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Discuss the relationship between the structure, imagery, meter, etc. and the content of...

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mercure | (Level 1) Honors

Posted December 3, 2010 at 9:15 PM via web

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Discuss the relationship between the structure, imagery, meter, etc. and the content of Sir Thomas Wyatt's "I find no peace, and all my war is done."

Here is the poem :

Sir Thomas Wyatt, "I find no peace, and all my war is done"

I find no peace, and all my war is done.
I fear and hope. I burn and freeze like ice.
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;
And nought I have, and all the world I season.
That loseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison
And holdeth me not--yet can I scape no wise--
Nor letteth me live nor die at my device,
And yet of death it giveth me occasion.
Without eyen I see, and without tongue I plain.
I desire to perish, and yet I ask health.
I love another, and thus I hate myself.
I feed me in sorrow and laugh in all my pain;
Likewise displeaseth me both life and death,
And my delight is causer of this strife.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 7, 2010 at 12:36 AM (Answer #1)

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In Sir Thomas Wyatt's poem, "I find no peace, and all my war is done," the reader has a sense of a man conflicted by the world around him.

This poem is written as a Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet (with an eight-line octave, and a six-line sestet). The rhyme scheme appears to be ABBA ABBA CDDC EE, which is a variation of the Petrarchan sonnet. (It is interesting to note that Wyatt introduced the sonnet form in English, from the original Italian).

Regarding the structure of the poem in terms of language, Wyatt chooses contradictions which provide the reader with the author's sense of being pulled between two extremes, as a conflicted person would feel (back and forth).

The line below speaks to a man no longer at war, but unable to find peace.

I find no peace, and all my war is done.

The contradictions of the next several lines demonstrate the "back and forth" motion of wanting to be hopeful, but being fearful instead (I fear and hope), or wanting the positive, but held back—at the same time—by the negative:

I burn and freeze like ice. 
I fly above the wind, yet can I not arise;

The next line is difficult to follow because of the archaic (I assume) use of "season." Used in its context within the sentence, I feel Wyatt is saying that he has nothing, though the entire world has been opened to him. ("Nought" means "nothing.")

And nought I have, and all the world I season.

The next lines indicate that Wyatt sees himself as a prisoner, perhaps of his own perceptions of life, but not because there is a lock that holds him in place.

That loseth nor locketh holdeth me in prison 
And holdeth me not--yet can I scape no wise--

Wyatt goes on here to say that he cannot choose to die (perhaps a religious allusion), and yet he is visited by death in life. (This might refer to death around him, or that he feels like he is dying.)

Nor letteth me live nor die at my device, 
And yet of death it giveth me occasion.

His next line speaks to not having eyes, but still seeing (perhaps the sense is either that he closes his eyes and is still haunted by images in his mind), but also notes he has no tongue, but still he complains ("plains," which might mean that he has no words to fully express himself and what does come out of his mouth sounds merely like complaints, rather than what he wants to say).

Without eyen I see, and without tongue I plain.

The following lines provide even more contradictions:

"I desire to perish, and yet I ask health" (he wants to die, but wants also to live)

"I love another, and thus I hate myself" (Through loving another, he hates himself.)

I feed me in sorrow and laugh in all my pain; (I am filled with sorrow, but laugh at the pain, perhaps an ironic or self-despising kind of laugh.)

The last two lines refer to the fact that what he finds both pain and delight in, is what causes all of his discomfort.

Likewise displeaseth me both life and death, 
And my delight is causer of this strife.

The war that Wyatt describes at the beginning deals with love and its "death," the end of the relationship, which has left the poet feeling totally torn apart. The structured language that provides the sense of the back and forth, of being pulled in different directions, is the poet's struggle to pull his life together again in face of the loss of his sweetheart. The last lines function as a couplet, a complete thought: in life and death, this woman, paradoxically, causes him both "delight" and "strife" (conflict).

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