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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Thomas Wyatt: in Spayn (The ambassador revoked from his post returns to the city sought by Brutus in dreams)

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James Massey of Piper's Model Makers cleans the City of London s official 1:500th scale architectural model of central London, which has gone on public display at the City Centre gallery, London.

James Massey of Piper’s Model Makers cleans the City of London’s official 1:500th scale architectural model of central London, which has gone on public display at the City Centre gallery, London: photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA, 16 May 2016

James Massey of Piper's Model Makers cleans the City of London s official 1:500th scale architectural model of central London, which has gone on public display at the City Centre gallery, London.

James Massey of Piper’s Model Makers cleans the City of London’s official 1:500th scale architectural model of central London, which has gone on public display at the City Centre gallery, London: photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA, 16 May 2016
 
                        y                          t
Tagus fare well t westward w thy strems

   torns vp the grayns off gold alredy tryd
     t
   w spurr and sayle for I go seke the tems
                  ~         t
   the sonne y shewthe her welthi pryd
                              wyche
   and to the town brutus sowght by drems

   like bendyd mone doth lend her lusty syd
                           alone
My Kyng my Contry  for whome <only alone> I lyve                                        
                                       ~
   of myghty love the winge for this me gyve

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542): in Spayn, c. 3 June 1539: text from British Library Egerton MS. 2711, fol. 69 (holograph); transcription via Richard Harrier, The Canon of Sir Thomas Wyatt's Poetry (1975)



The Ambassadors (detail): Hans Holbein the Younger, 1533, oil on oak (National Gallery, London)


The Ambassadors (detail): Hans Holbein the Younger, 1533, oil on oak (National Gallery, London)


Portrait of the Merchant Georg Gisze (detail): Hans Holbein the Younger, 1532, oil on wood (Staatliche Museen, Berlin)


Christina of Denmark, Duchess of Milan (detail)
: Hans Holbein the Younger, 1538, oil on oak (National Gallery, London)



Portrait of Thomas Cromwell: Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1533, oak, 76 x 61 cm (Frick Collection, New York)


View of Syon House across the Thames near Kew Gardens: Richard Wilson (1714-1782), c. 1760, oil on canvas, 104 x 139 cm (Neue Pinakothek, Munich)


View of Syon House across the Thames near Kew Gardens
: Richard Wilson (1714-1782),
c. 1760, oil on canvas, 104 x 139 cm (Neue Pinakothek, Munich)



View of London: Antonio Joli, 1743-50, oil on canvas, 151 x 278 cm (Private collection)


The River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral on Lord Mayor's Day
: Canaletto, 1746-47, oil on canvas (Lobkowicz Collections, Lobkowicz Palace, Prague)



London: Greenwich Hospital from the North Bank of the Thames: Canaletto, c. 1753, oil on canvas, 66 x 112.5 cm (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich)



London: The Thames and the City of London from Richmond House: Canaletto, 1747, oil on canvas, 105 x 117.5 cm (Private collection)




London: The Thames and the City of London from Richmond House (detail): Canaletto, 1747 (Private collection)
 

London: the Thames and the City of London from the Terrace of Richmond House: Canaletto, c. 1747, pen and ink with wash on paper, 337 x 540 mm (Private collection)

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!  
William Wordsworth (1770-1850): Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
 

City workers crossed the Millennium Bridge over the River Thames on a foggy morning in London: photo by Toby Melville/Reuters, 2 November 2015


City workers crossed the Millennium Bridge over the River Thames on a foggy morning in London: photo by Toby Melville/Reuters, 2 November 2015

A City worker shields his eyes from the sun outside of the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain, March 29, 2016. The Bank of England could be pulled in very different directions if British voters take the historic step of leaving the European Union in a referendum set for June 23.. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A City worker shields his eyes from the sun outside of the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain today: photo by Toby Melville/Reuters, 29 March 2016 

A City worker shields his eyes from the sun outside of the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain, March 29, 2016. The Bank of England could be pulled in very different directions if British voters take the historic step of leaving the European Union in a referendum set for June 23.. REUTERS/Toby Melville

A City worker shields his eyes from the sun outside of the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain today: photo by Toby Melville/Reuters, 29 March 2016 
 
A seagull flies past Westminster Bridge during a foggy day in central London, November 2, 2015. Airports across Britain suffered disruption on Monday as heavy fog led to delays and cancellations for a second day. Flights to and from London airports were being affected, while foggy conditions in the capital and across Europe were causing problems to airports around the country.REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A seagull flies past Westminster Bridge during a foggy day in central London today. Airports across Britain suffered disruption on Monday as heavy fog led to delays and cancellations for a second day. Flights to and from London airports were being affected, while foggy conditions in the capital and across Europe were causing problems to airports around the country: photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters, 2 November 2015

