Petrarch and Wyatt Compared

Published: 2021-08-16 03:30:07
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Category: Poetry, Deer

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In the world of poetry, imitation occurs at every turn. Many poets will take an original form of poetry and copy the style. This can be said about Sir Thomas Wyatt who attempts to mimic Petrarch's form; when the symbols, tone, images, rhyme, and setting in Wyatt's poem "Whoso list to hunt" are compared to Petrarch's Rime 190 it becomes apparent that he failed to embody the essence of Petrarch in his writing. Symbolism plays a large role in most poems. "A pure-white doe in an emerald glade/Appeared to me, with two antlers of gold" (Petrarch lines 1-2) is a perfect example of symbolism is poetry.
Petrarch is not actually talking about a white deer with golden antlers, he's talking about a beautiful woman with golden hair. Wyatt also uses a deer as a symbol: "Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind" (Wyatt line 1) a hind is a deer and Wyatt is also using the deer as a symbol for a woman. This is the first similarity, or imitation, between Wyatt and Petrarch.
The second symbolism the two poems share is the collar around the doe's neck. In Petrarch's poem it says "I spied on her neck, "No one dares touch me",/Graven in topaz and diamond stones,/"For Caesar wills I should always run free. " (Petrarch lines 9-11). In Wyatt's poem it says: "And graven in diamonds in letters plain/There is written, her fair neck round about,/"Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,/And wild to hold, though I seem tame" (Wyatt lines 11-14). The two are similar only in the idea of a collar and Caesar. Petrarch's doe's collar claims she is free while Wyatt's doe's collar claims she is property. Although many strive to assimilate famous poets, sometimes they fall flat. Such is the case of Sir Thomas Wyatt's attempt to parallel Petrarch's tone.



In Petrarch's Rime 190, the tone is reverence towards a woman's purity and beauty in the lines "A snow white doe in an emerald glade/To me appeared, with antlers soft of gold" (Petrarch lines 5-8). Wyatt's tone is more of sexual desire for an unavailable good looking woman who isn't necessarily pure: "Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind" (Wyatt line 1) hints that this woman is chased by a large amount of men for her looks (also hinting that she isn't pure); "But as for me, helas!
I may no more" shows Wyatt's sexual desire for this woman and his disappointment in her unavailability to him. Petrarch's woman is a pure and beautiful woman while Wyatt's is a sexy, impure temptress. Another aspect Wyatt did not compare to Petrarch is visual imagery. Petrarch has a very beautiful way of using visual images which he proves with the lines one through four: "A snow white doe in an emerald glade/To me appeared, with antlers soft of gold,/And leapt two streams, under a laurel's shade,/Near sunrise, in the winter's bitter cold. (Petrarch lines 1-4).
The closest visual image in Wyatt's version is "And graven in diamonds in letters plain" (Wyatt line 11) which is still very far away from being good visual imagery. Rhyme is a defining point of Petrarch's poetry with a rhyme scheme of abba abba cde cde. Wyatt kept the rhyme scheme of the octave but changed the sestet to cdd cee. "There is written, her fair neck round about,/Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,/And wild to hold, though I seem tame. (Wyatt line 12-14) is an example of the changed rhyme scheme. Wyatt also resorted to eye-rhyme which is also shown in the quotation for the words am and tame.
Petrarch's poems held firm to the original rhyme scheme of abba abba cde cde and each rhyme is a complete rhyme rather than Wyatt's lazy eye-rhyming. Petrarch's rhyme scheme, however, is almost always only visible in the Italian form and it loses rhyme scheme when translated into English. Una candida cerva l'erba/Verde m'apparve, con duo corna d'oro/Fra due riviere, all'ombra d'un alloro,/Levando 'l sole, a la stagione ascerba" (Petrarch line 1-4) this Italian passage from the poem follows the abba format of rhyming with perfect rhymes which his whole poem follows without using a single eye-rhyme.
The setting of Petrarch's Rime 190 is beautifully described in the very first stanza: "A snow white doe in an emerald glade/To me appeared, with antlers soft of gold,/And leapt two streams, under a laurel's shade,/Near sunrise, in the winter's bitter cold. (Petrarch lines 1-4). The reader automatically knows that the poem takes place in a forest with two streams. On the other hand, Wyatt's poem has no setting to show for. There are almost no descriptive aspects of his poem. After analyzing these five aspects of poetry, it becomes clear that Wyatt's imitation of Petrarch only goes so deep. Wyatt merely used Petrarch's ideas but failed to perfect Petrarch's unique and beautiful language; where Petrarch shows beauty, Wyatt shows nothing. Wyatt took a pure form and warped it into something not as good as the original.

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