Thomas Wyatt was one of the first from England to use the sonnet form. Because of this his sonnets follow the form that was first developed in Italy by the poet Petrarch. Wyatt's fourteenth sonnet, "My galley charged with Forgetfulness" likewise follows this petrarchan sonnet form. One of the principle practices of this period was that of imitation, where one poet would imitate the form or themes of other poets. This is what Wyatt did in borrowing this petrarchan form. Like most petrarchan sonnets, this one is composed of an octet followed by a sestet. The rhyme scheme of the octet is the conventional, ABBA ABBA rhyme scheme, while Wyatt alters the form of the sestet from the early petrarchan sonnets as it follows a CDDC EE rhyme scheme. Also, as in nearly all poems, he uses iambic pentameter. This pattern of alternating weak and strong syllables is particularly useful in this poem as it resembles the rise and fall of a ship, which is the main image in the sonnet.
Wyatt further imitates Petrarch by using the petrarchan idea of women and love. The petrarchan love convention is one in which the writer (a man, as basically all writers were during the Renaissance period) expresses his misery over the unrequited love of a woman. Many of the poems using the petrarchan love convention describe the woman and the negative way in which she turns down the advances of the man. In this particular sonnet, however, Wyatt is focusing not so much on the woman as he is on his own personal drama that the emotions caused by his unfulfilled desires are causing him. This focus on the writers own misery was also widely found in renaissance poetry.
Another way in which Wyatt imitates the popular poetry processes of the days was by utilizing a conceit, or an extended metaphor, to explain his point in this sonnet. He uses the metaphor of a ship being battered on the violent stormy sea to express the turmoil his emotions are in, and how they're torturing his mind. Also, in using a ship, Wyatt is displaying the intense interest in ships and sea travel that arose during the Renaissance period as much exploration was going on as well as an emphasis on navel fleets, that was particularly brought out around the time of the Spanish Armada.
Wyatt's sonnet begins with the line "My galley charged with Forgetfulness". In this line Wyatt is setting up both the image of a ship in distress but is also linking it to himself as he claims "My galley" as in something belonging to him, either his life, or more specifically his mind, is so "charged" or laden with burdens that he is forgetting all else besides his central problem. He goes on to further emphasize the disturbed and tortured state that his mind is in as he is passing through "sharp", dangerous seas during "winter nights" which are the coldest as well as the longest nights a man can go through. The danger rises in the third line as he states the obstacles that has entrapped him, as he states "tween rock and rock, and eke [also] my foe", followed by a despairing "alas". This foe that he mentions is then identified in the following line as "my lord". As this sonnet is showing the distress that can be produced by love, "my lord" can be seen as the god who causes love, Cupid. There was a great interest in the Renaissance period of all that involved classical Greek and Roman practices, including their mythology. Cupid, Wyatt states, steers his ship "with...