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Saturday, 1 January 2011

Thomas Wyatt: Fruitless Fruit ("Avysing the bright bemes of these fayer Iyes")


File:Rosa rugosa Frucht 1.jpg

Fruit of the potato rose (Rosa rugosa), October, on the North Sea island Spiekeroog: photo by Jürgem Nowaldt, 2005

Avysing the bright bemes of these fayer Iyes
...where he is that mine oft moisteth & washeth
...the werid mynde streght from the hert dep[ar]teth
...for to rest in his woroldly p[ar]adise
And fynde the swete bitter vnder this gyse
...what webbe he hath wrought well he p[er]ceveth
...whereby with him self on love he playneth
...that spurreth with fyer and bridlith w[i]th Ise
Thus is it in suche extremitie brought frossen though[t] nowe and nowe it stondeth in flame
...twyst misery and welth twist ernest & game
...But few glad and many dyvers thought
...with sore repentance of his hardines
...of suche a rote cometh ffruyte fruytles

Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542): Avysing the bright bemes of these fayer Iyes: transcription by Ricard Harrier (1975) from British Library Egerton MS 2711, fol. 22

File:Rosa pimpinellifolia hip.jpg

Fruit (hips) of Rosa pimpinellifolia, growing in Newborough Warren, 16 October
: photo by Velela, 2006

Mirando 'l sol de' begli occhi sereno,
Ove è chi spesso i miei depinge e bagna,
Dal cor l' anima stanca si scompagna
Per gir nel paradiso suo terreno.
Poi, trovandol di dolce e d' amar' pieno,
Quant' al mondo si tesse opra d' aragna
Vede; onde seco e con Amor si lagna,
Ch' à sí caldi gli spron, sí duro 'l freno.
Per questi estremi duo, contrari e misti,
Or con voglie gelate, or con accese
Stassi cosí fra misera e felice.
Ma pochi lieti, e molti penser tristi;
E 'l piú si pente de l' ardite imprese:
Tal frutto nasce di cotal radice.

Wyatt's source: Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca, 1304-1374): Canzoniere CLXXIII

File:Rose hip.jpg

Rose hip: photo by Elucidate, 2008

File:Rosa Cuenca.JPG

Rose hips, Sierra de Valdemeca, Cuenca, Spain, 29 October
: photo by Retama, 2007


Ed Baker said...


I learned EVERYTHING (that I know about Poetry/rhythm) from
Ths Wtatt, the Elder!

out of that Norton's Anthology (I still go to it ... for "kicks"

The flee from me that sometimes did me seek
In blind error when firs I persirveered


Fairweel and all thy loves for evour

I also learned how to spell from him!

sooooo much GREAT "stuff" in one form

I blame it on Petrarch !

and that Gal / Muse that he wrote about...

what WAS her name?

Ed Baker said...

OPPS, I made yet another mistake...
here is a correction


Fair well love and all thy lews forever
in blinde error when first I did persue

.. I promise y'all
I'm REALLY gonna


in 2thousand 11even

maybe even correct my spelling and political correctness

TC said...


The girl that Petrarch may or may not have fallen for, from a discreet distance, in Avignon, on Good Friday, 1327, the day he gave up his religious vocation, may or may not have been this one.

You've told us your Stone Girl is a real girl but whether or not the same may be said of the Laura of Petrarch's sonnets is finally doubtful and anyway, for all intents and purposes, moot.

Because you know how it is about poets, always making stuff up. Nobody expects the truth out of them anyway.

Ed Baker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...

Well, Ed, I was just pondering your third comment and, with my broken leg propped up on a chair like Pegleg Pete imitating London Bridge, had begun to laboriously and for that matter painfully hunt and peck my usual in-character Mr Answer Man reply, when poof! your comment mysteriously disappeared. As the comment was entirely innocuous, I am assuming your deletion was inadvertent. In which case, I am assuming you will be grateful to have it restored, as follows:


jus leave me with my Illusions & Phantasees
... the stuff of dreams & poetry (experiences in memory/mind
& my Rocking Chair



(the real( Stone Girl just called me .... long distance:

she said:

Happy New Year, ED



But then again, I next recalled, you do go through these seasons of deletion, during which, I presume, something like shame (Commenter's Remorse, a known condition) comes over you.

If this is the case, in future I would suggest you take a step back and consider this.

The purpose of the comments box is to provide a space for conversation between one or more people.

But when you go off on these deletion jags, Someone Here thinks you are involved not in a conversation with other commenters here, but in a conversation with yourself.

Another thing, the intention of this post was to invite readers to consider the Petrarch metaphor and to consider the use Wyatt, in his extremely free translation, made of it.

This subject may be of no interest to you. But it is of some interest to me. It's this interest that (mistakenly, it seems) inspired me to me think there might within the wild range of universal possibility exist the diminutive chance that someone might wish to have at least a microscopic conversation about it.


When you read the sonnets Wyatt adapted from Petrarch, certain major differences emerge after a while.

In Petrarch's world (the world of his very, very long sonnet sequence, I mean) everything is recurrent, the same stuff happens over and over, the would-be lover is blown to smithereens by Laura's slightest dubious glance, then in the next minute, like the Roadrunner after the RR has been run over by a semi, he has miraculously recovered from his very grave wounds and is back up and at his old tricks again.

Whereas in Wyatt's world there is the finality of fact. He is being played games with, he gets the picture, he is not a dumb bunny rabbit attached to a love yo-yo -- in fact, for him the deal is done and dusted, so much fruitless fruit, he's flat outa here.

That's the change between Petrarch and Wyatt.

A lot of this can be read in the characteristic temporality structures of the two poets (little syntactical micro-zones of adverbial construction & c.) -- Petrarch's iterative loops are replaced by Wyatt's linearization, events irrevocably following events, it is not just a pleasant poetic dream, there are real consequences, often unhappy ones, but that's life, and one must get on with it. There is a crisis of discovery that effects future events. The lover has decided that the love was always a sterile thing, all he can see at the end of the day is the dead fruit.

The narrative of the poem is now a progression from dumbness to lucidity.

In Wyatt's version of Canzoniere CLXXIII there is none of Petrarch's beauteous bittersweet loveworld dream, instead there is cynicism, there is disillusionment, there are the bumps and bruises that come with crashing into Fact.

(I'm an expert on bumps and bruises right now, so I can verify at least the latter part of the last statement.)

Ed Baker said...

only reaso that I de:leted it was acause that I left the "S" oft


now a lept into Berryman's DREAM SONGS (202):

What can be piled on Henry Henry can take,



lead on, McDuff!



A pleasure to find this Wyatt here just now, as the rain starts up (again), branches scratching against window next to bed -- "bright bemes of these fayer lyes . . . werid mynde streght from the hert dep[ar]teth/ for to rest in his woroldly p[ar]adise . . . nowe and nowe . . . few glad and many dyvers thought . . . of such a rote cometh ffruyte fruytles" . . . . .


grey whiteness of cloud against shadowed
top of ridge, motion of leaves on branch
in foreground, waves sounding in channel

repetition, that after that
will look at least so

related to things as shapes,
meant, not stop there

grey-white clouds reflected in channel,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...


No problem.


On the mark:

the rain starts up (again), branches scratching against window


things as shapes,

but very blurry. It's once again rained all night here, redwood litter blocking the gutters, torrents cascading off the eaves, now one knows how Noah felt, if Noah was four hundred years old and lame.

Ffruyte fruytles.

Wyatt died of a fever after a long hard ride for the King, age 39.

He saw and did and learned and knew much in that diplomatic career, and seems to have experienced quite a bit of "personal" life as well -- it's difficult, reading the work, though it was probably writ in his twenties, to think of him as in any sense "young".

Ed Baker said...

I thot that Sir Thomas died
via Henry VIII throwing him into cold-cold-cold Tower of London
for phuching around with Queen Anne Boleyn?


I'll never forget Wyatt's rhyme-scheme:

abba abba cddc ee

TC said...

No, that was just one of several close calls for TW, who was in the Tower more than once, and out again, though not without the privilege of, for example, watching, through his narrow little portal, his erstwhile squeeze AB take her last short walk, to the scaffold.

On the occasion to which you refer, Ed, he managed to persuade his lord and liege Henry VIII to see the light of reason (no mean feat at the best of times). That is, Wyatt was always a reckless chap, but not quite reckless enough to continue fooling around with Anne once it was clear Henry had his sights on her. Henry did grasp all this, and his resentment against Wyatt for having been in there before him, galling though it was, proved not as strong as his practical wit, which reminded him that Wyatt was a clever, useful and loyal servant.

That last part counted for everything.

Thus, upset of upsets, TW actually did die a "natural" death, if dashing about on errands for the King be considered natural.

Ed Baker said...

the next thing you'll a-be-uh tellin me is that

Charles Laughton (our GREATEST 20th Century actor)
really is Henry VIII
does Bette Davis fit into this-all?

I'm getting very confused.... & THAT"S not atol like me.

I'm still trying ti figure out
who besides Pessoa wore masks.... Pound? Olson?

TC said...

Of course, much of what we are able to gather about the tensions involved in the complex interdynamics of sexuality and power, in this particularly interesting historical episode, comes from this amazing poem.

TC said...

Ed, you are a wonderment, with a broken leg how can you expect me to keep up with you?!

Anyhow... here's the deal with Masks. Check it out.

(You and me and Pound and Schopenhauer and PinchMe went out in a boat, you and me and Pound and Schopenhauer fell in, who was left?)

TC said...

Oh, right. Pessoa was in the boat too. When it sank, the remains were dredged up and found in his trunk.

Ed Baker said...

all these hack poets EVER think about/write about is
I mean how many "boats" (dinghes) does it take to change the ways of one Muse?


at this late-stage of all the my world is
"she" doesn't even have to be cute.... just yet a warm body breathing.

Ed Baker said...

pee est:

Willyum Vollmann has a neat (fun) book:

Beauty, Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater with Some Thoughts on Muses (especially Helga Testorf), Transgender Women, Kabuki Goddesses, Porn Queens, Housewives, Makeup Artists, Geishas, Valkyries and Venus Figurines

(the title is longer than the book! Hell, this comment os longer that the book!!

TC said...

Yes, the warmth, the breathing, good things.

(There are probably other good things, but I can't remember them at the moment.)

What I mean to say, Ed, is that I am now going to try to get a bit of sleep, which is always a matter of luck at the best of times.

(This probably isn't the best of times, but still... uneasy lies the head, or something.)