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Wyatt wrote the poem at a time of great personal, political and emotional tension. Wyatt was an integral part of the Tudor court, and he and Henry VIII were both engaging and charismatic young men. Despite this, Henry was always to be the superior as he was King. Not only this: Henry VIII was a dominant and quite intimidating monarch. Many courtiers were imprisoned - including Wyatt himself - or executed for incurring his displeasure. The reasons for Wyatt’s imprisonment were connected with the social and political machinations of the court. He was arrested along with five others for perceived liaisons with Anne Boleyn long after he had renounced his suit, and warned Henry against marrying her, and after Henry had become frustrated with her inability fogive him a male heir.
Wyatt may well have offered the poem for contemplation and consideration at court: this was frequently his modus operandi. If so, he would be hoping to enhance the deference which he shows his monarch by renouncing his claim to the young Anne Boleyn. Equally, however, the artist and political historian side of him draws ambiguous parallels between Henry VIII and Julius Caesar. The audience is left to interpret the qualities which link the two leaders: the positive aspects of a handsome, dynamic young leader or the negative factors of aggressive and financially crippling rule.
The potentially fatal tensions of the court prompted Wyatt to express his ideas subtly and carefully, which is part of the exceptional quality of his work.
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