Thomas Wyatt wrote this poem to honour the five men that were executed for adultery with Anne Boleyn. It implies that Wyatt thought that these men were innocent.
In Mourning wise since daily I increase
In Mourning wise since daily I increase,
Thus should I cloak the cause of all my grief;
So pensive mind with tongue to hold his peace’
My reason sayeth there can be no relief:
Wherefore give ear, I humbly you require,
The affect to know that thus doth make me moan.
The cause is great of all my doleful cheer
For those that were, and now be dead and gone.
What thought to death desert be now their call.
As by their faults it doth appear right plain?
Of force I must lament that such a fall should light on those so wealthily did reign,
Though some perchance will say, of cruel heart,
A traitor’s death why should we thus bemoan?
But I alas, set this offence apart,
Must needs bewail the death of some be gone.
As for them all I do not thus lament,
But as of right my reason doth me bind;
But as the most doth all their deaths repent,
Even so do I by force of mourning mind.
Some say, ‘Rochford, haddest thou been not so proud,
For thy great wit each man would thee bemoan,
Since as it is so, many cry aloud
It is great loss that thou art dead and gone.’
Ah! Norris, Norris, my tears begin to run
To think what hap did thee so lead or guide
Whereby thou hast both thee and thine undone
That is bewailed in court of every side;
In place also where thou hast never been
Both man and child doth piteously thee moan.
They say, ‘Alas, thou art far overseen
By thine offences to be thus deat and gone.’
Ah! Weston, Weston, that pleasant was and young,
In active things who might with thee compare?
All words accept that thou diddest speak with tongue,
So well esteemed with each where thou diddest fare.
And we that now in court doth lead our life
Most part in mind doth thee lament and moan;
But that thy faults we daily hear so rife,
All we should weep that thou are dead and gone.
Brereton farewell, as one that least I knew.
Great was thy love with divers as I hear,
But common voice doth not so sore thee rue
As other twain that doth before appear;
But yet no doubt but they friends thee lament
And other hear their piteous cry and moan.
So doth eah heart for thee likewise relent
That thou givest cause thus to be dead and gone.
Ah! Mark, what moan should I for thee make more,
Since that thy death thou hast deserved best,
Save only that mine eye is forced sore
With piteous plaint to moan thee with the rest?
A time thou haddest above thy poor degree,
The fall whereof thy friends may well bemoan:
A rotten twig upon so high a tree
Hath slipped thy hold, and thou art dead and gone.
And thus farewell each one in hearty wise!
The axe is home, your heads be in the street;
The trickling tears doth fall so from my eyes
I scarce may write, my paper is so wet.
But what can hope when death hath played his part,
Though nature’s course will thus lament and moan?
Leave sobs therefore, and every Christian heart
Pray for the souls of those be dead and gone.
By Thomas Wyatt
14 thoughts on “In Mourning Wise Since Daily I Increase”
Wow, the man was so eloquent! I wonder if this was even published where Henry could see it. I hope not, since Wyatt could have lost his own head lamenting “traitors” such as Anne and the five men.
Miladyblue: As it says above, none of Wyatt’s work was published in his life time, so this definitely wasn’t published in the aftermath of the executions.
I wonder why he says Mark Smeaton was the one whose death was ‘best deserved’? Was it because Smeaton was the least ‘noble’. Was it blue blood arrogance? Or did he actually think Smeaton might have slept with the queen? Maybe he just thought Smeaton was a dipshit because he probably had a crush on the queen and might have had dirty thoughts about her. If anyone deserved that death it was Wyatt himself. He was the closest to Anne. She wore a prayer book or something like it around her waist every day, that was a gift from Wyatt.
Smeaton is the only one who admitted wrong-doing, although the confession was only achieved by torture. In Wyatts eyes he betrayed Ann this is why he was the most deserving of such a fate.
The poems could have been circulated in manuscript. That was typical in those days, especially in aristocratic circles.
