Sir Thomas Wyatt

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How might one interpret the poem "Within My Breast," by Sir Thomas Wyatt?

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The double sonnet by Sir Thomas Wyatt that begins “The flaming sighs that boil within my breast” might be interpreted as follows.

The opening lines use conventional imagery, derived from the great Renaissance Italian poet Petrarch, to describe the effects of selfish desire on a male lover. He is full of “flaming sighs” that “boil” within his “breast” (1). In other words, sensual longing torments him. His sighs are evidence of his “heart’s unrest” (3). They reveal the pain and grief he is suffering (4), as do his tears (5-6). Even his flesh looks deadly pale (7). What seems bitter can sometimes seem sweet (8) – an idea that is typical of the emphasis on paradox in much Petrarchan poetry. Anyone who wants to see how cares can trouble a wearied mind should...

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