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The Complete Poems (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Thomas Wyatt , R. Rebholz
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Sep 1978 Penguin Classics
As a diplomat in Renaissance Europe, and a luminary at the court of Henry VII, Sir Thomas Wyatt wrote in an incestuous world where everyone was uneasily subject to the royal whims and rages. Wyatt had himself survived two imprisonments in the Tower as well as a love affair with Anne Boleyn, and his poetry - that of an extraordinarily sophisticated, passionate and vulnerable man - reflects these experiences, making disguised reference to current political events. Above all, though, Wyatt is known for his love poetry, which often dramatizes incidents and remembered conversations with his beloved, with an ear acutely sensitive to patterns of rhythm and colloquial speech. Conveying the actuality of betrayal or absence, and the intense pressure of his longing for a love that could be trusted, these are some of the most haunting poems in the English language.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (28 Sep 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140422277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140422276
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 13.2 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Any discussion of metre in general and the vexed subject of Wyatt's metres in particular best starts with some definitions. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Father of Modern English Poetry 7 July 2012
By J C E Hitchcock TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Thomas Wyatt and I have one thing in common- we both grew up in Allington, today a suburb of Maidstone but in his day a small village by the Medway. He is something of a local celebrity in the area; when I lived there my local pub was known as the "Sir Thomas Wyatt" and at primary school I belonged to Wyatt House. (The school's other houses were also named after famous Maidstonians, Woodville after the Queen of Edward IV and Hazlitt after the essayist). As a boy I was taken on a guided tour of Wyatt's home Allington Castle, and I remember being told that he was responsible for introducing the sonnet into English poetry, although as I had no idea what a sonnet was this did not mean much to me at the time.

This book is entitled "The Complete Poems", but as the editor, Professor R A Rebholz, admits, compiling an authoritative "Wyatt canon" is an impossible task. In his day he was better known as a courtier and diplomat, and none of his poems were published during his lifetime; the first book to feature his verse was not printed until fifteen years after his death. Rebholz divides this collection into two parts, "poems credited to Wyatt in the sixteenth century" and "poems credited to Wyatt after the sixteenth century". The first part generally consists of poems for which there is hard evidence of Wyatt's authorship, the second of poems which have been attributed to him without such evidence.

Rebholz modernises Wyatt's spelling and punctuation, a procedure which has both advantages and disadvantages for the modern reader. The advantage is that meaning of the poems becomes much more immediately transparent when they are presented in the orthography with which we are familiar.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting love poetry 26 May 2008
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sir Thomas Wyatt grew up at the court of Henry VIII and allegedly fell in love with Anne Boleyn. A diplomat, an ambassador to the Italian and French courts, he was sophisticated, wordly and ambitious - and yet his poetry paints a very different picture of a man vulnerable, divided and suffering.

I disagree with the Penguin blurb that this is autobiographical verse, as I think Wyatt is far more sophisticated a writer than that. But whether it reflects his real-life emotions or not, his poetry contains a haunting quality of anguished rawness that makes him suprisingly modern.

Rebholz's edition is modernised in terms of spelling and punctuation but is still recognised as one of the most reliable scholarly texts. Helpfully he divides the poems attributed to Wyatt during his lifetime from those attributed to him afterwards, and has extensive notes on sources, glossary etc.

Not a cheap book for a Penguin, but well worth the price.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first bright light of English Renaissance poetry 29 Jun 2000
By J. Hale - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wyatt is, quite simply, a brilliant poet, taking the Petrarchan love poem and adapting it to represent life in the promiscuous court of Henry VIII. And "They Flee from Me" is one of the greatest poems in the English language. Rebholz's introduction and notes make this THE edition for serious study of Wyatt's achievement.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Father of Modern English Poetry 6 July 2012
By J C E Hitchcock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Thomas Wyatt and I have one thing in common- we both grew up in Allington, today a suburb of Maidstone but in his day a small village by the Medway. He is something of a local celebrity in the area; when I lived there my local pub was known as the "Sir Thomas Wyatt" and at primary school I belonged to Wyatt House. (The school's other houses were also named after famous Maidstonians, Woodville after the Queen of Edward IV and Hazlitt after the essayist). As a boy I was taken on a guided tour of Wyatt's home Allington Castle, and I remember being told that he was responsible for introducing the sonnet into English poetry, although as I had no idea what a sonnet was this did not mean much to me at the time.

This book is entitled "The Complete Poems", but as the editor, Professor R A Rebholz, admits, compiling an authoritative "Wyatt canon" is an impossible task. In his day he was better known as a courtier and diplomat, and none of his poems were published during his lifetime; the first book to feature his verse was not printed until fifteen years after his death. Rebholz divides this collection into two parts, "poems credited to Wyatt in the sixteenth century" and "poems credited to Wyatt after the sixteenth century". The first part generally consists of poems for which there is hard evidence of Wyatt's authorship, the second of poems which have been attributed to him without such evidence.

