I’ve mentioned this terrific site before, Interesting Literature (do sign up for their daily email newsletter, I’m often reminded of an author or poem I love). Here they discuss one of my favourite poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt. I’m fascinated by his life which seems to have been so unsatisfied & thwarted by political & personal misfortunes. It’s partly his connection to Anne Boleyn & the court of Henry VIII but I also find him an attractive figure & one of my favourite poets, for all the difficulty of deciphering his allusive poetry. Nicola Shulman’s book, Graven with Diamonds, is an excellent account of Wyatt’s life & times & helped me understand the poetry more than anything else I’ve read about him.
They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot, stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek,
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themself in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range,
Busily seeking with a continual change.
Thanked be fortune it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
Therewithall sweetly did me kiss
And softly said, ‘Dear heart, how like you this?’
It was no dream: I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness,
And she also, to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindly am served
I would fain know what she hath deserved.