Alone I wandere
Alone I wandere under blackened tree,
Without defence again this brutal gale
That cruelley beat and violent forme ayle
With but one wish: to kill and murder me.
I thought once that I could controlled bee,
But biside my passion doth reason pale
And bere that yoke for which it doth assayle
Without the swote hope of gracious treatie.
Reflecting thus upon this mortalle case
Born kin to those fallen shards of star-light,
Know well I that such hope most I away.
By desire led, by desire will I pace,
Though it leves me for shrowde of wyld night,
While mourne I for the passynge of the day.
This is one of two translations for an Italian rime I wrote in imitation of Petrarch's style for a rapier event here in Atlantia (see the rime, "Errante in la foresta scura, io soffrio," for more info). The other translation is based on the style of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey.
Sir Thomas Wyatt’s poems (especially those translated from Petrarch) possess a very strong “personal” narrator identity – he reflects upon his experience in Henry VIII’s court with more than a bit of cynicism. Many of Wyatt’s sonnets focus on the multiple meanings of words, a sentiment stemming from his cynical outlook on the court. This overwhelming focus on the duplicity of language caused most of Wyatt’s Petrarch-based sonnets to fail in a neoplatonic sense. He does not climb the ladder from physical desire to religious piety as Petrarch does; instead, Wyatt remains engrossed in the achievement of his desire (though, just like Petrarch, he seems unable to ever actually achieve it). Wyatt’s poems also focus on his personal reaction and internal process of the fore-conceit of each work: when Laura shuns Petrarch, the poet considers this action and realizes his fault, but when Wyatt is shunned by his female object (usually considered to be Anne Boleyne), he can only reflect upon how this makes him feel and how he has been wronged.
This poem seeks to emulate Wyatt’s style by focusing on the “I” of the narrator (which often overwhelms many of Wyatt’s works) and by mimicking his fairly loose spelling structure, which seems far more Chaucerian and Middle English-like than even Surrey’s Chaucer-inspired poems. It does not veer away that greatly (I hope) from the original meaning of the Petrarchan rime (primarily because I wrote it before I wrote the Surrey-style sonnet, and did not want to forget what I had written in Italian) but it does provide a narrative reflection that does not necessarily exist in the rime. I also chose some stronger words than may necessarily be translated from the Italian to show how greatly pained the Wyatt-esque narrator feels about the Petrarchan situation he is in. At the end of the poem, he does not even realize he is erring by following desire – just that he longs for an earlier time when it was easier for him to see (and follow) that desire.