AnnieB – Smeaton was the only one who confessed that he had a sexual relationship with Anne, and this is why Wyatt wrote that Smeaton deserved to die.
I agree, Smeaton condemned them all by confessing, though could blame him? Even if it wasn’t true, the torture they inflictied upon him must have been unbearable. I don’t believe any of the chages against any of the people concerned had any truth to them, especially in Anne’s case. Wyatt probably says that Mark Smeaton’s death was “deserved” purely because of his confession and his low birth to even consider that such a man as he could have slept with the Queen, must have seemed daunting. I love Wyatt’s work, his words here brought a tear to my eye, he gives all of the accused dignified obituaries in this poem.
With the exception of his words about Smeaton.
A bit late on this thread. But I wonder why, if Wyatt believed them innocent, and Thomas Cromwell engineered their deaths, he wasn’t angrier at Cromwell. Even if Cromwell spared him, wouldn’t he still be enraged? But he wrote this poem on the death of Cromwell, where he seems even more grieved:
The pillar perish’d is whereto I leant;
The strongest stay of mine unquiet mind:
The like of it, no man again can find,
From east to west still seeking though he went.
To mine unhap; for hap away hath rent
Of all my join the very bark and rind;
And I, alas! by chance am thus assign’d
Dearly to mourn, till death do it relent.
But since that thus it is by destiny,
What can I more but have a woeful heart;
My pen in plaint, my voice in woeful cry,
My mind in woe, my body full of smart,
And I myself, myself always to hate;
Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state.
Something doesn’t add up. My guess is that he attributed the deaths of the five men to Henry, not Cromwell.
In fact, now that I read this again, isn’t he ambivalent in some ways? “Of force I must lament that such a fall should light on those so wealthily did reign” Why “of force”? And the “wealthily did reign” line seems to have a touch of irony. He’s not talking about what good men they were. Also, most of the poem is spent describing whether other people lament them or not.
He says outright that he doesn’t lament them all, or all in the same way, or it requires “force.” “As for them all I do not thus lament,
But as of right my reason doth me bind”
I take this to mean that he can’t feel bad about all of them; just the ones his reason tells him to.
He doesn’t say anything direcly about Boleyn; just reports what others say. That seems significant.
He does seem genuinely upset about Norris.
About Weston, he seems to suggest that others lament him. But doesn’t this part, again, seem to suggest his grief is ironic? “And we that now in court doth lead our life
Most part in mind doth thee lament and moan;
But that thy faults we daily hear so rife,
All we should weep that thou are dead and gone.”
Brereton, he seems to suggest, isn’t lamented much by anyone. But well, jeez, someone, somewhere, probably feels bad. Again, this seems almost teasing or joking.
And not only does he suggest that Smeaton is guilty, he suggests that he is irritated to hear people lamenting his death! “Save only that mine eye is forced sore
With piteous plaint to moan thee with the rest.”
Am I totally out of line here? This does not seem to protest their innocence or even attest to his own grief, except to say, “Norris, why did you get mixed up with these jerks?” His poem about Cromwell seems more grieving.
I read the verse about Smeaton to be Wyatt’s disapproval and horror at what Smeaton did, i.e. confessing to sleeping with the Queen. I also take his verse about George and the way he handles it, by talking about how others viewed his death, as a way of expressing his grief without openly defending him. Obviously any defence of the Boleyns at that time would not have been wise.
Regarding Brereton, Wyatt admits he didn’t know him but that his friends must lament his passing. Re Weston, I think Wyatt is genuine here. Weston was a popular man, as was Norris.
I don’t read irony it it, but that’s my reading of it. Wyatt knew many of these men personally and I think his grief is real. He also may have ended up on the scaffold, he was imprisoned and interrogated, so it must have all been very real to him. I think if you read it in conjunction with his other execution poem, see https://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/resources/anne-boleyn-words/thomas-wyatt-poetry/v-innocentia-veritas-viat-fides-circumdederunt-me-inimici-mei/, his grief becomes very real.
