Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder and Anne Sexton

I’m still chipping away at my reading list for the MFA. Today I read poems by Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, born in 1503 and member of King Henry VIII’s court. It’s thought that Wyatt was the lover of Ann Boleyn. I remember him as a minor character in Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, portrayed as a love-struck nobleman who wrote poems to the elusive Boleyn.

He’s known as the father of the English sonnet, a title he shares with Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. I’m saving Henry Howard’s poems for tomorrow.

Here’s a link to an audio version of Whoso List to Hunt, with a painting of Ann Boleyn next to the poem. The word ‘list’ is a funny one to me. People in the Appalachian regions still use that word to mean a desire to do something. I remember Granny from the old TV show The Beverly Hillbillies used to say it, usually in the negative, as in I don’t list to eat them fancy vittles.

I’ve been alternating old poems with twentieth century as well as contemporary works. On Jo’s recommendation, I read Lip by Catherine Smith. What a feast of lucidity combined with mythic moments of eroticism! I just loved it.

I’m also working my way through The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton. Each of her books is combined into one volume, in chronological order. After I finish a book, I put down the Sexton volume to read a contemporary collection. I’m feeling very tenuous these days, somewhat anxious, so even though Sexton’s metaphors about emotional pain are particularly vivid and help me visualize my own pain, there’s only so much talk of misery I can take at one time, and then I need a break. Billy Collins is a good respite. His poems make me feel like God is in his universe and all’s right with the world. Om mani padme hum, the jewel is in the lotus flower.