A Facebook post by the BBC has just alerted me to the fact that it is World Poetry Day today. How can I be a literature lover and not know that? Oh dear!

I love so many poems, but because I have a rather soft spot for Thomas Wyatt the Elder I will share one of his poems, one which is linked to Anne Boleyn:

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar’s I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

This poem always leaves me wondering and also makes me sad. If it is truly about Anne Boleyn, which it does seem to be, then Anne is depicted as a deer hunted down. Wyatt steps out of the hunt and she is caught by another hunter and becomes his. I do love the last line though; she may be Caesar’s and she may seem tame, but she is still “wild for to hold”. If only Wyatt hadn’t been married!

And I can’t talk about Tudor poets and poetry without mentioning George Boleyn, who was also known for his poetry! Here is a video that Clare Cherry and I did on George Boleyn’s poetry:

Is there a Tudor poem that you love? Please do share.

Related Post

3 thoughts on “World Poetry Day 2017”
  1. Actually a poem set to music; Henry VIII’s ‘Green Groweth the Holly’.

    I love that in the tv miniseries, ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ (the Anne Boleyn episode), we see Henry and Anne singing it together.

    Green groweth the holly,
    So doth the ivy.
    Though winter blasts blow never so high,
    Green groweth the holly.

    As the holly groweth green
    And never changeth hue,
    So I am, ever hath been,
    Unto my lady true.

    As the holly groweth green
    With ivy all alone
    When flowers cannot be seen
    And greenwood leaves be gone,

    Now unto my lady
    Promise to her I make,
    From all other only
    To her I me betake.

    Adieu, mine own lady,
    Adieu, my special
    Who hath my heart truly
    Be sure, and ever shall.

  2. Here is a poem translated by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey….The Means to Content the Happy Life.

    I read this at my elderly mother’s funeral a few years ago.

    My Friend, the Means that do attain
    The Happy Life be these I find;
    The riches left, not got with pain;
    The fruitful ground, the quiet mind.

    The equal friend, no grudge, no strife;
    No charge of rule or governance;
    Without disease, the healthy life;
    The household of continuance.

    The mean diet, no dainty fare,
    True wisdom joined with simpleness;
    The night discharged of all care;
    Where wine the wit may not oppress.

    The faithful wife without debate;
    Such sleeps as may beguile the night.
    Content thyself with thine estate
    Neither wish death, nor fear his might.

    These two great poets Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard as well as others such as George Boleyn must have been stars in the Tudor court. 18th and 19th century poets were meant to be like Rock stars to their followers. Some even lived like modern rock stars, look at Byron and Shelley wandering around Europe on drugs and ghost stories. There is a bit of anti establishment about Henry Howard too, getting into trouble for breaking windows. Long live poets and down with the restrictions of society.

  3. I know it isn’t a poem but I love ‘Greensleeves’ which some attribute to Henry V111 and referring to his unrequited love for Anne Boleyn, green was said to be her favourite colour and in the first line ‘alas my love you do me wrong to cast me off discourteously’ sounds very much like their courtship when he first began to woo Anne and she just want interested, greensleeves being the long hanging sleeves on her gown, this was a favourite of both my dads and mine and it was played at his funeral, I also like Wyatts sad tribute to the executions of Anne and the five men, I think that poem is so sad and mournful and in it you can read Wyatts heartbreak and anguish over their deaths, the verse which begins ‘ these bloody days have broke my heart,’ in it he mentions all five men even Smeaton who was known to have betrayed Anne, he fully captures the abject horror of those days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *