Thomas Wyatt, Queen Elizabeth,
and Sir Phillip Sidney


Thomas Wyatt's Biography

1503–42, English poet and statesman, father of Sir Thomas Wyatt. He served in various capacities under Henry VIII and was knighted in 1536. It is generally agreed he had been the lover of Anne Boleyn before her marriage to the king. Greatly influenced by the works of the Italian love poets, Wyatt produced the first group of sonnets in English, modeled chiefly after Petrarch. Thus, Wyatt is credited for having introduced the sonnet, in its Italian or Petrarchan style, to English literature. Besides sonnets, he wrote lyrics, rondeaus, satires, and a paraphrase of the penitential psalms. None of his poems appeared in his lifetime. Ninety-six, however, were published in Tottel's Miscellany (1557), an important early anthology.

Sir Thomas Wyatt's "Whoso List to Hunt"

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, alas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere*, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

*(Noli me tangere--don't touch me)

"Whoso List to Hunt" Discussion Questions

Recall and Interpret
1. In the first stanza, how does the speaker characterize his hunting of the hind? What can you tell about the speaker's feelings from this stanza?
2. What advice does the speaker give to others who want to hunt the hind? Based on the Background on page 246, why might the speaker give such advice?
3. What does the last line of the poem suggest to you about the hind?

Evaluate and Connect
4. Is deer hunting an effective image to convey the speaker's feelings? Explain.
5. This poem may have been read in King Henry VIII's court. How do you think the king and his followers might have reacted to hearing the poem? Explain.

Sir Thomas Wyatt's "The Lover Showeth
How He Is Forsaken"

They flee from me, that sometime did me seek,
With naked foot stalking within my chamber:
Once have I seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild, and do not once remember,
That sometime they have put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking in continual change.

Thanked be Fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once especial,
In thin array, after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown did from her shoulders fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small,
And therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, ' Dear heart, how like you this?'

It was no dream; for I lay broad awaking:
But all is turn'd now through my gentleness,
Into a bitter fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness;
And she also to use new fangleness.
But since that I unkindly so am served:
How like you this, what hath she now deserved ?

"The Lover Showeth How He Is Forsaken"
Discussion Questions

Recall and Interpret
1. How and why has the treatment of the speaker changed over time?
2. To what is the speaker comparing his past loves in the first stanza? Why might he have used such a comparison?
3. What has happened between the speaker and his beloved in the third stanza? How does he seem to feel about her by the end of the poem? Explain.

Evaluate and Connect
4. For whom do you feel more sympathy in this poem, the speaker or the woman he describes? Why?
5. In your opinion, does the attitude of the speaker in this poem reflect what many people might feel in a similar situation? Why or why not?

Queen Elizabeth's Biography

Elizabeth I was born in 1533 to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Although she entertained many marriage proposals and flirted incessantly, she never married or had children. Elizabeth, the last of the Tudors, died at seventy years of age after a very successful forty-four year reign. Elizabeth proved most calm and calculating (even though she had a horrendous temper) in her political acumen, employing capable and distinguished men to carrying out royal prerogative.
Elizabeth was a master of political science. She inherited her father's supremacist view of the monarchy, but showed great wisdom by refusing to directly antagonize Parliament. She acquired undying devotion from her advisement council, who were constantly perplexed by her habit of waiting to the last minute to make decisions. She used the varying factions (instead of being used by them, as were her siblings), playing one off another until the exhausted combatants came to her for resolution of their grievances. Few English monarchs enjoyed such political power, while still maintaining the devotion of the whole of English society.
Elizabeth's reign was during one of the more constructive periods in English history. Literature bloomed through the works of Spenser, Marlowe and Shakespeare. Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh were instrumental in expanding English influence in the New World. Elizabeth's religious compromise laid many fears to rest. Fashion and education came to the fore because of Elizabeth's penchant for knowledge, courtly behavior and extravagant dress. Good Queen Bess, as she came to called, maintained a regal air until the day she died. This regal figure surely had her faults, but the last Tudor excelled at rising to challenges and emerging victorious.

