October 11, 1542: Tragic Death of a Talented Poet


On October 11, 1542, Sir Thomas Wyatt, courtier, ambassador, and poet, died at Sherborne in Dorset at the age of thirty-nine. Most famous for introducing the sonnet and described as the “Father of English Poetry,” his work has been enjoyed the world over. And, the romanticists that poetry-lovers are, this poet so conveniently led a tragic life. Friend and pursuer of the ill-fated Anne Boleyn, trapped in a loveless marriage, survivor of the six brutal deaths in May 1536, and premature death, Thomas Wyatt is one of the most beloved Tudor personalities, and one of my favourites. His life is unlikely and poetically stereotypical, enchanting and romantic.

The unfinished story of Sir Thomas Wyatt is tragic, for everyone deserves to be loved by the one they love. But because I am made of the same stuff, of ink and paper, of pens and parchment, of unrequited love and unfinished stories, I will love and think of Thomas. I think of him writing in the quivering light of candle stubs, just as I do. I think of him fingering Anne Boleyn’s jewel as a nervous habit, just as I knot my fingers in a necklace. I think of his eyes following the willowy figure of Anne, and the way his hands would twitch with the desire to write about her elegance, just as my hands began twitching with desire to write about him. I will love Thomas, the poet, my brother of word, long after the candles have burnt down and the ink has dried.
In fact, I believe I shall love Thomas always.

You can read more about Thomas and my thoughts on him in my runner-up contest article over at the Anne Boleyn Files.


The lively sparks that issue from those eyes,
   Against the which there vaileth no
Have pierced my heart, and done it none offence,
With quaking pleasure more than once or twice.
Was never man could any thing devise,
Sunbeams to turn with so great vehemence
To daze man’s sight, as by their bright presence
Dazed am I ; much like unto the guise
Of one stricken with dint of lightning,
Blind with the stroke, and cying here and there :
So call I for help, I not when nor where,
The pain of my fall patiently bearing :
    For straight after the blaze, as is no wonder,
    Of deadly noise hear I the fearful thunder.

~Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder

2 thoughts on “October 11, 1542: Tragic Death of a Talented Poet

    • No problem! Thomas is one of the few poets whose work I’ll actually read for pleasure. It’s the most I can do to remember him and share his beautiful works with others.
      I’m thinking of re-writing the article when I get the chance. There are so many aspects of Thomas’s life I didn’t get to explore. Thanks for sharing, Robert! 🙂

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