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10 Very Short Renaissance Poems Everyone Should Read

The best short English poems from the Renaissance

Below is our pick of some of the finest very short poems from the Renaissance. We’ve had to exclude several favourites, such as Tichborne’s Elegy and the anonymous song ‘Weep you no more sad fountaines’, since they are just a little too long for our self-imposed 14-line limit – but we had to draw the line somewhere, and the length of a traditional sonnet seems appropriate, given that that verse form flourished during the Renaissance. We hope you enjoy these short Renaissance poems – where a link is provided in the title of the poem, click that to read the poem, although some of the shorter ones we’ve included in their entirety here.

Sir Thomas Wyatt, ‘Whoso List to Hunt’. One of the first sonnets written in English, ‘Whoso List to Hunt’ was loosely based on an Italian sonnet by Petrarch, the first poet to make the sonnet form famous across Europe. Wyatt (1503-42) was at the court of Henry VIII. The poem may also have sprung from Wyatt’s own romantic entanglement with Anne Boleyn, who was also, of course, romantically involved with the King, Henry VIII. (We’ve compiled more of Wyatt’s best poems here.) Read the rest of this entry