In several of Wyatt's verses, his narrator speaks as a betrayed friend. This would be a commonplace occurence in the Tudor court, and indeed Wyatt himself was subject to accusations which led to his imprisonment on three occasions.
The betrayed friend is seen in the poem 'They Flee From Me'. The narrator feels betrayed by all around him after the breakdown of a relationship. The lady has left him and moved on:
'And I have leave to go of her goodness;
And she also to use new fangleness.'
But so, it appears, have other friends associated with the union.
The Rejected Friend
In ‘Lux, My Fair Falcon’, the narrator is a rejected friend who feels bitterly the abandonment by his associates at perhaps his weakest moment. Wyatt uses a powerful and grisly metaphor to describe his rejection:
‘Like lice away from dead bodies they crawl:’
The image is brutal, as the narrator himself being compared to a corpse – a not too distant prospect for a courtier who could face execution. The former friends are compared to parasites, which formerly lived on the host. This connection with creatures which live off another is a damning indictment of courtly allegiances.
The Peremptory Speaker
The narrator of ‘My Heart I Gave Thee’ is direct and businesslike in his resignation from the bond with his intended audience. The audience remains ambiguous. Due to the officious tone and methodical evaluation of the relationship, he could be talking to a lover or even an employer. The narrator here is loyal but his loyalty has been taken advantage of.
The Sailor of Treacherous Seas
This narrator appears in ‘My Galley Charged’. Rough winter seas, treacherous rocks, wind and rain challenge him. His position is a metaphor for the loss of faith in God and in his fellow man.
The Philosophical Lover
This character is the narrator of ‘Divers Doth Use’. He explains that he is not overly emotional in any way following his lover’s inconstancy: he dismisses the capricious nature of women as ‘of kind’ – that is, part of their natural temperament.
The Angry Lovers
These are mentioned in ‘Divers Doth Use’. They become aggressive and accusatory when betrayed, but are quick to look for replacements for their former lovers.
The Woeful Lovers
Wyatt details these characters in ‘Divers Doth Use’. They are the men who ‘mourn and wail’ excessively at the loss of a love in order to soothe themselves.
The Assertive Lover
In ‘Madam, Withouten Many Words’, the narrator demands a clear decision from his lady as to her intentions so they can be together or move on.
In ‘Farewell, Love’ the narrator personifies then rejects Love as a cruel and futile companion. He resolves to be no longer caught by Love’s ‘baited hooks’ or to seek out ‘rotten boughs to clime’ in a pointless search.
The Lute Player
The lute player appears in two songs, ‘Blame Not My Lute!’ and ‘My Lute Awake’. In the first song, the lute player directs the criticism for the message of his song away from the instrument of its communication, the lute, to the composer of the lyrics and his inspiration.
In ‘My Lute Awake’ the lute player is a more despairing figure, resigned to deliver his song though his lady is unlikely to hear or care about his words. There is a harshness to his tone towards the end of the song where the lute player informs the lady that her beauty, and its resultant attentions, will not last.
The Weary Hunter
In ‘Whoso List to Hunt?’ the narrator is a weary hunter, no longer able to continue his fruitless pursuit. He is ‘sore’ and exhausted at his futile chase of the ‘hind’, and acknowledges that she is quarry for ‘Caesar’ (i.e.the king) rather than himself.
The Wild Hind
In ‘Whoso list To Hunt' the quarry is a wild hind, a creation who most likely personifies Anne Boleyn, or at least a much desired and pursued lady of the court. She may be identified as ‘Caesar’s’ with her jeweled collar, but she remains untamed.
This narrator appears in the song, ‘Forget Not Yet’. He warns his audience that their behavior towards others will cause them to repent later, and bids them not to forget those who have been loyal.
The Embittered Lover
This narrator is seen in ‘What No, Perdie!’ He is angry and uses the oath ‘Perdie’, meaning ‘By God’ to show the discontent he has at his rejection. However, by the end of the song, he has achieved a level of closure and seeks to move on.
The Dangerous Lady
This character appears in ‘The Lively Sparks’. She has a light variously described as ‘sparks’, ‘sunbeams’ and ‘lightning’ to enhance the intensity of her effect on the narrator, and in turn, her danger.
The Fickle Friends
These characters are seen in 'They Flee From Me,'. The poem considers not just the loss of a lady, but presumably the network of relationships that their union was part of:
'Once I have seen them, gentle, tame and meek,
That now are wild, and do not once remember,
That sometime theyhave put themselves in danger
To take bread at my hand; and now they range
Busily seeking in continual change.'
The implication appears to be that the fickle friends are women who now shun him, but what is certain is that the narrator is referring to more than just one person.
The Confused Lover
This character is the narrator of 'I Find No Peace'. He explains his mental and physical terms in oppositions, finally concluding that his greatest displeasure is caused by his greatest joy. The narrator of 'The Lively Sparks' can also be considered confused, as he personifies contradictory emotions but yet can't break free of his love.
Sir Thomas Wyatt: Poems Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Sir Thomas Wyatt: Poems is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.