chapter  13
23 Pages

BE R D AN on Wyatt, 1920

When it comes to discussing the content of the poems, the question is exceedingly difficult. It was the fashion of the age in France and Italy, as well as in England, to write occasional verses to be given to ladies. As the conditions that called them forth were similar in all three countries, the poems themselves are very similar. It was a social con­ vention without deep feeling. The age of chivalry had passed, but there yet remained the literary tradition of the cruel lady and the longing lover. There is little more emotion in these trifles than in the verses for S t Valentine's Day ; it was good form to have a bleeding heart. But as the same condition prevailed in all the courts, extensive reading in the literatures is sure to produce analogies. Wyatt, Marot and the Italian Serafino have short poems in which the heart after separation accom­ panies the loved one.* Certain phrases in Wyatt's are suggestive of either of the other two. The poems differ in that in both the French and Italian it is the lady that has the lover's heart, whereas in the Wyatt the condition is reversed. It is quite possible, therefore, that further research

may unearth others more alike. The resemblances between Wyatt's poems and those of Marot are all of this type, occasional similarity in the treatment of conventional subjects.