In Thessal wood
In Thessal wood mine err and pain I found
Though unready, I, for Love’s full assault,
And by her blows did find myself more bound
For, with no guard, could I her sweet charge halt.
While once I felt my passion had I reined,
It now flies hence, far out of reason’d reach
Towards shade of laurel tree, its freedom gained
Where none my pleas for grace nor pity breach.
Forsaken here in such unkind countrie
Can I but long for surrendered will,
So that in bond to Love may I yet be.
When glimpsing her light I desire still
To seek her, my passioned steed strideth forth
With me behind, to seek of love my worth.
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).
Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, unlike his poetic predecessor Sir Thomas Wyatt (whose work I imitated in the translation "Alone I wandere"), was a man of high birth: he was well-educated and at home with the classics that formed the basis of the Renaissance courtier education. His poems reflect this foundation of learning, so where Wyatt looked inside himself for some sort of answer to his problems, Surrey turned to classical authors for his own understanding (it was Surrey that first translated the Aeneid into English, and he invented the “English sonnet form” of ABABCDCDEFEFGG), and it shows in his poems, with references to Caesar, Tuscany, Cyprus, and more. Surrey managed to treat Petrarch’s poems with the same classically-focused pen, and his narrator comes off as extremely less cynical and selfish in voice than Wyatt’s, though Surrey worshipped Wyatt as one of the “new” classical poets for his efforts.
The “Surrey” poem I wrote was an attempt to recreate Surrey’s love of the classics – the reference to Thessaly recalls the wood where Apollo hunted Daphne before she was transformed into a laurel, thus referencing Petrarch without necessarily relying on Petrarch’s specific situation for poetic aid. I hope the language seems less harsh and brutal than the “Wyatt” edition of the sonnet, and that the narrator has come to a different conclusion: where the Wyatt narrator looks only to the desire that has brought him some pleasure (in whatever form), the Surrey narrator moves to the beauty of the woman he hunts – hinting without confirmation at the hopeful ascension of the neoplatonic ladder.