Queen Elizabeth's "On Monsieur's Departure"

I grieve and dare not show my discontent,
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate.
I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned,
Since from myself another self I turned.

My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done.
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be supprest.

Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low.
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die and so forget what love ere meant.

"On Monsieur's Departure" Discussion Questions

Recall and Interpret
1. What do the title and line 6 suggest has happened to "Monsieur," the person who inspired the poem?
2. According to the first stanza, what feelings has the speaker been forced to hide? What reasons might she have for hiding them?
3. In the second stanza, to what does the speaker compare her feelings? What does the second stanza reveal about her feelings for Monsieur?
4. Summarize the speaker's wishes in the final stanza. Why might the speaker wish for these things to happen?

Evaluate and Connect
5. In your opinion, what image in the poem is most effective in conveying the speaker's feelings? Why?
6. How does knowing the identity of the poem's author deepen your understanding of the conflict that the poem describes?
7. On the basis of this poem and other things you have read or heard about, do you think a ruler's duty and loyalty to his or her country should take precedence over his or her personal feelings and private life? Give reasons for your answer.

Sir Philip Sidney (biography)

1554–86, English author and courtier. He was one of the leading members of Queen Elizabeth's court and a model of Renaissance chivalry. He served in several diplomatic missions on the Continent and in 1586 was fatally wounded at the battle of Zutphen. Sidney exerted a strong influence on English poetry as patron, critic, and example. His literary efforts circulated only in manuscript during his lifetime. Arcadia (1590), a series of verse idyls connected by prose narrative, was written for his sister Mary, countess of Pembroke. It is the earliest renowned pastoral in English literature. Sidney's prose criticism of the nature of poetry, written as a rebuttal to Stephen Gosson's The School of Abuse, appeared in two slightly different versions—The Defense of Poesie and An Apology for Poetry (both 1595). Astrophel and Stella (1591) is one of the great sonnet sequences in English and was inspired by his love for Penelope Devereux, later Lady Rich. Sidney, however, married Frances Walsingham in 1583.

Sir Phillip Sidney "Sonnet 31"

With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies!
How silently, and with how wan a face!
What, may it be that even in heav'nly place
That busy archer his sharp arrows tries!
Sure, if that long-with love-acquainted eyes
Can judge of love, thou feel'st a lover's case,
I read it in thy looks; thy languish'd grace
To me, that feel the like, thy state descries.
Then, ev'n of fellowship, O Moon, tell me,
Is constant love deem'd there but want of wit?
Are beauties there as proud as here they be?
Do they above love to be lov'd, and yet
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?
Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?

"Sonnet 31" Discussion Questions

Recall and Interpret
1. What human qualities does the speaker attribute to the Moon? What does this personification of the Moon reveal about the speaker's emotional state?
2. What does the speaker imagine that he and the Moon have in common? How does this imagined similarity help reveal what the speaker is thinking?
3. Paraphrase the questions that the speaker asks in lines 10-14. What do these questions imply about the object of the speaker's love?

Evaluate and Connect
4. When a line of poetry is made up of one-syllable words, readers are forced to read it slowly. How does the slow pace support the meaning of lines 1-2?

Sir Phillip Sidney "Sonnet 39"

Come Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace,
The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe,
The poor man's wealth, the prisoner's release,
Th' indifferent judge between the high and low.
With shield of proof shield me from out the prease
Of those fierce darts despair at me doth throw:
O make in me those civil wars to cease;
I will good tribute pay, if thou do so.
Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed,
A chamber deaf to noise and blind to light,
A rosy garland and a weary head:
And if these things, as being thine by right,
Move not thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me,
Livelier than elsewhere, Stella's image see.

"Sonnet 37" Discussion Questions

Recall and Interpret
1. In lines 1-4, to what things does the speaker compare sleep? What do these metaphors reveal about the speaker's attitude toward sleep?
2. What simple request does the speaker make throughout the poem? What persuasive technique does he use to try to get his request fulfilled?
3. In the end, what does the speaker hint may be keeping him awake?

Evaluate and Connect
4. Review the thoughts and feelings that you jotted down during the Reading Focus on page 268. Are they similar to or different from the speaker's thoughts? Explain.