Compare the ways writers use the sonnet form in I Find No Peace (by Sir Thomas Wyatt) & Amoretti, Sonnet 86 (by Edmund Spenser)

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‘I Find No Peace’ is a sonnet written by the reputable Sir Thomas Wyatt in the Petrarchan format, where Wyatt explores the instability of emotion he faces where he moves from one extreme emotion to another and thus renders the title relevant. ‘Amoretti, Sonnet 86’ is a sonnet written by the masterful poet Edmund Spenser as a part of his sonnet cycle of eighty-nine sonnets. This sonnet takes the format of a Spenserian sonnet, and explores the idea of constant restlessness in the name of love.

Wyatt, in his sonnet, uses the Petrarchan format, whereby he utilises the iambic pentameter in order to more effectively convey emotion and the urgency in his tone. Wyatt utilises mainly one-syllable sounding words and the Petrarchan sonnet form in order to convey the dire importance of getting his message across and thus also denotes how he has no more time to write using complex and convoluted sentences. Instead, his poem is rather clear in message and format. This urgency in his tone exists because this poem was written a day before Wyatt’s execution, and thus provides context for why he finds no peace. The sonnet is listed as one stanza, however is divided in nature and tone into an octave and a sestet; the latter conveying a response or an attempted solution to the problem introduced in the octave. The sestet, therefore, is Wyatt’s attempt to make him peaceful and therefore reader’s may be able to relate to the restlessness Wyatt faces and could thus empathise with him.

Spenser, in his sonnet, uses the Spenserian sonnet format, and also utilises the iambic pentameter in order to increase the flow of the poem. This makes it easily manageable for both the reader and writer, and provides the ideal situation to allow a poet to effectively explore strong emotions, such as the emotions Spencer faces, which includes possible heartbreak and sentimental volatility. As a result, the two poems contrast in the sonnet structure they utilise. This essentially brings about a contrast in the rhyme scheme, and thus the flow and acoustical impact of both poems. This results in an alteration to how both sonnets convey their respective emotions to the reader.

Wyatt’s sonnet is peculiar in that the title is reiterated at the beginning of the poem, and thus emphasises the extent to which Wyatt ‘…find[s] no peace’. This is important because we come to understand that Wyatt is essentially in an almost paradoxical situation where he chooses between extremes but cannot settle for any common ground. This is characterised by how his ‘…war is done’, and thus it is as if his life was his ‘war’, and since he never found any peace, this denotes that life itself is a constant war. Wyatt may be describing it this way because he may see life as a temporary state and how the constant conflicts and contradictions a human must face accumulates to be identified as ready as a war. Wyatt uses enjambment consistently throughout his sonnet, e.g. ‘…peace, and’, which denotes breaking between his thoughts and emotions and the non-uniform nature of life due to conflicts in life. Where he says ‘…burn and freeze like ice’, he uses this simile artistically to characterise himself, where although ice may be extremely cold, it may actually feel like it is burning. This, however, is not how ice is normally identified. As a result, Wyatt is attempting to convey that he is arguably unpredictable just like ice in his human nature and conflict. Through the Petrarchan structure, the poetic nature of the sonnet is highlighted and thus allows for the comfortable flow and progression of one line to the next, for instance ‘done’ rhyming with ‘season’. Wyatt’s inner conflict is very important, as we see that he ‘…fl[ies] above the wind’, however he ‘…can…not arise’, which characterises the restrained atmosphere Wyatt is in. It also shows the extreme dichotomy between two polars; he either can or can not fly, and thus there is no middle ground. Similarly, Wyatt could either live or die, and thus could explain why he chose to write in extremes rather than discovering a middle ground.

Spenser’s sonnet is characterised by idiosyncratic words like ‘long’ and ‘weary’ when talking about days. This shows that the progression from one day to another is endless because the poet is in a grief-stricken situation and it has now exhausted him, where he is ‘outworn’. Spenser highlights the longing in his tone through the usage of his poem structure, for instance where he delays and separates both ‘days’ and ‘nights’ into separate lines. This denotes the idea that possibly both are separate and distinctive entities. This, therefore, highlights the longing that Spenser feels and is facing. This is crafted quintessentially by Spenser through his structure, and therefore allows him to portray the level of longing in his tone through the structure and rhyme scheme. Spenser ‘feigns his grief’ through ‘beguil[ing]’ himself, and therefore this shows the level of unrest he feels that he is willing to enchant, manipulate and/or deceive himself in order to forget his grief because of the alarming levels to which it has risen. This also causes the reader to empathise

and relate to Spenser in terms of feeling truly in love with another person, however having to ‘…leave the[ir] presence’.

One of the ending lines of Wyatt’s sonnet is ‘…displeaseth me both life and death’, and therefore we see that Wyatt is neither ecstatic nor euphoric to be either alive or dead. This could be seen as Wyatt’s position of being tired of assuming an extreme role. Alternatively, it could be because he feels that both states are pointless. Therefore, the ending of Wyatt’s poem is somewhat existential, which is what to be expected a day before his execution. This also denotes how he has mentally prepared himself for death and ceasing to live through writing his sonnet. Spenser’s ending couplet is very poetic in which he finally acknowledges and realises through the course of his sonnet that ‘…sorrow…too long to last’, and thus that it lasts for a seemingly long time to the extent to which is feels coexistent with reality and living, and where ‘…joyous hours do fly away too fast’. This ending line is important because it shows and conveys to the readers how Spenser has gradually become characteristic and parallel to his pessimistic ideals of life and how joy is only temporary, however sorrow never seems to ceases. Also the inclusion of the word ‘But’ shows that there is always a catch to something, and that therefore everything is not as it may seem.

Furthermore, in essence, through two distinctive ways of structuring and characterising sonnets, both Wyatt and Spenser have written poems memorialising literature by suitably conveying their emotions through their distinguishing rhyme schemes and emotional individuality.


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