Home  »  The Poetical Works by Sir Thomas Wyatt  »  Wyatt’s Complaint upon Love to Reason, with Love’s Answer

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–42). The Poetical Works. 1880.


Wyatt’s Complaint upon Love to Reason, with Love’s Answer

MINE old dear enemy, my froward master,

Afore that Queen I caused to be acited,

Which holdeth the divine part of our nature;

That like as gold in fire, he might be tried:

Charged with dolour, there I me presented,

With horrible fear, as one that greatly dreadeth

A wrongful death, and justice alway seeketh.

And thus I said: ‘Once my left foot, Madame,

When I was young, I set within his reign;

Whereby other than fiery burning flame

I never felt, but many a grievous pain:

Torment I suffer’d, anger and disdain;

That mine oppressed patience was past,

And I mine own life hated at the last.

‘Thus hitherto have I my time passed

In pain and smart: what ways profitable,

How many pleasant days have me escaped,

In serving this false liar so deceivable?

What wit have words so prest and forcible,

That may contain my great mishappiness,

And just complaints of his ungentleness?

‘So small honey, much aloes, and gall,

In bitterness, my blind life have I tasted:

His false semblance, that turneth as a ball,

With fair and amorous dance, made me be traced;

And where I had my thought, and mind araised

From earthly frailness, and from vain pleasure,

Me from my rest he took, and set in error.

‘God made he me regardless, than I ought,

And to myself to take right little heed:

And for a woman have I set at nought

All other thoughts, in this only to speed:

And he was only counsellor of this deed;

Whetting always my youthly frail desire

On cruel whetstone, tempered with fire.

‘But oh, alas, where had I ever wit,

Or other gift given to me of nature?

That sooner shall be changed my wearied sprite

Than the obstinate will, that is my ruler:

So robbeth he my freedom with displeasure;

This wicked traitor, whom I thus accuse:

That bitter life hath turned in pleasant use.

‘He hath me hasted through divers regions;

Through desert woods, and sharp high mountains;

Through froward people, and through bitter passions;

Through rocky seas, and over hills and plains;

With weary travel, and with laborous pains;

Always in trouble and in tediousness,

In all error, and dangerous distress.

‘But neither he nor she, my other foe,

For all my flight did ever me forsake:

That though my timely death hath been too slow,

That me, as yet, it hath not overtake:

The heavenly gods of pity do it slake!

And note they this his cruel tyranny,

That feeds him with my care, and misery!

‘Since I was his, hour rested I never,

Nor look to do; and eke the wakey nights

The banished sleep may in no wise recover

By guile and force, over my thralled sprites.

He is ruler, since which bell never strikes

That I hear not as sounding to renew my plaints.

Himself he knoweth that I say true.

‘For never worms old rotten stock have eaten,

As he my heart, where he is resident,

And doth the same with death daily threaten;

Thence come the tears, and thence the bitter torment,

The sighs, the words, and eke the languishment,

That annoy both me, and peradventure other:

Judge thou that knowest the one, and eke the other.

Mine adversary with such grievous reproof,

Thus he began; ‘Hear, Lady, the other part;

That the plain truth, from which he draweth aloof,

This unkind man may shew, ere that I part:

In his young age, I took him from that art,

That selleth words, and make a clattering knight,

And of my wealth I gave him the delight.

‘Now shames he not on me for to complain,

That held him evermore in pleasant game,

From his desire, that might have been his pain:

Yet thereby alone I brought him to some frame;

Which now as wretchedness, he doth so blame;

And toward honour quickened I his wit,

Where as a dastard else he might have sit.

‘He knoweth how great Atrides, that made Troy fret;

And Hannibal to Rome so troublous;

Whom Homer honoured, Achilles that great;

And African Scipion, the famous;

And many other, by much honour glorious;

Whose fame and acts did lift them up above;

I did let fall in base dishonest love.

‘And unto him, though he unworthy were,

I chose the best of many a million;

That under sun yet never was her peer

Of wisdom, womanhood, and of discretion;

And of my grace I gave her such a fashion,

And eke such way I taught her for to teach,

That never base thought his heart so high might reach.

‘Evermore thus to content his mistress,

That was his only frame of honesty,

I stirred him still toward gentleness;

And caused him to regard fidelity;

Patience I taught him in adversity:

Such virtues learned he in my great school;

Whereof repenteth now the ignorant fool.

‘These were the same deceits, and bitter gall,

That I have used, the torment and the anger,

Sweeter than ever did to other fall;

Of right good seed ill fruit, lo, thus I gather;

And so shall he that the unkind doth further:

A serpent nourish I under my wing,

And now of nature ’ginneth he to sting.

‘And for to tell, at last, my great service;

From thousand dishonesties have I him drawen,

That by my means, him in no manner wise

Never vile pleasure once hath overthrowen;

Where in his deed, shame hath him always gnawen;

Doubting report that should come to her ear:

Whom now he blames, her wonted he to fear.

‘Whatever he hath of any honest custom,

Of her, and me, that holds he every whit:

But lo, yet never was there nightly phantom

So far in error, as he is from his wit

To plain on us: he striveth with the bit,

Which may rule him, and do him ease, and pain,

And in one hour make all his grief his gain.

‘But one thing yet there is, above all other:

I gave him wings, wherewith he might upfly

To honour and fame; and if he would to higher

Than mortal things, above the starry sky:

Considering the pleasure that an eye

Might give in earth, by reason of the love;

What should that be that lasteth still above?

‘And he the same himself hath said ere this:

But now, forgotten is both that and I,

That gave him her, his only wealth and bliss.’

And at this word, with deadly shriek and cry,

‘Thou gave her once,’ quod I, ‘but by and by

Thou took her ayen from me, that woe-worth thee!’

‘Not I, but price; more worth than thou.’ quod he.

At last, each other for himself concluded,

I trembling still, but he, with small reverence;

‘Lo, thus, as we each other have accused,

Dear lady, now we wait thine only sentence.’

She smiling, at the whisted audience,

‘It liketh me,’ quod she, ‘to have heard your question,

But longer time doth ask a resolution.’