Trading Ring Unveiled Inside London Metals Exchange's New Premises...Traders, brokers and clerks shout and gesture on the trading floor of the open outcry pit at the London Metal Exchange (LME), at their new premises on Finsbury Square, in London, U.K in London, U.K., on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. The new LME ring has capacity to host 14 members. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Traders, brokers and clerks shout and gesture on the trading floor of the open outcry pit at the London Metal Exchange (LME), at their new premises on Finsbury Square in London
: photo by
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg, 18 February 2016

Trading Ring Unveiled Inside London Metals Exchange's New Premises...Traders, brokers and clerks shout and gesture on the trading floor of the open outcry pit at the London Metal Exchange (LME), at their new premises on Finsbury Square, in London, U.K in London, U.K., on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. The new LME ring has capacity to host 14 members. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Traders, brokers and clerks shout and gesture on the trading floor of the open outcry pit at the London Metal Exchange (LME), at their new premises on Finsbury Square in London: photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg, 18 February 2016

A seagull flies past Westminster Bridge during a foggy day in central London, November 2, 2015. Airports across Britain suffered disruption on Monday as heavy fog led to delays and cancellations for a second day. Flights to and from London airports were being affected, while foggy conditions in the capital and across Europe were causing problems to airports around the country.REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

A seagull flies past Westminster Bridge during a foggy day in central London today. Airports across Britain suffered disruption on Monday as heavy fog led to delays and cancellations for a second day. Flights to and from London airports were being affected, while foggy conditions in the capital and across Europe were causing problems to airports around the country: photo by Stefan Wermuth/Reuters, 2 November 2015

Passengers ride an escalator at Canary Wharf tube station in London

Passengers ride an escalator at Canary Wharf tube station in London on Tuesday: photo by Kevin Coombs/Reuters, 15 March 2016

4 comments:

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Thanks for this Tom -- a pleasure to find Wyatt's poem here, which still lives on in my memory it seems -- reawakened now in reading this . . . what a ring those opening lines have always had -- "Tagus fare well, t[hat' westward w[ith] thy strems / Torns up the grayns off gold alredy tryd" -- I've got that Richard Harrier edition from way back then, tucked away on a bookshelf over in Oakland, will have to retrieve it and look again at those 'originals' with their grainy spellings, which somehow work to bring the sound of Wyatt's 'voice' to the page, present and completely real.

Wooden Boy said...

It's great to read Wyatt and then Wordsworth. Wyatt's mercantile sun...

A view from across the sea is worth taking in.

TC said...

Many thanks, Steve and Duncan.

Steve, with the Harrier work there are the complications of apprehending the variables of the scribal abbreviations, the rôle of the amanuenses in the work, and so on. Still, given the palpable difficulty of access, I've also found that the poems begin to make sense as poems in proportion as one encounters them in something like -- really no more than a representation of, but still -- the original orthography. The rock, the fact of the text. The opacity at least retains a bit of the mystery, and without feeling the distance, the un-user-friendliness, the mystery of difference is gone... and we are in the land of American textbook publishing.

Dunc, the poets of course then as now had to be always merchandising something. Wyatt was involved -- professionally, but also in some way having to do with an early modern idea of national identity -- with the construction of a mythic history of Britain; and the "discovery" by Brutus was an important prop in this fabrication plot. The irony of course is that this cultural work was being done in the service of a Tudor monarchy well known by its servants and adversaries alike to be ruthless and unpredictable at the best of times. Wyatt had been sent out as an envoy to follow the movements of the French and Spanish courts. His dispatches from Spain are a wonder of cautious diplomatic tightrope walking. He reports back to the King and to Thomas Cromwell his immediate superior, in coded messages, the ciphers so carefully kept some are a blank to this day. Every remark and comment is sifted, dissected -- Wyatt assumes everyone is deceiving everyone, all the time, and the atmosphere created in the correspondence strangely resembles the high stakes cloak-and-dagger businesses in Le Carré (who also learnt the ropes in the same line of work).

But the particular biographical moment is fraught. There are spies spying the the spies. Wyatt is a spy, surrounded by spies. He has enemies in England... and like they say these days, haters gonna hate. At this point he is being recalled to answer charges that have been made against him. He knows he is facing a test. He has seen others in his court circle fail this test, with dire consequences.

And yet the poem celebrates, without apparent reservation.

Talking of without reservation, who could not appreciate Christy Moore's rendition of the wonderful Ewan MacColl romantic ballad .

Kissed her once again at Wapping, Flow. ..
After that there was no stopping, Sweet Thames. ..

("Jaysus the feckin' mullet on Christy!" exclaims a commenter.)

Believe it or nowt, I was transported back to a warm evening at Battersea Park, deep in some previous century (talking of the view from across the sea)...

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

and to the town brutus sowght by drems

like bendyd mone doth lend her lusty syd
alone
My Kyng my Contry for whome I lyve

. . . surrounded by spies (and spy himself), returning home to face those charges, but Wyatt here (and still) the true patriot . . .