Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Farewell, Love

12 May

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.”
I enjoyed the following statement:
Senec and Plato call me from thy lore,
To perfect wealthy my wit for to endeavor.
In other words, the world’s best philosophers agree that love is not the means to a healthy and balanced life.

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:


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4 responses to “Sir Thomas Wyatt’s Farewell, Love

  1. Idris

    June 10, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    ‘Farewell love’ gives me a nostalgic feeling mixed with a sense of lost adventure. I deeply felt sorry with the title of the poem. It is as if Sir Wyatt had a mirror to my entire life from the past till the present moment particularly when the line read: ” thy baited hooks shal tangle no more@”. I especially became open-eyed as to the reality of quitting the game for the younger generations. Of course, I agree that the whims and caprices of love is for those on whose shoulders sit a ”youthful hue”. “…go trouble the younger hearts”

    • The Sidebar Review

      June 10, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      Well said! Thanks for your comment. I also enjoy the references to young love.

  2. Binin

    November 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    line 1: Goodbye love forever and so, he is going to dismiss love from his life. he rejects love’s laws>>>boundaries, rules and restrictions.
    line 2:you have no more authority over me, he is charctarizing love as a dengerous beast with hook that is confusing and easy to get caught up in.
    line 3-4: he will no longer be contrlled by his emotions, he will be controlled by his reason.
    line 5: love is blind and therefore he was blinded by it and thats why he continued doing something that had problems.
    line 6: you are pushing me away and your sharp rules were painful.
    line 7: love is evil and worthless because it aims to deceive and harm.
    line 12: he asks love to go and use its darts, its duty to attract young people.
    line 13: he is too old and emotionaly tired to be bothered by love.
    line 14: he has no desire to climb a rotten boughs.

  3. silent heart

    March 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    1-Farewell, Love, and all thy laws for ever:
    here the poet is addressing(apostrophe) love telling it and it’s bonds his last goodbyes
    Farewell here hints to the theme of the sonnet which is rejecting love BACK
    2-Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more.
    thy-your- baited hooks (oxymoron) for the beautiful and pain of love.
    No more means that the poet has been there before and that he had escaped from it
    3-Senec and Plato call me from thy lore,
    Senec and Plato are Greek philosophers who believe that one should have the wealth of either mind or heart and that a person cant have both
    4-Thy lore they’re knowledge.
    To perfect wealth my wit for to endeavour.
    Perfect here is a verb. The poet is trying to perfect wealth and wealth for him is knowledge (wealth of min) for others it maybe love (wealth of heart)
    5-In blind error when I did persever,
    blind error here gives the feeling of regret
    6-Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh aye so sore,
    here the poet expresses deep pain and repulsive actions that got him cough in the baited hooks
    pricheth=pain caused by a needle
    aye, yes to stress his point
    sore, lasting pain and infection caused by neglecting it
    (1st disgusting image of love)
    *the wounds of love leave scars to never to be forgotten
    7-Hath taught me to set in trifles no store,
    admits that all of that had taught him and that now he now knows better than to believe in things that won’t happen
    trifle=fault tales
    *he now is educated by love
    8-And scape forth, since liberty is lever.
    He’s moving forward escaping love as if he is prisoner or a slave seeking freedom comparing love to a prison or person who in-slaved him (personification)
    9-Therefore farewell, go trouble younger hearts,
    apostrophing love again telling it to leave him alone and go trouble younger hearts and that he’s now mature, educated, knowledgeable so love doesn’t have any bonds over him. For him young people are un-experienced people who don’t know the consequences of their actions
10-And in me claim no more authority;
    here the poet shows that he broke free of love
11-With idle youth go use thy property,
    Idle youth= staple not moving
    thy property= your power
    youth have physical energy not mental energy
    the poet mocks the young because if they were mentally wealthy they wouldn’t be victims of of love(lack mind wealth)
    there’s irony here because he used to be young and un-experienced
12-And thereon spend thy many brittle darts.
    Comparing youth to arrows which are full of energy and strength but they are fragile (easily broken)
13-For, hitherto though I’ve lost my time,
    hitherto = until now
    he admits that he’s losing lusting or desiring ….
14-Me lusteth no longer rotten boughs to climb.
    Rotten boughs= branches of a tree
    presenting love as a tree with closed branches because his beloved rejected his love
    they are rotten because the tree wasn’t watered by love therefor the boughs got rotten
    boughs for the number of trials to get his beloved to love him back
    (2nd disgusting image of love)
    * the sestet focuses on youth unlike the octave that focuses on the poet’s experience



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