The alternate title of this poem is The Lover compareth his State to a Ship in perilous Storm tossed on the Sea, which pretty much sums it up.

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This is a poem I first read many years ago, in Tom Clark’s Renaissance poetry class at New College of California. It would be impossible to describe the impression that Tom and his classes made on me. He’s one of the best (if not the best) lecturers I’ve ever heard. You can get some of the flavor of it by visiting his blog (linked above), though I’m sorry to say you won’t get to sit in his magical front room, surrounded by paintings and flowers, nor be greeted at the front door by his truly lovely wife Angelica (I know the word lovely gets thrown around a lot, but she genuinely is).

If you’d like to learn more about Thomas Wyatt, and maybe make some sense of the hodgepodge of images I’ve thrown up there, Tom’s posts on Wyatt are a great place to start. You’ll find them here, here, here, and here (and whatever you do, don’t skip the comments section).

Edited to add the link to this post on Tom’s blog, which traces this poem’s origins and reverberations.