Monday, September 15, 2008

How like you this?

They flee from me that sometime did me seek
With naked foot stalking in my chamber.
I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek
That now are wild and do not remember
That sometime they put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking with a continual change.

Thanked be fortune, it hath been otherwise
Twenty times better; but once in special,
In thin array after a pleasant guise,
When her loose gown from her shoulders did fall,
And she me caught in her arms long and small;
And therewithal sweetly did me kiss,
And softly said, Dear heart, how like you this?

It was no dream, I lay broad waking.
But all is turned thorough my gentleness
Into a strange fashion of forsaking;
And I have leave to go of her goodness
And she also to use newfangleness.
But since that I so kindely am served,
I would fain know what she hath deserved.

I'e always loved William Wyatt's gentle lament on the loss of his lover, his quizzical brokenhearted disquisition into the "strange fashion of forsaking". No real reason for posting it other than an evening of strange melancholy. May it find you softly entwined with one or the ones you love, whether with the ardor of passion, the sweet tenderness of friendship or under the great sheltering wings of parent and child.

6 comments:

You Know Where You Are With said...

One of my all-time favorites. Apart from the first two lines, which began my obsession with deer (and which is one of the all-time great puns, dear), I love that a Renaissance poem can use words like "newfangleness" and defy people's (students') expectations of that Ye Olde English stuff. Heh.

He's talking about Anne Boleyn, of course. If he's talking about anyone at all.

If I had a son, he was going to be named Wyatt.

FDChief said...

Anne Boleyn?

The Great Whore?

Really?

Howboutthat!

That really piques me, since I've always pictured Anne as a sort of 16th Century Madonna Ciccione, all slyness and thrusting haunches, and the picture Wyatt paints of her is surpassingly tender, melancholy and loving.

Perhaps there was a gentle side to Mistress Boleyn after all...

You Know Where You Are With said...

Yeah, Wyatt was pretty in love with her. He was, apparently, devastated at her execution (not just in the movies, but in contemporaneous letters).

Lisa said...

This is a beautiful, wistful poem.

Somewhat reminiscent of Arnold's Dover Beach, which you mentioned recently:

"Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night."

FDChief said...

Lisa: lovely! I used the quote out of context without being familiar with the original poem. Thank you for enlightening me with the beautiful source of that snipbit.

FDChief said...

"Yeah, Wyatt was pretty in love with her."

I'll say. The image of the lover "in her loose gown" leaning over for a gentle kiss is almost heartbreaking when you know that the subject of the poem is the end of love.

And his memory of "her arms long and small" is just the sort of tiny intimate thing, like the long-faded smell of her hair on the pillow, or the solemark inside a discarded slipper that wrings the heart long after the gross pain of loss has dimmed.

So much grief in twenty-one short lines...