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Monday 9 February 2015

Thomas Wyatt: The longe love that in my thought doeth harbar / Petrarch: Amor che nel penser mio vive e regna


Petrarch: Canzoniere and Trionfi: Italian miniaturist, manuscript (Plut. 141.1), c. 1463 (Medicea Laurenziana, Florence)

The longe love that in my thought doeth harbar
...and in myn herte doeth kepe his residence
...into my face preseth with bold pretence
...and therin campeth spreding his baner
She that me lerneth to love & suffre
...and will that my trust & lust negligence rayned by reason shame & reverence
...with his hardiness taketh displeasur
Wherewithall unto the herte forrest he fleith
...leving his entreprise with payn & cry
...and ther him hideth & not appereth
What may I do when my maister fereth
...but in the feld with him to lyve & dye
.....for goode is the liff ending faithfully 

Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542): The longe love that in my thought doeth harbar (text from Egerton MS. 2711, British Museum)

Petrarch: Canzoniere and Trionfi: Italian miniaturist, Incunable (inc. Ven. 546), 1470 (Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice)

      Amor che nel penser mio vive e regna
e ’l suo seggio maggior nel mio tène,
talor armato ne la fronte vène,
ivi si loca, et ivi pon sua insegna.
      Quella ch’amare e sofferir ne ’nsegna
e vòl che ’l gran desio, l’accesa spene,
ragion, vergogna e reverenza affrene,
di nostro ardir fra sé stessa si sdegna.
      Onde Amor paventoso fugge al core,
lasciando ogni sua impresa, e piange, e trema;
ivi s’asconde, e non appar più fòre.
      Che poss’io far, temendo il mio signore,
se non star seco in fin a l’ora estrema?
ché bel fin fa chi ben amando more.

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374): Amor che nel penser mio vive e regna, in Canzoniere: Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta (codice Vaticano 3195)

Francisci Petrarchae: Poetae laureati, epitome virorum illustrium: Italian miniaturist, manuscript (Ms. Latin 6069F), 1379 (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris)

Jeanne de Boulogne, Duchess of Berry: Hans Holbein the Younger, 1524; black and coloured chalks, 39.6 x 27.5 cm (Kupferstichkabinett, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel)

Battle of Anghiari (Tavola Doria): Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-05, oil on panel, 85 x 115 cm (formerly private collection, Munich; now lost)

Portrait of Anna Meyer: Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1526; black and coloured chalks, 39.1 x 27.5 cm (Kupferstichkabinett, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel)

Group of riders in the Battle of Anghiari: Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-04, black chalk, white highlights, 160 x 197 mm (Royal Library, Windsor)

Lady Elyot: Hans Holbein the Younger, 1532-33; chalk, pen and brush on paper, 28 x 20.9 cm (Royal Collection, Windsor)

Rearing horse:
Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-04, red chalk and pencil, 153 x 142 mm (Royal Library, Windsor)

Jane Seymour: Hans Holbein the Younger, 1536-37; black and coloured chalks on paper, 50 x 28.5 cm (Royal Collection, London)

Studies of Leda and a horse: Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-07, black chalk, brush and ink on paper (Royal Library, Windsor)

Portrait of Lady Mary Guildford: Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1527; black and coloured chalks, 55,2 x 38,5 cm (Kupferstichkabinett, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel)

Study of battles on horseback and on foot: Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-04, pen and ink on paper, 145 x 152 mm (Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice)

Head of a Warrior ('The Red Head'): Leonardo da Vinci, 1504-05, red chalk on brownish paper, 226 x 186 mm (Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest)

The Battle of Anghiari (detail): Leonardo da Vinci, 1503-05, black chalk, pen and ink, watercolour on paper, 452 x 637 mm  (Musée du Louvre, Paris

Head of a Woman: Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1522, drawing (Musée du Louvre, Paris)

Battle Scene: Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1504, pen and ink on paper, 179 x 251 mm (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Kneeling Female Nude in Profile (recto): Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1503-04, pen and brown ink on paper partly prepared in red, 258 x 153 mm (Musée du Louvre, Paris)


Stephen Ratcliffe said...


The longe love that in my thought doeth harbar
. . .
for goode is the liff ending faithfully

-- so good to find this here just now (Wyatt's rhythms and all, plus these images) the internet being so filled with so much else . . .

billoo said...

This is a wonderful thought: the long love that endures and fidelity to it. A sentiment that stands against the time(s) we live in.

TC said...

That wonderful thought is Petrarch's contribution to the history of some kind of code of romantic conduct in the West, and the subtlety, delicacy, metaphorical richness and rhetorical grace of his sustaining and iteration of the figure, in his sonnet sequence, is a marvel. The vogue of the sonnet which was incited by editions published some centuries after Petrarch's death, and which then spread across Europe, was at its peak when Wyatt traveled to Italy on diplomatic service. He encounters a language and style and code of feeling as it were head-on, and asks questions of the form, and of the situation, especially as to the moral complications involved in matters of trust and fidelity. Where throughout his cycle Petrarch remains caught, or rapt, in a dream of love, Wyatt can't help finding bumps in the road, points of no return. He brings into English a Petrarch who has been changed by this frontal assault. The fluidity of the original is replaced by the older English broken-back line, a rugged accentual metric. Wyatt's contemporary Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, also addressed this Petrarch sonnet. Seen against Surrey's performance, which follows Petrarch more closely, and skips along in an easy regular decasyllable indicative of the weakening of English versification that was to come, Wyatt's achievement becomes apparent.

Love, that doth reign and live within my thought,
And built his seat within my captive breast,
Clad in the arms wherein with me he fought,
Oft in my face he doth his banner rest.
But she that taught me love and suffer pain,
My doubtful hope and eke my hot desire
With shamefast look to shadow and refrain,
Her smiling grace converteth straight to ire.

And coward Love, then, to the heart apace
Taketh his flight, where he doth lurk and plain,
His purpose lost, and dare not show his face.
For my lord's guilt thus faultless bide I pain,
Yet from my lord shall not my foot remove:
Sweet is the death that taketh end by love.

Writing of Renaissance translation, Imatar Even-Zohar suggests poetic translations were central to the evolution of a literary polysystem:

"In such a state when new literary models are emerging, translation is likely to become one of the means of elaborating the new repertoire. Through the foreign works, features (both principles and elements) are introduced into the home literature which did not exist there before. These include possibly not only new models of reality to replace the old and established ones that are no longer effective, but a whole range of other features as well, such as a new (poetic) language, or compositional patterns and techniques."

A reverse phenomenon can occur. The rustic strength of English, as employed in Wyatt's rough domestications of Petrarch, also contributed to a movement in the history of feeling, in which courtly manners were to be subject to interrogation. That Elizabethan love poets later elected not to ask the hard questions marks a setback, as does the related fact they could not in any case read Wyatt's poems by that time. The original versions had been lost, only "regularized" versions were known, for some centuries. The lost history of an English metric lies in that chasm.

billoo said...

Thank you for that insightful comment. The notion of a 'code of feeling' is an intriguing one. And is trust-an acceptance of vulnerability-part of the gentleness in that code?

I didn't fully understand your point about the difference but wonder if this is down to a different sense of bewilderment: one being "caught"; the other being 'bound and free', lost & found'?