Rebholz modernises Wyatt's spelling and punctuation, a procedure which has both advantages and disadvantages for the modern reader. The advantage is that meaning of the poems becomes much more immediately transparent when they are presented in the orthography with which we are familiar. The disadvantage is that Wyatt's rhyme-schemes are sometimes thereby obscured; the pronunciation of many words has changed since the 16th century, and these changes are sometimes reflected in changed spelling, sometimes not. The editor also provides helpful notes on Wyatt's language and on his use of metre.

Wyatt's favourite theme, to which he returns repeatedly, is unhappy love. To a modern poet or songwriter, "unhappy love" is generally equated with a once-loving relationship which has ended badly for one or both of the parties. Wyatt, however, rarely if ever writes about such relationships; the few poems dealing with this topic are generally in Rebholz's second section. His preferred theme is unrequited love, almost invariably love felt by a man for a proud, disdainful beauty who spurns his advances. Tradition has it that Wyatt's love poems were inspired by Anne Boleyn, whom he certainly knew well, but there is little evidence, internal or external, for such a suggestion. Indeed, it is quite possible that these poems may not be autobiographical at all. Many of them are translations or imitations of works by Classical or Italian writers, especially Petrarch, and even where they are original works Wyatt was clearly working within the framework of the traditional concept of "courtly love".

There is perhaps a reason why Maidstone has not joined Stratford, Grasmere and Haworth as a place of literary pilgrimage. Wyatt's occasionally archaic language and the depth of meaning present in many of his poems can make him seem a "difficult" writer. Although he also wrote religious verse (paraphrases on the Psalms) and epistolary satires attacking corruption at Court, the greater part of his work consists of love-lyrics, and to the modern reader this concentration on a single theme can seem rather monotonous, even depressing when one considers that when Wyatt was not bemoaning the cruelty of his beloved he was generally bemoaning the cruelty of fate in general. His lyrics also occasionally seem rather crude when compared to the poems of later sonneteers such as Sidney and Shakespeare.

Yet Wyatt was undoubtedly a great poet, probably the greatest English writer of the early sixteenth century. His poetry is about as different from the loose doggerel of his older contemporary Skelton as one could imagine. He generally used strict forms, not merely sonnets but also rondeaux, epigrams, ballades, canzoni and songs in various metres. The German word for poet is "Dichter", literally "one who condenses", and this description seems particularly apt in the case of Wyatt, who was highly skilled in the art of condensing as much meaning as possible into a relatively short poem. He made great use of ambiguity and plays on words in order to produce poems which can be read in two, or more, different ways, helped by the fact that in his day the English language had a smaller vocabulary than it does today and that one word could cover a broad range of meanings. (One of his favourite words is "fantasy", which besides its modern meaning could also mean, among other things, "imagination", "delusion", "caprice", "love" and "sexual desire"). The complexity of Wyatt's language anticipates developments in the work of later poets such as Shakespeare and the metaphysical poets of the early seventeenth century. He has been called the "father of Modern English poetry", as opposed to Middle English or Scots poetry, and it would be hard to argue with that description.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest poets in the English language 25 Feb 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
His voice still rings beautiful and true after five hundred years. What he has to say concerns our daily lives in this hard, competitive society as much as the intrigues of the Henrician court.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Wyatt, the Poet 4 Feb 2011
By Gregory A. Puckett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Let me start out by saying that I am NOT a devotee of poetry in general but I do see the attraction of the sonnet form. Like a good short story much is conveyed in very little. Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder is my 13G grandfather. My genealogical interests are what caused me to become acquainted with him. He and his father, Sir Henry Wyatt, acted as ambassadors for the Tudors at the great courts of Europe.
The unhappy nature of poet's marriage is evident throughout the body of his work. His wife, Elizabeth Brooke, came from a more socially prominent family. This, she apparently believed, entitled her to do just as she pleased; including freely taking lovers.
The search for true love, and the loneliness of betrayal create an air of melancholy which wafts over the reader and invites him to reflect upon the successes and losses of his own romantic life. As important as the fact that Wyatt introduced the sonnet form into English, this open and personal display of the artists hopes and dreams make him a intimate read.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The authoritative work 5 Oct 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the authoritative book on the subject of this the first modern English Poet - more neglected than he ought to be - out of print in Europe - Wyat survived life as a courtier/diplomat in the court of Henry 8th - a king as corrupted by power as its possible to be - a 16th C saddam Hussein - and yet produced these deeeply sensitive poems.
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