. An
author from the sixteenth century, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, is well
known for his lyrics pertaining to love. An author from the seventeenth
century is John Donne, who is most famous for his love-poetry. When
comparing these two authors, the theme of love is very apparently
different. Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder’s love poems,
such as “The Long Love That in My Thought Doth Harbor,” “bear an imprint
of a strongly individual personality. But the personality is a very
different one from John Donne’s. ”1 One of John Donne’s lyrics, “The
Flea,” is an exemplary of the seventeenth century’s love poems that have
a theme that focuses on the lover.
In the sixteenth century, the poems were obviously not written for the
lover, but for the court. The poem “The Long Love That in My Thought
Doth Harbor” expresses this point through its imagery of a battle. Not
many people would compare their love to a battle, because if they did,
it probably would not be a true love. Wyatt’s conceit is a siege
(battle), and he concentrates on the theme that the lover suffers in
this poem. Wyatt’s poems are not typical love poems; most people would
expect desire, true love winning in t...
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...found in the sixteenth century. The
seventeenth century is more open to the idea of a physical love as well
as a spiritual love. The sixteenth century focuses on love in the court
rather than the lovers.
The theme of love in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is treated
the same in some regards and differently in others. On the whole, Donne
compares love to what he feels, whereas Wyatt compares love to a battle.
Poems about love have drastically changed throughout the centuries.
Love poems have evolved, as have people. But as the poem “The Long Love
That in My Thought Doth Harbor” cites, “For good is the life ending
faithfully.” It’s all worth it in the end. “It is better to have loved
and lost, than to have never loved at all.”