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The Best Sir Thomas Wyatt Poems Everyone Should Read

The best poems by Thomas Wyatt

The poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-42) is that rare thing: both of interest from a historical perspective (he lived through one of the most interesting periods of English history) and genuinely innovative and stylistically accomplished. Here are ten of Thomas Wyatt’s best poems, with some information about each of them.

Whoso List to Hunt’. Like many poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-42), ‘Whoso List to Hunt’ – one of the earliest sonnets written in English – is a loose reworking of a poem by the Italian poet Petrarch. But Wyatt may have been drawing on very personal romantic experience when he penned this poem, which sees him ‘taking himself out of the running’ when it comes to pursuing a beautiful woman. The woman, it has been suggested, is Anne Boleyn, now involved with no lesser a person than the King, Henry VIII. This is one of Wyatt’s best-known poems – and one of the finest. Read the rest of this entry

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A Very Short Biography of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

The life of the English Renaissance poet

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-47) is not read or studied as much as his near-contemporary, Sir Thomas Wyatt, although his importance to the development of English literature was arguably greater. Certainly, in terms of technical innovation, the name of Henry Howard is worth knowing for two very important reasons, discussed below. In this post we offer a very brief introduction to the life and work of Howard, focusing on the most interesting and noteworthy aspects.

Many biographies of Renaissance writers are at best only partially complete, and although in Howard’s case we know some very intriguing details – for instance, that he counted among his cousins both Anne Boleyn, doomed second wife of King Henry VIII, and Catherine Howard, doomed fifth wife of King Henry VIII – other things remain uncertain. Read the rest of this entry

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