Courtlife and Thomas Wyatt's Poetry

Powerful Essays
What part do the conditions of Court life play in the poetry of Wyatt, Surrey or any other Sixteenth century poet? Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder

Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder's life revolved around King Henry VIII's court from his early age. The son of a gentleman who very soon linked his future to that of the Tudor dynasty, Wyatt became a diplomat soon enough, and what with being a favourite at court, he was a prominent figure both politically and socially. It is quite impossible to name the many poets who wrote at that time, but one thing is for sure: skill in music, dancing and poetry was expected of every gentleman. In Wyatt's case, the political and social parts were very much linked together since, as a diplomat he travelled a lot, and the years he spent abroad had a significant impact upon his writing, which is especially obvious in his translations and imitations of poems by Ronsard, Aretino, Sannazaro, Alamanni, and above all, Petrarch. But court life for Wyatt is not Arthurian Romance or Fairy tale; far from it, and this plays a major role in his poetry, although the extent to which it is so is sometimes debated by some critics.

Indeed, according to the Norton Anthology of English literature Vol. 1,

'Thomas Wyatt made his career in the shifting, dangerous currents of Renaissance courts, and court culture, with its power struggles, sexual intrigues, and sophisticated tastes, shaped his remarkable achievements as a poet'

Very succinct, very clear and sums up an entire essay on the conditions of Court life's influence on Wyatt one could say, because history proves Henry the VIII to be a despot who sends spies in every household, and though Wyatt is a favourite at court, he is accused of treason on a few occasions,...

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...y or at times in clear and at time to express himself in veiled double-meaning words so appreciative of the fact that as a courtier and diplomat, such "qualities" were expected of him,and this, in a way, is his irony towards court life and the people for whom he wrote.


-The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 7th Edition Vol.1

M.H.Abrams, Gen. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt Asst Gen. Ed.

W.W Norton and Company, New York/London (2000)

-Sixteenth Century English Poetry. N.E McClure Ed. Ursinus College, New york, Harper and Bros (1954)

-Anne Ferry, The "Inward" Language, Sonnets of Wyatt, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne. University of Chicago Press. Chicago and London (1983)

-Sergio Baldi, Writers and their World: Sir Thomas Wyatt, translated by F. T. Prince. Published for the British Council by Longman Group LTD (1971)
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