Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder‘s sonnet, Farewell, Love, expresses what many of us have felt at one time or another. The long and short of it is: Love, you’re too stressful, and I’m done with you!
The Norton Anthology editors point out that Wyatt’s sonnets are usually “doleful,” and this is a perfect example. (We’ll get to his perkier ballets or dance-songs in future posts.) In Farewell, Love, he rejects love “forever.” Look at his beautiful language that makes love sound as physically painful as it feels to him emotionally:
- “Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more”
- “Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh aye so sore”
- “And thereon spend thy many brittle darts.”
One analysis I read said the last line “Me lusteth no longer rotten boughs to climb” was a reference to chivalry and the expectation that he can’t consummate his passion. That is, he’s no longer interested in chasing dead ends.
You can read the entire poem here, or you can listen to it read here: