Both Wyatt’s poem and Howard’s are translations into English of a poem originally written by the Italian poet Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch). The poem is number 140 of Petrarch’s collection of poems called the Rime sparse (Scattered Rhymes). In all three poems, Cupid, the god of selfish desire, is mocked for his cowardice when he is faced with determined opposition by a virtuous woman.
Wyatt’s style is usually considered rougher and less smoothly flowing (less “mellifluous”) than Howard’s. Wyatt’s poems often seem a bit less easy to understand, initially, than Howard’s do. Yet Wyatt’s more complicated phrasing, like that of later “Metaphysical” poets such as John Donne, often rewards re-reading. Wyatt’s use of meter or rhythm is usually less predictable and regular than Howard’s. Howard usually employs a clear, straightforward, iambic pentameter meter. In this meter, each even syllable is emphasized (as in reBEL, rather than REBel). Wyatt’s poetry, in general, is more likely to pose problems for a first-time reader, but it is this very unpredictability that lends so many of Wyatt’s poems so much of their energy and vitality.
In the opening line of Wyatt’s poem, for instance, it is not immediately clear that the “long love” mentioned is actually Cupid. This fact does not become absolutely clear until line 4, with the reference to “his.” In Howard’s poem, on the other hand, the use of personification is clear right from the start. This is just one example, among many others that could be cited, of the ways Wyatt’s poems can initially seem a bit more difficult than Howard’s.