Comparing Two Love Sonnets by Sir Thomas Wyatt and Sir Philip Sidney

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Love is a difficult thing to express in words in any given language. It is near impossible to convey the paradoxical pain and pleasure of love that sounds dreadfully horrid but simultaneously magical. Most people are often confused and have a hard time figuring and sorting out exactly how they feel and felt about their love and relationship. However, to love someone or be loved by someone is a special gift, and to be able to convey your gratitude for whatever you received out of the relationship is an extremely intense and concentrated task. Poetry is one of the best ways to express oneself sincerely. With the time and convections that go into writing poetry, it allows the reader to think of exactly what he or she desires to say, and then allows them to craft and sculpt it in a manner the writer sees fit. The form into which a poet puts his or her words is always something of which the reader ought to take conscious note. Many love poems are written in the form of a sonnet. A sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines in iambic pentameter with a complex rhyme scheme. In the English sonnet, the rhyme scheme is abba abba cddc ee, leaving to the poet's discretion the choice of whether to form the lines into an octave, turn, and then sestet, three quatrains and an ending couplet, or any other pattern of lines imaginable. When poets have chosen to work within such a strict form, that form and its structures make up part of what they want to say. In other words, the poet is using the structure of the poem as part of the language act: we will find the "meaning" not only in the words, but partly in their pattern as well. Both Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder and Sir Philip Sidney were English poets of the renaissance. They were both courtier poets who wrote many sonnets about love and the unsettled course of relationships. In Wyatt's "Farewell, Love" and Sidney's "Leave Me, O Love," one can see many similarities and some differences in their writing. Language, theme, tone, and other important aspects of the poem reflect such similarities and differences among the two poets' works. Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder uses the structure of the sonnet to his advantage. He uses the octave, turn, and then sestet in "Farewell, Love." Although he did not make the breaks in between the lines to actually show the reader, one can get the feel of them simply by reading the poem. The first eight lines of the sonnet are about how his love has left him, but he doesn't seem too upset because he believes it is for the best and that he can now improve himself. He speaks as though he is already smarter for knowing that it is okay, and claims that, "Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more." (Ln. 2). Then, the turn occurs in line 9 that brings the sonnet to a new position:

Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh aye so sore,7
And ‘scape forth since liberty is lever.8
Therefore farewell, go trouble younger hearts,9
And in me claim no more authority;10

Instead of him acting so impartial about the situation and that he will be better off now that he can be in "perfect health," he sounds a bit more bitter and realistic towards the experience (ln. 4). The words feel as though through the turn Wyatt released everything that he had stored up inside of him and now wishes to acknowledge, in terms of disappointment and aggression, in the previous lines in the octave. It seems as though he is tired of it all after the turn, that he has lived and loved and does not want to go through it again, claiming that, "Me lusteth no longer rotten boughs to climb," and tells love to "With idle use go use thy property, / And thereon spend thy many brittle darts." (Ln. 14, 11-12). He speaks as though he feels that he is now past love or too old or even wise to fall for its crafty tricks again; he feels deceived and spent.

Sir Philip Sidney also uses the form of the sonnet to his advantage. In "Leave Me, O Love," Sidney uses the three quatrains with an...
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