Even later than you to the thread. Just wanted to add something…this poem is so tantalizing in the little hints it gives of the actual goings-on and the jolt of reality: we suddenly get that this isnt a TV miniseries but about real people.
I saw it like this:
Boleyn, Lord Rochford: such a talented man (great wit) that everyone ought to be mourning him, but actually he alienated too many people with his arrogance. We can visualize George, strutting around the court, beloved brother of the Queen, hanging out with Henry and doubtless using his wit to put down and mock older grander people. Look how he behaved in court, reading out the lines about Henry’s impotence, always playing for laughs and mockery…and I could well imagine him being cruel to the wife he didnt choose.
Norris: he was known as Gentle Norris, the model of the ‘parfait gentil knight’ and it seems his fall has been a terrible shock to even those who didnt know him…much as we might feel if some beloved public figure, known for good works, turned out to be a child molester.
Weston: seems he was something of a jack-the-lad, one of those young, healthy, athletic, party type guys: he said he’d hoped to sin for 20 more years and then repent and Wyatt says his faults are now talked about all over. Was he corrupted by experimentation? It paints a picture of a physically active and popular guy, who adapted himself to every person he met: “All words accept…diddest fare” means he had the gift of getting along with everyone…while concealing his real self…and apparently it now comes out, that under the athletic pleasing good-boy presentation, there was another, darker Weston, whose ‘rife faults’ are now coming to light. Intriguing.
Brereton: Wyatt knew him least and can only go on hearsay, but what he hears said, is that Brereton had ‘great love” for ‘divers’ people…’divers’ means ‘many and varied’…which is pretty vivid if you think about it.
And finally Smeaton: Wyatt is rather cruel about him, apparently seeing him as no loss. This may not be because he confessed to adultery: Wyatt would surely not have expected a musician to stand up to torture. No, the verse hints that Wyatt disdains Mark for other reasons and the clue is likely in the words about the ‘rotten twig’ that has slipped Marks hold. Mark was known to have spent 100 pounds on trappings for his horses, so he was living far beyond his means: how? Who was the rotten twig to whom he was clinging? There’s a real disgust in Wyatt’s tone: he’s only including Smeaton in the lament because it seems mean not to, since, after all, the guy is dead. But we get a picture of an upstart who was probably pursuing his career through his body..and probably through men..the ‘rotten twig’ might have been one of the other men…or it could have been an older woman…maybe even Anne herself.
Wow, what a crew. The Boleyn Posse. Arrogant George, swanning round, linked arms with Anne, mocking all the old ways and all the old people. Handsome popular Weston, always at tennis or hunting..and at night-time attending more and worse orgies. Brereton, low-profile, but with a taste for both sexes and lots of them. Mark, a pretty boy, trying to keep up with the older men, perhaps selling himself to some much older lord and decking himself out in the latest fashion, bullied by the others…and the enigma, Norris…maybe truly Henry’s friend…but, like Lancelot, in love with his wife…maybe trying to keep a lid on things…and coming to grief.
innocent or not, Anne Boleyn surrounded herself with bad company, doubtless because she liked the excitement after a long day of piety and sewing and being queen. She made a colossal error in demanding queenship, and should have gone for a maitresse-en-titre post like La Pompadour…she’d have been good at that. Jane Seymour the dull but iron-willed Good Queen and Anne, the exciting dangerous mistress…Henry would have been like a dog with two tails!
“Save only that mine eye is forced sore…
May refer to Smeaton’s eye being crushed during torture
Wyatt is referring to his eye rather than Smeaton’s:
“Save only that mine eye is forced sore
With piteous plaint to moan thee with the rest?”
It sounds, to me, like he’s saying that his eye is sore from crying from mourning Mark and the others.
I don’t think he necessarily thought them innocent. He knew some of them well and he was saddened and frightened by their deaths.