How does Sir Thomas Wyatt's poem, "The Long Love" compare to the Earl of Surrey's poem "Love, that doth reign and live" regarding imagery?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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Sir Thomas Wyatt's "The Long Love" and Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey's "Love that doth Reign and Live within my Thought" are very similar.

First, they are both fourteen-line poems, adopted from Petrarch's* 109th sonnet: each author writes a different version of that sonnet. (*Petrarch first wrote the Italian sonnet, which Wyatt and Howard adapted to English.) The poems are also alike in meaning. Wyatt and Howard not only present very similar themes, but the imagery is also similar; the two were closely aligned as writers. They also worked to translate the same sonnet in this instance—perhaps as a contest, which was not at all unusual for writers of the time.

It is important to note that Sir Thomas Wyatt is credited with introducing the Italian sonnet form to England. Howard was very much involved in developing the rhyme and meter, and creating the form of "quatrains" (four-line stanzas) used; the men, collectively, are responsible for designing what is now known as the English, Elizabethan or Shakespearean sonnet, and the two men are referred to by some as "fathers of the English sonnet."

In their translations, Wyatt and Howard both speak of love, and how their "master" acts in the face of that love—in reaction to the different woman each one loves. My sense is that the heart is speaking of his "master:" the man in whose chest that heart lies.

Each author begins by stating how firmly "encamped" love has become within his heart. Wyatt writes:

The long love that in my thought doth harbour,

And in mine heart doth keep his residence...

Howard's poem sounds very similar as he refers to love's place in his heart:

Love that doth reign and live within my thought

And built his seat within my captive breast...

The use of terminology that deals with fighting, fearful departure, and allegiance is obvious in both. Wyatt uses terms such as "bold pretence," "campeth," "banner," "suffer," "reverence," "fleeth," "leaving," "hideth," "not appeareth," "feareth," and "in the field with him to live or die."

Howard also uses similar wording such as "reign," "captive," "arms," "fought," "banner," "coward," "flight," "lurk," "guilt," and "Yet from my lord shall not my foot remove."

The imagery seems to support the idea of each heart falling in love, and the heart's owner finding it too overwhelming to remain—so that the man runs away rather than to stay and "do battle," and that in the end, the heart must remain true to his "master," even if he "bolts."

Additional Source:,_Earl_of_Surrey