What is the struture or form of "I Find No Peace" by Sir Thomas Wyatt?
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This poem is written in a form that is very similar to a Petrarchan sonnet. It has 14 lines and a rhyme scheme that divides it into an octave (a group of eight lines) and a sestet (a group of six lines). However, there are some variations on its form compared to a Petrarchan sonnet. The lines are not written in strict iambic pentameters (that is, ten syllables per line with a pattern of stress) and the rhyme scheme, although it conforms to a Petrarchan sonnet in the octave with its rhyme scheme of abbaabba, varies in the sestet becoming cddcdd as opposed to ccdeed. The rhymes, particularly in the sestet, can be described as half rhymes, with "death" being made to rhyme with "strife" in the last two lines, perhaps indicating the disparity the speaker of the poem finds within himself in his divided state, as explored through the poem.
The Petrarchan sonnet provides the English poet not only with a form but also with the sentiments. The whole nature of the relation between the poet and his beloved had become conventionalised in terms of an idealized courtly love attitude, which Petrarch had manifested toward Laura in his love sonnets. The notion of the lover as the humble servant of the fair lady, injured by her glance, tempest-tossed in seas of despair in rejection, changing in mood according to the presence or absence of his beloved—was derived from the medieval view of courtly love, a concept of love which arose out of the changing attitude towards women centring round Virgin Mary as an ideal example. At this point it must be pointed out that the imported poetic theme had also become essential for satisfying the mental needs and cultural tastes of the English gentlemen created by the Renaissance. That is why we find the historical existence of the English counterparts of Laura almost for all the 16th century sonneteers.
Wyatt’s I Find No Peace is a sonnet set typically in the Petrarchan tradition; it has the same five rhymes—abcde, and can be divided in two parts—octave and sestet. But it should be pointed out here that Wyatt deviates from the Petrarchan model in a number of ways. While in the former the theme of the poem is introduced in the octave and developed in the sestet, Wyatt’s poem does not maintain the division and distribution of thought. The poet begins by enumerating the conflicting states of mind occasioned by the onset of love:
“I find no peace and all my war is done,
I fear and hope, I burn and freeze like ice…”
These carefully chosen monosyllabic words contain enough information so as to inform the readers what has gone before. His ‘peace’ of mind has been destroyed by the ‘war’ he has been waging against himself and his ladylove in order to win her love. It may be surmised here whether after finding his “war is done”, that is, his game over, he resorts to writing this sonnet in an attempt to communicate to her the words of his desire; for, the rest of the lines in the poem are set almost as disguised appeals, as desperate cries to the mistress. This is nowhere so prominent as in the second line, the poet speaks of experiencing contrary thoughts and emotions: he is afraid of his supposed rejection by her, and that is why gets frozen at this thought. But at the same time he is hopeful of the prospect of winning her favour, and this leads him to ‘burn’ in desire for her. It may be pointed out here that Wyatt’s description of the impact of love, which has not been won, conforms to the onset of love generated by the first secretion of the hormones in the human body. Quite consistent with this the poet finds himself daydreaming about an ideal situation: “I fly above the wind…”; but the next moment the reverie breaks down and he finds himself forlorn heavy with the thoughts of failure and fails to ‘arise’ out of the situation.
By ARGHYA JANA
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