Why do most of Thomas Wyatt's poems have a sad tone?  His poems always talk about unrequited love and for that reason it takes the dark and sad way. Is there any thing in his personal life to push...

Why do most of Thomas Wyatt's poems have a sad tone?

 

His poems always talk about unrequited love and for that reason it takes the dark and sad way.

Is there any thing in his personal life to push him to write on this track?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sir Thomas Wyatt did have some troubles in his lifetime but it is possible that the tone of his poems also reflect that which is considered his greatest contribution to English poetry. After earning his B.A and M.A degrees at Cambridge University, St. John's College, England, Wyatt married Elizabeth Brooke, from whom he separated because of her infedelity. He had more than one mistress and there is some evidence that Anne Boleyn was one of them before she married Henry VIII. Wyatt was imprisoned in London Tower on two occasions and one of those occasions may have given him a view of Anne's beheading.

Wyatt's career took him to Europe before his untimely death from a fever at the age of thirty-nine. On his European missions for King Henry VIII, he was influenced by Francesco Petrarch and Pietro Aretino of Italy from whom he learned the Petrarchian sonnet and other poetic forms till then unknown in England. With influence from Petrarch and probably also Chaucer (Chaucer himself on diplomatic trips for the court to Italy was influced by Italian poets Petrarch and Boccaccio), Wyatt developed courtly love poetry in English. It is the poetry courtly love for an unatainable lady. The Petrarchian conceit equates with love with sickness, worship, war, servitude and the hero does all for the lady though he can never finally win her (she is usally already married in courtly love poetry). This offers an equally good explanation for the tone and theme of Wyatt's poetry.