What is an analysis of Thomas Wyatt's poem "And Wilt Thou Leave Me Thus," and who is it dedicated to?

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kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Thomas Wyatt's poem "And Wilt Thou Leave Me Thus" isn't written in the sonnet form of fourteen lines with an ending couplet. Instead, it has four sextain stanzas (six lines each), each beginning with "And wilt thou leave me thus?" and ending with a repitition of "And wilt thou leave me thus?" followed by the pleading "Say nay, say nay!" Stanza two has the variation "As for to leave me thus?" The rhyme scheme is abbba, followed by "Say nay! Say nay!"

Wyatt wrote this impassioned poem as a plea to his mistress not to leave him after all the years they had been together. In it, he pleads with her to say "no" out of the shame of causing him grief and sorrow after all the years that he loved in "wealth and woe" and never faltered through "pain nor smart."

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Let us start with analyzing the poem's basic structure. The poem is comprised of four stanzas. Each stanza is six lines long, which is a sextain in poetry language. What is unique about each sextain is that each one contains a tercet. A tercet is a set of three lines. The lines do not have to always rhyme, but Wyatt makes his tercet stand out within each stanza by having the same rhyme:

That hath given thee my heart
Never for to depart,
Nother for pain nor smart;
Each stanza begins with "And wilt thou leave me thus?" That question is repeated in line 5 of each stanza, and the final line in each stanza is "Say nay, say nay!" All of this together gives each stanza the rhyme scheme of ABBBAC.
 
As for rhythm and meter, Wyatt does not stray too far from the standard iambic pentameter that tends to show up in a lot of poetry. The poem is written in the iambic rhythm. The iambic foot is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. By taking a line from the poem, you can mark out the stressed and unstressed syllables by using bold for the stressed syllables. For example:
And is / thy heart / so strong
Notice that there are three iambic units within that line of poetry. Wyatt is consistent through most of the poem with that poetic structuring; therefore, the poem is written in iambic trimeter. The only time that Wyatt breaks this structure is in the final line of each stanza.
 
The poem is written to Wyatt's mistress, and he is begging her not to leave him. Each stanza has the speaker asking if she will really leave him. Each stanza closes with a repetition of that question, but the speaker never gives her the chance to answer. His begging "Say nay, say nay" is immediate and overpowers any answer that she might have tried to give.
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